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Cheap yet recommendable dac with low latency ASIO drivers?
goodkeys
post May 16 2013, 17:55
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Hello everybody

Looking for a dac that doesn't color the sound and doesn't break the bank. If these where the only requirements I'd most probably choose the ODAC. But from time to time I mess around with sample libraries in Cubase, so I need low latency asio drivers too. Asio4all works ok, but I hope that a product with dedicated driver allows for lower latency, plus multiclient asio would be nice.
Can anybody recommend a product? I'm considering the new Steinberg UR22 but don't know anything about it's dac. Or is there a low latency multiclient asio driver that works for the odac?
Thanks for your help
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bennetng
post May 16 2013, 18:38
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Most USB interfaces have higher latency than PCI and firewire interfaces
http://www.dawbench.com/audio-int-lowlatency2.htm

Sound quality vs price, internal vs external
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=832147
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goodkeys
post May 16 2013, 20:37
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Well, thanks. I knew the dawbench chart, but the only lowend dac I found is the Esi Juli@ xte which is pcie. The cheapest external dac I recognised is the Presonus firestudio mobile, and in m country it costs around 320$ - more than double the price of an odac.
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DVDdoug
post May 16 2013, 21:19
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Are you sure you need a "high quality" interface/soundcard? If you re not hearing noise, chances are that your regular 'ol soundcard is better than human hearing. (Distortion & frequency response are rarely issues.)

What's your application where you need low-latency and super high-quality at the same time? For monitoring (while recording), quality isn't a big issue. For editing & mixing, latency is not an issue.

For sound & music recording & production, I'm much more concerned with the input-side (preamp/ADC) than with the output/monitoring side (DAC). If there's a weak link on the monitoring side, it's probably your monitors and acoustics, not your soundcard.

There are interfaces that have zero-latency (analog) monitoring built-in, or you can split the signal and use an analog mixer (or other set-up) for "direct" monitoring. If you are using a MIDI keyboard, you can (and probably should) monitor the analog output.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: May 16 2013, 21:34
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goodkeys
post May 16 2013, 21:52
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Thanks for the clarification. I'm less concerned about da conversion. It's just that I want lower latency for midi keyboard recording (with sample libraries). No audio recording done (only midi), so I don't need mic preamps or ad conversion.
But I use my computer for listening (classical music. Monitors are Blue Sky eXo2, plus AKG K701 headphone) purposes too. So ideally was kind of a hybrid between an audiophile dac and a recording interface (which usually come with a lot of recording options I don't need and are quite expensive). That's why I'm looking for a good dac with low latency, multiclient asio drivers, eventhough that doesn't seem to exist
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probedb
post May 16 2013, 22:05
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At work I use a FiiO E7 DAC/amp for my IEMs as they're quite sensitive and my work PC audio is somewhat noisy. The E17 supports 24-bit/96KHz too which the E7 doesn't. Cheap as chips really and very good IMO too smile.gif

Then you could separate out the recording part from the listening? It might give you more options?
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phofman
post May 16 2013, 22:19
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QUOTE (goodkeys @ May 16 2013, 22:52) *
Thanks for the clarification. I'm less concerned about da conversion. It's just that I want lower latency for midi keyboard recording (with sample libraries). No audio recording done (only midi), so I don't need mic preamps or ad conversion.


I see, you need low-latency playback for the synthesized midi.
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DVDdoug
post May 17 2013, 00:39
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I don't use MIDI, but it's my understanding that the MIDI software usually adds latency (in addition to the normal input/output buffering). ASIO & small buffers won't help with that part of the delay.

Do you know if "serious" musicians use a MIDI keyboard and virtual instruments through a computer while performing live? Maybe with a fast computer and the right hardware & software it can be done.. I don't know. Or, do they download the instruments into their keyboard? Playing a MIDI file from the computer (for background, etc.) while performing isn't a problem, since the musician can sync with the playback. It's only processing the real-time sound/data through the computer that's a potential porblem.

Of course, it is a problem if you are listening to yourself playing through the computer in real time. But for recording, latency shouldn't be an issue. (If there is a sync problem when you mix, you can compensate for that later.)

That's why I suggested monitoring the analog output. What you hear from your keyboard's analog output may not sound like the virtual instrument in your computer, but the notes & timing will be the same. With MIDI, you only need to capture the notes & timing. (Of course with MIDI, you can change the notes, timing, and instrument later during editing.)

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: May 17 2013, 00:47
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bennetng
post May 17 2013, 02:58
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I am doing very similar stuff and I am only using a Creative X-Fi PCIe soundcard less than $180 (Titanium HD) while cheaper model (Titanium) with cheaper DAC/ADC only cost about $100.

I also bought a Roland interface (audio/MIDI interface wiht build-in hardware synth) in 2000 cost more than $600 at that time.

I do sequencings/arrangements/compositions with virtual instruments using some large sample libraries (EWQL stuffs)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5B63AD2C38CE0549

I found the USB one (Roland) have much higher CPU load and latency than the PCIe ones, plus the Roland doesn't support multiclient ASIO while the X-Fi cards does.

From what I understand you only need a DAC and low latency multiclient ASIO so I actually think that the X-Fi cards are suitable for you (especially if it is cheaper than the Juli@ card). I don't recommend newer Creative cards like Recon 3D or Z because they don't fully support ASIO (like recording) and don't have a dedicated ASIO mixer.

Most recent MIDI keyboards (in the past 5-10 years) have USB support and you don't need mic/guitar preamps, wordclock I/O, ADAT and other stuffs therefore soundcards are really not bad choices. Buying an external interface with such functions is just a waste.

FYI
http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/img/avw/docs...tml/44.png.html
http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/img/avw/docs...tml/48.png.html
http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/img/avw/docs...tml/96.png.html
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Barr
post May 17 2013, 09:53
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QUOTE (goodkeys @ May 16 2013, 17:55) *
I hope that a product with dedicated driver allows for lower latency, plus multiclient asio would be nice. Can anybody recommend a product? I'm considering the new Steinberg UR22 but don't know anything about it's dac.

It is not merely the fact of whether a dedicated ASIO driver exists that should concern you, but rather its stability. There is nothing worse than a badly written ASIO driver constantly crashing your favourite DAW to sap the creative juices. For example Tascam devices are notorious in this respect, and while you might think that Steinberg would be a safe choice I wouldn't take anything for granted.

One reason that RME audio interfaces typically command such premiums is that their drivers have a reputation for being rock solid. Nevertheless, depending on market prices where you are you should be able to get the HDSP 9632 for not much more than the UR22; you couldn't go far wrong with that.
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goodkeys
post May 17 2013, 11:35
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Monitoring the analog output might work for recording piano. For anything else it's not practical. Say I want to record a violin with my digitalpiano. Hearing my piano while recording doesn't work in that situation, I need to hear the violin sound.
I'd rather have an external interface so I can use it with my laptop too. Other than that a soundcard might be the best solution
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bennetng
post May 17 2013, 12:06
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How about expresscard audio interfaces? I haven't used such products but they should offer lower latency and CPU load then USB ones, they can be used with desktops as well (with an adapter). Not every laptop have expresscard slots though.

If the RMAA results in my previous post is reliable then the UR22 is really bad. Even my VIA onboard interface scored better than that. If USB is the only solution, please seriously consider other interfaces, like Focusrite, M-Audio, EMU and so on.

For multiclient capabilities I highly recommend you ask the vendor or try it yourself because most cheap USB interfaces don't support this function.
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goodkeys
post May 17 2013, 16:56
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Thanks for pointing that out! So the UR22 is no viable option for me.

Sadly no expresscard slot on my laptop. So perhaps firewire, or else internal. Seems like the Esi Juli@ was the way to go, eventhough more expensive than I hoped and internal only. But at least it has very good drivers (lower latency than the RME Babyface actually, judging from the Benchmark you posted).
It's really a pitty that no asio drivers exist for the odac: http://www.jdslabs.com/item.php?fetchitem=46
That'd be exactly what I'm looking for. But seems like I have to pay some premium to get stable asio drivers

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bennetng
post May 17 2013, 17:26
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RME interfaces are great, but just too expensive. Even the old 9632 cost more than $450 in my local shops. In fact I almost can use my onboard VIA interface with ASIO4all if it has native 44.1k support and a louder headphone amp. Mulitclient is very useful for me, but not essential. Most sample libraries are recorded in 44.1k and resampling will add a lot of CPU load. Depends on synthesizing methods and type of music, 200+ polyphony is not uncommon and is really a burden.

Now I only use my Roland USB interface as a Toslink DAC to connect my X-Fi card because the X-Fi card can only have 1 stereo output at a time. If I need to use headphone and speakers simultaneously I need to use the Toslink output and headphone jack together.
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