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Advice about audio interfaces and computer connections.
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Advice about audio interfaces and computer connections.
daveholiday
I am still running Windows 7 with an older version of Cubase. I have an ECHO MIA soudcard being fed by a Mackie 1202 VLZ.

Before anyone judges me for using old shit...music is just a hobby!

However, as I assume that I will have to progress, at one point in time, to a newer version of windows I am left pondering options about upgrading as the MIA and my MIDI interface (Steinberg MIDEX 8) will no longer be supported.

My biggest concern is that I use MIDI extensively. Currently, I have a pretty good setup with VERY little jitter or timing issues. My concern is when I start using USB for audio as well that may compromise my MIDI performance. This may be a moot point, since the process is usually dumping individual MIDI tracks to audio from one piece of hardware at a time.

note* When I started using MIDI in the early 90s you really needed to maximize efficiency of data for performance and timing...maybe this is overkill now.

So here is my question...why not use a digital connection through a PCI interface card from the appropriate audio interface rather than a USB/Firewire/Thunderbolt/Fingerbang type connection? It seems like this would eliminate potential USB problems...and wouldn't this potentially reduce latency issues?

Perhaps I am overlooking something obvious here, but digital ins and outs from the computer seem like the way to go. If anyone can give me a bit more knowledge or insight into this it would be greatly appreciated.
daveholiday
Perhaps I should have given an example....

Focusrite 18i20 has both toslink and S/PDIF ins and outs. Provided you have the driver installed on the computer, couldn't you specify the in/out to be used from the software? I realize that the interface would still need to be connected via USB to utilize the software control side of things. But shouldn't routing the audio via the digital ins and outs negate the USB loading issues entirely?
matthewjuran
A thought is perhaps you could increase the priority for the MIDI process over the recording process. Maybe sequence with Cubase and record with Audacity and try adjusting priority in the Task Manager?

If the CPU is the bottleneck then maybe play the gear audio directly instead of through the computer? Just record and sequence instead of record, sequence, and monitor.

I didn’t notice issues when doing recording and MIDI over USB 2.0 but I haven’t done it extensively. With the recording format and MIDI requirements we could guess if USB would be a bottleneck. What’s your CPU and motherboard?

I'm not familiar with how the USB data is multiplexed into the CPU; it could be the MIDI out is blocked until the recorded data is read in, then using separate kinds of interfaces would make sense. You might have separate USB chips for different ports too, so maybe there's a specific port configuration to use.
daveholiday
matthewjuran wrote:
A thought is perhaps you could increase the priority for the MIDI process over the recording process. Maybe sequence with Cubase and record with Audacity and try adjusting priority in the Task Manager?

If the CPU is the bottleneck then maybe play the gear audio directly instead of through the computer? Just record and sequence instead of record, sequence, and monitor.

I didn’t notice issues when doing recording and MIDI over USB 2.0 but I haven’t done it extensively. With the recording format and MIDI requirements we could guess if USB would be a bottleneck. What’s your CPU and motherboard?

I'm not familiar with how the USB data is multiplexed into the CPU; it could be the MIDI out is blocked until the recorded data is read in, then using separate kinds of interfaces would make sense. You might have separate USB chips for different ports too, so maybe there's a specific port configuration to use.


These are all good thoughts, but I was just pondering a future setup. I really don't have any problems now I just want to minimize problems when I upgrade!

My current setup (sigh....its old but it does everything I need) ASUS P5Q PRO TURBO with a dual core E8600 running at 4.1 GHz (OC)
Panason
daveholiday wrote:
Perhaps I should have given an example....

Focusrite 18i20 has both toslink and S/PDIF ins and outs. Provided you have the driver installed on the computer, couldn't you specify the in/out to be used from the software? I realize that the interface would still need to be connected via USB to utilize the software control side of things. But shouldn't routing the audio via the digital ins and outs negate the USB loading issues entirely?


So you talking about putting a card in the computer that gives you digital inputs? I see no reason why this wouldn't work. The Focusrite should work standalone so you'd only hook it up to the computer to set it up, then you can disconnect it.

For good MIDI timing over USB I believe you still do need to optimize your machine so as to maintain as high a priority as possible for the USB MIDI data to get sent out in time. But if you are recording the MIDI gear one at a time rather than running mutichannel MIDI sequences you should have little trouble.
If your computer setup works well the way it is now I would keep it that way and get a second computer for web browsing etc... unless you actually need to get gear or music software that needs windows 10- or just want a faster CPU for those juicy plugins.
daveholiday
Panason wrote:
get a second computer for web browsing etc... unless you actually need to get gear or music software that needs windows 10 .


How will I look at porn during the mix-down phase, you sir, thought you had all the answers.....YOU DON"T KNOW ME!!!!!

eek!

All good! I am just trying to prepare for the inevitable upgrade!! I like having 1 computer for all....so we will see how it pans out!
Panason
I don't think you should be running a web browser and especially loading up porn sites while working on music. It tends to create timing glitches... and of course masturbating will probably make your music sound like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
daveholiday
Panason wrote:
I don't think you should be running a web browser and especially loading up porn sites while working on music. It tends to create timing glitches... and of course masturbating will probably make your music sound like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ



Just a fun fact....you CAN run a beatstep Pro through the dishwasher....just don't plug it in until it has dried completely. It is why I have 3.....because...


Never gonna give them up

They wont ever let me down

I can blow a load on them and hurt them.....


WOW , I have got to stop!
Notron fn
Not the kind of release I was expecting to read about here.

Different strokes and all that.


Seems like for USB midi, there are time-stamping routines that have worked pretty well at least for playback--but I don't know if folks are putting much effort into them these days.
Sinamsis
Personally I've not had any issues running MIDI through USB (MOTU Xpress 128 XT) as well as having several interfaces connected via TB. Something you didn't ask.... if you are looking to purchase an interface that will be supported for many years to come, RME has a very good track record. I personally have used UAD for several years with very little latency and great stability. More recently I switched to an Antelope Goliath, which sounds great and has an insane number of IO, but not the best in terms of stability. Otherwise I don't have much to contribute as I'm a Mac guy. But I would look at how many channels can be streamed simultaneously. TB has the greatest bandwidth that I know of (I can record 64 channels simultaneously with the Goliath).
cornutt
daveholiday wrote:

So here is my question...why not use a digital connection through a PCI interface card


That's pretty much what Firewire and Thunderbolt do. USB is a different matter. I've got a MOTU 828 Mk III, connected to my iMac via a Firewire-to-Thunderbolt converter, and all of my audio goes through that. USB is restricted to MIDI, using an MOTU MIDI Express XT.
daveholiday
cornutt wrote:
daveholiday wrote:

So here is my question...why not use a digital connection through a PCI interface card


That's pretty much what Firewire and Thunderbolt do. USB is a different matter. I've got a MOTU 828 Mk III, connected to my iMac via a Firewire-to-Thunderbolt converter, and all of my audio goes through that. USB is restricted to MIDI, using an MOTU MIDI Express XT.


I hadn't thought of a TB card running off the PCI bus....might be the easiest and cheapest way to go!
daveholiday
So digging up my own thread to get some more advice from users of audio interfaces...

With the advent of MS dropping Win 7 support, I finally decided to upgrade my old MB/Proc?mem...

After doing some research I found that all of my hardware MIA/Midex 8 will work with WIN 10 so I was set!

After tons of research I settled on an ASUS maximus IX mobo with an I7 6700K 4.0 with 16Gig PC3200. The build went well and I was able to reuse all of my existing hardware.......OH SHIT.......FUCK

In my excitement of selecting new hardware I overlooked the fact that new motherboards often lack the older PCI slots. So no MIA for me.....

I like the convenience of a PCI based interface based on the lack of latency....they used to be a dime a dozen. Now it looks like RME is my only option for a PCIe card, but it is $900!

So here is my question for those who care to give advice....

The MIA was perfect for me....cheap, low latency, 2 ins, 2 outs. That is really all I need for my particular setup. I run all my gear through an analog mixer sending the Alt 3-4 when I am ready to record. I don't record more than one track at a time because of MIDI optimization, so really my only needs are low latency.

I am leaning towards a Firewire interface for cost reasons. Adding a Thunderbolt card/interface drives the cost up some.

OR......I have seen that Presonus has a line of very affordable USB 3.1 (C) interfaces. I was trying to keep audio and MIDI on separate "protocols" for sake of timing, but maybe I am over-thinking all this?

Would love some thoughts!!
Rex Coil 7
I went with the RME PCIe HDSPE AIO card (note that it's a PCIe card). That card has TOSLINK ("ADAT") light pipe I/O as well as analog I/O, but the analog I/O part is limited.

So, I added a Behringer ADA8200 which is an 8-in x 8-out "preamp" unit (rack mount). It has TOSLINK/ADAT I/O as well. This unit is often said to be Behringer's best device out of their entire hardware catalog ... period.

Total cost on the whole pile was $600.00. Many comments by users of this pairing claim 0.5+/- ms round trip latency. Many users of the RME HDSPE AIO card have had them in their systems for years, and are quite satisfied with it's performance ... so much so they've no intention of using anything else.

So if your computer is PCIe compatible .... go for it!

thumbs up
daveholiday
Rex Coil 7 wrote:


Total cost on the whole pile was $600.00. :


That was the card I was looking at....sweetwater has that card at $899...so the million dollar question here is who to I have to blow to get that for less than $600?

BTW good to hear from you! It seems I might be flying again in July so.... hihi
Rex Coil 7
daveholiday wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:


Total cost on the whole pile was $600.00. :


That was the card I was looking at....sweetwater has that card at $899...so the million dollar question here is who to I have to blow to get that for less than $600?


I paid $450.00 for mine from a dealer of such things ... "open box, MINT!" Even got a 1 year warranty.

The Behringer thingy was $180.00 shipped, used.

daveholiday wrote:
BTW good to hear from you! It seems I might be flying again in July so.... hihi
Thank you!! And re; flying, I'm here to help, just let me know.
Rex Coil 7
... photos of the actual items that I bought ...





cookie?!?
Synnic
I use a Steinberg UR824, which is USB, and have never had a problem with MIDI or audio on it. The only thing I do is make sure that the UR824 is plugged directly into the computer. Even though it does work through a USB hub, I plug in direct to reduce competing traffic. Everything else is fine being on USB hubs.
Rex Coil 7
Synnic wrote:
I use a Steinberg UR824, which is USB, and have never had a problem with MIDI or audio on it. The only thing I do is make sure that the UR824 is plugged directly into the computer. Even though it does work through a USB hub, I plug in direct to reduce competing traffic. Everything else is fine being on USB hubs.
$800 bucks for a USB2 interface. Hey, if that works for you then keep on keepin' on.


thumbs up
daveholiday
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Synnic wrote:
I use a Steinberg UR824, which is USB, and have never had a problem with MIDI or audio on it. The only thing I do is make sure that the UR824 is plugged directly into the computer. Even though it does work through a USB hub, I plug in direct to reduce competing traffic. Everything else is fine being on USB hubs.
$800 bucks for a USB2 interface. Hey, if that works for you then keep on keepin' on.


thumbs up


Don't mind Rex....he is just an old grump! And he is using an interface capable of 192k but apparently is happy running a D/A converter box at a max of 48k....harumpf!! why not just record direct to cassette tapes!! Mr. Green
Rex Coil 7
daveholiday wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Synnic wrote:
I use a Steinberg UR824, which is USB, and have never had a problem with MIDI or audio on it. The only thing I do is make sure that the UR824 is plugged directly into the computer. Even though it does work through a USB hub, I plug in direct to reduce competing traffic. Everything else is fine being on USB hubs.
$800 bucks for a USB2 interface. Hey, if that works for you then keep on keepin' on.


thumbs up


Don't mind Rex....he is just an old grump! And he is using an interface capable of 192k but apparently is happy running a D/A converter box at a max of 48k....harumpf!! why not just record direct to cassette tapes!! Mr. Green
.. as fuddup as my ears are someone could probably hide behind my monitor speakers and make sounds with their mouth while I play and I'd not know the difference.

Cassette tapes you say! YOU TAKE THAT BACK!! I prefer 8 tracks.

Mr. Green Mr. Green
Mr. Aloud
Another thing you may consider is your general workflow. Unless the current system is giving you issues, why upgrade when you can add a second machine for the audio tasks? When I was frustrated with lack of functionality in Cubase, I built a second machine running Reaper as a DAW, so I didn´t have to touch the existing box. This also ensured that heavy use of plugins would not push the MIDI machine to its limits and hamper with performance. Just look at it as a tape machine on steroids. And you can still add the MIDI part to the new machine and see if that works, then recycle the old box for some other purpose.

Yes, you have to compromise on a few things, but at least give it a thought.
ranix
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Synnic wrote:
I use a Steinberg UR824, which is USB, and have never had a problem with MIDI or audio on it. The only thing I do is make sure that the UR824 is plugged directly into the computer. Even though it does work through a USB hub, I plug in direct to reduce competing traffic. Everything else is fine being on USB hubs.
$800 bucks for a USB2 interface. Hey, if that works for you then keep on keepin' on.


UR824 is very nice and has inputs for two ADAT expanders. I'd definitely use one.

The RME has its own drawbacks even if it doesn't use USB, like these things for one http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/cables.php

Not needing to deal with USB is nice, though. In a perfect world I'd have both
Mr. Aloud
While USB creates its own issues, I found that one major benefit is its ubiquity/lifetime. Had to throw out a few internal cards over the last years, as the main bus changed from pci to pcie. So glad I never went for firewire. Still using the rme babyface though.
Rex Coil 7
ranix wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Synnic wrote:
I use a Steinberg UR824, which is USB, and have never had a problem with MIDI or audio on it. The only thing I do is make sure that the UR824 is plugged directly into the computer. Even though it does work through a USB hub, I plug in direct to reduce competing traffic. Everything else is fine being on USB hubs.
$800 bucks for a USB2 interface. Hey, if that works for you then keep on keepin' on.


UR824 is very nice and has inputs for two ADAT expanders. I'd definitely use one.

The RME has its own drawbacks even if it doesn't use USB, like these things for one http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/cables.php

Not needing to deal with USB is nice, though. In a perfect world I'd have both
Those breakout cables are only a drawback if you elect to use them. With the ADAT/Toslink I/O ports the whole world of like-equipped I/O rack "preamps" is available to you. And you're not subjected to every flippin' communication protocol update that comes along every year or three (USB2, USB3, USB3.1, USB3.2 ... and on and on). Then there are the USB drivers .... don't get me started.




nodnod nodnod
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