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Digital Audio

If you're a music lover, by now, you've joined the MP3 revolution.  Yes, MP3 is a lossy compression format, but the convenience and portability is QUITE compelling.  Many mobile DJs (long tired of carting around tons of CDs) are switching to MP3-driven systems.   If you want some really excellent MP3 playback software for mobile DJ use, check out PCDJ from VisioSonic.  Also, more and more traditional CD player vendors are releasing MP3-capable players, such as the Demon DNHD2500,  the Numark iCDX Controller and D2 Director.

If you're a recording musician, or just an audiophile looking at converting a few precious albums to CD, you'll be wanting a way to get good old analog audio into digital form.  Best bet is to get an outboard A/D converter and a digital I/O card for your computer.  Having a DBX Quantum (which includes good A/D converters) in my analog rack, all I needed to complete my rig (for now) was an I/O card for my PC (to connect to the Quantum's S/PDIF output.   My choice was the Delta DIO 2496 from from M-Audio. It's got coax and lightpipe S/PDIF ins and outs and also has a nifty onboard 24-bit D/A for monitoring.

If you're a recording musicians, you might want to take a look at the integrated line of products from SeaSound (if you can still find 'em).  Their most popular product was the Seasound SoloEx, which included an outboard box for preamps, metering, gain controls, and gain controls for monitoring, as well as A/D and D/A.  The bundle also includes a  PCI bus I/O card for your computer.  I'd like to know more about how the SoloEx is powered (I think it's from the PC), and about the control interface between the I/O card and the outboard box.   (According to their website, as of 6/29/01, they're out of business.)

Another similar product (but doesn't chew up a whole 19" rack space for the outboard box) is the OmniStudio from M-Audio. Two mic/instrument ins, a separate effects send/return section, monitor controls and S/PDIF I/O on the outboard box, and a cool S/PDIF I/O board for the PC.  Comes in a bundle with the Delta66 card. 

If you're interested in USB solutions, you might want to look at the Yamaha UW500. A single outboard box has two inputs (both independently switchable from mic to guitar to line), and a single headphone output. Also has a gob of MIDI stuff on there as well. If you've got a fast PC and a stable USB implementation, it's worth a look.

Of course, if you were going USB, you oughta take a look at some of the mini-consoles evolving in the USB realm. I'd take a REAL hard look at the Roland/Edirol U-8. It simply rocks!  

For maximum overkill, the EZbus from Event Electronics is another category killer. Eightteen analog inputs, two mic preamps with 48V phantom power), eight analog outs, gobs of S/PDIF in/out, MIDI in/out, etc. Feeds audio to the PC over USB, and comes with one of two (you get to pick) editing software packages for the PC.

In Surround Sound News:

You may have heard that there are a number of DVD's shipping with just audio... The format is called "DVD-A" or "DVD-Audio". One of the more interesting music re-mixes for 5.1 is the classic "Frampton Comes Alive".  A recent article that I read said that they turned down the applause between the songs a little, as it was "just a little overbearing in surround".  (Of course, the applause was overbearing in the stereo original.  Gotta believe it was overwhelming in surround.)


All statements above are opinions of the author.  

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This page last updated 7/31/2007