Audio cards that work with Linux

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protocol
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Hello all. I have been using M-Audio Delta 66 as long as i can remember, but the past couple years, things have changed: the Rev.E flavor of the card is not being recognized and ultimately not working despite hacks and tricks.

My other sound card, a Lynx L22, is not supported by Alsa at all. There is an OSS driver for it, but since most modern distros include pulseaudio, one has to be a Linux expert (it seems) in order to surgically remove pulseaudio and replace it with OSS and live with the myriad of incompatibilities with several apps.

So, i would be most happy if someone would responsibly suggest an audio card that actually works in Linux, is not an Asus Xonar (yes, in desperation i tried that too), is not a Soundblaster, and - if possible - is still around for buying it.

A working midi interface would be nice too, but not as important.

Details, such as i/o channels, usb or firewire, price etc, are irrelevant at this point: i have spent a serious amount of money, and i know i will be spending some more in order to have a linux system with professional audio capabilities... so, let's try to not waste money from now on.

Kind Regards

Panos

vervelover
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Edirol UA-25, everything always worked since ubuntu 8.04 with no incompatibilities, Payed around 100 euros for it.

beowulf666
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The ESI Juli@ works fine. There were some problems regarding the MIDI stuff, but that's solved...

DavePhillips
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re: PulseAudio :

http://idyllictux.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/ubuntu-904-jaunty-keeping-the-beast-pulseaudio-at-bay/

re: soundcards that work (or don't) :

http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Main#ALSA_SoundCard_Matrix

You're wise to ask around. You state you want a professional solution, in which case the UA-25 isn't really going to cut it. I own one, but I use it only for its MIDI ports for my main machine. Due to technicalities of USB it's difficult to get very low latency from it.

Perhaps a different M-Audio system, like an older 1010 ?

If you have the money you might also consider an RME card, but you'll have to ask other people for advice on that hardware.

seablade
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RME is the best audio interfaces that are supported on Linux. I have heard the firewire interfaces are now supported, but the PCI/PCI-E cards should all be pretty compatible and I would lean towards one of them first. These are also some of the better supported cards on Linux as well.

Which one exactly you should get depends on your needs of course.

Seablade

paul
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@protocol:
  1. http://ardour.org/realfaq#audioio
  2. http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Main
You haven't said anything about what capabilities you actually need, so its impossible to provide more detailed answers.
protocol
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Thank you all for contributing.

Of course i am aware of the alsa project home page and its inaccurate catalogue of "supported" soundcards.... "inaccurate" in the sense that m-audio delta 66 is stated to be supported, while in fact everyone on the internet is reporting that it is not, after the Rev. E. thing.

Also, the alsa-project home page treats all cards as equal in terms of qualityh and suitability, which i always find confusing and misleading, for example i had to purchase the Asus Xonar D2 in order to discover that it won't mix its digital input to its digital output (for monitoring purposes).

The RMEs seem to be a nice choice. Has anyone had hands-on experience with a particular model they make?

Panos

seablade
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Name the model, someone probably has experience;)

Seablade

thorgal
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RME Hammerfall DSP + Multiface II

http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_multiface_2.php

excellent choice for modest home studio but with IO needs and sound quality

faberman
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The RME cards are the most reliable choice. They are the workhorse for pro audio on linux for years now. You can buy anything from the HDSP series, it will work right out of the box. From the HDSPe series, the same is true for the MADI card, and if you are the adventurous type, you can have support for the RayDAT and newer optional modules like the TCO with an external driver.

RME interfaces scale up to 64 channels IO per card and setups can easily reach five figure regions with multichannel setups. It's up to you what level you need :)

userfriendly
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Another thumbs-up for RME - been using their HDSP Multiface (PCI) since 2001 (since 2006 on Linux), it never made trouble.

dougal2
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I used a Terratac Phase 88 Firewire on a linux setup for a long time, stable and solid. Not much available in terms of on-board mixing (when using linux), but as an 8/8 audio and 2/2 midi interface, with analogue preamp controls on the front and 2x XLR with phantom it is an excellent bit of kit.

osterchrisi
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Hi and sorry to hook up this thread but I have a similar question:

I recently bought a laptop and the soundcard... well is an built-in Intel HDA thingie that isn't very suitable for my needs and I don't really trust it. Could someone give me some advice on what to buy? USB/Firewire Interface. What I want:
- Professional audio quality, something like "semi-professional", not complete low-end
- Built-in knobs for adjusting the volume (like faders on a mixer) would be nice
- At least 4 analog input channels

What I don't need:
- Optical inputs/outputs, a lot of Mic Pres (actually not a single one because I have two outboard), smpte, MIDI and all the additonal stuff...
- More than 4 (2 x stereo) outputs

That's pretty much everything. Actually there's quite a few of those Alesis or Yamaha USB-"Mixers" and M-Audio stuff out there but I'm not so sure about their audio-quality. I want to record mastering-ready stuff with this equipment.
Ah yes, and it should be Linux-compatible, price could be between 200 - 400/max. 500 euros.

Thanks for any advice guys!!!

philip8888
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M-Audio 1010LT PCI card 8 in and 8 out.

osterchrisi
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Ok, not sure if you meant me now with your proposal philip8888 - I need a USB or Firewire device since I want to run this thing with a laptop.
I did some research now and I figured out that the Lexicon Omega Studio might be pretty much what I need...
http://www.lexiconpro.com/product.php?id=6#overview

Does anyone have experience with this soundcard?

joegiampaoli
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I have a USB device:

M-Audio Fast Track Pro, work well out of the box in linux except only will record and playback at 16bit, patching and recompiling kernel has enabled 24 bit for me.

If you need more info just let me know.

lewislp
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Another vote for RME. The RME HDSP 9632 works great, and the hardware mixer application (HDSPMixer) is top notch. I'm running it under Ubuntu 9.10 right now.

After wasting time with a Presonus Firewire interface and a Soundblaster X-Fi, I'm sold on RME equipment. You get what you pay for.

vtech
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M-Audio 1010LT - It just works.

TheAwesomeking
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Does anyone have any luck with the the RME Fireface UC?
or the new RME Babyface?
They would be perfect for my studio gear.
Thanks

paul
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@TheAwesomeKing: on Linux, neither of these devices will work. On OS X, both of them almost certainly will.

mkloch87
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Lexicon Omega works out of the box:

http://soundsoflinux.blogspot.com/2010/04/lexicon-alpha-works-with-linux.html

pdhales
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Agreed about the lexicon omega - plugged it in and started recording.

One issue with the omega is that it only goes up to 48khz.

faberman
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And that is bad because..?

mixit
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Interesting thread for someone comtemplating an upgrade.

I would like to know, what latency can be obtained with each of these cards with zero xruns:

M-Audio Delta 66
Edirol UA-25
ESI Juli@
RME Hammerfall DSP + Multiface II
HDSP Multiface (PCI)
Terratac Phase 88 Firewire
M-Audio 1010LT PCI
M-Audio Fast Track Pro
RME HDSP 9632
Lexicon Omega

What would be the max tolerable latency in your opinion?

Greetings,

Jens.

paul
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@mixit: the minimum buffer size of all PCI cards is 16 frames (samples) although some cannot go that low. All PCI cards can be configured to use 64. Going much below this causes crazy CPU cost. The buffer size itself would translate into effective latency of twice that size. USB and Firewire cards currently all have higher minimum latencies. You cannot define "the lowest latency that can be obtained without xruns" because its much more a function of your system overall than just the audio interface. Of the list above, the 1010LT will be the lowest latency, the RME devices will be the best performing (though for relatively low channel counts, there will be no effective difference between any of the PCI cards in this respect).

seablade
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Considering that in most cases, low latency isn't actually required though many people think it is, your question may need to be rethought slightly.

To answer your question as best I can, most of those cards will probably be able to get <3mS latency in Jack(Not counting AD/DA latency). I can only speak directly for the RME HDSP which yes I was able to get that low, but I have also had other cards based off the same chipset as the M-Audio 1010lt and pretty sure I remember running that low as well. Note that this requires a properly set up system, not something many distributions do at the moment, and if you want the lowest latency stable you probably will want the -rt patches, again not something a lot of distributions do.

Seablade

linuxdsp
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@mixit: Minimum achievable latency is very often a function of both the sound interface and the PC hardware it is connected to, so I expect it would be difficult to provide a guaranteed figure. But it is important to realise that although low latency is seen by many to be of vital importance (and manufacturers do a lot to perpetuate this myth) that is not necessarily the case. The acceptable latency very much depends on your setup and the type of recording / mixing that you want to do:

1) If you are just mixing without any live input then you can set the latency to be quite long (one of the great things about JACK is that there is a lot of control over buffer sizes etc)

2) If you are recording, then in my opinion it is best to monitor through a separate hardware mixer, that way you don't have to monitor via the sound card, and so you can set the latency to be relatively long (which for a recording is good because it reduces the chance of X-runs which are more of a problem if they spoil a recording than if they momentarily interupt a mix, which you can go back and listen to again)

3) However, if you plan to use a lot of software synths, or plugin effects on instruments while recording then you may need to shorten the latency e.g. reduce the buffer sizes. How short this needs to be is dependent on playing style and the type of music to a certain degree (amongst other things), although I usually find that buffer sizes of around 128 samples at 48K work well for most purposes - even though this is not the best latency achievable by those who participate more enthusiastically in the 'latency olympics'

It seems generally accepted that the 1010LT PCI is a good card for most situations and you will normally get the lowest latency through a PCI(e) card than for example USB or Firewire

mixit
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Paul, Seablade and LinuxDSP,

Thanks a lot for your answers. With 3 pointers to 1010LT from you as well the other comments above, the decision is easy: The 1010LT will be the backbone of my stationary home studio. Amazing how such an "old" card still holds its ground. The designer(s) must have done a great job.

AK65
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and therefore, are most probably fired :)

pleasebeus
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+1 for the 1010LT - works a treat

triune
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Native Instruments Audio8DJ ... great card... 8 in 8 out, and 1ms latency when properly configured :)