USB external sound cards

Gamma spectacular, theremino adapters, non-sound card based, etc...
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Posts: 7
Joined: 21 Jan 2019, 10:43
Location: Willunga South, South Australia

USB external sound cards

Post by elemental » 22 May 2019, 12:49

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

Conor Whyte
Posts: 18
Joined: 28 Apr 2019, 15:06

Re: USB external sound cards

Post by Conor Whyte » 24 May 2019, 03:19

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

Posts: 61
Joined: 29 Oct 2017, 02:12

Re: USB external sound cards

Post by stamasd » 16 Jun 2019, 03:33

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: 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.
Real name: Silviu Tamasdan

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