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Do I need an audio interface if I am trying to achieve the following

ms54321

New Member
Hi, I'm new to all this stuff, here's what I have:
Roli Seaboard 49
Roland FP30 Digital Piano
Tracktion Waveform Free
Equator/Equator2
Dell Windows 10 laptop

I want to be able to play the seaboard and fp30 together (using the sounds in equator) with no latency on either, and eventually to record them etc.

I have the seaboard and fp30 plugged into the laptop via usb and whilst the seaboard's latency isn't too bad the fp30's isn't great so it's hard to just play them together when they are out of sync etc.

I tried using asio4all in waveform but I end up with a high pitch screech and then no sound at all.

I was advised elsewhere that an audio interface might be a good solution for what I'm trying to do.
I've found the following within my budget:
M-Audio M-Track Solo II
M-Audio M-Track Duo
Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD

So my questions are:

1. If I do need an audio interface which of the above ones is better?

2. Will buying one of these interfaces solve all the latency issues, if so how does that work exactly?

3. Will I still be connecting the fp30 and seaboard directly to the laptop's USB ports or do I connect them into the audio interface inputs? (if it's the former then I guess I only need a single input audio interface like the Solo as opposed to the Duo?)

Many thanks!
 
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Elmakai

Member
Since the sounds you are using are coming from the software, theoretically speaking you should not need an audio interface - asio4all should be able to take care of this for you (more on this in a bit).

An audio interface will also help in this situation. By having one, the only real difference is you will have your sound output device as whatever the AI you use, as opposed to the asio4all. You will still have your midi devices plugged into the computer, not the AI.

Think of a AI in similar terms to a dedicated GPU (for gaming, etc) - it helps alleviate your computer's processing power to accomplish tasks. In the case of sound, the computer generally is ill equipped to process the sound fast enough in real time, so you use a AI to do that processing for you. (Note that if you had a computer with a good built in sound card, an AI might not be necessary, but unless the computer was pretty high end, it's not likely.)

That being said, I've personally never used an AI with a laptop. I've always used the AI with a desktop, with the speakers plugged into the AI, not the ports on the computer itself. I'm not sure how this would be accomplished on a laptop, because my understanding is that since the sound is being sent to the AI to be processed, then out to the speakers, you might need to have external speakers for this to work (plugged into the output ports of the AI). Maybe someone else who's had more experience could chime in.

But, this would all be moot if you could get your asio4all working. My suggestion would be try to exhaust the possibilities with that before buying an AI, since asio4all should emulate what an AI would do via software. Your setup doesn't sound like it is something that would have compatibility issues, so I recommend trying things like:

1. Make sure there is enough of a buffer (do this by increasing the sample size).
2. Make sure the output on your asio4all is set to your whatever sound device your computer makes sound from.
3. Make sure your DAW is set to use the asio4all as the output, not your speakers.

The only reason generally to invest in a AI is to record sound (not midi) from a device, such as a microphone. In some cases, an AI is still necessary even without the need to record because asio4all just can't process the sound fast enough (this happens with lower end computers with really demanding projects/setups), but I'm pretty sure this will probably not apply to you. I think the asio4all should be able to do it.

I hope this helps.
 
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ms54321

New Member
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Since the sounds you are using are coming from the software, theoretically speaking you should not need an audio interface - asio4all should be able to take care of this for you (more on this in a bit).

An audio interface will also help in this situation. By having one, the only real difference is you will have your sound output device as whatever the AI you use, as opposed to the asio4all. You will still have your midi devices plugged into the computer, not the AI.

Think of a AI in similar terms to a dedicated GPU (for gaming, etc) - it helps alleviate your computer's processing power to accomplish tasks. In the case of sound, the computer generally is ill equipped to process the sound fast enough in real time, so you use a AI to do that processing for you. (Note that if you had a computer with a good built in sound card, an AI might not be necessary, but unless the computer was pretty high end, it's not likely.)

That being said, I've personally never used an AI with a laptop. I've always used the AI with a desktop, with the speakers plugged into the AI, not the ports on the computer itself. I'm not sure how this would be accomplished on a laptop, because my understanding is that since the sound is being sent to the AI to be processed, then out to the speakers, you might need to have external speakers for this to work (plugged into the output ports of the AI). Maybe someone else who's had more experience could chime in.

But, this would all be moot if you could get your asio4all working. My suggestion would be try to exhaust the possibilities with that before buying an AI, since asio4all should emulate what an AI would do via software. Your setup doesn't sound like it is something that would have compatibility issues, so I recommend trying things like:

1. Make sure there is enough of a buffer (do this by increasing the sample size).
2. Make sure the output on your asio4all is set to your whatever sound device your computer makes sound from.
3. Make sure your DAW is set to use the asio4all as the output, not your speakers.

The only reason generally to invest in a AI is to record sound (not midi) from a device, such as a microphone. In some cases, an AI is still necessary even without the need to record because asio4all just can't process the sound fast enough (this happens with lower end computers with really demanding projects/setups), but I'm pretty sure this will probably not apply to you. I think the asio4all should be able to do it.

I hope this helps.
Thanks! That was a huge help in my understanding :)
I have actually just installed Cakewalk Free and I got the asio4all drivers to work through that, must've been something about Waveform Free it didn't like. So the latency is now acceptable. Out of curiosity - would an audio interface improve the sounds I am hearing - eg I'm listening to equator sounds via headphones plugged into my laptop - if instead if I had an audio interface and headphones/speakers plugged into that - would I notice a difference in equator sound quality? The reason I ask that is I'm guessing the AI takes over the sounds from the laptop's soundcard and the AI just might make it sound better?
Thanks
 

mybadmemory

Senior Member
You only really need an audio interface to get high quality audio into and out of your computer. If you want to record with a microphone or connect balanced speakers you’ll need one.

For only connecting midi devices and play sounds or samples on your computer and listening via headphones it’s not needed. In some cases it might help with reducing latency but it should work anyway.
 

rrichard63

Perpetual Novice
would an audio interface improve the sounds I am hearing - eg I'm listening to equator sounds via headphones plugged into my laptop - if instead if I had an audio interface and headphones/speakers plugged into that - would I notice a difference in equator sound quality?
Probably, yes. First the digital to analog converters built into laptop computers are just okay. Second, being located inside a computer exposes them to all kinds of electrical noise, some of which can find its way into the audio signal. Third, they include very basic headphone amplifiers (the importance of this varies greatly depending on the specific headphones you pair them with). Fourth, the audio outputs are unbalanced rather than balanced, which can make a lot of difference when you use them with powered speakers.

Even for your MIDI based setup, an audio interface would be a good investment. And you never know when you are going to find a use for microphone and/or line-level audio inputs. But once you have ASIO4ALL working with your built-in sound card, there wouldn't be much additional improvement in latency.
 

Elmakai

Member
Both previous replies are spot on IMO (and they both probably know more than I do). But even though I don't do recording myself, I do use an audio interface on account of how many libraries I have loaded up across multiple servers through my network. Anything to decrease the latency and keep the quality up is a must in my book. And it is a huge plus if you ever decide to record anything in the future.
 
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