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Lowering MIDI Latency, Interface or Computer? Audio Interfaces
Old 17th October 2015
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Lowering MIDI Latency, Interface or Computer?

I can't seem to get a sampled piano to respond in a way that's responsive and fun to play. I don't mind it so much with other instruments, but with piano it just doesn't feel right. What can I do to minimize this? Will a high quality sampled piano ever respond like an electric stage piano's built in sounds?

Do I need to upgrade my computer, my Interface? I've already optimized Windows 7 for audio.

Computer:

Intel Quad Q9450 @ 2.66GHZ
8GB RAM
Windows 7 64 Bit
Cubase Pro
Western Digital 7500 RPM Hard Disk

Interface:

Presonus Firebox

Thinking about upgrading my computer to

Intel i7 4790k @ 4Ghz
16 GB Ram
SSD Hard drive for system drive


Will upgrading the computer help with MIDI latency? Will an SSD do anything? Are there audio interfaces with better MIDI latency?

Thanks all!
Old 17th October 2015
  #2
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login's Avatar
MIDI latency can be adjusted in the audio interface settings, best interfaces can go as down as buffer size of 32 samples. But how low you can set it without gettins pops and cracks when playing in your DAW depends on your CPU and the size of the project.

So you need a good procesor and an audio interface with good ASIO drivers, for example Steinberg or RME.
Old 17th October 2015
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Even at the lowest buffer setting it still feels sluggish. Not unplayable, but not fun to play a sampled piano on
Old 17th October 2015
  #4
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Ivorydom's Avatar
 

What piano libraries are you using?

Buffer size?
Old 17th October 2015
  #5
Thunderbolt. I hated using anything midi until I got a Thunderbolt interface. That is NOT TO SAY that USB can't do zero latency (which is a marketing term and not a scientific measurement) but my mileage varied with latency until I got Thunderbolt. Now I can use the lowest buffer setting but it hardly matters. The thing is just on the money. I am deliberately not saying which brand because that may or may not have anything to do with it.

Clarification - midi controlled software instruments. Straight midi was something I haven't' used in a long time but I recall having a Midi Timepiece or some such from MOTU that made the midi hardware work well. Your question is specific to virtual instruments played with a midi controller to which I responded.

Last edited by Bullseye; 17th October 2015 at 01:41 AM..
Old 17th October 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
increase your sample rate to 48 kHz and make sure you're using the ASIO drivers and not anythinig else. Also you may want to do DAW optimizations for Windows if you haven't already done that if you get glitches.
Old 17th October 2015
  #7
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loopy's Avatar
 

It's actually not MIDI latency but round trip digital data latency.. So anyway, download this utility and measure the true RTL... Post the results back here.

RTL Utility | Oblique Audio

What Piano sample library is it?
If it's Ivory, you're gonna need a bigger boat
SSD will help A LOT if it's a streaming from disk library like Ivory.
So will more memory.

If you aren't somewhere around 6 ms true RTL you are going to feel the lag. Drummers and professional pianists (me) tend to really feel it.
People just plunking around adding strings, synthy sounds and stuff rarely feel it.
Old 17th October 2015
  #8
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It's going to sound odd, but please bear with me.

For years (and I mean YEARS) I played the "bigger longer uncut" ( ) game with computers and always had a FW card. Of course it was a TI chipset, what a silly question!

Anyways, recently got a babyface pro (welcome, you have better latency!) and walla! Better cpu use, better latency (same sample rate, same buffer) and just an overall better card so far.

So...Yeah, your computer is a tad outdated, but I'm willing to bet...after my experience, and the COUNTLESS others who have praised RME drivers, that is the first place to look. YMMV.
Old 17th October 2015
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I (like many others) ended up with RME after a long quest for low latency VSTi performance. Best money I ever spent on my composition rig.
Old 17th October 2015
  #10
Gear Nut
 

I've been using native instruments maverick, which seems to perform better than others. I'll try the RTL utility on Monday. Would using an SSD drive for the OS only help, or would I want one for the sample drive as well? Obviously, it would cost a lot more to store all my samples on one. Thanks all!
Old 17th October 2015
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Would the rme usb interfaces be an improvement over my firebox? What about an old fireface 400?
Old 17th October 2015
  #12
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Ivorydom's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovessuperstrats View Post
It's going to sound odd, but please bear with me.

For years (and I mean YEARS) I played the "bigger longer uncut" ( ) game with computers and always had a FW card. Of course it was a TI chipset, what a silly question!

Anyways, recently got a babyface pro (welcome, you have better latency!) and walla! Better cpu use, better latency (same sample rate, same buffer) and just an overall better card so far.

So...Yeah, your computer is a tad outdated, but I'm willing to bet...after my experience, and the COUNTLESS others who have praised RME drivers, that is the first place to look. YMMV.
THIS.

Talking about TI chipsets brought a smile to my face . So glad these problems don't exist anymore
Old 17th October 2015
  #13
Lives for gear
 

If you haven't already seen these, there's a lot of very specific info here: DAW Bench : DAW Performance Benchmarking and here: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base concerning audio interface low latency performance.
Old 6th November 2015
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Hey Everyone - I'm new to Gearslutz, and to DAW as well. I am a jazz pianist, and just acquired a Kawai VPC1 so I could practice with headphones so as not to disturb anyone. I have a brand new computer that was built primarily to stream hi res audio files to my main stereo in another room. But this has now become equally important to me.

My computer:
Core i7-4790S Quad-Core 3.2-4.0 GHz
8GB RAM
Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit
GA-G1 Sniper Z97 Motherboard

I want to begin acquiring a software library. Latency is a big concern. I was very excited when I found this thread, but quickly saw just how much I don't know. So here are my questions:

1. Is there anything about my system that looks like it might be a bottleneck? For instance, should I consider installing more RAM?

2. Over time I expect I will be acquiring a lot of virtual piano programs, so I plan on getting a dedicated drive. Any recommendations as to how big a drive would be needed? Will a large software library affect latency, and if so, am I right in expecting better performance from an SSD? I have an unused 2TB WD Black HD which was to be used for the hi res audio files, but if an SSD would help, there are open bays in the case.

3. Do I understand correctly, an audio interface is an external box used to record voices and instruments to your computer? If my current plan is just to play back piano, I'm thinking I wouldn't need one. But the comment above about an interface with good asio drivers suggests maybe I don't understand what they really do.

4. Regarding interfaces, I saw the reference to Thunderbolt. Do I understand correctly that Thunderbolt is strictly for MAC?

5. On seeing the suggestion about DAW optimization, I did a quick google search and found a lot of articles/discussions. Lots of overlap, but some differences. Playing with settings always concerns me, since I really don't understand what I'm really doing. So I'm also concerned that I might mess up settings that were recommended when I connected the computer to the DAC in my living room stereo. Is there a priority to the various setting adjustments that I might try to implement incrementally to test how they work, and also see if they alter my stereo set up?

Sorry for all the questions, but this stuff is a bit overwhelming, and I'd like to avoid making uninformed choices I may regret later when I learn more.

Thanks.
Old 6th November 2015
  #15
Lives for gear
 

If your computer has an open PCIe slot then I would suggest you go to ebay and pick up an RME HDSPe card for $450. Lowest latency and most rock solid reliable drivers you'll find.

An audio interface is (at its simplist) a device which converts an analog audio signal into a digital signal and then passes that on to whatever software (e.g. DAW) that you use. It also takes the digital audio output of your DAW and converts it back into analog audio to drive your speakers/headphones. For the lowest latency playback of virtual piano samples you want a good interface (like the RME mentioned above).

Concerning Thunderbolt: yes, at the moment that's just for Macs.

With 8GB of RAM you probably won't need to stream samples off your HD so I wouldn't bother with an SSD since you already have a a bit 2TB drive
Old 6th November 2015
  #16
Gear Nut
Your PC will be fine, no need to upgrade anything. 2 GB HD will also be sufficient.

You will need an audio interface with MIDI capabilities. PCIe has best performance, but RME USB devices are also fast enough. I'm using RME UCX, on a MacBook pro, and it handle 32 samples latency smoothly with quite a few plugins.

As Sparqee said RME HDSPe AIO is a good choice, as is RME BabyFace or UCX (both USB). It doesn't have to be RME, but it's a safe bet.

If you want to try a cheaper interface make sure you can return it if it doesn't work out.

Regarding DAW optimisations, I would not do any of those blindly. Many of those tips are outdated and have just been repeated for years.
Old 6th November 2015
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for the answers, guys. It might help if I understood the signal path. Is this right: when I hit a key on my keyboard, with an interface like the RME, a signal would be sent to the interface, then to the virtual piano software, then back to the interface and finally to my headphones?

Also, this bypasses anything resident on my harddrive that would otherwise serve the purpose?

There's something already onboard, as I downloaded a free virtual piano app just to make sure the keyboard works. Had to adjust the I/O down quite a bit to get rid of the noise. But doing so seemed like I was reducing the information being delivered, and thus probably degrading the sound quality. Is that correct? If I got an interface, would I be able to play the piano software without any, or as much, downward I/O adjustment?

I have available PCIe slots, so that's good!
Old 6th November 2015
  #18
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ChrisLudwig's Avatar
 

Hi,
You system should be more than up for the task, The Firebox is the par that needs replacing.
Only I would add to he system is the 2nd HD for you projects/sample libraries to run off of.

The RME interfaces mentioned would be the best but higher riced options.

The Steinberg UR series have better latency performance and sound better than the Presonus firebox but are in a similar price range.

The RME USB or PCI-e interfaces would be the better long term investment. The Fireface UCX, 802 or UFX will give you the analog connectivity you would need to replace the firebox. No extra outboard gear needed.

Chris
Old 6th November 2015
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ADKChris View Post
Hi,
You system should be more than up for the task, The Firebox is the par that needs replacing.
Only I would add to he system is the 2nd HD for you projects/sample libraries to run off of.

The RME interfaces mentioned would be the best but higher riced options.

The Steinberg UR series have better latency performance and sound better than the Presonus firebox but are in a similar price range.

The RME USB or PCI-e interfaces would be the better long term investment. The Fireface UCX, 802 or UFX will give you the analog connectivity you would need to replace the firebox. No extra outboard gear needed.

Chris
Okay, Chris. You're really going to make me show how little I know. What's a Firebox? Is it the same as the RME interface, or at least what the RME will improve on?
Old 6th November 2015
  #20
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brockorama's Avatar
 

He is answering the question from the OP. He has a firebox.
Old 7th November 2015
  #21
Yul
Gear Addict
 

The basics....

use ASIO drivers

if using USB for audio, put the interface on a dedicated port ( no hubs...also check the connections in device manager/view by connections)

check you hdd properties and disable caching (for sampling only although I think most samplers will stream)

disable indexing

disable all unused devices in device manager including cd rom and unused hdd channa even if you have to

optimize background services if necessary and windows update

use resplendence latency checker to disable remaining device amd their drivers with high latency

(for laptops disable ACPI battery manager in device manager because it kills the latency)

and enjoy near real time audio performance!

Last edited by Yul; 7th November 2015 at 05:42 AM..
Old 20th November 2015
  #22
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparqee View Post
If your computer has an open PCIe slot then I would suggest you go to ebay and pick up an RME HDSPe card for $450. Lowest latency and most rock solid reliable drivers you'll find.
Where are you seeing RME HDSPe cards for that price? The AIO seems to run near $900. Is there a lower cost PCIe option from RME that I'm not aware of?
Old 20th November 2015
  #23
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ChrisLudwig's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieH View Post
Where are you seeing RME HDSPe cards for that price? The AIO seems to run near $900. Is there a lower cost PCIe option from RME that I'm not aware of?
Hi,
He is probably referring to the RME HDSPe card that requires either the Multiface or Digiface breakout box in order to function.
These are all older discontinued products so you find them on ebay. Definitely more than 450.

Chris
Old 20th November 2015
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieH View Post
Where are you seeing RME HDSPe cards for that price? The AIO seems to run near $900. Is there a lower cost PCIe option from RME that I'm not aware of?
I pick two up on ebay (used) for that price. There's one up now for $498 - Lowering MIDI Latency, Interface or Computer?RME Hdspe AIO High End Audio Interface Peitsche Toslink Neuwertig Garantie | eBay
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