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Sturdy MIDI Card for PC Audio Interfaces
Old 16th June 2006
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Sturdy MIDI Card for PC

Howdy all....

This is my rig:
Asus 800mhz P3 Win2K 512 ram

I process audio thru a MOTU 828 mkI

I process MIDI thru a (please don't laugh) SB Live! Platinum (the one with the front-mount interface, optical I/O etc.)

This is my software:
Acid Pro 5, Orion, CEP, Sound Forge, CD Arch 5.2.

The main thing I'm trying to accomplish is driving soft-synths (Sample Tank, NI B4, FM7, Plugsound, etc.) in Acid/Orion. I'm primarily a hobbyist, but I've done some simple jobs and I'd like to streamline a bit to sell some of my work.

This is my problem:
MIDI latency is so bad that I can barely do any work after putting more than two or three synths into a project. My first inclination is to say "get a new MIDI card". My next inclination is to say "get more RAM".

But I've wondered if I just need a new box altogether. I'm sure that would help, but I'm a penny-pincher of the first order,

That all said, what would your recommendations be for a MIDI card? Should I go PCI, Firewire, USB? Does it matter?

I've been eyeing the entry-level M-Audio (Delta 1010, Audiophile 2496) and EMU cards (0404) since they are fairly inexpensive. Word is the EMU doesn't work too well with Acid 5. I have read good things about the compatablility between the M-Audio stuff and Acid.

Now, the main thing I need is a solid MIDI card. I'm not as concerned with processing audio (that's what I'm using the MOTU for). But I'm very open to suggestions here. I don't know how well my system will appreciate having two audio interfaces to interact with.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Old 16th June 2006
Lives for gear
azwun25's Avatar

RME Hammerfall HDSP9652 (with Midi) if you get analog expansion cards not only is it rock solid for MIDI but it will **** all over your 828 mk1 as far as conversion.
Old 16th June 2006
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Cool. Any thoughts on a MOTU Midi Timepiece? I may have a lead on a great deal on one.

How well might that integrate into my above-mentioned system?

Old 20th June 2006
Rock and roll

Old 20th June 2006
The audio latency of a SB Live is not wonderful, as a rule (you might look for 'generic' ASIO drivers for it, some folks have reported better latency with them, others have trouble). But your host machine is also, shall we say, no rocket ship. (But the MIDI performance of SB Live's in my experience has been pretty acceptable, vis a vis other MIDI interfaces.)

I had a SB Live in my old 500 MHz P3 that I used as a SoundFont synth and its MIDI performance was entirely decent. I could load up huge SF sample sets (well, big, anyhow, more than 90 MB of samples, typically) and it was great, Very responsive. (I typically used a separate Echo Mia card for audio recording and playback -- including the SoundFont output of the SB.

Now, the A/D/D/A latency of the Echo Mia was very quick, compared to the SB (which as I recall was glacial at round trip processing), less than 5 ms at 44.1 for the MIA versus over 100 ms with the SB (running WDM drivers).

But running true soft synths had such CPU overhead that it would force me to run big monitoring buffers in my host DAW... and that equated to very sluggish, unresponsive playback latency with soft synths.

So, for soft synth work, you're really going to want to head in the direction of a new computer and a 'prosumer' audio interface. (I'd keep the SB, though, if only for its SoundFont DSP, which is like having a little dedicated sampler inside your computer, taking few resources besides RAM. And you should find that its straight MIDI i/o is quite responsive if you hook up dedicated outboard synths modules and/or controllers. It's just that SB audio that is a slow go.)
Old 21st June 2006
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Thanks for the advice....

How much help would a RAM upgrade and a Echo Mia card be, you think? I guess I'm trying to figure out what the threshhold of my system really is. Of course, the real truth is that I really just can't afford a new machine yet.

What are you running, computer and MIDI/audio interface wise?

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