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Re: Audio Interface for Notebook Users

From: "Stefan Tiedje" <Stefan-Tiedje@addcom.de>

>> 1. SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook  - 
>>  -  $100

> No Mic/Inst input, only stereo in and out. I would not expect it to be 
> better than the built in High Definition parts of your ThinkPad

I think your comments on the quality of these PCMCIA units is not entirely 
and unanimously on base, relative to desired outcomes of differenet 
musicians, home or professioa, relative standards of quality, and use 
You say  "The aim of these cards are home musicians, not professionals." 
This is somewhat of a black and white statement.  There are a lot of 
"professional" musicians, however we define that,  who use what audiofiles 
might consider sub-standard quality gear. For that matter, a rock 
using an 8 bit effects stompbox should be completely out of the picture 
here. Certainly, for super hi fi production, like making movie 
or multi-tracking bands, etc...these cards are not the way to go.  
there is a whole separate range of use cases where they are perfectly 
For instance, I already use this Soundblaster card above in my other 
notebook computer. I used it for my last two CDs and all my live 
performances, and I've never heard a single comment on lack of quality or 
fidelity. I'd be willing to bet that if we did a blind test of CDs, using 
PCMCIA and higher qualiter firewire/USB units, it would be very difficult 
tell a difference, mainly becuase there are too many factors at play here 
that effect the quality. One effects processor in the signal chain can 
nullify the "pristine" quality of a D/A converter. It's the whole system, 
the holistic gear context taht drives the overall output. And honestly, I 
can't tell the difference myself between my recordings, or others' 
recordings using these inexpesive audio interface, and others that folks 
make with USB or Fireware based audio interfaces.  And the Soundblaster 
does indeed, and entirely blow away the quality of the stock soundcard on 
the notebook.  I can't say whether this will be the case for the ThinkPad 
T60p and the Intel High Definition Audio integrated, however. I will wait 
try out the T60 audio I/O before I buy a PCMCIA card.

>> 2. Echo IO 
>> ttp://www.echoaudio.com/Products/CardBus/IndigoIO/index.php  - $200

> Same as above

Same as above for me too...but even more so here. The reviews of this IO 
unit seem to indicate that it produces higher quality results than the 
Soundblaster. So I'm guessing the IO is more than what I need...unless I 
decide to start producing moving sound tracks, recording entire bands, 
etc..for commerical viability. For solo looping with the guitar, I think 
IO is a perfect option for quality and portability, size, etc.  Again, 
wait to here the T60p audio I/O first....who knows, maybe I'll get lucky! 

>> 3. Echo DJ - 
>> http://www.echoaudio.com/Products/CardBus/IndigoDJ/index.php - $200
> Doesn't seem to have any inputs. (You're not a DJ, are you?)

It has a stereo input, but two stereo outputs...not much different than 
IO.  I don't need it, but the addtional stereo output might be useful to 

>> 4. RME Hammerfall HDSP Laptop Cardbus - 
>> http://www.rme-audio.com/english/hdsp/cardpci.htm#CARDBUS - $299
> This will have an extra box and you will have to add something like at 
> least $700 to the mentioned price (though it has really world class 
> converters)

Good catch on this one. Thanks!