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    Sound card dillema


    Hello there guys,

    i've been searching and looking at different external usb sound cards i could get as i've been saving up for some good quality audio equipment (which isn't easy as i'm a student). so i've finalized my choices to two cards:
    m-audio m-track plus (with blue eyeball for free) and alesis io 4.
    now both these cards are similarly priced (in croatia at least) and i can't decide upon which one i should buy.
    m-track is 2 channel and alesis has 4 channels but is slightly cheaper HOWEVER alesis is made of plastic from what i've found and m-track is aluminum (and you get a mic/webcam with it which is of no practical use for recording but is kinda nice). other specs are pretty similar.
    which one do you suggest and why?
    i know the material it's made of is not the best of rasons but it seems a bit more longer-lasting and implies higher quality production. besides, i'm quite satisfied with m-audio since i have their oxygen 25 midi keyboard while i have no experience with alesis.
    so which one should i get?
    M-Audio M-track Plus vs. Alesis IO 4

    please help me make the decision!!!
    and thanks grin !!!

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    502 sounds
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    Looking at the cursory information: the Alesis has 4 record channels, but can only record 24-bit (high quality) when using no more than two. Do you have a need for 4 channels? Except for multiple-miking a drum kit, recording several instruments at once, or doing something like recording a singer in real-time with a stereo-miked guitar, most recording situations won't call for so many inputs at once.

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    yes you're right
    i was kinda leaning towards m-audio anyway plus i found a pair of behringer c-4 mics (really cheap too) which i would buy just to be able to fill up both channels if needed.
    i wish i could get the shure sm58 instead though but a used one costs just as much as these 2 brand new (although shure's quality is legendary).

    i was actually planning on using that equipment to offer my fellow colleagues quality recording/mixing services for some sort of demos as professional studio recording is quite costly grin

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    191 sounds
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    Try to find what interface has better drivers (more stable). You'll probably google that out, if there is problem there will be posts about it on some forums (desparate/furious users trying to solve issues).

    My experience with m-audio is mixed one, their old audiophile/delta cards had a good drivers and passable sound. The newer firewire/usb stuff was hit and miss, the quality of the sound went down, drivers were less reliable. However to be fair I know nothing about current generation of maudio products.

    Behringer mics, yes they are cheap, yes they allow you to record some things. Though once you grow up a bit you'll get rid of them. Shure SM57, SM58, SM7 etc... these are in use even in very hi-end studios, because they are great utilitary mics (SM7 is a great vocal mic no mater the price). The problem is cheap interfaces have shitty preamps (and conversion too) and dynamic mics need great preamps to deliver. SM7 needs lots of clean gain, without it you'll end with quiet recording and audible hiss. So condensers are a way to go if you need versatile first mic.

    If you want cheap, yet quality condenser, try <a href="http://www.lineaudio.se/CM3.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.lineaudio.se/CM3.html</a> ... another swedish manufacturer of "that good for that little $?" is Golden Age Music <a href="http://goldenagemusic.mamutweb.com/Shop/List/-Microphones/21/1" rel="nofollow">http://goldenagemusic.mamutweb.com/Shop/List/-Microphones/21/1</a> . Their preamps and mics are quite famous, google around a bit and you'll see.

    BTW profesional studios are not really costly for what they do, if you get to that level, you'll understand that. Cheap equipment in acousticaly untreated room in the hands of unskilled "engineer" can go only that far. What is great, you can start that way and learn it all in a decade or so wink. Have a lot of fun.

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    thanks for the extensive response grin

    i know behringer isn't that great but shure is sort of over my budget now. the behringer c-4s are condenseres which is the reason they drew my attention. unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a great deal of stores selling golden age music gear and importing it would insanely raise it's total price due to heavy taxes.

    and what i meant by studios being expensive was that college students/amateurs (such as myself) can't really afford them, much like i can't afford all the equipment (nor i properly isolated room) that i'd like to have. which is why i thought it'd be a good idea to both help people with that stuff as most of them barely know anything about mixing/mastering/etc (plus a good way to earn a bit of money to pay off the gear). i myself am a beginner at best but i'm learning and always improving (the fact that i study phonetics helps a great deal actually).
    thanks again for all the advice! i'll keep digging, hopefully finding a decent, reasonably priced shure mic grin

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    Just to add, when you get a Shure, buy it new from a legit dealer, even if it costs a little more: There's a lot of fakes going around.

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    Yep that's right.

    Though don't discount the used market. Croatia (like other post-communist countries) had some nice vintage equipment in the broadcast and other state-owned facilities. The times where you could get tons of expensive vintage mics/equipment for almost free are over. But there are still opportunities, every now and then someone opens a warehouse and finds great stuff, often without knowing it (people outside audio comunity often don't see any value in this old garbage).

    Just saying, keep your eyes open wink.

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    329 sounds
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    I've always been fond of the Focusrite Saffire which I have used in various compact studios. Even though at my personal workstation have an Edirol FA-101 which has served me well over the past 6 or 7 years, I have gained a love for the Focusrite interface ranges.

    Have a look and bear in mind the information that others have suggested.

    www.us.focusrite.com/firewire-audio-interfaces/saffire-pro-24/key-features

    the saffire pro 14 is a cheaper model.


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    For a student, you should look at Focus Rite's portable Scarlett 2i2. Its a professional sound card at entry level prices and it's built like a tank and will withstand heavy use and its easy to carry around too. Discard all other options and go for this one.

    Don't you just love how quickly a spanking new project file opens up on your DAW! Don't you just hate it when your project gets heavier and respectively the time taken to open it!

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