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New Sound Card for Music Production
glowing789
post Apr 3 2012, 21:04
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Hi everyone, first post, hope its in the right place.

Wondering if anyone could give me some advice on which sound card to get. I will be using it for some audio recording but mainly midi input controlling VSTs, in Sibelius/Sonar, like east west quantum leap. The VSTs will have several instruments playing at once so i need a card with low latency full ASIO support and low latency midi input, im talking super low!
I've been considering these two:
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/m-audio-fas...lus-protools-se

and

http://www.scan.co.uk/products/m-audio-aud...al-i-o-and-midi

Anyone any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks

:-)
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DVDdoug
post Apr 3 2012, 21:39
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I don't own that interface, but anything that has true ASIO drivers should be good. (ASIO4ALL might not give the same performance.)


QUOTE
The VSTs will have several instruments playing at once so i need a card with low latency
If you are playing several instruments at once in real-time, I suspect latancy will be a problem. But, I assume the computer is playing several MIDI files/insturments while you play along, and I believe the latency for the MIDI files (or audio tracks) is "compensated"... i.e. You don't really care if it takes several milliseconds for the data to get from the hard drive to your headphones, because you can play in sync with what you hear... as long as everything gets synced together on the recording. You are only concerned about the delay in your "live" instrument.

The only way to get zero latency is to monitor your MIDI instrument (or other instrument/vocals) directly from the instrument's analog output, and avoid monitoring thru the computer (while performing). Again, you really don't care how long it takes the computer to generate/process/record the sound (or MIDI data) as long as the musician hears a note the instant he/she hits the key.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Apr 3 2012, 21:46
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glowing789
post Apr 3 2012, 22:12
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QUOTE
don't care how long it takes the computer to generate/process/record the sound (or MIDI data) as long as the musician hears a note the instant he/she hits the key


You hit the nail on the head! this is exactly what im talking about the actual communication between the midi in sequencer software and the VST isn't the problem(dont think it will be the system is a very powerful one) the issue is, on my current computer anyway, is when i hit a note on the keyboard the latency is way to high so i wont hear the note instantly, which throws me way off as im sure you understand. Is this affected by the sound card? How do i determine if it has "true ASIO support"?

Sorry for the silly question but what do you mean when you say "monitor the midi instrument"? not completley tech savvy.

I have two midi keyboards my current one is midi out to usb. However my other one is midi out to midi in, will this make a difference to latency?
Thanks for you help
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DVDdoug
post Apr 3 2012, 23:02
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QUOTE
Is this affected by the sound card?
I'm not sure how latency applys to MIDI. With MIDI, latency might be more-related to how fast your CPU can generate the VSTi sounds.

With regular (non-MIDI) audio it's not just the soundcard and drivers. Latency is important (and useful) because the input/output buffers allow the sound to flow at a constant rate while your computer is multitasking. (Your computer is always multitasking, even if you are running one application.) If you shorten the buffers, you get lower latency but you can also get buffer overflow or under-flow, which results in "glitches" (defects) in the audio.

QUOTE
How do i determine if it has "true ASIO support"?
If the drivers are supplied by the device manufacturer they are true AISO. ASIO4ALL is a 3rd-party driver that works along with your regular Windows drivers and with most (all?) Windows soundcards.

QUOTE
Sorry for the silly question but what do you mean when you say "monitor the midi instrument"? not completley tech savvy.
Your keyboard should have an analog output for an amp or headphones. (You may not hear the same exact VSTi sound that your computer is generating unless you can upload* the VSTi to your keyboard.) If you are using "closed" headphones, you may need a little analog mixer to mix the real-time synth output with the MIDI/audio tracks on the computer. You don't need to record that mix, you just need to hear the synth output and the computer output while you play (and record) the keyboard.

QUOTE
I have two midi keyboards my current one is midi out to usb. However my other one is midi out to midi in, will this make a difference to latency?
Maybe someone else can answer that.


* I don't know if you can upload VSTi's to a keyboard... There may be other formats used internally by keyboards.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Apr 3 2012, 23:23
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glowing789
post Apr 3 2012, 23:45
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Thanks for your detailed reply. The latency between when i play a key and when the current vst responds with the sound is the issue, im guessing this what ASIO corrects.

How can i find out if m-audio supply true asio drivers? Does this mean they do?:
http://www.maudio.co.uk/products/en_gb/Audiophile192.html
http://www.maudio.co.uk/index.php?do=media...1b0a45d7717e319
Its all over there page they have released windows 7 64bit drivers but is that the same as true asio ..not sure?

So the monitoring means your hearing the sound immidetley through the device itself bypassing the signal having to travel through the computer, be pocessed and then outputted? So you record what your hearing from the keyboard whilst listening to the rest of the mix? is that right?
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botface
post Apr 4 2012, 08:20
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I don't want to sound like a salesaman but you can't really go wrong with M-Audio cards. They've been around for a while now and are widely used by so are well tested in the field. They are also one of the better companies for providing good solid drivers and updating them when new Windows versions are released. They also have good MIDI and ASIO support.
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kraut
post Apr 4 2012, 08:34
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I have a delta 1010lt installed, and afaik all delta cards support native asio.
Mine does for sure, and I just love it, although I only use it to playback audio (from various sources) and transfer LP to digital using the xlr input.

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Brand
post Apr 4 2012, 09:19
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For low latency performance, PCI/PCIe is usually the best. But PCI is on its way out, some new motherboards already come without it. So out of those two I'd rather recommend the USB one, if you want a little bit of future proofing (and you get a headphone out, mic preamps..).

But there are several soundcards to choose from if you want to spend some time doing research. You have to know that every soundcard performs differently at low latencies, a lot depends on drivers.

Here's just one database with some benchmarks/test: http://forum.dawbench.com/showthread.php?1...mance-Data-Base.
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glowing789
post Apr 4 2012, 11:18
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Thanks everyone for your replys.
Do you guys think the built in card (the 192) will have low latency? I mean they have new drivers out for 64 bit windows 7 coupled with a:
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel-core-...t-cache-130w-re
I can always buy the USB one in the future? Or are there any similarly priced PCIe cards you can suggest?
Thanks
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 4 2012, 13:16
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QUOTE (glowing789 @ Apr 3 2012, 16:04) *
Hi everyone, first post, hope its in the right place.

Wondering if anyone could give me some advice on which sound card to get. I will be using it for some audio recording but mainly midi input controlling VSTs, in Sibelius/Sonar, like east west quantum leap. The VSTs will have several instruments playing at once so i need a card with low latency full ASIO support and low latency midi input, im talking super low!
I've been considering these two:


The first question is: "Are you currently experiencing excess latency"?

The second question is: "If so, is the latency that you are experiencing due to the audio interface or the VST software?

Your post suggests some confusion. If the audio interface is just acting as a DAC, then it doesn't care whether it is playing a sound that was generated by one virtual instrument or 100. It's just giving an analog interpretation of some sme-old, same-old digital data.

OTOH, your VST software is profoundly affected by how many instruments it is generating.

Secondly, the data rate that we pass to 2 channel audio interfaces is ridiculously low by computer standards. 2 channels of 44 KHz 16 bits is a data rate of 176,400 bytes per second. In comparison the PCI interface that some are suggesting be avoided has a theoretical maximum of in excess of 100 megabytes, or 100,000,000 per second.

Obviously you have to crank the $#@!! out of the number of channels and/or sample rate and/or data word length to even get to 5% utilization of the data rate possible with a PCI channel. Speaking as someone who has recorded 26 or more concurrent 44/24 channels for hours at a time using PC's based on Athlon 2 processors and PCI channels - it is very hard to exhaust what a PCI channel can do with audio.

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