I am upgrading from Cubase LE 5 and also looking to replace the rubbish on-board sound-card.

I am buying the new Pro Tools 9 & Waves Studio Design Suite as my upgrade. I have been looking at the ASUS Xonar Essence STX card for a while now will this suit my needs? (I'm going into Sound Design) It doesn't support 7.1 sound (I don't have 7.1 speakers anyway) but the specification is amazing.

My speakers are currently 2.1 PC speakers (Logitech Z-2300) should I be looking to upgrade to something like a KRK RP8 ROKIT G2?

Thanks in advance it's much appreciated.


Just in case you haven't seen this thread, there's lots of great advice re. speakers.


Don't get discouraged and feel like you have to drop huge dollars on near-field monitors; some of the best sound designers I know work with mid-priced speakers all day long and turn out really great results with them. The key is to know the strengths and weaknesses of the speakers that you are using. For example, I work with M-Audio BX-8 speakers, setup for 5.1 with the matching BX-10 sub. This is not an expensive setup (I think each BX-8 cost around $275 each and the BX-10 was around $499.). Of course I realize that I'm not listening to the best speakers available, a la Meyer Sound or Adam, but I also realize that I'm just not shopping in that price point so it's not even an option. Another friend of mine uses Mackies that he's had forever, and he loves them because he knows exactly what he is hearing.

Another thing to consider is that speakers will sound different depending on the room, the listening position, and the person listening to them. It's kind of like wine tasting: You take a sip and think, hmm, tastes kinda oaky and smooth. Then the wine guy comes up and says, "do you taste the apple and hint of butterscotch?" And you're like, oh yeah, what was I thinking?? Speakers can be smooth to one person, precise to someone else, or bright to yet another person, depending on the influences around you. (Not to negate any of the critical testing or response curves that come along with high-end speakers, of course, but the real world performance can vary quite a bit.)

So do some research, talk to your friends, do some critical listening and invest in something that you like and that you can afford. Then get them in your studio and LEARN how they really sound!

  • I did have a browse on there but its whether I change from my speakers I have to "studio" monitors really. Nov 23 '10 at 17:54
  • The room is not acoustically treated either which would spark another issue, money money money. :( Nov 23 '10 at 18:07
  • @Jay Jennings, Nice answer! I think it's a very valuable point to get across and great advice for Ade. The most important thing about using monitors is familiarity of their sound. Like u said, the same monitors can sound very different to different people so finding the right ones is really a question of taste. But if you know how your monitors sound then your work will transfer for the better. Nov 23 '10 at 20:21
  • @Jay, Very interesting, I have researched but just get utterly confused on buying the "best" kit for my budget. Your speakers are very reasonably priced I have some small M-Audio monitors but they were terrible, they were cheap and cheerful though. The Yamaha set in the other thread sound like a good pair too. I'm happy to spend anything up to about £350 ($550) for a pair really. Nov 23 '10 at 21:19
  • @Colin Hunter, thanks! And agreed -- it's easy to get hung up on buying the best gear/latest & greatest, but so important to remember what the Beatles achieved with a 4-track and good ol' fashioned talent. Nov 23 '10 at 21:19

I would strongly advise against that soundcard. Not because it's bad (it might be ok from a sound quality standpoint), but because it is a consumer product in the audiophile realm. You are not a consumer, you are a sound professional. The target market and its requirements are very different.

Getting an external audio interface that connects over usb or firewire is almost always advised. Less interference because the audio path is not inside your pc, easier access to the connectors, more sturdy connectors built for repeated plugging in and -out, physical volume controls and, depending on your budget, better sound quality, portability, flexibility and extendability. Also (depending on the model): balanced inputs and outputs, microphone preamps, midi, etc. Stay away from brands that also make motherboards or laptops, stay away from Creative and preferably also Terratec. Not because they make bad products but because you will at some point run into the limitations of the stuff they make, requiring you to buy something else. I speak from experience (I've bought 7 audio interfaces so far, sold 5).

Brands to look at:

Low Budget but good bang for the buck: M-Audio, Tascam, ESI, EMU

Medium Budget: TC Electronic, Presonus, Focusrite, Lexicon

Bigger budget: MOTU, RME (they have some good internal sound cards too, this is an exception what I said before), Apogee (Mac only)

  • Lots of information thanks. I have looked at getting the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R for recording at home would that work well as the sound card basis too? Nov 23 '10 at 20:07
  • Yes, I think that M-Audio would be a better choice for serious audio work. Added advantage is that it has 8 outputs, so you can in fact do 7.1 at a later stage.
    – EMV
    Nov 23 '10 at 21:55
  • @EMV, Thanks for the reassurance, as it has 8 line outputs would the outputs on my Pro Tools just go out of 1 and 2 for 2 speakers? Nov 23 '10 at 22:10
  • @Ade Exactly. Any other configuration (surround or otherwise) can be configured in protools and assigned to the outputs of the 8R.
    – EMV
    Nov 24 '10 at 19:21

I can't provide any perspective on those monitors, since I've never heard them (or even of them).

I'd look at that post Jay mentioned a bit more seriously. Even if your room is not acoustically treated, as you mentioned in response to Jay's comments, don't cheap out on your listening monitors (ESPECIALLY near-fields). Aside from the DA's, they're the most important part of your listening chain. If cost is an issue with all of the stuff you are buying, I'd suggest you hold off on the Waves bundle and funnel the money into buying better speakers.

Just my 2 cents.


Also, after looking at the card you're talking about, you may want to reconsider that as well. Not very flexible as far as I can see. Get something that has actual line level outputs at least. The headphone and rca jacks are going to be woefully under-qualified for that, and I don't know of many active speakers that have built in s/pdif inputs.

  • Okay I will do a bit more searching, thanks for the response. Nov 23 '10 at 18:53
  • @Ade - Anytime. I hope none of that came off as discouraging, I just didn't want you to spend a bunch of money on gear you'll end up wanting to replace. You CAN get a respectable setup for a reasonable amount of money, it just takes some extra research and an accurate analysis of what your needs are. Let us know if you want more feedback. :) Nov 23 '10 at 20:49
  • @Shaun, Not discouraging at all more enlightening if anything. I'll go back out and research, only thing with this kit I have no way of testing the gear can only read reviews. Nov 23 '10 at 21:21

There is a good reason why good speakers and AD/DA converters aren't cheap: higher quality costs more to make. Higher quality gear costs more money but it also lasts longer and sounds better. I used to mix on Yamaha NS10 speakers but then I upgraded to Genelec 1031a speakers. There is a world of difference! I can hear more depth and clarity with the Genelecs and they are less fatiguing on the ears. I have a MOTU 24io and I'm looking to upgrade that to a Metric Halo. If I can't hear every single detail of the audio then I need to find a different career.

Sure, you can get used to how a '78 Pinto drives and you can enter it into a race, but will you win that race? No. Well, unless you're racing a bunch of other Pintos...

  • @Matthew, Nice Pinto metaphor, I understand on the converters and speakers but its knowing the best for the buck on the budget. I am currently researching more and getting some advice, thanks for the response. Nov 24 '10 at 11:47
  • @Ade, if only we all had a few million dollars to blow on all the audio gear we want! That would be a perfect world! :) Nov 25 '10 at 5:44

I'm pretty satisfied with my Blue Sky Media Desk 2.1 and would recommend it.


I agree with Shaun above, I would recommend spending a little more on the monitors. Instead of the KRK rokits I would go for the KRK VXT series which are a far better monitor.


For monitor choice I got alesis m1 active 520's they are only $200 for the pair and sound good for the price http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M1Active520/ If you can afford it go with mackie monitors. Everything mackie makes seems to be really good quality.

For mackie check out these http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MR8/

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.