USB Audio interface for low latency

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Alex.H
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USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by Alex.H »

Hello folks,

I am in search for an audio interface with a real low latency. I need it for a laptop, otherwise I would stick to my ESI Audio Juli@ XTe with PCIe.

It has to be USB. As one of the laptops does not have firewire and there is no option for an expansion card. The other one has an old expansion slot but no inbuild firewire.

Why the low latency? I need it for my bass guitar as mobile plugin host. So we are talking about round trip latency = input + output latency

stanlea
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by stanlea »

Instead of buying a low latency card, why not consider buying a MOD device ?
https://www.moddevices.com/

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khz
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by khz »

RME Babyface?, sadly without TotalMix.
Or Mod Duo X.
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noedig
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by noedig »

I have no idea if some USB sound cards are known to have lower latency than others, but assuming that you can achieve the required low latency with most devices, other factors that play a role is the speed of your laptop and the general low latency audio tips (low latency/realtime adjustments for kernel, etc, and tricks like turning off wifi while doing low latency audio work). A lot of info is available on configuring your system for low latency (as you might know already).

As for the USB devices - look for class compliant devices and then search the forum for compatibility.
These might be of some help (and there is probably more):
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=20766&p=112786&hili ... te#p112786
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=20748&p=112544&hil ... te#p112544

I myself use a Focusrite 2i2 first generation interface which works well. As far as I know, 2nd generation devices also work, not sure about the newest range (3rd generation), although I think the trouble is with the more advanced features of the larger devices and the 2i2 or solo might still work like the previous generations (just guessing here).
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=20669&p=112934&hili ... te#p112934

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wjl
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by wjl »

Hello Alex,

you haven't said something about your budget yet.

The RME audio devices are well known for their low latency and their excellent sound, and I personally play bass into my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd gen), and I'm more than happy with it.

Using an RT kernel on Debian, my Cadence (from KXStudio) reports 5.3ms at 48kHz and 256 samples buffer size, with a DSP load of around 3%. The sound is top (see my page for links to my albums on Wikiloops).

A notebook could be a bottleneck since I/O wise they seldom reach a good desktop machine, so you might try before you buy. Any recording musician in your vicinity whom you could visit? Or a music store?

Hope that helps,
Wolfgang
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martibs
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by martibs »

Would like to add to what noedig have said here, other factors have a say in how low latency you are able to get. I have a laptop which cannot do low latency settings while the wireless network device is activated (and it doesn't have a physical interface). Other aspects of the hardware, such as battery driver/power saving, might affect the stability of low latency settings as well.

Alex.H
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by Alex.H »

stanlea wrote:Instead of buying a low latency card, why not consider buying a MOD device ?
https://www.moddevices.com/
Simply wow! I did not knew about those! Not cheap but it looks like an open source helix of some sorts. I will put those on the list of cool gear, I want, but kind of overkill for this project.
khz wrote:RME Babyface?, sadly without TotalMix.
Or Mod Duo X.
I heard lots of good things about the stuff from RME but sadly they are kind of pricy. A Babyface Pro FS clocks in around 740,- Euro.

A Mod Duo X could be something nice for the future, but this should a kind of cheap solution with an older laptop.
wjl wrote:Hello Alex,

you haven't said something about your budget yet. [...]
Around 150,- Euro but less would be nice.
wjl wrote: [...] Using an RT kernel on Debian, my Cadence (from KXStudio) reports 5.3ms at 48kHz and 256 samples buffer size, with a DSP load of around 3%. The sound is top (see my page for links to my albums on Wikiloops).
[...]
That is real impressive. I will keep an eye on that focusrite stuff.
wjl wrote: [...] A notebook could be a bottleneck since I/O wise they seldom reach a good desktop machine, so you might try before you buy.[...]
That is true, but I only need one channel and that should handle even an old laptop from the I/O side. CPU-wise I should be careful with plugins, but there are folks around still using Pentium IV with success.
wjl wrote: [...]Any recording musician in your vicinity whom you could visit? Or a music store?
No recording linux musicans that I know off. But I can order from the big T and send it back if it does not work.
noedig wrote:I have no idea if some USB sound cards are known to have lower latency than others, but assuming that you can achieve the required low latency with most devices, other factors that play a role is the speed of your laptop and the general low latency audio tips (low latency/realtime adjustments for kernel, etc, and tricks like turning off wifi while doing low latency audio work). A lot of info is available on configuring your system for low latency (as you might know already). [...]
I'm well aware that the interface is only one part of the setup. Luckily I am not new to linux but lazy me will just take distribution like AV Linux with all the real-time stuff already enabled.
noedig wrote: [...] As for the USB devices - look for class compliant devices and then search the forum for compatibility.
These might be of some help (and there is probably more):
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=20766&p=112786&hili ... te#p112786
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=20748&p=112544&hil ... te#p112544
[...]
Thanks a lot. Already took a look. But most did no reported any latencies.
noedig wrote: [...] I myself use a Focusrite 2i2 first generation interface which works well. As far as I know, 2nd generation devices also work, not sure about the newest range (3rd generation), although I think the trouble is with the more advanced features of the larger devices and the 2i2 or solo might still work like the previous generations (just guessing here).
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=20669&p=112934&hili ... te#p112934
The Focusrite 2i2 is one of the devices which is reported to have good latency (but sadly no exact numbers) and I will have a closer look at those.

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bluebell
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by bluebell »

With a Core i7 notebook computer I can run Solo, 2i2 and 2i4 (1st and 2nd Gen) with a buffer size of 32 with Guitarix. That's pretty cool.

The buffer size is the biggest factor that affects latency.
Last edited by bluebell on Sat Jan 11, 2020 7:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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stanlea
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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by stanlea »

Audient I4 is in your price range and has a real good preamp and DI, I had one and was very happy with it.

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Re: USB Audio interface for low latency

Post by folderol »

A problem with most laptops is that although they may have plenty of USB ports, they almost always stick them on the same internal bus (sometimes along with other internal stuff) so you are seldom getting the full capabilities of your audio hardware.

In a terminal window 'lsusb' will show you what you've got.

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