#1
i need to get an audio interface, so i was looking on musician's friend, and i saw some pci interfaces that seemed affordable. i know most interfaces are usb, but i was wondering how are pci interfaces?

i'm going to be recording guitar, bass, a midi keyboard, and eventually i'd like to get a mic to record acoustic guitar, and possibly vocals. i want to record guitar/bass straight to the interface, and use amp software. i'm a solo musician, so i'm probably only going to need one input, and i won't be recording drums.

i don't know that much about audio interfaces, but i was looking for something affordable that fits my needs i described. i was looking at these:

http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product?sku=240390V
http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/MAudio-Audiophile-2496-PCI-Digital-Audio-Card?sku=701341
http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/EMu-0404-PCI-Digital-Audio-Recording-System?sku=240390

also, kind of a noob question, but can you use these to play back music, and just regular sound needs too? right now i'm using two soundcards, and it's a hassle, so if i could only have one, that would be great.
#2
PCI is a good choice of soundcard, as it is faster than USB or Firewire. Most interfaces, be they PCI, Firewire or USB can be used as a regular soundcard, for playback of music etc. I use my USB interface as such.

When buying a PCI soundcard however, there are a few things to bear in mind. For example, if the unit you choose doesn't have a breakout box (an external unit that sits on your desktop allowing you to plug your connections in without reaching around the back of your computer) you could find yourself inconvienced. Also, they rarely have preamps integrated and thus you might need to buy external preamps to use with your PCI card. There are cheap, fair quality ones available, but it's extra expense.

In all, I personally think it's easier to go with a USB or Firewire unit. There are some excellent USB 2.0 and Firewire units available that would be perfect for your needs, with not too much of an expensive price tag. Not as cheap as a PCI card like the ones you mentioned, but when you add preamps on to the cost... Most USB and Firewire interfaces have integrated pres.

Good examples are the EMU 0404 USB, the Presonus Inspire, Mackie Onyx Satellite (not for Vista).
There is poetry in despair.
#3
PCI is nice for desktops but the ones you are looking at lack any preamps. I run the 2496 myself and am somewhat happy with it. my only complaint is I have to run a small mixer or preamp with it to get the signal into the card.

http://www.tweakheadz.com/soundcards_and_audio_interfaces.htm

I suggest something like the 1010LT
http://www.zzounds.com/item--MDOD1010LT

So yea, as suggested above, the USB or Firewire external interfaces are the best way to go. They offer preamps 99% for the time and the better connection types.

The reason why PCI is cheap is because they are a bare minimum setup. They usually have RCA inputs and require external preamps.
Last edited by moody07747 at Dec 20, 2008,