Sound Devices and Interfaces

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This article summarises known information about using Audacity with selected sound cards, recording/playback devices or audio interfaces that are believed to work well with Audacity.
There is no explicit endorsement of the devices listed, beyond documenting the features the device has and noting the user comments made.
  • There may be more recent information about other sound cards at Sound Card Reviews on our Forum. Information there will eventually be moved here when a consensus view can be drawn.
  • Devices capable of recording more than two simultaneous channels using Audacity are discussed in the Multichannel Recording page.


Contents

Introduction

The main purpose here is to list devices that have been reported to work well with Audacity. Information may also be added in the final section about devices that are known not to work with Audacity, or to do so only with major restrictions.

Information is mostly based on user reports and unless stated otherwise should not be taken as representing official endorsement by Audacity Team. Pricing information should not be added to listings.

The following codes are used in operating system information:

  • For Windows:
    • (MCX) XP Media Centre Edition not supported, or untested
    • (V) Known to work well with Vista
    • (VU) Vista support unknown
    • (VQ) Vista support problematical (see text)
    • (VX) Vista not supported
  • For Mac:
    • (PPC) Power PCs only
    • (U) Supported on Intel Macs and Power PCs


Playback Devices

--


Soundcards

M-Audio Audiophile 2496:

Compatibility: Windows 98 SE and later (MCX, VU), Mac OS 9.2.2 and later, OS X 10.2.6 and later.

  • 24 bit/96000 Hz, 2 x 2 Analog I/O and 2 channel S/PDIF digital I/O.
  • User report: Works well with Audacity. When used with a slow CPU computer (approx. 500 MHz), there is a lag if you're trying to record in Audacity in sync with a wave file being played back by Audacity. However, with a CPU running at around 2 GHz, no latency was noticed. The audio card handles feeding of audio output from one application into another and simultaneously playing while recording.


Realtek ALC883 High-Definition Audio (Motherboard sound card):

Compatibility: Windows 2000 Pro/Server, XP Pro/Home, 2003 Server, Vista, 2008 Server, "Windows 7". Drivers for 64-bit Windows XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, and "7" are available (MCX,V)
Compatibility Opinion: Probably works with XP MCE. See Discussion Page

  • Outputs:
    • 8-Channel (7.1) Surround Sound (Analog)
    • 2x (2-channel) Line Out/Speakers (Analog)
    • S/PDIF (Digital) with both coaxial and optical jacks
  • Inputs:
    • 2x Analog Line In
    • Microphone
  • User report: No problems at all so far, except that as with all external devices, it is currently necessary to connect it before launching Audacity, otherwise Audacity cannot detect it.
    OS: Windows 2008 Server, SP2, 32-bit, with "Desktop Experience" package loaded (adds Full Vista Desktop (+Aero) and WMP 11)
    Motherboard/RAM/CPU: Asus P5N-D, 4 GB RAM, Intel C2D E6850 (3.51 GHz)
    Misc: 4 monitors off of 2 PCIe16 cards (Almost 6000 px across!), 3 500GB SATA2 drives (95% full)
    Primary used for: Software development Secondary use: Multimedia


USB Interfaces

Peter 4Feb13:In discussion with ART's UK distributors today they informed me that the USB Phono Plus and the USB Dual Pre are no longer branded under ARTcessories as previously - rather thay now come under "ART" and are branded as "Project Series". I have added the Dual Pre as although similar in basic fubctionality its I/O is targettted ar recoding musicians or field recordists, whereas the USB is tragetted a t existing recording transfer (vinyl, tape, MiniDisc etc. There is also an ART Tub preamp http://artproaudio.com/art_products/signal_processing/usb_audio_devices/product/usbdualtubepre/ but I don't think we need to mention that here - for a start we have no reports on the forum of it working (or not working) with Audacity. But it's a pretty safe bet, based on the other two devices, that it does.
I re-ordered this page to be in alphabetic order just as we (Gale) did for the related Forum sticky thread: http://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=9477
  • Gale 05Feb13: Thanks for updates. However the PhonoPlus URL is still "artcessories" (not listed under "Products") which was the reason I could not find it yesterday on their site.

    I added some more distinction in the outputs and their monitoring as the PhonoPlus line out seems to be tied to the input, so couldn't be used for listening to audio sent by the computer. Do we assume the line outs of the DualPre can be so used, as well as the phones out?

    The Phono Plus Manual http://artproaudio.com/files/owners_manuals/om_usbphonoplusps.pdf is confusing as it still has minimal information for Windows 98/ME/2000 but has a larger section that claims the minimum requirements are OS X 10.5 and Windows XP SP3. Whichever is correct, I would doubt the two devices have different requirements.

    • Peter 5Feb13: yes I spotted the "artcessories" in the URL - but their tech support department assured me (after them talking to the marketing folk) that both of these products are being repositioned as ART mainstream products under the "Project Series" umbrella. I think they are trying (rightly imo as an ex-marketeer) to give more prominence and market status to these devices.
    • Gale 15Feb13: So have they responded to you about the OS support? I contacted them off their web site but got no response. Might be worth a 'phone call if you have a contact there.

      Also why don't we mention the UFO202 here for people who don't have a phono amplifier? Perhaps a div with a link (below the UCA 202 entry) would be enough?

      • Gale 16Feb14: Done.

ART USB Phono Plus Project Series:

Compatibility: Designed to work with the USB audio device drivers in PC Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 USB audio device drivers, Mac OS 9.1 or greater (with native USB support) or any OS-X based system, the USB PhonoPlusPS requires no additional drivers. It is fully compliant with the USB 2.0 specification and uses USB adaptive mode for playback and USB asynchronous mode for record.

Primarily targeted for transferring vinyl LPs/45s to your computer or laptop using an existing conventional turntable. Also can be used as a high performance audio interface between analog and digital sources.

Integrated pre-amp, onboard sound card and USB interface with: one stereo input switchable between Phono and Line-in, input gain control, line-out preamp and headphone-out connections.

  • Inputs:
    • (stereo) RCA input, switchable between phono and Line-in, with input gain control.
    • TOSLINK Digital Audio input or RCA S/PDIF input for sending audio to a digital computer sound card (only one input can be used at a time).
  • Outputs:
    • Preamp Line Out (stereo RCA), only connected to the analog input preamp signal for source monitoring or to allow use as a stand-alone phono preamp.
    • 1/8-inch Headphone Monitor Output for listening to pre-amp and/or computer playback. The Monitor Source switch sends a choice of preamp only, computer playback only or 50/50 mix of both to this input.
    • TOSLINK Digital Audio output for playback from a digital computer sound card.
  • USB Input/Output
  • 16-bit 44.1kHz or 48kHz, USB 2.0 compliant
  • Input gain control
  • Can be powered by either external power supply or directly via USB port
  • Link to the manual: http://artproaudio.com/downloads/owners_manuals/om_usbphonoplusps.pdf
  • User Reports
    • Excellent build quality, anodised aluminium case. Low noise (-50dB when bus-powered, -70dB when mains-powered). Input gain control and headphone output volume control. Worked "out of the box" on Windows. Significantly more expensive in Europe than in US.


ART USB Dual Pre Project Series:

Compatibility: Designed to work with the USB audio device drivers in PC Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 USB audio device drivers, Mac OS 9.1 or greater (with native USB support) or any OS-X based system, the USB PhonoPlusPS requires no additional drivers. It is fully compliant with the USB 1.1 specification and uses USB adaptive mode for playback and USB asynchronous mode for record.

Designed to work over a wide variety of applications from remote field recording to desktop/studio tracking.

Integrated pre-amp, onboard sound card and USB interface with: one stereo input switchable between Phono and Line-in, input gain control, line-out and headphone-out connections.

  • Inputs: Low Noise Fully Balanced XLR and 1/4-inch TRS Combi Inputs
  • Outputs:
    • 1/4 inch TRS Balanced Monitor for power amplifier, powered monitors, recording system or a mixer’s balanced line or insert inputs.
    • 1/8" headphone Monitor outputs
    • Monitor Mix control for adjusting the mix proportion of audio from the input and from computer playback.
  • USB Connectivity to Desktop and Laptop Computers
  • 16-bit 44.1kHz or 48kHz
  • Independent Channel Gain Controls
  • Flexible 3-way Power from USB, External Supply, or 9 Volt Battery
  • Link to the manual: http://artproaudio.com/downloads/owners_manuals/om_usbdualpreps.pdf
  • User Reports
    • Works fine in Audacity for both recording and playback in Linux, Mac OS X and Windows (tested in all of the 3 operating systems). Highly recommended!


Behringer U-Control UCA202

Compatibility: Windows XP SP2/3, Vista and 7 (32-bit and 64-bit), Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. No official Linux support but reported to work on Ubuntu 9.04 and 10.10. Works just by "plug 'n' play". Optional Windows driver with WDM and ASIO support can be downloaded (Audacity as shipped doesn't support ASIO).

  • No-frills but clean-sounding 16-bit stereo, line level only USB sound card.
  • Pros: Works well with Audacity. Inexpensive upgrade for laptop computer.
  • Cons: Plastic case. Label peels off eventually.
  • Inputs: 2x line level RCA.
  • Outputs: 2x line level RCA, 1x headphone output, 1x TOSLINK optical output carrying a digital S/PDIF signal.
  • Monitoring: Monitor switch toggles between USB playback from computer only or playback mixed with hardware monitoring of the input (you cannot adjust the proportion of playback and input in the monitoring).
  • Link to the Manual: http://www.behringer.com/assets/UCA202_M_EN.pdf
  • User Reports:
    • No ability to adjust input level on Windows or Mac with the "plug 'n' play" driver it comes with (not tested with any optional drivers). On Ubuntu 10.10 the input level can be changed using the system slider, but this does not change the "gain" in the UCA itself, just scale the signal it sends. So whatever the operating system, always check the level of the input being sent to UCA 202.
For directly connecting the phono out of a turntable, there is a very similar Behringer U-PHONO UFO202 which has an additional phono input (which is also switchable to line level).

For details, see the UFO202 Manual (English) or Manuals in other languages.


Griffin iMic: - Discontinued but still obtainable from some online retailers.

Compatibility: Windows 7, XP 32-bit or 64-bit (MCX) and Vista (VQ), Mac OS X 10.4 to 10.8 or later (U)

1/8" (3.5mm) stereo line/mic-level input (toggle levels with switch provided), 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo line-level output, plus 1/8" (3.5mm) to stereo RCA adaptor cable with ground connector. Needs to be kept clear of power supplies or sources of vibration. Includes Audacity for Windows and FinalVinyl for Mac, for recording and editing. Windows Vista : Griffin denies iMic will work in Vista, but some users find iMic2 can be made to work. Key points (thanks to User:RGB):

  • Go to the Recording tab on the Vista Control Panel, right-click over the iMic > Properties, and on the "Advanced" tab, set the "Default Format" to "2 channel, 16-bit, 44100 Hz (CD Quality)", or to "1 channel, 16- bit, 44100 Hz".
  • In Audacity, set the project rate bottom left of the screen to 44100 Hz, and at Edit > Preferences, set the "Recording Channels" to match stereo or mono as chosen in the Vista Control Panel.
  • If errors are received when recording, or the device is not seen in the Recording or Playback device dropdowns in Audacity preferences, follow these reboot steps (that article applies to USB turntables but the principle is identical).


Roland Duo Capture UA-11 - Supersedes the Cakewalk UA-1G abd the Edirol UA-1EX

  • Inputs: Line level 1/8" mini-jack / 1/4" jack with Hi-Z option for recording electric guitar or microphone
  • Outputs: Line level /8" mini-jack / 1/8" headphone jack with independent volume control
  • Bit rate: 24-bit
  • Sampling rate switchable: 44.1/48 kHz
  • Large Input Level slider for easy control while recording
  • The device is self-powered from the USB connection.


Tascam US-122L:

Compatibility: Windows XP 32 bit SP2 or later (MCX) and Vista 32 bit, Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Left and right XLR microphone inputs with phantom power and left and right analog line inputs (right hand is switchable to high impedance for use with guitars etc.). Line input does not provide phono pre-amplification, so is unsuitable for direct connection to a turntable. Installation of the latest Tascam drivers from their web site is essential, then update to their latest firmware - you can do both here . An operating manual is available here .


Xitel Inport:

Compatibility: Windows 2000 or later (V)

RCA inputs primarily intended for recording LPs and cassettes. It connects to phono amplifiers, cassette decks or other line-level sources but does not provide phono pre-amplification, so is unsuitable for direct connection to a turntable. Can also be used with its own recording software. An independent review of the device can be found here.

USB Microphones

Snowball: 

Compatibility: Windows XP (VQ), Mac OS X (U)

USB mono condenser microphone with unusual circular design and choice of cardioid, cardioid with -10dB reduction and omnidirectional patterns. Product Manual is here . Many (not all) users report problems under Windows Vista on the Snowball Forum .


Devices not working well with Audacity

Digidesign mbox : USB or Firewire interfaces. Widely reported not to work with Audacity under Mac OS X due to very different interface and non-standard Core Audio drivers compared to usual OS X audio devices.

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