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.


  • 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.


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 the 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

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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 Analogue 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:

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, 4GB 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

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.
  • 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/EN/downloads/pdf/UCA202_P0484_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.


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.


Griffin iMic:

Compatibility: Windows XP 32-bit or 64-bit (MCX) and Vista (VQ), Mac OS X 10.3 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 priniciple is identical).


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 analogue 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 .

temporay h2 to facilitate editing with a reduced edit set

ARTcessories USB Phono Plus:

Compatibility: Designed to work with the USB audio device drivers in PC Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7, Mac OS9.1 or greater (with native USB support) or any OS-X based system, the USBPhonoPlus v2 requires no additional drivers.

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: (stereo) RCA input, switchable between phono and Line-in, with input gain trim / TOSLINK Digital Audio input / RCA S/PDIF input
  • Outputs: (stereo)RCA Line-out / 1/8" headphone output with volume control / TOSLINK Digital Audio output / USB Input/Output
  • 16-bit 44.1kHz or 48kHz, USB 1.2 compliant
  • Input gain control
  • link to the manual: http://artproaudio.com/files/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.

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 . One Audacity user reported a problem on Windows XP, using legacy 1.2.x, where turning up the input volume slider in Audacity caused the Snowball "mute recording" switch to turn on in Sounds and Audio Devices in the Windows Control Panel, but that using the current version of Audacity solved this.


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.