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Good C-Media USB sound card?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Joerg, Apr 23, 2013.

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  1. Joerg

    Joerg Guest


    The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD was a major disappointment. It is
    going back unless it decides to work properly very soon. Their customer
    service is also sub-par.

    So, looking for a better USB sound module. Miso mentioned C-Media but I
    could only find chips on their site:

    Who makes decent USB sound modules with these chips? Should be on a USB
    cable, not a dongle. Must support Windows XP, have stereo line in and
    line out. Preferably from an American company, or at least one that
    lists phone numbers on their web site, actually cares about their
    customers and has useful technical manuals.

    I need this for EE stuff, not audio. So as plain vanilla as possible
    would be good. Price can be up to $100.
  2. Guest

    something like this?

    I think most dongles come with a short extender cable so it does have
    to stick out
    of the side of the pc

  3. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

  4. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    I buy those little cheap things from computer shows, the last one I got
    cost something like 5 bucks but it works. It has stereo out for head
    phones and mic input.

  5. miso

    miso Guest

    I got a few usb extenders from Monoprice. No issues. They seem to have a
    tight grip on the usb device. I still have the bag handy. It says
    PID:8604 USB(E)-AA-MF-01-W. I bought a dozen and just stock them since
    they are relatively cheap.

    The only reason I mention C-Media is they seem to have USB sound down.
    The specs aren't great, but for something to take you from analog to
    digital without spending hours tracking down usb isues, they are fine.
    For a lot of what I use them for, I only need 8 bit "sound".

    As an aside, a lot of these portable sound recorders also work as usb
    sound cards: One advantage to using these external recorders is you can run them
    without a PC to record, then analyze the sound later via download. I
    know that isn't your situation, but this does allow for testing if the
    PC is coupling noise back into what you are measuring. That is, you
    record with and without the PC in the loop. Getting to the point where
    there is no low level PC noise added to a system isn't easy since
    everything shares the same ground.

    The Zoom recorders don't have GHz CPUs and such in them, so they do
    record without those artifacts. The microphone amps are a bit noisy, but
    the line level is fine.
  6. miso

    miso Guest

    You made my point. New OS, junk the card. Creative doesn't give a crap
    about their customers. I used to buy their stuff back in the day, but
    the company really went to shit.

    I've already tossed my Creative cardbus soundcard so I don't know the
    model, but it was flaky under win7. Playback would sound like bits of
    sound were missing. Good riddance. It worked fine under win2kpro. It is
    like they farm out the driver rewrites. It was working under linux,
    though not in every program.

    I use the C-media cards for sigint. No problems under linux. I have less
    experience with them under windows. If there were sample rate errors, I
    would see it in the BER.

    I use the Diamond card for PCI. Again, I don't need dynamic range since
    I'm dealing with a channel that has far worse SNR than the card,
    probably by 30dB.
  7. What about these guys?

    They list what chipsets are used. not pricey either. Look thru the
    website, there are other USB things.
    Located in FL, phone number on website.

  8. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Numerous ones. It stopped putting out signals on the line outputs out of
    the blue, at random. Then one the input both channels worked only with
    the RIAA amp, without it no signal was received. And so on.

    Aggravating factors were that the installed SW caused an increadible
    bloat, the company web page support link did not accept my inquiry, they
    give no phone numbers, the only email I found was from their ivetsor
    guy. Who chose not to even answer.

    Long story short I have already sent it back and won't buy a Creative
    product again.

    I have uninstalled their software, now I have to figure out how to
    uninstall their driver.

    Oh, that would be very bad in my case. Looks like I need to reseach this
    whole sound card topic out a lot more.

    I am dreading Windows 7, big time, for such reasons. Eventually I'll
    have to buy a couple of simple netbook for this. My Samsung NC-10 with
    XP works like a champ but with XP I can only buy used and then the
    batteries are mostly shot.
  9. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    I really need all 16 bits. Plus I have to measure phase accurately, to
    within 1/10 of a degree. So if they really do clock dither like
    Vladimiar mentioned that would be bad.

    I need it realtime, it's not recording sound but measuring resonant
    structures via phase. And things should be too bulky.
  10. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Thanks. Finally one company with real information on their site. Now I'd
    have to find out whether the CM6206 chip in there does the clock
    dithering that Vladimir mentioned. Because that would mess up my
  11. Guest

    could try the demo board for this:

  12. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

  13. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Some more research hints that the UCA202 that Lasse suggested does not
    use a C-Media chip:

    Quote "The UCA202 uses the ubiquitous TI PCM2902 integrated USB DAC
    chip. It’s an old design, but as you’ll see, it easily outperforms the
    much newer C-Media chip in the similarly priced Turtle Beach Micro II
    when using the line output. In this case, newer isn't better".

    A bit old, only 16 bits and can't do 96ksamples/sec. However, sometimes
    the old stuff is better than the new. So there is hope.
  14. Guest

    I use an application that listens to a radio scanner for packets and
    does DSP to recover the data bytes; it's a software dem. My setup uses
    the motherboard audio on my desktop PC, but the "troubleshooting"
    section of the software manual says that the Griffin iMic is "known to
    work well in data applications". The brochure is at ; that page says stereo line
    in, XP and 7 compatibility.

    Griffin's Q&A page at says
    it is 24-bit internally, but limited to 16 bit/48 KHz with the default
    drivers; "third party USB ASIO drivers" are supposed to give you the
    full 24 bits. They don't seem to tell you where you can obtain these

    I tried to find out what chip(s) it uses internally. There is a rather
    amusing answer at
    that basically says the only specs they guarantee are 16 bit, 48 kHz,

    Again, I don't use an iMic myself; I am just passing along what I read.

    Griffin has their own store but they are out of stock. Some other
    online stores (including B&H and Sweetwater) say they have it; it seems
    to go for about $40. (It should be $20, but a white housing on hardware
    means it's for Mac, which doubles the price.)

    Standard disclaimers apply; I don't get money or other consideration
    from any companies mentioned.

    Matt Roberds
  15. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Well, I don't like such flip answers on the part of manufacturers. I
    won't buy unless there's full specs and informationn what chip is in there.

    Thanks, but I think I'll go with Lasse's suggestions because it has good
    reviews and info about the innards:
  16. Nice, do you know how much?
    I wanted to record shot noise on our tarpaulin in the rain,
    waterfalls, and culvert whistlers (and then do the fft's). It's not a
    very big itch though.

    George H.

  17. Which is why performing a system state save is a good idea before
    unknown hdw installations.

  18. There is no such thing as "extigy"

    My SB Audigy card is working on my W7 box, just fine.

  19. I owned one, and still, for some reason, I thought that he had spelled
    it wrong.

    BTW, Vlad, old boy... **** YOU for jumping on the Larkin's Retard Crew

    And then you stuttered it three times, so maybe you are going senile as
    well as the bandwagon stupidity.
  20. miso

    miso Guest

    Perhaps I didn't make this clear, but the recorders work by themselves
    OR as a USB sound card. My point was I could record without a PC and
    with a PC to determine if connecting the PC caused artifacts. The noise
    from a PC can set into your circuitry.

    These oversampled converters often share a lot of DSP between channels
    to reduce the cost, but if designed property they will act as if the
    sampling is simultaneous, with of course some significant delay.
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