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Which Professional Audio Card is the best for MIDI Music Production in Windows?


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#1 midimusicman79

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 08:39 AM

Hi all!

 

As my user name implies, I am a male MIDI musician, with my own private studio consisting of equipments like; an Evolution MK-461C USB MIDI keyboard with 61 full-size keys and a Roland GI-20 USB guitar-to-MIDI interface with a Roland GK-3 input. And of course a computer running MS Win XP Pro SP3 32-bit, with an Evolution Sound Studio II MIDI Sequencer with ASIO and VST, which came bundled with the MK-461C. My Audio Card is a Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum.

 

I make MIDI music mainly by playing my MK-461C, (but I do not use the GI-20 that much,) and record the resulting MIDI files' audio in Audacity.

 

However, as my computer is ageing; now 9.5 years old, I am planning to buy myself a new one (Intel Core i7) in a couple of months with MS Win 10 Pro 64-bit. Therefore, I am wondering: Which Professional Audio Card is the best for MIDI Music Production in Windows? Naturally I am looking for a card with low latency and top-notch sound quality.

 

Thank you very much in advance!

 

Regards,

midimusicman79


Edited by hamluis, 04 August 2015 - 09:46 AM.
Moved from Audio/Video Apps to System Upgrading - Hamluis.

MS Win 10 Pro 64-bit, EAM Pro/EEK, MB 3 Free, WPP, SWB Free, CryptoPrevent Free and Unchecky, WFW, FFQ with uBO, Ghostery, Grammarly Free and HTTPS Ew. Acronis TI 2018, K. Sw. Upd. AM-tools: 9-lab RT BETA, AdwCleaner, Auslogics AM, aswMBR, Avira PCC, BD ART, catchme, Cezurity AV, CCE, CKS, ClamWin P., Crystal Sec., DDS, DWCI, EMCO MD, eScan MWAV, ESS/EOS, FGP, FMTB, FRST, F-SOS, FSS, FreeFixer, GMP, GMER, hP BETA, HJT, Inherit, JRT, K. avz4, KVRT, K. TDSSKiller, LSP-Fix, MB 3 Free, MBAR BETA, MA Stinger, NMC, NoBot, NPE, NSS, NVT MRF (NMRF), OTL, PCC, QD, RCS, RSIT, RKill, Rs, SC, SR, SAP, SVRT, SAS, SL, TMHC, TSA ART, UHM, Vba32 AR, VRS, WR (AiO), Xvirus PG, ZAM, ZHPC, ZHPD and Zoek. I have 23 Years of PC Experience. Bold = effective.


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#2 SEANIA

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Posted 05 August 2015 - 02:07 AM

Which Professional Audio Card is the best for MIDI Music Production in Windows?

 

MIDI, for the most part, has been dropped from direct compatibility to sound cards in favor of having a TOSLINK (S/PDIF, light pipe, whatever, same thing) digital in/out. Having that be run to a external mixer that has MIDI in and S/PDIF in/out to connect your computer. Monitoring of the sound is can be done directly at the mixer.  You can still find cards with direct MIDI in, but most of them use older audio chips that are badly implemented.

 

Instead of using software to convert the midi to a digital format like you're doing now. All that's done at the mixer and the digital data is transferred over the loss less, interference immune, zero latency, S/PDIF line. If not S/PDIF, then digital Coaxial or USB. 

 

Have you tried using the USB outputs on your current hardware before for recording? Just curious. 

 

 

However, as my computer is ageing; now 9.5 years old

 

Audio has come a long way in that time. Not in sound quality per-say, though almost everything is digital now so less interference, but cost has gone down significantly on the hardware processing end. Example being my 120$ overclocking motherboard can output 24bit, 7.1 + 2 channel,  and 192000hz audio. All of it is shielded to. Before you would've had to have put out that much just for the audio card to do that, but now you get both.

 

Only real reason to buy a dedicated card now is for coaxial in/out and S/PDIF in/out connectors for recording. Which you are doing. Other then that people use additional external amps to drive beefier headphones, and/or have a external mixer to handle everything like I mentioned. Maybe there are still high end direct MIDI input cards, but I haven't seen them. 


99% of the time, I edit for type-o's and grammar. I'll note it if that's not the case. 

I write near essays for most my responses, and then try to condense as best I can to the introduction of one. Less is more. Let me know if I post to much. 

I do a lot of spacing for readability. Let me know if that makes my posts seem to big. 


#3 DJBPace07

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Posted 05 August 2015 - 05:43 AM

Only real reason to buy a dedicated card now is for coaxial in/out and S/PDIF in/out connectors for recording. Which you are doing. Other then that people use additional external amps to drive beefier headphones, and/or have a external mixer to handle everything like I mentioned. Maybe there are still high end direct MIDI input cards, but I haven't seen them. 
 

 

I fall in this category.  I needed a beefier audio card to drive headphones.  I got one of the Asus Xonar D2X cards for this purpose, even though it is much more than I need.  The only other thing I take advantage of with the card is the Dolby Headphone and possibly their mixer. 

 

After my ordeal with Creative cards, drivers, and Windows Vista, I refuse to buy a SoundBlaster.


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#4 SEANIA

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Posted 05 August 2015 - 06:32 AM

 got one of the Asus Xonar D2X cards for this purpose,

From their website on the card you linked- " SNR up to 118dB"

From my motherboards website- "115dB Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) playback (DAC) quality".."able to drive 600Ω loads"

 

ASUS didn't list the max load for the card, but from what I understand 600 is surprisingly good for a dedicated card. Let alone integrated. Also should note ASUS integrates Xonar audio chips into a lot of their motherboards.

Cards only seem to drive up to so much it seems. Beefier cards that have dedicated power connectors on them can do more, but I've heard they have a huge buzz problem. 

 

There are a lot of really cheap 30-60$ motherboards that can't do that, but when the price difference to a board that does have it (plus a laundry list of other features) is 40$ more, and a dedicated sound card that can do that is *looks up the Zonars price you listed*...200$ on top of what the board costs, why would you put it in a new computer build? Only reason seems to be to get audio port options you otherwise wouldn't have....or for eye candy. 


99% of the time, I edit for type-o's and grammar. I'll note it if that's not the case. 

I write near essays for most my responses, and then try to condense as best I can to the introduction of one. Less is more. Let me know if I post to much. 

I do a lot of spacing for readability. Let me know if that makes my posts seem to big. 


#5 midimusicman79

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Posted 05 August 2015 - 08:51 AM

Hi, SEANIA and DJBPace07!

 

Thank you both for the prompt and insightful replies! :)

 

Although I do have direct MIDI in on my Audio Card's front panel as of today, I have neither used it nor needed it; as I prefer USB because it is digital by design. Also I have S/PDIF in/out likewise, but I do not have an external mixer, as I have only used software like CoolEdit96 at first and later Audacity, so I have obviously not tried this either.

 

If I were to buy and use an external mixer to connect digitally to my new computer, then how would I get the music saved in the 16-bit 44100Hz CD-quality sound WAVE (.WAV) format and 320Kbps 32-bit MP3? I need these file formats in order to burn the music to CDs and to play it on my Hi-Fi, so I can just copy my MP3-files to my USB Flash Drive rather than burning CDs all the time. :thumbup2:

 

Have you tried using the USB outputs on your current hardware before for recording? Just curious.

 

No, unfortunately not :(, but then again that is because of no external mixer like I mentioned above, however I have tried external analog sound recording to cassette tape, which is like ten years ago...I also remember having quite noticeable noise on my first computer, but luckily not on this one... :lol:

 

Only real reason to buy a dedicated card now is for coaxial in/out and S/PDIF in/out connectors for recording.

 

Yeah, I happen to value connectivity; also having a dedicated Audio Card reduces the workload for the CPU, just like having a dedicated Graphics Card does. In addition there are greater upgradabilities this way...

 

Those are nice specifications as for Signal-to-Noise ratios, however Creative SoundBlaster ZxR features 124dB. Could this be my next Audio Card? Because I have actually had this brand of Audio Cards for 20 years already, and so far I am fairly impressed by its quality...

 

Regards,

midimusicman79


Edited by midimusicman79, 06 August 2015 - 08:11 AM.

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#6 jonuk76

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Posted 05 August 2015 - 09:42 AM

Have you had a look at RME cards? They are professional cards and they are priced accordingly, but they look quite good with all the connectivity you are likely to need. http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/overview_pci_express_list.php#intern


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#7 DJBPace07

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Posted 06 August 2015 - 04:55 AM

 

 

There are a lot of really cheap 30-60$ motherboards that can't do that, but when the price difference to a board that does have it (plus a laundry list of other features) is 40$ more, and a dedicated sound card that can do that is *looks up the Xonars price you listed*...200$ on top of what the board costs, why would you put it in a new computer build? Only reason seems to be to get audio port options you otherwise wouldn't have....or for eye candy. 

 

 

I got that audio card many years ago around the time Windows Vista hit the market and have moved it from one PC to the next.  I never bothered with the audio creation software that Asus included with the cards and I rarely, if ever, touch the other outputs on the Xonar.  At that time, I think I paid $150 for it, but unless you really need the features of such a card, it isn't worth putting into a new build.  There are a number of less expensive options on the market for people wanting a dedicated audio card, some are even part of the Xonar line which uses the C-Media audio chipsets and not the Creative stuff.  I've heard some of the HT|Omega cards are also good.


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#8 midimusicman79

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Posted 06 August 2015 - 08:04 AM

Hi again, SEANIA, DJBPace07 & jonuk76!

 

Thanks to you all for the prompt and informative replies! :)

 

I have read about Asus Audio Cards, RME Audio Cards and Creative SoundBlaster Audio Cards; and I have decided to buy a Creative SoundBlaster ZxR Audio Card. :thumbup2:

 

Thank you very much for the help! :) The issue has been successfully resolved! :)

 

Regards,

midimusicman79


MS Win 10 Pro 64-bit, EAM Pro/EEK, MB 3 Free, WPP, SWB Free, CryptoPrevent Free and Unchecky, WFW, FFQ with uBO, Ghostery, Grammarly Free and HTTPS Ew. Acronis TI 2018, K. Sw. Upd. AM-tools: 9-lab RT BETA, AdwCleaner, Auslogics AM, aswMBR, Avira PCC, BD ART, catchme, Cezurity AV, CCE, CKS, ClamWin P., Crystal Sec., DDS, DWCI, EMCO MD, eScan MWAV, ESS/EOS, FGP, FMTB, FRST, F-SOS, FSS, FreeFixer, GMP, GMER, hP BETA, HJT, Inherit, JRT, K. avz4, KVRT, K. TDSSKiller, LSP-Fix, MB 3 Free, MBAR BETA, MA Stinger, NMC, NoBot, NPE, NSS, NVT MRF (NMRF), OTL, PCC, QD, RCS, RSIT, RKill, Rs, SC, SR, SAP, SVRT, SAS, SL, TMHC, TSA ART, UHM, Vba32 AR, VRS, WR (AiO), Xvirus PG, ZAM, ZHPC, ZHPD and Zoek. I have 23 Years of PC Experience. Bold = effective.





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