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Clint Martin

Lowest Latency USB interface?

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29 minutes ago, Jim Roseberry said:

Hi Clint,

The AudioBox VSL reports latency accurately.

4.9ms total round-trip latency at a 64-sample ASIO buffer size 44.1k

Sounds pretty good to me!

 

 

 

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While it's on my mind...

Another example how monitoring thru software can open up new possibilities:

 

I've got one of the new HeadRush Gigboard guitar processors.

I've programmed a nice Marshall JCM-800 patch (with various optional boosts/EFX)... and I'd like to play/hear that in realtime with stereo Cab IRs (not just a single mono Cab).  HeadRush can run a pair of Cab IRs... but that (along with a single Amp) nearly maxes out its DSP.

 

With the ability to monitor thru software with 1ms total round-trip latency, I can set-up a stereo pair of Cab IRs in my DAW software.

Also, I can set-up pristine Reverb and Delay plugins... and hear the guitar thru all the above in realtime (as I'm playing)... without latency issues.

This is very flexible... as you can swap Cab IRs... and adjust Reverb/Delay at any point.  

 

The new AxeFX III lets you mix up to four simultaneous Cab IRs in each of two separate Cab Blocks.

The above method could be used to yield similar results.

 

With new capabilities come new opportunities...

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@Jim Roseberry

While true (and I know you already know this), that's not telling the whole story.

Yeah - in the IT world (Windows Servers and such), "effective permissions" means: the permissions of the selected user or group would be "this" if these permissions were put in place.  In other words, "effective" means "in the real world" or "practically", where in this example, it means nearly the exact opposite - like, "if there were NO other factors in place, the latency would be 1.5ms, but of course there ARE other factors in place all the time, so just ignore my effective ineffectiveness" - or something like that :)

Thanks for your feedback.  Glad to see that you feel like the Quantum IS actually the real deal.  I'm still keeping it on the list of possible purchases for some time that isn't now.

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6 hours ago, Jim Roseberry said:

When you can monitor thru software (no glitches) at 1ms round-trip latency, it pretty much makes hardware based monitoring moot.

 

For small projects maybe, or if you are just running an amp sim and nothing else, and again depending on the power of your computer. It starts to look like an expensive option for recording music. It just sounds a bit like marketing hype to me. You cannot get around the physical reality that a CPU can only handle so much, no matter what tricks the DAW's play, and if you are also relying on the CPU for software monitoring, that increases a potential bottleneck situation, especially if you are using convolution reverbs or complex evolving synths etc.

Sorry Jim, I have to agree to disagree here, it's hardware monitoring for me all the way! But that might be because I am a vocalist and you are an amp sim guitar player!

Clint, I had the Presonus VSL22 for a while, it was fine but I could never get on with the VSL software for my vocals because it made them sound robotic and there seemed to be a volume drop when I used it in full VSL mode. What I remember was that I had to juggle the mixer knob between VSL and direct out (hardware monitoring) so I could get the reverb from VSL (which i turned up to max), hear the output from DAW and the latency free direct return in the headphones.

This juggling act was required frequently on various interfaces I tried until I first experienced the M-Audio Ultra Pro which was the first interface I had with a DSP mixer, hardware monitoring and onboard effects. When I experienced this, it was a game changer for me, albeit with a crappy reverb and low headphone out. So then I moved away from bus power to get more amps into the unit, went through different units and have stuck with the one I have today, the UR44. If it broke I would just get another one or any interface as previously described, probably secondhand off Ebay.

It's amazing to put on the headphones, sing into the mic and hear your voice back with zero latency, a little EQ, compression and rich sounding stereo reverb, with your acoustic guitar also eq'd reverbed and panned where you want, together with an easy to mix output from your DAW of drums, bass, Keys etc. All easily adjusted through the DSP mixer. Sounds like I am in a room with a full band! And all happening on a 3rd generation i5 with 8 gig ram with no glitches or pops/clicks etc, it's not even a strain on the computer.

Yes you can sort of do this through software monitoring, providing you have a very low latency (and expensive) audio card, a very powerful (and expensive) computer and nice sounding plugins and you dont mind fiddling with DAW plugins to set up record but even then you might/might not get there.

Just throwing this option out there, you don't need to buy the latest and greatest of everything in order to get a well functioning system for recording music. Having good mics and sounds on your computer is more important than the audio interface.

 

 

Edited by Tezza
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1 hour ago, Tezza said:

But that might be because I am a vocalist and you are an amp sim guitar player!

Jim doesn't deserve the patronizing. (Doesn't need my defense, just thought I'd tell you tho).

All of the old-schoolers around here use real-time monitoring when appropriate, but there are cases for through DAW monitoring.

If you use your imagination a little, you could think of a few. 🙂

Many of the things you said are true. 

- Real-Time monitoring is cheap and easy and incredibly effective for lots of things. 
- Inexpensive interfaces can include fx processing like verb, eq and compression (I have made videos on how to do real-time parallel compression with an RME UCX).
- Lots of other equipment matters like Mics, pre-amps and instruments.
- Musicianship matters and when the musicians can hear themselves sounding great they'll perform better.

None of this discounts the huge value of a good low-latency interface. There are just tons of great things you can do with computers and it is possible to have a reasonably priced computer and interface that makes it all possible.

Jim knows more than most about how to make this fun happy world a reality for many people who were not able to achieve this on their own.

It sucks to be the old guy who's mad at his computer for ...

So much better to be the old guy whose computer enables wild new adventures.

Edited by Gswitz
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1 hour ago, Gswitz said:

It sucks to be the old guy who's mad at his computer for ...

So much better to be the old guy whose computer enables wild new adventures.

+1

Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it :-)

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Apologies if Jim thought I was being patronizing, that was not my intent, and he hasn't complained about that anyway. Gswitz, you claim I am being patronizing and then go on to be...patronizing. you say yourself that Jim doesn't need your defense and I agree. My imagination is just fine thank you.

I was pointing out that his needs seemed to center around amp sims  and I and people in my position have different needs, both are valid positions, just different. I don't agree with some of the things Jim said and that wont change but each to their own I guess. He is pushing his new Quantum interface with software only monitoring and me, well you will have to prize my hardware monitoring out of my cold dead hands.

Saying things like software monitoring renders hardware monitoring moot is not correct. This sounds like manufacturer marketing hype to me. I've heard it many times before and it just isn't that simple, so many other things to consider.

I don't like to see people going down the long road I went on before I realized what was best for me, this may have some relevance to others who's needs are the same as mine and they can shortcut some of the pain I went through with this advice. I have repeatedly said this advice is for people who's needs are like mine.

The advice I have given I believe is valid to those in my position, especially those starting out who might read this forum, this is a new forum with plenty of new people joining to use Cakewalk, for many, this may be their first encounter with a DAW.

There are lots of marketing gimmicks out there in audio land that promise the world and then you find yourself with an empty wallet and like a dog chasing its tail to get to audio nirvana. That's why forums like this are so valuable, people can take the advice that suits them. So I'll leave it at that.

 

 

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Ironically, I'm a singer when performing here in Columbus, OH.  😉

 

Keep in mind that I've been building DAWs professionally for 25 years.

My machine is running a 9900k (8 cores, 16 processing threads all locked at 5GHz).

Even with Quantum set to a 128-sample ASIO buffer size 44.1k, total round-trip latency is 2.9ms.

With a DAW that's using "Hybrid Buffering"; even on dense projects... I'm not going to run out of processing power for software-based monitoring.

 

I used a combination of hardware and software based monitoring for most of the last 25 years.  😉

I've been on sessions in Nashville (Memphis Horns, Terry McMillan, Tabitha Fair) decades ago where we had to monitor straight off the console (to avoid latency issues).

At those sessions, I was on the phone with Charlie from Frontier Design (soldering iron in hand) to mod their Dakota PCI card to achieve sample-accurate sync.

Until recently, *effective* software-based monitoring wasn't practical.

With today's hardware (Quantum and similar) and machines with super high clock-speed, software-based monitoring is practical/effective.

ie: If you're someone who's using V-Drums to trigger sample libraries like Superior Drummer 3, BFD3, etc... it's nice to be able to do that at super low latency.

 

Can you work without software-based monitoring?  Of course!  I've been working around it for decades.

Having super low round-trip latency benefits numerous facets of the production process... and opens new possibilities.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jim Roseberry
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When it comes to DAW related advice:

I've been around since the days when the Cakewalk "forums" (News Groups back then) were on CompuServe.

Few folks have accumulated more hours/experience building/supporting DAWs.

There's nothing I post that can be construed as bad advice... or that's going to leave someone stuck/non-functional.

Folks contact me on a daily basis to avoid/eliminate issues.

 

With the right set-up, software-based monitoring is practical/usable in the here/now.

It takes the right audio interface, it takes a fast machine, and it helps if the software has Hybrid Buffering

 

For me, having ultra low latency makes all processes more enjoyable.

  • Playing virtual-instruments - timing/response is tight
  • Triggering drum samples - timing/response is tight
  • Playing/monitoring in realtime thru AmpSim plugins - timing/response is tight

With such low latency, you've got the feel of hardware-based monitoring... with all the flexibility of software-based monitoring.

 

 

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Thanks Jim, I went to your website, you build all those computers yourself? If I post regarding a computer build I am considering, feel free to join in!

Sorry, I thought you were a Presonus fan boi flogging their gear on a forum which happens from time to time. Having gone through various pains with Presonus gear, for me, it was a case of here we go again.

Threads like this that start with asking about the "lowest latency USB interface" usually start off with budget/ midrange devices being considered, then ultimately end with the most expensive and a full computer upgrade being required etc.

I don't think that's Clint's position, moving from his Presonus 44vsl to the next level in a budget conscious way I still recommend what I have said already in this thread, namely, move to a DSP hardware monitoring unit, easy to try, get one on Ebay, try it, if you don't like it, on sell it. Can pick them up for $200-$400 (Aud) , if you like it, then you can on sell the VSL44. If you like it a lot and got the cash, then buy the new version and sell the secondhand one, get the warranty and extras.

As you say, if you have the spare cash for a fast computer and the very latest interface well then get that, but it might be overkill for those who can even afford it, the Quantum has up to 26 inputs and 32 outputs. It's interesting what Presonus are trying to do with the Quantum, sell it to professional studios with no DSP processing. Personally, I don't think that will work, professional studios like hardware monitoring. Semi pro studios might try it but they are also marketing it to solo musicians and I think it's too expensive and overkill for that.

From what I can see on other forums, the jury is still out on the Quantum, it appears because there are not a lot of real world experience reviews because not many are buying it, that might be because it is new (and expensive). Time will tell.

I've no doubt that if you had this Quantum and a fast computer all setup correctly, that you would get excellent software monitoring. My doubts would be how well it works when you start loading up the CPU with tracks, plugins, VST's etc and from what I gather on other forums, this is a concern to others as well with no answers so far. If it's working well for you, then you might consider doing a review on it, showing track counts, VST's, plugins etc because it seems the audio community is starved of real world experience reviews for this. There's a few marketing style reviews as usual.

For me, I am currently satisfied with my set up and have no reason to change it at present.

 

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@TezzaYeah, in my case I didn't know anything when I bought my 44VSL, and I don't have any affiliation with any brand.

Jim Roseberry is a straight up guy too.

With the market so crowded it's hard to tell which product is actually the best fit for my needs. All I know is I prefer my 44VSL over the Focusrite 6i6.

I don't use the VSL software. Never have. Which is why I don't mind that it is no longer supported, and now use the latest Universal Control Driver which is about a week old.

Anyway, this has been a very good and educational thread. I appreciate all of the opinions and insight from all of you.

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On 1/31/2019 at 5:15 PM, filo said:

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

Question:  When I increase the Sampling Rate, the latency for both Input & Output decrease!  I must not understand the concept, but I would have thought that increasing the sample rate would have caused more latency.  I experimented from 44,100 all the way up to 384,000 which brought the roundtrip latency down to a ridiculously low 1.3 msec!

What am I not understanding?

Edited by Toddskins

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And to the OP, Chris, I have not read all the posts in your thread, but when you spoke about perhaps getting a new audio interface, and you are using one now with 6 inputs, I thought I would just mention to you that Arturia just introduced a new desktop audio interface at NAMM a couple weeks ago with USB-C and normal USB that they claim all types of great things about, i.e. low latency, incredible signal to noise ratio, high db value.  Called the AudioFuse Studio, due out in 2 or 3 more months.   It's loaded with features. MSRP: $999

https://www.arturia.com/products/audio/audiofuse-studio/overview

Edited by Toddskins
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8 minutes ago, Toddskins said:

And to the OP, Chris, I have not read all the posts in your thread, but when you spoke about perhaps getting a new audio interface, and you are using one now with 6 inputs, I thought I would just mention to you that Arturia just introduced a new desktop audio interface at NAMM a couple weeks ago with USB-C that they claim all types of great things about, i.e. low latency, incredible signal to noise value, high db value.  Called the AudioFuse Studio, due out in 2 or 3 more months.  MSRP: $999

https://www.arturia.com/products/audio/audiofuse-studio/overview

It does look impressive and I like the sound of "inserts."

Not impressed by USB-C though.

I have an Arturia Beatstep Pro and a Keystep, both with USB-C connections and, although mine are okay and probably safe in a home studio situation, they are prone to failure.

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2 minutes ago, synkrotron said:

It does look impressive and I like the sound of "inserts."

Not impressed by USB-C though.

I have an Arturia Beatstep Pro and a Keystep, both with USB-C connections and, although mine are okay and probably safe in a home studio situation, they are prone to failure.

I edited my post just before you posted.  Their new device has both USB-C and the normal USB, too.

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To my knowledge, all the latest audio interfaces that have USB-C port (Focusrite, Presonus, M-Audio, etc) are actually USB-2 (not USB-3.1 like you might expect).

This offers no performance advantage vs. connecting via USB-2.

 

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2 hours ago, Toddskins said:

Question:  When I increase the Sampling Rate, the latency for both Input & Output decrease!  I must not understand the concept, but I would have thought that increasing the sample rate would have caused more latency.  I experimented from 44,100 all the way up to 384,000 which brought the roundtrip latency down to a ridiculously low 1.3 msec!

What am I not understanding?

Sample-rate refers to the number of samples per second

44.1k = 44,100 samples per second

48k = 48,000 samples per second

96k = 96,000 samples per second

 

The higher the sample-rate, the quicker a given buffer size.

64-sample ASIO buffer size at 44.1k = 1.5ms

64-sample ASIO buffer size at 48k = 1.3ms

64-sample ASIO buffer size at 96k = 0.67ms

 

Thus at a given buffer size (64-samples in this example), as sample-rate gets higher... latency gets lower.

ie: Doubling the sample-rate (twice as many samples per minute) cuts the latency of a buffer in half.

One might then expect that doubling the sample-rate would cut your audio interface's round-trip latency in half.

The X-Factor is the driver's safety-buffer.

If the driver's safety-buffer (often hidden) is consistent size across all sample-rates, doubling the sample-rate will cut round-trip latency in half.

If the driver uses a larger safety-buffer for higher sample-rates, round-trip latency will be slightly lower at higher sample-rates.

 

Many audio interfaces don't allow using ASIO buffer sizes smaller than 64-samples when working at sample-rates above 48k.

 

Edited by Jim Roseberry
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For all us regular humans, USB 2 carries enough data to support all our tracks.

 

So is usb c faster? What is the benefit? Just having it work on a USB c port isn't worth it to me.

Edited by Gswitz
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