The question “which sound card should I get” arises periodically in various DJ forums. The answers are often reduced to “I use card X, it’s the best!”, with an inherent possibility of a local religious war. The truth, however, is that nowadays there are plenty of good sound cards out there, with very reasonable prices and widely varied feature sets, and so you can make much better choice by looking at the specific features of the card that you need, rather than listening to someone’s opinions on what is “the ultimate best”.
In my not so long career as a tango DJ I have owned 9 (nine) various sound interfaces, and tried out even more. In this article, which emerged out of the Sound Engineering for Tango DJs seminars, and discussions in several Tango DJ groups, I will try to present a feature-centered, rather than opinion-based view on various classes of sound cards, suitable for Tango DJs, without delving too much either into the misty worlds of audiophile legends or stepping onto perilous grounds of digital sound quality issues.
A friend of mine, milonguera from San Francisco, likes to repeat – if you have a tango-related question, you will undoubtedly find an answer in the universe of tango lyrics. While this statement is mostly related to “profound questions”, about relations in and out of milongas, interpretations of codigos, etc. there are two trivia questions, often asked in the DJ forums – “when the first tango DJs emerged?” and “when the custom to play tandas separated by cortinas appeared?” that also have unambiguous answers in the tangos themselves.
1. When the first tango DJs emerged?
In January 1931 Mercedes Simone, and, later in the same year, Orquesta Tipica Victor with Vicente Crisera recorded a delightful tango “La Victrolera”, with lyrics of Melecio Peres to the music of Pascual Clausi: https://youtu.be/BEnhPM1T7mM
Victrolera, noviecita de mi vida,
por qué te fuiste un día
y huiste con otro amor.
si yo tanto te quería
que eras alma y vida mía,
volvé, volvé victrolera
que me mata el dolor…
Victrolera, girlfriend of my life,
Why did you leave one day
And run away with another love?
I loved you so much
That you were my life and soul,
Come back, come back victrolera
And put an end to my pain…