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#1924383 07/08/12 09:34 PM
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Hey everyone.

This post is about seeking help when it comes to setting up a digital audio workstation between a laptop machine and a digital piano.

The piano I'm using is a Yamaha P95. I used to have an M-Audio soundcard which provided effortless recording straight out of the box. I was told this was the only way to record the digital signal from the piano to the computer.

More recently I discovered that I can utilize a standard 3.5 mm double ended AUX cable (similar to headphone wire) and plug the piano directly into my laptops internal soundcard recording jack. From there all I would need to do to record is select "Listen to device" under Volume/Recording Settings.

The piano plays through my external theater speakers and as for recording, the WAV or MP3 can be recorded and exported from a program like Audacity or MAGIX Cleaning Lab. The quality itself I'm quite impressed with and it seems to rival my MAudio Soundcard.

Now, as for the main problem. I'm experiencing a latency issue that I can't seem to fix accordingly. It isn't necessarily noticeable when playing slow but does become quite irritating when recording fast passages.

I tried optimizing my system settings also setting my computer to high performance, yet nothing seems to fix the problem. I'm hoping the forum can help smile

Thanks everyone.

(Just a note, I'm not looking for any MIDI functionality. Just a straight audio recording setup from the piano direct to the computer)

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I would suggest you download and install the free, universal low latency audio driver, ASIO4ALL.

http://download.cnet.com/ASIO4ALL/3000-2120_4-75724497.html


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Sound of Silence,
Laptop computers usually have weak audio cards for recording. Downloading and installing the ASIO4All probably won't help as your audio card probably isn't compatible with it. You can try adjusting the latency setting in whatever software you are recording in. A lot of people use Audacity to record which is free. If that does not work, using your MAudio interface should work.

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Also consider listening to the piano directly when you are recording, to avoid the latency issue altogether. I think the P95 only has a headphone output(?) - if that's the case, you could use a Y-adaptor cable to allow you to connect headphones (or an amp) directly to the P95, and also allow you to make the connection to the computer.

+1 on the ASIO4ALL suggestion too. (if you don't like the Y-adaptor idea)

EDIT: I see that the P95 has two headphone outputs, so you would not need a Y-adaptor. You say that you play the P95 through amp/speakers - is it directly connected to the amp even during the recording? If so, are you listening to that amp & speakers during the recording? If so, I don't understand why you would have any latency issues at all.

Are you just wanting to record solo piano, or are you recording multiple tracks and mixing them?

Greg.

Last edited by sullivang; 07/09/12 08:32 AM.
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Originally Posted by galaxy4t
Sound of Silence,
Laptop computers usually have weak audio cards for recording. Downloading and installing the ASIO4All probably won't help as your audio card probably isn't compatible with it. You can try adjusting the latency setting in whatever software you are recording in. A lot of people use Audacity to record which is free. If that does not work, using your MAudio interface should work.


The whole point of ASIO4ALL is that it DOES work on the audio chips found on a computer motherboard.

But if you're just recording piano, why monitor through the computer at all?

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I agree with the posters above, who recommended monitoring directly from the piano's headphone output, while recording.

If all else fails, and in the unlikely event that ASIO4ALL does not work with your particular laptop, here is a budget USB interface. I have no experience of this particular model, but several members here have found it adequate for their needs.

http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UCA202-Audio-Interface/dp/B000KW2YEI


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When I tried using ASIO4All on my Toshiba laptop with a Conexant sound card, it did nothing to help with latency. Eventually I bought a Steinberg CI 1 audio interface and used the ASIO4All with that and it worked much better. ASIO4All is hit and miss on computers with on board audio.

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The only computer I might not worry about an external interface is a Mac. They have a pretty good sound card. (pretty good everything)

Using an external interface. You should understand that you should set it up to use the sound card in the interface. Some are very good. Don't get a cheap one.

I understand why you want to listen to the computer. You're wanting to listen to exactly what you are recording.

I'd suggest you go to a site called: "Gearslutz". They can easily help you with latency issues. You shouldn't have any problems with latency.


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ASIO4all is an extra software layer on top of the Windows WDM sound driver. This can introduce instability (but YMMV).

You might look for an external usb soundcard with good asio driver support.

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Originally Posted by galaxy4t
When I tried using ASIO4All on my Toshiba laptop with a Conexant sound card, it did nothing to help with latency. Eventually I bought a Steinberg CI 1 audio interface and used the ASIO4All with that and it worked much better. ASIO4All is hit and miss on computers with on board audio.


What was the smallest buffer size you could set for the Connexant and ASIO4ALL? I usually find I can halve the latency of the standard drivers on a laptop computer. My use for ASIO4ALL is mainly to enable playback of the demanding sample player in Sibleius (the score publisher program) rather than to chase minimum latency. And the game has changed somewhat with Windows 7 and it's rather more effecient audio functions.

Surely the CI 1 has dedicated ASIO drivers (Steinberg invented ASIO, after all!) Why do you prefer ASIO4ALL to these?

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Originally Posted by rnaple
I'd suggest you go to a site called: "Gearslutz". They can easily help you with latency issues. You shouldn't have any problems with latency.


You may find Gearslutz useful, but I'm often unimpressed by the level of technical knowledge there.

You can always arrange zero latency by looping the audio back to your headphones before it goes into the digital part of the computer at all. Many audio interfaces arrange this by simple switching. Those of us who use external mixing boards can arrange it there. When recording a keyboard plugging to the headphone output seems an excellent method.

Monitoring becomes more of an issue when building up multitrack recordings - adding a track to ones already recorded. Much of the advice you will get on recording forums will be from people who assume this is what you're doing.

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Exalted Wombat,
I should start out by saying that I was trying to do MIDI on the laptop I was using. I have a Casio PX-575 which can only work with a 32 bit O.S. The laptop initially had Vista 32 bit loaded on it and I tried all of the settings available before downloading ASIO4All. I think I had the buffer set to 512. Anything lower would cause very bad dropouts. Since my DP was actually designed for XP, I loaded that on my laptop. I tried using the Yamaha ASIO driver that came with the Steinberg but could not get acceptable results. I had the buffer set as high as 768k and still would get pops and clicks. I then tried installing the ASIO4ALL and was able to get better results, but not with all software VST. All the electric piano VST I have used all have problems. I've used Mr. Ray 73 and Lounge Lizard which comes with Mixcraft 5.1. I have tried adjusting all kinds of settings on the laptop but have not completely been able to eliminate the problem. It works best with Pianoteq and Kontact Elements

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It appears that in order to use ASIO with Audacity, we have to jump through some hoops. (re-compile Audacity with ASIO support): http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/ASIO_Audio_Interface

On my Windows 7 laptop, and without using ASIO, I'd do the following:
- Make sure the mic/line in is enabled. (Control Panel | Sound | Recording)
- Make sure the mic/line in is enable for listening (select Properties | Listen for the mic/line in, and check the "Listening" checkbox)
- Open the Volume Mixer (right-click on the little speaker icon in the task bar and select "Volume Mixer") and adjust the level for the mic/line in

This uses the laptop's internal soundcard to monitor the piano, without using Audacity. (I'm not even sure Audacity can be used to loop the input back to the output during recording - if it can do that, I can't see how to do it yet. It has an input level meter - this appears to only be a meter). It will almost certainly have no appreciable latency, and it's better because when the recording is played back, nothing needs to be unplugged. If there is any background hum/hiss from the input, though, then the mic/line in volume should be reduced to zero (or "Listen" disabled) for critical auditioning of recordings.

Greg.

Last edited by sullivang; 07/11/12 12:14 AM.
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Just reading the Audacity help file on latency, I see that there is indeed an option to have Audacity do the input monitoring in software. (Edit | Preferences | Recording | Software Playthrough) I.e - it will send whatever signal occurs on the input back out to the playback device. (on a Mac, it can also configure the soundcard hardware to do this). In my previous reply I outlined how I would configure my hardware to do the recording monitoring, so I would NOT enable Software Playthrough. And, I would only consider using the software playthrough monitoring with a low latency audio driver (e.g ASIO)

Greg.

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Thanks to everyone for the excellent replies. I'm going to incorporate this feedback and perfect my setup to ensure the best possible recording quality I can achieve.

To address a previous question. The P95 was connected through an AUX cable with an adapter directly to the 'mic input' port on the laptop. I have an external 5.1 speaker set connected to the headphone jack. The piano sound was coming through the external speakers when I set my mic to 'monitor on'

I think the suggestion about using a MAC is spot on. It seems apple machines are superior when it comes to music/recording.

* Just a note, I read in tutorial that it isn't suggested to 'loop' back audio with two cables in both ports of the digital piano routing back to the computer. Apparently it can cause some sort of malfunction or at least that's what I managed to gather from that particular article. I'm still trying to figure out how to achieve the best results. But I think an advanced piece of equipment like a higher quality soundcard would be the best bet. In order to simply avoid complications all together.

Thanks everyone


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Sounds like you are doing everything correctly, but your computer's soundcard/mixer has some latency. I'm a bit surprised about that, although I can think of a few possible explanations for it.

I assume that you definitely do not have any latency problems when you connect your piano directly to the same 5.1 speaker set?

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Now, as for the main problem. I'm experiencing a latency issue that I can't seem to fix accordingly. It isn't necessarily noticeable when playing slow but does become quite irritating when recording fast passages.

I tried optimizing my system settings also setting my computer to high performance, yet nothing seems to fix the problem. I'm hoping the forum can help smile

Thanks everyone. [/quote]

Latency is caused by a sample buffer. You need to make the sample buffer smaller. You did not tell us which operating system you are using. If this is Windows then there is another problem that causes latency the "windows audio system" you need to first replace this with "ASIO" audio drivers. ASIO is free, google it then download it. What it does is make your Windows audio work like every other OS and directly connects the application to the output device hardware. After you install the ASIO driver you can adjust the size of the sample driver.

Your m-audio device might be working better because it comes with this driver. Your built-in audio jack is likely using the Microsoft driver. You need to replace that with ASIO


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@ChrisA: I doubt that it has anything to do with the audio buffer size, because he is experiencing the latency when directly monitoring the mic input, without using any audio application at all. That monitoring is not being done by Audaicity - that's the soundcard's mixer doing that. I doubt that the audio is even getting to the soundcard driver. (not 100% sure though). If the audio is undergoing an analog-to-digital and then a digital-to-analog conversion (all on the soundcard, in hardware), there might be a bit of latency as the digital audio passes through the soundcard's mixer I suppose. I'm really curious about this because it doesn't make much sense to me at the moment.

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I've just measured the latency from mic/line in, to headphone out, on a Dell E6500 laptop. It is a WHOPPING 77ms, if I've done everything properly. (I used the Centrance latency test utility on a second computer, and compared the latency with and without the computer-under-test in the loopback path).

So, yes, use a better soundcard. ;^)

I still do not think ASIO has anything to do with the problem though. (I do have ASIO4ALL installed on this laptop, but when something is using it, it pops up a control panel. I do not see this control panel, which is not surprising, because I am not using any ASIO application for this test)

In the meantime, just monitor the piano directly during recording.

Greg.

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Although, you could still use the "Software Playthrough" feature in Audacity, in conjunction with ASIO. As I said earlier, you'd need to install the ASIO4ALL driver, recompile Audacity with ASIO support, and then configure Audacity for "Software Playthrough" monitoring. If you use a good soundcard that provides low latency monitoring, though, ASIO is not strictly required for what you are doing at the moment.

You'd be monitoring with two ASIO paths worth of latency - the input latency, and the output latency. (yuck)

Greg.

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