• Made In Machines

    I thought the Audiofire 2 has balanced outs?

  • Made In Machines

    What is the output gain of the M-Audio & Focusrite through their jack outputs?

    Apparently there is some big issue with the M-Audio:

    “While the specs for the M-Audio Fastrack Pro look great for a Digital
    DJ, they have a known Hardware issue where the Audio just drops out
    making them useless for anything live.
    This is not a software/driver issue. It is typically triggered by voltage spikes and has been verified by M-Audio themselves.

    More reading on the issue here:
    http://forums.m-audio.com/showthread.php?9189-Fast-Track-Pro-Audio-Dropouts-H-W-issue

    I’m also a bit confused about what the musicradar means by this:

    “One thing that should be pointed out is that the headphone jack is set up as a second output. This
    means that, in order to use it, you have to specify it as your output
    of choice in your software or your system’s audio preferences.

    This is annoying if you regularly switch between headphone and
    monitor outs, though the capability to have two separate stereo outputs
    makes the AudioFire2 perfect for mobile DJs.”

    this doesnt mean you can’t have an output and headphone cueing at the same time does it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bjorn-Lundberg/100001648111563 Björn Lundberg

    exactly how did you measure the latency?

  • MrGigantor

    Thanks Ean that was very very helpful.

    BUT can someone please tell me the best USB external sound card for using any type of powered speakers please?????

    (I am currently using my VCI-100 and Traktor Pro)

    please let my know asap XD XD

  • ToOntown

    Just a little input on the Fast Track Pro. I bought one with the thought of using it to DJ and record. I use a PC. The first one I got worked fine out of the box but I experienced a DJ’s worst nightmare the first time I gigged out with it. It completely dropped all sound right in the middle of my set. I shut down Traktor, rebooted my computer and went back into my set. 20 minutes later it crashed my whole system. I shipped the FTP back to the manufacturer and they sent me a new one. After reinstalling my operating system, I got my new FTP working after a few issues. I gigged a few days later and about an hour into my set, the sound dropped right when I finally had everybody on the dance floor. Luckily I had my Ipod on backup. Last Friday, I decided to gig with my friend’s MacBook Pro and lo and behold, the FTP crashed again a few hours into my set. I am in the process of selling it to whoever has the best offer. So bummed, but I guess I get what I paid for…

    I just get the feeling that this card isn’t designed with the gigging DJ in mind and therefore I won’t be recommending it to anybody in the market for a sound card.

  • So What!

    And one thing that is often overlooked. The Fast Track card as well as all the other M-Audio sound cards has a serious problem when used on a system with Windows 7. It often makes drop-outs, glitches and other artefacts.

    The worst thing is that even though the problems are noticed and there are threads and threads on M-Audio’s own forums about this, the company hasn’t blinked on it. Devoted M-Audio customers (yours trully included) are waiting for new Windows 7 drivers for M-Audio soundcards for over a year. “We are working on it” is the best we got.

    So, I have decided to sell my M-Audio Fast Track (fortunately I found a buyer) and bought a Native Instruments card as a replacement. I couldn’t be happier.

  • manue:

    Hi Any users for NOVATION NIO 2/4 ?? my Novation is 1 year old was running perfectly till last week , it says USB device not recognised have tried changing the usb cable and tried on few other pc’s laptops but same error

  • SeeN

    Maya44 usb sells for 100€

  • Martijn

    So basically what this roundup is saying, is that the no-brand $15 soundcard in my Windows desktop with about 10-11ms latency outperforms any of these USB solutions by a factor of atleast 2x? Heck, my previous even cheaper AC97-based card had latency of about 14-15ms and still outperforms all of these.

    Clearly the Mac results demonstrate that it isn’t the USB-nature of these products causing the latency. The latency of my shoddy cards demonstrates that Windows can do much better than these results (even if it might still be slower than Mac in the end). The only conclussion left is that you messed up your tests. Badly.

  • Mitu

    Can enyone tell me about a good 8 ch. soundcard i wanna play with 4 deck via midi controller but i need a good soundcard that’s cheaper than tje Audio 8 dj, i dont need the stereo inputs…

    (Sorry for my bad english i’m from denmark)

  • http://www.danielfischer.com Daniel Fischer

    What about the Focusrite Saffire LE (Firewire) is that good? $200.

  • Olaf

    @deefdeef: i own an NI Audio4DJ and a windows7 laptop, no problems at all. I have to disable wireless networking though, to avoid hickups.

  • deefdeef

    what´s about ALESIS IO|2?

  • deefdeef

    read here more about NI´s big soundcard – win 7 FAIL
    http://www.native-instruments.com/forum/showthread.php?t=110187

  • deefdeef

    mhhh as i sent back Audio Kontrol 1 and Audio 2 DJ, because their both failed @ Win7 (@ lots of users!!) i wanted to buy a fast track pro after this post, but found this:
    http://forums.m-audio.com/showthread.php?15622-Win-7-Fast-TRAck-Pro-Sudden-Permanant-Audio-Dropout-till-card-is-reset

    seems like everybody fails @ win 7
    damn…. i need a soundcard…

  • Logan Graham

    I need a USB soundcard for use of headphone monitoring and amp outputs for Ableton Live. I need a 3.5mm or 1/4″ jack for my headphones, then RCA outputs. Whats the best, for the least money (i.e. best value)?

  • n4Sphere

    hi
    so i really like they way how this website works, there are so many great articles and reviews like this one, so therefore i have to raice up my voice also.

    i really like the audiofire2, cause it is so tiny, and this is a really big advantage for a mobile dj.of course it is firewire on ultra big advantage for macbooks :) i don´t know exactly how the audiofire works: the main outputs on the back are those one which goes to the mixer or to the speakers and the headphone output is for the cueing? so is it not possible to route also those to the mixer or are there some differents between the output, volume or qualitiy. on the offical website is wirtten that the headphone out is the 3/4 chanel so i dont know if it works like a regular 4/4 card?

    hope someone knows it ;)

    thanks
    greetz

  • K.LINE

    Hey I’m just a little confused I’m not exactly very knowledgeable with hardware.

    I use Traktor and a VCM-100 as my mixer and I run a split red/white RCA cable from the VCM to my speakers which I have 1/4 Mono connectors that I plug the other end of the RCA cords into.

    Anyway, I was wondering that if I use the VCM to mix instead of internally mixing on my laptop would I need to get something like the audio 4 with multiple outputs or could I use one with only 1 pair of outputs? I’m purchasing a soundcard to use headphones, so I’m not sure if the headphones would require me to have multiple outputs or not… Thanks

  • Anonymous

    What do you suggest?
    MAC pro 2,8 GHZ with VCI 100 and traktor

  • sno

    is windows 7 generally better than xp latency-wise?

  • Vincent

    The Novation nio 2/4 is also a very viable option within that price range, imo.

  • http://web.me.com/jasonking8/J450N_N4ME/1NTR0.html J450N N4ME

    [quote comment="29950"]I’m confused how are you running TP or TSP with all four decks
    and are you doing this with audio 4 dj or audio 8 dj[/quote]
    I’m using an Audio4 and 4 decks. I use the internal mixer and I control it with an XSession Pro. I also use an APC40 which means I have no shortage of sliders and pots. So as far as mixers go, It’s not a perfect rig but I really love playing on it. I think you can easily route 4 decks through the Audio4 but don’t quote me on that. You could FOR SURE do anything you want with an AUDIO8.

  • Dr. Beat

    I really appreciate the Audiofire 2 and I dare say that the soundquality is very much better than the built in vci 300 card! Which is a real pity cause the handling of the vci 300 is really nice… Thanks for the review – this approved my worries about the 300!

  • Dj Buca

    [quote comment="29896"]Why aren’t Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ mentioned? Been waiting for a review of that card for long, and can
    t find a good review on the net. Guess I will find out in a few days since I placed an order on it yesterday.[/quote]

    Ia have been using the Audio DJ 2 sound card for a few months now and it works great for me. It has lived up to NI’s claims, at least with my system.

  • http://elphabyts.com elpha

    [quote comment="29961"]Im having gig on sunday in an festival, and i was wondering if its possible to just use my Xponent cos its got built in soundcard, and run the RCA cables from xponents master into the mixer to get a decent sound ? i hope this is possible so any feedback would be awesome, Thnx for the video[/quote]

    Yes, you can use the Xponent and run RCAs to the mixer. Good sound, excellent controller

  • quillidj

    I too own an audio 2DJ, and must say it is very good for its purpose: portability and playing with traktor + controller only.
    When beatmatching and playing with cdj/turntables, I use my Korg zero 4. It has a very good souncard in it, but sadly I believe this product is discontinued. Works very well with Xindows XP sp3 + Traktor scrarch pro, no problems at all. Thanks to all for this website content quality. I love your pioneer spirit !

  • genjutsushi

    Ive owned several cards and as the review says – do some research to find the best fit for you. My regular one is an MAudio FW18/14 which has been a great work horse with an iMac.

    Regarding the review cards though…. Totally agree – the Echo is the best objective sound quality, fantastic tough construction (i owned one for a year but had to change as my new laptop doesnt have Firewire), but your review is wrong. There are two 1/4 inch output jacks on the back, and a seperate mini jack output on the front, so you CAN use it with an external mixer, or mix internally. It has a stereo pair of 1.4 inch jack inputs on the front, so you could similarly use a mono feed from a CDJ for timecode control, though it doesnt have a preamp or grounding so you might struggle to use record decks.

    However, just got an NI DJ Audio 2. Sounds great, uses USB (so works with my non firewire macbook), and is very cheap!

  • http://ifnotwhynot.me DJSDive

    @Feli: Afaik the Audio 2 DJ has the same soundchip as the Audio 4 DJ, so in terms of audio quality it should be on par. It comes in a plastic casing though, so its not as sturdy. Actually its crazy small and light .. so light that you need to afix it somewhere if you tend to move alot. It has no inputs, but the outputs are really flexible with the provided cables and it even has indicators to show on which of the two stereo outs you have an audio signal.

  • andy

    I use the vestax vai-80 (The Tank). Great soundcard!!

  • http://soundcloud.com/glitchfxxx confused

    Im having gig on sunday in an festival, and i was wondering if its possible to just use my Xponent cos its got built in soundcard, and run the RCA cables from xponents master into the mixer to get a decent sound ? i hope this is possible so any feedback would be awesome, Thnx for the video

  • Jay

    [quote comment="29927"]Another question: Why do Windows laptops have around 8 times more latency than Mac laptops? I know 16ms isn’t very much but when compared to 2ms I start to wonder what’s different in the Mac’s hardware?[/quote]

    There are many things that affect the lowest possible latency from system to system… I have an HP with a core 2 duo (t4300) which is the same model processor as was in my much missed macbook 2008 model. Traktor ran on my macbook at 2.5ms, and runs currently on my HP @ 11.5ms. What are the differences? They both had 4gb of memory, but the memory speed of the DDR3 memory in my mac ran faster… advantage macbook. They both had sata hard disks that ran @ 5400rpm, so no advantage there…

    The big difference is the design and architecture of the motherboard and the way the instruction set of the laptop computer interacts with the kernel of the the OS.

    The final part of the equation is the drivers that are used with each OS, and once again the OSX version drivers performed far better.

    This is why, although my HP is statistically similar to my mac from 2 years ago, the mac outperformed it when it comes to audio processing.

    I own a audio 2 dj btw, and its a fine little piece of kit.

  • Punit

    When you do a round up of Soundcards in the range of $1000, please include the RME Fireface UC, RME Babyface, M-Audio Profire 610 , MOtu UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid & Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP.

  • chuckie

    ey guys, just to add. i bought my presonus firebox for only $199 so that’s technically also under $200. pretty good audio interface as well.

  • http://www.myspace.com/bestlegsinhd jorge

    Are we ever going to get an audio kontrol 1 review?

  • Anonymous

    I’m confused how are you running TP or TSP with all four decks
    and are you doing this with audio 4 dj or audio 8 dj

  • J.G

    Me Love my MAudio Fastrack Pro ;)

    Very good article!

  • Frydac

    Good review, when reviewing the expensive cards please also review the drivers and more specific if they allow advanced audio routing (like from one app to another). The audio 8 asio driver can be used simultaneously in 2 apps, but no routing is possible.

  • Bobsan

    Here’s a VERY cheap solution: combine two of these for 4 output channels for a total of $26: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0219416

    They have the C-Media audio chip, 16-bit/44.1kHz. Under OS X you can use the aggregate device capability to combine them as one virtual sound device, and under Windows you can use ASIO4ALL to use them under one sound device.

  • http://web.me.com/jasonking8/J450N_N4ME/1NTR0.html J450N N4ME

    [quote comment="29939"]I know this is a really basic question, but Im just getting started into dj’ing and want to set up a computer/controller system. I know I need a sound card, but how do I decide how many ins and outs I’m going to need? Any suggestions?[/quote]
    all of us started out in this boat at one point friend. I started with the ECHO INDIGO DJ pcmia slot loader in my powerbook G4…..LOVED IT! All it had was a 1/8″ output for headphones and a second 1/8″ output for the speaker system. For the first little bit, you’re probably just going to tinker and won’t need to preform. All kidding aside though, I would’ve preformed with that little dinky card. Sound quality would have been low but I wouldn’t have known any better (and still might not). The best way to answer this question is to figure out what kind of mixer and controllers you will be using. Bear in mind, as you grow creatively- your setup will grow too. Try to pick something that won’t confuse the crap out of you but won’t limit you for the next 4 years. My opinion- and others may disagree- is the Native Instruments Audio 4. solid, well rounded, reliable drivers, frequent updates along with the software, loud, easy to use, compact… I could go on. If you spend 5 years with it you will be no worse for the wear. at the end of 5 years, you’ll have the ins-and-outs figured out and you’ll care a lot more about charts like the one in the article. Set a budget. if you have $100, get the AUDIO2. If you have $200, get the Audio4 (which is what I currently use. You really aren’t ready to start messing around with anything fancier than that (after 5 years I’m not either). But if you do get bold in the next 5 years, the Audio4 will grow right along with you.

  • http://www.bizmuth.com bizmuth

    [quote comment="29939"]I know this is a really basic question, but Im just getting started into dj’ing and want to set up a computer/controller system. I know I need a sound card, but how do I decide how many ins and outs I’m going to need? Any suggestions?[/quote]

    What kind of controller are you going to be using?

    Do you plan on mixing internally or externally?

    If you are doing all of your mixing “in the box” (internally,with software) then you really only need two stereo outputs…. one for cueing, and one as a master output.

    If you want to use an external mixer or other types of gear, you’ll need to think of how the audio will be routed, and how much of your mixing will be done with external gear. If you have an external mixer with say 4 channels, then you’ll need four stereo outputs coming from your soundcard to your mixer.

  • http://www.dj-nvidia.com/ Dj Nvidia

    Yo I rock the M-Audio fast track pro and I LOVE IT!!! I have never had any problems with it and the sound quality is amazing….

    For the price my vote will always be with the M-Audio…

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/lyleuppingham LyleUppingham

    ESI Gigaport. It hasnt failed me yet

  • Rwi10

    I know this is a really basic question, but Im just getting started into dj’ing and want to set up a computer/controller system. I know I need a sound card, but how do I decide how many ins and outs I’m going to need? Any suggestions?

  • Riot the dj

    [quote comment="29915"]NI Audio 2 DJ – For those asking about the Audio 2 DJ

    I don’t have scientific or comparison data on this soundcard, but I do use and love it.

    I’ve used it on a variety of sound systems at different clubs and bars and think it sounds great. I often play along side DJs on CDJs or turntables and do not notice a difference in sound quality.

    Sometimes I think it sounds better than some CDJs because it is 24 bit resolution compared to 16 bit CDJs. Though, this perception could be entirely in my head.[/quote]

    I second this, it was one of the factors for me going to traktor from serato, big 24 bit sound for 89$?
    I use it in both external and interal mode for djing, and it is actually louder than the cdjs too me, I have to turn down traktors internal gain if I play with guest djs or headliners, highly recommended for the money,
    one thing though, I have found it’s not the best for production in ableton, but still works in a pinch

  • DJLavy

    you forgot the ESI Maya 44

  • Shane

    Nm. It’s all it the screenshot lol. If anyone has windows and one of these cards can you duplicate the test and post what u cam up with?

  • http://www.bizmuth.com bizmuth

    Just want to mention the Hercules Deejay Trim 4&6. I paid $249 for mine a few months ago, and I’m happy with it so far.
    -Two pair of line/phono inputs
    -One pair of 1/4″ outputs
    -Three pair of RCA outputs
    -Headphone out & mic in (1/4″)
    -Three USB 2.0 ports built in.

    It’s pretty flexible, and it sounds great.

  • Shane

    Maybe Ean can post his exact setup for the test and people with windows can repeat the experiment then post results with system specs???

  • pilmat

    [quote comment="29918"]how do you guys feel about the apogee one? I know it is a little bit above the $200 price point, but I wanted to see if anyone has tested it.[/quote]

    Love the Apogee stuff, but the One and the Duo only have a single pair of stereo outs, so no cuing possible (unless you go mono). Great stuff, but not for DJs.

  • http://www.cooloutmusic.com COOLOUT

    Yeah I thought the PC results seemed a little wonky.

    I was able to get 17ms latency running the same test on my netbook (LOL) and we’re talking a celeron using the built-in soundcard and asio4all.

  • snakeandbake

    [quote comment="29927"]Another question: Why do Windows laptops have around 8 times more latency than Mac laptops? I know 16ms isn’t very much but when compared to 2ms I start to wonder what’s different in the Mac’s hardware?[/quote]

    Actually I just noticed that the two laptops weren’t very close in specs and this probably had a lot to do with the latency difference. I wonder what latency a Windows laptop with identical specs to the Macbook would give.

  • snakeandbake

    Another question: Why do Windows laptops have around 8 times more latency than Mac laptops? I know 16ms isn’t very much but when compared to 2ms I start to wonder what’s different in the Mac’s hardware?

  • zeba

    [quote comment="29925"]I had also heard that the Audio 2 DJ does not support control vinyl while the Audio 4 DJ does. Is that true? If so it’s probably worth mentioning.[/quote]

    yes indeed the native audio2dj doesn’t support any vynil/cd timecode

  • snakeandbake

    I had also heard that the Audio 2 DJ does not support control vinyl while the Audio 4 DJ does. Is that true? If so it’s probably worth mentioning.

  • Jan

    Great article! Would love to see more options tested, maybe some cheaper 2-channel ones?

  • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

    Hey Guys,

    We didn’t not include the audio 2 because its essentially the exact same sound card as the audio 4 just with only 2 outputs. There is one small difference (the audio 2 is actually the louder than the audio 4 because the outputs double as headphone outs)

    For this round we wanted to focus on similar sound cards that are in the same $1-200 class and not include the smaller lower end stuff like the numark I/O which was covered in a previous review.

    another round up of $100 and lower cards + one finally round up of high end $500-1000 is very much a goal and should be coming out within a few months.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/ninjaontherocks NinjaOnTheRocks

    how do you guys feel about the apogee one? I know it is a little bit above the $200 price point, but I wanted to see if anyone has tested it.

  • Anonymous

    *buy, damn typo

  • Anonymous

    @rob ticho

    unless u have 24bit wav/aiff files, it’s purely psycological :)

    I use an Audio Kontrol 1, previously with a celeron powered notebook at around 11,5ms and now with a 13″ macbook pro at 2.5.

    I was going to boy the a4dj, but i prefer to have de ak1′s inputs :)

    on a side note: PLEASE remember to use good cabling and avoid adaptors :)

  • http://www.robticho.com Rob Ticho

    NI Audio 2 DJ – For those asking about the Audio 2 DJ

    I don’t have scientific or comparison data on this soundcard, but I do use and love it.

    I’ve used it on a variety of sound systems at different clubs and bars and think it sounds great. I often play along side DJs on CDJs or turntables and do not notice a difference in sound quality.

    Sometimes I think it sounds better than some CDJs because it is 24 bit resolution compared to 16 bit CDJs. Though, this perception could be entirely in my head.

  • Paolo

    Don’t forget the Hercules Deejay Trim 4&6…

  • Anonymous

    I own the Audiofire 2 and a presonus firebox and use them extensively DJ’ing every weekend. Both I think are the best cards for the money. Only issue I had with these cards was that some firewire 400 ports on your computer may not be that incredible stable. Also, I found that the firewire chords that came with these cards were also not that stable and poorly constructed. You need to be very careful with firewire not to knock the chord out of place or drop outs can be a big issue. This being said I bought a nice gold plated firewire chord (expensive one) and havent had any drop outs sence. Also the adaptors that come with these cards are not really made to be that portable. Its very easy to have breaks in the adapters if you stretch the chord any bit at all. Also the adapters are very hard to find and you can only order them from the manufacturer if you need a replacement.

  • http://www.gianpaj.com GianPaJ

    [quote comment="29910"]Why the latency test are not made with a similar product in PC.
    I have a Lenovo t500 Laptop and my latency is 6.5 ms with numark stealth + korg nano pad and Audio2 DJ. ???[/quote]
    because in order to find the lowest latency you need to have the best laptop possible otherwise, the bottleneck could be the cpu or other components which are not the soundcard. But probably a test with new Windows laptop could have been done, as drivers for such computers differ a lot from the Mac OS X.

  • neverhood9

    Why the latency test are not made with a similar product in PC.
    I have a Lenovo t500 Laptop and my latency is 6.5 ms with numark stealth + korg nano pad and Audio2 DJ. ???

  • http://www.djmap.org DJ MAP

    what about the Audio 2 DJ? Ive been looking for an opinion on it because it’s pretty inexpensive.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tos ToS

    Why wouldnt MAUDIO FastCrapPro just die-off already!?
    I had great many problems with this card and I would NEVER recommend taking it out of the studio environment (ie. live giging@club/caffe).
    M-audio was playing dumb. (I probably got one from a faulty series)
    http://tos.network.in.rs/pages/posts/m-audio-fast-track-problem6.php

    Is there any difference between firebox and audioBox in terms of output loudness?

    I often have to turn mixer gain really low with FireBox and if echo is +6db louder than it might be really fun with some mixers that do not have enough erm…headroom.

  • stump

    Novation Nio could have also been in the review, since it’s geared for the djs. Maybe expand on the article?

  • jordan

    Don’t forget the Numark DJ/IO. It’s under $100 http://www.google.com/products?q=dj+io&btnG=Search+Products

    I have one and it works great for what it is. The only problem I’ve encountered is that it doesn’t work with some Flash content like YouTube.

  • http://WebDeejay.it Nicholas

    WoW guys….this is definitely a very impressive and quality article!!

  • Chris

    I see it in the comments all the time and now I have experienced the phenomenon of the perfectly timed DJTT article. I’m ordering a sound card today and still was undecided on which one to get. Thanks Ean!!

  • http://www.djmoonie.co.uk DJ Moonie

    Just a quickie.

    Ean mentions one of the cards being USB 1.1 and says he had no problems with latency with the card.

    Bandwidth and latency are NOT the same thing. Too many people are getting confused between the faster speeds of USB 2.0 and what latency actually is.

  • Simon

    Nice and helpful article but I would love to read a round up of soundcards from 200 to 1000$ like the RME Fireface 400. A good sound should be worth more than 200 bucks ;)

  • pilmat

    Considered the Saffire but went for an Audio Kontrol 1 instead (read about some driver issues with the Saffire on Macs, but might be unfounded). I have not regretted the decision.

    But the bundled Novation Bass Station is something to consider, mine came with my keyboard and I love it for its growling bottom end.

  • Feli

    Why aren’t Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ mentioned? Been waiting for a review of that card for long, and can
    t find a good review on the net. Guess I will find out in a few days since I placed an order on it yesterday.