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Old 12th February 2008, 11:21 PM   #1
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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Default Request for advice / high performance soundcard for measurement

I am looking for a sound card to use to measure analogue audio equipment at line level.

I have just learned that the E-Mu 1616M PCI card that I was interested in requires bus type PCI 2.1 / 2.2, however my computer has PCI 2.3 which E-Mu tell me is not compatible with their product.

The E-Mu was interesting as it had an advertised Signal-to-Noise Ratio of 120 dB and a distortion figure of 0.0003%. So I need to find a good alternative. I am looking for the best objective performance for my budget, which is about £400-ish / $800-ish.

My PC has PCI 2.3, USB 2 and Firewire 1394 connections. I would prefer an external box, but am flexible.

Can you help with recommendations?

Thank you,
G.
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Old 13th February 2008, 12:17 AM   #2
cuibono is offline cuibono  United States
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There are many options these days because there are so many products on the market, especially considering you haven't decided on an interface format. In terms of spec's, there are many with good ones (search the rightmark audio analyzer forum and check out http://www.pcavtech.com/soundcards/index.htm) - but a generic word of warning - specs aren't everything, and usually manufactures of audio interfaces don't actually measure their product, the just quote the chip manufactures, and are nowhere near reality. Some are though, and if you are really set on getting the best specs, you have to make sure someone has actually measured it. RME is highly regarded in this aspect. e-mu 0404 also.

You have to be careful too though, there are a lot of product that aren't very well designed - like the Phonic Firefly 302 I bought recently to do measurements. It just wasn't designed well, and using it is a total pain to use. PCI compatibility is a similar problem..

Something you want to think about is the risk of wrecking you card once you get it - when testing, you don't always know what kind of signal you're applying - and it is possible to damage the soundcard. Basically, you're using it for something it wasn't intended for. The alternative would be to get a something designed to do measurement - they are way more useful, way easier to use, and much less likely to break. They combine software with dedicated hardware. Some are a few hundred dollars, some are much more. I don't remember all of them, but look up Praxis, Clio and Sound Easy. Some of them are geared for speaker design, but would be useful..
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Old 14th February 2008, 10:11 AM   #3
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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Many thanks cuibono, I very much appreciate your input, and I'll follow up on your suggestions.


Does anyone have anything further to add? Your recommendations for a sound card with really good performance (that hooks up by Firewire 1394 or USB) ?
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Old 14th February 2008, 10:20 AM   #4
AndrewT is online now AndrewT  Scotland
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Can integrated sound cards be made to work adequately or well?
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Old 14th February 2008, 10:27 AM   #5
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http://audio.rightmark.org/test_results.shtml There you can find lot's of tested soundcards
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Old 14th February 2008, 10:31 AM   #6
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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Andrew are you intimating that it is not possible to get good measurements from a sound-card based system?

If that is so then what would you recommend? I would like to measure analogue line-level equipment, and ideally be able to resolve a range of 120 dB and less than 0.001 THD.

Would I need to go to a Clio or something similar, and if so, what?

Perhaps I need to revise my £400 budget upwards somewhat?

(My pc has USB 2, Firewire 1394 and PCI 2.3 interfaces available).


Thanks.
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Old 14th February 2008, 10:33 AM   #7
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally posted by peranders
http://audio.rightmark.org/test_results.shtml There you can find lot's of tested soundcards
PA thanks for the link.
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Old 14th February 2008, 03:55 PM   #8
AndrewT is online now AndrewT  Scotland
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Quote:
Originally posted by AndrewT
Can integrated sound cards be made to work adequately or well?

Quote:
Originally posted by Gordy
are you intimating that it is not possible to get good measurements from a sound-card based system?
no,
I really am asking whether an integrated sound card rather than an add on or external card can be used.
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Old 14th February 2008, 04:14 PM   #9
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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your budget is in the Lynx Studio price range - still top testing in "sound cards" category

Lynx L22, or I would prefer the flexibility of the Lynx Two A with 4 in, 4 out for < US$200 more

the Lynx products are old enough you may need to ask about your 2.3 pci
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