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USB audio devices and Linux? Audio Interfaces
Old 19th August 2007
  #1
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USB audio devices and Linux?

I'm looking to do some multi-track recording on my laptop. I'd like to get as high of a quality of recording as possible. At the moment I'm using a low end mic on the mic in port. This doesn't seem optimal as some of the headphone out sound bleeds into the mic in, even when the output level shouldn't be as high as it is getting picked up by the mic in. Anyway, I'm looking at getting some usb based audio device(s) to overcome this feature.

I would like to know if some or all of these devices work in linux. If only for a mic input use. I would ultimately like to get a high end XLR3 type ribbon microphone to record with. I've identified the following as potentially supported in linux, but would like some verification or reviews as such on them if at all possible before shelling out the purchase price.

Lexicon Omega:
Lexicon®

Digidesign mBox 2 mini:
Digidesign | Products | Pro Tools LE & M-Powered | Mbox 2 Family | Mbox 2 Family

Tascam US-122L:
TASCAM

Tascam US-144:
TASCAM

Soundtech Lightsnake:
SoundTech Lightsnake

Anyone know the linux support level of these? I'd prefer something USB 2.0 with the potential for 96kHz stereo recording. Some of the ones above appear on the surface to be supported, but are only usb 1.1 devices. At the moment I have a couple PC mics from giant squid. Which are alright, and useable for now.

Miniature Microphone Specialists Stereo - Mono - Cardioid - Omnidrectional Giant Squid Audio Lab

I'm using my laptop so I can't just get a high end PCI card to use on the machine. I do have a desktop, but I'd like a more portable option without going with a Zoom H4 type device, since I already have the laptop. And can otherwise do semi-serious editing and cdrom burning on the laptop.

Any input or other suggestions would be appreciated. I'm currently running debian sid on the laptop. And most of my other machines run various flavors of debian linux. Recording with audacity and ardour2 for the most part.

Last edited by Shadow_7; 19th August 2007 at 02:31 PM.. Reason: URL parsing
Old 20th August 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Those are all questionable choices for Linux.

The Digidesign MBox and Tascam 122L are explicitly _not_ supported by Linux, the manufacturers did not release the specs for these products.

The Soundtech device will "probably" work, but it might not. And it also does not have a D/A converter which means you will be recording from one device and playing from another.... it may work but doesn't seem like a good gamble to me.

The Tascam 144 and the Lexicon will work but may take some effort on your part.

You should get a device that this list says is fully supported:
Matrix:Main - AlsaProject

Alternatively, look for the terms "class compliant" or "no drivers needed in OSX", this will probably mean that it works out of the box on Linux too.

If you want to try a firewire device, make sure it's shown as supported on this list:
List of Supported Devices - FreeBoB

Hope this helps,
-Ben Loftis
Old 20th August 2007
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenLoftis View Post
Those are all questionable choices for Linux.
.....
Can't really argue with that one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenLoftis View Post
The Tascam 144 and the Lexicon will work but may take some effort on your part.
.....
From what I've read the Tascam 144 won't work. And the 122L is in the same boat. The older 122's can be made to work, but it's not an out of the box ordeal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenLoftis View Post
You should get a device that this list says is fully supported:
Matrix:Main - AlsaProject
.....
Already checked this spot. Which seems to indicate that only the Lexicon should work. Most of the manufacturers of the devices I've looked at don't even have anything listed in the soundcard matrix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenLoftis View Post
If you want to try a firewire device, make sure it's shown as supported on this list:
List of Supported Devices - FreeBoB
Now that one is quite usefull. Unfortunately my laptop doesn't have firewire. Neither does my desktop. But so far it's looking like getting firewire for either is the way to go.

At the moment I'm wanting stereo input for 24 bit and 96kHz minimum. Not that I "need" that, but having that means I shouldn't need to upgrade for a good long time. This rules out all USB 1.1 only devices, since the bus bandwidth isn't high enough to support those rates. And USB 2.0 devices seem few and far between and poorly supported at best. Even under windows.

At the moment I'm even leaning towards a usb soundcard with 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo mic input. I'll most likely need extra hardware (XLR to 1/4" or 1/8" converters/adapters) going this route. But it seems the best supported and least headache. As well as the most portable. And I already have a 1/8" stereo microphone. Not that it's the end all of mics, but it's one less thing I'll need to get/bring along. The Terratec Aureon 5.1 USB MKII seems nice, supported, and cheap. Although it may not be available in the states.

Thanks for the input.
Old 20th August 2007
  #5
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I don't use Linux at the moment and have never really used it for audio, but I have been trying to keep updated what happens there. I'm quite sure that you won't get a Digidesign interface to work on Linux, certainly not a USB connected one.

The lack of drivers for good interfaces is still one of the biggest problems in Linux audio IMO. I really hope that will change.
Old 20th August 2007
  #6
Here for the gear
 

You should check out RME products, they officialy support Linux and I can state for a fact that the ALSA drivers for my mulitface (rev1) work fine (I run Gentoo).
Old 20th August 2007
  #7
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Does RME supply Linux drivers for their Fireface line as well? I had the impression that only a few of their interfaces worked with Linux.
Old 20th August 2007
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

no linux support for the fireface

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiff View Post
Does RME supply Linux drivers for their Fireface line as well? I had the impression that only a few of their interfaces worked with Linux.
RME have declined to permit an open source driver for the Fireface line to be created, despite a lot of noise from the linux audio community.

The hammerfall 9652, hammerfall 9636, HDSP (w/ digiface or multiface IO), hdsp9652 are all fully supported (though there are a couple of new features is newer firmware that are not implemented because there's no call for them).

Since these cards are still (amazingly) among the best interfaces you can buy, I personally don't see multichannel I/O with Linux as much of a problem. If you happen to like hardware made by other companies, then you should ask the company why they do not enable the Linux community to create drivers, not the Linux community. When companies give us the info, we write the drivers (almost always without any form of compensation). When they don't, we can do nothing (useful).
Old 21st August 2007
  #9
Here for the gear
 

manufacturers are sleepin with the enemy (Micro$oft).

bleh!
blitzed
Old 21st August 2007
  #10
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heathen's Avatar
 

The rme hdsp cards work flawlessly with linux. I could not believe it everything just worked, for me. I'll be setting up a linux audio system soon, if it works out after a few months testing I'm going to use it for everything.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawhead View Post
If you happen to like hardware made by other companies, then you should ask the company why they do not enable the Linux community to create drivers, not the Linux community.
I know, I do. I wasn't racking down at the Linux community if that was your impression.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cazper View Post
You should check out RME products, they officialy support Linux and I can state for a fact that the ALSA drivers for my mulitface (rev1) work fine (I run Gentoo).
At first I was a little giddy at the thought of a linux supported audio product.

Since January 2000, the latest version of ALSA includes full support for the RME Hammerfall and Hammerfall Light (except ADAT Sync - coming soon.)

Then I ran across this:

Please note that there is no direct support from RME, neither written nor by telephone, as these drivers are not written by RME.

Alsa shows this, but when cross referenced with RME's product line:

(discontinued) Digi32 (supported)
(discontinued) Digi32Pro (supported)
(discontinued) Digi32/8 (supported)
Hammerfall (supported)
Hammerfall Light (supported)
Hammerfall DSP Digiface (supported)
Hammerfall DSP Multiface (supported)
(discontinued) Hammerfall DSP 9632 (supported)
(discontinued) Hammerfall DSP 9652 (supported)
Hammerfall DSP MADI (supported)
(discontinued) Digi96 (supported)
(discontinued) Digi96/8 (supported)
(discontinued) Digi96/8 Pro (supported)
(discontinued) Digi96/8 PST (supported)
(discontinued) Digi96/8 PAD (supported)
Fireface 800 (Unsupported)
Old 25th August 2007
  #13
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Any other suggestions? There's a few decent looking usb only mics out there. But I'd rather have an XLR3 to usb interface. With pre-amp preferred so I can get a level worth recording at. I have a couple 1/8" mics, but that interface doesn't seem durable. And also lacks the preamp abilities. Not to mention the option to record stereo inputs. Without acquiring another soundcard(USB) capable of stereo inputs.
Old 27th August 2007
  #14
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Anyone use the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM? It looks like it might be a useable interim device to get me stereo recording abilities on my laptop. Without going with a less portable option.

http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/...-srm/home.aspx
Old 27th August 2007
  #15
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Perhaps this could be of help to anyone

http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Sound-HOWTO/x96.html
Old 28th August 2007
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiff View Post
Some help perhaps. But written as of kernel 2.4.4 puts it at almost a decade old. Which means that many of the devices listed are no longer being manufactured.

Anyway, aside from thumbing through the alsa-project.org soundcard matrix, and Linux USB for any feedback on usb audio devices. I've also started diving into the usb-audio sources.

There's a number of vendor:device numbers embedded in the alsa usb-audio sources. None of which seem to have entries in pciids.sf.net so I can't even tell what devices they are for. But those IDs are probably there for devices that have quirks. As it's not a very long list.

There is a caiaq driver that appears to add USB support (to whatever limited degree) for a couple native instruments devices. Some of which might meet my previous specs. I would still like a stereo input option, but that's not exactly critical.

Audio Kontrol 1
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS : Products : Guitar Line : Audio Kontrol 1

Audio 8 DJ
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS : Products : Dj Line : AUDIO 8 DJ

Both of which meet the XLR3 mic input specifications and are usb 2.0 devices. Anyone ever use these in linux? Anyone ever use 2 usb audio devices to accomplish stereo recordings?
Old 1st September 2007
  #17
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So I've gotten some feadback that an Edirol UA-25 is supported. Which is most of what I'm looking for in a device. It doesn't say that it's USB 2.0. And spec wise it'd probably be a little beefier if it was. About the only thing it lacks is a 1/8" (or 1/4") stereo input.

I seemed to have missed the line on the alsa page that reads "All USB devices that are standards compliant will work". Apparently there's a USB audio specification.

http://www.usb.org/developers/devclass_docs/audio10.pdf

So any device that is "class compliant" should work with usb-audio from alsa. As I consider going shopping to see how many boxes have "class compliant" on the box. At least I now know why so many devices use the same driver.

Old 3rd September 2007
  #18
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I guess this project is on hold now. My new desktop has a high definition audio card, which is sooooo much better than my onboard sound for my laptop. Not entirely studio quality since it's still an onboard card. but a lot more enjoyable to record/play from.

I will still need a portable external usb based soundcard for the laptop, eventually. But I have something I'm happy with for now.
Old 3rd September 2007
  #19
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Can you sum up your findings (which interfaces will work) so far in one post? I'm very interested in this as well. I've been toying with the idea of building a Linux DAW for some time now.
Old 3rd September 2007
  #20
Gear Head
 

Hi Shadow_7,

Some of this info is not correct. Here is the list of currently "in production" RME devices (with your Alsa info intact). If bought new these will require a firmware flash downgrade available here to work properly under linux.

Hammerfall DSP Digiface (supported)
Hammerfall DSP Multiface (supported)
Hammerfall DSP 9632 (supported)
Hammerfall DSP 9652 (supported)
Hammerfall DSP MADI (supported)
Hammerfall DSP AES-32 (should work since HDSP MADI is supported)

Out of production but still available:
(discontinued) Digi96/8 PAD (supported)

And, of course:
Fireface 800/400 (Unsupported)

Just wanted to clear that up in case somebody digs up this thread later on.

Best,
Jeff
Old 6th September 2007
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff.petersen View Post
Some of this info is not correct. Here is the list of currently "in production" RME devices (with your Alsa info intact). If bought new these will require a firmware flash downgrade available here to work properly under linux.
Which is more confirmation that RME should be avoided. Even though they did help to a limited degree get some linux drivers created for some of their device(s).

There's a few digigram devices that look promising. Although they're PCI based and higher end studio stuff. I might get out and shop around town today to see what's available off the shelf. And
come home empty handed to see if any of that is supported.
Old 15th September 2007
  #22
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I guess this is on hold for now. I got a new desktop with a high definition audio card. It does what I'm looking for at the moment. 16,20,24 bit sampling, 44.1, 48, 96, 192kHz rates, and stereo (1/8") input. And as of alsa 1.0.15rc2 it even has mic boost. A few issues on a 64 bit system, but so far decent on a 32 bit liveCD or chroot environment. I haven't tested full duplex recording. But it sounds much better than my laptops onboard sound. As long as I don't use mic boost which puts a noticeable hiss into the recording.

I went out shopping today. And no luck on an external usb audio device. If I want a wireless device or an iPod accessory, there's probably 5,000 items to choose from. But usb audio devices are not that easily come by off the shelf. There were only 3 PCI type devices off the shelf. The best of which only did up to 96kHz sampling rates. So much for checking the boxes for class compliant.
Old 26th September 2007
  #23
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I've acquired a few things lately.

For USB, I went with an M-Audio Mobile Pre. It only does 16 bit @ 48kHz, but that is sufficient for my mobile needs I guess. Most onboard soundcards can't best that anyway. And it works in linux, although details were sketchy prior to getting the device. Used price $80.

For PCI, I went with an M-Audio Delta 44. It does 24 bit @ 96kHz, which is what I was looking for in a device. The 44 works in linux and is super nice. Low noise, and nice quiet sampling. One downside (depending on your perspective) is that there's no bias voltage to power my low end mics. But capture is clean and playback is so clean, that I've been breaking out some long lost CD's to enjoy how much better they sound being played through this device. Used price $100, plus about $60 in adapters to make it work with existing stereo equipment.
Old 27th September 2007
  #24
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santibanks's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 View Post
So I've gotten some feadback that an Edirol UA-25 is supported. Which is most of what I'm looking for in a device. It doesn't say that it's USB 2.0. And spec wise it'd probably be a little beefier if it was. About the only thing it lacks is a 1/8" (or 1/4") stereo input.
it is usb 2.0 from what I remember. I owned one for a short period and I liked it very much (though, needed more I/O)
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