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Old 12th November 2015, 03:54 PM   #1
Rax is offline Rax  United States
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Default USB sound card for audio spectrum analysis

Hi all,
After as much research here and elsewhere as I could do during the past couple of weeks, I'm unable to come up with any good leads on this...

I am trying to get an affordable USB sound card that, in conjunction with my Win XP 17" laptop, would allow me to decently run some spectrum analysis software (such as ARTA, Visual Analyzer, etc.). Decent bandwidth is obviously a must (therefore 192/24 over USB is highly desirable), as much as a very good noise floor, etc.

I mean, I'm pretty sure this immediately resonates with effectively everybody here interested in audio measurements. Having said that, it feels that in the past few years all affordable good sound cards / audio interfaces have ceased production - and I am mostly thinking of the E-MU cards, which after substantial reading I started exclusively focusing on. Are they even made anymore?... They seem to still be a subsidiary of Creative, with web pages for products and all that, but all online retailers in the US don't seem to carry anything E-MU anymore. I admit to potentially having lived in a cave in recent times regarding the topic at hand, but heck - what's going on?

And also - what else is there out there?

Thanks a lot for all pointers and thoughts.
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Old 12th November 2015, 04:17 PM   #2
Rax is offline Rax  United States
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to anticipate some thoughts - the QA400 is an interesting little device, but its input capabilities don't really look like instrumentation-grade (but rather similar with a typical soundcard, which is exactly what makes soundcards not seamlessly adequate for measurements). In that sense, I'd prefer Peter Millett's interface plus the soundcard I'm asking about, which seems like a more feasible scenario overall.
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Old 12th November 2015, 04:37 PM   #3
SY is offline SY  United States
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192 is much rarer these days. 96 is common and will take care of most of your needs. What's the distortion floor that you need to achieve?
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Old 12th November 2015, 04:51 PM   #4
Rax is offline Rax  United States
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Most of my work is with tubes, so it really doesn't have to be stratospheric. Having said that, I'd like this to be at least a medium term investment (and I'm mostly thinking of investment of time to set it up and weed out issues, not necessarily money), and so be able to provide some rather generous margin of performance beyond what tubes would typically require.

Worth noting is that I will be using an HP 8903B as source (and other functions), which seems to exhibit a floor of about 0.003% or less.

It's very odd to hear that 96 is more of a norm than 192 - why this going backwards thing?

Thanks for pitching in, SY.
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Old 12th November 2015, 05:12 PM   #5
SY is offline SY  United States
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It's not really going backwards if you understand that audio test and measurement isn't their market; their customer base is home recording and production for musicians. We're an amazingly small niche. So 192k is just a luxury for them, and the BOM money is better spent on features useful for their real market, like built in mike preamps and phantom power.

Is portability an important requirement for you?
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Old 12th November 2015, 05:24 PM   #6
Turbon is offline Turbon  Sweden
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Either wait for QA401 or JensH device or buy an ESI @Julie. Or for the ADC wait for Ackos board when the new ESS devices gets released. Petes interface is usefull in any case.

Regards
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Old 12th November 2015, 05:25 PM   #7
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Portability?... Not much, aside from intending to be using this with a laptop. Actual performance and specs considerations (not intended to be used with a desktop is critical) are more important.

In fact (and may be a side note) I prefer a bit of weight to these things, so that cables don't pull this all around at every move. Additionally, a bench instrument kind of sensibility to gear choice like this is a plus (so a bit of ruggedness would be nice), if this puts any clarity in what I'm looking for. At the same time, bench space is at a premium, so there you go.
Thanks!
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Old 12th November 2015, 05:31 PM   #8
Turbon is offline Turbon  Sweden
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Sorry, the @julie board needs an pc...

Regards
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Old 12th November 2015, 05:31 PM   #9
Rax is offline Rax  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbon View Post
Either wait for QA401 or JensH device or buy an ESI @Julie. Or for the ADC wait for Ackos board when the new ESS devices gets released. Petes interface is usefull in any case.

Regards
Unfortunately, I don't think Juli@ comes in USB variety. I've been looking at both JensH's device and the QA401 - keenly interested.

My running scenario - until I was left empty handed on soundcards - was to put together Pete's interface and get an E-MU 0202 USB or similar, for instance, but the latter seems to be pretty much unobtainium (as any other E-MU USB device).

Pete's interface plus a soundcard is still my choice currently, though the two other options you mention may come ahead depending on what I find out about them when I have all information.
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Old 12th November 2015, 05:33 PM   #10
Turbon is offline Turbon  Sweden
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Yes, the EMU stuff is hard to get drivers to if they even exists.

Regards
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