Sound Card in Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by murc585, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. murc585 macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2008
    I was just wondering what you Mac Pro users are using as a sound card? I would find it hard to believe that many of you are using integrated sound when you are editing sound or creating videos. What options are there for a good sound card in osx?
  2. WildPalms macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2006
    Honolulu, HI
    USB or Firewire attached (which is what I use). Very few would use a PCI card, if you could find one these days....
  3. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    Could you use a pci sound card just in Windows? Like a creative one for gaming in Boot Camp?
  4. Mr.PS macrumors 6502a

    Jan 8, 2008
    Why is that? Just wondering...
  5. HooRide macrumors newbie

    Oct 21, 2003
    Monterey, CA
  6. fernmeister macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2007
    There's a few other PCI interfaces out there for Mac Pros, besides RME. Lynx, Echo and M-Audio also make cards (though M-Audio are notorious for being slow on new drivers for Macs.

    If you want to see what a high end Audio setup for a Mac Pro looks like, take a look at the Apogee Symphony options.
  7. Akula971 macrumors regular


    Aug 25, 2006
    Perfidious Albion
    Could you?

    I'd be interested in an answer to this as well.
  8. ComeOnDieYoung macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Mein Setup

    For Leopard, Griffin Firewave - 5.1

    For XP Pro Phillips Aurrilium - 5.1

    (left over from my macbook pro, works great with the mac pro)
  9. Mac_Max macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2004
    The OS X x86 (on Insanely Mac) guys have a Wiki on sound cards and probably would be more helpful in answering this question. From what I've read, the Creative sound cards work but only in AC97 mode essentially. Some other "better" sound quality cards should also work depending on the chipset used, the hard part is finding a PCIe one (I found three on Newegg, two were creative and the latter was an ASUS card based on a realtech chipset but with a DSP for CPU offloading... in other words not going to work without help from ASUS). Sound cards almost always lack a ROM of their own so EFI v.s. Bios is a moot point in theory. All USB audio cards that conform to the USB audio spec should work just fine.

    That said, the built in audio isn't all that bad unless you need 5.1 or something special, etc. You're not going to find any hardware acceleration for the Mac (Creative made one half caring attempt at this and creating an expensive and unpopular option for the Mac). Most cards use chipsets from three different manufacturers anyways (Realtech, Via, and CMedia - the latter being what Apple and a lot of other companies use) so you're just going to be buying better filtering, circuitry, etc.

    None the less you may want to ask the OSX x86 guys for their input on the matter.
  10. amik macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2007
    I can only answer for myself, but I have no desire to mess around with a sound card when I can get perfect digital output from the Mac Pro as is. It's the same philosophy as using a CD transport with external processing as opposed to a traditional CD player.

    I take the optical output to an external DAC. The resulting analog signal then feeds all my other equipment (tube headphone amp, solid state headphone amp, NAD receiver, etc.). I also have some processing equipment (active crossover, DEQ 24/96, RTA, etc.) that gives me all the control I need for various DIY audio projects. One of the biggest advantages for me is that the signal path is noise free, which (in my experience) is rarely the case when running analog right out of a computer.
  11. AviationFan macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    PCI sound cards do exist. Echo Audio for example makes cards that work in MacPros.

    However, one reason why many people like to keep all their audio stuff outside of the computer is that the inside of a computer case is fairly noisy, electronically speaking - which doesn't help produce the finest audio quality. I am not an electrical engineer, but I've heard this argument from a number of people that I trust.

    - Martin

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