Dummy question about MIDI usb interface and ASIO

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
Hello all, my wife and I are going to Sweetwater's Gearfest 2019 and I was sort of in the market for a new interface. I do no audio, just MIDI. I see they are planning to have a number of exhibitors there. I currently use an M-Audio M Track Plus with ASIO4ALL on an i7 with 32 gb of ram, W10, Reaper, Kontakt and KU.

I take it ASIO4ALL is a generic driver and that gear manufactures may provide their own drivers. So, I am looking for a low to mid-range interface that uses a "real" ASIO driver. Any suggestions?

The wife is not to thrilled I am dragging her there, but her presence will counter my impulse to get a top of line and perhaps more than I need.

Cheers and thanks,

Carlos
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
ASIO4ALL is an audio driver. ASIO stands for audio streaming in/out or something similar.

You might look at the iConnectivity MIDI interfaces, probably the mio2, 4, or 10.

(The company used to be a writing client of mine, but their MIDI interfaces are ahead of any others I know of.)
 
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rrichard63

Perpetual Novice
As Nick just said, ASIO has to do with audio only and has nothing to do with MIDI. I would think you need at least one stereo audio output for monitor speakers, plus headphone outputs. The audio components on most motherboards are looked down upon by composers and musicians. But if all you need is monitoring, something like the ubiquitous Focusrite Scarlett series would be fine. A lot of folks here swear by Steinberg interfaces.

How many MIDI inputs and outputs do you need (want)? If the answer is more than one, that gives you a separate incentive to consider something like iConnectivity. You would then ignore the single MIDI input/output on the audio interface.
 
OP
C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
Hello and thanks for the info and advice. It looks like the iConnectivity seems good and will look at the Focusrite.

Cheers

Carlos
 

unclecheeks

Active Member
As Nick just said, ASIO has to do with audio only and has nothing to do with MIDI.
I think audio drivers DO affect MIDI in the sense that the audio driver defines the processing latency which also affects latency of the MIDI input/output.

To the OP - what issues are you trying to resolve / improve exactly? Latency? Number of MIDI inputs? Something else?
 

dzilizzi

I just hang around pretending I know something
I connect my midi by USB now, so the keyboard drivers only are required.

I think some of the Focusrite have midi in/out if you want to go through the audio interface. They have their own drivers that work better than ASIO4ALL. Don't get me wrong. ASIO4ALL has gotten me through for a number of years. But it isn't better than the ASIO driver that comes with an interface. If you don't need midi input, you might want to look at an RME Babyface or Apollo Twin. They both have slightly better ASIO drivers than Focusrite (less conflicts from what I understand) and less latency.
 

dzilizzi

I just hang around pretending I know something
And did I mention I am a little jealous you are going to Gearfest? It looks so cool.
 
OP
C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
I think audio drivers DO affect MIDI in the sense that the audio driver defines the processing latency which also affects latency of the MIDI input/output.

To the OP - what issues are you trying to resolve / improve exactly? Latency? Number of MIDI inputs? Something else?
Hello all, just about to go out the door to the center of the universe, but wanted to answer this. I am having some latency issues, especially with Omni, as I often have to reduce the voices and bring up the buffer way up. I have 32 gbs of ram, and run Omni via an SSD but wonder if I have too little memory, or, to old a system. It is an i7 3790 Intel, and 7 years old. Along the week, I have also spoken with Sweetwater about how to improve my experience. They have been informative and also helped with an issue with the midi in on the M-audio. Slap my head moment, I had forgotten to change the midi channel....duh, I said I was a dummy.

I am hoping to see a Nektar LX 88 in action.....and that is one of the reasons I am taking the wife....the natural depressant limit to spending :)
 
OP
C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
And did I mention I am a little jealous you are going to Gearfest? It looks so cool.
I have tried to go in previous years, and we live so close.....if I get on a feed, I will give a shout out to VIC....Hmmm, I wonder how many I will meet or see there as there is no secret handshake, nor, a facial expression to wear, except glee and giddiness.
 

unclecheeks

Active Member
Not sure about the particular i7 model, but in general i7 is a good processor. And 32gb is pretty healthy, don’t think that’s your bottleneck, unless you’re also running some other massive Kontakt or Play-based multisampled libraries. (You can check how much ram is in use during a session by opening up the Windows task manager).

Just so I understand correctly - you’re using the Mtrack Plus audio interface with ASIO4ALL? What buffer size are you using in ASIO4ALL? Does the Mtrack Plus not have its own drivers that you could try?

My sense is that the interface could be your bottleneck. Not that familiar with the Mtrack, but it seems that it’s a USB1 interface. USB2 interface with its own dedicated drivers will probably be a significant improvement. The focusrite that was recommended is a good candidate for low cost, but solid interface.

There may be other issues affecting performance too, especially since you’re on windows. I’d recommend googling how to optimize windows system for audio, things like changing the power profile, which I think defaults to “balanced”, to “full”.

Lastly, if the ssd is attached as a an external, there may be some bottlenecking happening there too, as the speed is most likely limited by the connection interface (does your ssd connect to your system via usb2?).

Don’t recall, but there may be some memory management options in Omni settings. If that’s the case, I’d set it to load as much as possible in ram. Would be longer load times, but once more is loaded into ram, your performance might improve, in case sample access from the SSD is choking up your system.
 
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OP
C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
Hi unclecheeks,

I spoke to the Focus, iConnectivity, and Spectrasonics reps about the issue(s). The M-audio folks had very little there actually. Spectrasonics had very little advice but suggested taking it up with their tech support---no Eric Pershing appearance.

I settled on the iConnectivityAUDI02/4 model. It has its own driver, recently updated. It does have 1 Midi in/1 Midi out and I can still use the Midi through on my Arturias. It is a solid piece of construction, not too heavy, and a digital front panel. They had a trade fair discount on top of Sweetwater's own Gearfest discount, so it was very attractive to me and the wife. :) I will get to it later today as I am still dragging.

"(You can check how much ram is in use during a session by opening up the Windows task manager)"
----Will definitely check that!

"you’re using the Mtrack Plus audio interface with ASIO4ALL? What buffer size are you using in ASIO4ALL? Does the Mtrack Plus not have its own drivers that you could try?"
---Yep, but hopefully not for long. Got the thing in late 2013, so probably long in the tooth. Their driver did not seem to want to work for me, and years ago someone suggested ASIO4ALL. However, I generally have to cut the voices way down in Omni, and turn the buffer all the way to the right....2024(?), and yes, latency can be a real issue worse issue then. I use Reaper and do the freeze tracks thing.

"My sense is that the interface could be your bottleneck. Not that familiar with the Mtrack, but it seems that it’s a USB1 interface. USB2 interface with its own dedicated drivers will probably be a significant improvement. The focusrite that was recommended is a good candidate for low cost, but solid interface."
---That is what Focus and iConnectivity suggested, but that is to be expected anyway. The Mtrack goes into a USB2, but I never gave it that it was a USB1.

"There may be other issues affecting performance too, especially since you’re on windows. I’d recommend googling how to optimize windows system for audio, things like changing the power profile, which I think defaults to “balanced”, to “full”."
---I will keep that in mind as I install the new one.

"Lastly, if the ssd is attached as a an external, there may be some bottlenecking happening there too, as the speed is most likely limited by the connection interface (does your ssd connect to your system via usb2?)."
---Actually, I have an internal SSD for OS (C), another nternal SSD for programs, including Omni (D), and an internal HDD (E) for data/Kontakt libraries. The only externals I use are an external HDD for weekly back-up of C/D, and I have another large external HDD for back-up of the data. I only hook them up when actually doing the back-ups.

"Don’t recall, but there may be some memory management options in Omni settings. If that’s the case, I’d set it to load as much as possible in ram. Would be longer load times, but once more is loaded into ram, your performance might improve, in case sample access from the SSD is choking up your system."
---Will also check that as well, thanks.

I appreciate all of the information folks have shared with me. I am actually an Historian using soundscapes for my work.

The event was a joy to behold, combinations of young and old....for me I was quite pleased as well. I am retired navy and it was great to see vets/retirees who have found peace and happiness in making music of all types. The Sweetwater staff was very gracious and seemed to enjoy the smiles on everyone's face. If you go in coming years, be sure to look at the schedules closely and the map of the tents closely. On several walk throughs, you may be surprised by how the gear is labelled and divided up in categories. We decided one day was enough for us old folks, but we are definitely going again.

Cheers to all,

Carlos
 
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C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
Well, several hours of frustration. I installed the iConnectivity drivers, set up the interface------the crackling, spiking was FAR FAR worse than with the M-audio. I did it twice. So, returning to M-audio again, I can hear a clear difference. The M-audio is late 2013, the iConnectivity is brand new. I may try NEW cables and/or monitors but I cannot seem to figure this one out. Same pc, same keyboards, but worse result with the ConnectAUDIO 2/4. I will give the rep a few days to rest up after Gearfest, and perhaps he will have some other suggestions. Sometimes what is new is old!
 

unclecheeks

Active Member
That seems odd. There must be something on your system causing that. I assume you’ve installed the drivers that came with the iconnectivity. What types of drivers do you see available in your host? ASIO? MME? Sometimes multiple different types might be available. ASIO should presumably give you the best performance, but you may want to try the other variants if there are any.

While you wait for Iconnectity support, you may want to try the windows optimization guides on Sweetwater. Might help.

Windows 10 - https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/pc-optimization-guide-for-windows-10/

Windows 7 - https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/pc-optimization-guide-for-windows-7/
 

unclecheeks

Active Member
I’d focus on the Disable USB Power Management, and the Adjust Power sections first.

Might also be good to know if it’s only specific plugins causing spiking, or if all plugins.

And if you have access to a different DAW, you can try that to see if it might be Reaper related.since v2.4, Omnisphere can also run as a stand-alone application without a host, so that might be worth a try.

In these types of situations, diagnosing is often by process of elimination, unfortunately.
 
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C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
I’d focus on the Disable USB Power Management, and the Adjust Power sections first.

Might also be good to know if it’s only specific plugins causing spiking, or if all plugins.

And if you have access to a different DAW, you can try that to see if it might be Reaper related.since v2.4, Omnisphere can also run as a stand-alone application without a host, so that might be worth a try.

In these types of situations, diagnosing is often by process of elimination, unfortunately.
---Many thanks for the tips. I did them with the M-audio and it seemed to help, so I will try the ConnectAUDIO later this week.

Cheers

Carlos
 
OP
C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
An update and notice for folks about older PCs. I tried with iConnectivity by email on Monday. Tuesday's response had me update the firmware, reset it to factory defaults, and reboot the ConnectAudio 2/4. It did not solve the crackling sound then and I have not heard from them again. I spoke to Nick Rice, a sales engineer at Sweetwater and he pointed me to their own tech team, who work by remote connection to my PC. I have a late 2012 i7 with speed, power, and memory. He could not figure out the crackling until he dug in deeper by remote. Apparently, and happily, out of my 10 outboard USBs, 2 are USB 3 and by switching the MIDI connection cable it seemed to solve the issue. Furthermore, Sweetwater is sending out a replacement device to make sure that it is not the device itself as it seems relatively new to see it works as well. Great service!

So, if you have an older device, beware that the USB2 might be a bottle neck for a completely digital device.

Cheers to all,

Carlos
 

dzilizzi

I just hang around pretending I know something
Actually, some don't like USB3, so it depends on the manufacturer and how new they are. Mine are not so new and don't always like USB3, so I am always careful to leave a USB 2 slot for it.
 
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C.R. Rivera

C.R. Rivera

Popper @ his favorite toy.
Actually, some don't like USB3, so it depends on the manufacturer and how new they are. Mine are not so new and don't always like USB3, so I am always careful to leave a USB 2 slot for it.
I got my i7 in late 2012, so that may have been an issue as the ConnectAudio came out in 2017. As such, I know I now have to be very aware of such issues.

Cheers

Carlos
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
The i7 3700 series CPUs are fine.
My only advice would have been the quality of cables.

Sounds silly but I use USB Powered Monitors when I perform, Display Port drivers were new and I bought 3 x different USB Cables before I got these working.

Length of the cable also makes a difference.

Cables 2 Go ALWAYS carries the most options and seems to know their product line.

I would go into your Device Manager and disable any USB Ports your not using.

I used MAudio USB to power the controller and MIDI for MIDI.
I could still power the MAudio unit but MIDI wouldn’t work.
So this allowed me to disable most ports as they would still power low bandwidth devices, saving the Enabled Port(s) for MIDI.

This is definitely a bandwidth issue involving too many devices or less than adequate devices. Going from USB 2 to USB 3 proves this.

Have fun Squid..

This is also a good place for USB Relays, adapters and cables.

https://www.showmecables.com/