Sound Card for Students

I’m looking for an easy-to-use sound card for high school students that is not too expensive. Must work with Ubuntu Studio 11.04. It is for entry-level learning multi-track recording with jackd/Ardour and other Linux multimedia software.

Less features is probably better when first learning. So a minimum will be:

  • Line In.
  • Mic In.
  • Midi In/out.
  • Line Out.

I don’t want to keep purchase sound cards just to find they don’t work well on for multi-track recording. The on-board sound card is horrible for recording.

I just tested an USB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro and it was very difficult to work with in terms of recording and mixer. I don’t think it has an on-board mixer as Alsa does not show any mixer options. I tested this option because it was difficult finding low-profile cards for our small computers. At this point, I’m willing to buy a bigger case for the motherboard so we aren’t restricted to low-profile sound cards.

The Audacity website has a page of known-to-work sound cards but I can’t find such a page on the Ardour site.

@dmonty: all devices supported by ALSA will work with Ardour, along with all devices supported by FFADO. Our specific recommendations are here: and the ALSA support matrix is here: Information about FFADO support is on the FFADO website at

We cannot provide a larger standing list of recommendations because people’s needs vary so much. Audacity can’t really do very much with a 26 or 56 channel audio interface, whereas Ardour can. Audacity also doesn’t work very well with JACK, which makes most FFADO supported devices off-limits to it. But if any of the Audacity-recommended devices seem appealing, they will work with Ardour also (or more precisely, they will work with JACK, because Ardour doesn’t care).

@dmonty: I will be a high school physics teacher soon. I’m curious about what you’re doing.

Budget audio gear is a bit of a minefield. A lot of it will have disappointing audio quality.

M-Audio 2496 are decent little (PCI) cards which work very well in linux and can be picked on ebay up for peanuts. No pres but the M-Audio DMP3 is quite a good budget pre-amp.