• We did not send an email asking for donations - please read this post.

Sound card recommendations for laptops?

pattmayne

New Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2022
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Credits
27
I got a new laptop (Thinkpad) and I'm thinking of getting an external soundcard for editing audio and producing music. It's been many years since I bought audio gear so I'm wondering what you'd recommend. I primarily just want something to process the audio, but inputs for recording and output for headphones or speakers would also be nice.
 


KGIII

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Messages
7,355
Reaction score
6,341
Credits
59,627
I haven't bothered with an external (or even dedicated) soundcard in ages and I generally produce a solid track once a week. I'd get an interface if you're doing something like playing an instrument. MOTU makes good products that 'just work' with Linux - in my experience.
 
OP
P

pattmayne

New Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2022
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Credits
27
I haven't bothered with an external (or even dedicated) soundcard in ages and I generally produce a solid track once a week. I'd get an interface if you're doing something like playing an instrument. MOTU makes good products that 'just work' with Linux - in my experience.
I got a new laptop with an i7-1260P processor and 24GB of RAM. So maybe I don't need a soundcard at all, maybe the integrated sound is fine. There is a reason I got the more powerful processor, I suppose.
 

KGIII

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Messages
7,355
Reaction score
6,341
Credits
59,627
One thing you may want to look into, though it's not as important these days, might be distros with a low-latency kernel. The only one I know of would be Ubuntu Studio, but I'm sure there are ways to do so with many distros.
 
OP
P

pattmayne

New Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2022
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Credits
27
My old PC with Mint has ubuntu studio controls installed. Ubuntu studio makes that available to all Ubuntu derivatives, which is nice.

But I'd like a low latency kernel with Arch, as long as it wasn't a headache to maintain. I'll look into that.
 

KGIII

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Messages
7,355
Reaction score
6,341
Credits
59,627
We have some Arch users here, some of whom may know more information about this. I am not an Arch user, though I have used it in the past. I found it more effort than I wanted to invest. One of the reasons I use Linux is that I'm a little lazy when it comes to my OS - it just works. I'm also on the Ubuntu/Lubuntu team, so my OS stuff revolves around that.

I'm sure you can. I did dig up this link via a search engine:

 

JasKinasis

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
1,563
Reaction score
2,224
Credits
11,524
I got a new laptop (Thinkpad) and I'm thinking of getting an external soundcard for editing audio and producing music. It's been many years since I bought audio gear so I'm wondering what you'd recommend. I primarily just want something to process the audio, but inputs for recording and output for headphones or speakers would also be nice.

I'm actually surprised at the number of USB audio interfaces/devices that seem to just work out of the box for Linux.

I've got an old Digidesign MBox2, which originally shipped with Pro-tools for Windows - and much to my surprise, that thing just works out of the box. With no need to download/install additional drivers. Just plug it in and you can use it as an input/output for Ardour, or Audacity..

I’ve used some of my friends USB audio interfaces in Linux too - again, with no problems. But I can’t remember the exact makes/models.

I've also got a tiny Blackstar ID:Core BEAM guitar/bass practice amp with a USB socket on it - and again it can just be plugged in and used as a sound source.

As a side-note - It's a shame that Blackstars old 'Insider' software doesn't run on Linux - would be nice to be able to adjust some of the additional settings that are only available on the amp via 'Insider'. I did find a Linux project called 'outsider' which aimed to expose the functionality of some of the older versions of the Blackstar ID:Core range. But it only partially works for my ID:Core BEAM.

That aside though - I can just plug my Blackstar into my laptop and use it as a sound source in Ardour, or Audacity without any need for specialised drivers. Great for making rough demo recordings when writing new songs with my bands.

There are also a number of digital mixing desks that can also act as USB interfaces. And again, most will work out of the box with Linux. The cheaper ones typically only have 2 channels that go to USB - normally only the main L & R output from the mixer. So you'd have to mix the inputs on your desk and then send out the stereo mix to two input channels on your DAW (Ardour/LMMS etc).

The more expensive ones have channels for ALL inputs AND the main L-R outputs - so all of the individual inputs are available as separate input channels via USB plus the main L-R outputs. So the more expensive digital desks allow you to basically connect your mixer to Ardour and independently record individual channels. With desks like that, I believe you can also set things up so your mixing desk/console effectively becomes a controller for the channels in your DAW. Certainly for Ardour, at least! I don’t know much about LMMS!

There’s probably some common standards implemented in the hardware of these types of devices, that is obviously well supported in Linux. But before buying anything - it’s a good idea to see if you can find any posts online from people successfully using those devices in Linux.

Some devices may have slightly limited, or no functionality in Linux, compared to Windows/Mac. Linux is rarely mentioned in the documentation for most audio devices. So sometimes it’s a bit of a crap-shoot!
 
Last edited:

KGIII

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Messages
7,355
Reaction score
6,341
Credits
59,627
Yup. As mentioned above, MOTU interfaces Just Work®. I've never had one not work with Linux and I've owned a number of them. I am currently using a fairly new MOTU 8pre-es, which also has Firewire as an option. It has enough inputs for my drum mics, which is why I have that particular model.
 
$100 Digital Ocean Credit
Get a free VM to test out Linux!

Linux.org Hosting Donations
Consider making a donation

Staff online

Members online


Top