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Topic: Lost my PCMCIA, Advice on a portable USB Audio Interface for a notebook?

  1. #1

    Lost my PCMCIA, Advice on a portable USB Audio Interface for a notebook?

    Don't know what happened, but my PCMCIA port is FUBAR and I've lost the use of my trusty Echo Indigo I/O.

    I'm looking for a small, portable, BUS-POWERED USB 2.0 audio interface. Nothing fancy is necessary, just a stereo input and a line/headphone out. (More features are nice if it meets my price/portability requirements)

    Portability is the key. I already have a big fancy recording interface that I use in the studio for multi-track recording. What I'm looking for is something to take with me on the road for:
    • Composing with sample libraries while travelling (low latency WDM/ASIO is crucial)
    • Making simple (but professional) stereo field recordings (at least 24/96 capable, quality converters, good S/N ratio) (preamps would be nice but not at the expense of portability -- I can bring a preamp or mixer along if I need one)
    • (Occasionally) Performing live with SONAR and lots of soft-synths (again, high fidelity and low latency are necessary)
    I'm replacing an Echo Indigo, which was tiny and permanently installed in my computer so that I never had to think about it. It will be a hassle to get used to plugging in a USB interface every time I want to work on music, so I'd like to avoid other hassles such as power cords and bulky/heavy interfaces. IF POSSIBLE, I would like to avoid an interface which requires 2 USB ports (one for power, one for data), as I tend to run out when I'm running all of my gear.

    I'd like to keep it under $200 if possible (as I said, I already have a recording interface at home, this is mostly for quick-and-dirty portable work)

    I've looked around on zzounds and musician's friend, so I have an idea of my options, but I'm looking for personal experiences and recommendations.

    Any advice would be appreciatiznated,

    P.S. I have a bias against Soundblaster due to too many years as an audio snob, but I would reconsider if someone can convince me that they are perfectly respectable for music production.

  2. #2

    Re: Lost my PCMCIA, Advice on a portable USB Audio Interface for a notebook?

    I'm a big fan of Edirol Audio Interfaces. I have the UA-101, and it's amazing. But I don't think it's bus powered. However, the UA-25 claims to be. You should check it out:


    Big issue is that it doesn't look like it has MIDI. You can get a separate MIDI box pretty cheap these days though.


  3. #3

    Re: Lost my PCMCIA, Advice on a portable USB Audio Interface for a notebook?

    Thanks for the quick response, I'll check out the edirol.

    I don't need this card to have MIDI (in fact, I'd prefer that it NOT have MIDI-- any card with MIDI I/O will probably be too big for my purposes).

    My MIDI bases are covered -- most of my keyboards now have USB interfaces, and I also have a few MIDI interfaces to whip out when I need to use an older keyboard.


  4. #4

    Re: Lost my PCMCIA, Advice on a portable USB Audio Interface for a notebook?

    M Audio Fast Track USB works great and is extremely portable. It is bus powered. No frills and NO MIDI.

    The Zoom Handy H4 is many things in one and very portable. Includes a power adapter (not needed for anything if using batteries), but works great and is very functional. It does attach via usb2. No MIDI, but tons of other features. Two track 24/16/mp3 bit/44.1/48/96khz sampling recorder to SD cards (2GB SD card gives you 59 minutes @ 24/96khz). MP3 player. 4-track recorder and BUILT IN Stereo Mic. Uses Hi-Z inputs for either 1/4" or XLR cables. Has phantom power, amp modelling, digital effects processor and more goodies and still fits in the palm of your hand. Look like a tazer, so people stay away from you (grin). Obviously, it is also a usb2 audio interface when not acting like a field recorder. Transfer files to usb2 or just take out the SD card and put it in a card reader. Easy as can be! The power cable SHOULD NEVER BE USED FOR RECORDING - EVER! It puts noise into the signal. On batteries, TOTALLY SILENT RECORDING - perfect every time. Just use the included power for file transfers and when using the H4 as a usb2 asio sound card.

    I use the H4 with binaural mics (or built in stereo mic) for field recording. Two AA batteries last 4 solid hours no matter the use. SD cards can be up to 2GB and the recordings sound fantastic! Highly dependable and versatile. I recommend it.


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