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I am currently looking into a project but there's one limitation that I don't know whether it's theoretically possible.

What I'm asking is - would it be possible, in theory, to create a cheap (say, < 50$) USB product that accepts about 4-5 microphone inputs. I'm talking about a slight delay and quality is not too much of an issue.

I know there are professional USB interfaces available, but those are rather expensive (200$+) and probably have more options / quality then what I'm talking about. I don't even need windows to recognize it as 5 different drivers, or even at all, I just want my own program to be able to get 5 different channels out of the connected device.

I haven't seen any such product, even remotely similar, so I'd be happy for your opinion if such a program is possible ot if there's any limitation that would make such a thing impossible / not-cheap.

Thanks.

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Are you asking if such a thing already exists or if it would be possible to build one? –  neilfein May 4 '11 at 17:44
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If you are trying to get 5 discrete mic signals into a computer onto 5 discrete tracks for under $50.00, I think you are out of luck.

There are a few USB products that can bring in audio for under fifty bucks, and there are many products that can record 5+ channels of audio to discrete tracks, but I think your guess is correct that you are not going to find something that meets both criteria.

If you don't need them on separate tracks, there are many cheap solutions.

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How about using 5 individual cheap USB Audio I/O devices and then combining them in software? You will need a USB Hub which allows you to attach these all these USB devices.

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You have serious clock-sync issues with this, but it can be overcome! Basically, you need a handful of soundcards of the same model, figure out where the clock comes out on one, solder on some coax. On the others, cut the board on the clock wire, and then solder on that coax from the others. Your results will vary. I've seen this done on some Ensoniq cards from 1998. Never tried it myself. –  Brad May 17 '11 at 13:29
    
You're right.. I forgot about clock issues.. –  notthetup May 18 '11 at 14:27
    
I have a setup (running under Linux, but that shouldn't matter) where I record 4 channels split across two USB sound cards. To keep the cards in sync, I use an SPDIF cable from the output of one card into the input of another. The sound cards are "Sabrent USB-SND8 8-Channel USB 2.0 External 7.1 Sound Box". (For the Linux Techies: I use ALSA on the machine to combine the two physical stereo inputs on the sound cards into 1 logical quad input, and then I record that quad channel.) –  jwernerny Sep 2 '11 at 13:15
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Some USB devices sync up their clock to the USB bus, though, so as long as all the devices are on the same bus, this shouldn't be an issue. TI calls this the "Sampling Period Adaptive Controlled Tracking System", for instance. –  endolith May 12 '12 at 0:35
    
@endolith Is there a list of products that can do that? Also does it need any USB Controller side support? –  notthetup May 14 '12 at 3:56
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