I’m running ubuntu on an older dell laptop, and am wondering about a soundcard upgrade. I have liked and used Echo products in the past, and there is an ALSA driver for the Echo Indigo. Any other recommendations? cardbus versus usb? I’ve heard complaints about USB not being “there” yet in terms of speed. Any other issues that anyone can point to as far as using a good soundcard. Thanks!
I’m doin’ some field recording with a not-that-new laptop (a two years oldP4 evo n1000 which is a P4 2.4Mhz, 512M RAM), I used to have a digigram VXpocket (PCMCIA) on it but it was a real pain to get it working, and forget 'bout JACK, it won’t work with a vxpocket without eating 80% of the CPU on duplex mode. (single Playback or Capture worked fine). I recently got lucky and bought a second hand RME hammerfall and it was really a rebirth, works faultlessly without overloading the CPU.
What you need depends hardly on what you want to do with your laptop, it’s a mixing project?, recording?, how many tracks are you recording at once? For instance, you could go even for an USB card (perhaps an Edirol, take a look at the alsa matrix) if you’re not recording many channels of audio (by many a mean more than stereo) at the same time and if latency is not an issue (you must use bigger buffers on USB cards). On my sistem I’m recording 6 tracks 48Khz/24bit with no drops on a local disc and my CPU load stays low, I’m using heavily tuned Gentoo with latest kernel/real-time patches.
Whichever card you get, don’t stay with the stock Ubuntu kernel, tune it, patch it to real-time, laptops bus architecture suck so you must tune the machine to get its best …
I’m using a macbook and os x tiger. It’s not quite Free Software, and that does concern me somewhat, but things usually work well without too much fiddling. Hardware support is much more extensive as well, as most companies aren’t releasing specs or free drivers or linux drivers at this point.
The best linux supported interface for a laptop may be the RME Multiface II but you’ll need to also buy the RME cardbus. In canada the cardbus is $400 and the Multiface is over $900. Quite expensive. There’s probably some cheaper cardbus and USB interfaces though they won’t offer the mulitracking capabilities of the Multiface or firewire interfaces.
The freebob project has some support for some firewire devices, and the latest Jack supports freebob so it’s possible to run a supported interface. There’s a topic about that in the Ubuntu forums under the 3rd Party Ubuntu Studio section. It’s a pain to set up right now.
A Macbook might be the best laptop for the job if Linux support is good. That means you can run Mac OSX, Windows XP, and Linux on one laptop. I think Lenova (previously IBM) laptops might work well. There really isn’t much of a price difference between PC and Mac laptops.
I use an external USB audio, the Behringer UCA202, which sells for Euro 38.
The sound is great; is has stereo input and output RCA connection as well as headphone for monitoring (also switchable) and optical (thus digital) output.
See for reviews: http://www.zzounds.com/item--BEHUCA202
Using the Preemptive Patch for realtime Linux, I get no XRUNS at latency of 2.9ms. Lower latency for USB is not possible.
It also plug and plays in Linux without installing drivers (at least in Debian Etch).
I have done so many searches for a way to connect my Ardour 2.0.5 to my Behringer UCA202, and your post is one of the only places I could find where someone mentions using it with Linux. I am using it On Ubuntu Gutsy 7.10 and it won’t play back on my UCA202. I have managed to get Hydrogen going by selecting and entering the correct name for the soundcard.
But Ardour just won’t work.
I use a Focusrite Saffire LE with my Znote 6224w. It’s should work out of the box with 64Studio (2.1 rc1). If you get no sound you need to initialize it first on a mac or windows OS. So far I like it a lot.