Re: [linux-audio-user] where to begin or where's the beginning begin?

From: Steve Fosdick <lists@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Tue Jul 19 2005 - 14:52:50 EEST

On 19/07/05 05:52:16, Richard Hubbell wrote:

> Very new to sound input and linux. I've listened to music on linux
> but recording and manipulating sound is all new to me. I'm just
> going to put into words what I'd like to do and take it from there. I
> have an electric guitar and I'd like to record riffs and then apply
> software filters (right word? maybe software effects?) to the riffs
> to give them a different sound. I'd like to be able to edit them,
> save them and record them to disc (cd/dvd).

Are you intending to DI the guitar or are you planning to mic the guitar

For DI you could just try making a lead to connect the guitar to the
line in of a normal sound card, i.e. connect it to one channel and see
how you get on. If the quality is not good enough you'll need to invest
in a "Pro" sound card.

> I'd also like to be able to record singing and sound effects. I have
> read the archives a bit and I saw a July thread about hardware but the
> original poster had his thread hijacked and it went a little astray.

OK, for this you'll need a decent microphone. The big choice is between
dynamic, e.g. the Sure SM58 that is commonly used live and which give a
punchy sound and condensers which give a more accurate and detailed
sound. There shouldn't be any Linux specific problems with Mics so go
to somewhere like and see people there are using. The
only thing to watch out for is that if you get a condenser mic you'll
need to look for a sound card/audio interface or pre-amp that includes
phantom power (most good ones do).

Connecting a mic to the mic-in on a normal PC sound card is very
unlikely to yield acceptable results for serious work as the built-in
pre-amp is usually noisy and the mic-in is unbalanced wheras all pro
mics have balanced outputs, so you'll either need to use a separate
pre-amp to raise the mic's output to line level then use the line-in, or
get a sound card/audio interface that has a mic pre-amp built in. You
could even get a separate mic pre-amp and a pro sound card.

Regarding sound cards/audio interfaces you have a choice of USB or PCI.

If you're intending to do all your recording with a single PC then PCI
is probably better as it seems to have more stable support and lower
latency. If you need to frequently move the interface between PCs, e.g.
you desktop and laptop then a USB interface may be more conventient.
You also need to decide how many channels - if you're going to record
one track at a time then one of the two channel devices will be fine.

I needed an interface I can carry around and got a USB TASCAM US-122
which seems to work quite well though the drivers in Linux seems to have
only become stable since kernel 2.6.12. This has two channels in/out
and MIDI in/out and the inputs can be either mic or line/guitar and it
can do phantom power. For close miking the noise performance is fine,
but for miking large enembles at a distance the mic pre-amp is a little
too noisy.

There is a direct competitor to the US-122, i.e. the Edirol UA-25.

For the PCI cards I'll let people who've got them describe them.

> Do I need one box or several? I don't want to spend a lot to start
> but would like to have something that's made reasonably well.

Some of the PCI cards have a separate "break-out" box to which you
connect your inputs and then a cable that connects the breakout box to a
connector on the back of the PCI card. If you get a card that has line
level inputs only then you'll need a separate mic pre-amp. Many people
are suspicous of built-in mic pre-amps on anything and would recommend
the two box solution anyway though I don't have the experience to

Once you got a decent mic, sound card and maybe mic pre-amp I'd see if
you can do everything else you need in software before buying any other
hardware. There's ardour as a multitrack recorder and LADSPA for
effects pulgins all connected together with jack. For wave editing
you've got audacity. There's jamin for mastering, cdrdao for writing CDs
and other choices too. LADSPA effects include compressors, expanders,
filters, eq etc.

Received on Tue Jul 19 16:15:09 2005

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