What USB sound card with stereo line-in jack works for you?

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What USB sound card with stereo line-in jack works for you?

Postby gurfle » 2019-08-11 06:23

This is not a request for help troubleshooting, but simply for any reports of actual successful experience with particular models of USB sound cards.

Unless I am horribly mistaken, I don't believe it matters at all what the computer hardware is, as long as it has a USB port that Linux recognizes. Then it's just is a question of the sound software finding, and knowing what to do with the various channels on the plugged in "card", so once such a "card" is known to work on a given debian release, it should work the same way on pretty much any other hardware with the same debian release, as long as the sound software is used. Please correct me if I am wrong!

I am having a hard time finding a way to get simple stereo line-in audio working on USB sound cards. Even if the hardware itself is not junk (which is all too often the case), I have yet to find a device that works in stretch. I am in the process of trying out
StarTech.com 7.1 USB Sound Card - External Sound Card for Laptop with SPDIF Digital Audio - Sound Card for PC - Silver (ICUSBAUDIO7D)
which is a really nice box, and while its headphone output works, I am unable to get anything actually coming in through the line-in jack, even though the channel is recognized by alsa.
EDIT: My bad!!! This device actually works beautifully out of the box. See explanation/conclusion in follow-up post below :oops:

A much cheaper box is
Optimal Shop USB 2.0 External Sound Card 6 Channel 5.1 Surround Adapter Audio S/PDIF for PC (Blue)

Then there is this much more expensive, but much less feature-filled item
USBGear USB 2.0 Audio Adapter Box with Line Input and Mic Input

All show some"evidence" of working with Linux, either from the seller's claims,or reviewer 's reported experience, but having now had to return too many online orders, I was hoping someone hear can tell me of any specific model they know works with their debian (I am still on stretch). That way, I should have a better chance of ordering something that won't need to be returned :wink:

TIA
Last edited by gurfle on 2019-08-13 17:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What USB sound card with stereo line-in jack works for y

Postby CwF » 2019-08-11 13:11

I have two Behringer UCA202's that work. They somehow pick up electronic noise on Debian and yet work perfect on windows. I haven't tried them recently because of the randomn noise, maybe buster is better, but Debian isn't a great audio base imo, many things add operational noise to many things, so I gave up.

They will work for hours perfectly then freak out, and can be reset. I can't remember but I think the optical worked too, and I think I got them looping input independently of the outputs. On my XP they feed usb programmable crossovers feeding electrostatics and work fine.
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Re: What USB sound card with stereo line-in jack works for y

Postby gurfle » 2019-08-11 18:58

Thanks for this feedback! It is very interesting, though disappointing to hear :(
I am not at all picky about the finer aspects of sound, so really "hi fidelity" doesn't matter for me, but the kind of disruptions you describe of course make any sound system quite useless. I returned this cheapo thing, thinking, hey, if it gives me OK video for even less than many simple headset jack converters, why not . . . But it was so bad that even in windows, the DC offset reduced volume range by 50%. However it was surprising that in debian, both on a 2-year old amd64 laptop and a 10-15 year old i386 desktop with stretch, I got this:
Image

whereas windows
Image
is strangely clever enough to somehow quickly cancel whatever the cause of the noiseis (looks like some periodic device polling action), so at least the output is sort of usable, though even for me the 50% DC offset was way too much.

If what you say is really the case, it will be very disappointing, but I guess even halfway decent sound is a tough thing to achieve.
Another unfortunate reason - in addition to tax software - I am glad I decided not to wipe out the windows partition that came preinstalled on my new laptop 8)

Curious what others might have to say.
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Re: What USB sound card with stereo line-in jack works for y

Postby gurfle » 2019-08-13 19:43

To answer the question of the thread positively myself, I can now in fact highly recommend
StarTech.com 7.1 USB Sound Card - External Sound Card for Laptop with SPDIF Digital Audio - Sound Card for PC - Silver (ICUSBAUDIO7D)
Turns out until this morning I been the victim to my own troubleshooting weaknesses:
There had been nothing coming into the line I was plugging into the Line-in jack when I started this thread :oops:

With that cleared up, I can say this is really a beautiful little box in many ways. Perhaps a little on the pricey side, but I consider it money well spent for some of its unusually thoughtful design features.
In addition to it having in my mind a very beautiful look, it has four amazing little pads that instantly secure it pretty tightly to any smooth surface it is sitting on: At first, it was as if the pads were magnets and the surface they were on was metallic, but of course neither of those two things were true. This is a minor, yet very practical detail, since the box itself is so small and lightweight that any pair (or more) of even lightweight cables attached to it would normally twist it around in awkward ways.

Interestingly, there is also no perceptible difference in the minimal DC offset Audacity shows between Linux
Image
and Windows
Image

So I take back my lament of having to resort to Windows for decent sound, at least for the basic functionality (just stereo line-in, really) and limited quality that is sufficient for me, though @CwF's complaints might still apply on a more professional level. The very small noise seen in the two screen shots is imperceptible to me and shows up in Windows in exactly the same way at a level of 0.02% of the full volume range on both channels.

Having not tested it, I can't say if the sound quality of the significantly cheaper item listed in my initial posting is worse, but regardless, I am going to stick with the Startech - it just plain looks so neat! For my purposes, I also can't see any reason for the additional expense of the much less feature-filled USBGear device.

It would of course be interesting to hear from others on their current experiences. Also it might be helpful to those who are, like I was, looking for something simple that works halfway decently. I would think there ought to be something cheaper than my cute little Startech out there, but I really can't say.
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Re: What USB sound card with stereo line-in jack works for y

Postby CwF » 2019-08-13 22:02

Good to know!
Maybe at some point I'll try my Behringer UCA202's on Buster. They were plug and play on Jessie and worked well, maybe something about the noise has been fixed.
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