Advice for good external sound card? M-Audio, Echo, Edirol, PreSonus, MOTU???

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Consultant, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    My 5 year old external sound card just died right before an event (good thing I have backup). Looking for a new one... It is for outputting one stereo channel audio from MBP to Mixer only, no recording.

    Any suggestions, recommendations, reviews, are appreciated.

    Have to buy a sound card soon... Not sure what web site to look for reviews, as there seems to be a million web sites on these things. I actually don't need any recording features, but seems like all the non-basic sound cards all have recording functions (although I prefer not to have it if possible). Here are some that i found:

    M-Audio Firewire Solo US35030, $166
    Echo AudioFire2 $195 (not available in many places, also their web site lists: "All specifications are preliminary", a big shady?)
    Edirol FA-66 $289
    PreSonus Firebox $300
    M-Audio 1814 $300 (but MSRP is higher than Firewire 610)
    M-Audio Firewire 610 $400
    Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) UltraLite $550
    Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) Traveler $850

    Tapco by Mackie Link, $150

    - Balanced output
    - Quality DAC, quality sound output

    Nice to have
    - Bus powered
    - Preferably one with stronger low frequency response
    - No line ins if possible

    Absolutely don't care for
    - Number of inputs / outputs
    - Mic Preamp (will not be recording)
    - Bundled software
    - Volume adjustment (already have mixer)
    - Headphone port, headphone pass through
  2. mike1123 macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2007
    I actually was in the market for one yesterday, and I ended up ordering the Lexicon Alpha (can be had for $99) Seems like a good product from a fairly reputable company ( However even cheaper is the Behringer FCA-202 (can be had for $79), which doesn't have much, but it does act as a sound card. Some people don't like Behringer, and I've never used one of their products before.

    EDIT: Oh, and for reviews, check out:
  3. Consultant thread starter macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Thanks, I know of those web sites, but nothing with comparisons from experts.

    I have tried an inexpensive Behringer mixer (returned), thought it would be a good backup equipment. It was unacceptably noisy on high end speakers. They seem to produce mainly budget products... Know the $79 thing, but probably not for me.
  4. mike1123 macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2007
    Yeah, I hear you. I decided to go with the Lexicon last minute. Hopefully it's adequate. I, too, would love more professional reviews. Anyway, good luck on your search. :)
  5. Consultant thread starter macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Some of the early 2008 reviews mentioned that M-Audio drivers don't work too well with Leopard. Anyone have any recent experience with that?

    Probably going for one of these...

    Echo AudioFire2 $195
    Edirol FA-66 $289
    PreSonus Firebox $300

    Perhaps DAC? (MBP optical OUT -> DAC)
    Here is a list of lots of DACs but I don't really know what they are... (Except that probably won't go for the low end such as Creative)
  6. bbain macrumors newbie

    Aug 19, 2006
    I have the Behringer FCA202 FW interface. It's pretty solidly built and having 24-bit 96kHz at that price range is a plus. If you don't need mic pre-amps and are only taking in line-level sources, it works fine, and the one I have is not any noisier than my mBox2 Pro with line level inputs. If you're going into the interface from a 4 wire FW port, you'll have to use external power since the bus power is on the 2 lines that are missing. I was using in on my iMac before I went with PT and it worked fine on bus power.

    At $99 the Lexicon is a good deal if you don't need 24-bit, 96kHz since it's USB IIRC. It's got pretty nice mic pre-amps from what I understand.

    Bill Bain
  7. firecrasher macrumors member


    Oct 15, 2008
    I like my new Firebox but there could be some compatibility problems with the new Macbooks (sorry I'm a PC user right now). You can get it for well under $300 if you shop around or have Guitar Center match your price - I found it for $230 online on some shady site and GC matched it, no questions asked. The Firebox also comes packaged with Cubase LE, you may be able to find it for less without the software.

    Sadly... I may be forced to downgrade to USB to use with the new Macs. Any suggestions there?
  8. kucukbasak macrumors newbie

    Oct 21, 2008
    i've been using a firebox with my imac for a while now. it's pretty legitimate, although i did all of my recording and everything through it. i imagine it would be pretty solid for simple use like that.

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