My PC Audio History
This video got me all nostalgic and thinking about the audio devices I've had over the years:
It's hard to remember the order of all these but here's what I can piece together:
- PC Speaker on my 4/8mhz (turbo) LANPAR IBM PC - It was nearly intolerable to listen to but I still enjoyed it, I thought it was amazing and I found music like the Monkey Island theme (in the video above) and Leisure Suit Larry's theme very catchy.
- Covox Sound Master - This was only supported by a few games and was probably the first time I was burned by buying new hardware that wound up gaining no popular support.
- CMS Game Blaster - I had this instead of an Adlib card. The Game Blaster had less support than the Adlib but technically sounded better. I wouldn't say I got 'burned' but I definitely should have gotten an Adlib instead.
- Sound Blaster - The Sound Blaster was supported by nearly all games, which was great. This was the my first "painless" experience with PC audio. (Not sure if this came before or after the Gravis Ultrasound.)
- Gravis Ultrasound - I was into game development at the time and got a free one of these from Gravis's developer program which was awesome. I seem to remember upgrading the onboard RAM but I have no idea why I would do that. The Gravis had OK support but wasn't as universal as the Sound Blaster I believe. It could play MODs and S3Ms (could the Sound Blaster? I can't remember), which was fantastic.
- Sound Blaster AWE64 - I was trying to "get serious" about music production. I got a RAM upgrade for the AWE64 so it could load larger Soundfonts. I never really used Soundfonts much.
- Various onboard sound devices - Computers became powerful enough I didn't need specialized hardware for games and MOD/S3M trackers.
- Echo Darla (20 bit) - this was my first "pro" sound card, with low latency drivers and so on. It was expensive and it was such a bastard. It conflicted with nearly everything in every system I ever put it into. When it worked it was great, when it didn't I was in a world of IRQ conflicts and buffer sizes and beta ASIO drivers and random crashes and bullshit. I still have it in a box and when I look at it my eye twitches.
- M-Audio Delta 66 - This is what I'm using now on my desktop/recording machine. I should have bought the Delta 44 instead since it was $50 cheaper and I never use the Digital I/O. But it's been rock solid and I've had no problems. I think about upgrading sometimes but I can't think of any reason to.
Also additional mobile devices:
- Edirol UA-1EX - This is a little USB gizmo that works pretty good, low-latency ASIO performance to any device I've tried. I bought it thinking maybe I'd use it for live performance but it seemed a bit un-pro. Now I use it on my live synth computer plugged into a DI and it's been working well.
- M-Audio FireWire 410 - I bought this for live performance and it was way too erratic. It would click, crash and sometimes just not be recognized by the computer. I went through several different FireWire cards and eventually gave up.
- MOTU Ultralite mk3 - More FireWire awfulness initially - had to buy a FireWire card for my laptop with a Texas Instruments chipset. Then a weird German adapter to keep the card from wiggling around in the slot. Now it's been rock solid stable - as long as you keep the wifi on the laptop disabled or else it emits an intermittent high pitched sound.
Man, that list makes me frustrated just looking at it.