Which sound card to buy?

Ready for high-end card

I will be buying a new PC, perhaps as early as this week. As long as I’m having to buy it, I figure I might as well add a high-end sound card at the same time.

Something along the lines of Layla or a comparable brand; quality without breaking the bank.

I’ve been using the Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2, and it’s been passable, but I’m ready to move up from that. Plus, I’ll still have it as an additional card on the existing computer.

I will be using the new card with n-track and/or Adobe Audition, a Roland VM-3100 Pro, and an Alesis Studio 24).

Any recommendations will be appreciated.

How many inputs?

The M-Audio Delta range has cards with 2, 4, 10 inputs. Generally very rugged and reliable.


I’ll second the M-Audio endorsement. I’ve had my M-Audio Audiophile 2496 card for more than 5 years and it’s never let me down.

the millions of miles i have read about soundcards pointed me to the Delta 1010,ive read the 1010 maybe a lilttle quieter then the 1010lt because of the breakout box,im sure anything ya get by delta will be good,and they are one of the cards recomended by Flavio for Ntrack

They’re getting a bit long in the tooth though aren’t they by now? I guess they’d be mega stable too though by the same token (or at least you’d hope so).

EMU or Mackie, maybe…

I’ve got a echo layla 24/96 and have had an M-audio delta 1010 lite. Although the echo’s control panel is a LOT easier to use than the m-audio, the delta 1010 was more stable in general with the version of n-track I used at the time. I’ve had various little glitches with my 24/96 such as the recording stopping all by itself for no apparent reason and the more tracks you record the sooner it happens.

The 1010lt routing options can take some getting used to and aren’t really the best laid out in my opinion.

My next purchase would be a firewire compatible card due to its ease of using with different systems. I would think about how many tracks you need and if you’re gonna’ record others in the future. I’ve found that a minimum of 10 tracks is required for a typical rock band recording if you want separate tracks for each instrument. The Presonus line has some good buzz and their newer firebox is the firepod with ADAT inputs for an expandable 16 tracks.

If you’re not planning on ever recording a full band and only want stereo inputs…

I’d do one of two things, save my money and by a less costly but similar quality card as the above mentioned.


spend the same amount as the cards above and get a REALLY nice audio card.

The delta series are a bit long in the tooth, but along with stabillity, I think you also get a proven card and support.

Another vote for the delta series.

The other thing you might consider is if the card you go for is actually supported / available locally.
If something goes bellyup on a card you got shipped half way across your country it might be a schlep to get it back to them / replaced / repaired.

Delta 1010 vs 1010LT (I have the LT and am very happy with it)
- External A/D converters (very cool)
- Breakout box

Cons - more expensive

-two XLR inputs with preamps built in
-the XLR inputs don’t have phantom power and the setting for the input levels are on the chard itself
No breakout box (clump of cables for both the analogue, digital and midi ins/outs).
I’ve made a breakout box that works like a charm (about 70 odd solder joints) but I would like the tidyness of the LT.

All the other settings (performance and specs) is the same and you can synch any delta to any other model.

If I had the choice again I would pro’lly save the bucks for the regular 1010.

Please note that I only know the delta cards as I’ve never worked with any other models.


I’ll throw in a plug for the Presonus “FIRE” stuff. My desktop has an EMU1820M which I think is awesome. I also have a Presonus FireBOX that my son uses. It is great and being Firewire is exrtemely portable. If you need more I/O than the FireBOX, look at the FirePOD. Presonus just started shipping the FireSTUDIO which is a great looking piece of gear with tons of I/O and may force the price of the FirePOD down.

I use my desktop and EMU with a Berry ADA8000 for tracking up to 16 channels at a time. It works and sounds fantastic. However, it is not very portable. If were I starting over, I’d look seriously at the FireSTUDIO or one of the MOTU Firewire interfaces so I could use it with my desktop OR laptop.

As with a lot of stuff in this game, you have to look at what you need, what you can afford and build in a little “future proofing” and hope for the best.


PS The audio specs for the Presonus stuff is almost up to par with the “M” series EMU stuff which has the super-duper “mastering grade” converters. The FireBOX sounds great.

As others have mentioned, look at the Delta 1010LT. I’ve had a Delta 1010LT for about 4 months and for the price, it’s a great value (about $200 US). It was easy to set up and configure, overall the sound quality is good. It includes MIDI, also (JUst getting my feet wet with MIDI).

Since there is no break-out box, I highly recommend investing in a patchbay to avoid stress on the connector cable… I picked up a Behringer PatchPro fro $45.


I’d also go with the Delta 1010LT as a step up from the Audigy. I’ve had my 1010LT running with n on a Win2000 box for more than three years without any issues and it was simple to set up. So much so, in fact, that I just ordered a second 1010LT so I can start recording more than just 8 tracks at once. I’d like to upgrade my whole setup at some point and graduate to something like RME with much better converters and more digital connects, but that’s just not in the cards yet. The converters on the Layla may be a bit better, but I think the 1010LT is more bang for the buck, especially if you’re going to keep your recordings in the 24bit range. If you do go for the 1010LT, definitely go with a decent patch bay and/or generous cable lengths to keep the weight off the back of the card – the existing harness could be a lot longer. You can hear a few songs that I did with this set up - http://www.myspace.com/thisquestion