PCIe 8-in/8-out soundcard for Linux based system, options?

Hi there, my current desktop PC is starting to show its age - it’s a 6-core AMD Phenom 2 X6 1090T CPU based system with 8GB of RAM, currently running Linux Mint 19.3 and Windows 7 - I’d like to upgrade to a Ryzen 9 3900X or 3950X system, and although I’d like to buy a used M-Audio Delta 1010 for music recording purposes, only a handful of AM4 motherboards include legacy PCI slots. It is proving near impossible to get a motherboard with legacy PCI slots and a modern enough AM4 chipset to let the Ryzen 9 perform at its optimum - soooooo… can anyone recommend a PCIe soundcard with an 8-in/8-out breakout box, similar to the Delta 1010, but that it is as close to plug n play with ALSA/Linux as possible?

Chris, New Zealand.

The RME Multiface II was perfect for this, but they don’t make it any more. You might find one S/H, but I’m not parting with mine :slight_smile:
Possibly a combination of RME HDSPe AIO (PCIe card with ADAT I/O) and an 8 channel ADAT <=> audio interface e.g. Behringer ADA8200 (many others available).

Well,… Digigram VX882e is 8x8 PCIe soundcard, with official support for Linux, but it is insanely expensive. Maybe it is worth checking for the second hand one, on ebay or broadcaster forums. Not to be mistaken for older, PCI versions, VX882HR when searchng on ebay.

AudioScience has 2, 4, 8 and 16 i/o PCIe cards. They have alsa drivers from the manufacture though the kernel should include them anyway. They also provide the api to build a control app as well.

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Ouch, the VX882e new costs more than my entire COMPUTER cost when I built it. Even used ones on eBay can be very expensive. :no_mouth:

Double ouch! The Audioscience 8 channel ASI5788 costs half as much again as the VX882e. My entire Ryzen 9 upgrade includes the CPU, motherboard, RAM, M.2 & SSD storage, plus Win10, and will only cost 2/3 of what the ASI5788 costs - and that doesn’t include a BOB to interface with the card! I give up, there is no way I can do these options without bankrupting myself. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

After that sticker shock, USB devices might seem like a good compromise :slight_smile:

Behringer UMC1820 won’t break the bank but probably does what you want. I have this device and it works fully in Linux.

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Yes, if you look back at the delta1010 with BOB when they were a thing and convert to today’s money… there is not that much difference. Computers are cheap, audio gear not so much. In general, even most good USB 8 + i/o boxes cost more than the last computer I built. I still have a delta 66 (PCI) card I use. When I upgraded my computer, I selected cpu first, then searched for motherboards for that CPU that had PCI slots. I managed to get a MB with 3 PCI slots so I did not have to use the one that used irq 16. That was a few years ago and as you have said, not so easy any more. Audio through USB seems to be a compromise any way you look at it, but for recording with hw monitoring they are fine. Most reasonable audio boxes do support internal hw monitoring.
BTW, both the audio science and the delta 1010 require mic preamps as well.

I think I’ve “solved” the issue - instead of getting an AM4 motherboard with legacy PCI (all of which are on lower spec chipsets), or paying megabucks for a PCIe/USB 8-in soundcard, I’m going to get one of the decent X570 motherboards I originally wanted to pair with the Ryzen 9 3900X/3950X, then buy a PCIe to PCI adapter with flex cable to the PCI riser, and build a custom holder for the riser so I can mount the Delta 1010 PCI card internally and run its cable to the BOB out where the PCIe card slots are. I’ll interface the Delta 1010 BOB with a Behringer DI800(V2) which will give me the range of inputs I need. Solved. Just have to scrape the $$$ for it all and get building… :grinning:

I have a PCI to PCIe adapter sitting here for the next time I need to buy a MB for the same reason. A word of advise on this. Some of those adapters are not of great quality. See if you can find a cheap PCI audio card and try that one in your adapter first. I have heard of people smoking their audio card in these adapters while other people with the same combination have reported success. (same exact two cards) I also have an old pci audio card I don’t care about for that kind of test :slight_smile:

Thanks Len, some of the older AMD AM4 motherboards with legacy PCI using older chipsets like B350 and X370, use a high spec ASmedia PCIe to PCI bridge chip - some of the adapters have that same higher spec chip. I’ll lean towards one of those rather than cheaper bridge chips. If it doesn’t work, then my last resort is to keep my existing PC for music recording instead of re-purposing it as a file server. My new machine is intented to be used for photo/video/timelapse editing, 3D model editing, and a side salad of music recording, but the old PC is more than grunty enough for recording, just not for the 3D model and visual media editing I’m doing. Cheers.

Another way is to buy a PCIe Firewire card (with the Ti chipset) and find a good firewire soundcard. Since most laptops don’t have support for firewire anymore, you should be able to find a firewire soundcard used.

I bought a newer motherboard that had PCIe and PCI but i found my delta 66 sluggish (could be my bad…).

Thanks Ralf, I’m considering the FireWire option now too. My absolute mission goal is the cleanest easiest out of box experience in setting up and getting working a multi channel (8 or more) audio input. My options as I see them are…

  1. New(er) PCIe soundcard with BOB (these seem rare and expensive)
  2. Old(er) PCI card with BOB, via a PCIe to PCI adaptor card (this is cheapest option)
  3. a FireWire box (PCIe FW cards are cheap, FW boxes relatively cheap)
  4. an ADAT box (PCIe ADAT interfaces seem to be very rare and very expensive, but the boxes are quite cheap)

I’m not interested in a USB interface, as latency is a critical criteria - I’m hoping for around 5ms or faster.

I’ve been smashing my head against ALSA, JACK, OSS, Pulseaudio etc for over 2 decades now and have never achieved what I desire in a Linux based audio recording setup. Multi-channel audio input is the last stepping stone for me to ditch Windows forever. Now that the multi-channel inputs I couldn’t afford back in the day are now a LOT cheaper on the used market, its time for me to get one and then I can ditch Windows forever. There is still a question as to whether I will need a multi-channel DI box since many inputs will be taking Hi-Z instruments, not line or mic - the DI box part is easy with something like the Behringer DI Pro 800V2, but I just have to figure out getting a minimum of 8 channels into Ardour to begin with.


Modern USB audio interfaces can do this. My MOTU Ultralite AVB can do this. The limitation/difficulty is on the kernel and system hardware side. I’m not sure that I’d want to be messing around with any of the 4 option you listed above when I can just plug in an Ultralite, get 24 channels in and out, and not think about stuff.

I am surprised it works so well - I spent 15 years working solely with PCI devices (mostly RME) - but it does, and it’s time to recognize this.

Now, if you had said 1ms latency (64 samples @ 48kHz) … :slight_smile:

Sadly MOTU have brought out a new model – the Ultralite AVB ES and it isn’t so Linux friendly according to this post on Linux Musicians :


Older models work, the newer model didn’t work in the case above.

I also have a PCI interface and I’d like to keep it when I upgrade my computer. It seems wasteful to chuck it in landfill. I’m realising it may not be possible to keep it and take advantage of the latest CPUs.

Pete Kaine from Scan computers has been testing the new Ryzen CPUs :


To use a third generation Ryzen processor to its full capability it seems fast memory is important, more so than overclocking, which is the Intel approach – Turbo Boost is dynamic overclocking.

To use fast memory (3600 MHz or the eye wateringly expensive 3733 MHz) an X570 chipset is required (I think. I haven’t seen e.g. a B350 that takes 3600 MHz) and at the moment there is no X570 motherboard with a PCI slot.

So the only option for me would be a PCIe to PCI adapter. I haven’t seen much about what the performance is like – that would be useful information and would determine if PCI cards are going to become more electronic waste.

Hi Paul, 5ms is the worst latency I would be happy to work with, would of course prefer faster - I get around 1.5ms on my current 4-in 4-out ICE1724 based PCI soundcard, but only in Windows 7 - in Linux I get the same latency, but only 2-in 2-out since the card is kinda 2 devices in one and no matter how I try to combine them in Linux to get around the Ardour single device input limitation it fails to work. The Motu is also outside my budget.

Hi merlyn, I’ll be buying an X570 board and 3200MHz RAM. I read one mention that the PCIe to PCI adaptors might not work too well with some PCI audio cards, which is why I am open to FireWire, ADAT, and other solutions.

I’m probably leaning towards a FireWire box as adding FW to a modern PC is cheap thanks to inexpensive PCIe FW adaptors, but finding a box with the right combo of inputs without requiring a multi-channel DI or pre is proving challenging. Ensuring that there is enough control over the interface in software is another question. Sometimes it seems that asking questions about Linux audio hardware options just creates more questions than answers! For someone like me who wishes to ditch Windows altogether its quite nerve wracking considering where to put my money not knowing if I’m leading myself into a world of pain trying to get it all working. Frustrating for sure.

Paul was suggesting that USB is a painless solution. USB 2.0 adds 0.5ms more latency than Firewire or PCI. Like yourself I started on computer audio when PCI was good and USB wasn’t so good, but that is not the case anymore.

There are a few 8 channel USB interfaces with preamps around. You then have to check if the interface in question is class compliant or if someone has posted online that it works with Linux.

When I was thinking about a new interface I went through the same process as you. I looked for a PCIe interface with a breakout box because that is what I have always used. They are now a high end product. The middle range interfaces with an 8 in 8 out breakout box are now all USB.

In this system you’re designing you’ve got pressure from the bottom – low latency, and pressure from the top – the budget. Something’s got to give and 0.5ms latency may be worth it to keep the cost down.

Although … going back to the drawing board :smiley: – I don’t think you need an X570 if you’re going to use 3200 MHz RAM. A hassle with older chipsets is that they may not boot with a 3900x. So AMD send you a ‘boot kit’ on request which is an old Ryzen that you boot with, then flash the BIOS so it is compatible with a 3rd gen Ryzen, then send the boot kit back. Hassle, but could save money.

You need to have your ear right next to the speaker if you want to benefit from the 1.5 ms latency :slight_smile: If you move 50 cm away from the speaker, then you add another 1.5 ms of latency :slight_smile: Sound moves about 0.343 meters in 1 ms.

May I ask where you need 1.5 ms latency, that is quite an extreme value and very taxing to the computer. If you really need latencies this low I think hardware with some kind of zero latency monitoring will give you the best result.

Hi merlyn, I’m sticking with X570 as I want to future proof the build as much as possible - that means M.2 storage on PCIe Gen4 slots - some work I do uses models that reach well into the GB’s in file size, which will benefit from the fastest storage I can afford. With audio latency I’d prefer the best latency I can get away with as I prefer to soft-monitor once FX are added to the chain.