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Mr Snowman

Should I use a an Audio Interface?

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Hi all, a newbie here!  Apologies if this is the wrong forum to ask ... and this may be a daft question but as a new starter setting up my desktop for basic home producing on Cakewalk do I need an audio interface, or can I simply use my PC's soundcard?  I don't record any instruments - just a midi controller connecting by USB with all VSTs.  Forgive my naivety but I'm an ol' guy just getting into a new hobby! 😀 Thanks

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For a long time I used the on board sound card with headphones. I didn't really see the point in buying a external audio interface as I was only using VST instruments. Then I got a Behringer UMC204HD as it was going cheap on Amazon and the difference when listening through headphones is like tasting the difference between dishwater and orange juice!!! Definitely worth it

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For the time being, onboard sound is just fine. And it won't affect the quality of exported audio, as this is a purely 'offline' process, not involving the soundcard/interface. For best results, set 'WASAPI Exclusive' driver mode in Preferences > Audio > Playback and Recording, and set the Buffer-Size slider in Audio > Sync and Caching as low as you can, without getting pops/crackles or dropouts on playback.

P.S. Welcome aboard. Lots of old guys around here ready to help with any questions/issues you might have, but it does help to read about the basics of MIDI, Audio and DAWs in Cakewalk docs and around the Web at large. Youtube is a great resource.

Edited by David Baay

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2 hours ago, Justin Broad said:

For a long time I used the on board sound card with headphones. I didn't really see the point in buying a external audio interface as I was only using VST instruments. Then I got a Behringer UMC204HD as it was going cheap on Amazon and the difference when listening through headphones is like tasting the difference between dishwater and orange juice!!! Definitely worth it

Many thanks Justin.  Really helpful to hear your experience ... and great analysis BTW.  I've never tried drinking dishwater, but taking your advice I'll give that a pass! 😏

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2 hours ago, David Baay said:

For the time being, onboard sound is just fine. And it won't affect the quality of exported audio, as this is a purely 'offline' process, not involving the soundcard/interface. For best results, set 'WASAPI Exclusive' driver mode in Preferences > Audio > Playback and Recording, and set the Buffer-Size slider in Audio > Sync and Caching as low as you can, without getting pops/crackles or dropouts on playback.

P.S. Welcome aboard. Lots of old guys around here ready to help with any questions/issues you might have, but it does help to read about the basics of MIDI, Audio and DAWs in Cakewalk docs and around the Web at large. Youtube is a great resource.

Hi David, I really appreciate your comments and advice.  I've done quite a bit of 'Googling' and 'YouTube-ing' recently and am learning a lot already, but great to get some good advice directly from people who know!  Cheers

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re learning resources check out the Creative Sauce tutorials (you'll find links to them in the Tutorials section further down the forum). Mike makes learning fun and easy to follow. Lots of other great resources there too!

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oh and forgot to mention I have been using onboard sound for years (like you I'm midi and VSTI only) and found it fine. I'm sure the quality would be better with a dedicated device but as a hobbyist with only limited time for music creation on board has served me fine 🙂

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Onboard chip is fine for playback. I've even hooked a mixer up with a 1/8" stereo jack and recorded some decent sounding vocals and guitar just to f- the haterz.

And for those of you onboard soundcard jockeys I have a small bit (pun intended) of advice: for playback of your sound files, like your mixdowns or purchased or ripped music, try a media player that supports WASAPI and ASIO playback. MusicBee and Foobar2000 are the recognized champions. VLC is okay, but you have to go deep into its settings. I use MusicBee because I like the look, it's skinnable and supports VST plug-ins! I use it for internet streaming radio and ripping CD's too.

The thing is to bypass the Windows sound playback engine with its layers of resampling. I won't start a debate, just get one of those players, set it up for WASAPI and listen. The difference is most obvious on cheapo D/A's for some reason. It's like swabbing the wax out of your ears.

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On 12/18/2019 at 3:47 PM, JoeGBradford said:

oh and forgot to mention I have been using onboard sound for years (like you I'm midi and VSTI only) and found it fine. I'm sure the quality would be better with a dedicated device but as a hobbyist with only limited time for music creation on board has served me fine 🙂

Cheers Joe - I've already subscribed to CreativeSauce.  And I'd agree, it's a fantastic 'sauce' of info, especially being the only YouTube channel I've found that focusses on Cakewalk 🙂  Thanks also for your comments on the DA issue.  I'll keep saving my pennies for some future day ... 

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On 12/18/2019 at 6:54 PM, Starship Krupa said:

Onboard chip is fine for playback. I've even hooked a mixer up with a 1/8" stereo jack and recorded some decent sounding vocals and guitar just to f- the haterz.

And for those of you onboard soundcard jockeys I have a small bit (pun intended) of advice: for playback of your sound files, like your mixdowns or purchased or ripped music, try a media player that supports WASAPI and ASIO playback. MusicBee and Foobar2000 are the recognized champions. VLC is okay, but you have to go deep into its settings. I use MusicBee because I like the look, it's skinnable and supports VST plug-ins! I use it for internet streaming radio and ripping CD's too.

The thing is to bypass the Windows sound playback engine with its layers of resampling. I won't start a debate, just get one of those players, set it up for WASAPI and listen. The difference is most obvious on cheapo D/A's for some reason. It's like swabbing the wax out of your ears.

Many thanks Starship and some good advice on playback.  I'm off to find Musicbee ... after a quick dig about on Google it looks really good.  Thanks again.

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@Mr Snowman, Welcome to the forum and to Cakewalk by BandLab!

If you like to read when you're offline there is the excellent Cakewalk by BandLab guide.  At the top, left of each forum webpage is a "Cakewalk by BandLab" tab.  Select the tab and then select "Reference Guide PDF" to download a manual that explains Cakewalk by BandLab in great detail but also has a bunch od generic information about digital audio workstations, or DAWS, in general as well as computer audio.

I mainly mix audio created outside the box, play with audio and midi loops and create midi.  I don't have an audio interface but have found a simple surface controller useful.  The surface controller allows me to use regular knobs and faders to move faders and turn knobs inside the DAW

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@Jim Fogle  Many thanks Jim - I guess that's another perspective on things!  And thanks for signposting the Cakewalk by Bandlab guide.  That's something I'll definitely be looking at.  Have a great Christmas!  Cheers

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