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Old 12-08-2012, 11:53 PM   #1
newbiesforever
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USB sound cards?


In researching separate sound cards (I've never wanted one before), I found out that sound cards can be USB devices. That seems somewhat silly to me, because why would you need your sound card to be a pluggable and easily removable device? Wouldn't you want it to be in the computer all the time?
 
Old 12-09-2012, 05:33 AM   #2
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Theres lots of reasons why people use USB sound cards.

Some people dont have the confidence and/or skill to install an internal sound card.

Its impossible in most cases to install an internal sound card into a laptop.

An external sound card make moving the sound card from system to system a lot easier.

Having the sound card external from the case removes it from a lot of electrical interference (which is one reason why there are a lot of USB/firewire professional sound cards/interfaces).
 
Old 12-09-2012, 10:05 AM   #3
newbiesforever
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9 View Post
Some people dont have the confidence and/or skill to install an internal sound card.
Skill? The internal cards I saw pictures of appeared to be just PCI cards. I'm not a skilled electronics hobbyist and I can install a PCI card.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9 View Post
Its impossible in most cases to install an internal sound card into a laptop.
Oh...good point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9 View Post
Having the sound card external from the case removes it from a lot of electrical interference (which is one reason why there are a lot of USB/firewire professional sound cards/interfaces).
I didn't know this. Is the sound card the only type of internal device susceptible to electrical interference, or would my PCI card wireless network adapter probably work better if I replaced it with a USB version?

Last edited by newbiesforever; 12-09-2012 at 10:06 AM.
 
Old 12-09-2012, 10:35 AM   #4
DavidMcCann
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Usually the USB sound device is inside speakers or headphones. I use USB speakers: one less mains connection needed.
 
Old 12-09-2012, 10:46 AM   #5
newbiesforever
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Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
Usually the USB sound device is inside speakers or headphones. I use USB speakers: one less mains connection needed.
Eh? Does that mean it plugs into the USB port but then runs back into the case?
 
Old 12-09-2012, 11:06 AM   #6
Thad E Ginataom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
In researching separate sound cards (I've never wanted one before), I found out that sound cards can be USB devices. That seems somewhat silly to me, because why would you need your sound card to be a pluggable and easily removable device? Wouldn't you want it to be in the computer all the time?
I think you make a mistake about how USB is used. The Universal Serial Bus is about being universal, and plugability is just one of its characteristics.

Not so long ago, we had printers connected to 25-pin parallel ports, 9/15-pin serial ports, ps/2 keyboard and mice ports (some of still have those!). Now, most printers and scanners are USB, very many mice and keyboards are USB, and some external hard disks are not intended to be plugged in and out like thumb drives.

USB sound cards go back quite a long way, but USB 1.0 earned itself a bad reputation for audio, some of which still sticks, without justification, to USB 2.0.

The PC-audio hif people use "DACs" which are half a sound card ---output (Digital to Analogue) only--- and many of these are USB. There are wars about what kind of USB interface is best/usuable for high-quality sound.

Even without getting into the realms of audiophile wars, it is necessary to research any specific sound card for use with Linux. Before even getting into which might sound better, we have to find out which ones even work! Or work at the resolution that you want to play/record. You won't find Linux drivers on most of manufacturers' sites. Grrr.

Mine, by the way, is a Firewire interface, and firewire audio is, to Linux, like some sort of afterthought. It was a terrible job getting it working. A certain other operating system, which I no longer use, does have certain advantages.
 
Old 12-10-2012, 12:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
Eh? Does that mean it plugs into the USB port but then runs back into the case?
No. The speakers/headphones have a sound chip built in. The OS routes sound data to the USB port instead of to the sound chip or sound card on the motherboard. Presumably this is easier that using the USB port for transmitting a sound signal.
 
Old 12-10-2012, 06:28 PM   #8
newbiesforever
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Well, is the electrical interference issue big enough that I honestly should avoid buying a PCI sound card? I want a sound card in order to record audio from some non-commercial DVDs, which I will then burn to CDs for my personal use. I would prefer PCI, because I have two open slots and some of my six USB ports work intermittently or not at all. (I think I've got a loose connection from the case to the front box with the audio ports and USB ports.) I'm currently looking at this PCI card: http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Channel-S...nux+sound+card .

Last edited by newbiesforever; 12-10-2012 at 06:33 PM.
 
Old 12-10-2012, 06:31 PM   #9
dugan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9 View Post
Theres lots of reasons why people use USB sound cards.

Some people dont have the confidence and/or skill to install an internal sound card.

Its impossible in most cases to install an internal sound card into a laptop.

An external sound card make moving the sound card from system to system a lot easier.

Having the sound card external from the case removes it from a lot of electrical interference (which is one reason why there are a lot of USB/firewire professional sound cards/interfaces).
Or: the USB sound card has (or is perceived as having) a superior DAC and thus superior sound quality.

NWavGuy's "ODAC" USB DACs are super-expensive but tempting as hell: http://nwavguy.blogspot.ca/search/la...AC%20USB%20DAC

Last edited by dugan; 12-10-2012 at 06:37 PM.
 
Old 12-10-2012, 06:56 PM   #10
TobiSGD
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Moved: This thread is more suitable in <non-*NIX - General> and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 09:57 AM   #11
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
Skill? The internal cards I saw pictures of appeared to be just PCI cards. I'm not a skilled electronics hobbyist and I can install a PCI card.
Not everyone is prepared to even crack the case, let alone install a card.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
Is the sound card the only type of internal device susceptible to electrical interference, or would my PCI card wireless network adapter probably work better if I replaced it with a USB version?
Pretty much everything electrical is vunerable to interference.

IMO PCI/PCIe wireless is better than USB......for any given price range.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
Well, is the electrical interference issue big enough that I honestly should avoid buying a PCI sound card?
No, its not that big an issue. PCI/PCIe sound cards are fine for any home use (and if you are really worried about it you can get expensive shielded sound cards).

Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
I want a sound card in order to record audio from some non-commercial DVDs, which I will then burn to CDs for my personal use.
You arent going to need a sound card for that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
Usually the USB sound device is inside speakers or headphones. I use USB speakers: one less mains connection needed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
No. The speakers/headphones have a sound chip built in. The OS routes sound data to the USB port instead of to the sound chip or sound card on the motherboard. Presumably this is easier that using the USB port for transmitting a sound signal.
There is normally a sound controller in USB speakers and/or headphones, not an actual sound chip.If its just a controller, the digital audio data is routed to the sound chip for decoding, then the decoded data is send digitally to the sound controller.

While some USB sound devices can have a sound chip, with most speakers/headphones its just a controller.
 
Old 12-13-2012, 11:36 PM   #12
newbiesforever
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The downside of this being moved to non-Nix general is that I can't credit the answers. Most of this information was helpful enough that the posters should get reputation points or whatever we use these days.
 
Old 12-14-2012, 03:20 AM   #13
TobiSGD
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Click on the scale symbol on the left, right next to the penguin, if you want to give reputation to the member.
 
Old 12-15-2012, 01:59 AM   #14
Thad E Ginataom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
Well, is the electrical interference issue big enough that I honestly should avoid buying a PCI sound card?
Absolutely not. There are pro PCI cards from companies like RME and marian. Maybe there are PCs containing cheap, badly-designed power supplies that emit so much interference it can't be resisted (it's difficult to be categorical about these things, despite my opening words!) but a well designed card in a decent machine will give excellent results, both for recording and playback. PCs are gaining respected places as hifi components. Many are being built for that specific purpose. Many are being used by those rarified creatures called "audiophiles!" I've experienced getting better sound from a PCI card than from a fairly expensive CD player.

Every product is different. It is not possible to say that something is true of a sound card because it is PCI, or because it is PCI ...etc. It is a whole world of different stuff, and you should research it like buying any consumer product that you are not familiar with. There are some really good sites. One in particular, that neither my brain cells nor my bookmarks are helping me with, but I'll post the link when I remember.

EDIT: The Well-Tempered Computer

Beware the "how-to" sites that are just fronts for selling you (eg) expensive cables!

Last edited by Thad E Ginataom; 12-15-2012 at 03:41 AM.
 
  


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