Soundcard help...

Hi guys,

My current setup:
AMD Phenom II X4 955 processor, 4GB ram
Windows 7 64bit
M-Audio Audiophile 2496

The music I produce is 100% produced electronically (i.e. VSTs and such… no live insturments). I also have an M-Audio Axiom 49 MIDI Keyboard that I use.

This has normally been good for me in the DAWs I’ve used. The latency has typically been good, but there have been some things that irk me about it.

I’ve had the odd weird issue with this card lately too… the card stopped working in Cubase for a bit. It wouldn’t recognize it at all. I did a bunch of things to get it working again, including uninstalling the driver, as well as rebooting. I eventually got it working, but I’m not even sure what it was. I also would occasionally get some really LOUD screetch noise/feedback from time to time in Cubase. As a guy that listens through headphones (no monitors yet), this is pretty crappy.

So I’ve had some volume issues, crackling issues… soundcard not working at all issues… lots of problems. I’ve decided I’d like to move on from this card. It might be a defective card, I dunno… but I’d like to try something else.

So my question is… what is good? My price range is anywhere up to about $200, although around $100 range would be preferable. Again, I don’t need to be able to hook up any devices to it for recording (aside from a mic to record voice, unrelated to music). I just need something that is good low latency.

I’m a little confused on the difference too between “audio interface” and “soundcard”. Is an audio interface meant mainly for recording instruments?

Anyways… advice on a card, please!

EDIT: Would a simple Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD cut it? I know people are pretty anti-Creative Labs, but I wonder if that is just because they aren’t recommended for recording external devices like guitar, etc.

Thanks Steve!
Even though you don’t name a card specifically, that is still good help for me.

I also am going to try out my M-Audio 2496 for a bit longer without ASIO4ALL installed and see if that makes a difference before trying something else. I had read that some people have trouble with that. It has built in ASIO driver anyways, so I’ll see how that goes, then if it works out OK, i can put the money towards decent monitors instead. When this card works, its a beast. When it doesn’t, its frustrating. But hopefully going sans-ASIO4ALL will do it.

I particularly appreciated your advice re: not buying a USB interface. I do heavily use a lot of VSTis (my music really is entirely based on using VSTis, and rarely the odd wav someone else sampled). So latency from USB was a concern from me that you helped validate. So as a backup plan, if you or anyone know some good PCI(?) soundcards that would be good for Cubase + several VSTis, I’m all ears. Again I’ll stress that I have no need for live instruments… can’t see that ever being a need, but if it will be, I’ll address it then.

Thanks again for your advice and helping me understand the terminology!