Testing Recording Equipment: How should I choose?

Hi, I am choosing some recording equipment and had made some samples with Audacity.

How should I “read” the waveform charts and decide which setup is the “best”?


Describe the recording equipment. Koz

Thanks for the fast reply, here you go…

Setup 1: Zoom H2n (Save as 24/96 WAV, then edit the file accordingly in Audacity; will scale down to a Zoom H1 due to budget)

Setup 2: Creative USB X-Fi 5.1Surround (I will not go for this card due to playback issues; will test the Sound Blaster Digital Music Premium HD once it is restocked)

Setup 3: Onboard Audio (ALC892) + USB DAC+Amp combo (I am not sure if this will improve things or not… :confused: )

Control: Onboard Audio (ALC892)

PS: I have also considered the more “pro” solutions, but they are way too big and bulky. The Edirol Cakewalk UA-1G was really good, but I don’t see it on sale anymore too. Note that these recordings are not mic recordings but line-in recordings, which is what I need. I also need loopback recording features (in the case of the USB interfaces); that’s why I am considering the Creative soundcards.

Yes, I use its predecessor the UA-1EX and am very pleased with it.

The UA-1G appears to have been replaced by the UA-11 - see this Amazon listing http://www.amazon.com/Cakewalk-Capture-Interface-Roland-Headphones/dp/B006A0XB6O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333013852&sr=8-1

I have put out a suport call to Roland/Cakewalk to ascertain if the UA-1G has also been superseded and if so by what.


Thanks, but that model does not do 96KHz though… How are such differences in frequency being shown in the waveform graph?

I’ve no experience of the H2n or the H1 but I do have an early H4 and am delighted with it. I use it for all my voice-over work and for on location recording. If you do get a Zoom device, make sure you visit their website (http://www.zoom.co.jp) and download the latest version of the software for it. It might have some nifty extra features.

Thanks for the heads up, I want to know if the quality is at least better than at least onboard sound though…

Here’s something that I did with my Zoom H1, recording off of the speakers of my humble keyboard. The most I did to it in Audacity was to compress with a 2.5 ratio.


Hope this helps!

I don’t know that the quality issue is going to come down to: “if the waveform does that, it’s a bad card.” Equipment with really good specifications can sound funny to you and old respected classic equipment can have very ordinary specifications. Neumann U87 microphone specifications are not particularly special, but it’s a killer microphone.

There are fuzzy rules. Generally, a built-in PC sound card isn’t very good unless you spent serious money on it. It’s noisy, overloads easily and distorts, mostly because it’s a manufacturing step-child.

See how much noise the device contributes. Connect everything in a very quiet room and don’t perform. See where the hiss noise settles and what’s in it. I’m going through something like with with a USB microphone test. It turns out a serious portion of its background noise is digital interference or whine, and not actually hissy microphone noise. I’m working to solve that.

Steve has a distortion analyzer program, so if your computer has a Line-Out, you can put tones through the device and analyze them at the other end.

Past that it’s listening.

Are you using 24/96 for a specific reason? If you get too good, you start picking up airplane landing beacons and radio stations in addition to your show. The area above 20,000Hz audio is not “free.” Your computer is broadcasting trash up there, too.

Most people’s recording room is by far the worst thing in the production chain. Are you worried about that? Are you recording your own work?