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I would like to record sound from multiple microphones (at least 3) to a computer, tightly synchronised in time. This is for some research into signal processing.

Specifics of what I'm looking for:

  • Recording to a Windows laptop
  • Maximum out-of-sync between channels around 5 microseconds
  • Sample rate 96kHz or higher
  • Preferably able to record ultrasound up to 40kHz or so
  • Bit depth not so critical, 16 bits probably fine
  • Good value for money (financed only by my personal hobby fund.)

I am looking at USB audio interfaces aimed at music production, but am not familiar with their performance and if they are suitable to do this kind of job. I have been looking at e.g. the Tascam US-4x4 or Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD.

Is this equipment suitable for this job, or if not, what are my (reasonably priced) options?

Edit: I see this question is getting downvoted. Please comment as to why - do you know somewhere more appropriate where I should be asking this question? Thanks.

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    I get which Stack Exchange sites allow gear recommendations mixed up in my head a lot - I'm not sure if this one allows gear questions, but if not that might explain the downvotes. That said, any USB interface that has at least three XLR inputs with mic preamps and supports a clock speed of at least 96 kHz will do the job. You realize that it's pretty much physically impossible to place microphones so precisely that the arrival time of the sound between microphones differs by only 5 microseconds, right? That figure is pretty extreme. – Todd Wilcox May 23 '16 at 13:47
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    yup, around 0.01 microns precision placement, if I got my math righ, and BTW, it would require at least 400KHz sample rate to tell 5 microseconds time differences with minimum resolution (at 96Khz 1 sample covers 10,4 microseconds, so 3 events separated by 5 microseconds each can be captured by the same sample). – José David May 23 '16 at 16:18
  • Anyway I'm intrigued by what you're trying to achieve, perhaps you can (1) remove references to specific brands and models and focus on features and (2) give some more information on your project. – José David May 23 '16 at 16:24
  • If I got my math right, 5us is about 1.5mm for sound in air. The project is related to distance measurement, so the timing and positioning is important. – blueshift May 24 '16 at 5:45
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Virtually all modern audio interfaces for computer use have clock-synchronized sampling across all inputs. This is a prime requirement for most ordinary multi-track recording. It would be difficult to find a modern, multi-track (>2) audio interface that did NOT meet this requirement.

  • Note, however, that you most certainly do NOT get clock-synchronized sampling if you use multiple input interfaces. Unless you can link their "Word Clock"s together. So you need to use an interface with as many channels as your experiment requires. If you are that concerned about co-incidence, then you should use identical make/model microphones as well. – Richard Crowley May 23 '16 at 21:08

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