Talk:Sound Devices and Interfaces

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To be added

Gale 22Feb12:

Shure® X2U Microphone Amplifier/USB Adapter

Koz's text from the Forum:

Warning icon This is a single, straight-line path sound channel from professional XLR-type microphone to the USB connection in your computer. You can read about it in the web pages. It's pretty amazing, but it does have a couple of shortcomings.

-- As usual with USB equipment, you can't get very far from the computer, usually about 3M without inviting data errors and odd digital noises in the show. USB is not a long-haul system. The up side, of course, is that a top quality, rubber coated XLR cable can go a hundred feet without significant damage.

-- The X2U doesn't have a lot of gain. I've never used it where I had to turn it down, but many times I've wanted to turn it up. I did some real world sound tests with a commercially available phantom-powered microphone and it held its own against larger mixers as long as you didn't need very much umph.

I announced a short track with the mic in the X2U and then did a similar track with the mic plugged into a Peavey PV6. The X2U was cranked all the way up and produced a comfortable track. The Peavey still had over 30dB of boost left to add if needed -- the faders were only half-way up and the microphone trim was at 3/4.

The X2U doesn't need any fancy software; it looks like a standard audio device. Plug it in and go. I didn't try it on Windows. It has provision to play computer music into its own headphone socket, so if you did it right, you could do a complete sound-on-sound session. It's 16-bit. I used it both at 48000 and 44100.

Samson® G-Track USB Microphone

Creative SoundBlaster Live! Value (obsolete)

Inexpensive version of the SoundBlaster Live" series (without digital I/O). Can still be found secondhand.

  • Ins and outs: Mini-jack inputs and outputs
    • Inputs: Line / Mic
    • Outputs: Front / Rear / Headphone / Sub
  • Pros: On board hardware digital signal processing. Reasonable sound quality (16 bit 48 kHz). Upgraded pro quality drivers still available for Windows 32-bit and 64-bit. Sound Font support. Lots of nice features normally only found on much more expensive sound cards.
  • Cons: Discontinued

WIndows XP MCE and Realtek driver support for it

Realtek neither states nor denies that their driver package that supports "XP", supports MCE. Given the otherwise complete support for every other version of Windows since Win2000, including the WIn7 Release Candidate, and the 64-bit versions, plus, personally seeing examples of "XP drivers" for media devices that are incompatible with MCE's quirks, I am of the opinion that the XP drivers not only work with MCE, but officially support it! Anyway, my hunch is that the special notice as to whether special note is given here as to whether a sound device works with MCE (and Audacity), is not beacuse "MCE has problems with certain media devices", but "MCE has problems with some USB functionality, and it mainly concerns things that media devices require".
So, I ask, "Is MCE support mainly an issue with USB devices?" If so, I'd venture to say that, in the absence of XP MCE being specifically mentioned one way or the other, whether a device works (or is officially supported to work) with 2003 Server, as the latter version of Windows has serious problems with certain types of USB devices. Those problems are still not corrected today, and here's my theory on why:

I figure that the Windows development trunk had a major chunk of its USB support code completely rewritten, to satisfy one of Vista's design goals (either the clock-cycle-stealing kernel DRM support foisted upon us, or an annoying, new, "security" feature like UAC,, I cucaynically figure), at the particular place in time that 2003 Server was to branch off. 2003 Server branched off with this all-new code, which most probably had a serious flaw or two in the basic idea of how it was to work. The trunk code was completely redone, but 2003 wound up stuck with it, as the kinds of devices for which problems existed (scanners, cameras, video capture) were not the kind of things MS chad much chance of being plugged into a "server", and therefore, the cost to rewrite all the parts of 2003 that needed to be. so that the new code on the truck could be plugged in, was not justified.

XP MCE must have been released before the errors were discovered. As XP SP2 began to back-port "good" things from 2003 into it, Microsoft hatched an albatross when they based "a tad too much of it" not on XP, but 2003, which included parts of "you-know-what".

MCE apparently had been "all but given away" to certain, large OEM customers of Microsoft's; the XP MCE box I figured out some of that OS' "dirty little secrets" on was not a Media Center PC, but a cheap-a$ Dell, that I reasoned had XP MCE on it solely for the reason that Dell got it for less than it would have had to pay for XP Home!

- Nick Karels
Santa Rosa, CA, USA

Gale 27 June 09: The only support that is guaranteed on MCE is for the motherboard sound device that the system was built with. There should be no problem with that device if you use the drivers that came on the CD with the system. Using some kind of generic Realtek XP driver made by Realtek would be unlikely to work. There are at least as many reports of Audacity working with MCE as it not doing. See this M-Audio FAQ.


  • Gale 22Feb12: Do we need this in the article page?
    • Peter 22Feb12: I left it on there for a while as though Roland were no longer supplying the UA-1EX there were plenty still available for a while from commercial outlets. I checked again this morning and this no longer appears to be the case; accordingly I have removed the UA-1EX entry from the main page.

Edirol UA-1EX - (replaced by Edirol Cakewalk UA-1G)

External USB soundcard (which is also ASIO compatible - but this will not work with Audacity) interface capable of 24-bit/96kHz operation (the sampling rate is switchable 32/44.1/48/96 kHz - the bitrate is also switchable betwwen 24-bit and 16-bit). In addition to RCA and S/PDIF inputs it also has an electret condenser microphone input similar to the "MIC-IN" on most internal soundcards and a headphone output with volume control to quickly and easily listen to audio from your computer. The device is self-powered from the USB connection. I use mine configured to 44.1kHz 16-bit, for LP/tape/minidisc transcription and for recording FM broadcasts off-air and occasional spoken-voice mic work - the device has performed well in all these applications - Waxcylinder

  • Ins and outs:
    • Inputs: Line level RCA / SPDIF optical / powered electret condenser microphone input (stereo)
    • Outputs: Line level RCA / SPDIF optical / 1/8" headphone jack with independent volume control
  • Pros: Works well with Audacity (on both my desktop and laptop PCs running Windows XP. Input volume control (controls signal level sent to computer/Audacity). Audio I/O signal indicators. Zero latency, direct monitoring (using the headphone output - NOT from Audacity). RCA sockets are gold-plated. Good manual available online - and helpful helpline for trouble-shooting
  • Cons: Plastic case - but has proved sturdy enough. More expensive than the Behringer UCA-202 (but has more features).
  • Here is the current web page for the product:
  • Link to the Manual:
  • Drivers: I use it with the standard drivers that came with XP on both my PCs (XP-HE and XP-PRO). My understanding is that you only need the Edirol drivers if you want to drive the soundcard at its highest speed and then require ASIO support (which of course you would need to build into Audacity yourself - As it cannot be distributed with Audacity for licensing reasons).

Update 5Jan10 Peter: Edirol UK confirms that the UA-1EX is now superseded by the Edirol Cakewalk UA-1G. They tell me that the UA-1G has broadly the same functionality as the older UA-1EX but with some increased functionaliy: a larger more ergonomic gain control, and a specific guitar input for example. See this link: