Old 08-17-2019, 07:02 PM   #1
judelaw
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Default Usb interface suggestion

Good evening everyone,

I'm looking for a usb sound card for my computer (the computer has no integrated sound card and no free slots, only usb2 ports) This computer will be used only for video production (maybe for some games also).

I already have a computer for audio production with Reaper so no need for any audio inputs, a mere stereo output will be sufficient. the reason why I'm asking in this forum is becuase I guess that if a soundcard is working well for reaper users it should also work for video production (with vegas or adobe premiere)

Now I don't really trust these usb interfaces, I had a very bad experience with a Focusrite that I returned because it wasn't working nice, and was causing bsod. So I don't know if there are really reliable ones.

here are the features that I need :

-Good converter, good audio

-Able to render 24bit 48khz audio

-Just one stereo output (nothing else, inputs aren't needed)

-Flawless : No noise, pops, bugs, bsod whatsoever. No drivers, or really reliable solid and simple drivers that work with both windows 7 sp1 and (if possible) windows 10.

-God enough latency for video editing

-Not expensive.



Thanks a lot for you advice if you have any.
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Old 08-20-2019, 02:07 AM   #2
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Why do you have any latency needs for video editing? Features list kinda suggests any USB interface
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by judelaw View Post
Good evening everyone,

I'm looking for a usb sound card for my computer (the computer has no integrated sound card and no free slots, only usb2 ports) This computer will be used only for video production (maybe for some games also).

I already have a computer for audio production with Reaper so no need for any audio inputs, a mere stereo output will be sufficient. the reason why I'm asking in this forum is becuase I guess that if a soundcard is working well for reaper users it should also work for video production (with vegas or adobe premiere)

Now I don't really trust these usb interfaces, I had a very bad experience with a Focusrite that I returned because it wasn't working nice, and was causing bsod. So I don't know if there are really reliable ones.

here are the features that I need :

-Good converter, good audio

-Able to render 24bit 48khz audio

-Just one stereo output (nothing else, inputs aren't needed)

-Flawless : No noise, pops, bugs, bsod whatsoever. No drivers, or really reliable solid and simple drivers that work with both windows 7 sp1 and (if possible) windows 10.

-God enough latency for video editing

-Not expensive.



Thanks a lot for you advice if you have any.
The last item on your list makes all the rest problematic. Cheap and excellent dont generally go together. I use and RME Babyface on my laptop & its great but I bought it used for 300UK pounds several years ago, so not cheap even used.
ANd as was previously mentioned if you dont actually need low latency, just about any USB interface would be fine.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:51 PM   #4
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Good enough latency for video = any latency.

You only need low latency for live sound work. Where the sound in the room needs to be in sync with sound going through and coming out the computer. Just doing post work where everything (video included) comes out of the computer isn't live. You should actually set the latency high for this kind of work to save CPU for processing.

re: rendering
This is done completely by the DAW app. Any connected interface has absolutely no effect on rendering. Just playback quality.

Good converters? Just about anything modern will at least be good.
Maybe grab a used Apogee Duet?
It would have a pair of inputs you said you didn't need but it would have above average converters. And you can snipe it for $65 on Ebay.

If you aren't recording any of the audio associated with the video though... do you really need to go extra for higher end converters just for monitoring? Your computer's built-in audio interface would probably make the cut just fine.
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Old 08-23-2019, 03:24 AM   #5
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Good converters? Just about anything modern will at least be good.
Maybe grab a used Apogee Duet?
i don't think that's got drivers for win 7?

but just echo-ing the other comments, i think pretty much any relatively recent class compliant USB2 interface will be fine.
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:36 AM   #6
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i don't think that's got drivers for win 7?

but just echo-ing the other comments, i think pretty much any relatively recent class compliant USB2 interface will be fine.
Missed the Windows part initially. That might be the case. I believe that any class compliant audio interface for OSX requires a driver install for Windows FYI. Check the specs before buying.

Maybe nowadays there's a 3rd party on the internets somewhere that has written some drivers for Windows to make some of the OSX-only interfaces work? Might be a rabbit hole of course.

But again, if the only need is to monitor audio while editing video the interface is a bit of a moot point. Recording audio and producing audio mixes with finesse would benefit from a professional audio interface. AD converters would never get touched if you weren't recording. You'd never set your system for low latency if you weren't running live sound.

Last edited by serr; 08-23-2019 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:42 PM   #7
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Focusrite Saffire Solo or 2in2. Second generation just got cheaper since they introduced the 3rd generation(USB C no power brick necessary). $120 for 2in2 iirc. They're decent interfaces with decent headphone amps and good outputs.
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:54 PM   #8
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Perhaps this simple interface from RODE?

https://www.amazon.com/Rode-AI1-Sing...dp/B077Y531H1/
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Old 08-23-2019, 05:20 PM   #9
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If you can find one, just get a Lexicon Alpha and be done with it...
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Old 08-23-2019, 09:09 PM   #10
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Thanks for your answers, sorry I didn't reply sooner, I though no one had answered.

My motherboard doesn't have built-in audio.

For the latency, I just meant no crazy latency that would create issues. Indeed, with this computer I will just edit videos and play some games.

It's just that I need something really stable, if it has drivers, then I need drivers that will never cause issues.

Noise also is important, I don't want any unwanted noise : coil noise, pop, cracks, humming...
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Old 08-24-2019, 01:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by EpicSounds View Post
Perhaps this simple interface from RODE?

https://www.amazon.com/Rode-AI1-Sing...dp/B077Y531H1/
Oz-centricity again... several impolite reviews about it either not working immediately/shortly after installation.

Could be meatware errors, but even so at $129 US maybe he could do better?
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:34 AM   #12
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While I never experienced major* issues with any interface, the cheapest fast and reliable one would be the NI Komplete Audio 6. Features a handy analogue volume knob, 4 i/o plus SPDIF. I recommended it to several friends, and they're all super happy.

(* "major" as in "not working at all". The Zoom one wasn't easy to install correctly, but once done it's amazing)
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Old 08-29-2019, 04:41 AM   #13
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Just had a look at the spec for the MK2 Kontrol6 and although it does now have phantom power sadly it doesnt have ADAT I/O.

Otherwise a great interface from what I have heard using the Mk1
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Old 08-29-2019, 07:54 AM   #14
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sadly it doesnt have ADAT I/O.
so what? OP didn't ask for ADAT
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
Good enough latency for video = any latency.

You only need low latency for live sound work. Where the sound in the room needs to be in sync with sound going through and coming out the computer. Just doing post work where everything (video included) comes out of the computer isn't live. You should actually set the latency high for this kind of work to save CPU for processing.

re: rendering
This is done completely by the DAW app. Any connected interface has absolutely no effect on rendering. Just playback quality.

Good converters? Just about anything modern will at least be good.
Maybe grab a used Apogee Duet?
It would have a pair of inputs you said you didn't need but it would have above average converters. And you can snipe it for $65 on Ebay.

If you aren't recording any of the audio associated with the video though... do you really need to go extra for higher end converters just for monitoring? Your computer's built-in audio interface would probably make the cut just fine.
I am trying to figure out why you and others have said that even on board audio would work, but are still recommending pricey audio interfaces. You did suggest a *used* interface, and mentioned it can be had on ebay for $65 though, which is much better than some others suggested. I think you'd have to get lucky on a bid style auction though to get it that low, but maybe that's possible. But a couple other people recommended $150 or even $300 interfaces, which seems like way too much for this.

Really some cheap audio adapter (like sub $20, even) will work for this, no? I assumed that all the rendering power requirements would be on the other PC, where the .wav file (presumably) is being generated.. and in the video editing software, really all the heavy processing power is in the video rendering (so CPU + memory + video card are the big needs).

Or is that not right.. is there in fact more processing power required for the audio? I would think that especially if your audio is recorded on the other PC in the same format (48khz wav or something) that there wouldn't be really any requirement for audio outside of on-board. In which case.. people should probably stop suggesting audio interfaces I might be missing something, and I'm not trying to be rude here.. just trying to clarify/understand. I'm just got a little confused when people are saying that it will require nearly no sound processing power (which sounds right to me), but are still recommending interfaces that are 3 figures in price... not so much you though, because you believe that one can be had for $65, used, which might be true, and is probably a good pick up though, if true.
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Old 08-29-2019, 12:17 PM   #16
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so what? OP didn't ask for ADAT
I was commenting on it as a potential replacement for the next time one of my interfaces coughs.
AFAIK that is still legal on here...
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Old 08-30-2019, 01:52 AM   #17
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I am trying to figure out why you and others have said that even on board audio would work, but are still recommending pricey audio interfaces. You did suggest a *used* interface, and mentioned it can be had on ebay for $65 though, which is much better than some others suggested. I think you'd have to get lucky on a bid style auction though to get it that low, but maybe that's possible. But a couple other people recommended $150 or even $300 interfaces, which seems like way too much for this.

Really some cheap audio adapter (like sub $20, even) will work for this, no? I assumed that all the rendering power requirements would be on the other PC, where the .wav file (presumably) is being generated.. and in the video editing software, really all the heavy processing power is in the video rendering (so CPU + memory + video card are the big needs).

Or is that not right.. is there in fact more processing power required for the audio? I would think that especially if your audio is recorded on the other PC in the same format (48khz wav or something) that there wouldn't be really any requirement for audio outside of on-board. In which case.. people should probably stop suggesting audio interfaces I might be missing something, and I'm not trying to be rude here.. just trying to clarify/understand. I'm just got a little confused when people are saying that it will require nearly no sound processing power (which sounds right to me), but are still recommending interfaces that are 3 figures in price... not so much you though, because you believe that one can be had for $65, used, which might be true, and is probably a good pick up though, if true.
Yep, everything you say is true, i think, it's just that this is basically a music production forum & i guess that folks like to recommend gear they own or wish they owned, or perhaps even don't want to lose credibility by not following the herd / hype of the big name brands / marketing.
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Old 08-30-2019, 05:40 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by judelaw
the computer has no integrated sound card
When was this computer made? 1994?

What hardware can you possibly buy that is suitable for video work, but doesn't have an integrated sound card?

Or does it not have that because it's broken?
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Old 08-30-2019, 07:54 AM   #19
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When was this computer made? 1994?

What hardware can you possibly buy that is suitable for video work, but doesn't have an integrated sound card?

Or does it not have that because it's broken?
There's boatloads of mainboards without onboard sound in the professional sector. From servers to industrial computers, no one wants onboard sound. In fact, most people in these sectors won't even look at a mainboard with sound, as it spells "cheap junk" in their mind. And for industrial sites, you simply don't want any connector that isn't needed, as someone, someday might plug the wrong thing in it. 3,5 mm jacks seem to have some attraction to the idiot at hand.
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Old 08-30-2019, 08:06 AM   #20
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I am trying to figure out why you and others have said that even on board audio would work,
Because it will.
Even the lowly headphone output on my Macbook Pro sounds just fine when I plug it into a PA system. Line level audio is pretty easy to work with as far as the circuitry performance needs goes and most modern budget devices perform at a professional level. That doesn't suddenly negate reference quality gear. Just sayin'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cstooch View Post
but are still recommending pricey audio interfaces. You did suggest a *used* interface, and mentioned it can be had on ebay for $65 though, which is much better than some others suggested. I think you'd have to get lucky on a bid style auction though to get it that low, but maybe that's possible.
OP mentioned wanting above average DA converters for listening. (Weather or not that perceived need actually followed their genuine needs.) So I mentioned one that has above average DACs and could also be found for cheap. Why not, right?
That's the low end of the winning bids, yes. Not impossible to find though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cstooch View Post
But a couple other people recommended $150 or even $300 interfaces, which seems like way too much for this.
Well, it's a reasonable price for a reasonable pro interface new. If OP was just starting making purchases for a home studio setup, this is good advice. "Buy cheap, buy again" and all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cstooch View Post
Really some cheap audio adapter (like sub $20, even) will work for this, no?
Yeah... Now we're into facsimile territory (to put it kindly). These are the devices that might actually give you weirdo sound and odd intermittent problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cstooch View Post
I assumed that all the rendering power requirements would be on the other PC, where the .wav file (presumably) is being generated.. and in the video editing software, really all the heavy processing power is in the video rendering (so CPU + memory + video card are the big needs).

Or is that not right.. is there in fact more processing power required for the audio? I would think that especially if your audio is recorded on the other PC in the same format (48khz wav or something) that there wouldn't be really any requirement for audio outside of on-board. In which case.. people should probably stop suggesting audio interfaces I might be missing something, and I'm not trying to be rude here.. just trying to clarify/understand. I'm just got a little confused when people are saying that it will require nearly no sound processing power (which sounds right to me), but are still recommending interfaces that are 3 figures in price... not so much you though, because you believe that one can be had for $65, used, which might be true, and is probably a good pick up though, if true.
Again, rendering is DAW software driven. Any connected audio interface would not affect rendering in any way.

The recording quality is baked in at the time of the recording from the analog mic preamps and AD converters in the interface(s) for recording. Once the audio is digital, we're just pushing ones and zeros around.

Low latency is only needed for live sound work - either a band on stage or a personal performance rig. For post work with pre-recorded audio and video, you should actually set the DAW system latency high.
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:41 AM   #21
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All of that makes sense, thanks for the explanation, Serr!
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Old 09-03-2019, 11:23 PM   #22
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Thanks for all your answers!

Right know I don't even care about audio quality, or anything else. It seems that nowadays all sound cards have good enough sound.

What seem very hard for me on the other hand, is to achieve absolute stability with these usb sound cards : I don't want ever a single pop, or a single click, a single unwanted noise.

I just need a usb sound card that is well known for being absolutely stable.
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:49 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by cstooch View Post
But a couple other people recommended $150 or even $300 interfaces, which seems like way too much for this.

Really some cheap audio adapter (like sub $20, even) will work for this, no?
If someone can use an adapter for all they need to do, then an adapter would be fine. But as soon as one function puts it in the realm of cheap interfaces I have no problem telling someone to not let the top of their budget be $100. It has less to do with how well they work than if they're built like a toy, with a plastic or flimsy metal case and a power supply connector that will break off the circuit board the first time they're bumped. Digital signal flow is easy enough for anyone with a room full of parts and a schematic to put out an interface, and its cheesily made widgets made with cheesy parts are, in both the eyes of the consumer and the manufacturer, disposable items. It's a generalization to say that under $150 will break in a month and over will last longer, but I'd avoid anything that feels flimsy and if that takes out most of the available ones under $100 then I'd say raise the budget to $100 to $175.

I know the OP had a bad experience with Focusrite, but I've used both their 3rd gen $110 and $160 interfaces and found them rock solid and good sounding. Never used the PreSonus. It's worth noting that many (most?) of the $50 interfaces are limited to 16 bit. Not a dealkiller, but it makes them not equal to a $100 one that does 24 bit (and is built better).
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:59 AM   #24
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Hardware doesn't matter much...

There's a couple of USB-stick size output only devices out there that score very well with the audiophiles. I've heard one of those and it sounds very good. Price: around 20$ depending on where you get it.

The problem is, it doesn't have ASIO drivers. It's class compliant, which is fine for macOS and Linux. On Win10, it might be another story. But it's cheap enough to try if the built-in audio isn't up to it.

The one I heard was the AudioQuest DragonFly Red. Audioquest is selling these at 199$, but they can be found for far less, without the branding.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:53 AM   #25
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Thanks for all your answers!

Right know I don't even care about audio quality, or anything else. It seems that nowadays all sound cards have good enough sound.

What seem very hard for me on the other hand, is to achieve absolute stability with these usb sound cards : I don't want ever a single pop, or a single click, a single unwanted noise.

I just need a usb sound card that is well known for being absolutely stable.
Wait... USB connecting or pci connecting? Can't very well be both.

Does your computer really not have any built-in audio interface for sound output? Or is this what you are having stability problems with? I'd entertain the possibility of errant settings before doing anything else. Share your machine specs and your setup settings. (How you're connecting. Sample rate and block size settings and control panel used.)
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:03 AM   #26
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I need USB.

I don't know whether I should call it "sound card" or "audio interface", but I need USB.

No, there is no built-in audio in my motherboard I'm 100% sure about it.
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Old 09-04-2019, 10:21 AM   #27
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I need USB.

I don't know whether I should call it "sound card" or "audio interface", but I need USB.

No, there is no built-in audio in my motherboard I'm 100% sure about it.
Audio interface is the generic term. "Card" usually means pci card. You'll get responses talking about pci card connecting interfaces with that.

Those Focusrite units...
There are some comments about the mic pre quality and the DI input level range. They don't have the lowest latency and thus aren't a first choice for live sound use. But they're not just DOA facsimile products like stuff sold at Worst Purchase or something.

Let me ask another loaded question:
What block size did you have to set in Reaper to get stable operation out of the Focusrite? Or are you saying that you couldn't get stability at any block size? Even 1024 samples or 2048 samples?

You didn't volunteer any of that initially. If this setup stuff was not on your radar, it really could have been a setup issue.

Just to be clear. So, right now you can't even plug headphones into this machine and hear audio in any way shape or form? There's truly no audio on board at all?
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:46 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by cyrano View Post
Hardware doesn't matter much...

There's a couple of USB-stick size output only devices out there that score very well with the audiophiles. I've heard one of those and it sounds very good. Price: around 20$ depending on where you get it.

The problem is, it doesn't have ASIO drivers. It's class compliant, which is fine for macOS and Linux. On Win10, it might be another story. But it's cheap enough to try if the built-in audio isn't up to it.

The one I heard was the AudioQuest DragonFly Red. Audioquest is selling these at 199$, but they can be found for far less, without the branding.
Yeah. The SMSL iDEA performs basically identically to the Dragonfly, and goes for around $90.

See this very good technical analysis:

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2019/...udioquest.html

If balanced outputs are needed, then you're back to the usual suspects. Focusrite, Presonus, Behringer, M-Audio, Steinberg, Roland, and a few others.

Does the op have speakers with balanced inputs? If so then balanced outputs are an extremely good idea to avoid ground loop noise.
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