Soundcard drivers

The sound driver concept in Linux is very different from windows. Some things you learnt about it in windows won’t apply to Linux. In Linux the drivers are in ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) and these drivers are not made by the card manufacturers but volunteer coders. Overall the driver quality is excellent, you need not worry about that. You can achieve similar and many times better sound card performance on Linux than in windows.

Please tell us specific details about what you want to achieve (get a existing sound card working / buy a new one that works in Linux, etc) and we can try to help you. There is no driver and version database, it does not exist.

Well I would like to go with one of the cards where better performance achieved over Windows.
Can you suggest some of them please?
I thought that code was provided from chip manufacturers, are you sure about that?

Graphics was an example. Although manufacturer’s driver archives better performance for gamers in most cases.
Studios that use old software will eventually have to upgrade if they decide to use new hardware. Compatibility issues will rise when mixing old with new. Unless they decide to keep everything “old”.
I am not saying using latest always the best choice, but you get the point here.

Yes, very sure about that. In the late 1990s and early 2000’s I was writing audio device drivers for Linux. Even when we got “help” from manufacturers, it was never in the form of (usable) code.


This also betrays a misunderstanding of how Linux works. I think you are really bringing whatever experience you have on other operating systems into the picture, and imagining that it’s the same story on Linux - in the sort of areas you’re asking about, it just isn’t.

As I noted above, lower latency (which is what people normally mean by “better performance” when it comes to audio) is almost never a feature of the audio device or the device driver. It is an attribute of the whole system.

That said, I can assure you that the latency performance of old PCI based cards from RME was better on Linux than on any other platform. I wrote the drivers :slight_smile:


So there is no list because you where writing the code?
We are talking for a replacement here, you where guessing when chip makers didn’t provide much.
I mean thanks for providing that but how can you compare this.
You don’t think you could achive better results if you had all the details and information about the hardware?

I never told you that we don’t/didn’t have hardware details.

Anyway, you’re overthinking this. If you’re not likely to be writing kernel drivers, thinking about this sort of thing isn’t going to accomplish anything.

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We both know the answer to that.
My question is simple and it doesn’t matter if drivers coming from freelancer Linux hackers or the manufacturers themselves or the design of ALSA compared to Windows or Apple Core audio or whatever.
Since drivers (soundcard drivers among others) exist
inside Linux, there should be a list.
IF we want to consider Linux as a Professional platform for music production.

@electrovalent, I can vouch for Linux as a professional platform for music production (and more besides) given that I am a professional musician/engineer using it to produce professional audio without issue. So, yes, I truly consider Linux a viable platform. Between Ardour, Mixbus, and the currently “experimental” Reaper builds, there’s really nothing that cannot be done. I mentioned that I was using Seventh Heaven reverb on Windows but, honestly, I could just as easily use the Bricasti IRs in Linux, VST wine emulation, as well as a myriad of other algo reverbs native to Linux.

The point is that focusing on driver lists, numbers, comparisons etc etc do become meaningless if the physical hardware and software are performing flawlessly to help you achieve your audio tasks. Could I shave off a few more ms by using a lower buffer setting? Sure. Could I tweak my Windows USB suspend settings and disable network cards? Sure. Does it all work just fine if the only thing I do is toggle performance/ultimate power mode in Win10? You bet. Linux was even easier by using one of the audio-ready distros: AVLinux. Vanilla AntiX was relatively easy to set up too if you are somewhat familiar with the Linux way of doing things.

My take-home advice: start making music or doing recording/mixing/mastering tasks in Linux and Ardour (or Mixbus) and enjoy youself! If there’s a hiccup or two, come back and someone here will be happy to help. As @mhartzel mentioned, don’t be surprised if you end up with better performance in Linux than on Windows or Mac. It was definitely the case for me.

@electrovalent: you’ve just joined an open source community forum. It isn’t considered polite to enter such a community and use language the suggests that you’re telling us “what should be”.

Several of us have explained to you that the way in which drivers are written and developed on Linux makes creating “a list” hard(er) to do. There are PCI drivers that will work for an unknown set of devices because they work with (more or less) anything that uses the ice1724 chipset. You cannot look at the name of the driver source code files and determine which devices it supports - that information is part of the source code itself, and would need human inspection on a case by case basis (and would not work for the ice1724 case, since there is no reason to enumerate all possible devices). The same thing is even more true of the USB audio class 2 devices: nobody has a list of all these devices, not for ANY platform. Even in the case of some of the drivers I wrote, you’d have to possess a deep understanding of the relationship between different RME devices to realize that a given driver will support any particular device.

Moreover, Linux is a distributed effort. There is no central authority tasked with creating or maintaining the list you want. If you wish to volunteer to undertake this task and keep the information up to date going forward, I am sure your effort would be very much appreciated by many people. There have been several attempts at this in the past, and they are all defunct or dead now because that’s the way things work when there’s no central authority. Most people would expect that any new effort to do this would similarly become defunct.

Next, consider your question for Windows or macOS: where can I go to read this supposed list of drivers? Who maintains it? How complete is it? Does it already include devices announced at NAMM 2020? How about NAMM 2018? How can I consider macOS as a professional platform for music production if there’s no list of all available drivers and/or all supported devices?


Allow me to have an opinion.
The difference is that info for driver availability and usability exists on the soundcard manufacturer for both Mac & Win so there is no need for a list.
I can check directly on the product support page the compatibility and any provided info that comes with it.

My experience of drivers on Windows is that I visit the website and press download. Yes, it shows me a version number but it doesn’t give me real-world numbers or comparisons. I can only figure out whether it works well on my particular system by plugging it in and doing my usual audio work.

With Linux it is as simple as plugging in the device. No drivers to install. However, the same subsequent process needs to happen: I need to go about my audio work and make adjustments to my buffer settings and/or OS settings if there are glitches.

Appreciate your advice really.
But for me things where not so nice as you describe.
I had several issues with my hardware/software and when I ask for help the manufacturer said they don’t provide support for Linux.
On the other side Linux forums didn’t provide any help either saying that problem comes from bad hardware designed only to work with Windows.
And me in the middle not knowing who’s fault is it or what to do.
So now I try to avoid such problems by finding what kind of help I will have in case something goes wrong before spending my money somewhere.
What I found so far is a huge mess with no support or guidance on any level.
Answers like " go ahead and it will work"
I d like to experiment with music, not my money :wink:

Do let us know what your hardware is. We still don’t know what your audio device is, if any!

I’m not saying everything will be rosy and “it will work”, just that until you trial it you won’t know for sure. However, there are so many users here with devices across the budget spectrum that do work that you can be confident in purchasing. I’ve already listed my devices and so has Paul. There are plenty of other threads that talk about working devices that deliver excellent results without breaking the bank.

I’m sorry that you had a bad experience with your hardware purchase, but unfortunately that is the reality that we all live in. Every time I buy new hardware or a new computer I first need to search the web and find out if the device works in Linux. Many manufacturers support linux (Intel, AMD, nVidia, etc) but most sound card manufacturers don’t. Fortunately there are more and more USB Audio Class Compliant audio devices available, these will work in Linux because it has a Audio Class driver built in.

But to cut to the chase, I understand that you are in the market for a new sound device and need to have one that works in Linux. People on this forum can help you find one. The kind of device you need depends on these factors:

  • How many inputs and outputs you need
  • Do you need midi
  • Are you planning to use soft synths or device emulation (guitar amps, etc) that run on the computer.

My audio device is Behringer UMC1820 (8 mic inputs). It’s a Class Compliant device and works fully in Linux.

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Both are true.

But the end result, is you are asking far to broad a question for us to help. Are you looking for help getting your specific interface working? Or are you looking for an interface that does work well with Linux that you can invest in? If the latter, what are your specific needs? How many inputs do you need simultaneously (For instance if recording a drum kit anywhere between 8 and 16 could be required, or as little as 1).? How many outputs do you need? etc. Answering those questions may get you people that have specific experience with hardware that fits your needs that may work for you, and may be able to answer, for instance, what period/buffer size they can run stably at.


This forum, alone, is proof to the contrary. With the right questions and humility, there are plenty of people here and elsewhere that are more than willing to help you. I’m really sorry that you’ve had bad experiences so far.

As an aside, how often do you see the main developers of software personally writing back on threads? I can’t think of many others. Perhaps the Wavelab developer, PG, is another that deserves much credit…

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Hi mhartzel,
First thing I need to know is where and who do I contact with in case of a problem.
This person must be able and willing to support for hardware installed on Linux machine.
Since this is a professional setup, waisting time on non working hardware costs me money.
So to begin with, is there anything you have in mind that has that kind of support available?

If the manufacturer does not support the device on Linux, then there is no official support, meaning the manufacturer won’t promise the device works with Linux. The usual warranty against faults in the device applies of course and if the device breaks down, the manufacturer replaces or fixes it during the warranty period.

The good thing about USB Class Compliant devices is that because they are built to the USB Audio standard, there is no driver that gets old, or stops working after an OS update. The manufacturer also can not force you to buy a new device by stopping the updates to the driver. A USB Audio Class device will work and be usable as long as the hardware works and you have a computer with USB on it.