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Topic: What sound card do I need?

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  1. #1

    What sound card do I need?

    I have two questions (see red text below).

    I am planning to purchase a new spiffy computer (specs in brown below) that will have Realtek ALC888, but neither the manufacturer of the computer (HP) nor MakeMusic can tell me whether that will be what Garritan advises I use for the Steinway library.

    The following is from the Garritan FAQ (my emphasis):
    What Soundcard Do You Recommend?

    People ask us often about soundcards we recommend. Although we cannot recommend specific cards (each system is different), there are many good and inexpensive ones to choose from. Yamaha and M-Audio are brands you may want to research for soundcards. Your soundcard is very important to making music with our software instruments. It is important that you have something a step above a "stock" consumer grade soundcard that comes pre-installed in your computer. Stock soundcards are not designed to handle higher quality sounds and the performance needs of Garritan instruments.

    In looking for a soundcard, be sure to look for a low-latency card. Make sure you have a soundcard with adjustable buffers so you can set the latency. Basically, latency is the time it takes to play a sound on your keyboard to when you'll hear it playing from your speakers. There is a inverse relationship between latency and performance. The lower the latency the higher the resource demands. One can often find a sweet spot between latency and performance and each system is different.

    ------------------
    Also, the system requirements include compatibility with ASIO, and HP said it doesn't know what that is.

    Thus, my two questions are:

    1. Does anyone here know whether the Realtek ALC888 will be suitable for me to use with PrintMusic 2010?

    2. Does anyone here know whether most soundcards are compatible with ASIO?

    Any thoughts or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    -----------------------

    Computer specs:

    Configurable- HP Compaq dx7500 Microtower PC

    -Configurable- HP Compaq dx7500 Microtower PC - FN838AV
    Genuine Windows Vista® Custom Downgrade to XP Pro
    Intel® Q45 chipset integrated
    HP dx7500 Country Kit Includes a Quick Setup & Getting Started manual in English and a country-specific power cord.
    Intel® Core 2 Duo E8500 3.16GHz L2-6MB) processor
    3GB PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) 3x1GB
    Integrated 1394 Port
    Promo HP 320GB SATA NCQ HDD SMART IV Hard Drive
    HP Backup and Recovery Manager Software standard
    No Removable Storage Media Device
    SATA 16X SuperMulti LightScribe drive
    HP PS/2 Standard Keyboard
    No Mouse
    No Item Selected
    HP 3-3-3 (parts/labor/next business day on-site) warranty Microtower


    ------------------
    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: What sound card do I need?

    The Realtek ALC888 may be good enough for your needs, depending upon what you want to do. If you don't need to play in real time from a keyboard, but are entering notes in notation, then you probably won't be concerned with latency and the realtek is probably good enough.
    Even if you are playing in real time, you can quite possibly make do with the realtek by downloading/installing ASIO4all. http://asio4all.com/
    The realtek definitely won't be the best quality sound reproduction or lowest latency, but nevertheless the free on-board sound (such as the realtek) can be satisfactory these days for a lot of uses.
    If you want something intended for very good quality and low latency, the maudio audiophile works well for me. It's by no means the only choice though - any music store carrying pro audio/computer gear should have a ton of audio cards that will work well.

  3. #3

    Re: What sound card do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hurchalla View Post
    The Realtek ALC888 may be good enough for your needs, depending upon what you want to do. If you don't need to play in real time from a keyboard, but are entering notes in notation, then you probably won't be concerned with latency and the realtek is probably good enough.
    Thanks, Jeff. All I want to do is (1) play/compose/diddle on my Yamaha CLP-840, (2) notate in PrintMusic, (3) play back in PM, and (4) save as audio. Some of my stuff is interesting, and I'd like to share it with people, but the MIDI piano isn't very good (it's awful, really).


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hurchalla View Post
    Even if you are playing in real time, you can quite possibly make do with the realtek by downloading/installing ASIO4all. http://asio4all.com/
    The realtek definitely won't be the best quality sound reproduction or lowest latency, but nevertheless the free on-board sound (such as the realtek) can be satisfactory these days for a lot of uses.
    If you want something intended for very good quality and low latency, the maudio audiophile works well for me. It's by no means the only choice though - any music store carrying pro audio/computer gear should have a ton of audio cards that will work well.
    I am not all that knowledgeable about what my soundcard actually does on my computer now -- is it responsible for the way I hear audio? I heard the Garritan Steinway examples and was totally blown away. I just recently learned that PM had the capability in its latest version to use other sounds and jumped on it. Several years ago I bought some .WAV files (I guess it was a complete font, with 440 files) and tried to record in AudioCompositor, but I must have done something wrong and could never get it to work.

    I think what you've told me helps me come to a decision that I should just buy the computer, load the software, and see what I think it sounds like.

    I'm almost afraid of getting into something I can't handle with all this. I really don't want anything fancy -- just to record a decent (and this case, it will be utterly beautiful) piano sound.

    Thanks very much, Jeff, for your response. I have posted my query in several other threads (just two others, actually), and I hope that doesn't violate any rules. If it does, I can delete them. Given the quietness of this particular forum, I thought I might increase my chances of getting a response by posting the question elsewhere also.

  4. #4

    Re: What sound card do I need?

    Do not get a Creative Audigy soundcard. You might consider an EMU 0404 PCI soundcard - very reasonable price and features and will improve your sound greatly. It makes no sense to invest in a new powerful computer, excellent software and then expect to hear good quality from the onboard sound chip. Also the 0404 comes with an excellent ASIO driver that will reduce the latency of your system greatly.
    Steve Milward
    Cubase 5.1/GPO4/Trilogy/Saxlab/Halion 2/Groove Agent 2/Many Soft Synths/SM58
    http://www.milward.org.uk/music

  5. #5

    Re: What sound card do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Milward View Post
    ..... It makes no sense to invest in a new powerful computer, excellent software and then expect to hear good quality from the onboard sound chip. Also the 0404 comes with an excellent ASIO driver that will reduce the latency of your system greatly.
    Hello Steve,

    Very 'sound' advice (excuse the pun) ..... and very well put. I agree and this reflects the recommendations for using Garritan products.

    Bonnie, good luck with your choices.
    Michael
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  6. #6

    Re: What sound card do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Milward View Post
    Do not get a Creative Audigy soundcard. You might consider an EMU 0404 PCI soundcard - very reasonable price and features and will improve your sound greatly. It makes no sense to invest in a new powerful computer, excellent software and then expect to hear good quality from the onboard sound chip. Also the 0404 comes with an excellent ASIO driver that will reduce the latency of your system greatly.
    Can you please post me the link to where ever you can get the 0404+an Asio driver. Is that what you use? Do you know anyone who has a Dell and is using Kontakt?

  7. #7

    Re: What sound card do I need?

    I'm back. I clicked a few notes on the Steinway main application window's keyboard, and the sound is excellent. However, something is wrong with the setup here (most likely PrintMusic's setup, not Garritan's), and I'm not sure what it is. I hope to get some local help in figuring it out and fixing it. But if what I heard is a sample of what it's going to sound like, this onboard card is apparently going to be more than sufficient. The notes sounded as good as the old samples I bought a few years ago loose and tried to use with AudioCompositor (never could quite get it to work for me).

    Edited: PrintMusic apparently is not aware that Garritan has been installed. At first it was aware, but then it didn't see it and I uninstalled both programs and reinstalled them again. Same problem. In the VST Instruments dialog box, there's no "Steinway" on the drop-down list. It was there the first time I tried to figure out what I had to do (the documentation doesn't tell me a lot of things), but now it's gone. I wanted to open a .MUS file and save it as audio using the Steinway, but I cannot do that. I cannot use the Steinway as a stand-alone yet because I am waiting for a new cable. Guess I'll have to contact PrintMusic and try to figure out what's up. Also, the second Garritan disc made my CD drive vibrate and hum for about two minutes. Did it twice -- both times I installed. Yet the Steinway says it's properly installed. I even "diagnosed" the libraries and everything's fine.
    Last edited by bgranat; 11-07-2009 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Added paragraph.

  8. #8

    Re: What sound card do I need?

    Hi, bgranat

    There's a work around to your problem. Just make a MIDI file in PrintMusic and save it to your directory of choice. Exit PrintMusic and open Garritan Steinway Stand-Alone. On the lower left corner of the GUI click the icon that looks like a fat arrow that's pointing upwards. This will allow you to import the MIDI file that you just made in Print Music.

    From this point you can either play the MIDI file and hear it realtime, or render to wav (Tools --> Render offline) and play the wav or burn it to CD.

    Jun

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