New to analog home recording; Need advice on audio i/o

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Member Since: Oct 09, 2006

So I'm looking to get some advice from people knowledgeable in this field, as I'm completely clueless when it comes to analog recording. Using my yamaha keyboard, I've recorded and mixed midi tracks with the likes of Reason and Fruityloops. But now I'm looking for a little more.

So here are my problems. First, when recording live midi with my keyboard, there is about a 20ms latency. Changing various settings, this is as low as I can get it. I'm just using my in-motherboard soundcard. What exactly do I need to upgrade in order to bring this latency down to, say, 5ms? With the more complex stuff I record, the latency really becomes a audible problem.

So I figured, I need some kind of audio interface to hook up via firewire? (Do audio interfaces actually compute the sound, ie take the place of a sound card?) Then my next question is going to be, what interface can I get that would allow analog recording, say from my guitar, sax, or voice? I recently acquired Cubase SX, but again, the latency with this program is around 27ms using the ASIO full duplex multimedia driver. (I don't even know what ASIO means or how it applies to this.)

So, can anyone enlighten my here, or point me in the right direction? I need an audio interface that will bring my latency down, and allow for live analog recording in Cubase. Am I on the right track here or what? Thanks in advance!

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Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Oct 09, 2006 02:08 pm

Welcome to HRC,

I'd say your onboard sound is your problem, as far as the audio latency goes.

As for midi, your soundcard may be the bottleneck, but it may be the computer itself (speed, ram, bloatware, etc). Also, midi tends to have a little more latency than audio, so it's not uncommon for playing midi live to be kinda un-usable.

My experience is limited here, on playing midi live, so maybe there's other help others can chime in.

Yes, audio interfaces replace your sound card, as they are basically the same thing. I've gotten in the habit of calling them audio interface, because it may not be an actual 'card' that you're using, so this seems more descriptive. You can use both, and some here do, like when using soundblaster cards, to hold soundfonts.

I'm not sure if you really need firewire, or if you have a laptop, that may demand it. Fill us in here, and we can be more specific.

Some audio interfaces have both audio inputs, plus MIDI inputs. That'd be your route. If you're looking for firewire:;form=search

If you're interested in PCI for inside a PC:;form=search

That gives you some, but there's lots others.

You'd have to make sure the device has both audio and midi inputs. Some don't.

ASIO is a type of interface (software) between your hardware (audio interface) and your recording program (software interface). When the hardware interface converts, and sends the data to your software program, it has to speak a specific language, in this case, that's ASIO. There's also WDM, and the older, slower, MME. ASIO and WDM are very competent, and can perform better or worse than each other, depending on the system. Check which is better for your setup, and use that.

Oh yeah, try WDM to see if your latency goes down =).

hth, good luck.

Since: Oct 09, 2006

Oct 09, 2006 10:42 pm


First off, it very well could be my computer. I have a 1.8ghz processor and 1gig of ram, but my processor is very old and has been lagging lately. My ram is also an eclectic mix of various makes and speeds, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was slowing things down as well. I try to keep my rig clean of malware and whatnot, so I don't think that's the problem.

Thank you for those links. I'd probably grab a firewire/external interface, because if I do get a new rig after this one, it will most likely be a laptop which I would use for portable recording needs.

Thanks too for the information about ASIO. I'm not sure what you mean by "try WDM" (do I already have it through my OS or something?), but I'll google it and see whats up.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Oct 10, 2006 10:01 am

usually in your multitracker, when you select what sound device to use, there'll be selections for ASIO, WDM, and possibly MME.

MME is the earliest, and slow, latency wise.

WDM came out after, and really sped up the audio world. WDM drivers can interact with more than one software app at a time.

ASIO (and ASIO2, i think) are next generation interface, but not always faster than WDM. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. Usually ASIO is faster, but it's always worth trying both out, to see for sure. Lots of people have glitchy problems with ASIO, and resort to WDM, only to have life working smoothly again.

ASIO also only accesses one software app at a time (usually) so running two programs to your sound device usually won't work.

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