My review of the Audio-Technica LP120 turntable

Hi there!

I had long wanted to gradually switch to vinyl records, either for mixing or simply listening purposes. I have bought myself an LP120 vinyl turntable from Audio-Technica for Christmas and I just LOVE it! If you’re looking into switching to vinyl records from CDs or even digital music and/or if you’re wondering what turntable should you get, then you’re at the right place: these are my first thought as a vinyl newbie and my mini review of the AT-LP120-USB.

My AT-LP120-USB playing a vinyl record

My AT-LP120-USB playing a vinyl record

So let’s get straight into it, I’ve always been a pretty big music listener, and I like composing/mixing too as I created my band a few times ago (house & complextro stuff if you want to check it out). So obviously, sound quality matters to me and I always used to download my music either in lossless or in 320Kbps+ format. When I find one particular artist/band especially awesome (such as Daft Punk, Jamiroquai and more…), I like getting their music directly on CDs because having the hardware media always feels much cooler than just buying a simple file. In the past few months, I’ve become more and more interested in getting my first vinyl turntable ever. So I’ve spent a lot of time stumbling-upon and Googling to find the one that would suit my budget and my needs as a beginner in the vinyl world. After a pretty long decision period, I’ve chosen to get myself the LP120-USB from Audio-Technica, this is a really nice-looking turntable (same layout as the Technics SL-1200) that is direct-driven and has a pitch control knob (important for DJing) for a pretty reasonable price.

When I came to an electronics store in my town to buy one of these, the first impression that I had as someone who had never ever touched a vinyl turntable was the weight of the package. It’s really heavy, and I seriously mean it, the whole thing weights about 12Kg, sure it’s a token of quality but it’s quite surprising when you take the package for the first time! Anyway, after unpacking everything, I set the whole thing up really quickly. It’s quite easy to understand how to assemble all the pieces, even for a complete beginner as Audio-Technica provide a little quick-guide to get started with the LP120.

Now after having set everything up came the moment to play my first vinyl record with this turntable. I bought myself “The Wall” by Pink Floyd, such a masterpiece, that’s a real pleasure to re-discover it in vinyl! The sound quality is awesome, even with the included AT-95E cartridge. As said previously, the LP120-USB features a fully professional metal tone-arm on which you can set the counter-weight and the anti-skating amount. It also has a pitch control knob with a 10-20% button to change the speed factor and a “Quartz” button to get back to the original pitch value without having to move the fader.

One thing that I love on this turntable is its global look-and-feel, it looks completely like a Technics SL-1200. Everything is shaped like one, the red light inside the on/off switch is there, the tone arm is almost exactly the same (high quality metal, curved shape), buttons are placed in the same way, even the target light is there! Trust me, next to an SL-1200, the Audio-Technica logo removed, it’ll be difficult to differentiate them. The only con I can relate concerning the look-and-feel of this turntable is the body itself, it looks like metal but it’s actually not, it is just made out of a metal-styled plastic that looks nice but feels a bit cheap when you touch it.

The other thing that made me buy this one is that the platter is direct-driven, no belt in there which is perfect for DJing/scratching. Of course I bought a turntable to be able to play vinyl records, but I also wanted it to be suitable for DJing. If I ever want to get myself a vinyl setup, I’ll just have to get a mixer, a second LP120 and two needles to get started; no need to get two turntables! Plus it has a switch on the back that enables you either to use the built-in preamp, or the phono output. Note that this turntable only has – in addition to the USB output – a pair of male RCA plugs that are soldered. It means that if you break them you’ll have to re-solder new ones by yourself or contact Audio-Technica.

In a nutshell, I really love this turntable and am completely satisfied, as a beginner. I think it’s probably the best one you can get for this price, it looks nice, feels nice to use, sounds great with the included cartridge and the built-in phono preamp… If you’re looking for the best vinyl turntable you can get within this price range, then go ahead, you won’t be disappointed. :)

How to move unmovable apps to the SD card on Android?

Hey there!

It’s been a pretty long time since I haven’t posted anything here, certainly because I actually didn’t have anything important to write. But anyway, today I’d like to share with you a trick I discovered that fixed low internal storage space issues on my Samsung Galaxy S2. Because a few weeks ago I started to experience my first “insufficient storage available” as I didn’t install any new apps or anything, perhaps the apps that were already installed continued to grow by themselves certainly due to cached data or something, using always more storage space over days.

My Galaxy S2 during the process

My Galaxy S2 during the process

My first thought was to move all my apps to the SD card but I realized once I opened up Android’s apps manager that only a bunch of them could be moved, and those were the lightest ones installed on my phone, max. 10Mb whereas Facebook for example (which is an unmovable app) uses something like 50Mb (and I still don’t understand why). Once I moved all the apps I could, there still wasn’t enough free space anyway so I had to find out a way to move those annoying “unmovable” apps.

The trick is pretty simple, it is actually just a command to run in a terminal emulator on the device itself with root permissions:

$ su

# pm setinstallLocation 2 (for Android <4.0)

# pm set-install-location 2 (for Android 4.0+)

Choose which command suits your phone, depending on the Android version it runs.

If you don’t have root permissions on your device, use ADB (included in the Android SDK) in a shell on your computer, the commands may differ on Windows:

$ cd path/to/adb/

$ ./adb devices

$ ./adb shell pm setinstallLocation 2 (for Android <4.0)

$ ./adb shell pm set-install-location 2 (for Android 4.0+)

Please note that you can display the current configuration by entering the following command (thanks Amandilh!):

# pm get-install-location (directly on the phone)
./adb shell pm get-install-location (using ADB)

Voila! Your phone will now install every new app on the SD card and you’re now able to move ANY app to the SD card, enjoy! :)

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 review

Well, a month ago I dropped my PreSonus Audiobox USB and the main stereo output stopped working due to a broken knob. I was some kind of obligated to order a new sound card because I cannot use Ableton and run my projects properly without one. So I had two options, the first one was to order another Audiobox, the second one was to get a new, better, interface, in the same price range. So I basically chose to get a better interface, as I experienced some serious problems with PreSonus’ ASIO drivers.

My Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (N.B. crocodile not included in the packaging)

My Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (N.B. crocodile not included in the packaging)

After lots of hours spent on Googling “best USB audio interface under €200″, I finally ordered a Focurite Scarlett 2i4 from Thomann. I received it three days after, nothing to say about Thomann’s service quality, fast and professional as usual. This sound card looks great, entirely made of red metal and grey resistant plastic. It has two hybrid XLR/Jack inputs on the front panel, followed by gain knobs, headphones/monitor volume control knobs, a stereo/mono switch (depending of your setup), Phantom switch (to enable or disable 48V power on every input), pad switch to use your inputs with a guitar or anything that requires a -10dB level and finally a stereo 6.35 Jack headphones output. On the rear panel, we can find the standard setup for a classic USB audio interface, a main stereo (2x 6.35 mono jacks, left and right) monitoring output as well as two unbalanced RCA stereo outputs and a set of Midi in and out connectors.

This hardware is quite big and heavy compared to my PreSonus which used to fit in my laptop bag, now I’m sort of obligated to carry it separately when I have to move on. But that’s not a big con, as I usually don’t bring it outside my home-studio. Finally, there is something that I really love on this sound card, the input’s gain knobs are “illuminated” with a sort of color ring, which is green if the level is good and switches to orange or red if it is too loud. That’s a great way to quickly monitor if your input signals are saturated, this is certainly the feature that I like most with this hardware!

This sound card is great, fast and supports my heavy Ableton projects without any trouble, ASIO drivers works perfectly once downloaded and installed. As a bonus, Focusrite allows you to freely download a set of VST plug-ins and miscellaneous softwares which are usually paid, as Novation Bass-Station and Ableton Live 8 Lite. Compared to my “old” PreSonus Audiobox USB, I must admit that this is another world, PreSonus doesn’t give any extra software in their packaging. The only con I can notice with this interface is that Focusrite doesn’t deliver any sticker with their hardware, what a shame. 😀

Well, to summarize this post, this sound card from Focusrite is an excellent piece of hardware, in that price range it’ll be hard to find a better interface. I got mine for €180 at Thomann but you can certainly order it cheaper if you manage to get a discount or if you order it on another website. So if you’re looking for the perfect USB audio interface under €200, go ahead. 😉

AirPlay server on the Raspberry Pi

As said in my post’s title, I received my Raspberry Pi at home something like a month ago, but I was unable to play around it because of high school etc… Now that I’m officially in holidays for three whole weeks, I will have some free time to spend on hacking with my new toy!

A wild raspberry as an AirPlay receiver

A wild raspberry as an AirPlay receiver

As you may already know if you follow me on Twitter, the main reason I ordered this Raspberry Pi for was to use it as an AirPlay server, so I can stream some sound over the air, directly through my speakers from iTunes or an iOS device, like an iPad. So, as soon as I bough an SD card (4gb – Class 4, enough storage space and relatively fast, basically what is recommended to install Raspbian) for my Pi, I installed Raspbian (which is a custom Debian version for the Raspberry Pi) and I began setting up Shairport, the open-source Airplay server that I used for this process.

So let’s get into it, most of the commands I’m gonna be using here requires root access, so log you as a superuser for all the tutorial, it’ll be much easier. Just be careful, don’t screw up and follow my steps when you’ll be root on your device.

First of all, you will need to install a few packets which will enable you to compile Shairport’s sources, what we’re gonna be doing in the next step.

root@Hera:/home/drav# apt-get install git libao-dev libssl-dev libcrypt-openssl-rsa-perl libio-socket-inet6-perl libwww-perl avahi-utils

Next, we will fetch Shairport’s source code to compile it with all the tools that we have downloaded.

root@Hera:/home/drav# git clone https://github.com/albertz/shairport.git shairport
root@Hera:/home/drav# cd shairport
root@Hera:/home/drav/shairport# make

So, at this point you may get a few compilation errors. If everything went as expected, you can skip this step and go to the next one. Anyway, on my device I got these errors, for a pretty simple reason… If you see that sort of ugly things instead of a glorious “done” message at the end of the process:

cc -O2 -Wall -c alac.c -o alac.o
make: cc: Command not found
make: *** [alac.o] Error 127

… this is simply because the development package is not installed on your machine. To fix this problem, the solution is pretty simple:

root@hera:~/shairport# apt-get install build-essential

And that’s it. Relauch your make command and normally everything went back to normal! Let’s get into the next step, we’re going to select an audio output and start our Shairport server to see if everything is all right.

Talking about the audio output, if you wanna use your Pi’s one, then you will have to use that command:

root@Hera:/home/drav/shairport# amixer cset numid=3 1

Congratulations, in theory your sound should come out of your Raspberry’s jack plug, let’s check if everything works well by launching the server.

root@Hera:/home/drav/shairport# ./shairport.pl -a HeraSound

So, just a little explanation on how this command works… ./shairport.pl is obvioulsy to start the server using the executable file that we just compiled, no need to be genius to understand this (well, in fact I’m actually writing some useless stuff to raise the word counter on my WordPress admin interface ^-^). Anyway, something maybe more helpful, -a HeraSound is to specify the name you wanna give to your AirPlay server. You can set it to “LivingRoom”, “bedroom”, whatever you want. Personally, mine is called HeraSound simply because my server is called Hera Linux. It’s up to you, use your cat’s name if you really don’t know which name to use.

Okay, let’s go back to the tutorial. In principle, and I say “in principle” only, your Shairport server should work fine. But it’s possible that you experience sound issues, for example, my Raspberry Pi’s sound didn’t come out of its jack output. So, once again, there is a completely rational explanation for this problem (which, from what I read and what I heard is quite common), that is that Alsa (I mean something which related to Alsa) isn’t installed. So yeah, that’s normal, it won’t work if you’re in the same case as me. :D
To resume, If you get that kind of error messages:

root@Hera:/home/drav/shairport# ./shairport.pl -a HeraSound
Established under name ’24803C3438E3@HeraSound 1004 on Hera’
ALSA lib confmisc.c:768:(parse_card) cannot find card ’0′
ALSA lib conf.c:4170:(_snd_config_evaluate) function snd_func_card_driver returned error: No such file or directory
ALSA lib confmisc.c:392:(snd_func_concat) error evaluating strings
ALSA lib conf.c:4170:(_snd_config_evaluate) function snd_func_concat returned error: No such file or directory
ALSA lib confmisc.c:1251:(snd_func_refer) error evaluating name
ALSA lib conf.c:4170:(_snd_config_evaluate) function snd_func_refer returned error: No such file or directory
ALSA lib conf.c:4649:(snd_config_expand) Evaluate error: No such file or directory
ALSA lib pcm.c:2190:(snd_pcm_open_noupdate) Unknown PCM default
FATAL: Could not open ao device

… then the audio driver isn’t correctly loaded on your device! To solve that issue, nothing easier… We just have to install the alsa-utils package and to run the right modprobe, and the job’s done!

root@Hera:/home/drav/shairport# apt-get install alsa-utils
root@Hera:/home/drav/shairport# modprobe snd_bcm2835
root@Hera:/home/drav/shairport# ./shairport.pl -a HeraSound

Voila! So, yeah, I don’t really know if that normal but on my machine, I’m obligated to run my modprobe after every reboot so my sound works properly. Because that command requires root access, that a little bit complicated and we cannot manage to run it on every boot with the init.d directory, we’ll see this at the end of this article. Anyway, if even after rebooting your device your sound works well, you won’t need to follow this extra step. That’s just a part for luckless guys like me.

So, normally your AirPlay server works pretty well (if it doesn’t, then I can no longer help you, Google is your friend). The only (big) issue is that we need to start the server manualy. So basically what we’re going to do next is moving Shairport’s script to our init.d directory, so that it starts automatically when your Raspberry Pi boots up.

root@hera:/home/drav/shairport# make install
root@hera:/home/drav/shairport# cp shairport.init.sample /etc/init.d/shairport
root@hera:/home/drav/shairport# cd /etc/init.d
root@hera:/etc/init.d# chmod a+x shairport
root@hera:/etc/init.d# update-rc.d shairport defaults

… but it’s not sufficient! At this point your Shairport daemon starts on startup, but without any name specified. So what we’re gonna do is editing the perl script with nano shairport and finding the DAEMON_ARGS line to make it look like this:

DAEMON_ARGS=”-w $PIDFILE -a HeraSound”

After, same as before, put anything you want instead of HeraSound. Personally, I don’t care.

Okay so this is the part for luckless guys like me. If you’re not concerned and if your sound is working on your raspberry without having to do any modprobe after the boot, that’s great and you can skip this section.
To get the sound working on your Pi, you have to do a modprobe snd_bcm2835, am I right ? But this command can be ran only as a superuser, because of this we can’t run it on every boot using the init.d way.
In fact, it’s not really difficult to fix this problem. You just have to do a nano /etc/rc.local and to type modprobe snd_bcm2835 just before exit 0. Voila! The job’s done and the modprobe is gonna be launched on every boot to load the audio driver!

Congratulations, you just installed a 100% working AirPlay server on your Raspberry Pi! Use it as you want, plug it behind a stereo or build a speaker with it! :)

And, as a bonus, a little home-made video showing you a little bit the result of the process (french).

Using a fingerprint reader on Linux Mint

Hi there!

I hope that you really enjoyed this season to do your last snowboard or ski sessions, in my case I was in Vars (French Alps) and it was awesome ! But anyway, that is not today’s topic. So, in this post, I’m going to show you step-by-step how to use a fingerprint reader on Linux. For those who are wondering how useful it is: first of all that’s very handy to log in when your laptop starts up, and finally, it allows you to refrain from your password mostly everywhere you used to type it (like in the console when you have to use sudo commands for example). You no longer need to enter your 20 characters password every time you wanna do something that requires root access, in the console as well as in the graphical interface. And this is quite awesome, because the support for fingerprint readers becomes far more advanced on Linux than on Windows! What a shame as they has first been designed to run on Microsoft’s operating system!

Okay so let’s get into it. As you may have already guess, this manipulation won’t work with all the fingerprint readers. AuthenTec’s ones (like the one I’ve got on my DV9000) are well-known to work without any trouble with the tools we’ll be using. If you are not sure whether your reader is compatible or not, follow the “tutorial” anyway and you will see if it works. 😉

So, first of all we’ll need to install all of these packages:

$ su
$ apt-get install fprintd libpam-fprintd

Once you’ve done it, you no longer need to do anything else except enrolling your fingers and linking them to your user account.

The “true rootz” way

As said in the sub-title, we’re gonna have a look at the easiest and the quickest way to enroll your fingers in the software, because this manipulation can be done by just running a command into the terminal.
So, to start the fingerprint-enrolling process, execute the fprintd-enroll command and swipe your finger as the softwares asks it.

$ fprintd-enroll
Enrolling right index finger.
Enroll result: enroll-stage-passed
Enroll result: enroll-stage-passed
Enroll result: enroll-stage-passed
Enroll result: enroll-stage-passed
Enroll result: enroll-stage-passed
Enroll result: enroll-completed

Simple, and efficient. :)

The “Windows users” way

Open the “User Accounts” application from the main menu and unlock it by clicking the button in the top right corner. Then, enable the fingerprint reader, choose the finger you want to enroll and the job’s done!

No matter which way you used to get your fingerprint reader working, you get exactly the same result, and if you reader works well with fprintd, you should now be able to use your finger almost everywhere, when your system asks for an authentication (terminal commands, GUI softwares etc…)!

Clone your hard drives with XXClone!

Hello everyone!

During this weekend, I suddenly wanted to replace my HP DV9000′s old 150Gb HDD by a brand new Scorpio Blue 640Gb hard drive from Western Digital. But here is the problem: how could I move all the content from my actual hard drive to the new on, including of course the operating system without having to reinstall Windows/Linux? I just had to clone it!

Hard drive cloning with XXClone

Hard drive cloning with XXClone

To get this job done, I used a little piece of software called XXClone, as written in the post’s title, it allows you to do a complete carbon copy of a hard drive to a second one. It means of course that all the content of the drive is cloned, including document, softwares and of course, the operating system. It can even transfer the “bootable” characteristic from one disk to another… And, the last but not least, this is a freeware!

Software’s graphical interface is pretty easy to handle and asks on the home screen for your source hard drive and your “target” hard drive, if you search a little bit in the “Cool Tools” tab, you’ll find the option which can transfer the bootable characteristic from the source drive to the target one. In my case, cloning my hard drive took me approximately 3 hours (for something like 140Gb of data) and I’ve been obliged to restore the MBR on my target HDD, I think I’ve done something wrong, certainly ticking a case that I wasn’t supposed to tick.

Anyway, this software does its job, and it does it pretty well, maybe it is not as powerful as Norton Ghost but it works for simple taks and, over all, for free. Please notice that beyond simple cloning, the software can be used to do some incremental backup. I think that this software and a storage server working together could do the same job as cron & rsync on Linux. :)

XXClone is available for free here but a paid “pro” version also exists, to enable servers support, HyperSync (to get a super-fast cloning), auto-shutdown and lots of other cool options.

 

Online-mode boolean sets itself back to true on every Bukkit startup? Here’s a solution.

Hi there,

During this week-end, I had the idea of going again into setting up a multiplayer Minecraft server with Bukkit.
So, I download the latest CraftBukkit build, everything is all right, I write my run.bat script to launch my .jar file and I input Java’s executable path in my PATH environment variable. As usual.
But, because there’s a but, I’ve got a pretty big issue with my server. On every startup, the “online-mode” boolean in the server.properties file came back to “true”! Of course, I haven’t bought the game yet (shame on me, I know), but this parameter allows me to enable or not the user account checking on Minecraft.net, in other words, it allows cracked versions to log in on the server.
I’ve got a solution to this problem, you just have to edit your Batch script which should look like this:

@echo off
java -Xms1024M -Xmx1024M -jar craftbukkit.jar -o true
PAUSE

… and to change “- o true” into “-o false”, which should give you this final result:

@echo off
java -Xms1024M -Xmx1024M -jar craftbukkit.jar -o false
PAUSE

And that’s all! Restart your Bukkit server and normally the offline mode warning message is displayed, your server is now allowing cracked Minecraft versions! :)

Online-mode warning message on Bukkit

Online-mode warning message on Bukkit

Use your Galaxy S2 with woolen gloves

Winter is there since a little bit of time now and you may certainly have put on your old woolen gloves for this occasion, but here’s the point, Santa didn’t bring you the brand new Lumia 920 (which allows you to use the touchscreen through your glove or anything else) and you’re keeping your “old” S2? You would say that’s impossible to use the touchscreen without removing your hyper-thick gloves? Anyway, I have a 100% software solution for you, so you will save money on buying touchscreen-compatible gloves. :)
So, to do this, you’ll need a CyanogenMod-powered Galaxy S2… And that’s all.
You’Il just have to go to “Galaxy S2 settings” from the launcher, slide to the “Screen” tab and then set the “Touch Sensitivity” to 20.

Galaxy S2 Sensitivity

That’s all, and your smartphone should now work fine with your woolen gloves! Be careful, I’m actually talking about woolen gloves, not synthetic ultra-thick gloves that you use to wear when you ski… The functionning of this manipulation is pretty simple to understand, what you’ve just done is increasing the sensitivity of the digitizer.
This works pretty well, the proof is that I’m currently writing this post on my Galaxy S2 without any trouble!
Please notice that if you increase the sensitivity to 10, you will no longer need to touch the screen to use your phone. 😀

Have fun, your hands are going to be thankful ^_^.

Logitech G700, an awesome mouse leaded by shitty drivers.

I’ve finally bought a true mouse so I can at least work properly. Before I bought my G700, I had to work during approximately four years with a little wired piece of plastic from Dell and I honestly think that its DPi resolution could be a negative value.

So I looked for the mouse that suited me the best, the most comfy, considering that I have pretty big hands and that I like mice which takes the whole hand. Way more comfortable to my views. It had to be wireless (I don’t like wires), no matter the responsiveness, I’m clearly not a big gamer. After lots of searches, I kept in mind the Logitech Performance Mouse MX and the G700, from Logitech again. The first one is a desktop mouse, and the second one is more for gaming, with more macro buttons etc…

My choice, the Logitech G700.

My choice, the Logitech G700.

So, finally, I chose the G700 for its dozen of programmable buttons (assigned to macros or to keyboard shortcuts, that very useful on Photoshop or Ableton), its five profiles and of course its 5700 DPi maximal resolution! The mouse cost €100, a little bit expensive but that mouse is great, except a few little details.

I get back home, unbox the mouse and I start to use it… Very good feeling, the mouse “takes” perfectly the shape of my hand, macro buttons are just under my fingers, that’s quite good. Then I start playing around a little with the driver, record some macros… But after only an hour after I unboxed it, the two principal buttons don’t respond anymore! Hower, the cursor is still moving, my other buttons are still working… I open the LGS application (the equivalent of SetPoint, but for all the gamer stuff from Logitech) to check my settings and I realize that two macros have been created on those buttons, which is normally impossible to do, simply because there is no option to do this in the software… to avoid that kind of mistakes (sic). I was lucky, only one profile out of five had been affected, but LGS cannot erase my mouse’s internal memory or even delete a profile! So I have an unusable profile out of five, an unimaginable situation on a high-end mouse like this one.

Fortunately, my issue has been solved (completely unintentionally) by leaving my mouse powered off during two days. All the content of the internal memory has been completely wiped. Yes. WTF? Does it mean that if I make the best profiles in the world on this mouse and then switch it off during a few days, my “work” will be lost? That’s not really serious, I really expected better from Logitech on that point…

Moreover, why do they give to their customers TWO different drivers for the same hardware? SetPoint and LGS are completely similar in their features, only the look changes. Furthermore, the G700 was supported by SetPoint before LGS has been released. At this point, all the gaming hardware from Logitech was no longer supported by SetPoint and customers had to switch to LGS. That means it concerns keyboards, mice, and more…  Why have they done this? Why not continuing with SetPoint to keep a single software for all their stuff? Logitech’s strategy isn’t clear, they drown their customers in a complete maze… I spent over two evenings on my laptop trying to get that stuff working!

Except this big driver problem, this mouse is really handy and it’s a real pleasure to use it everyday, I just hope that Logitech reacts about LGS and SetPoint. At this point, I’d highly advise you to go for a Performance Mouse MX instead of the G700 if you’re not a gamer.

PreSonus Audiobox USB review

Well, I think lots of my readers have been a little bit lucky for Christmas, as usual we saw loads of smartphones and useful/less miscellaneous gadgets under the tree. I’ve been lucky as well, I received as a gift the brand new flagship midrange soundcard from PreSonus that I’m going to review in this post.

Front view of the Audiobox USB from PreSonus

Front view of the Audiobox USB from PreSonus

So if you follow me on Twitter (or if you know me IRL), you may certainly know that I make music, and more precisely with Ableton Live. When you’re begging music production, you start to make simple projects with a few VSTs and some loops, that’s a pretty basic workflow and your laptop’s integrated soundcard can handle this without any trouble, it works fine and you can get a quite low latency by using Asio4All drivers… But when your productions becomes more serious and complex, when you start to use mastering plugins, pretty heavy synths as the Sylenth or the Nexus², your integrated chipset cannot handle your projects anymore so crackles and noise apears, which makes you unable to work properly.

And here comes this external soundcard, the Audiobox USB from PreSonus. Its goal is to basically replace your computer’s integrated chipset, which isn’t supposed to be used for music production (managing pretty quickly inputs, outputs and audio decoding). In other words, it allows you to work on significantly heavier projects, to use many iZotope Alloy, an Ozone on your master, Sylenth or Massive layers and much more… It enables you to work on whatever you want without any crackle. Personally, I haven’t seen the limits of this soundcard yet, no crackles, no noise, and anyway I think my laptop would burn first!

So if you’ve got a computer which has problems running your projects, before buying a new one you better try this kind of soundcards, you’ll save lots of money and you won’t be disappointed by the result… The other good point about this card is that it allows you to get rid of the enormous quantity of noise present on your chipset’s main output -I’m talking about HP’s and Packard-Bell’s laptops for example- when you plug your charger in. The Audiobox USB’s converters are great and outputs a clear crystal sound compared to my DV9000′s jack plug.

About this card’s features, this card has got 2 XLR inputs on the front panel with a 48V Phantom power supply to connect a microphone which needs to be powered this way, a USB plug obviously to connect it to your computer, a jack 6.35 stereo headphones output (you should buy this kind of converters to allow you connecting standard headphones into this plug), two 6.35 left and right jack monitoring outputs and finally two Midi connectors (in & out). On the front panel there are some knobs to set inputs volume, the balance between the 0-latency loopback and the computer’s sound, monitoring output volume and headphones output volume as well. In other words, this soundcard is great and quite cheap ($135 is the average price, but it depends of the reseller) regarding the features it offers.

So if you guys are looking for a great pro soundcard at a reasonable price, don’t hesitate a moment. I can say that I am completely satisfied, for sure.