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Audio Interfaces and Windows 8.1

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Audio Interfaces and Windows 8.1

Postby Michael.B » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:17 pm

If you are using an internal PCI or PCIe MIDI interface and thinking of upgrading to Windows 8.1 please read on.

For years now I have enjoyed my PCI M-Audio Audiophile 192 pro sound card. Although this is a superlative card, I had found M-Audio to be very slow at releasing drivers for later operating systems. When I tried a demo of Windows 8, it came as no surprise that there weren't any drivers available. However, there was word that the latest Windows 7 drivers were compatible. I tried this and, yes, for the most part it did seem to work.

I have since completely rebuilt my computer and am now on windows 8.1. We are now a few months short of two years since Windows 8 was first released to manufacturers and still no drivers from M-Audio. The Windows 7 drivers that did work for the most part in windows 8 no longer work with Windows 8.1.

My solution was to follow many in their forums and ditch my beloved 192 and buy from another company. This lead to my next big surprise .. internal PCI Pro soundcards are now very few and far between. I'm not talking about Soundblaster but about pro cards a sound engineer would be happy to have in his studio computer. There seems to be just one available, the ESI [email protected] XTe which, on the face of it, is an ingenious design. The card can be installed with either balanced or unbalanced outputs .. and they do have Windows 8 drivers (which I'm told also work with windows 8.1).

I asked in the Sonar forums for any views or guidance. These forums have so many pros and experienced enthusiastic audiophilles, it's my go-to place for reliable technical advice. I had several replies, mostly suggesting that I should move away from PCI and that there is dwindling support for this in the audio world. I was advised to look at USB interfaces with a couple of recommendations.

The result is a gleaming new Focusrite 2i4 Scarlett USB interface perched gracefully on my desk. This is complete with main speakers control for my KRK VXT8s and a headphones volume control for my Sure SRH940s. I'm still saddened to part with my Delta 192 but really pleased with my new reliable interface.

So, I hope this will be of some help to anyone currently using an internal PCI/e card thinking of moving to Windows 8.1.

Michael
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Re: Audio Interfaces and Windows 8.1

Postby rbowser » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:37 am

Michael.B wrote:...For years now I have enjoyed my PCI M-Audio Audiophile 192 pro sound card...internal PCI Pro soundcards are now very few and far between...I was advised to look at USB interfaces with a couple of recommendations.

The result is a gleaming new Focusrite 2i4 Scarlett USB interface perched gracefully on my desk. This is complete with main speakers control for my KRK VXT8s and a headphones volume control for my Sure SRH940s...

Thanks for yet another good, informative post, Michael.

I'm not using W8, and hope to avoid it as long as possible, but what you've described about your transition from the Audiophile to the Focusrite is basically the transition I went through some time ago, and I wanted to congratulate you and comment on this change in your set up.

I had that same M-Audio Audiophile 192 on my previous computer. Great sounding card, but the only way I could access to volume control was by turning around where my amplifier is and reaching up to its controls. I knew I wanted much easier and constant control available when working in Sonar, so even while I had the Audiophile, I got the (now older version) Alesis iO|2 interface and parked it right next to my keyboard. I have a new computer now, but the interface is still sitting in the same position where I can easily make the short reach over to control volume either on my speakers or headphones. I have TSR plugs permanently in the TSR jacks so I can have my hardware compressor available, my XLR equipped microphone is on a table top stand and plugged into the interface for whenever I need it, and I have some lines in from a couple of different sources at the ready also.

On that old computer, I had the Audiophile for playing things online or in my DVD drive, and then I'd switch inputs on my amp when I wanted to use the interface.

Now on this current computer, I didn't install the Audiophile, because it was a bother to constantly be switching the input on the amp. I've only used the Alesis interface for a long time now, so convenient with its control knobs there inches from both my computer keyboard and MIDI keyboard.

All of these interfaces are built basically the same way, giving users all that control that just couldn't be had with built in cards.

SO - I know you're enjoying your new found control over your home studio - It's a big step up in productivity. Congrats!

Randy
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Re: Audio Interfaces and Windows 8.1

Postby Michael.B » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:55 am

Hello Randy,

Thanks for replying. I understand what you mean about Win 8.1. Fortunately there are a good few options available to steer away from the absurdities including a few excellent third party start menus and other things.

It's interesting that you also had the 192 at one time; it is a good card isn't it. Your Alesis iO|2 sounds a good setup there. I'm gradually coming round to the USB concept after all this time using PCI/e cards. I think this is great; it seems those folk at Sonar know their stuff. Incidentally it was Bit-Flipper who initially queried my wanting a PCI/e solution and set me off in a different direction.

Anyway, I'm really pleased with it. thanks for your interest.

Best wishes

Michael
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Re: Audio Interfaces and Windows 8.1

Postby reberclark » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:29 pm

Hi Michael,

I am still using a PCI card interface/sound card and would like some advice about your new acquisition.

Does your new box replace your internal soundcard? I rarely use microphones and record "in the box" from VSTs directly SONAR.

So is the Scarlett a replacement or add-on for one's internal sound card? Sorry this is so general - a bit in the dark technologically here.

All help and insight appreciated!

Thanks,
Reber Clark
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Re: Audio Interfaces and Windows 8.1

Postby Michael.B » Mon Oct 20, 2014 1:59 am

reberclark wrote:Hi Michael,

I am still using a PCI card interface/sound card and would like some advice about your new acquisition.

Does your new box replace your internal soundcard? I rarely use microphones and record "in the box" from VSTs directly SONAR.

So is the Scarlett a replacement or add-on for one's internal sound card? Sorry this is so general - a bit in the dark technologically here.

All help and insight appreciated!

Thanks,
Reber Clark

Hello Reber,

Yes, the USB audio interface can replace the internal soundcard or it can be used with the internal soundcard still installed. It would be just a case of selecting which you wanted in your software options.

In my case I removed my internal soundcard completely. Like most people I do have onboard sound and this can either be left enabled or disabled. The USB interface works entirely independently.

The Focusrite 2i4 does have two microphone inputs at the front which could come in useful sometime.

I hope this helps.

Michael
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