5.1 external sound cards

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quadanasaziland

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Been mixing in stereo using Reaper but now with this new project doing 5.1 I am in the process of pulling together the hardware I need to monitor 5.1

So any suggestions, recommendations or advice will be greatly welcomed!!

So i'm looking at 5.1 cards that won't break the bank and the contenders I have found so far are:

1. https://www.asus.com/us/Sound-Cards/Xonar_U5/

2. https://us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-x-fi-surround-5-1-pro

3. https://us.creative.com/p/sound-cards/sound-blaster-digital-music-premium-hd

4. https://us.creative.com/p/sound-cards/sound-blaster-omni-surround-5-1

The three SoundBlasters are 96k

5. https://sewelldirect.com/soundbox-pro-usb-sound-card

This one seems to asio driver problems
 

jimfisheye

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Look at USB or firewire or thunderbolt connected audio interfaces too. There are a lot more options out there (including fully top of the line with boutique analog stages) for USB or firewire connected interfaces. You'll have a much smaller selection of PCI connected "sound card" audio interfaces and you'll find they go from dictation quality Soundblasticator cards to high end high channel count interfaces with not a lot in between.

Reaper is hands down the flagship DAW app IMHO!

Apogee makes nice AD & DA converters.
MOTU interfaces have great feature sets and digital routing and decent-ish converters and analog stages. (They make some PCI connected models - the PCI card uses a proprietary connection to an external box - for higher channel counts.)
RME combines the MOTU-like feature set with more Apogee-like analog and AD/DA stages.
Prism, Weiss, and the more boutique converters. If you have to ask about the price...

On the other end, Focusrite are cheap but they're cheap. Behringer holds up the bottom end of the barrel. The Soundblasticator 'everything on the pci card' thingies are the low end.

There are a lot of choices these days and there is a lot of pro equipment on the used marker if you have a budget. You can connect multiple interfaces and use them together when you need the connectivity too.
 

quadanasaziland

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Look at USB or firewire or thunderbolt connected audio interfaces too. There are a lot more options out there (including fully top of the line with boutique analog stages) for USB or firewire connected interfaces. You'll have a much smaller selection of PCI connected "sound card" audio interfaces and you'll find they go from dictation quality Soundblasticator cards to high end high channel count interfaces with not a lot in between.

Reaper is hands down the flagship DAW app IMHO!

Apogee makes nice AD & DA converters.
MOTU interfaces have great feature sets and digital routing and decent-ish converters and analog stages. (They make some PCI connected models - the PCI card uses a proprietary connection to an external box - for higher channel counts.)
RME combines the MOTU-like feature set with more Apogee-like analog and AD/DA stages.
Prism, Weiss, and the more boutique converters. If you have to ask about the price...

On the other end, Focusrite are cheap but they're cheap. Behringer holds up the bottom end of the barrel. The Soundblasticator 'everything on the pci card' thingies are the low end.

There are a lot of choices these days and there is a lot of pro equipment on the used marker if you have a budget. You can connect multiple interfaces and use them together when you need the connectivity too.
Thanks Jim, I am definitely at low end $ and am using my HP laptop still running 8.1 at this point. Been offered this setup but I have seen used Mbox for a lot less. So just need to monitor my mixes at home and trying to stay about $100.
I have the use of my buddy's nice home studio for recording.

[FONT=&amp]Dave,[/FONT][FONT=&amp]I got a response from my friend about his old interface. Here's what he says:[/FONT]
[FONT=&amp]I think I may have to dump the Avid MBox Pro 3. It has 8 interfaces (4 mic pre) and has a firewire interface to the computer. Drivers for Windows and Mac OS and is promoted with Pro tools (although I have been using for Studio One 3 and Apple Logic Pro X). Seems like the going rate for a used (good condition) example is about $300.

It works fine, just that, with Thunderbolt on the Mac seems to make the system unstable. On Windows, no problems which is really strange.
[/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]Let me know if you are interested.


[/FONT]
 

jimfisheye

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Thanks Jim, I am definitely at low end $ and am using my HP laptop still running 8.1 at this point. Been offered this setup but I have seen used Mbox for a lot less. So just need to monitor my mixes at home and trying to stay about $100.
Those Mbox units are on the ratty end of cheap like Behringer. Buggy drivers in addition to hardware cheapness.

A MOTU 828 (original model) goes for $50 on ebay and the 828mkII for $100 - $125. These would get you solid pro sound. Not boutique but solidly pro. Should be a significant upgrade over anything from Mbox or Behringer and would be night and day above the Soundblasticator pci card interfaces. Getting a unit with at least 6 channels of outputs is required for 5.1 obviously. Finding that in something new for $100 that isn't pure garbage sounds like a stretch. I've seen the firewire chip blow out on some of those older units so I'd go for the mkII at least. Also the original is SD only (no HD sample rates).

If you find a good price on Mbox or Behringer, they will at least be pretending to be profissional-ish sounding in the long and short of things. Microphone technique and mix technique are still far far more important. Bang for the buck wise I'd go a little higher though if you're planning on getting serious. The blasticator cards are pretty crude. There ARE a few more 'elegant' ones out there but then you can always find something much better for the price.

That's Windows 8.1? Or OSX 10.8.1? Not everything has drivers for Windows so look it up first!
 

quadanasaziland

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So my sound card question may now be moot as I was planning to use an old HT receiver I have retired with analog inputs (Technics SA-DA 10) as my power for my monitor set up. got to thinking about it, looked on epay and may pull the trigger on a Pioneer HT receiver that has USB input on the front and HDMI on the rear along with 5.1 analog inputs. Then I can calibrate my monitors using the delay settings for speaker distance and my sound pressure meter for levels.

Any thoughts on this gentleman with reaper?
 

The Bright Side

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I was actually just going to ask you if you have HDMI on your receiver.

I dabbled with sound cards, analogue and optical cables for a few years. Obviously, when using optical, you'll only get surround when you play back AC3 or DTS sources. The cable is not compatible with other signals.

When using analogue, my first receiver was able to do bass management for that, but when I bought the Yamaha RX-V661, I learned it doesn't do that, and Ubuntu doesn't have its own sound management, so I had tinny sound with almost no LFE response.

Finally, I bought an HDMI cable, ran it from my PC to my HT receiver, and never looked back. Plug. Play. Enjoy. :)

So yeah, in my opinion, it's a no-brainer. Go for the receiver with HDMI.
 

Mark Anderson

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I am looking for a USB sound card with 5.1 analogue out for playback only to use with my laptop at work to an old Denon receiver without HDMI and will need to use the 5.1 input on the receiver.
I have been looking at an Asus Xonar U5 or U7 or a Creative Labs 70SB18 and wondered if anyone has had any experience with them, They seem to be marketed to gamers but what is attracting is that at least the Asus can use windows drivers so none of the bugs with there software but not sure about the Creative Labs. These run on average $100-$120. I checked my favs like MAudio & Motu but that is way above board for playback in the office. The plan is to use JRIver for playing multichannel recordings and I know I can set the output for dolby digital and use the optical feed from the sound card if I needed to.
I thought I would check to see if anyone has any knowladge of the cards before I take a plunge.
 
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I am looking for a USB sound card with 5.1 analogue out for playback only to use with my laptop at work to an old Denon receiver without HDMI and will need to use the 5.1 input on the receiver.
I have been looking at an Asus Xonar U5 or U7 or a Creative Labs 70SB18 and wondered if anyone has had any experience with them, They seem to be marketed to gamers but what is attracting is that at least the Asus can use windows drivers so none of the bugs with there software but not sure about the Creative Labs. These run on average $100-$120. I checked my favs like MAudio & Motu but that is way above board for playback in the office. The plan is to use JRIver for playing multichannel recordings and I know I can set the output for dolby digital and use the optical feed from the sound card if I needed to.
I thought I would check to see if anyone has any knowladge of the cards before I take a plunge.
I can recommend this (I've used it for initial prep work at home for surround mixes prior to moving into my studio):
 

JanBakker

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Thanks for that link, I ordered one. Currently using an Asus Sonar and not very happy with it. The audio frequently loses speaker output from the front speakers, a quick turn on the volume knob fixes this but it's a pain.
 

J. PUPSTER

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If you can go from HDMI instead from USB, i have this on my two systems and mounted the same device on other four systems of various friend

Amazon.com: Monoprice BlackbirdTM 4K Series 7.1 HDMI Audio Extractor: Electronics

Grab the cheaper one, they do change only the silkscreening on the top. That device does 96/24/8.
That’s the same one I was considering for my NUC, but I would also need a 3.5mm 8x4 switch box for my other computer, haven’t found one yet!
 

jimfisheye

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Here's a budget friendly audio interface with 8 channels of output. You could do up to 7.1

The outputs could be used unbalanced if needed for connecting with consumer gear.

There's nothing to worry about or avoid with USB. There's no need to go for pci card connecting. You don't need to get a dedicated USB expansion pci card either. Native USB is good on desktop or laptop. (Obviously you don't have pci slots on laptops either.)

What I would avoid in general is HDMI!
You run into too many 'copy protection gone wild' style restrictions.
 

winopener

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Datasheet of the cm6206-lx chipset used in this box says 48K and 16 bit

 
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