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unnecessary 2nd USB sound card?

I use Numark Mixmeister Fusion Live in Dual Output mode, with a SoundBlaster THX USB soundcard. I spun on stage two weeks ago, and the club sound was so loud, I could barely hear my Preview output. So I purchased a FiiO K1 headphone amplifier. Everything works fine now. However, when I got the K1, I realized it’s basically the same thing as the THX, except the THX has RCA as well as headphone jack output. It occurred to me the back of my rig is a tangle of wires now, with a USB hub as well, and that I could simplify all this by running Preview from the K1, and Live from my laptop’s native headphone jack. The clubs I work at can boost whatever signal comes from my laptop, and a sound card is not necessary. Any downside to this?
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  • Good question. From a practical perspective, I don't see a problem, but there is a downside from a technical perspective. RCA connectors provide a more robust and stable connection than 3.5mm. I have had issues with my 3.5mm connections suffering from signal degradation if the connector is bumped, turned, or not set in all the way. The design of the 3.5mm jack lends itself to gaps and static potential between channels. High quality connectors will help, but I've had it happen with gold connectors. I've never had this problem with RCA due to their design. I suspect an audiophile would prefer the RCA for live due to it's stability. You could adapt your K1 to use the 3.5mm (along with a virtual playback device such as Virtual Audio Cable, if needed, to create a separate address that preview could use), and you will be the only one to know if there is signal degradation for whatever reason.

    My two cents...

    SHSM
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  • Numark Tech Support told me some laptops get confused with two external sound cards. (Mine did not when I tested at home, but when I was using just the internal, the THX, and the Stealth, my Mixmeister Fusion Live once froze during a lengthy gig, and we had two minutes of dead air while I rebooted :( ) Numark said running my Live feed off the laptop's internal sound card and 3.5mm connection was the best idea. The question then is, if I use the K1 for my Preview, is it best to use the internal/3.5mm, or the (USB) THX with RCA for my Live?
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  • Yikes, dead air. Definitely don't want that to happen. I didn't make the connection that you were still working with two sound cards. Can you disable the internal sound card in favor of the THX? If so, that would be my choice. If you use the internal/3.5mm combo then you still run the risk of the 3.5mm having problems. Since the K1 is USB capable then disabling the internal and using the RCA for Live seems like the path of least risk.

    That said, second opinions are always prudent. :-)

    Anyone else have a thought?
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  • Numark Mixmeister Fusion Live sees all available sound cards, internal and external. At home, I tested K1 for Preview and THX for Live in Dual Output mode, so yes, any unused sound card, internal or external, is disabled when you select other sound cards in Tools/Audio Output Configuration.

    When Fusion crashed at the club, I was still using THX for Live and internal/3.5mm for Preview. However, my theory is the crash was not the result of the internal sound card, but rather because I had many 1-minute tracks, overlays, and on-the-fly transitions using Stealth intro and outro Gain knobs.
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  • I think your theory regarding the cause of the crash makes more sense. I have two laptops that both have secondary sound cards, and I've never had a problem. You can prove your theory and eliminate any speculation by taking a look at the Windows Event Viewer logs (Control Panel). The logs will identify hardware errors resulting from hardware/driver conflicts (e.g., two sound cards not getting along) as well as application crash data that relates to conflicts arising between applications and most system resources (hardware or software). This would include situations where an app crashes due to a memory issue.

    Studio has a senderrorreport.exe in the MixMeister directory, though I have yet to see where/how any data is being collected, stored, and reported. Most apps, including Windows, store this type of info in the Users directory structure, but the only readily evident data that MixMeister seems to be storing is library-related information. A database file exists in that location as well, so it may be therein. I bring this up because if the problem is inherent to Fusion then a Fusion app crash report would be the only way to shed conclusive light on the issue.

    If you do notice anything in the logs related to a sound card conflict, however unlikely, and you are simultaneously unable to verify that the problem was entirely confined to Fusion, then I would recommend disabling the internal sound card using the Device Manager in the Control Panel. Windows will continue to recognize hardware devices even if Fusion does not, so disabling in the Device Manager would offer additional confidence that the conflict would not crop up again.

    I'm glad to know everything is getting sorted.
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