General Question

Zyx's avatar

PCI or audio interface?

Asked by Zyx (4165points) January 9th, 2011

I’m about to buy a new desktop (windows probably) and once I have: I want to be capable of recording bass guitar, electric guitar and if at all possible vocals. I might settle for less now and expand later but I’m expanding later either way so I don’t know where to start. Is the integration of PCI benificial? Should I start with it simply because an interface can be added later more easily?

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8 Answers

Vortico's avatar

I would avoid a PCI interface and get a USB or FireWire interface with at least one instrument input and one mic preamp (+48v phantom power if you intend to use a condenser microphone for vocals or guitar/bass cabinets.) Presonus, Focusrite, and MOTU are good first choices, and I would highly recommend a picking up a Mac Mini with Logic Express or the included GarageBand software for amateur recording.

Zyx's avatar

I despise Apple a little more than Microsoft. I’m pretty handy with windows and enjoy the large amount of customizing it allows for. Why avoid PCI and why a mac?

Vortico's avatar

The Apple recommendation was a little opinionated, but they do seem to be the majority of computers used for audio production. Core Audio is generally more stable than the ASIO drivers required for Windows, so you wouldn’t have to worry about the latency issues and occasional driver “hiccups”.

As for the PCI interface… why? USB interfaces these days are portable, just as fast and stable, usually cheaper, and are easier to access than the PCI cards under your desk. Save PCI for the Pro Tools HD and Apogee Symphony systems.

DeanV's avatar

Firewire is the way to go if you can. It’s much, much faster, and in general I find that low budget firewire interfaces have much better construction and preamps.

As for the mac idea, I really like Logic Express, it’s my DAW of choice, but there are pretty decent programs out there for Windows boxes as well. As far as PCI goes, it’s fast, but with a Firewire of USB interface you can be sure that it will work across computers, so if you plan to upgrade computers (which you will in a few years) you’ll need to look into another box with PCI support, something not present if you want to go with a laptop or mac.

What program are you currently using for recording?

MartinDep's avatar

I would suggest you to use external PCI Sound Card link, you will get more options and a powerful sound system. Some PCI cards use their own memory so put less burden on your Processor and RAM, hence PC performance is not affected.

Zyx's avatar

@dverhey I’m currently not doing so well with the recording but what I can get done on this PC I’m using audacity for. I guess I’m not even sure what I’m asking since I still can’t tell if external and internal serve different functions.

Zyx's avatar

Going to buy an interface, thanks everyone!

XxSHYxxGUYxX's avatar

I’d recommend you go for a PCI card. That’s because PCI is a faster interface as compared to USB and Firewire. So you’ll get lower latency. I’d recommend MOTU/M-Audio PCI cards…

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