Seeking Sound Card and Video Card Advice

I just snagged a full version of Creative Suite 6 Production Premium with Premiere Pro CS6, After Effects, Photoshop Extd., Audition CS6, Flash Pro, Illustrator, Encore CS6, SpeedGrade, Prelude, Bridge. and Media Encoder -- all for $150 on TechSoup. So now I am looking at getting a beefier computer.

If I get a set of speakers like the Blue Sky Exo2, 2.1, 3" monitors -- then what sound card would I want?

Let's say my sound card choices were:

Avid Audiophile 2496 Sound Card
Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D Sound Board
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Sound Card
Creative X-Fi Titanium HD 70SB127000002 Sound Board
Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Sound Card Retail
X-Fi PCI Express Sound Blaster Xtreme Audio Sound Card

Which one would I want if the rest of the system looked like:

Socket 2011 : Intel DX79TO LGA2011 Desktop Motherboard - Intel X79 Chipset
Intel LGA 2011 CPU : Intel Core i7 i7-3820 3.60 GHz Processor - Socket LGA-2011
DDR3 Memory : Kinston Hyper X KHX1600C9D3K8/32GX Quad Channel RAM Kit - - DDR3 32 GB (8 x 4 GB)
Case: Zalman Z11 System Cabinet - Mid-tower
Power Supply: Thermaltake TR-800P ATX12V & EPS12V Power Supply - 86% Efficiency - 800 W
Cooler: Intel BXRTS2011LC High Performance Liquid Cooler LGA2011, LGA1155,
PCI Express Video Card: PNY VCQ4000-PB Quadro 4000 Graphics Card - 2 GB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16
Second Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALX 1 TB Internal Hard Drive
SATA Hard Disk: Intel Cherryville 240 GB Internal Solid State Drive
Optical Drive: LG WH12LS39 Blu-ray Writer - Black - Bulk - Internal
Reader: iMicro INTCTM04MB All-in-1 Internal Card Reader
OS: Windows 7 PRO 64 Bit
Monitor: Acer V243HAJbd 24" LCD Monito

Also, anyone got any suggestions on the video card to be more future-looking? Today I don't have a camera that can utilize SDI connectivity. I am tentatively liking the Quadro 4000, but the other video card choices were:

PNY VCQ2000-PB Quadro 2000 Graphics Card - PCI Express 2.0 x16 - 1 GB GDDR5

ASUS ENGTX560 TI DCII/2DI/1GD5 GeForce GTX 560 Ti Graphics Card - 830 MHz Core

ASUS ENGTX580 DCII/2DIS/1536MD GeForce GTX 580 Graphics Card - PCI Express 2.0 - 1.50 GB GDDR5

Galaxy GeForce GTX 560 1 GPUs - 830 MHz Core - 1 GB GDDR5 PCIE 2.0 x16

MSI N580GTX TWIN FROZR II/OC GTX 580 - 800 MHz Core - 1.50 GB GDDR5 PCIE 2.0 x16

MSI R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC Radeon HD 7870 - 1050 MHz Core - 2 GB GDDR5 PCI-E 3.0 x16

PNY GeForce GTX 580 Graphic Card - 1.50 GB GDDR5 SDRAM - PCI Express 2.0 x16

PNY VCGGTX560XPB GeForce GTX560 Graphic Card - 1620MHz Core - 1 GB GDDR5 PCIE 2.0 x16

PNY VCQ4000-PB Quadro 4000 Graphics Card - 2 GB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16

Visiontek Radeon HD 7870 Graphic Card - 1000 MHz Core - 2 GB GDDR5 SDRAM - PCI-Express 3.0 x16

XFX AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB PCIE 3.0

XFX AMD Radeon HD 7850 CORE Edition 2GB PCIE 3.0

XFX AMD Radeon HD 7850 Double Dissipation Edition 2GB PCIE 3.0

XFX AMD Radeon HD 7950 Double Dissipation Edition 3GB PCIE 3.0

XFX Radeon HD 7970 Graphic Card - 925 MHz Core - 3 GB GDDR5 SDRAM - PCI-Express 3.0 x16

Also, I know nothing about video monitors. The other video monitor choices were:

Acer S200HLAbd 20" LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 5 ms $124.99
Acer V223WEJbd 22" LCD Monitor - 5 ms $149.99
Acer V233HAJBD 23" LCD Monitor $154.99
Acer V243HAJbd 24" LCD Monito $187.99
ASUS VS228H-P 21.5" LED Monitor LED Monitor $161.99
ASUS VB195T 19" LCD Monitor 5 ms 1280 x 1024 50000:1 - Speakers - DVI - VGA $154.99
Asus VE258Q 25" LED LCD Monitor $264.99
Asus VE276Q 27" LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 2 ms $289.99
ASUS VE278Q 27" LED LCD Monitor $333.99
ASUS VH236H LCD 23" - 1920 x 1080 - 16:9 - 2ms 20000:1 $179.99
Asus VS197D-P 19" LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 5 ms $99.99
Asus VS208N-P 20" LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 5 ms $125.99
Asus VS229H-P 22" LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 $169.99
Asus VS248H-P 24" LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 2 ms $209.99
Compaq L2105tm Touchscreen LCD Monitor- Smart Buy $269.99
NEC Display EA192M 19" LED LCD Monitor $254.99
Planar PL1911MW - LCD 19" 1440 x 900 1000:1 DVI-D, VGA - speakers $199.99
Samsung SyncMaster S24A650D 24" LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 8 ms $309.99
Toshiba 24L4200U 24" 1080p LED-LCD TV - 16:9 - HDTV 1080p $253.99
Yeah, lots of models and numbers. None of the audio cards you listed are "professional" products; low end prosumer at best.

What is it you are going to be doing? What do you have now? What is your budget?

I could steer you into a decent external USB or FireWire interface that would blow the Avid 2496 (it's actually M-Audio) out of the water; but you'll be spending $200 or more, up to a lot more. Do you need to record ADR, VO, Foley or sound FX? One of those devices will be more flexible and give you a lot more control as well as future compatibility and upgrade-ability.

As I stress so often your listening environment is also extremely important. You can look back at some of my other posts for more information.
what he ^^ said.

I run a simple firewire maudio firebox works for me. Disabled the onboard sound (on the MB).

I THINK Nvidia QUADRO 4000 is pretty much industry standard on pro grade grphics workstations. $750 .. If your running CS6 then nvidia chipset is the way to go. Be sure to check for supported cards from adobe.
What is it you are going to be doing?

I will be tinkering around with my own post production to try to get hobby features and shorts in good enough shape to play on the local festival circuit.

What do you have now?

Right now I have diddley crap (speakers built in to a Viewsonic video monitor, no sound card or external midiman box or anything like that). My current PC crashes every time I try to edit HD video, but I can muddle through with lower res video and sound using my little Audacity (working with the audio from my Tascam DR-100mkII (without a field mixer) now).

What is your budget?

Configuring the new PC without an additional soundcard will save me about $150, and I haven't yet ordered the Exo2 set, so that gives me an approximate $900 to spend on everything-- interface/DAW/protools/speakers-- everything on the post side.
Last edited:
what sound card or audio interface do I want

I will be tinkering around with my own post production to try to get hobby features and shorts in good enough shape to play on the local festival circuit.

At a bare minimum, I'd just need a sound converter so that I can take what was recorded using the DR-100mkII, edit it with the AuditionCS6, and be able to hear it on a decent monitor system. I won't be playing my own live music into an audio interface, or anything like that-- and I suppose I could always continue to record Foley and ADR with my little recorder if I need to do that in post, too, right?
Last edited:
video monitor question, too...

What soundcard or interface would be most bang for the buck?

My 4:2:2 camera arrived today so that got me thinking about color. I don't want to invest in a lousy video monitor, when I could have bought something that would have yielded much better results down the road.

Today I read about folks using something like a Matrox MXO to calibrate the signal for a standard HDMI monitor. I looked into this, and it seems to maximize the calibration a 1:1 Pixel Mapping monitor is required.

So... I looked around to find a good, cheap IPS monitor with good color gamut. CNET liked the Dell UltraSharp U2412m-- but I can't find anything that says it would maximize the Matrox calibration with 1:1 pixel mapping.

I have also found conflicting information about the (even cheaper) LG IPS225T-BN. Some sites say it has 1:1 pixel mapping and others explicitly state that it does not.

Is a Matrox+consumer-IPS the most cost effective to get "close enough" calibration for home-hobby color grading? Are there other options that are more economical like (AVA or blackmagic) and, if so, what are those systems and what monitor requirements would that entail?

Could something like the Matrox MXO2 Mini output to a decent audio monitor set as well?
Thanks, I am very tempted to go with the Focusrite Saffire PRO 14.

If a Blue Sky Exo2, 2.1, 3" audio system would suffice, my next dilemma is a video monitor.

The Asus PA238Q is $200 cheaper, but the NEC PA231W comes with a $200 color calibrator (but the calibrator has been discontinued and folks no longer seem to recommend it).
Last edited:
The Blue Sky eXo2 are very nice, and a lot of professional video editing houses use them. They are not, however, in any way to be considered in the same category as what professional sound editors use. A good choice, none-the-less.

You should still consider some sound treatment for your room as soon as possible.
Thanks. Treating the room is one of the many things I will need to research as I convert a portion of an unfinished basement into a better studio. In some ways I am very happy that I will have flexibility as I configure the space-- but in many more ways, I am sad because I don't have the funds to finish a basement just yet.
Wow! Fascinating. This could change everything. I haven't read very far yet, but it looks like I need to either a) use the space I was going to use and make it as dead as I can, or b) reconfigure another, much larger area to do double duty as editing PLUS TV room.

On the one hand, a) maybe I need an "as-dead-as-can-be-space" anyway for ADR, etc. After all, I won't be recording any music live, or anything like that. The space I was going to use has two fixed dimensions, and one that I can alter. With really low ceilings, the height from concrete floor to the floor above the joists is only 8'4". I am constrained by width, as well. From one concrete wall to on sheetrocked wall, I only have 7'11". I can make the length (up to) 16'3".

On the other hand, b) if I am going to spend so much money on a nice (for me) video monitor and nice (for me) speakers-- why not put a couch in that (larger) area and make it a home theater room.
Although I do mix most of projects that come into my studio, I do not consider myself a rerecording mixer, mostly because I don't have the venue - size, dimensions, expensive speakers, huge console.

Don't worry about the dimensions; just make sure that the "end" where your speakers are is balanced - the speakers are the same distance from the back and side walls, and that you initially treat the worst of the rooms problems. You're never going to be a recording studio, and you have other priorities.
Thanks. It is one large, completely unfinished space.

I love the trick about the mirror and all of that. The instructions on how build DIY traps is just priceless info.

I can easily embed speakers in the walls, angle walls, angle ceilings, and use the spaces in-between joists for panels instead of dropping the ceiling more.

If I go the route of making the larger area a combined home-theater and editing studio-- that means I can afford a larger video monitor and a better audio monitor (maybe with more channels) because I won't need to save up for a TV and speakers for the other space.
Last edited:
I really, really like having two rooms - a control room and a studio for doing ADR/VO, sound FX and Foley; but that's my gig, doing audio post. I also do a fair number of musicians too; it helps pay the bills!!!

However, unless you are going to be doing a lot of ADR, sound FX and Foley, two rooms may be overkill for you. You should keep the leftover building materials so you can make some primitive gobos, etc. So you can shield from the computer and other sounds; it's amazing how much the mics pick up.
I can easily embed speakers in the walls, angle walls, angle ceilings, and use the spaces in-between joists for panels instead of dropping the ceiling more.

Embedding the speakers in the walls, (called "Flush-Mounting") does not benefit all speakers. Those not designed for flush-mounting may perform worse if flush mounted.

Remember, just making the room sound "dead" will still not make it suitable for mixing. Acoustically treating a room means to identify the room's problem frequencies (and all untreated rooms have problem frequencies) and then apply acoustic treatment appropriate to these problem frequencies. You can absorb frequencies in the low-mid to high frequency range, which will make your room appear "dead" but generally most problems are in the lower frequency range, below 500Hz.

There are some generalities, which are applicable to almost all rooms: Bass traps in all the corners are always needed and often also at any roughly 90deg join (wall to ceiling for example). While not trying to make a room absolutely dead, a fair bit of broad band absorption is desirable, more so than in a music studio where diffusion tends to be employed more than in film/TV mix rooms. On this point, bare in mind that much of the information you will come across online relates to the acoustic treatment of music studios, which are acoustically designed differently to film/TV mix rooms.

Unfortunately, Film sound edit and mix rooms are far more difficult to get right than music mix rooms because film sound in cinemas (say for festivals) and home cinema systems employ low frequency content much more than music. Film sound systems always extend down to about 20Hz and sometimes even lower, whereas most music systems don't usually need to reproduce much below 40Hz. So really you need either full range speakers or a bass managed system (with a sub-woofer). Remembering though that the biggest acoustical problems are in the low frequencies, so using a sub-woofer is definitely going to cause even more severe acoustical problems.

Another consideration: Imagine doing the sound for a scene where someone is working at or is in the same room as a computer. How are you going to hear the difference between the computer fan noise in your mix and the computer fan noise from your own computer? If you can, get extenders and move your computer, external hard disks, other noisy equipment into another room, so the noise it produces does not affect your perception of room tones and other ambiances in your soundtrack. BTW, the same problem occurs with air con in the mix room.

I can tell you from personal experience that solving all these acoustical and noise problems is hugely time consuming and expensive and one of the main reasons why professional audio post costs so much. In your situation, getting good acoustics is an unrealistic goal. However, you can significantly improve the acoustics of your room for a small enough sum of money to definitely make it worthwhile. My advice is to do plenty of research, prioritize some problems to fix and maximise the efficiency of whatever budget you do have. For example, it's unlikely that flush-mounting your speakers would be an efficient use of your time/budget. Without knowing or analysing your room, I think this is most likely going to give you the best bang for the buck:

Heavily bass trap your corners, completely cover the rear wall in absorption, treat the main reflection points of your speakers on the side walls and also treat the side walls level with your mixing position. Lastly, some thick carpet or at least some strategically placed rugs on the floor. BTW, thick rugs can be relatively cheap and quite effective absorbers for the walls, if mounted with a few inches gap between the rug and the wall. Also, correct placement of your speakers in the room costs little or nothing and should be of the highest priority, even more so if you're going to use a sub.

Hope some of this was useful.

Last edited:
Extremely helpful, both of you. I suppose I could carve up the space into a control room and a studio, but I'm almost liking the idea of combining the editing room and home theater into one space (and using my external reference video monitor as the TV part of the home theater system, and letting the Blue Sky Exo2 serve as the home theater speakers). I wonder if adding couches into the 18'x30' room would cause extra audio headaches though?

Here is a quick sketch of the space.


As you come down the stairs, you enter the entire basement through a 4.375ft entrance. To the left as you enter the open space, there is a support pole about 11ft from the nearest drywall wall. If I put a wall all the way across the entire basement where that pole is, I would have a studio (that could double as a home theater) that was 18.5ft wide, 30.6ft long, and 8.4ft tall.

I am thinking about walling off the 10ftx20ft space with the furnace, restroom, and water heater to separate that space from the rest of the basement and isolate the sound. This would leave two spaces that my wife wants to use for other things (one 15ftx8,25 ft and another 18ftx11ft), plus a 33.5ft long and narrow storage area.

As you mention, I'd have to work really hard to deal with the acoustical problems of the subwoofer.
Your first and most obvious problem is your speakers. The Blue Sky Exo2 speakers are designed for near field use in a very small room, on a desktop, either side of your computer monitor (IE. Monitoring position about 2' - 3' from the speakers). Even running at maximum output (which you never want to do because that adds considerable distortion), the Exo2s would still be under powered by a factor of 5 - 10 times for the size of your room! Also, the speakers themselves only have a frequency response down to 140Hz, so you must use the sub which is included in the Exo2 package but again, the sub is hugely under powered for the room size by a factor of about 10 times. To give you some idea, this system is aimed at the consumer who has a room volume of about 800 cubic feet, whereas your room will have a volume of about 4,800 cubic feet.

Sorry to be such a downer but you've either got to completely change your plans or purchase a far, far larger and more powerful speaker system.