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Topic: Soundcards

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  1. #1

    Soundcards

    I think I need a new soundcard!

    I am a new user of GPO and I am finding it just great with Sibelius. However, I also want to use it with Cubasis, and when I play in real time I find that the latency causes problems.

    At present I have a Soundblaster Audigy, some years old now, so I guess it is about time for a change. I have used a lot of soundfonts in the past, and since I often need to use guitars, drums, etc, I am wondering how best to proceed, since GPO alone is not quite sufficient for my needs at the moment (I am sure it will be when the Big Band edition is released!)

    Ideally I would like to be able to continue to use my large collection of soundfonts, but any help or suggestions as to a more suitable soundcard would be greatly appreciated. Should I just upgrade to an Audigy 2 - or is there a better solution that anyone could recommend?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Peter

  2. #2

    Re: Soundcards

    The Audigy cards aren't really designed for that. You will get some latency with many cards using softsynths live.

  3. #3

    Re: Soundcards

    Quote Originally Posted by chasman1
    when I play in real time I find that the latency causes problems.
    Your CPU has more to do with latency than your soundcard when you're using soft synths (Kontakt player). Soft synths rely on your CPU whereas the SB cards are essentially hardware synths and don't rely on the CPU to generate the sound.

    What is your CPU? My old one was a 2Ghz Pentium/512MB/SBLive! and I found that I couldn't get very far with GPO without raising the latency to unacceptable levels for live playing.

    Got to go to a class now, but post your system specs and you'll get some more useful feedback.

    GPO's really great when you get your system tuned to use it.
    Bill

  4. #4

    Re: Soundcards

    Quote Originally Posted by billp
    Your CPU has more to do with latency than your soundcard when you're using soft synths (Kontakt player). Soft synths rely on your CPU whereas the SB cards are essentially hardware synths and don't rely on the CPU to generate the sound.

    What is your CPU? My old one was a 2Ghz Pentium/512MB/SBLive! and I found that I couldn't get very far with GPO without raising the latency to unacceptable levels for live playing.

    Got to go to a class now, but post your system specs and you'll get some more useful feedback.

    GPO's really great when you get your system tuned to use it.
    Thanks for that billp. My system is running with an Athlon XP3000 with 1 gig of Ram (and Audigy Platinum) and I would be very grateful for any help in tuning the system for GPO - although I am very willing to upgrade the soundcard if this will help. The playing in problems occur in Cubasis and also with Sibelius Flexitime (but I seldom use this feature since I mostly use Sibelius as a notation tool.) And GPO is really great already - even with my system as it is - I just want to get the very best out of it!

  5. #5

    Re: Soundcards

    The M-Audio cards are great, and are wicked cheap at the moment. You can get a great-sounding Audiophile 2496 for under $100. But you'll need to keep the SB to play the soundfonts, or you'll need another software player that will load soundfonts (like the VSampler bundled with Sonar Producer). I believe there are some free soundfont players available, check around. The Audiophile does not have a built-in synth, so it doesn't play back soundfonts directly.

    You might also look into the new PCI cards from EMU, I believe they will play back soundfonts (they are really like souped-up SoundBlasters). Price is low, people are beginning to give them good reviews. Get one that has a number followed by "m", they have better A-D converters. I don't recommend the Audigy. I own one, it happens to co-exist OK with my M-Audio 1010lt (others have issues), but there are better solutions available.

    Jim

  6. #6

    Re: Soundcards

    Quote Originally Posted by chasman1
    Thanks for that billp. My system is running with an Athlon XP3000 with 1 gig of Ram (and Audigy Platinum)
    Chasman,
    The AMD 3000+, right? With 1GB ram, this should be plenty powerful enough. I'm wondering now if you've tried lowering the latency.

    On my AMD 3200+ machine, I'm running at 7ms, and could actually go lower. I'm using the EMU 1820 and am recording at 24/44.1.

    I'm a SONAR user and SONAR's CPU meter stays well within the green (no dropouts) even with quite a bit of polyphony--maybe 30 simultaneous voices.

    If you're having problems going to lower latencies, review what other processes are running on your system, as this is pretty much a matter of overall CPU load. You shouldn't be running anti-virus, email, or other stuff in the background.

    I agree with mistahamma/jim--If decide to upgrade your soundcard and your studio budget allows it, get away from the SB cards, and into something else. You can use a free soft synth like sfz to play soundfonts. It's not as convenient as the good ole SB cards, but you'll be amazed at the improvement in sound quality and dynamic range you get by going to a better card.
    Bill

  7. #7

    Re: Soundcards

    [QUOTE=billp]Chasman,
    The AMD 3000+, right? With 1GB ram, this should be plenty powerful enough. I'm wondering now if you've tried lowering the latency.

    Thanks again for all the help! Yes I have tried lowering the latency, but below about 40ms I get clicking as I play in.........I have not yet tried it after closing down everything else though. I guess I should have thought of that and tried it already.....

    I will investigate alternative soundfont players - that seems like a good way to keep the use of the soundfonts and upgrade to a card that will perform better.

  8. #8

    Re: Soundcards

    Quote Originally Posted by billp
    Your CPU has more to do with latency than your soundcard when you're using soft synths (Kontakt player). Soft synths rely on your CPU whereas the SB cards are essentially hardware synths and don't rely on the CPU to generate the sound.
    Are you sure about this ?

    I have 2 soundcards in my computer, an internal that gets me a latency of 200ms (!) and a EWS MT88 that can go up to 0.7ms when working in 96 KHz.
    The more power your CPU has, the more voices it can generate, and the smaller buffersize you can have (which affects latency), but your soundcard is usually the bottleneck.

    Specialised soundcards give way better results then gamesoundcards...

    @TS: I would buy a solid audiocard and a softsampler for the soundfonts, if I were you (and had the funds for it.)

  9. #9

    Re: Soundcards

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Klaren
    Are you sure about this ?
    Ron,
    Good point. I'm glad you didn't let me get by with that without a challenge. I was a little sloppy there. SB cards >using soundfonts< are essentially hardware synths.

    When they are used with GPO/softsynths, they are operating under the same rules as any other card, and drivers (MME, WDM/KS, ASIO) do make a difference.

    On my old system--a Dell 2.0Mhz/512KB ram/SBLive!/WDM/KS drivers/4 playback buffers/--I ran some benchmarks with GPO (which unfortunately I removed from that machine when I got my new DAW). I hadn't done much with soft synths up to that point. It was on that machine that I first observed the effect of polyphony on my CPU utilization. I can still drive VSampler on that machine at 10ms latency if I'm not playing "too many notes" simultaneously or in rapid succession.

    The move to soft synths over the years has forced some of us old soundfont dogs to have to give more consideration to our machine configurations. Just buying more memory for your 2Ghz machine won't mean that you can necessarily drive the entire orchestra tutti.

    To whit: Gary's request thread for "how many instruments can you load" was a good idea qualitatively but I would be hard pressed to derive any quantitative results from it...so I posted a suggestion that we all use a standard benchmark to measure the capacity of our DAWs. Tom Hopkins thought that was a good idea, so I posted one of my benchmark packages in that thread. The benchmark requires at least 1GB memory. I have others that are more modest. It does demonstrate the polyphony effect and the effect of rapidly executing a series of notes.

    Now, if I could just find some time to do a little music...
    Bill

  10. #10
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    Re: Soundcards

    Hi Peter,

    http://www.synthfont.com/

    This is supposed to give you the same sf2 utility that you currently have with the SB card, although I can't vouch for it. It is freeware, but if it works for you they would appreciate a donation. I always believe in supporting software developers. Anyway, it's just a thought, there's a lot of stuff out there.

    Michael

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