Need advice about new audio interface to lower midi latency

Discussion in 'Soundgear' started by dydythug, Feb 25, 2024.

  1. dydythug

    dydythug Member

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    Hello, I have an i9 14900k and a z790 aorus master motherboard.

    I want to upgrade my focusrite scarlett solo

    I never had a high end audio interface before, I mostly do orchestral with massive project and I wonder how can I lower the midi latency to still be able to somehow record with the lowest latency possible.

    Right now I have 512 buffer size and 20 ms

    this is my audio meter on cubase upload_2024-2-25_21-48-14.png

    Should I go something usb like rme babyface or something PCI-E ? Or both ? I am a bit confused about PCI-E cards

    thanks
     
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  3. No Avenger

    No Avenger Moderator Staff Member

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    MIDI has almost 0 latency (~ 1ms), the 20ms are referring to audio only. Audio latency depends on various factors, including interface, sampling rate and buffer. Higher SR -> lower latency, lower buffer -> lower latency. Both increase the CPU consumption.
    RMEs are know to be pretty fast and rock solid.
     
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  4. clone

    clone Audiosexual

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    Your concern is not Midi Latency. It's audio latency. There is almost 0 Midi latency even on the slowest of machines.
     
  5. vuldegger

    vuldegger Producer

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    something is not right. on my weaker ryzen 7 5700x i can easily hit 64sample buffer size both on cubase and reaper with medium sized projects with plenty acustica plugs (ZL). on the mighty i9 14900k you should be able to work with 16! samples buffer size easily. my old i5 2500 i could go 256. you have glitches under 512??
     
  6. clone

    clone Audiosexual

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    Have you ever used a Focusrite? You could make valid points about the cpu,etc; but if the problem is a screwed up driver that's a different issue. I'd remove it, clean up with REVO Uninstaller, and see if I could get better results after reinstallation. Different USB cable, all the usual stuff. Reseat the RAM modules...
     
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  7. saccamano

    saccamano Rock Star

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    Additionally, the audio I/O offered on PCIe (cards that run in a slot on the system board) will have a tendency to run less latent - although it really depends on how well any audio interface hardware (usb, firewire, PCIe, etc) melds with the drivers provided by the OEM. Bad drivers even with good hardware design (or vice versa) can still make for elevated audio latencies. As was said by NoAvenger, the RME solutions are bit more on the expensive side (although there are even more expensive routes that can be taken) but RME drivers and hardware are about the best value one can get while maintaining the best system functionality at their price point. With RME, a usb or PCIe interface will generally not contribute to excessive latency unless there is are issues with the host system hardware or most often the host OS...

    I can speak for the RME gear as that is all I have used for years and have had 0 issues with it. Generally if someone has RME audio gear installed and is having issues with latency it will all boil down to an issue with the host computer or OS being the culprit...
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
  8. dydythug

    dydythug Member

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    How does a RME pci-e card connects to my headphone? I don't see any jack output. What model do you advise for someone who only need to plug his senheiser hd650, no other outputs, no inputs

    well, my screenshot is lying a little bit because it's from my full template (hosted locally) that I am currently premixing, it's 700 tracks (the full cinematic series splitted by articulations) with all mics activated and a big mockup written. The mockup uses 186 tracks. I kept the rest of the tracks activated to stress test this new system out of curiosity.

    At 512, the playback quality is mostly good, there are some glitches and 1 full audio dropout during the song. Cpu is used at 45%

    I tried 1014, playback is way worse, and cpu is sitting at 30%

    My ram is 5200 mhz and 40% of it is used

    I tried disabling everything but the 186 tracks that have midi data, playback seems flawless at 128, cpu is averaging 18-20% I am so happy with this beast

    I know that in a real-life project, most of those 700 tracks will be disabled... but well that's what stress tests are for, identifying weak spots and since I want to upgrade my audio interface anyway...
     
  9. Ak3mi91

    Ak3mi91 Platinum Record

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    You have a beefy PC. Are you sure it's not just a long sample start set in Kontakt library? Most libraries set a very long sample start by default, because it sounds more natural during playback, but isn't good for live recording.
     
  10. saccamano

    saccamano Rock Star

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    Most all PCIe audio interfaces (regardless of OEM) have breakout cables (or boxes) that attach to a computer bus cards' outer multi-pin connector's. The breakout's are multi-pin on one end to connect to the outside portion of the card and the other end will have your various real world connectors like 5-pin MIDI, possibly ADAT (most adat's are mounted on the outside back of the card itself), balanced audio I/O XLR's, stereo headphone connector(s), etc... The breakout cables will come with the card.

    There are ways to minimize the load on the host system running the DAW by Freezing and Bouncing finished tracks to audio. That way the load of having to deal with a bunch of VST's, effects, or outboard devices in real time is greatly diminished. Using these techniques you can up your track count by an order of magnitude and keep your latency down by just utilizing what MIDI, vst's and FX you're actually working on at any given time and the rest of the production will be just audio. The computer should be able to play as many audio tracks as you can throw at it while giving you the freedom to create new tracks via your MIDI devices, mic's, outboard devices, etc...
     
  11. vuldegger

    vuldegger Producer

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    yes i do use a focusrite scarlett solo 3rd gen (i love it), the driver is rock solid, and the lowest latency/buffer size i could ever use/used/seen. i know it's a budget interface but it serves me well and it's sturdy.
     
  12. No Avenger

    No Avenger Moderator Staff Member

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    So you're 'complaining' that you have to use 20ms latency for 700 tracks up and running??? Okeeey. I'm afraid at some point you'll reach the end of the rope - unless you have very deep pockets (high end MB, CPU and interface, NVMes, maybe a second computer in parallel, ...).
     
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  13. BaSsDuDe

    BaSsDuDe Audiosexual

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    There is one point that should be made even though MIDI standalone has an extremely low latency.
    Whatever you stick on your chain does not. If your controller and devices do not then it changes. A company called Opcode made a device many years ago called an 8Port SE that gained 16 individual MIDI channels in each port - this facilitated 128 simultaneous MIDI tracks that could be individually assigned in realtime at near zero ms. So you could do Orchestral tracks in realtime basically. It is not made anymore.

    There was a reason for this, being that if you chained multiple MIDI controllers, instruments and MIDI FX with multiple cc functions on the thru or out MIDI outputs, the zero was no more and always had latency. Not so much today. There is no reason to do this as many of the rack keyboards from those days now are software/sample based.

    I have a Focusrite/Scarlett 18i20 with their driver and it works fine. As @No Avenger suggested above me, once you extend the limits of your existing system, you will notice it either slowing down, or needing to adjust several settings to accommodate it. It makes perfect sense no matter the system what he said.

    I have 128GB RAM and a fast CPU, nVme's etc etc and I did a test a while back to see how well I knew my system. I calculated that I should be able to run 64 audio tracks at 24bit 48Khz without too many issues. This was correct, none at all. I found that my CPU was surprisingly low in usage and my RAM was not struggling.
    I shifted to 128 tracks and while it certainly functioned the system was working hard. I used the identical 50MB audio file in each track. Not a perfect test by any means but it worked.

    700 tracks? I'd want double my RAM for that and I'd need at least a 350GB cache on an nvme for that because audio tracks will vary in size, even though rendering between locators makes them identical in size. I could do it with 128 but I would not like how my system worked, and I probably have to disable or freeze tracks. This is not a good way to work. I do not know many people who have mixed a 700 track tune. In fact, I do not know anyone who would want to. I'd certainly tell the person to get someone else.

    A Realtime audio mix of 700 tracks?!?!? I can only :rofl:
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2024
  14. BaSsDuDe

    BaSsDuDe Audiosexual

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    A good engineering pre-mix trick with samples, libraries and vsti's, is to render the track and disable the MIDI track after rendering it to another track. If there are any issues with the rendered track later on, the MIDI track is still there and it can be redone. There is no point in final mix attempting to configure multiple MIDI interfaces for precision panning and automation when with audio, you have only one idiom to work with. Smarter, not harder and if for some reason there is latency, it only becomes one idiom - audio. If the audio from the rendered file is not as good, then it's not being done properly.

    Understanding how buffers and samples work in your chosen audio interface, as well as knowing when to raise them high or lower them to avoid caching or CPU issues, and how to bus if FX are needed on record-in, goes a long way to making latency issues minimal.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2024
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  15. tzzsmk

    tzzsmk Audiosexual

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    there's so much to cover to prevent confusion:

    1) there is literally no latency of MIDI, it's the audio/sound (produced by your computer+interface) which is delayed
    2) you can minimize audio latency by lowering buffer size (your "512" is relatively a lot, something like 128 or 64 should be low enough)
    3) low latency requires fast, consistent computer performance to prevent any dropouts/hiccups during "real-time" use
    4) good audio interface with properly optimized drivers should provide very usable reliable low latency at low buffer size, assuming rest of your PC is able to keep up, it's up to manufacturer's ability to do so,
    5) PCIe (and Thunderbolt) audio interfaces in general should provide most straightforward communication with your computer's processor, theoretically offering best performance potential, but some recent USB interfaces are very close,
    6) big orchestral projects inevitably tax your computer severely, so it's a common practice to record only few tracks at most, and preferably freeze/unfreeze all other tracks on the fly, to minimize computer load while recording at low latency,
    7) rendering/export of final project basically doesn't care about your audio interface and its buffer settings at all, it's usually done as fast your computer allows (which usually is faster than realtime overall, but also not as consistently fast as if it was realtime)
     
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  16. muse2love

    muse2love Kapellmeister

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    Also you seem to be on a pc so windows for sure

    learn how to cancel all telemetry after buying a nice interface with good drivers it is an absolut must ...and if with a laptop make sure to take out all energy savers options and all drivers
     
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  17. dydythug

    dydythug Member

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    Thanks for your answers
    Yes I am on Windows, I have maxed the power settings to high performance

    As said before, I am not complaining, I am very happy and very impressed with this new system, I am just looking to upgrade my audio interface
    Thanks for the clarification about midi having no latency, I understand now, it's obvious that the midi protocol have very low latency and I should be talking about audio latency. When I said "midi latency" what I wanted to say is the latency for the midi input from my controllers.

    I think I am going to buy a Babyface pro

    @BaSsDuDe 700 enabled tracks but only 182 with midi data !! It was just to stress test the system. In real life I'll have most of the noncore tracks disabled. I would like to have more details about the "cache on a nvme". You got my attention, because when playing back my track with all 700 tracks enabled (only 182 non empty tracks), my cpu and my ram usage were both very low (40% of ram and 40% of cpu used), so the bottleneck is either the nvme drives or the audio interface
     
  18. tzzsmk

    tzzsmk Audiosexual

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    there shouldn't be any noticeable though, are you using some USB hubs, or classic MIDI converters?
     
  19. Garamondo Furbish

    Garamondo Furbish Rock Star

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    sounds like you just have GAS, Gear Acquistion Syndrome...
    700 tracks is a bit much even for Vangelis. Split the load over two computers synced with MTC and then you buy 2 new interfaces and try to get up to 1400 tracks.
     
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  20. Will Kweks

    Will Kweks Producer

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    While I agree that MIDI latency is not the issue here, saying MIDI has zero latency is utterly untrue. You can easily clog a single port with a few channels and control data. Also cheaper MIDI interfaces will have jitter in several ms range. Thru sockets are a no no, unless this doesn't matter.

    For a lot of hardware (esp. with clock/MTC) a dedicated multiport MIDI interface is a must.
     
  21. Lad Impala

    Lad Impala Producer

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    there was a significant improvement from scarlet's 1st gen to the 2nd gen in terms of audio latency. how old is your interface?
     
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