See this current thread. As you'll see, I suggest the Sound Devices 702, at $1875.
I'm also interested. I did my first needledrops recently using an Alesis Masterlink. Recording at 24/96 and listening at 18/48 through my Mac Mini->Audio Note DAC, the results are already amazing.
With proper jitter control and playing at 96 Khz (an Empirical USB Off Ramp) and possibly an A/D converter superior to what's in the Masterlink, I can see this getting nearly indistinguishable from the vinyl.
Jenny -- You may be thinking of the ability (or inability) of USB 2.0 interfaces to handle 24/192 without intermittent breakup. Any reasonably contemporary cpu, such as a 2.5GHz (not MHz) Core 2 Duo, will not be the limiting factor in a computer for any audio format. And transferring via firewire (instead of USB 2.0) will also easily handle any audio format without breakup (firewire 400 being designed to handle the dv (Digital Video) format, which has a data rate far higher than any audio format).
USB 2.0 (the current usb standard), on the other hand, while theoretically capable of an even higher data rate than firewire 400, in practice will intermittently drop down to much lower data rates. That is because it utilizes the cpu extensively, in contrast to firewire which is supported mainly by the interface chip. And the cpu will tend to get interrupted periodically to support other processes which the computer may be running in the background.
24/196/2 channel audio corresponds to a data rate of slightly under 10 megabits per second. USB2.0 supports a theoretical maximum rate of 480 megabits per second, which in practice is invariably much less at times, as I indicated. I don't have any specific experience with Mac's, but I suspect that success or failure for real-time streaming would be dependent primarily on how clean the software installation is, and how many background processes the cpu has to support in addition to streaming the audio.
With firewire, on the other hand, I would not expect there to be any problem.
BTW, since the Sound Devices 702 I suggested can capture to an internal flash memory card (in addition to streaming real-time via firewire), and the file can be subsequently copied from the flash memory card to the computer, all of this is a non-issue with respect to that capture process.
Al, Until Panasonic releases their Class 10 SDHC cards, I believe the best available are Class 6 which guarantees a 6mb/s (presumably write) rate. Wouldn't that still cause problems for the Sound Devices 702 at 24/192/2?
No, for several reasons:
-- The Sound Devices unit uses Compact Flash cards, not Secure Digital or SDHC cards.
-- I believe you may not be properly distinguishing between bits and Bytes (8 bits per Byte). The slightly under 10 megabits per second figure I mentioned for 24/192/2 is a little under 1.2 megaBytes per second, which is well within the capability of current CF (and SDHC) cards. Lexar Media offers "233x" CF cards (the x denotes times 150 kiloBytes/sec), and "133x" SD and SDHC cards. Those are far faster than necessary. And if your 6mb/s figure is actually megaBytes per second, that would correspond to 48 megabits per second, or 40x based on Lexar's speed rating system.
-- The Sound Devices literature is quite clear that 24/192/2 is supported.
Hope that helps. Best regards,
Upon further checking, SDHC Speed Class 6 is indeed specified as 6 megaBytes per second (=48 megabits per second).
You may be familiar with B&H, if you are involved in video. They carry the Sound Devices 702 at the (excellent) $1875 price I had mentioned.
As well as a great many other digital recorders at lower price points, which you may want to peruse (although of course many of the lower priced units will not support 24/192, and will most likely not be of comparable quality).