Sound cards

Soon to buy

I’m looking for advice.
I currently have a 6 year old computer with a Sound Blaster Audio PCI 64 D sound card. It has served me well with home multi-tracking with n-track. I especially like that the mixer has a slide control for about 10 functions, the most important to me being one for recording levels, one for line in, one for microphone with boost and mute controls, and one for CD in case I want to use use n-track to mess with a song from a CD.
It’s getting to be time for a new computer and I have a question about some of the sound cards currently offered by Dell. Will the Sound Blaster Live 5.1 and or the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 (D) with DVD audio, have all those controls I like (one for recording levels, one for line in, one for microphone with boost and mute controls, etc.)? Anybody know about their bottom-of-the-line “integrated audio?” I was thinking of shying away from that.
If I get a 24 bit card, can it still be set up for use with the 16 bit version of n-track that I have?
Any advice?

Usually the bottom of the line integrated audio sucks, so I wouldn’t rely on that. I’ve never used the Audigy cards, but I’m sure some users here have, and can advise you on that. As for buying a 24 bit card, if you have the spare change, that would be preferable. I’m pretty sure all of them can be set for just 16bit operation (I know my Echo MIA can). I used an Ensoiq AudioPCI for quite a while (even recorded a CD with it) with great results, but I did notice a big improvement when I went to the higher end card. It’s hard to describe, but the best way I can say it is that everything sounded the way it was supposed to. If you’ve ever upgraded something to a better piece of gear, you’ll know what I mean. The highs were smoother, the overall sound was better, the noise levels were lower (much); it just sounds better, whether in 24 or 16 bit mode.

I used to have a SB Live (still do, but only use it for MIDI synth and to playback windows sounds now).
The mixer for all Creative cards is pretty much the same, just looks a bit different graphics wise and size/features depend on the card. So it will be pretty much what you are used to with a few extra inputs that you have control of.

If you have the capacity to buy a 24 bit card I’d pay the little bit extra and upgrade to the 24 bit version of N. It’s not much at all and if you have the hardware, why not use it.

Rich

John, if that’s the PCI 64 Ensoniq card, it still kicks arse as far as audio is concerned, (well, for 16 bit, 44.1 anyway :).

Ok, it’s crap for MIDI, but get SFZ or something and use that for soundfonts.

But, if you want 24/96, then I can recommend the Audigy2 ZS range, but I’m sure that others on here can recommend cards that are equally good if not better.

Ali

I’ve tried a 24 bit card with 16 bit n-track. doesn’t work.

card wise-I usually recommend the Delta 1010lt. Great beginner card. NO complaints.

I have my eye on the Emu 0404 card at around $110 or £70. It seems to be getting very good reviews and I think it covers all what you are trying to do. Might be worth a look.

In buying a new PC, see if the dealer will off-set the costs on the soundcard for you. There are often back street or lesser known dealers who will do this sort of thing as well.

bought the m-audio Audiophile 2496 - great sound, rock solid drivers and low latency - cost around £70. Decided to go for this one because it has been around for a while and seems pretty reliable. You need to upgrade to the 24bit n-track…

Does not play MIDI or soundfonts but you can route any internal MIDI sounds through it and/or download a free VST soundfont player - http://www.rgcaudio.com/