Selecting Hardware for Music Production

Sean Edwards cybersean3000 at
Fri Oct 24 16:13:36 BST 2008

Devices that work with ALSA:
Unfortunately, the ALSA developers do not have the resources to test every device that appears on the market.  Really, there are three ways to check compatiblity: The ALSA site ; look into mailing list archives post a question to a list, news group, or irc chat ; and lastly, buy something and see for yourself.

I use the Alesis 1622 in my studio.  I bought this new a very long time ago.

I use the TOA live, because it is a rackmount 10 channel mixer and takes up only 8 spaces in a rack.  I found both modules, the D-4 and D-4E, used on Craig's list for $50US.  It was local so was able to I try it out before buying it.

Behringer USB Devices:
The Behringer unit is actually a UCA202, sorry for the misspelling in my previous messages:

The Behringer Guitar USB Interface, UCG 102:

Other Behringer USB products:

You can usually find these Behringer devices on-line.  I usually purchase new from, or  I usually purchase used from Craig's list.  When it comes to used gear, I like to try before I buy.

Latency can be a problem and there are many many resources that explain the nature of the problem and how to deal with it.  One of the ways I deal with it is to do use external synths ( 2 Yamaha TX81Z's and an Alesis HR 16) to go into a mixer.  If I am using software synths on my PC (Timidity, ZynAddSubFX, FluidSynth, Hydrogen, etc.) in combination with rack mounted synths, I mix then all in the 1622 and record into the Mac with ecasound.

Another way to reduce latency is to not run a GUI environment like X Windows, and use a command-line utility for the project such as ecasound.  Other ways to reduce latency are to get the hardware as close to the CPU as possible which is why I sometimes use the PCI cards, you cant off-load the processing intensive Analog/Digital and Digital/Analog conversion from the CPU to dedicated hardware like the Behringer devices listed above, and you can build the project one track at a time (Drums, then Keyboards/Pad, the Bass, then Guitar, then Vocals, etc.).

If you have the resources to get the latency very low, you can combine MIDI sequencing, software synths, and audio recording into one utility like Rosegarden and do it all at once.

Figure out what it is you want to do, research how to do it, and then stay in your budget when making a purchase.  For example, I don't know for certain if a USB MIDI controller device, like one of the Behringer B-Control devices, can control the volume of a audio track in Rosegarden.  I am not going to make a purchasing decision until I have exhausted my research.

Above all else, do not forget Murphy's Law of Engineering: Every solution creates it's own set of problems

-=Sean Edwards=-

----- From Original Message ----
From: Sean Darby <sean at>
Subject: Re: Selecting Hardware for Music Production

Do you know which devices (PCI or external) do work with Linux/ALSA

What do you use the 2 mixers for?

What is the UCA202?

I'm guessing I'll need to do a raw recording of the separate instruments
into one program and do my editing in another program?

Do you know of any less expensive alternatives to the E-MU 1616M?


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