Good USB sound card for home studio under Linux


Can anyone give me a suggestion about a good USB sound card for home recording?
I thought about M-Audio Audiophile USB or Tascam US-122, but I found many poor reviews, and forum posts NOT recommending any of those units.
Next one was M-Audio Fast Track Pro - I found some posts about installation/setup problems because of no support in ALSA for the card, and also some latency recording problems.

Next I thought about US-122L or US-144, but they seem to lack Linux support (or at least it is at a development state, and it’s hard to foresee how it is in the future):

At the moment I’m testing Maya 44 USB, it works, but it is rather a simple device with non-standard inputs, and no so feature-rich when comparing to the products I mentioned above.

What I want is a card that uses USB 2.0 interface, has no latency issues, works fine within ALSA/Jack/Ardour/SkaleTracker environment, provides good sound quality, has no installation/setup problems, and costs max PRICE_OF(TASCAM-US144)

I hope I’m not asking for too much…

Can you recommend such a device?

B. Regards!

From what I understand (which probably isn’t a lot), you won’t find the perfect USB card, in regards to latency, purely because USB uses CPU cycles, whereas a firewire, for example, doesn’t. It’s an added overhead. I couldn’t tell you how much of an overhead, but if you have a firewire port on your computer, it’s probably worth looking down that route instead. Would it be safe to assume that you’re looking for this card to work on your laptop? If so, I believe RME have solutions that allow you to use the cardbus.

I want a card for my PC, not laptop.
According to firewire I have such a port, but firewire sound devices are too expensive for me.
I’m wondering at the moment on the M-Audio Fast Track Pro (in the previous post I meant “Fast Track” [not pro] when talking about recording latencies). This PRO version looks very nice for my needs, and it also has good reviews. I’ve read some posts about it, and it seems to work on Linux without problems, although there’s no official ALSA support. Can you confirm that?

The only problem is the card is very expensive at my country (Poland). I’m wondering about buying it from US where its price is more less $160 which is half a price found in Poland :confused:

But any way thanks for suggestions - I’ll make a search through firewire sound devices, and maybe I’ll find one with a reasonable price in US too… who knows.

But regarding the M-Audio Fast Track Pro, as a conclusion can you recommend the card for home recording in the Linux environment? I suppose so, but it would be nice to see some opinions of people using the card…

do not use USB for multitrack recording…

USB is not designed to handle multitrack recoroding.
it has horrible latency, and typically is only used for 1 or 2 inputs at a time…stick with firewire or an actual physical card… unless you are only recording one track at a time.

ok, I’m almost conviced I need to invest more money into a firewire device. Sad but true :confused:

The only USB interface I’m still considering is M-Audio Fast Track Pro. I suppose I won’t need multitrack recording, but my usb bus is used by some other hardware (printer, mouse, hub). Will it have a bad impact on the soundcard?
Does any one can (or cannot) recomend the device?

Any way, I did some research, and found the following interesting firewire hardware:

  1. Presonus Firebox
  2. Edirol FA-66
  3. Focusrite Saffire LE
  4. ??? anything-else-with-compareable-price-and-usage ???

Owners of these devices please let me know whether you’re satisfied with them (the sound quality/latencies/ardour/jack environment/linux support).

Do all features of the units work under Linux? I ask because I found the following statement at the freebob site near the saffire card “FireWire Interface with DSP - DSP and mixer not supported by FreeBob” - what does it mean and what influence does it have on the device in Linux?

Thanks for helping me Guys!

If you are using a regular PC why you don`t consider a M-Audio Delta 44 or probable a M-audio Delta 1010 (maybe the lt version, which is cheaper) ? I had both before i switched to RME and made very good experience with the linux drivers and stability. Both are PCI cards but why not a pci card?


I agree a pci card would be the best choice, but I have only one pci slot on my motherboard with “hundreds” of cables around, thus it is not possible to put there anything else besides for example a tiny network card or something like this - in other words, there’s no way to insert an adio pci card in there :confused:

A day ago I encountered a cheap opportunity to buy almost new (with a warranty) Edirol FA-66, so I decided to take the one. I hope it was a good decision. I’ll have it next week, and describe how it goes later.


I am looking to purchase an 8 input external USB sound card.

Latency is not an issue as I plan on recording live and do not need any ‘playback/play-along tracks’.

I am having trouble finding, just simply, a list of devices that fit my criteria. However I am considering the ‘M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R’ but I am apprehensive on spending $500 bucks on an experiment.

Here is the progress of my work so far:

#first went to

site said ‘ardour’: “On Linux, works with any ALSA/FFADO-supported audio hardware”

googled: “list of ALSA/FFADO-supported audio hardware”

went to (which was the fourth choice down) because two of them were about ardour in general and the top one was specifically ‘ffado’ (which stands for: ‘Free Firewire Audio Drivers’)

website said “zZounds is an online musical instrument and audio hardware distributor with which this site is affiliated.”

800-zZounds (996-8637)

their search engine would not cooperate successfully with the word ‘linux’

#went to

typed ‘fast track ultra 8r’ into their search bar

clicked on the link that said ‘M-AUDIO - Fast Track Ultra 8R - High-speed 8 x 8 USB 2.0 Interface …’

clicked on ‘FAQ’ which was to the right of the picture

typed ‘linux’ in their ‘search results’ search engine

clicked on ‘Linux drivers for M-Audio USB audio devices’

clicked on ‘’ which is the site for 4front (“M-Audio uses a 3rd Party Vendor for Unix support. 4Front Technologies”)

Does anybody have any suggestions/input/RemarksOfFustration to share?

I am not interested in firewire because if I was, I’d go with something bigger (which in turn would require more money than I actually have). And I am going for modularity.

I wouldn’t recommend using OSS drivers, honestly. In most distributions OSS is not shipped enabled, and for many people for good reasons.

What you want to look for for USB interfaces are the words Class Compliant. USB1 and USB1.1 interfaces this is fairly common. USB2 interfaces however it is not as for a long period of time there was no audio device class written. There are now some class compliant USB2 interfaces, but I don’t know of any that are more than 2 Channels yet. The main thing is that many people use Firewire for multichannel recording so they could look at FFADO, or use PCI/Expresscard and could look at ALSA. USB doesn’t get used but so often for multichannel recording in general so there is less support for it, and in many cases the manufacturers of these interfaces(Which are admittedly growing in number) require drivers for the interfaces, which in most cases means having to reverse engineer the drivers on Linux as the manufacturer doesn’t support it. This is a LOT of work, and no one has been particularly anxious to do so unless they can benefit from it.

An extra way to tell if something is clas compliant, check to see if there are drivers to download. If there are, chances are it isn’t class compliant.


I am happy user of Echo Audiofire 12 external FireWire module. Works fine with Ubuntu Studio 11.04 (Natty) equipped with lowlatency kernel. Echo has also smaller models if 12 channels in/out is too much for you. Full pro things, no toys.