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Antelope Audio Announces Thunderbolt™ Beta Driver for Windows
Old 17th May 2018
  #1
Company Rep
 
Antelope Audio's Avatar
Antelope Audio Introduces Ultra-fast Windows Thunderbolt™ Driver

We're introducing our ultra-fast Windows Thunderbolt™ driver for sub-millisecond round-trip latency!



Following a wide number of user requests, we are making our Windows Thunderbolt™ driver available for all registered users in a public Open Beta.

Developed by Antelope Audio's talented team of engineering experts, the Windows Thunderbolt™ driver was built from the ground-up with low-latency and stability in mind. The new driver achieves sub-millisecond round-trip latency for the best user experience. Coupled with the built-in real-time FPGA effects and direct monitoring capabilities of the interfaces, latency becomes a thing of the past.

The much-anticipated driver utilizes Thunderbolt™'s increased bandwidth and gives the users access to the full I/O capabilities of their interfaces, with up to 64 channels on signature products such as Orion32+ and Goliath HD. It allows for new interesting use-cases, and will also serve as the base for new exciting features.

The Windows Thunderbolt™ driver is still in Beta so certain features are not yet fully-functional, although it is stable and fast. The driver supports all major DAWs via ASIO to deliver its ultra-low latency. The major limitation that will be overcome in the next couple of months - Windows Audio - is under active development. There are also ways to overcome this limitation by using third-party tools. Antelope Audio team has prepared detailed documentation with 'How-To', workarounds for known issues, and advanced topics for optimization. Beta users have access to a separate support channel, where Technical Support specialists, as well as Software developers, are helping them troubleshoot any problems.

Currently, the Windows Thunderbolt™ driver is compatible with Discrete 4, Discrete 8, Orion Studio, Zen Tour, Orion 32+ Goliath, Goliath HD and Zen Studio+

For extensive information on the Windows Thunderbolt™ driver and its functionality, visit our web-site.



Happy Thunder-bolting!

Last edited by Antelope Audio; 9th July 2018 at 02:06 PM.. Reason: Added Zen Studio+ support.
Old 17th May 2018
  #2
Gear Head
 

It would be great if you could develop your own USB driver too like RME does
Old 17th May 2018
  #3
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VitaEtMusica's Avatar
 



Interesting. Very interesting.
Old 17th May 2018
  #4
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nicktuckerrr's Avatar
 

Managed to get my Discrete 8 down to sub-millisecond latency. Really impressed with Thunderbolt and the Discrete 8 - have the option to use USB too with my laptop, which is a nice plus.
It's nice to be limited by my CPU as opposed to by the protocol - can drop all the way down to 32 samples for smaller sessions and be running well.
The only problem I ran into whilst using the driver was around Windows not prioritising REAPER. Changed the process to 'Realtime' and it was seamless. Absolute credit to the guy leading the Windows Thunderbolt driver - he's doing a fantastic job and was able to offer some great insight and support.
Quick ugly video showing the speedz!: https://youtu.be/-TNMvyAQEuw
Old 17th May 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 

I still think these things are irrelevant unless the system still works glitch free at high CPU loads.

Could somebody please stress test these drivers and see when they start crackling at low latency? Most companies drivers fail miserably in a test where the CPU is taxed even a little bit over 50% capability. As far as I know, in this reagard the RME drivers are far and beyond everything else.

I can run literally hundreds of plugins on my system at the studio with an RME Babyface Pro at buffer size of 1024, resulting in CPU load of around 95% until it starts crackling badly.

Yes realtime performance is important but for actual mixing and workflow, being able to tax the computer CPU to the max is really beneficial.
Old 18th May 2018
  #6
Here for the gear
 

I do not have Thunderbolt built in to my desktop PC, what Thunderbolt card does Antelope recommend?
Old 18th May 2018
  #7
Gear Addict
 
ManMulcahy's Avatar
While I absolutely appreciate the progress on Windows TB drivers, isn’t the test video somewhat impractical if it’s simply digital to digital with no conversion? I’d assume that most users are interested in real-world live tracking and overdub scenarios as opposed to benchmark type measurements.
Old 18th May 2018
  #8
Here for the gear
 

I also am gettting sub-milisecond latency on both my HP Spectre 360 laptop (TB 3) and my HP z840 workstation with the HP TB2 PCIe card using my Antelope Orinon 32+. Happy days!

Here's a quick and dirty video demonstration on the workstation

https://youtu.be/SX3lf9RRtqg
Old 18th May 2018
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmanic View Post
I still think these things are irrelevant unless the system still works glitch free at high CPU loads.

Could somebody please stress test these drivers and see when they start crackling at low latency? Most companies drivers fail miserably in a test where the CPU is taxed even a little bit over 50% capability. As far as I know, in this reagard the RME drivers are far and beyond everything else.

I can run literally hundreds of plugins on my system at the studio with an RME Babyface Pro at buffer size of 1024, resulting in CPU load of around 95% until it starts crackling badly.

Yes realtime performance is important but for actual mixing and workflow, being able to tax the computer CPU to the max is really beneficial.
A buffer of 1024 samples doesnt present a challenge for the Antelope driver. I've tested it at 256 sample buffer with 40 tracks, each with a couple of plugins, and there've been no issues.

I'll see what I can do for a stress test over the weekend, but truthfully, hundreds of plugins is not what I do, so it may not be what you're thinking about (more and more I am using the Antelope FPGA vintage eqs and compressor models on the 32+ as hardware inserts because of how they sound, so I am simplifying what I do -- still need a deesser plug-in, but I am going a bit more old school OOTB and loving the sound).
Old 19th May 2018
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Here is the Thunderbolt for Windows driver running on a Zen Tour at sub-MS RTL in Studio One 3.5.
16 samples and 48KHz and a 0.94ms RTL. It can be pushed even further without insert effects (to 8 samples and about 0.70ms RTL).
Tracking through the insert effects was fine as well. Really nice being able to track through Soundtoys Littleplate, the Slate VMS emulations and FG-Stress.
The audio is just a rough live take, testing a 3 mic setup for live acoustic tracking. All tracked with the TB driver and through the VST effects.

https://youtu.be/-9kgfWZxRR4
Old 19th May 2018
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmanic View Post
I still think these things are irrelevant unless the system still works glitch free at high CPU loads.

Could somebody please stress test these drivers and see when they start crackling at low latency? Most companies drivers fail miserably in a test where the CPU is taxed even a little bit over 50% capability. As far as I know, in this reagard the RME drivers are far and beyond everything else.

I can run literally hundreds of plugins on my system at the studio with an RME Babyface Pro at buffer size of 1024, resulting in CPU load of around 95% until it starts crackling badly.

Yes realtime performance is important but for actual mixing and workflow, being able to tax the computer CPU to the max is really beneficial.
Normally, over USB, I rarely have to change my sample buffer from 128 samples even when nearing completion of a track. That is in Cubase 9.5, which doesn't seem to utilize modern CPUs a much at all.
I can be nearing 100% in the Cubase performance meter, but my CPU is barely hitting 20%.

I have both Cubase 9.5 and Studio One 3.5. Studio One seems a lot better optimized and has me considering the switch.I might also give Reaper a try as I hear great things about it too.

The Antelope TB driver is much higher performing than their USB driver (which I have been quite critical of in terms of its low latency performance).

I can post a video if you would like, of a busy mix running comfortably at 128 samples over USB (and TB) if you would like, and show you what inserts and VST instruments are running. Just let me know. I don't think I have ever had to bump the sample buffer above 512 to create enough headroom to finish a mix.
Old 19th May 2018
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Hey, guys would like to share my experience with antelope and the new Thunderbolt Driver. On pure playback, I can get around 0.3-0.8ms.
With a session full of plugins latency is going to vary, but the great thing about antelope is when tracking, everything I need is built into my discrete 4 plugin wise (vintage EQs, comps, etc) so that really isn't much of an issue for me.

Here is my video, I couldn't get OBS to work and I was very sick, but it shows my 0.3-0.8 Latency
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SzqUP6814c

Old 19th May 2018
  #13
Gear Nut
Anybody got any reports of running 24+ tracks at 32 or 64 samples?

I'm on goliath so can't test anything as of yet.

Edit: I actually mean 24 simultaneous inputs and outputs.

Last edited by Unslaven; 19th May 2018 at 02:35 PM..
Old 22nd May 2018
  #14
Here for the gear
 
senchev's Avatar
 

Hello all,
@ Mr.Tea - check out the FAQ section on the website for similar questions. Make sure your motherboard supports Thunderbolt Add-in Card.
What I can share based on the statistics we gather from our beta-testers is that they're successfully running on motherboards from most major manufacturers (ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, HP, ...), both with integrated ports and add-in cards.
@ ManMulcahy - this video demonstrates the capabilities of the driver itself. We'll be running more videos of real-world scenarios: low-latency recording and monitoring with AD/DA and FPGA effects; stable mixing of large sessions with lots of plugins.
@ Unslaven - we've tested such scenarios and the driver is rock solid. Regarding the buffer size - it depends on the DAW and the number of plugins used. In heavy sessions, it's the DAW that needs a higher buffer size to process the audio in real-time, we've made sure that the driver itself is not a bottleneck.

I also want to thank the guys who shot videos to demonstrate how the driver behaves on their systems!

Since we cannot recommend any specific computer configurations, I suggest those who tried the driver share their laptop / motherboard / Thunderbolt add-in card models.
Old 22nd May 2018
  #15
Gear Addict
 
ManMulcahy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by senchev View Post
Hello all,
@ Mr.Tea - check out the FAQ section on the website for similar questions. Make sure your motherboard supports Thunderbolt Add-in Card.
What I can share based on the statistics we gather from our beta-testers is that they're successfully running on motherboards from most major manufacturers (ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, HP, ...), both with integrated ports and add-in cards.
@ ManMulcahy - this video demonstrates the capabilities of the driver itself. We'll be running more videos of real-world scenarios: low-latency recording and monitoring with AD/DA and FPGA effects; stable mixing of large sessions with lots of plugins.
@ Unslaven - we've tested such scenarios and the driver is rock solid. Regarding the buffer size - it depends on the DAW and the number of plugins used. In heavy sessions, it's the DAW that needs a higher buffer size to process the audio in real-time, we've made sure that the driver itself is not a bottleneck.

I also want to thank the guys who shot videos to demonstrate how the driver behaves on their systems!

Since we cannot recommend any specific computer configurations, I suggest those who tried the driver share their laptop / motherboard / Thunderbolt add-in card models.
Nice, this sounds promising!
Old 22nd May 2018
  #16
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I.R.Baboon's Avatar
@ senchev : perhaps you know this: i've got an Asus motherboard that doesn't have the internal jumpers for Thunderbolt, so can't be used with an Asus ThunderboltEX 3 thunderbolt card.


Do you (or anyone?) know if that means there's no way to utilize thunderbolt with this mobo (Z-97 Pro Gamer), or are there indeed third party PCIe thunderbolt cards i can use?

Have been googling it but to no avail.........
Old 22nd May 2018
  #17
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senchev's Avatar
 

@ I.R.Baboon
Sadly, there is no way to run Thunderbolt on this motherboard.
Old 23rd May 2018
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Unfortunately, if you do not have a TB header on your motherboard, the TB add-in cards will not work.

I went with this mobo with an i7 8700 as it has native TB3 support: ASRock Fatal1ty Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac

I am using an Apple TB cable and an Apple TB2 - TB3 adapter. It's all working great so far with Win10 Pro.
Old 24th May 2018
  #19
Gear Head
 

@ senchev , just a general questions.

Did you (Antelope) devlop the Mac Drivers as well ? What about the differences between Mac and PC drivers in term of performance ?

I just ask, cause I'm having a MAc and a PC, I'm thinking If I rather plug my Zen Tour on the Mac or go to a PC config.


Thanks a lot.

BTW : What about USB drivers, it's a homemade drivers ?

Best,
Old 24th May 2018
  #20
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yassinex View Post
@ senchev , just a general questions.

Did you (Antelope) devlop the Mac Drivers as well ? What about the differences between Mac and PC drivers in term of performance ?

I just ask, cause I'm having a MAc and a PC, I'm thinking If I rather plug my Zen Tour on the Mac or go to a PC config.


Thanks a lot.

BTW : What about USB drivers, it's a homemade drivers ?

Best,
Hello,

The Unified macOS driver (for USB and Thunderbolt) is developed by Antelope Audio, yes. Same for the Windows Thunderbolt driver.
Regarding the performance on Thunderbolt: Windows and macOS are pretty much the same. Since the two OSes work differently (Windows is not a real-time OS), we use different approaches for the two drivers in order to achieve the same performance. I hope that users will soon test and measure the drivers and update the Low Latency Performance Data Base (Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :). We did the measurements internally and are proud of our results, however we'd like users to do them too so there are no speculations about the results.
About the Windows USB drivers - they are developed by Thesycon (https://www.thesycon.de/eng/usb_audiodriver.shtml). Mind you, there isn't much room for innovation and optimization on USB - you're limited by the way USB works and the USB Audio Class specification. On the other hand, Thesycon are specialized in building USB audio drivers, their drivers are stable, fast, optimized and well tested. Our QA is currently testing the latest version of Thesycon drivers, and once it passes, we'll be releasing them to our Windows USB users.
I believe that Thunderbolt is the way to go for Pro Audio. While USB is good enough for most cases, Thunderbolt will always be better. Thunderbolt is also the base for new features like AFX2DAW (which will enter Open Beta soon).
Another point I'd like to make about the performance of Antelope Audio interfaces is the possibility to add the built-in FPGA effects (AFX) and do direct monitoring. This way users can record and monitor with near-zero latency, regardless of the connection they're using - Thunderbolt or USB. We're preparing some articles and videos on the topic, so people looking for low latency can make the right choice.
Old 24th May 2018
  #21
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I.R.Baboon's Avatar
Thanks, time for a new MOBO i guess.

IME when you're doing stuff like real-time playing of VSTis, I never had a USB interface that could get close to the stable latency possible (and necessary) with, for example, RME soundcards.

I look forward to testing my Orion 32+ with the windows TB driver once i've scored a new MOBO and upgraded to Win10. Meanwhile i've got an HSPEe MADI on order to tide me over.
Old 24th May 2018
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SemperIdem View Post
Hello,

The Unified macOS driver (for USB and Thunderbolt) is developed by Antelope Audio, yes. Same for the Windows Thunderbolt driver.
Regarding the performance on Thunderbolt: Windows and macOS are pretty much the same. Since the two OSes work differently (Windows is not a real-time OS), we use different approaches for the two drivers in order to achieve the same performance. I hope that users will soon test and measure the drivers and update the Low Latency Performance Data Base (Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :). We did the measurements internally and are proud of our results, however we'd like users to do them too so there are no speculations about the results.......
Oh thank you @ SemperIdem for this clear input. Good to know that you do you own drivers, very promising for the future !

I'll use indeed the Thunderbolt for performance (as I guess, it's an external form of PCIe), I believe that the Mac version is more mature today.

Is there any changelog regarding the TB drivers (Mac version) ?

And yes, can't wait to test the AF2DAW in my DAW(s), if you can add me as a beta tester, I'll be more than happy !
Old 25th May 2018
  #23
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senchev's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yassinex View Post
Oh thank you @ SemperIdem for this clear input. Good to know that you do you own drivers, very promising for the future !

I'll use indeed the Thunderbolt for performance (as I guess, it's an external form of PCIe), I believe that the Mac version is more mature today.

Is there any changelog regarding the TB drivers (Mac version) ?

And yes, can't wait to test the AF2DAW in my DAW(s), if you can add me as a beta tester, I'll be more than happy !
Hello again,

I accidentally used my personal account instead of the work account to reply...

Yes, the Mac is much more mature and I recommend it. The Windows Thunderbolt driver still has some limitations (the main one is that it currently supports ASIO only, for Windows Audio you'll need to use third-party tools such as VB-Audio VoiceMeeter). And AFX2DAW is still only supported on the Mac, we're currently working on Windows support.

Regarding the changelog for the macOS driver - mostly bug fixes and performance improvements. We strongly recommend running the latest versions of the driver, firmware, launcher and control panel. The latest version of the macOS driver also adds AFX2DAW support.

We'll make an announcement when AFX2DAW is ready. Right now we're running a Closed Beta program, fixing some known bugs, preparing detailed documentation, etc. I suggest you wait for the Open Beta launch.

Stay tuned!
Old 25th May 2018
  #24
Gear Head
 

Cool @ senchev , thanks for the news

I'm wondering if AFX2DAW will support Automation, exposing the plugin parameters to the DAW. In otherhands, it will be huge if this plugin ll support external Sidechaining ( for eg. to trigger a Compressor with an external kick drum input - very used for EDM ) - This is not done at UAD, so it can be a huge plus from Antelope !
Old 25th May 2018
  #25
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senchev's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yassinex View Post
Cool @ senchev , thanks for the news

I'm wondering if AFX2DAW will support Automation, exposing the plugin parameters to the DAW. In otherhands, it will be huge if this plugin ll support external Sidechaining ( for eg. to trigger a Compressor with an external kick drum input - very used for EDM ) - This is not done at UAD, so it can be a huge plus from Antelope !
The AFX2DAW will support Automation, yes!
External sidechaining will not be supported. Our current effects architecture does not support it.

You'll know everything about it when we're ready to release, so please be patient.
Old 25th May 2018
  #26
Lives for gear
 

Anybody got info on maximum cable length to get these working with thunderbolt? I have the studio computer on the opposite side of the wall, in a separate room. Currently I'm running a 5 meter firewire cable but I'd like to be able to use a 10m cable for flexibility. Anybody know if 10m is viable?
Old 25th May 2018
  #27
Gear Head
 

2 meters maximum, at least with the Apple cables.
You can use an ethernet cable to control your Antelope audio interface, when connected to a remote computer if am correct.
Old 25th May 2018
  #28
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yassinex View Post
2 meters maximum, at least with the Apple cables.
You can use an ethernet cable to control your Antelope audio interface, when connected to a remote computer if am correct.
Is this confirmed? 2 meters is not going to cut it for me.

Antelope, has there been any testing done with optical thunderbolt cables over 5m?
Due to the amount of studios where the computers are in a different room it is imperative that your interfaces work with optical thunderbolt cables.
Old 26th May 2018
  #29
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senchev's Avatar
 

Hello,

We've tested with optical cables and they work OK. I believe we tested with the 5.5m Corning Thunderbolt 2 cable, but I'll check next week to make sure.
The Corning optical cables (up to 60m long) are Thunderbolt certified, meaning they have been thoroughly tested by Intel and Apple as part of the Thunderbolt certification process, so they should work flawlessly. They are even promoted on Intel's Thunderbolt Technology website: https://thunderbolttechnology.net/pr...optical-cables.
Although optical cables are expensive, I think the price is reasonable for the value they provide.
Old 28th May 2018
  #30
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senchev's Avatar
 

Hello again,

The optical cable we've tested with is indeed the 5.5m Corning Optical Thunderbolt 2 cable.
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