been out of the game, need advice on home studio

used to have an okay little set using an emu1820m card with Sx3 and a home built pc, which, due to circumstances have not really touched for 5 years.
now i need to upgrade/rebuild etc.
its just for home studio use these days, reasonable price, couple of ins and outs. just for demo’s and compositions, nothing professional, but obviously as good as possible quality.

i’ll be running it on windows 7, the emu card struggled a bit when i upgraded from Xp,so not sure if its had its day or whether to persevere, trying to install it on old drivers to a new system

gonna get cubase 6 (possible artist version)

so, with a decent upgraded PC(which will be used mainly as a DAW) with only one PCI slot, should i be looking for a pci or usb 2 external card ?

only looking to spend £100-175 for the soundcard.

when i research the USB devices most of them are described as ‘audio interfaces’. i cant work out whether this means thats all they are, a means of plugging in audio devices to record or do they take some of the processing duties away from the CPU, as my old emu used to do?

so are usb audio interfaces external soundcards or do i have to read the small print?

i’ve had a look at m-audio.emu,tascam, yamaha, presonus, motu USB devices in this price range and i’m a bit unsure still.

any recommendations for this price range ?
should i stick to PCI or is a usb 2 device the way to go ?

any advice welcomed :slight_smile:

My advice if your looking for an external audio interface would be to go for Firewire, rather than USB. If its quality your after, you’ll find some pretty damn good firewire interfaces around the high end point of your budget.

I can recommend Focusrite, The pre amps are very high quality, they have models with just the right ins n outs your after and you wont have any problems with them. The integration software which comes with most models, Saffire MixControl, is outstanding. The drivers are also well established for Windows 7.

They also have a USB version, The focusrite Saffire 6 I believe. If that’s what your truly after. Im sure USB interfaces are pretty good these days, but i think the majority of people, who are after the best they can get, go with firewire. So they say, its faster and has lower latency.

To be honest if you look on line and Google it, you’ll find an endless never-ending sea of posts debating which is the best way to go. USB vs Firewire, I feel is a debate which matters less n less as time goes on. I think most Pros use Firewire and its kind of established as the better way to go. It is lower Latency but for home recording, maybe not to the extent that its like a massive issue.

Good luck with it.

Traditionally FW interfaces have been a lot better than USB ones. AFAIK RME has changed this lately, but with this kind of budget RME is out of reach.

firewire, not really considered that option before cheers, just a couple of people had said usb is the way to go, but they weren’t experts hence me coming back on here for some proper advice.

ive got an new ssd for my system files and software. someone else has even suggested partitioning it and putting XP on one partition so that the emu works okay…

just weighing up all my options at the moment


yep the RME look great but i cant justify that outlay on what has now become just a hobby. If i get back into getting some paid composing/writing work, i think I could then justify it

What motherboard are you working with? If you decide to go the firewire route do some research on compatible firewire chipsets for any given interface/soundcard. Texas Instruments is generally regarded as the safest. Focusrite claims VIA compatibility. I’m running Gigabyte onboard TI with my Focusrite Pro 40 with good results. It almost seems like firewire is on it’s way out for one reason or another. Not much news on any USB 3.0 interfaces from what I can see. USB 2.0 can be extremely stable but low latency (if that is a concern) seems to be limited to the higher end (like RME). I run a Tascam US-144 MKII with my laptop and it’s totally stable but I can’t get the low latency like my desktop firewire Pro 40. Of course I’m also running a higher spec system on the desktop which can deal with the low latency much more efficiently. If you aren’t going to be dealing with a lot of real time recording within already complex projects USB could be completely sufficient for your needs.

the motherboard is an AMD A75M, THE CPU IS AMD APU A6 - 3670K Black Edition Socket FM1 Quad Core Processor

the mother board is USB 3 but there’s only one PCI slot.
cheers for the advice, i’ll have a look online at your gear and see what i think. wasn’t planning to do lots of real time recording, i used to only record guitars and vox live. i ended using BFD for drums and i preferred the sound of bass samples compared to any live sound i could get, and then stuff like halion etc

My advise would be to save your money and start where you left off with your SX3 & your DAW computer… Surely you didn’t stop touching your DAW because of SX3 & your machine
Ask yourself…are you going to spend a lot of money and not touch it again for another 5 years? Are you planning on this upgrade because you think all new stuff is going to somehow inspire you more than your old stuff?

Just a thought.

nope i was writing music and getting some paid bits for it(bits of local work nothing flash) but split up from the wife , had to move out and start again. meant i had to get a real job to pay the mortgage!!

just wanted to get some stuff recorded that i write.been playing on and off for 30 years. i have these hiatus were i’m not inspired to write or perform…
i would love to keep the emu as it was great for me, but it was a bugger to get the drivers to work with windows 7. looking at the option available i may keep it, run it on xp, upgrade cubase and see what happens.

i’d had one of those ‘usb soundcards’ are the future’ conversations with a younger fella, but it seems for my budget at the moment i’d be getting an inferior product.
my pc stopped working so i’m upgrading, getting SSD’s , thought i’d look at a new bit of music hardware . i think i may well hold it off, try and run the emu and wait until i can afford a decent bit of gear like RME

Hail to those “getting back into it”… me too but I have you beat I was running CUBASE VST 3.5 and Gina Echo :wink: and - SCSI AHA card on a home built quad core too.

So I feel your pain - upgrade or not?!?

Well, I am going to build the new DAW, but going to keep my “good ol’ Girl” too because I have to RUN SX3 to convert my VST files to Cubase 6 format. Its a blessing in disguise…

Wow I agree with Steve on this “It just sounded to me at 1st like you were hoping that new stuff was going to inspire you into making music again…the wrong way around imo”

I was feeling that the new system would inspire me too but , but now I anticipate that my new found inspiration would be deadened when I have to deal with new computer/driver/interface issues etc…etc… etc… So Im starting up on the old system again. Ill feel at home, then as I get rolling, Ill move to the new machine. When the time feels right. - Excellent advice Steve… You hit the nail on the head for me and re confirmed my decision.

Dogwood, good luck on which ever decision you make… I hope it leads to inspiration and lots of music making!