...Find which Sound card is the best for Ubuntu/Linux?

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GodLikeCreature
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Any ideas? What are you guys using?

I have seen that M-Audio delta 1010 offers OSS drivers, but I didn´t like the way it worked when I installed them, as they seem to conflict with ALSA, in fact shutting ALSA down as part of the install.

On the other hand, I was looking for something a bit more professional than the 1010, a more powerful card with better pre´s and more features.

Anybody has a safe bet? A card that can be installed in Ubuntu/Linux with confidence that it works?

thorgal
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sure: PCI card RME Hammerfall DSP + IO box Multiface II. You will need external preamps. I have the RME QuadMic but there's also the OctaMic.

I am more than satisfied with it but it's another price range!!! I had a bit of money in another life :D

The only problem I have with it: it does not wake up nicely from S3 suspend. Reflashing the firmware does not work. You have to power off your PC completely (including removing the power cable). A real shame ...

paul
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the Delta 1010 is fully supported by ALSA and is the best choice for "more than 4 and less than 16 channels" on Linux. For more than 16, RME HDSP cards are recommended. For less than 4, the choices are too numerous for us to really make a recommendation.

GodLikeCreature
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Hi, Thorgal,

Thanks for the quick response.

I have checked and yes, it is more expensive, but nothing crazy. It looks great.

Any hassles when installing? Which drivers are you using? Does this card work with ALSA? Anything extra you had to do in order to get it to work with Ardour?... You know, I would kill myself if I spent $1000 just to find it does not work...

GodLikeCreature
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Hi, Paul,

So you are saying that M-Audio Delta 1010 is "plug and play" (so to speak)? In other words, Linux/Ubuntu will detect it and work with it without the need of any extra steps?

Cheers

thorgal
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for the RME HDSP, it just works out of the box. Install it, boot and voila :)

But of course, it requires that your distro provides the right packages. Debian based distros provide :
alsa-firmware : you will need it for the firmware flashing at boot time
alsa-tools-gui : for the mixer app hdspmixer (called TotalMix in the windoze world).

I had nothing special to do to make it work and it sounds really good. If you do acquire this device and have problems (unlikely), just speak up. But I repeat: you will need extra preamps. The combo HDSP and Multiface II was already 800 euros (at the time I bought it, 1.5 year ago)

PS: I also had a Delta1010LT. It does work out of the box and it had 2 mic preamps. But I does not sound as good as the RME + I grew tired of the cable snake. The 1010 comes with a breakout box. It does not have balanced connections (but I may be wrong on that).

PS2: oh yeah, of course it is using ALSA (module snd-hdsp). I thought OSS was obsolete ... I haven't bothered compiling it in my kernel for ages!

Last piece of info: if you plan to use your PC for generic stuff (non DAW things) and expect the card to work with crappy things like flash plugin, etc, forget it ;)
If you insist on that, there are ways but they are not coming out of the box :D

GodLikeCreature
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Hi,

Thanks again Thorgal.

I am confused then, because if you visit M-Audio website, when trying to acquire the card´s drivers, they point to OSS ones(WTF?).

Other than that, I am a bit undecided. I usually record my own instrumental music, not having to record in a live setting. I could record two tracks at most, but that´s it. Because of that, I see that the 1010 is probably the wise choice, but like you are saying, it does not sound as good...

Tough choice...

thorgal
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well, the 1010 does sound good, no doubt! The RME sounds better to me. If you're using it as you described, the 1010 will be perfect. It is capable of low latency as well if you need that (not necessary unless you like using real time effects from software plugins while you are playing).

Don't download drivers from vendor sites. Just trust the kernel of your distro, it comes with a fairly up-to-date ALSA, and that's all you need.

GodLikeCreature
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Ok, that makes sense. I will stick to my distro then, sounds easier ;-)

I used to work with a 1814 firewire card in windows, but it´s not supported for Linux, so I will just forget about it.

In any case, something I have realised in these few days I have worked with Ardour is it is a lot warmer than the sound I was recording with my previous setup (The 1814 with Sonar 5 and Battery 3 under XP). That´s really shocking for me, because in the meantime I upgrade my equipment, I am recording through my laptop´s mic input!!!... (I know, I know)

Anyways, the damn thing does sound acceptable, and definitely not worse than what I got through the 1814. I am really surprised this is the case, and I think it just speaks volumes for the quality of Linux, it´s sound drivers and also of Ardour as a terrific DAW.

The only bit that concerns me from what you said is that I can´t afford to keep on PC for DAW only, I will likely want to watch my DVDs, DivX movies and what not.

Will that also have issues?

Thx!

thorgal
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for what it's worth:

vlc, xine and mplayer have jack support. Mplayer works at all latency I tried, VLC as well. Amarok works with jack thanks to the xine engine, useful when I want to listen to radioparadise.com (shoutcast server) through my studio speakers.

what's not working OOB: flash plugin (youtube, myspace, etc), gwc (gnome-wav-leaner which uses OSS!). Of course, I am talking about a situation where jackd is running.

workarounds:

1 - enable your onboard audio chip in the BIOS, and let ALSA set it to be hw:0 (ALSA indexing 0) and your PCI pro card to be hw:1. Run jackd with hw:1

Connect a set of crap speakers to hw:0 and all your studio stuff to hw:1. That's what I do when I need to browse youtube (rarely!) from my DAW.

2- use oss2jack (a pain in the butt to get it to work, you have to compile some kernel module - called kfusd from the fusd lib - and then oss2jack, set up the right udev rule for kfusd). But then, it works, it creates a fake /dev/dsp (oss style) that is in fact a jack client.

3- pulseaudio : another story but possible as well (tried it, worked but not worth).

calimerox
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if you already have the delta, i would stay with it and invest in good preamps, and/or mics...I know that now its common to use all in one solutions, but i still prefer everything "stand-alone", cause of the flexibility.. but its everyones choice.. if you put good preamps on your delta, it will definitely sound great, and to upgrade your AD-converter to a better one.. you really need to go at least to apogee to do that, and thats expensive! I use in my setup the rme multiface II and a two channel field-mixer (wendt-X2) with lownoise preamps.. this is not too common but wors good for me (because I can use the field mixer also for movieshooting and other stuff).
but like you say: if your mic input of your laptop works for you, stay with it and save money, why not? depends on what you´re doing finally..

GodLikeCreature
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Hehehe... You the MAN, Thorgal!

Cheers for that, mate.

I think I will be buying a desktop workstation, not sure if it would have a sound card, but if it does, I am definitely following your advice!

That was all great stuff, very helpful!

I am glad I am supporting this project and will definitely try to get some of my friends on board... We need to get to the financial goal to give Ardour the stability and future it surely deserves!

Erdie
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Just one remark: If you do not need 8 channels and 4 are enough, the M-Audio Delta 44 is also a good choice. I had one before i got a delta 1010. BTW: The Delta 1010 has balanced inputs ! The delta 1010lt has not. My current card is a RME Multiface and i could not recognize e real difference in terms of sound between the delta 1010 and the RME. Of course, the RME is much more flexible.
The only reason why i switched to RME was the fact that during the night the stormy rain came through the opened window and ran directly into the box of my delta 1010. The next morning I booted my system while the box was full with water. I recognized it when a strange smell came into my nose .. afterthat I needed a new sound interface ;)

cbreeze34
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The Echo Audio 3G interfaces are very solid and affordable too. The Layla3G has better A/D dynamic range than the 1010's, but I haven't compared them side-by-side so I'm not sure how that plays out practically. In Ubuntu, the trick to get them working is to install the proprietary alsa-firmware package from the Medibuntu repo (medibuntu.org).

pleasebeus
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The 1010LT does have balanced inputs; it's on the xlrs - the jacks are all unbalanced. It didn't take much to get the card working happily on my Ubuntu 8.10.