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Clint Martin

Lowest Latency USB interface?

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* https://www.gearslutz.com/board/showpost.php?p=12352524&postcount=1163

So according to that post, there can be somehow wrongly labeled settings for 6i6. So "64" is more "128". So the next thing to check is why you can not go lower. That is computer related. It can be that nothing can be done (as f.e. with my 8 years old Celeron class desktop), but with relatively powerful computer, even 6 years old, it should be possible to reduce the buffer size after tweaking.

* your original 7.3ms is  good. In fact too good for that Presonus. All reports indicate around 10ms for the same settings. Note that this interface can report wrong numbers to the DAW. Make a loopback check, manual or with RTL, to get real latency.

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UAC according to all tests it has very good latency. Is is a bit more expensive then other and definitively bring better latency for that money.

But it can not do 7.3ms under 48kHz/128, so I could not resist from "trolling" a bit. UAC owners could prevent that by "wait... 7.3ms? even my good latency UAC can not do that with such settings".  And it was "7.3ms? its too high... my UAC is better". 😉

 

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On 1/30/2019 at 4:07 PM, Craig Anderton said:

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.

FWIW,  With Thunderbolt-3 under Windows 10, you've just got to be aware of all the details (leave nothing to chance).

  • You've got to have a motherboard with integrated Thunderbolt-3 controller... or one that specifically supports a Thunderbolt-3 controller AIC (add-in-card).
  • You've got to be running Win10
  • Your audio interface needs drivers that support "PCIe via Thunderbolt"
  • Most Thunderbolt audio interfaces are Thunderbolt-2, so you'll need a Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter

 

We've used motherboards from both Asus and Gigabyte... as well as custom laptop shells from Clevo.

In all cases, whether the Thunderbolt-3 controller was integrated or AIC, performance was 100% reliable.

Presonus recommends the StarTech Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter.

We've tested the Apple TB3>TB2 adapter under many different configurations (desktop and laptop)... and it's always worked fine.

 

I moved from an Apollo-8 Quad/Satellite Quad setup... to Quantum... because it yields incredibly low round-trip latency.

It's a gas to run Helix Native with 1ms total round-trip latency.  I believe the hardware Helix has ~2ms round-trip latency.

 

A note about USB-C audio interfaces:

Though the units connect via USB-C port, all the models I've seen thus far are actually USB-2 (not USB-3.1 as you might expect).

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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.

I got the RME UCX after saving money for like two years, but if I hadn't I would definitely look up the Zoom UAC-2.

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Update: The Presonus wins. (Focusrite for sale)

I went ahead and downloaded the latest Universal Driver, and while it does increase latency at 128 buffers (9.7), it is far more stable with my machine than the Focusrite, and at 64 buffers has a rountrip latency of 5.3. (the Focusrite was 7.9)

This is at 24bit 48khz.

I'm interested in what the new IK Axe I/O latency numbers are, because the rest of it looks very nice.

 

Edited by Clint Martin
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Well, this discussion is very interesting to me. That's why I tested today the RTL of my USB audio interfaces, the old Tascam US-144mk2, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2ndGen and the Behringer UMC404HD. I am aware that these are all just low cost interfaces, but it maybe interesting nevertheless. For the tests I downloaded and used the RTL Utility of Oblique Audio. All sample rates below are 24-bit.

Like expected, the older US-144mk2 scored worst. You must be able to use 96 samples with at least 88,2 K sample rate to have a nearly acceptable RTL of 11,2 ms. The result of the 2 other newer interfaces is much more interesting. There you can clearly see that the Focusrite driver is optimized for higher sample rates and small buffer sizes (< 128 samples). It performs very poor on larger buffers, i.e. the latency curve is raising steeply. I am a little bit disappointed by the Focusrite driver compared to the Behringer one. With 44,1 K the UMC404HD outperforms the Scarlett beginning from 64 sample buffer size (404HD = 6,6 ms, Scarlett = 7,9 ms) and up to a buffer size of 1024 the latency of the Focusrite one is double of its competitor! You see a similar picture with higher sample rates. With 88,2K and above the turning point comes at a higher buffer size at least.

I know that many people are not impressed of this bad behaviour of the Focusrite driver, because this is "just" a cheap interface of theirs. But on the internet I found a test of the Focusrite Clarett PreX USB (that I was dreaming of) that showed exactly the same problem, i.e. the RTL is not convincing on lower sample rates beginning with moderate buffer sizes (96/128 samples). As a result one should only recommend their interfaces for real power computers!

On the other hand the Behringer UMC404HD has quite usable RTLs for its price and for lower powered PCs (44,1K: 64=6,6ms, 128=11,1ms, 48K: 64=6,4ms, 128=10,8ms, 88,2K: 64=4,9ms, 128=5,5ms).

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On 1/29/2019 at 8:29 PM, Cactus Music said:

I have a 6i6 1st gen and it's not a good performer RTL wise.    

I have a 1st gen 18i8 and agree 1st gen USB hardware, firmware & drivers were not up to par. My ancient MOTU 828 mill firewire has lower latency.  I wish there was some way to know that before you buy. 

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On ‎2‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 9:52 AM, Jim Roseberry said:

FWIW,  With Thunderbolt-3 under Windows 10, you've just got to be aware of all the details (leave nothing to chance).

  • You've got to have a motherboard with integrated Thunderbolt-3 controller... or one that specifically supports a Thunderbolt-3 controller AIC (add-in-card).
  • You've got to be running Win10
  • Your audio interface needs drivers that support "PCIe via Thunderbolt"
  • Most Thunderbolt audio interfaces are Thunderbolt-2, so you'll need a Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter

 

We've used motherboards from both Asus and Gigabyte... as well as custom laptop shells from Clevo.

In all cases, whether the Thunderbolt-3 controller was integrated or AIC, performance was 100% reliable.

Presonus recommends the StarTech Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter.

We've tested the Apple TB3>TB2 adapter under many different configurations (desktop and laptop)... and it's always worked fine.

 

I moved from an Apollo-8 Quad/Satellite Quad setup... to Quantum... because it yields incredibly low round-trip latency.

It's a gas to run Helix Native with 1ms total round-trip latency.  I believe the hardware Helix has ~2ms round-trip latency.

 

A note about USB-C audio interfaces:

Though the units connect via USB-C port, all the models I've seen thus far are actually USB-2 (not USB-3.1 as you might expect).

https://www.amazon.ca/STARTECH-Thunderbolt-Backward-Compatible-TBT3TBTADAP/dp/B019FPJDQ2/ref=asc_df_B019FPJDQ2/?tag=googleshopc0c-20&amp;linkCode=df0&amp;hvadid=292991886665&amp;hvpos=1o2&amp;hvnetw=g&amp;hvrand=5500206735586085438&amp;hvpone=&amp;hvptwo=&amp;hvqmt=&amp;hvdev=c&amp;hvdvcmdl=&amp;hvlocint=&amp;hvlocphy=9047889&amp;hvtargid=pla-343408335492&amp;psc=1

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2 hours ago, StarTekh said:

Clint : I don't know what motherboard you have but I can tell you this ..Thunderbolt is the way to go .. Im never looking back :   https://www.uaudio.com/  

They also have firewire and usb .. but TB is clearly the winner !

I don't have thunderbolt. My PC was built by ADK Pro Audio and has been very stable for 6 years.

Whever it comes time to replace it, I'll go that way for sure.

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On 2/1/2019 at 9:52 AM, Jim Roseberry said:

FWIW,  With Thunderbolt-3 under Windows 10, you've just got to be aware of all the details (leave nothing to chance).

  • You've got to have a motherboard with integrated Thunderbolt-3 controller... or one that specifically supports a Thunderbolt-3 controller AIC (add-in-card).
  • You've got to be running Win10
  • Your audio interface needs drivers that support "PCIe via Thunderbolt"
  • Most Thunderbolt audio interfaces are Thunderbolt-2, so you'll need a Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter

 

We've used motherboards from both Asus and Gigabyte... as well as custom laptop shells from Clevo.

In all cases, whether the Thunderbolt-3 controller was integrated or AIC, performance was 100% reliable.

Presonus recommends the StarTech Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter.

We've tested the Apple TB3>TB2 adapter under many different configurations (desktop and laptop)... and it's always worked fine.

 

I moved from an Apollo-8 Quad/Satellite Quad setup... to Quantum... because it yields incredibly low round-trip latency.

It's a gas to run Helix Native with 1ms total round-trip latency.  I believe the hardware Helix has ~2ms round-trip latency.

 

A note about USB-C audio interfaces:

Though the units connect via USB-C port, all the models I've seen thus far are actually USB-2 (not USB-3.1 as you might expect).

Jim this is very useful information for me. I have an ASUS X99 DELUXE II motherboard with the ASUS/INTEL ThunderboltEX 3 PCIe card. It's good to hear that, once the prices drop to within my price range, I'll be able to use a Thunderbolt interface and benefit from the extremely low latencies they are capable of.

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10 hours ago, Twisted Fingers said:

I have a 1st gen 18i8 and agree 1st gen USB hardware, firmware & drivers were not up to par. My ancient MOTU 828 mill firewire has lower latency.  I wish there was some way to know that before you buy. 

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/618474-audio-interface-low-latency-performance-data-base.html

Note that many interfaces/conditions are not in the first post, googe the thread for almost all interfaces RTL tables. Note that not all posts there have equal "quality". And "traps" are not only numbers taken from "some DAW", but also RTL screenshots when the interface has some build-in route and so the "loopback" was performed without DA-AD conversion. Also these numbers should be interpreted as "the best you can get". So, if you are able to use some mode (like 96kHz/32), you will get the same numbers. But it can happened the particular mode with particular interface/driver is not usable (on particular computer, DAW, project, etc.).

It took me a while to understand that many (most?) people are not interested in low latency. They do not use in DAW monitoring, except may be MIDI for which latency is less important. So even some "high end" devices have big latency.

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17 minutes ago, azslow3 said:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/618474-audio-interface-low-latency-performance-data-base.html

Note that many interfaces/conditions are not in the first post, googe the thread for almost all interfaces RTL tables. Note that not all posts there have equal "quality". And "traps" are not only numbers taken from "some DAW", but also RTL screenshots when the interface has some build-in route and so the "loopback" was performed without DA-AD conversion. Also these numbers should be interpreted as "the best you can get". So, if you are able to use some mode (like 96kHz/32), you will get the same numbers. But it can happened the particular mode with particular interface/driver is not usable (on particular computer, DAW, project, etc.).

It took me a while to understand that many (most?) people are not interested in low latency. They do not use in DAW monitoring, except may be MIDI for which latency is less important. So even some "high end" devices have big latency.

azslow3, thanks. It would be nice if that information was available when we're making interface buying decisions.  However, the tests were done with Windows 7. I would hope that performance with Windows 10, which I think is reported to have better audio performance, and newer more powerful processors.

Looks like the successor to my 828 mkII didn't fare very well. My Scarlett 18i8 is probably most similar to the Scarlett 6i6, which didn't do to well either, in the testing. However my 18i8 has a buffer size settings range of 1-20 ms not in samples as shown in the charts.  At  the 1 ms setting Cakewalk reports 45 samples. At the 20 ms setting 883 samples are reported. Looks like it's about 44 samples/ms. 

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Windows 10 can influence the DAW performance and some not ASIO aspects of audio.  But as long as the device and the driver are the same, you can expect the same latency. Also as I have mentioned the first post in that thread does bot contain everything, people was measuring interfaces on Windows 10 and not only with 44.1kHz.

For Scarlett, in one of the posts it is mentioned that "64" setting is probably 128 samples per buffer internally. All interfaces have some "extra" latency settings, some of them can expose a part of these settings in some form to the user.

The latency is a sum of many delays: AD + transfer to computer + driver + transfer from computer + DA. The buffer size is just a chunk size in which audio is processed in the DAW. That directly influence the latency, f.e. if a DAW works with 48kHz/128 the "buffer length" in time is 2.8ms. Since the DAW becomes the whole buffer, that theoretically can not happened before 2.8ms since the first sample is digitized. But all other processes are not instant, f.e. the DAW should have time to process the buffer. The difference between measured latency and the buffer size latency is what the interface+driver have to do the rest. F.e. 7.3ms - 2.8ms = 4.5ms. The smaller the buffer own length (f.e. 96kHz/64  - 0.6ms) the smaller total latency can be, with the same "overhead" (4.5ms + 0.6ms = 5.1ms). In practice, not all components of the overhead are constant.

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I've had surprisingly good performance from a Behringer UMC 1820 going on 2 years. It's the big brother to the 404 mentioned upthread. I had a bad experience with a Scarlet 18i20 and never looked back once I got the Behringer. They did a major driver update about a year ago and that had helped. It also works fine in a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port.

One thing I did on my machine was ad a PCIe card for additional USB ports. On a lot of machines the main chipset handles all the USB stuff and on older and slightly slower PCs this can hurt performance. By adding in the PCIe card (which is USB 3.0) for my USB interface all the number crunching is handled there and then passed on to the chipset. I noticed an improvement right away with big project loads and low latency. It also eliminated any of that occasional digital noise some systems get when files or effects are being rendered. 

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Clint .. I think Craig has the best answer to your interface options.. Do keep in mind though that A upgrade to A Thunderbolt is A... motherboard memory and processor...away ! Ive been using Universal Audio apollo twin with a few extra plugins... tracking is beyond words.. as for my personal  system . I have always been using top custom builds .. and this time its to die for !  some good reading  although im A Asus fan  :  https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/Z390-DESIGNARE-rev-10#kf

 

 

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52 minutes ago, StarTekh said:

Clint .. I think Craig has the best answer to your interface options.. Do keep in mind though that A upgrade to A Thunderbolt is A... motherboard memory and processor...away ! Ive been using Universal Audio apollo twin with a few extra plugins... tracking is beyond words.. as for my personal  system . I have always been using top custom builds .. and this time its to die for !  some good reading  although im A Asus fan  https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/Z390-DESIGNARE-rev-10#kf

 

 

Yeah, It's not that big of a deal. What I'm getting is working fine for me. I'm interested in the new IK AXE I/O interface which is still usb 2.0.

5.3 ms roundtrip is something that doesn't bother me at all.

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I'm in the need of a simple interface with MIDI and so I always read these threads. Need decent RTL under 6ms would be great.

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I'm in the need of a simple interface with MIDI

U-PHORIA UMC204HD

Audiophile 2x4, 24-Bit/192 kHz USB Audio/MIDI Interface with MIDAS Mic Preamplifiers

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