PCI vs. USB for inputs/preamp

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by jasonbraatz, Aug 25, 2002.

  1. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    I'm helping a friend build a pretty basic DAW, but something that we could eventually expand into a semi-commercial setup.

    Should we put most of the money into the PC or into the audio interface? (Or mics?)

    are any of the USB interfaces like the Aardvark USB or the Digidesign MBox USB 2.0 yet?

    Should we go the soundcard w/input way or get a seperate PCI card with breakout box?

    I think the thing i would want the most would be the Aardvark Q10, with 8 mic preamps 2 guitar preamps and PCI card. He's a drummer so he wants to be able to record really nice sounding drums if he needs to, along with wanting to record full bands live.

    Computer will be a 2Ghz P4 with at least 512ram, Win XP pro, probably with a 20G 7200 rpm drive and an 80gig 7200rpm drive. might set it up dual boot with one side for internet, games, etc and the other side as DAW. oh yeah, and it'll be running Sonic Foundry Vegas 3.0.

  2. awesome


    Aug 14, 2002
    Let me first say I haven't got a decent DAW myself so this might not be good advice. But I have been looking for a setup for quite some time now, just can't decide how pro I want it to be.

    "Should we put most of the money into the PC or into the audio interface? (Or mics?)"

    They should all be decent, but personally , if I want to expand to a pro-studio, I would get the best interface I could afford.

    If you're on a budget, you can also get an adat-card and start off with cheap converters and upgrade later.

    But the Aardvark Q10 would be a good choice if you don't want to spend to much (cause you don't have to buy separate mic pre's or a mixer) and it might serve you for a long time.

    If you're going with lightpipe (adat), a RME card with STA might be a good choice (cause it's cheap)

    (Not easy to give advice since you didn't give a budget)

    "are any of the USB interfaces like the Aardvark USB or the Digidesign MBox USB 2.0 yet? "

    Haven't heard of usb2-interfaces yet, there are some firewire-interfaces though (MOTU, digi002, ...)
    (Note that the MBox is Mac only.)

    "Should we go the soundcard w/input way or get a seperate PCI card with breakout box?"

    I would go for breakout box. Without, your channels will be limited (mostly to 2 or 4), and it's more difficult to expand.

    PC looks nice, but personally I would go for Mac (for compatibility, stability)

    Conclusion: The Q10 might be your best choice if that's you budget.

    For the moment, I was thinking of a Mac with the new MOTU 2408mk3 and some cheap mic pre's (behringer/smpro) and mic's. (But it might take a while before I'm actually gone buy something, future is a bit uncertain now.)

    I hope this helps,
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Mac-users get your heads out of the past!
    A PC has more power for the money and Windows XP is at least as stable as OSX.

    As for compatibility, I don't think all audio software runs flawlessly on OSX yet ;)
    Compatibility is not an issue anymore, unless you have to work in a Mac studio environment.

    Cubase SX, Nuendo or Logic 5.2 (sic) is as good as any Mac stuff - if not better.

    That said, I second the PCI card w/ breakout box suggestion. Just stay away from the Creative Labs Audigy (total crap!), get a Midiman Delta 1010 or a RME Hammerfall if you can afford it :cool:
  4. awesome


    Aug 14, 2002
    Don't know in the US but here all macs have os9 and osX installed.
    All software developers are working on an OSX-version
    From what I've heard, OSX is optimised for audio-applications.
    Protools Mbox is not compatible, also no digital performer (motu) for windows.
    Apple bought Emagic and has announced that the new logic version will only be for mac.

    I used protools, logic and cubase both on mac and pc and I like the mac-versions better ... but this is subjective off course.

    And I'm not saying everybody should get macs, I'm only saying I prefer em (I bought myself a pc 6 months ago and I'm kicking myself for doing so)

  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Check out Cubase SX, you'll like it ;)
  6. awesome


    Aug 14, 2002
    And I forgot I also have a reply for this

    Creative is indeed total crap, it's a gamers card and that's not what you want.

    Delta 1010, echo layla and Q10 are all around the same quality, but the Q10 is the only one with mic pre's.
    The digi001 and motu 2408mk2 are also good pro-soundcards in the 800-1000$ (list-) price range.
  7. awesome


    Aug 14, 2002
    well .. I'm kind of a protools fan you know :)

    I also like logic more than cubase for the midi stuff. (but I don't use much midi anymore)
  8. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I know, it's sort of frustrating. -but you can't save everybody. ;)
  9. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Some other things to consider.
    1) you don't need a super pimped out computer to run audio stuffis. I've been to many pro studios all running on powermac g4s(except for one on a powermac g3)
    that were at least 3 years old(500 mhz 256 ram external HD space upto 60 gigs) and they produce pro recordings.
    2) I would say its more important to have pimped out audio interface.
    3) scsi hard drives are very important for their speed and reliabilty....they are pricier but important

    and on a side note
    I would gladly take a mac(which contrary to pc users belief are not outdated and slow)to a pc running windows....I have a pc....I use it every day....I hate it.
    I have a mac I use it every day...I love it.
    Windows xp is the worst operating system I've ever used....yuck.
  10. TRU


    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    No one has mentioned the mics. I guess they are where most of your money should go. Any 8-channel interface should do the job, at least if it is capable of 24bit/96kHz. USB is not a competitor for PCI performance wise.
  11. TRU


    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    Yeah, but the super pimped out Digidesign DSP farm is there for a reason... It depends on how many plugins/software synths/tracks you are going to run at once.
  12. Well, I have heard this argument before (as most have) and I have found that most Mac users can't stand PC's and vice versa (I am not a big Mac fan).

    Just wanted th throw my approach into the mix as a suggestion. I have a Tascam 788, a echo Mia with digital ins (24 bit.96khz), Cubase and Wavelab.

    Currently I record and premaster on the tascam, then import digitally to my PC (1.9 Ghz P4) and master in Wavelab. As I get more into this I will probably expand my system by getting another portable with more tracks, and maybe a breakout box to transfer stuff to the PC, depends.

    Alot of stuff allows you to break each track recorded into a wav or mp3 file and put that on CD, which you could then bring into the PC.

    I have gone this route because of it's portability and ease of setup. I can take my tascam to gigs and get set up easily, then come back home and play with it. It seems to work out fine for me.

    Oh, and by the way..........I haven't had that "clicking" problem talk about on P4's.

    just my .00002 $'s worth
  13. engramic


    Jul 9, 2002
    What a messy thread...

    USB 2.0 is not yet available but when it comes out it will kick arse. USB 1.0 is horrible.

    I recommend getting good mics and good pre amps, because you will keep them for years but a digital audio interface might be dated in a year. It's hard to get a good sound without good mics and pre's. Still, make sure you get a decent audio interface.

    Breakout box is better in many cases but often more expensive.

    Sure OSX is nice but there are there any decent audio programs for it yet? Last I heard Melodyne was the only one. It's probably still got some way to go before it matures. I run into unexplainable and irregular problems with Final Cut Pro 3 on OSX... I blame the OS. 9.2 is still the OS to use for Mac. WinXP is beautiful. Cubase SX is awesome with spreading processing across several computers... how can you beat that :)
  14. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    ok here's what i recommended for my friend

    Falcon-NW Talon 4.3 Computer (athlon xp 1800 processor, 256 meg ram, fast hard drives, $900 bucks, nothing but premium components. we'll up the ram and add a bigger hard drive)

    and for the audio interface i recommended the M-Audio Omnistudio. he doesn't really need a full blown studio setup right now, just something for us to finish our CD on and for him to write on.
  15. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    But I dont think anyone pointed out the benefits of USB vs PCI. I to am trying to put a system together. My idea was if its USB you can take the USB home from the recoeding area(drums) and hook up at home lay more tracks record on to cd, take it back to practice place. Portability etc.

    Help me out!!
  16. jblake


    Aug 30, 2001
    Gray, ME
    PCI vs. USB

    Everything I've heard about USB audio has been negative. I believe it has something to do with USB not being able to handle asynchronus tranfers too well. There was a great article in Electronic Musician about all this a few months back.
  17. USB can be too slow once you start summing up drum, guitar, vocal, and misc tracks while recording. I'd go for PCI to eliminate the potential problems. Even if USB works for now, what about later?

    Prices seem to be comparable, for the most part.