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The fastest interfaces?


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I just purchased a drumkat percussion controller and plan on using it for live performance. I also plan on using a laptop as my sound module. At first I planned on buying an Apogee Duet (solely for sound quality) and using my Emu MIDI to USB converter to get the MIDI into the computer.

 

Now, I'm thinking that combination really isn't going to offer the responsiveness (low latency) that I need. I'm now looking at a RME Multiface with express 3/4 card.

 

Does anyone here use that specific interface or a comparable PC card interface? Do PC card interfaces generally offer faster performance over firewire/USB?

 

Any advice would be appreciated!

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So by "fastest", you're referring to lowest latency?

 

Most modern USB / Firewire interfaces will do fine with very low buffer settings (which has a huge effect on latency) if you're only going to use it as a sound source and are not taxing the system with a ton of tracks and plugins. The bigger issue will probably be the MIDI interface... I'd look for a simple USB MIDI interface and connect the 5 pin MIDI out from the controller to that, and plug that into a USB port on the laptop. I like the M-Audio MIDI interfaces - they've been trouble free for me, and are very reasonably priced.

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I think what he's explaining is he wants to use his laptop as a midi modual for his keyboard.

Phils right about PCI cards as being the fastest for audio recording. Communications speeds are tied into the bus vs traveling through a Firewire or USB interface. But for midi, they make midi specific pci midi cards which achieve very low latency.

 

Check with Blue2. He answerd a post with a board type he used to use that will do what you want. I cant remember what it was. Maybe find the post from a few weeks ago under recording forum.

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PCI Express should be the fastest and "broadest" data connection and hopefully less influenced by other devices....."should" because I haven't got anything yet on that format. The latency issues are, however, much dependent on the software part, the quality of the (ASIO mainly) drivers and the daw.

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I'll be using my newly acquired drumkat percussion pad to trigger synths, drum samples, etc. out of Ableton Live.

 

Right now I'm using a Mac Mini that has a 1.5Ghz Core Duo processor with 2GB RAM and it is barely keeping up with basic sequencing. I'm also using the built-in audio and I can only get the latency down to 128 samples at an 80% CPU load. Live measures this as an overall latency of 20ms. No real surprise there and I don't expect to get super low latencies with this setup.

 

Now, I'm looking to do live performance and need a setup with low latency and rock solid performance. I do plan on sticking with a Mac for a computer. I just don't know if I should do a laptop or a tower. A laptop would be the cheaper solution of the two. I just wanted to get some opinions because I can't afford to waste money on something that isn't going to work.

 

Thanks!

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I'll be using my newly acquired drumkat percussion pad to trigger synths, drum samples, etc. out of Ableton Live.


Right now I'm using a Mac Mini that has a 1.5Ghz Core Duo processor with 2GB RAM and it is barely keeping up with basic sequencing. I'm also using the built-in audio and I can only get the latency down to 128 samples at an 80% CPU load. Live measures this as an overall latency of 20ms. No real surprise there and I don't expect to get super low latencies with this setup.

 

You'd most likely get better, more stable performance with a different audio / MIDI interface than you would with the onboard sound in your Mac Mini... however, something is strange / off with those latency readings. If you're running at 44.1 kHz, and are at 128 samples for the buffer, that's not going to result in a 20ms latency time - or at least it shouldn't.

 

Now, I'm looking to do live performance and need a setup with low latency and rock solid performance. I do plan on sticking with a Mac for a computer. I just don't know if I should do a laptop or a tower. A laptop would be the cheaper solution of the two. I just wanted to get some opinions because I can't afford to waste money on something that isn't going to work.


Thanks!

 

I'd think you ought to be able to do fine with the Mini, but with a decent firewire interface instead of relying on the onboard sound. That's what I'd recommending trying first - that way, it's still going to be of use; even if you find you still want a faster, more powerful computer, you'll still be able to use the interface with it.

 

How many tracks of audio are you running simultaneously with the MIDI sequencing? Are you using the internal drive, or do you have an external connected to it (for audio) too?

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I was reading the forums on RME's website and I'm starting to even reconsider that option. Seems like a lot of people are having problems getting their products to work with the new Apple MacBook Pros.

 

Anyways, with regards to latency I've read that some DAWs don't calculate it correctly. I don't know if Live is one of them. It shows the input latency and output latency separately and adds them together I guess. That's where I got the 20ms time from.

 

I'm also using a seperate drive for my audio it is a G-Tech 200GB 7,200rpm drive. I have it connected to the sole firewire input on my computer.

 

I'd like to get more mileage out of the Mini for now, but I'm not sure if that is possible. If I load two soft instruments into Live and have them play a simple midi track my CPU usage spikes to 25%. I'm looking to have up to 10 instantiations of soft synths, drums, etc. in my sets. Either way I probably have to buy a new laptop because I'm not hauling a CPU, monitor, keyboard, etc. around to gigs.

 

Thanks for all or help and advice!

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