Sound Card for Home Recording

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brett Hancock, Feb 8, 2003.

  1. Brett Hancock

    Brett Hancock Supporting Actor

    Jun 17, 2001
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    I need a few recommendations on a good sound card for recording music at home. I will just be doing basic recording for my band. We have 2 guitars, drums, bass, and vocals. Nothing out of the ordinary. I am going to be recording with 3 sm58's and an sm57. I am looking to spend around 200-250 dollars for a good quality card. Also from browsing around I noticed that a few of the cards in this range offer a front mounted drive that has xlr inputs, I don't know what advantages or disadvantages these offer so any info on this would be greatly appreciated. My computer specs are as follows

    Amd Xp-1600
    256 DDR Ram
    80 gig hard drive
    Windows XP Pro

  2. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

    Jan 8, 2003
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    hmm. . . afraid that kind of stuff is a little over my head, but I would say look into getting a soundboard with a single out that goes to your comp, I really don't know the price ranges on them, so it may or may not be feasable.

    oh and something I like to go by is that the fewer adapters you have to use the better off you are. I deal with that kinda stuff all the time at work with people wanting to adapt XLR to mini and BNC to RCA etc.
  3. JeremyFr

    JeremyFr Supporting Actor

    Jan 28, 2003
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    I would recommend the echo mia, both can be found at Guitar Center very reasonably priced are all Pro Tools compatible and are great true 24bit 96khz cards they are much better than using something say like a Sound Blaster Audigy (dont get me wrong great card I've got one just not a professional card). Give it a look you wont be sorry.

    heres a link for more info on the mia
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

    Jan 18, 1999
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    OK, let's start at the beginning:

    Most cards with XLR inputs that at the price you're looking for are not designed for microphone inputs. As I'm sure you realize, microphone level is much lower than line level, and requires a preamplifier to get up to the proper level. Mixing consoles have mic preamps in them, and then pass line level out.

    If you see 200 dollar sound card with XLR, chances are these are just balanced connections designed for accepting line level, not "microphone" inputs.

    Now, there are cards which have mic preamps in them- one of the best "budget" one I've encountered is the Q-10 from Aradvark. Of course, it's 800 dollars, plus.

    So the first step is to figure out how you want to record.

    Cards are basically available in two flavors: A stereo card or a Multitrack card.

    A multitrack card will give you multiple inputs that can be recorded to individual tracks to be mixed later (like traditional multitrack tape). That q-10 card i mentioned above has 10 inputs, and could record to 10 different tracks at the same time (depending on computer power). This allows you to record each instrument (or even each drum for example) to a different track and mix them later.

    A stereo card would be like any regular soundcard- allowing 2 inputs. With this configuration you could either record the whole band "live to 2-track", or you could record each instrument one at a time to a stereo track and mix later (basically overdub each part one at a time).

    At the price point you're talking, I would strongly advise getting a nice 2 channel card rather than a shitty multitrack card.

    And since getting a card with micpreamps is probably not a good idea at that price point, you'll need a small outboard mixing console.

    I have setup this rig for about 10 people so far, and all are very happy for demo projects:
    - Echo Mia 2 channel soundcard. Nice sounding 24/96 card, 2 input / 2 output with digital in/out as well.
    - Behringer EURORACK MX802A mixer (

    You should be able to get both right around 250- and with misc cables you'll need it will be under 300 I'd guess. If you're looking for a bit more advanced, you could get the EURORACK MXB1002 for a few more mic inputs.

    This setup will give you a decent small mixer with mic inputs (and additional line inputs). Since it sounds like you don't have a ton of mics, this would probably be ideal.

    If this were my rig, I'd either:
    1) record drums in stereo using all the mics you have (run through mixer, mix them how they should sound, record them to the PC in stereo)- and then you could overdub all the guitars and bass (could probably be recorded at the same time), and then overdub vocals.
    2) Record drums (2 mics stereo), Guitars (one mic each) and Bass (line out) all live to a stereo track. Using the mixer, you could balance all the sounds and then overdub vocals later. This config could be setup and left alone, allowing you to click RECORD anytime at practice and get demo stuff to tape immediately.

    Anyway Brett, if you're serious about it-- drop me an email and I'll help you out with some diagrams of how to wire stuff, and some tips to getting the best sounds and best configuration for what you're trying to do. We can figure out how to best spend your cash to get you what you're seeking.

    Again, I've done the MIA/802 setup for about 10 people so far (and also showed this config to one person here on the forum)-- and all my friends who have it, love it!

    While Jeremy suggested pro tools- I actually find the vegas/sound forge combination to be better for beginners. Pro Tools is great, but i'd say if you're getting started, Sonic Foundry stuff is real easy to use (Pro Tools Free is crippled to 8 tracks, and LE costs enough to make it not great, especially if you're just starting).


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