Sound Devices and Interfaces

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This article summarises known information about using Audacity with selected soundcards, 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 soundcards at Soundcard 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


USB Interfaces

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 soundcard 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 soundcard (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 soundcard.
  • 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 soundcard 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 soundcard.
  • 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.


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 .


Samson® G-Track:

This is a good quality, large capsule, condenser USB microphone; it has a headphone connection in its base in addition to the USB connection.


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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