• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15

Topic: Speakers, or better sound card?

  1. #1

    Speakers, or better sound card?

    I want to hear my GPO sounds as faithfully as possible on a limited budget. My low-end speakers are inadequate. I don't have much room for floor speakers (very small apartment). I require a headphone jack since I often work after 10pm when my apt. building regulations forbid stereo use.

    So: what's a good price-performer method to get maximum fidelity?

    --Should I shop for speakers? (Specific recommendations? Dan Kury's audio tutorial recommends spending at least $500--ouch.)

    --Or should I rather put the money in a better sound card and headphones and postpone speaker purchase till the budget permits? Sound card/ headphone suggestions?

    Currently I only have a SoundBlaster Live!, many of whose whose onboard General Midi sounds are pretty good for the price and are convenient for quick & dirty playback (with Sibelius), but I'm aware the card is obsolescent at best. Can I leave this in as a quick-check synthesizer alongside a better card?

    P4 Celeron 2.4GHz (upgrading soon to real P4 2.8), 2 GHz RAM, W2000Pro

  2. #2

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    Hi Doug, since you are mixing late at night quite a bit, I would recommend a pair of AKG K240DF headphones. Regardless of how accurate a pair of studio monitors are, the room they are in is usually never very good. Lots of standing waves causes bass response to sound out of phase and too big of a room can have high frequencies bouncing all over the place.

    I would get a pair of these headphones. I still use a pair that I have had for almost 20 years, they're great. They fit over your ears real nice so they don't smash your ears. They are very lightweight, and have a really comfortable automatic adjusting headband. Be careful, do not buy a pair of AKG K240 headphones, make sure they have DF after K240. DF stands for Diffuse Field.

    You can mix an entire project on these phones. The quality of sound that you will get if you use simple common sense with your processing, EQ etc. will be great.

    I'm not sure what to tell you about a soundcard. Get something that has ASIO II drivers if you can. The soundblaster cards in general are just not good enough. You want good flat frequency response, and equally important, is a really quiet soundcard, no hiss (noise). You should also make sure that the card has digital (spdif) and analoge outputs.
    SPDIF = Sony/Philips digital interface.

    If you are willing to spend a decent chunk o'change on a soundcard, I would highly recommend an RME HDSP 9652 soundcard. I bought mine on Ebay ($350.00), this good stuff ain't cheap. It was used one weekend to transfer a bunch of ADAT live recordings into a DAW. This card has three ADAT lightpipe (fiberoptic) inputs and three ADAT Lightpie outputs, that's 24 mono, (12 stereo) channels in, and 24 mono, (12 stereo) channels out, very cool. It also has two midi inputs and two midi outputs.

    Buy a pair of speakers when you can afford to buy the ones you want,
    not the ones you can afford now. Did that makes any sense?
    When you do, stay with brands like Tannoy, Genelec, KRK. Some people really like the Mackie monitors although I have not heard them so I can't speak from experience. I use a pair of Tannoy LGM (Little Gold Monitor) I bought them on Ebay too.

    Anyway, I hope this helps you to decide.


  3. #3

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    I wouldn't spend my money on speakers if I couldn't use them after 10:00 P.M. And what Dan said about the standing waves and high frequencies and all that. I don't have a recomendation, but I would advise you to go for good headphones. For a sound card, keep in mind that if you ever are planning to use Gigastudio, you will need a GISF (GSIF?) compatible card or drivers or something like that.

    I'm not sure if any of that really made sence. I couldn't sleep AT ALL last night. LITERALLY!!!! It really stinks!!
    Well, I hope I was of at least some help!


  4. #4

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    For what it's worth, I'll share my thoughts and experiences about this as well, since I have built my system with a reasonably modest budget and am quite happy with it.

    First of all I agree with DPDAN and Chris in that good headphones are a must. I use a pari of Sennheiser HD570 which are great, and I know that the AKG 240DF is also a great choice (a friend of mine has those). I also bought a pair of active monitors for speakers and since I didn't have the money to buy Genelecs or something like that I found ESI nEar05 -speakers, which - at least to my ears - are more than I need and were only ~200+ euros a pair.

    There are plenty of ASIO II capable sound cards out there depending on your price range. I recently bought a new external (USB) "card" which in fact is a box with a 2 octave keyboard, modwheel and other controllers (229 euros) since I didn't even have a modwheel in my stage piano. Previously I had a ES I Juli@, which is similar to M-Audio's Audiophile 2496 card and it worked just fine.

    You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish

  5. #5
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    since you are mixing late at night quite a bit, I would recommend a pair of AKG K240DF headphones.
    Just chiming in here and agreeing with Dan on these headphones! I picked up a pair a few weeks ago on recommendation and they are superior in every respect. A little pricey but worth every penny! Go with a good pro headphones set!

  6. #6

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    Just a few things to follow up on - the AKGs are great for monitoring, but though you didn't mention this usage so it probably won't bother you - not quite as good if you are using them while recording vocals or acoustic guitar as quite a bit of the sound 'leaks out' the sides so can cause track spillage and/or feedback if you are not careful.

    Secondly you mention floorstanders - I think most perceived wisdom these days is that 'bookshelf' speakers can match floor-standers bang for bang and buck for buck so no need to rue the lack of space in your apartment! After years of experimenting with different brands, all the speakers in my house now are Tannoys - but I would avoid the Tannoy Reveal series if you were going to buy dedicated monitors - I don't know what Tannoy were thinking about when they designed them.

    Thirdly, these sorts of posts usually end up with a bunch of Audiophile owners trotting out that you should 'upgrade' your SB card for an Audiophile 24/96. My answer is - don't bother - there is little/no percievable, audible or measurable difference in performance between the Live/Audigy and Audiophile cards!

    Lastly if DPDan recommends something go for it - I picked up a Superlux Large diaphragm mic a few weeks ago as he recommended it during one of the on-line chats - I wish I had known about this mic ages ago it really is THE business for around £65!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Lincoln City, Oregon

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    I use a pair of AKG K240DF (about $160 usd) headphones with a Tascam US-122 usb external sound card (about $199 usd) and it works very well. The US-122 is GSIF 2 compatible AND it comes with Cubase LE and Gigastudio 3 LE for FREE! Both of those programs are very useable, good quality, introductory programs. I was amazed at how well GPO as VSTi sets up and works in Cubase LE.

    I was so impressed that I used the competitive upgrade to get Cubase SX-3, which should be here sometime this week. I've been using Sonar 4 PE but now I'll be able to settle my curiosity about Cubase SX-3 versus Sonar 4 PE just as I settled my curiosity between GPO and EWQL Silver Orchestra.

    The ONLY thing Silver Orchestra has that I might sometime use is the "in your face", "movie" type strings; other than that EVERYTHING in GPO is more to my personal liking...by quite a bit! In fact, in my PERSONAL opinion, it's going to take the Silver Orchestra Pro update to even make Silver Orchestra usable because of the lack of sufficient articulations in the basic version.

    Anyway, BRING ON GPOA!!!!!!!!.....SOON!!!!......PLEASE!!!!!!!


  8. #8

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    Thank you, everybody. It seems clear that I should invest in the phones and forget speakers for now. I'm only playing back and recording from Sibelius, incidentally: no live recording planned for the foreseeable future.

    Which sound card to get is not quite so clear. I would have thought perhaps Audiophile 2496 since it has fans on these forums. Though other commentators say there is no diff between SB and the Audiophile sound. I have only the vaguest notion of soundcards and manufacturers, but have heard before that the RME are top-of-the-heap. Dan's unit retails for $750 which for me is unfortunately not in the cards (so to speak). Are less-expensive RME cards almost as good? WHich model? Which other manufacturers and models could be trusted?

    The Tascam us-122 looks tempting, thanks for that suggestion. However in older threads I see a couple caveats: "But it doesn't do 96K, has no spidif, no w/c, and probably won't achieve the audio throughput of a cardbus audio card so you wouldn't want to use it for audio recording." I wonder about the accuracy of that, since the Tascam site indicates it DOES have the spdif. See the useful multi-vendor overview comparison chart:


    Its latency might be a problem. I don't need live playing capability: I need playback and Sibelius-GPO recording capability. My main gripe with the SoundBlaster Live!, if indeed that is the culprit, is that GPO strings sound kind of nasal and scratchy, with a tinny halo or hiss. The winds/brass are much better. Harp is nice also. Maybe it's my cheap speakers and Koss phones, but why would they only fail with strings? Very hard for the novice to isolate which aspects of his system to attack to improve the fidelity, short of throwing considerable money at every part.

  9. #9

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    Quote Originally Posted by L0W
    Lastly if DPDan recommends something go for it - I picked up a Superlux Large diaphragm mic a few weeks ago as he recommended it during one of the on-line chats - I wish I had known about this mic ages ago it really is THE business for around £65!
    There is some great advice here!

    WOW! that is so cool that you got one of these mics.
    Thank you for the nice compliment LOW!

    Did you get a CM-H8A?

    Although there are mics out there with more lows and more highs, I could not believe the sound for the price. Incredible! This line of mics is made in China, and boy oh boy, China is cranking out some really amazing stuff these days. I have a Neumann KMS 105 handheld condensor vocal mic, and it too is amazing, and it would not surprise me if it too is made in China even though it says Neumann on it. With companies coming out with mics like this Superlux CM-H8A for so little money, it makes companies like AKG and Neumann sit there and say hmmm? What can we do to get some of this business?


    I am so glad that you got one and like it. Don't hesitate to use it on a myriad of things.

    This is a link of a man who sells these mics at a fair price, but sometimes they can be purchased cheaper new on Ebay by AAAudio and a few others.
    I sent him a demo a few years ago, of a CD that I recorded for Rick Zelle and I used all Superlux/Avlex microphones, to take a cheap shot at the rest of the engineers in this world that have their noses up in the air about tube this and tube that, and ecoteric outrageously expensive 'vintage" equipment, I recorded the CD with these cheap China mics, a Mackie board and three old Alesis "black face" adat machines and the reverb is a cheapie Lexicon ALEX. All inexpensive cheap stuff. I think it turned out real nice.

    Listen to the demo if you like.


  10. #10

    Re: Speakers, or better sound card?

    Other headphones to consider are the Sennheiser HD-280 Pro and the Sony MDR-7506. I bought the Senns, and am very happy with them. I find them to be more neutral than the Sonys, which are just a touch more scooped and sparkly. Both cost about $99. The Senns are more accurate for mixing, but music will sound better through the Sonys. There are also the Beyerdynamic 250s, which sound great, but cost substantially more.


Go Back to forum


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts