Friday, November 21st, 2008...5:54 pm
Tracks 101 – Soundcards: WDM, ASIO, GSIF, Core Audio, JACK and ALSA
Jump to Comments Round 2: Fight! Sound cards, the ins and outs of your digital studio. a Sound card is the main way of getting audio into an computer in a digital medium. your basic sound card can handle mono to 7.1 sound and usually has a joystick port which will take in midi, with the right adapter cable. Your basic sound card also is not capable of recording and playing back at the same time, at least without special software, such as ASIO, GSIF or JACK. Some sound cards have DSPs (small processors dedicated for audio conversion) which work in conjunction with their software drivers to provide digital conversion on both the in and out signals of the sound card. Some DSPs also have software VSTs and effects to work in conjunction with them, and are usually pretty good. When looking for a sound card features you want to investigate are:
- Audio Interfaces- XLR, TRS, S/PDIF, TOSLINK, AES/EBU, ADAT, BNC, ETC...
- Channels / polyphony - Mono/Stereo , 16 channel digital, 5.1 & 7.1?
- Microphone Pre-Amp(s) and other in line effects
- Computer Interfaces - PCI/PCI-E, Firewire, USB 2.0, Cardbus, USB 1.1
- Supported Audio Routing/Drivers Technology: WDM, ASIO, GSIF, Core Audio, ALSA, JACK
- Breakout Boxes, Audio Control Surfaces and other tactile controllers - if you like the hands on approach
- Latency - Most people can deal with up to 10 ms of latency before it becomes an issue, then its just awkward.
- Fidelity - Frequency Response and Bandwidth - usually sound cards are limited at 24bit with 96khz of bandwidth, and this is more then enough for the average user. i would recommend recording at 24bit/44.1Khz at the bear minimum, but with all of that being said, cd quality is 16bit/44.1Khz. a good article is located on tweakheadz.com about 16 vs 24 bit recording.