Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Audio interfaces

2. History

In the early years of the development of the computer, no-one gave much thought to music or sound playback – let alone recording , but in 1982, the Commodore 64 appeared with integrated sound generation. The Sound Interface Device, or SID chip, was a 3 voice, 3 oscillator synth with filters and envelopes devised by Robert Yannes, who later went on to create the Ensoniq range of synthesisers. It was very advanced for its day, and far superior to other contemporary systems such as the Atari.

Meanwhile, IBM Personal Computers were becoming more popular, and began to migrate from the office to the home where their potential to do much more than paperwork began to be discovered. In 1987, AdLib released the first mass market audio product for PC, the “AdLib Music Synthesizer Card” (ALMSC). This “sound-card” housed a Yamaha OLP chip based on the DX7 synthesiser. Through clever use of modulation, it was possible to create some really quite realistic sounds - the games industry embraced the AdLib standard to include music and effects with all their releases. However, it still wasn’t capable of recording or playing audio.

All this was shortly to change when Creative Labs released the SoundBlaster. It was AdLib compatible, but also offered an 8-bit PCM channel capable of playing back digitised samples, revolutionising the quality of sound effects in games. The SoundBlaster also had a game port meant for joysticks, but which could be used as a MIDI port. This allowed MIDI keyboards to play and control the sounds on the Yamaha OPL chip, and it was the first time the user could interact with the sound on a computer. Subsequent SoundBlaster cards brought in 16-bit stereo audio, internal connections for CD drives, wavetable synthesis and finally digital recording, which opened the way for the PC to become a music production machine.

Creative Labs didn’t really pursue the music market and focussed instead on gaming. Meanwhile, music minded engineers started fiddling with the soundcard and exploring the possibilities of synthesis engines and manipulating digitally recorded audio. Music technology companies such as Soundscape and Digidesign employed the computer as the brain that controlled their standalone recording technology, but it took software companies such as Steinberg to start revealing what the PC could do itself in terms of digital audio. With their open format Virtual Studio Technology (VST) and ASIO drivers, which provided a stable and fast connection to the audio interface, the concept of the PC studio began to emerge. By the end of the millennium, the computer had become integral to the studio for sound generation, recording and editing.

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Audio interfaces overview

Schoeps CMC54 Mono Set MK4 CMC5 Adam T5V Subpac M2X Marshall Origin 20C Combo Yamaha Stagepas 600BT Roland R-07 black RME ADI-2 DAC Focal Listen Professional Fender Squier Affinity P-Bass PJ ILBK Epiphone Richie Faulkner Flying V Yamaha Stagepas 400BT Fender SQ Affinity PJ Bass Pack BK 18
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Schoeps CMC54 Mono Set MK4 CMC5

Schoeps CMC54 Mono Set Limited Edition, high quality condenser small diaphragm microphone comprising CMC 5 mic preamp Refurbished (new housing and refurbished) and MK4 capsule (new) cardioid, specifications CMC 5: power consumption 4mA, 48V phantompower, max. output level 1V, length...

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Adam T5V

Active Nearfield Monitor Equipped with: 5" woofer and 1.9" U-ART ribbon tweeter, 2x Class-D amplifiers: 50W RMS woofer, 20W RMS tweeter, Frequency range: 45 - 25000 Hz, Crossover frequency: 3 kHz, Maximum input level: 106 dB (1m/pair), Rear bass...

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Subpac M2X

Subpac M2X, Mobile tactile bass system, SubPac adds real depth, connection and enjoyment to whatever you play through it - your music and media comes to life with the added dimension of physical bass. Frequency Response: 1hz-200hz, Wired Input: 3.5mm...

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Marshall Origin 20C Combo

Tube combo amp for electric guitar Gain boost function, Two voicings (Normal, High Treble), which can be mixed steplessly via the tilt control, Switchable power reduction for full sound in any environment, 1 channel, Power: 20 watts, Preamp tubes:...

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Yamaha Stagepas 600BT

Mini-PA System with Bluetooth Function Consisting of 2x passive 2-way boxes and 10-channel power mixers, Power mixers and speaker cables can be stored in the boxes for transportation, Successor of the Stagepas 600i, Including 2 speaker cables, each 6...

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Roland R-07 black

Portable MP3 / WAV Recorder with Bluetooth Functionality Stereo recordings up to 24 Bit / 96 kHz in WAV format or up to 396 kbps in MP3 format on microSD / SDHC card, Built-in stereo microphone, Integrated hybrid limiter,...

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RME ADI-2 DAC

High-end DA converter & headphone amplifier Sample rates: 44.1 kHz up to 768 kHz, Playback of DSD and Direct DSD, SteadyClock FS, LCD display with AutoDark function for lighting, Desktop Case, Dimensions: 215 x 52 x 150 mm, Weight:...

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Focal Listen Professional

Headphones Closed, Circumaural, Conversion technology for acoustic transparency and dynamics, Impedance: 32 ohms, Sensitivity (@ 1 kHz - / 1 Vrms): 122 dB SPL, THD (THD, @ 1 kHz / 100 dB SPL): 0.3%, Frequency range: 5 Hz to...

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Fender Squier Affinity P-Bass PJ ILBK

Electric Bass Affinity series, Body: Alder, Neck: Maple, Fretboard: Indian Laurel, Neck profile: "C", 20 Medium jumbo nut, Scale: Long scale, Nut width: 41.3 mm, Pickups: 1 Jazz and 1 Standard Split Precision single coil, 2 Volume and 1...

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Epiphone Richie Faulkner Flying V

Electric Guitar Body and neck: Mahogany, Fretboard: Ebony, Neck profile: Thin C, 22 Jumbo frets, Scale: 628 mm, Pickups: Active EMG 57 (bridge) and EMG 66 (neck) humbucker, Floyd Rose 1000, Grover Rotomatic machine heads, Colour: Black, Incl. Deluxe...

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€925
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Yamaha Stagepas 400BT

Mini-PA System Bluetooth Function Consisting of 2x passive 2-way boxes and 8-channel power mixers, Power mixers and speaker cables can be stored in the boxes for transportation, Successor of the Stagepas 400i, Including 2 speaker cables, each 6 m...

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Fender SQ Affinity PJ Bass Pack BK 18

Fender Squier Affinity PJ Bass Pack BK bass guitar set with bass, rumble 15 amp, cable and strapt; bass guitar, poplar body, maple neck, indian laurel fretboard, 20 medium jumbo frets, nut width 41,3mm (1,625"), scale 864mm (34"), pickups 1x...

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