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Old 21st April 2017
Lives for gear

Its not just the interface. The interface adds a certain amount of latency but it doesn't increase and decrease.

What your problem is when it comes to mixing dropouts, comes from your choice of plugins and DAW program.
That's what causes the CPU to crash when the mathematical algorithms are being performed.

There are two ways of getting around it. You can take the plugins, process them into the tracks, then remove them afterwards to free up space.
Or you can use a DAW program that allows high numbers of plugins to be run. The first process should only be done when you know you have the plugins set perfectly, because once applied/rendered to the tracks they obviously cant be tweaked any more.

As for the second it involves getting used to a new DAW program. From what I understand Reaper will allow you to run tons of plugins and barely affect your CPU Resources. I mainly use Sonar and Cubase as DAW programs. Sonar is a real Oinker when it comes to hogging the CPU. I can get maybe 24 medium consumption plugins running on 24 tracks and then it can start becoming unreliable. I normally use maybe 16 tracks total and tend to use fewer plugins over the years as the novelty and the need for them decreases. Come down to capturing better tracks so you don't need to process everything heavily.

I also busses and apply effects there instead of putting multiple instances in tracks. Things like reverb and compression can often glue things together much better in a buss then on a track.

You use a Mac so I cant tell you for sure how much better the different DAW programs work. Reaper is supposed to work great on macs plus is free to try as long as needed. It is fully functional and its very low cost to buy as well. I'd sat try that first before anything. The hardware can vary in latency a bit. Much of that has to do with its drivers as well as the port type.

If you want to be able to track fast them move to Thunderbolt or USB3. Its not going to help your particular issues however. The interface doesn't care how many tracks are playing back at once. All it sees is a stereo feed. Your problem is the plugins which can be huge CPU consumers and the number of plugins you use.

I should also note, moving to a 64 bit setup doesn't make much of a difference either. I have a dual core AMD units in the studio and recently set up a quad core unit with SS drives, 8 D of memory and the whole works.

I can take a project that's maxed with plugins where its unstable and ready to crash and on the dual core, open it up on the quad in either 32 bit or 64 bit mode and it will be just as unstable. The interfaces I use make little difference. I have two different types in my dual core, PCI cards and USB. The PCI are a tad more stable but I wouldn't put money on the differences. 64 Bit and SS drives don't make much difference between them either.

The device drivers for interfaces contain protocol which streams the data, compresses it and performs error correction. There are ways of moving data faster but its often a sacrifice. There are certain communication basics that have to be met. If its a USB device most of the protocol used will be identical between manufacturers. There are things that can be done with compression and error correction. One example is to raise the percentage of allowable errors. The thought being is the data will get there allot faster, but its less likely to be 100% intact. Pops, clicks noise artifacts and lack of details in upper frequencies may be the result.

There's also things that can be done with compression. If for example - there's a 1 second gap of silence - Instead of sending massive amounts of data saying there are zero bits 48 thousand times per second, the protocol simply use an encoded 2 or 3 digit shortcut. When that quick code gets from the interface to the drive its simply decoded and written as a longer number. This way you can shrink the size of large amounts of redundant dats down to fit into small packets and move them quickly.

The hardware itself may have some speed differences based on the clock speeds vs the converter chips used. The clocks don't change speeds however. They are going to run the same speed weather you have 1 track or 100 mixed down to a stereo track.