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USB external sound cards

Posted: 22 May 2019, 12:49
by elemental
Hi All,

If anyone is like me and is struggling with a Windows Surface pro with no line in jack,
or a laptop with one input jack which double as either a microphone or headphone,
of like me, you have one of each.

Then an external USB soundcard is the way to go. If you require a cheap but reliable
device, I would like to recommend the Digitech XC-4905, available from Jaycar electronics
for a tidy $39.95.

I have two of these beasts and they work extremely well with both my full range NaI Bicron
probe and my low energy Scionix XRF probe.

Gary Reed
Willunga south

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 24 May 2019, 03:19
by Conor Whyte
I am curious about the Creative G6 external sound card and how it would work. Sampling is 192Khz/ 24/32bit depth. I wonder how it would work for our purposes

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 16 Jun 2019, 03:33
by stamasd
I've used 2 external USB sound cards for Theremino-type applications, as well as for sound capture.
One is a high-end Behringer U-phoria UMC204. It works fine, The 192kHz sampling rate is useful. It cost $60 at the time (about 2 years ago - just took a peek at Amazon and it's $120 now). Its smaller cousin the UMC202 is $80, the only difference is that it doesn't have MIDI ports which are irrelevant for gamma spectroscopy.
The other is a generic USB-stick form factor Chinese card. Cost $2 on ebay in bulk (bought many of them to use with Raspberry Pi and similar projects). They also work absolutely fine for these types of applications. Much better than the built-in sound cards of several laptops I tried them with, including a couple with line-in ports. IIRC the ones I have use the C-media CM108 chipset.
My impression? Go for the high-end card if you have other applications that justify that purchase. If not, try the cheap ones first, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Also have a look at this: http://www.telepostinc.com/soundcards.html It's not aimed directly at sound card spectroscopy but rather at SDR (software defined radio) users, but many of those findings apply.

OTOH based on my experience I can't recommend Creative external cards. They are OK while they work, but a lot of them seem to fail after a short time of use. I had one, I don't remember the model but it was an older one. It failed with light use after less than a year. The mode of failure was that it wasn't recognized as a USB device anymore, or it was recognized but then disconnected shortly thereafter. I had at the time a look around and I saw many users for different models of Creative USB cards having the same problem.

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 29 Jun 2019, 17:27
by Conor Whyte
I just had a go with a test benched AK5397E using a AK5397EQ evaluation board by Asahi Kasei Microdevices... It's a 32bit 768Khz 2 ch. sampling ADC for high end audio systems. Most recording solutions that utilize such an ADC are usually scientific (ultrasound recording)/specialty in nature. I am a fan of this chip after seeing how well it works.

This sampling huge increase in sample rate could radically enhance our abilities with soundcard spectroscopy.

DIYaudio forums seems to have a few members making ADCs (sound cards) using them.

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 29 Jun 2019, 19:55
by cicastol
Conor Whyte wrote:
29 Jun 2019, 17:27
I just had a go with a test benched AK5397E using a AK5397EQ evaluation board by Asahi Kasei Microdevices... It's a 32bit 768Khz 2 ch. sampling ADC for high end audio systems.
WOW !!
I would like to give it a try, now i'm using a "normal" 24 bit 192kHz, but my pmt out is a short 30uS pulse, so i think it could improve a little bit the resolution of my system, how to use this board with PRA ??

Thanks!

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 29 Jun 2019, 20:17
by Steven Sesselmann
Conor Whyte wrote:
29 Jun 2019, 17:27
I just had a go with a test benched AK5397E using a AK5397EQ evaluation board ....
Conor,

This looks interesting... does the EV board connect via USB?

Steven

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 30 Jun 2019, 02:06
by Conor Whyte
By default the board connects via I2S and BNC to interface with digital systems. Board was running an adapter for I2S bridge to usb.
WOW !!
I would like to give it a try, now i'm using a "normal" 24 bit 192kHz, but my pmt out is a short 30uS pulse, so i think it could improve a little bit the resolution of my system, how to use this board with PRA ??

Thanks!
On that note, PRA doesn't go past 384Khz for sampling... At least not what I see inside the audio interface menu. Only Theremino shows that it is capable of sampling at this speed.
The AKM series of A/D converters are monsters.

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 01 Jul 2019, 02:49
by cicastol
Conor Whyte wrote:
30 Jun 2019, 02:06
By default the board connects via I2S and BNC to interface with digital systems. Board was running an adapter for I2S bridge to usb.

On that note, PRA doesn't go past 384Khz for sampling... At least not what I see inside the audio interface menu. Only Theremino shows that it is capable of sampling at this speed.
The AKM series of A/D converters are monsters.
Hi,
so with a I2S to USB converter and this EV board it is possible to use PRA and Theremino correct?

How the Windows know it is a sound card, drivers ?

Thanks!

Re: USB external sound cards

Posted: 01 Jul 2019, 07:01
by Conor Whyte
It would be possible... this evaluation board uses twin microcontrollers to interface with the ADC. Point of clarification, This was not my board, it's worth a fair price and it was being used to trial the AKM branded chip for ultrasonic recording. Bat recording for a PHD project.
USB to serial bridge being used also contained XMOS processor.
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