In short I'd like to know if any vendors are particularly well known for prompt driver updates, and on-going long-term support. That's my main question if you'd like to answer and move on thanks..
But here's the full story and my requirements for those who have the time.
I bought my first after market soundcard when doing a music degree and I needed midi/guitar input. It was the SoundBlaster Audigy Platinum.
It was a great card but sadly the drivers were for windows 98 and it got increasingly harder to hack in to working so it ended up on e-bay.
after being impressed with the value of my keystation 88 pro (which I still use 10 years on)
My next interface was an m-audio firewire solo.
It was a good card and had the odd driver glitch, but my main bugbear was m-audio took ages to release driver updates, especially for new operating systems, and when they did they typically seemed to cease updating them before they were truly finished/stable.
In the end I actualy lost that card while moving back in with my parents after a breakup
My current interface is an m-audio fast track pro
It seemed like a good stopgap with all the inputs I needed but frankly I'm really regretting buying it. The latency is disappointing, the drivers are really unstable and unusable. Its pretty much impossible to set the sample rate etc, and I cant get it to work in asio mode (with ableton at least), which would explain the latency.
I also notice m-audio seem to have abandoned this card after having re-invented/rebranded the wheel with the current avid range.
So I'd like to upgrade my interface with my primary concern being good driver support for windows 7 64bit, from a company with a good track record of looking after its customers.
At present I'm using on-board sound and my interface in tandem as my PC is multipurpose.
I may need to stick with 2 soundcards but it would be nice if I could manage with one.
At present I have the following connected/requirements:
The host PC is high spec socket 2011 based Intel machine with USB2/3 and PCI express available.
Turntable pre-amp (currently by converting Phono to 3.5mm stereo).
Typical gaming headset i.e low impedance 3.5mm phones + mic
SATA 3D Blu-ray drive
- Novation Mininova synth (2X 1/4 TRS input)
- Guitar/BASS/Electric Violin via direct in.
- boss GT-PRO
- 48v phantom powered Mic
- 2X Behringer truth A2031 Monitors and matching sub (in line with speakers in current config)
Future Upgrades/Desireables(when I get my own space again)
- I'll probably stop using the GT-pro and move to micing up a stereo amplifier increasing the need for mic inputs to 3.
- I'd like to upgrade to a surround sound setup that compliments my blu-rays by expanding my existing monitors, so min 4 ideally 6-8 balanced outputs.
- Playing back blurays at their native resolution isn't a must but I don't mind paying more for simultaneous channels of high sample rates and bitrates where available.
- Support for high impedance headphones would be a bonus but not required
Summary of ideal setup
- USB3 or PCI express
- Vendor with proven history of good robust driver support
- balanced outputs - min 4 /ideal 6 /fantastic 8
- line inputs - min 2 /ideal 4+/ fantastic balanced
- 48v/instruments - min 3
Thank you anyone who's read this in full and took the time to ponder and help