said by Krisnatharok:
What's your background? Are you an audiophile/audio enthusiast, or professional musician? While I 'm sure everything you claim about the Saffire Pro is true, recommending a component that is the cost of a cheap computer for simply audio is going to fall outside the budget of the vast majority of PC users.
The motherboard I bought took some steps to improve the integrated Realtek audio, and some version even came with the external ThunderFX module. I opted against the version with the external module, and now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have.
What would you recommend for people who are looking for better audio over integrated, but don't have $500 to put down on the Saffire Pro? Is there a decent middle ground for $100-150/200?
I am an audiophile, and an aspiring musician. I've been down this street before, spending good money on hardware, only to be disappointed with the results, then upgrading to the next thing people recommend, only to be disappointed some more. In the long run, spending more money on cheap, low-end soundcards, than if I just bought one good professional audio interface.
The interface I purchased was pricey ($530 + tax at the time, can be found for $300 or less on the used market), but that's just one example. There are many lower-cost high-quality interfaces on the market, people just have to open their eyes, look around, read independent reviews, speak with people who are in the business of making music, you know, get back to old-fashioned research. I was turned on to Focusrite by a guy I've grown to trust at Long & McQuade, but I still had to read a lot, including reviews by professional musicians and recording studios before making my decision.
The Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 for $299.99, can be found used for less.
»global.focusrite.com/firewire-au ··· o-24-dsp
»www.long-mcquade.com/products/88 ··· re_s.htm
I usually focus on Focusrite Firewire audio interfaces, but there are also USB audio interfaces, and other companies that produce pro audio interfaces. Here's one more, the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 USB audio interface
»global.focusrite.com/usb-audio-i ··· lett-8i6
»www.long-mcquade.com/products/13 ··· face.htm
I try to keep in mind that people are looking for a minimum of 5.1 audio, and require 6 ch output. If people only want really good 2ch audio, more money can be saved.
People think nothing of spending $150, $300, and recently up to $1000 per graphics card, $300 or more on SSD's, $200 on processors, and $150-$300 on PSU's. Big systems are still in-vogue where I live, and shelling out $500 for a pro audio interface doesn't really seem like much.
At the end of the day, when I crank my music, I'm not disappointed in the sound when the hard drive activity increases, and I don't hear all the horrible noises induced by the system.
One of the other things people have to wrestle with is ground loops, causing 60 cycle hum (60hz in Canada + US + other places, 50hz in the UK + other places) in the audio path. The presence of ground-loop induced hum certainly show inexperience. They are relatively easy to cure, once you understand it, but can be more challenging to diagnose as the number of connections you make increase.
At the end of the day, hopefully people find this educational. There are some good soundcards out there, and I like to think of the Asus Xonar series as being right up there, but they will always be low-end crap that introduce far more noise than we'd like. Pro audio interfaces are of a higher echelon, and better match people's expectation for pristine audio. It still requires a computer which is properly set up, and following the essential guidelines: disabling speedstep, getting a handle on DPC latency, and making sure your system is properly tuned up (current drivers, respectful drivers, fewer-to-zero resource hogs, etc.).