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« Recorded through the same Soundblaster X-Fi card ». Through the sound card means through DAC and ADC.

Typically, the output of the card is linked to the input.


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Originally Posted by pianogabe
Originally Posted by vagfilm
Playing with the Asio buffer is what I normally do. With CFX standalone I have it at 64 samples without problems (remember, I am no Trifonov or Wang...).

Ah, that sounds good. Although I see in the list that newer player linked that just the buffer length in itself really does not say that much about the actual latency, so my comment on 92 (UR22) vs 128 (scarlett) on my system should be disregarded.There is a lot of difference in latency between devices at the same buffer lengths.

It is but marginal. If you have high end headphones you still need amps. These are budget devices so the circuit and DAC/ADC chips are few bucks max.

UR-RC series are better option IMHO but you also pay for the useless DSPMix stuff which is very stupid. The stuff dspmixfx offers will make your output sound like an absolute amateur.

So Focusrite is offering a much better option. Good preamps, good output.

If you’re working with VSTs the outcome is digital, hence independent of your interface.

What do you want to achieve? What is the purpose? Live performances? Studio recording? Hobby?

As I said a digital mixer will do much more. Take a look at behringer xr18 or Zoom L12.

If you have a smaller setup you can even find cheaper USB capable digital mixers.

A mediocre audio interface starts around 500 usd I believe.


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Also, the most expensive parts in these devices are the analog recording parts... so preamps add a significant jump to the price

There are various latence. The most important latency here is the delay it takes for the analog signal to be converted into digital and then heard through the headphones. An audio interface. The VST latency also relies on how good drivers are written etc.

So if the VST performance is what you’re looking for, a much cheaper option than UR22 may work as well.

Last edited by Abdol; 12/29/20 10:30 AM.

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Thank you all for the info and discussion. I was fundamentally wrong about the interaction between CPU and the audio interface (which is marginal, but I was for some reason assuming that the CPU was involved in DAC processes or that some aspect of DSP would be taken over from the CPU - which is obvious not possible). I was not thinking it over well (or not thinking at all, to be honest), and so for the moment the audio interface is really not needed and so this idea is out the window (and of course the digital mixer is way overkill and completely the opposite of my goals and needs). I want to keep my setup as small as possible (even using the laptop is annoying). As long as it is working, I will not touch it; if I decide to buy any VSL piano, then a major upgrade on the computer side will probably be necessary, and maybe an audio interface if I get plagued by latency problems... Until then I will enjoy fewer cables and knobs even if it means giving up a few msecs in latency or perfect frequencies by better DACs.

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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
« Recorded through the same Soundblaster X-Fi card ». Through the sound card means through DAC and ADC.

Typically, the output of the card is linked to the input.

Maybe I'm wrong because I'm no expert so correct me if necessary, but i don't see the point of a conversion when copying a file, from digital to digital, inside a computer. I thought DAC comes into work when you want to make it sound through speakers, a file that is storaged in digital format. What is the point of converting into analogue a digital file that you want to copy as digital?

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Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by Frédéric L
« Recorded through the same Soundblaster X-Fi card ». Through the sound card means through DAC and ADC.

Typically, the output of the card is linked to the input.

Maybe I'm wrong because I'm no expert so correct me if necessary, but i don't see the point of a conversion when copying a file, from digital to digital, inside a computer. I thought DAC comes into work when you want to make it sound through speakers, a file that is storaged in digital format. What is the point of converting into analogue a digital file that you want to copy as digital?

The purpose here was to make the audio degradation of the sound card more evident. Then if you hear no degradation, this means that buying a more expensive card may not be a good choice.

In a normal use, there are no advantage of a DAC/ADC transformation of a digital sound.


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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by Frédéric L
« Recorded through the same Soundblaster X-Fi card ». Through the sound card means through DAC and ADC.

Typically, the output of the card is linked to the input.

Maybe I'm wrong because I'm no expert so correct me if necessary, but i don't see the point of a conversion when copying a file, from digital to digital, inside a computer. I thought DAC comes into work when you want to make it sound through speakers, a file that is storaged in digital format. What is the point of converting into analogue a digital file that you want to copy as digital?

The purpose here was to make the audio degradation of the sound card more evident. Then if you hear no degradation, this means that buying a more expensive card may not be a good choice.

In a normal use, there are no advantage of a DAC/ADC transformation of a digital sound.
Ok now it's clear.
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I agree with all Abdol wrote in this thread. If you are not planning to record analog signals (vocals, guitars etc) there is no need for audio interface. It wont decrease load from your CPU even a little bit. If your computer is not some budget market crap and unless you buy RME or similar quality device it also won't lower your latency by human-noticable values.

If you need additional outputs for example to connect some studio monitors you might need one though.

One more thing: if you are using low impedance headphones you might actually get worse sound with audio interface hp output (they usually have medicore quality AMPs, with high impedance outputs which brings damping factor to crazy low values further causing uncontrolled boomy bass).


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AFAIR the Steinberg has a little less SNR than the Scarlett (tho not sure about this specific model tbh). If you plan to use the ADC, go for the Scarlett.

And as others already have indicated, I would rather expect more load from ASIO than from "regular" audio interfaces because of the lower latency (if you use that).

Last edited by Marc345; 12/30/20 05:05 AM.

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I'm a Scarlett 4I4 third gen user, and loopback is supported from 4I4 upward. I love this audio interface, and even casual music listening there's great improvement in the sound stage and imaging of instruments. If you are willing to pay this much, you'll enjoy it very much!
Stay away from MOTU M2, because as far as I know, it still drops out audio over USB and it's not a good interface. I've tried it but have since returned it. I mean, the specs are very good, the price is great, and it also has loopback. However the fact that it always cuts out audio is quite annoying.

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Originally Posted by AlphaBravoCharlie
If your computer is not some budget market crap and unless you buy RME or similar quality device it also won't lower your latency by human-noticable values.

I found this hard to believe, because a few years ago I tested this and there was a significant difference. However, I just tested this again (because I would also like to get rid of the extra box/cables at my piano, if it is not necessary) and on my current laptop (lenovo i5, win10) it seems that the external focusrite 2i2 is indeed only 2 ms faster than the internal DAC (ASIO4all, at 64 buffer setting). This is true for Pianoteq (5 vs 7 ms), Garritan (7 vs 9 ms) and my Bechstein Digital Grand (7 vs 9 ms). At buffer 128, the differences disappear, and the latency difference is pretty much 10 ms for all of them.

The values above are latency of the VST sound as compared to the internal DP-generated sound. I measured this by recording the DP headphone output and the laptop/focusrite headphone output as separate channels on the same audio device.

Interestingly, since I have a Kawai K300 ATX, which is a silent piano, I also determined the latency between the internal DP-generated sound (the ATX3 one) and the acoustic sound, as recorded by a mic on top of the piano. The ATX3 digital sound is 0-3 ms faster than the acoustic sound for loud notes (ff). For soft notes, ppp, the ATX3 digital sound is ~20 ms faster (!) than the acoustic sound. It seems that Kawai adjusted the latency of the ATX3 sound well to loud playing, but for soft playing the digital sound starts ~20 ms too soon.

Concluding, latency wise, my laptop indeed performs only marginally poorer than the external audio device. Further: it may be that midi timing in the ATX3 (and perhaps NV-10, NV-5?) is not (sufficiently) adjusted for key velocity when playing softly, leading to latency differences of 15-30 ms, with the digital sound being too soon.

Last edited by pianogabe; 12/30/20 12:58 PM. Reason: typo
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Originally Posted by pianogabe
Originally Posted by AlphaBravoCharlie
If your computer is not some budget market crap and unless you buy RME or similar quality device it also won't lower your latency by human-noticable values.

I found this hard to believe, because a few years ago I tested this and there was a significant difference. However, I just tested this again (because I would also like to get rid of the extra box/cables at my piano, if it is not necessary) and on my current laptop (lenovo i5, win10) it seems that the external focusrite 2i2 is indeed only 2 ms faster than the internal DAC (ASIO4all, at 64 buffer setting). This is true for Pianoteq (5 vs 7 ms), Garritan (7 vs 9 ms) and my Bechstein Digital Grand (7 vs 9 ms). At buffer 128, the differences disappear, and the latency difference is pretty much 10 ms for all of them.

The values above are latency of the VST sound as compared to the internal DP-generated sound. I measured this by recording the DP headphone output and the laptop/focusrite headphone output as separate channels on the same audio device.

Interestingly, since I have a Kawai K300 ATX, which is a silent piano, I also determined the latency between the internal DP-generated sound (the ATX3 one) and the acoustic sound, as recorded by a mic on top of the piano. The ATX3 digital sound is 0-3 ms faster than the acoustic sound for loud notes (ff). For soft notes, ppp, the ATX3 digital sound is ~20 ms faster (!) than the acoustic sound. It seems that Kawai adjusted the latency of the ATX3 sound well to loud playing, but for soft playing the digital sound starts ~20 ms too soon.

Concluding, latency wise, my laptop indeed performs only marginally poorer than the external audio device. Further: it may be that midi timing in the ATX3 (and perhaps NV-10, NV-5?) is not (sufficiently) adjusted for key velocity when playing softly, leading to latency differences of 15-30 ms, with the digital sound being too soon.

To cut it down for you, under similar conditions (same ports aka similar technology) the difference you see is mainly (80%+) because of a better driver implementation and is purely software related.


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I bought two MOTU M2 units for remote recording musicians in my ensemble, and it's wonderful. Excellent sound, reliable, and low latency. There have been no audio dropouts. Another person I recommended it to found it much better than his previous interface.


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Originally Posted by Abdol
To cut it down for you, under similar conditions (same ports aka similar technology) the difference you see is mainly (80%+) because of a better driver implementation and is purely software related.

Thanks, while almost discarding my i2i, I just discovered another advantage of good drivers that come with external devices: they allow you to have a short latency *and* have multiple software inputs at the same time. I.e., you can have your VSTi open, while also watching (and listening!) videos from lessons, youtube etc. Apparently ASIO4ALL, which I have to use with internal DAC (realtek) for acceptable latency does not allow for this frown

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I measured output latency on my HP Elitebook sound card vs external audio interface and the difference was <1ms at 128 buffer size, a bit above 1.5ms for 64 (external was better in both cases). Is 1.5ms worth spending additional monet and all those cables on your desktop? I don't think so. Not for pure VST piano playing at least.


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AlphaBravoCharlie, when using the HP Elitebook sound card and low latency settings, are you able to use the VSTi and e.g. Youtube at the same time? It would be quite bizarre if we would need an external device just to get drivers that are able to do this....

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For a given buffer size and bit rate, I think latency won't vary much from one device to another.
Originally Posted by AlphaBravoCharlie
I measured output latency on my HP Elitebook sound card vs external audio interface and the difference was <1ms at 128 buffer size, a bit above 1.5ms for 64 (external was better in both cases). Is 1.5ms worth spending additional monet and all those cables on your desktop? I don't think so. Not for pure VST piano playing at least.

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Originally Posted by ColoRodney
I bought two MOTU M2 units for remote recording musicians in my ensemble, and it's wonderful. Excellent sound, reliable, and low latency. There have been no audio dropouts. Another person I recommended it to found it much better than his previous interface.

Oh really? That's interesting. I was reading about someone posting on VI Control saying that he is still having problems on Windows 10. That was posted about a week ago, that the driver still cuts out audio. This thing about the MOTU M2 is rather interesting. smile

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
For a given buffer size and bit rate, I think latency won't vary much from one device to another.

No, we can have a lot of difference. The audio interface add a buffer which can add a lot of ms. My Steinberg UR22 has a 5ms latency (output latency) and my N1X, 10ms. Some RME are even faster. All measures are at 32 samples, 44.1kHz

Last edited by Frédéric L; 12/31/20 09:30 PM.

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I can add about the audio interfaces latencies : https://www.gearslutz.com/board/showpost.php?p=13368351&postcount=2186

There are a lot of differences (and my N1X is not included).

Last edited by Frédéric L; 12/31/20 09:48 PM.

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