Since: Apr 08, 2004
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:
If you're interested in PCI for inside a PC:
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.