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Subject: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout


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Original Message 1/14             20-Feb-06  @  03:34 AM   -   Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

Xino

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Hi all !!

Can anyone tell me whats thew best choice in terms of quality , sound editing and durability between the :
HERCULES 16/12 FW
Edirol FA 66 FireWire Audio

I really really would appreciate sincere opinions and sugestions related to this type of audio soundcards . I produce music but becoming more in depth of the vast needs of producing audio i've reach a point were i need multiple channel soundcard with optical I/O for sincro. performing live . So my doubts reside on the more reasonable/affordable Soundcards solution for home and live production and performing keeping in mind that the material will need to be subjected to usage on the road .

If you have sugestions please reply

Thks in advance
X!no



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Message 2/14             20-Feb-06  @  11:36 AM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

k

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well like any product it's hard to say unless you do a reliability survey. The Hercules is well very priced and is a proper rack unit so you can rack it in a carry rack - also the Herc' has many more in's & outs

___________________________________

I had an idea for a script once. It's basically Jaws except when the guys in the boat are going after Jaws, they look around and there's an even bigger Jaws. The guys have to team up with Jaws to get Bigger Jaws. I call it... Big Jaws!



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Message 3/14             20-Feb-06  @  11:44 AM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

The Moujik

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Maybe look at the Edirol FW interfaces as well - they look like they might be a bit more durable.

I think Milan has one??



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Message 4/14             20-Feb-06  @  09:39 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

milan

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i do  

FA-101... its ok. good sound quality, no hassle drivers. no sw console of any kind for routing or anything tho, if you need that. aluminum case, sturdy i guess, but the thing is small enough to fit in a pocket anyway if you want to take it with you. bus powered too if you need it. i'd reccomend it on a budget.

i thought hercules was supposed to be bit more "pro"?



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Message 5/14             23-Feb-06  @  01:38 AM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

Xino

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What do you mean by more pro , thats exactly what i needed to know !!?? Apparently disregarding the I/O of both Hercules and Edirol , the only real aspect where they differ ( as "pro" architecture ) is the output quality , being the Edirol able to export with 24bit / 192Khz ...

Please be more especific , it's getting to be quite an issue because , i have the oppurtunity to buy this Hercules card by 260 Eur , while the Edirol FA66 ( not quite the FA101 ) costs 330Eur . Why was hopping you could give me more infos About the "Pro"ness of the two cards ...

thks for the help

Pedro



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Message 6/14             23-Feb-06  @  12:39 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

k

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soundwise between the two, i doubt there's anything in it that you'd notice particularly if you sat down and did a blind text with really expensive monitors in a controlled room. You might.... but even f you did, is it relevent... For example, Martin Walker at SoS uses an E-mu 1820m as his 'reference' card, and in one soundcard review he said when blind testing he could always tell his 'reference' e-mu cos it was 'warmer'.... However, warmer doesnt mean any more accurate, and all cards now even cheap ones like the m-audio Delta Audiophile 24/96 deliver flat audio out with sufficient dynamic range to be able to mix accurately if all other issues are also attended too (monitors/placement & room acoustics)

I own the 1820m myself, It's curently sitting on the side disconnected and un-used because to me, any subjective warmness is irrelevent, because first i need reliability and the e-mu in one mahine we use for film work doesnt seem to like it so much, and i dont have toime right now to investigate why, i need to WORK ('pro') so the e-mu is unused.... so... what is 'pro'

Instead, i used an old Hoontech (ST-Audio) dsp24/96 with the breakout box... subjectively not as 'good' a card (in terms of converters and perceived 'warmness' etc), and spec wise on paper the Hoontech is not such a good card/rack, however, it works, it's reliable, it doesnt crash and we can get on and do work for which professionaly we're getting paid... Now, we've used this cheap rack/card system now to mix 2 award winning films... is it profesisonal?.. yes, in that it got the work done... When we render off the tracks to go for Dolby mixing, IF they ask for 192k, we'll render it off at 192k (but they wont ask for that).. I know if i render off a 192k file, it's going to sound eq-wise pretty identical to a 44.1k file... The Dolby engineers will apply further Eq as required for their cinema mix so even the eq isnt 100% fixed, we need to supply them with flat files without any extreme eq so they can finaly balance it, and for audio CD work the same is true, you want to give the mastering engineer a fairly flat mix so they can eq/compress what they require.


More thoughts.... Rendering your project to various sample/bit rates also has nothing to do with the card, except if the card doesnt do 192k and you render off a 192k render the card cannot play it, but the actual render can still be done. However, if you mix at 96k and render off at 192k, again, you'll not see much difference in terms of anything you might alter in the mix... meaning 192k playback isnt suddently going to reveal potential mix issues you didn't hear at 96k or 48k, an overall mix eq curve will remain almost constant if you change sample rates.

Now, as to the word 'pro'... that's very subjective... 'Pro' I'm assuming means able to be used to make money, to do contract jobs, etc.... well, any of those items can do that. Unless you tender for a job to mix/convert masters to 192k spoecificaly and you cannot audition the results then no, the card wont be able to do the job, however the chance of you getting such work is miniscule, i never heard of anyone being asked to mix/convert material to 192k as a specific job task although i'm sure it happens somewhere... if you're NOT setting yourself up as a professional mastering service then it's probably irrelevent and may be irrelevent even if you do setup for that.

So, if we use a cheaper soundcard to mix pro film music that is deemed pro enuff so that it doesnt stop the film from winning awards, does that make it a 'pro' card... I say it does.


so cards are kinda often overtalked about... imo it's something which gets embedded in peoples minds due the preponderance of attention given to such stuff in magazine reviews - A reviewer has to come up with wordage so they talk about such things to fill lianes (after all what else can you say about a soundcard beyond "Its ounds good and didnt crash system we tried it on" - but because so much verbage is applied to sample rates & bitrates in terms of printing them, people see this and assume higher means better..... you end up with the situation of people assuming that somehow miniscule differences between soundcard is somehow going to make or break the 'quality' of their music which is utter nonsense. One of the best card for a super flat, ultra crisp analog sound is actualy the VERY old DAL CARD-D - it's ancient now, it was a well known card back in the mid 90's, but the sound is so crisp

My favourite soundcard right now is the cheap ESI JULI@, because it's elegant & simple, it's switchable from -10 un-balanced to +4 balanced with seperate converters for each, and is only 80 quid... It's quiet as a mouse and flat as a fart eq-wise, and that is all I require as long as it's reliable and co-habits with other hardware well and doesnt give problems and crashes.


anyways, as i say, i dont think you'll really see any great differences between these 2 items, you might under good conditions, but unless you use a properly balanced control room and top-end monitors, then the monitors themselves and the room will be adding far more in terms of subtle differences to the sound that the cards themselves and that's something you need to get used to and you'll need to work on your mixing in that room with those chosen speakers to acehive the best from that setup for a mix.

btw, the edirol FA-66:

"24 bit/96 kHz Full Duplex or up to 4 Channels with 24-bit/192kHz"

which means i assume, it's not full duplex at 192k meaning it's playback or record only at once, but yes you could use it to playback 192k files if rendered at that rate or recorded at that rate, BUT you cant multitrack with it at that rate (playback while recording)


hard call - 229 GBP for the edirol fa-66 with 6x6 in/out (but only actualy 4 analog outs and 4 analog in's (2 of those on phono unbalanced connectors) ... or 170 GBP for the hercules which has more in/outs (10x8 balanced + digital i/o)

so obviously, the hercules is the one to go for for multitracking if you want to record a backing drumset/bass/rhythm guitar or whatever, all at once with 10 inputs from a mixer for example. The Edirol is more a multimedia production-suite item with less i/o's but essentialy all the connections you need for a production studio which DOESN'T need to record many multiple inputs at once (ok for vocals etc and DAT transfer), but there's no wordclock which is odd for such an item.... Also the edirol has a connector which could be used for importing video footage for example from a camera - the Hercules DOES have wordclock tho, and also like the edirol has a standard 1394 firewire connectivity... you also get analog s/pdif on the hercules but only optical on the edirol as far as i can tell.

___________________________________

I had an idea for a script once. It's basically Jaws except when the guys in the boat are going after Jaws, they look around and there's an even bigger Jaws. The guys have to team up with Jaws to get Bigger Jaws. I call it... Big Jaws!



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Message 7/14             23-Feb-06  @  12:53 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

k

Posts: 12268

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btw, 260 euros is roughly the price for the hercules everywhere so you're missing some great once in a lifetime opportunity - It's almost the cheapest 8x8 analog (+ extras) multi i/o on the market right now i think, been around for about 2 years... the ESI ESP1010 is slightly cheaper... the esi esp1010 looks very good actualy, I've got one in the other room, but ain't had time to open the box so far... could be good tho is the ESI JULI@ is anything to judge by.

___________________________________

I had an idea for a script once. It's basically Jaws except when the guys in the boat are going after Jaws, they look around and there's an even bigger Jaws. The guys have to team up with Jaws to get Bigger Jaws. I call it... Big Jaws!



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Message 8/14             23-Feb-06  @  05:08 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

milan

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what i meant with "pro" comment, it looked like a sturdy rack type unit from the pics if i remember correctly, you know the kind broadcast people like to carry around. so i thought it could be better for gigging, but like i said edirol is small enough to put in a laptop case.

anyway, go for Hercules at that price i guess...



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Message 9/14             23-Feb-06  @  09:44 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

Xino

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Thank YOU k !!

Now thats Exactly the info's i needed .

The Card will be used to work on my Studio , first the objective is to create my D'nB tracks on Reason/Cubase for plaYBack on an , unfourtunatly and the only the band has , 1000 watts PA systems as a monitor ... I'm not joking , i'm gettig deaf by the days ... Off course for rehersal we'll use a 120watts analogue stereo amp for the PC monitoring , . The main obective finally is to record and produce the band tracks after exporting the loops/Tracks i've created play them on a Pioneer CDJ , and mastering 3 Voices , Guitar , Bass , Sampling/loops , Drums and State of the art Noise Percursion on Cubase .

K , not everything is about the money , for instance , today i had a proposition to buy an Edirol FA-101 paying in 3 months .

The issue is about soundquality and versatile usage of the Sound cards ...thats why i asked what do you mean by Pro . I need it to sound pro , I can't afford to waste time and money . For instance i don't wan't to buy a card , and in three months reaching again to the point that it has no longer the performance i need , off course i'm going to use it to make money , I'm was asked to produce tracks for an TV show ... because the material is good ( thats their opinion ) , but actually it does not sound pro , because i can't even master each innstrument on separate channels !

I need really your opinion ... it's a tough decision ... the money isn't all the difference is not that high !



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Message 10/14             24-Feb-06  @  02:31 AM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

Xino

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I've been checking the EMU 1820m and it's quite impressive , except the fact of the 6/8-I/O ... But the DSP would be perfect for my routing ... I'm currently using an ancient Viscounti XFX as an fxprocessor , it could be a solution ... or another problem to be fix with more money ... What kind of problems did your EMU accuse ? Did it work well with playback with FX and Recording Full Duplex for instance , or did it crashed ?? Or was it something else ??



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Message 11/14             24-Feb-06  @  12:01 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

k

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trust me, the 1820m fx suck, they are useless in practice even if some of them sound ok in isolated audition (such as the compressor and the reverb sounds like lo-fi old-style tacky dub reverb).

trouble is, if you add ANY emu effect into your sequencer it delays all other channels, so you then have to go and add an e-mu 'delay compensator' plugin to EVERY other track!!!... it takes ages, and i've found when you reboot a song the delay plugin has dissapeared and you have to add them all over again, it's hopeless tbh unless they fixed this, but i cant see how cos thats the whole way it works - I too was interested in this feature when i got it, thinking it'd be cool to use hardware dsp FX, but..... lol

Also - Like the edirol, the emu 1820m reduces it's in/out count to 8 i/o when run at highest sample rate. The additional 8 i/o are on ADAT connectors, so they cant be used without adding an ADAT conversion unit - Like I said, I own one and it's sitting there un-used - The E-mu routing applet is ok tho once you get to grips wiith it (it's complicated and unclear) but it is a total headf*ck

tbh, the output from either edirol or hercules will be pretty much the same I'd say in real-life conditions, you're problems seems to be lack of proper monitoring!!... you can have the best audio i/o in the word but monitoring thru a PA while great for club mixing, isn't decent enuff for prep-ing TV and CD work i dont think.

anyways bottom line..... the difference between the two soundwise would be negligable if it is even noticeable at all....

finaly, this whole 'pro' thing again..

remember you ONLY use the card IN's for recording, so, ok, that CAN effect quality of course, but between the two choices of units you list, any subtle differences between them is NOT going to mean as much as the choice of pre-amp, mic & the actual recording space ambience etc, which will all effect the recorded sound much more than miniscule possible subtleties between different audio-input converters.

as for the outputs - they are ONLY used for MONITORING the mix... your final rendered file is NOT passing thru the converters, so they dont come into the equation in terms of the final file quality... they only effect how you hear it for mixing, and with your current monitor setup the cards subjective output quality is immaterial

___________________________________

I had an idea for a script once. It's basically Jaws except when the guys in the boat are going after Jaws, they look around and there's an even bigger Jaws. The guys have to team up with Jaws to get Bigger Jaws. I call it... Big Jaws!



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Message 12/14             24-Feb-06  @  05:48 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

k

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quote
trouble is, if you add ANY emu effect into your sequencer it delays all other channels, so you then have to go and add an e-mu 'delay compensator' plugin to EVERY other track!!!.


sorry, that should have said:

it delays the track it is added to, and all the toher channels need to be also delayed with a delay-compensator plugin

as a standalone audio device tho it is ok once you get to grips with the routing applet which is not easy to grasp

___________________________________

I had an idea for a script once. It's basically Jaws except when the guys in the boat are going after Jaws, they look around and there's an even bigger Jaws. The guys have to team up with Jaws to get Bigger Jaws. I call it... Big Jaws!



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Message 13/14             27-Feb-06  @  02:19 AM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

Xino

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Can you check the Hardware monitoring section on the review you've seen on Sound On Sound http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb05/articles/hercules1612fw.htm , and tell me what does it mean when they speak regarding the hardware monitoring being able only two channel at a time ?? ~In practical terms , we have a ultra di 800 box from behringer , for monitoring , and for playing in your opinion what should be the routing ? This hardware monitoring is confusing me , i'm not sure if this is as bad as i think on proving me with the solutions i need



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Message 14/14             27-Feb-06  @  10:03 PM   -   RE: Firewire Audio Vs PCI cards w/ breakout

k

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at this point the best way forward is you must now write down for us what exactly you will want to do with the setup - think of all the possible job's you want to do and list them.



quote
Even before I received my review unit, several SOS readers had asked me to investigate the Hercules' zero-latency monitoring, and I can see why. Unlike most Control Panel utilities, the Hercules' has no level meters, and indeed the unit itself has no onboard DSP mixer for monitoring purposes, in contrast to interfaces from the likes of Echo, Emu, M Audio and Terratec. Instead, you can choose a single input channel pair to be routed to hardware outputs 1/2 with 'zero' latency (the actual latency value is that of the converters, plus that set by the buffer size in the Audio Transfer page, which defaults to 1ms but can be dropped to 0.5ms).

This two-input limitation probably won't bother those recording racks of synths, while those recording with more than two mics will need additional preamps anyway, and may therefore require a small mixer and be able to use that for monitoring purposes. However, if you intend to record more than two simultaneous inputs and need to monitor them simultaneously through your computer, you'll need to disable hardware monitoring and rely on the higher-latency path through your DAW's buffers.



regarding the sos thing, dont worry too much about that, when eh says higher-latency path, it'sa not really noticeable, it's just that for thru-the-hardware monitoring 'direct thru', it can only do that with one pair of input channels, but trust, that's not a problem, if your pc is decently quick you'll be able to monitor thru the s/w DAW at latencies which will be negligable.

See, lets say you want to record a band.. drums, bass, 2 guitars... 8 mic's.... you'll then dub extra guitars layers & motifs, vocals, BV's and odd bits and mix

ok, so tbh, i personaly dont use s/w insert type fx on recording, because there is now (not like in tape days) alot of dynamic range to play wth, so gating & compressing i do afterwards on mix personaly, it doesnt make any difference to how 'separate drums sound with gates for example, and there's enuff dynmaic range for me peronaly to just set levels with room to spare for peaks and compress afterwards.

so that leaves additive fx for monitoring... reverbs, delays, etc... well they are additive fx and are 'added' in to the original signal. Reverb and dleay fx by teh bature of what they are (reflections returning) are by their nature delayed anyways, so any latency ( a few MS) added with 'Thru The Software' monitoring as opposed to 'Direct thru - zero latency monitoring' is ok cos time fx are slightly behind the original anyways... in practice, adding reverb to a vocal and singing with mebbe 5-7 MS doesnt sound odd

anyways dont worry about it in terms of recording a band

The main thing is to define the jobs you wanna do. so you can evaluate what the unit CAN do in terns of your needs

___________________________________

I had an idea for a script once. It's basically Jaws except when the guys in the boat are going after Jaws, they look around and there's an even bigger Jaws. The guys have to team up with Jaws to get Bigger Jaws. I call it... Big Jaws!



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