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two sound cards?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Mandobass, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. Mandobass


    Nov 12, 2002
    Raleigh, NC

    how feasible is running two soundcards? i'm running xp and have a revolution, but am considering adding another soundcard and dedicating it to recording. will i have to reboot everytime i want to change soundcard interfaces, or what?
  2. Bryan_G


    Apr 28, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    Unless it is usb any hardware changes require a reboot. Assuming you can get the resources worked out, and the system running stable, one issue with running two soundcards is latency. I have done it before and it worked fine, but I would have to manually sync the tracks after I was done recording. I don't know that this would be the case with all soundcards, but it happened to me. Maybe if both soundcards were the same they would have the same latency?
  3. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    I've got two soundcards and use them simultaneously, but I'm wondering if maybe I've got your question quite right...

    My original SoundBlaster is set up as the output for my MIDI sounds and MusicMatch MP3/CD, Windows sounds, etc. My Steinberg Project card is dedicated for input and output of my Cubase audio tracks.

    I haven't truly tried/tested out switching "on the fly" so that one minute I'm outputting to the Project Card, and the next I'm out to the SB. I *think* I have done that successfully in the past but would need to check to be sure; I'm especially doubtful now that I've read the previous post.

    Regardless, when I previously had the Project card as my "input" and SB as "output" for the recorded audio I indeed got latency problems as the last poster mentioned. Cleared up almost perfectly when I dedicated the Project card for input AND output.

    Talk soon,
  4. Bryan_G


    Apr 28, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    As long as you don't disable either soundcard from the device manager, you can switch without rebooting through the control panel/sound.../Audio/ then just swicth between the devices. You can also set individual program to only use one or the other without changing the default device, but this depends on the program and its options. If you are only recording with the other sound card latency shouldn't be a problem.
    However the more stuff you have in your computer the more stability becomes an issue. I know xp does irq sharring and they swear that it is perfect, but I have had problems with it(especialy using two soundcards). You may want to try manualy setting it up, or even setting up a dedicated install of xp just for recording and dual boot, disabling all the devices and software you don't use.
    Why are you thinking about using two soundcards?
  5. If your using multiple sound cards, I'd suggest using identical cards. I've done this with differnt cards before and had timing issues.
  6. Phantasm

    Phantasm I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

    Sep 16, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    My experience is that one of the cards must get clocking from the other if this is to work at all. Otherwise it's pop, click, and skip city. As you've stated, the best chance for that is usually identical cards.
  7. I would have thought that much of the benefit would come from having two identical cards, that way you can effectively chain them together (depending on the capabilities of the software).

    You will indeed get latency issues, the severity of these will depend on the quality of the drivers and the relative reduction in latency under whatever application you use.

    Finally, there are issues with IRQ sharing and PCI steering. You will place extra load on your CPU if you share IRQs as the interrupts hae to be handled by your CPU, which can lead to clicking and popping and jumping during recording and playback, especially if you start applying effects to the tracks.

    How well your machine handles multiple soundcards can depend very much on the type of motherboard (i.e. chipset).
  8. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Figured I'd resurrect an old thread rather than start a new one on the same question, though my situation's a wee bit different.

    I recently installed an M-Audio Delta 24/96 on my HP P4 with XP. I kept the old card installed. My plan was to use the M-Audio strictly for recording audio/MIDI, running its RCA outs into my 4 track and monitoring with headphones. I wanted to keep the soundcard that came with the computer as the default, using it for CD playback, internet sound, and whatnot, running its 1/8" out into powered monitors.

    When installing the M-Audio I did not set it as the default soundcard. But now when I go to Control Panel-->Sound-->Audio, the M-Audio is listed as the default (and only) device for sound playback and recording, with no entry for the original card. The original card is still listed as the default device for MIDI playback, however.

    I've Googled this ? and used the HP's (useless) help feature, didn't find anything helpful. I also have Linux music software installed on the HP and it detects both cards, doesn't change defaults without asking, and lets me switch between the two cards. Can't wait for the day when Linux brings Bill Gates' empire of mediocrity down, but what can I do to use both cards in Window$ in the meantime?
  9. Well, on my main PC at home, I have on-motherboard 5.1 audio which I don't use plus a USB Soundblaster 5.1 plus a M-Audio Delta 44. I use the Delta and Soundblaster simultaneously with no problems. The Soundblaster is for games and movies and the Delta is for recording.

    On my PC at my studio, we have an M-Audio Delta 1010LT which we only use for movies and general audio playback plus two Aardvark Q10's for recording 16-track digital. Plus, there's on-motherboard audio on that system too. Everything seems to coexist just fine.

    - Dave
  10. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I think I'll try uninstalling the Delta, then reinstalling to see what happens.

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