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Topic: Laptop usb soundcard suggestions (Read 716 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • antz
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Laptop usb soundcard suggestions
I've recently replaced my main computer with a laptop, this means I've lost any audio inputs (line level) that I used to have. I'm looking for a usb external card but searching on here finds only (relatively) old threads and seaching online is leaving me a bit confused due to lack of specs and full information.

My "must have" features are a line-level input and a line-level ouput (or headphone), 2-channel capability and compatibility with W10 and Linux. More channels, optical or more inputs/outputs and so on aren't required but obviously I don't have to use them if they happen to be there. I'm not looking to break the bank with an audiophool gadget but I do want a Hi-Fi solution (i.e. in the sense of sane Hi-Fi), so good noise specs and supply immunity would be needed. Yes, I know these things are easily achievable nowadays. I'm just struggling to find what fits the bill, so I thought I'd ask for intelligent input.

  • Fairy
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Re: Laptop usb soundcard suggestions
Reply #1
What about the line input. Are you planning on recording stuff or are you just accustomed to the fact that you had a line input before?

USB dac's without line input are far more common. I use a FiiO E17k for playing music, but a FiiO E10K would be just fine.
There are cheaper options, but they mostly lack the volume control.

These kind of USB soundcards are also cheap, but I don't know about quality:
https://www.fasttech.com/product/1022700-usb-20-external-sound-card-with-51-channel-surroun
  • Last Edit: 19 May, 2017, 07:49:33 AM by Fairy

  • Apesbrain
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Re: Laptop usb soundcard suggestions
Reply #2
TASCAM and Focusrite both make devices that meet your requirements for about $150.  Less expensive options are available from Behringer ($30) and several others.  Suggest you go to Amazon and search "USB audio interface".

  • antz
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Re: Laptop usb soundcard suggestions
Reply #3
What about the line input. Are you planning on recording stuff or are you just accustomed to the fact that you had a line input before?

A bit of both, I do want to have the means to record line-level input. I never made much use of the old PC's line-in capabilites simply because of physical constraints on connecting it to sources. The laptop obviously doesn't suffer such restrictions and would get used more. Line-in is a must for any device I get. I could possibly use the laptop's mic level input by reducing the audio input level but that isn't the sensible way to go.

P.S. I should have mentioned, I'm in the UK not USA. Dollar prices in the US are likely to translate to £ prices here.
  • Last Edit: 19 May, 2017, 09:10:21 AM by antz

  • 4season
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Re: Laptop usb soundcard suggestions
Reply #4
Behringer UCA202:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/behringer-uca202-review.html

Mediocre as a headphone amp as delivered due to highish output impedance, but for about $8 in parts I performed the NWAVGUY mods which reduce it to about 1 ohm, and I didn't need to hack the housing. I found that the volume control for the headphone outputs tracks decently too.

  • antz
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Re: Laptop usb soundcard suggestions
Reply #5
Behringer UCA202:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/behringer-uca202-review.html

Mediocre as a headphone amp as delivered due to highish output impedance, but for about $8 in parts I performed the NWAVGUY mods which reduce it to about 1 ohm, and I didn't need to hack the housing. I found that the volume control for the headphone outputs tracks decently too.
I read his review and pulled the trigger on one. Don't really need the headphone socket but I might do the same mod in the future. It's cheap enough that if it doesn't fit the bill I can relegate it to a second laptop I have.

Thanks to all for the input, I'll report back when it's arrived and been tried out.

  • antz
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Re: Laptop usb soundcard suggestions
Reply #6
Just thought I'd update this thread - the UCA 202A has arrived! It does "just work", no drivers or fiddling, just change the settings as appropriate. Yes, the headphone output isn't the greatest but as a monitor facility it isn't terrible. I'll probably look into modifying that at some point. For the cost I'm not disappointed.