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Clint Martin

Lowest Latency USB interface?

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I have an aging Presonus 44VSL which when I use an older driver at 24bit 48khz 128 buffers get me a roundtrip of 7.3ms, which is pretty decent. The problem is the driver is old, and the latest one is worse. My overall stability with the Presonus is driving me nuts.

I have ordered a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6. Hopefully it can replace the Presonus with less latency. If not I think I'll sell both of them and buy something else.

What do you guys have and use, and what is your roundtrip latency? 

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I use an Appollo 8 firewire : older unit.  I can set to 64 buffers while tracking  and I believe I get down 3.4 ? ms( occasionally down to 32 with a sparse project ) . If I remember - my typical setting is 128 buffers and round trip is reported around 5.9 ms.  Seems to work ok - and I keep my projects pretty lean.

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I have a 6i6 1st gen and it's not a good performer RTL wise.   Sure if I crank  the clock rate to 96hz and lower the buffers into the danger zone I can do around 7ms. But I use 44.1 and a safe mid zone buffer so I'm at 16ms.  Don't matter to me as I never use real time monitoring or Guitar sims in real time. 

The new models are reported a  little better but still.... You are looking at interfaces over $500 like RME if you want real low figures under 4 ms.     

Edited by Cactus Music
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7 hours ago, Clint Martin said:

I have an aging Presonus 44VSL which when I use an older driver at 24bit 48khz 128 buffers get me a roundtrip of 7.3ms, which is pretty decent.

I would say that's pretty decent. Sound travels about 1,100 feet per second, or 1.1 feet per millisecond. So if your RTL is 7.3ms, that's like standing on stage with your amp about six and a half feet behind you. I have played most of my life without any big problems under worse conditions than that, so if I were getting the same RTL as you I wouldn't spend any money trying to do better. If your 44VSL is not stable, of course, then it might be time for something new.

I think I got this right, but I am notoriously bad at math, so somebody let me know if my numbers are wrong.🙃

Edited by Larry Jones

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USB audio interfaces with lowest round-trip latency are RME and MOTU (both sub 4ms).

 

By comparison:

The Apollo Thunderbolt series yields ~3.7ms total round-trip latency.

Presonus Quantum yields ~1ms total round-trip latency.

 

Note:

Many audio interfaces don't allow selecting ASIO buffer size smaller than 64-samples when using higher sample-rates.

 

 

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I'd recommend RME all around for some of the best drivers in the biz as well as probably the lowest latency interfaces out there, and especially if you're an amp sim guy I'd get an RME, like Fireface ucx. It's around $1600, probably $1000 on ebay. Their flagship is around 3k but anyway. There's also the babyface pro from rme which would be worth looking at and can be had for a few hundred off ebay or I think $750 retail. Yeah their stuff is costlier but worth the longterm investment and you probably won't be swapping it out frequently for something else. 

Until I can upgrade I'm still using the lowly RME 9632 pci card, and at 64 buffer I get a 5.6 round-trip latency. Not bad for an old pci card, but I heard pci offers better latency by design anyway, which of course is almost irrelevant now as it's all but obsolete, but anyway. I have a virtual dual amp setup where I play through 2 amp sims simultaneously as well as eq/comp plugs on both amp sim tracks AND I parallel process those two amp sim tracks to an aux and sometimes two separate parallel aux tracks (one for each amp sim) on which there may be anything from a fuzz and/or octaver to some delay or whatever, and I do this in real time all at 5.6 round-trip latency @ 64 buffer w/ no glitches (*unless* I've got a major session going w/ lots of this and that but then that's to be expected) and all with this little rme 9632 so yeah I'd tend to recommend RME. 

 

 

Edited by Chris Jones
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PreSonus introduced some USB-C interfaces at NAMM, but I didn't get a chance to check them out.

Thunderbolt can be sketchy with Windows. You can use a PCIe-card based interface (MOTU, Lynx) for Thunderbolt-level performance with desktops.

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For low budget boxes it's worth taking a look on Zoom UAC-2. Don't own any but heard opinions it's among the lowest latency usb interfaces. Note that it's USB3 specifically.

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Well I should be able to test the Scarlett 6i6 against  the 44VSL this weekend. My PC (which is now 6 years old) was built by ADK pro audio and does have two usb3 ports that have never been used. 

The Presonus has served me well all this time, but the latest universal driver delivers 9. something roundtrip, and the older one I use is getting less stable.

This PC is still Windows 7 because I could never get the Presonus to work with Sonar and Win 10.

 

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I hope your problem is solved by new audio interface.

7.3ms is not bad, the best you can get at 48kHz/128 is 6.6ms. That is not great improvement for 6x price. And so the question is why you could not use 64. Can be the interface, but can be something else. You will know soon 😉

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Unfortunately I cannot afford such a great interface at the moment!

I use(d) only a Tascam US-144MKII, Behringer UMC404HD and a Focusrite Scarlett over the years. And I noticed that it is not only the interface that is relevant, it is also depending significantly on the DAW and PC! On my studio PC I did not detect a lot of difference, but when I use my laptop that is bad powered (i5-5200U/8GB) there is a lot of difference using either Sonar/CbB or Samplitude with the same settings. With the latter one I can reduce the buffer size twice (128) compared to CbB without having sound issues! I think this observation proves that the DAW and PC are also relevant (but I am no tech expert like e.g. azslow3).

By the way if I want less latency for recording guitar, I still use my old Tascam 2488neo harddisk recorder (that I bought when I still had more money) and copy the tracks to the DAW for mixing.

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21 hours ago, chris.r said:

For low budget boxes it's worth taking a look on Zoom UAC-2. Don't own any but heard opinions it's among the lowest latency usb interfaces. Note that it's USB3 specifically.

I own one and it's AWESOME! It actually gets me as low as my PCI based systems, and no 7.3ms for someone with a good sense of time is not low enough in my opinion.

 

R

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1 hour ago, Rico Belled said:

I own one and it's AWESOME! It actually gets me as low as my PCI based systems, and no 7.3ms for someone with a good sense of time is not low enough in my opinion.

Do you  mean "not high enough"? All published results I could find show that UAC-2 has 7.7ms under the same conditions.

I can not judge the interface because I do not have it, but all "ultra super under 2ms" RTL for UAC spammed across the Internet are about "96kHz/24 samples per buffer", normally commented with "with a 50 tracks full of heavy effects". I guess they have borrowed computer from aliens (or they have done the test with REAPER in playback mode and anticipative processing on, in other words not running anything in realtime).

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On 1/30/2019 at 10:15 PM, chris.r said:

For low budget boxes it's worth taking a look on Zoom UAC-2. Don't own any but heard opinions it's among the lowest latency usb interfaces. Note that it's USB3 specifically.

Can confirm that, great low latency interface.  BUT

a) I have got a noticeable more ground noise than from Focusrite Scarlett 2gen. 

b) if you have a PC, be aware about this

"* Only USB host controllers with Intel Chipsets are supported. Operation is not guaranteed when used with USB hubs or expansion cards."

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2 hours ago, azslow3 said:

All published results I could find show that UAC-2 has 7.7ms under the same conditions.

I have tried Zoom UAC-2 at home on quad core Athlon II 630 2.8GHz with 8GB RAM.  The Zoom had some issues (see my post above) but I could play with overall 5ms latency at 48kHz/64 buffer without any glitches and pops.

ZoomUAC2-CbB.jpg

Edited by filo
sensence correction

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3 hours ago, azslow3 said:

Do you  mean "not high enough"? All published results I could find show that UAC-2 has 7.7ms under the same conditions.

 

I said what I meant thank you very much! Once I discovered 5ms I couldn't go back! And no, the UAC-2 gets to around 5ms at 44k 64 sample buffer size, or half of that at 88.1!

R

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On 1/30/2019 at 9:07 PM, Craig Anderton said:

PreSonus introduced some USB-C interfaces at NAMM, but I didn't get a chance to check them out.

Sounds good on the surface but it`s using USB 2.0

I've been doing some research as I`m looking to replace my onyx 400f fire wire interface which has severed me well for many years, but its getting temperamental, takes ages to come on when turned on.

Was looking at the Zoom UAC - 8 as it use USB 3.0 but my research shows that there are no latency benefits over USB 2.0 even though 3.0 is generally faster. Thinking of going down the fire wire rout again as its been pretty stable for me over the years.

Edited by rasure

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Well, so far here's my results using usb 2.0.

Presonus as stated before has a roundtrip latency of 7.3 at 24bit 48khz 128 buffers.

The Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 is 12.6 using the same settings, but...

The Scarlett is far more stable at 64 buffers and that gets me a 7.9 roundtrip.

Now to try usb 3.0. hmmm. Doesn't work at all using 3.0.

7.9 is plenty good enough for me, and of course I can always go up to 96khz.

Stability is really what I value the most between these two interfaces.

Edited by Clint Martin
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