Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

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ArcticNemo
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Location: Central WA, USA

Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by ArcticNemo »

Starting our most recent round of updates, I have been blessed with slim and small computers that have no line input and very little room for a sound card.
The Audigy FX has proven to be far less than ideal, and we cannot use the speaker out from the card without a weird little artifact jumping across to the line. The motherboard speaker out has degraded to a noisy mess in just 10 weeks, and is throwing a low hiss onto the empty spaces of our production.

Can anybody recommend a good sound card that may fit the PCIe x1 in a short and slim case?
Once you've been to Alaska, everything else looks like Texas.
W9PXZ
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by W9PXZ »

In PCI/PCIe interfaces and not spending the big bucks for a pro card like an ASI, look at the Asus Xonar series. I have good luck with them. The are unbalanced I/O though. Available in sizes to fit a small form factor case.

I have been using the Focusrite Scarlett USB devices of late. Put one in our main prod room and the recording noise floor dropped from the mid -50's to almost unmeasurable. The prod director was tickled. A USB3 port is a good thing to keep latency down.
Mike Dinger
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DaveSt
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by DaveSt »

For a card, have a look at the Sonifex PC-AD2. It is not cheap at around $700, but is fully balanced. Or for a USB device, the Yellowtec PUC2 is good.
ArcticNemo
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by ArcticNemo »

For what it may be worth, we went with the Focusrite boxes and they are one of my new favorite things.
The smallest 2i2 unit even lets a laptop become a mobile production studio, and our Ops Manager is happy.
Because I was able to drop the cleanboxes out of the board wiring, the price wasn't much over a mediocre card+matchbox setup, but I did have to pad inputs at about 20dB.

Thanks!
Once you've been to Alaska, everything else looks like Texas.
TPT
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by TPT »

We use the little Lexicon Alphas on our "streaming" computers (they actually send the audio to the streaming service)--but have been plagued by weirdness mostly caused by Microsoft updates.
The Lexicon will just stop working, not recognized by the computer. Usual solution is to just change which USB jack it is connected to.
Ray
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by Ray »

I have not found a USB sound card that is bullet proof. We do use the Lexicon Alpha boxes but not for on-air or main production.

My preference for critical applications is to purchase an on-lease HP Z400 workstation and install a Digigram VX222HR sound card. You can get the Z400's off-lease for about $100. Very well made. There are usually used VX222HRs on ebay for about $150. Make sure to get one of the newer Digigram cards, the older ones may not work with newer operating systems (Digigram has a chart for this on their website). I've found this combination to be very reliable for both on-air and main production computers. Ray
DaveSt
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by DaveSt »

Ray wrote: Thu Dec 10, 2020 3:08 pm I have not found a USB sound card that is bullet proof. We do use the Lexicon Alpha boxes but not for on-air or main production.

My preference for critical applications is to purchase an on-lease HP Z400 workstation and install a Digigram VX222HR sound card. You can get the Z400's off-lease for about $100. Very well made. There are usually used VX222HRs on ebay for about $150. Make sure to get one of the newer Digigram cards, the older ones may not work with newer operating systems (Digigram has a chart for this on their website). I've found this combination to be very reliable for both on-air and main production computers. Ray
Yes, I have used the Z400's too. They are exceptionally good machines for critical applications and cost next to nothing.
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Dale H. Cook
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by Dale H. Cook »

DaveSt wrote: Thu Dec 10, 2020 3:12 pmYes, I have used the Z400's too.
And I have worked with about a dozen Digigram sound cards over the years, including a few flavors of the VX222. Digigram has long been my choice in professional sound cards (I even bought one for my work as a contract CE).
Dale H. Cook, Contract Engineer, Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA
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TPT
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by TPT »

Refurbished Dell towers are available at a reasonable cost..some actually have IDE slots as well as the current PCI-e slot. All have room for full-sized sound cards.

I would add a back-up external hard drive to be safe, but I've usually gotten good life from these refurbed computers. Amazon sells a variety for around $150~250, leaving lots of room in the budget for a better sound card.
KC8OYE
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by KC8OYE »

I just bought a Bad-A$$ recording interface that you may want to look into. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. 24bit/192k provides a balanced line out, as well 2 inputs that can be mic, line, or instruments. $180 shipped from SweetWater.
Last edited by KC8OYE on Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
KC8OYE
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Re: Small and robust sound card. Recommendation?

Post by KC8OYE »

W9PXZ wrote: Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:52 pm
I have been using the Focusrite Scarlett USB devices of late. Put one in our main prod room and the recording noise floor dropped from the mid -50's to almost unmeasurable. The prod director was tickled. A USB3 port is a good thing to keep latency down.
I just bought a Scarlett 2i2.. Absolutely love it. it's LEAPS AND BOUNDS above my Behringer Xenyx 802 mixer with failed/failing mic preamps :) and it provides balanced inputs and outputs :)

reading through the documentation.. the gen 3 scarlett (the newest) is only usb 2.0 so if you don't have usb 3, not a big deal.
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