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Recc. soundcards for low noise/greater DR?

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Ted Bragg
Recc. soundcards for low noise/greater DR?
on Mar 13, 2016 at 3:31:56 am

I'm a video editor, stuck with onboard 'HD audio' ports on my PC. i'd like to upgrade to a sound card, but my past experiences with Rolands and Sound Blasters were terrible. Of course, that was in the mid-90s. (yes, it's been awhile)

I could buy something off the shelf at BestBuy or Frys but those things are made for gamers. I want low noise, high (110-120db) dynamic range and I'm open to more niche, high-priced options.

My work is showing up on broadcast TV now, and this is one area I need to shore up the right way.

current rig:
i7 4790
Win10 64bit
Asus brand board, PS and case.

I have three PCIe 16x 2.0 slots available and USB 3.0 onboard. Not sure if that matters any -- but, just in case.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Recc. soundcards for low noise/greater DR?
on Mar 13, 2016 at 2:12:45 pm
Last Edited By Richard Crowley on Mar 13, 2016 at 2:22:09 pm

If you want low noise, you don't want to create the analog audio in the "hostile territory" of the computer box. You should be looking at EXTERNAL audio interface solutions. They range from $5 USB "dongles" to a $30 solution like Behringer UCA202 or UCA222 up through audiophool devices that probably cost more than your computer. Even the low-cost Behringer gadgets are probably superior to all those "name brand" internal boards from the 1990s. Indeed, they were caught up in a lot of gamer hype and ethos that had nothing to do with audio quality.

If you want a specific suggestion, IMHO, something like the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a sensible basic USB audio interface at ~US$100. It even includes a decent XLR microphone input if you need to record a voice-over, etc.

And the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD has been recently been selling for a killer $50 street price. I bought one just because it is such a remarkable price/value.

You didn't mention what speakers you are using, but it would be unusual to select an external USB audio interface at any price that couldn't be easily connected to most any speakers.

The quality of your mixes is probably more dependent on your monitor speakers than on any other piece of hardware or software in your rig. Hopefully you are using decent proper monitor speakers, and not any kind of plastic "computer speaker". And the acoustics of your mixing space are also significant and shouldn't be ignored casually.

USB2 has more than enough bandwith for 2 channels, or even for 6 channels (5.1 mixes) There are a growing number of speaker systems which interface directly via USB and completely bypass analog connections.

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Ted Bragg
Re: Recc. soundcards for low noise/greater DR?
on Mar 14, 2016 at 5:58:29 pm

Wow! What a wealth of info. Thank you.

I had the chance to audition both the Presonus and the Focusrite at GuitarCenter, and I'll be going with the Scarlett Solo.

Thanks again,


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