Old 01-11-2012, 01:04 PM   #1
Gyroman
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Default Best way to create music using Midi Controller

Ok maybe I should have done the research first....... I thought (naively) that I would simply buy a reasonable midi controller keyboard (AXIOM Pro61), plug it into my PC (Inspiron 580 MT : Intel Core i5 Processor 750(2.66GHz,8MB))with some suitable DAW software (Reaper) and I would be off and running, playing and recording all sorts of creative masterpieces using the onboard (Soundblaster Xtreme 7.1 integrated - on the motherboard sound). WRONG!

Having plugged it all together I then attempted to play a simple tune. It was at this point that I discovered latency which I now assume is caused mainly by the soundcard / wavetable combination. The delays are so bad that I simply cannot co-ordinate what I am inputting on the keyboard with what I am hearing from the speakers. I would guess the native delay is around 300ms


Having read around a few forums including this Excellent Reaper resource, I now realise that the situation is a bit more complex than I had imagined and that and if I wish to play live performance / recording using a midi keyboard, I will need to invest further in such things as recording I/O recording interfaces / new soundcard possibly hardware synthesisers etc. But before I potentially waste any more money could someone summarise the alternatives and recommend one or two for using a midi controller keyboard in combination with other sound devices so that I can drive virtual instruments in live performance which I can record at the same time and without the deadly latency I am now experiencing. Upgrading my PC is not out of the question.

Can anyone recommend a good book which goes through all of the basic points of DAW / midi recording?

Thank you

Please help... my new keyboard is feeling neglected and I am going up the wall trying to sort it out.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:37 PM   #2
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I'm not 100% familiar with your onboard sound card, but it sounds like you are monitoring through Reaper? Perhaps the sound card is not capable of 'zero latency' monitoring? If not, I'd be looking for a dedicated audio interface that has 'zero latency' or 'direct' monitoring. This allows you to listen to the playback through the interface and avoid the latency that happens in the computer. Most interfaces do, but not every one does. I learned this the hard way buying an M-Audio USB device that did not.

If your keyboard controller is USB, it would not be necessary to get an interface with MIDI inputs, but many of them have it.

As for what type, you'll have to do some research to decide from USB, PCI, or Firewire-based models to determine which one best suits your needs and system. Check out the forums here and on Tape Op (Computer World) to get started.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:12 PM   #3
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This is what you're looking for I think!

http://www.asio4all.com/
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dj Gaz Le Rock View Post
This is what you're looking for I think!

http://www.asio4all.com/
I failed to say that as part of my investigations, I loaded the asio4all driver. The 300ms delay is present using this
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Primitive Don View Post
I'm not 100% familiar with your onboard sound card, but it sounds like you are monitoring through Reaper? Perhaps the sound card is not capable of 'zero latency' monitoring? If not, I'd be looking for a dedicated audio interface that has 'zero latency' or 'direct' monitoring. This allows you to listen to the playback through the interface and avoid the latency that happens in the computer. Most interfaces do, but not every one does. I learned this the hard way buying an M-Audio USB device that did not.

If your keyboard controller is USB, it would not be necessary to get an interface with MIDI inputs, but many of them have it.

As for what type, you'll have to do some research to decide from USB, PCI, or Firewire-based models to determine which one best suits your needs and system. Check out the forums here and on Tape Op (Computer World) to get started.
Thanks for your help. I am not sure how a zero latency interface would help in any case because the latency is being caused by the PC/ soundcard which, as you have guessed does not have zero latency monitoring. The keyboard controller produces MIDI only so even with a zero latency device, I will still be incurring the latency produced, as now, from the USB input to the computer through the wavetable / soundcard (where the instrument sound is first produced) and thence to the loudspeakers. I am currently monitoring using the loudspeakers (live performance) but the same delay applies to the headphone socket of the soundcard.
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Old 01-12-2012, 03:07 AM   #6
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Have you tried setting the asio buffer to 48?
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gyroman View Post

Can anyone recommend a good book which goes through all of the basic points of DAW / midi recording?
Not a book per se, but when I was first getting into this computer recording stuff, I found this guide a worthwhile source of info:

http://www.tweakheadz.com/guide.htm

I'm not sure how up-to-date any product reviews might be, but there's a lot of information written there, and in a style that makes it somewhat interesting to read (imo).
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:56 AM   #8
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or maybe 64 to be on the safe side?

OP that is in options/preferences/audio/device and when you have set the ASIO device to what you are using (asio4all I believe) go to the asio configuration button and set the buffer size in it to 64. you may find you can do better or you may find that even at 64 your system will struggle.

Try it again at 128 and then download the free application 'dpclat' and run it on your system.
If you have spikes into the yellow or red zones, you will need to disable things like wireless connections, etc.m, but you dont need to start doing this until you he explored your initial settings - with a decent i5 you may find that just setting the asio buffer up properly is all you need to start with.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinW View Post
Not a book per se, but when I was first getting into this computer recording stuff, I found this guide a worthwhile source of info:

http://www.tweakheadz.com/guide.htm

I'm not sure how up-to-date any product reviews might be, but there's a lot of information written there, and in a style that makes it somewhat interesting to read (imo).
Thanks I'll have a look
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:40 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
or maybe 64 to be on the safe side?

OP that is in options/preferences/audio/device and when you have set the ASIO device to what you are using (asio4all I believe) go to the asio configuration button and set the buffer size in it to 64. you may find you can do better or you may find that even at 64 your system will struggle.

Try it again at 128 and then download the free application 'dpclat' and run it on your system.
If you have spikes into the yellow or red zones, you will need to disable things like wireless connections, etc.m, but you dont need to start doing this until you he explored your initial settings - with a decent i5 you may find that just setting the asio buffer up properly is all you need to start with.
Don't understand; the ASIO4ALL driver is for the audio side and the only thing tied to that via options audio device, is my mic (the lowest setting for which is 64). MIDI does not appear to be associated with the ASIO driver. There are certainly no settings in the options / MIDI devices??

Nevertheless, I tried adjusting to 64 - no change
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:18 PM   #11
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You have all the kit you need now, apart from this http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=52382
Counter-intuitive though it seems, using a soft synth is generally faster than routing MIDI to your on-board soundcard, and the sounds are usually far better.
I'd suggest having a good look through this list and pick a handful of synths that take your fancy.
If you're planning on playing live you will need to invest in a proper soundcard and speakers (also an amplifier if you choose passive speakers).
But until then learn the gear you already have.
300ms is excessive for your card, so have a look at trouble-shooting it.
HTH Steve
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:28 PM   #12
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are you kidding Gyro?
Ok, first of all, the cheapest option you have, you dont need dedicated IO for low latency playback, but in reality, onboard soundcards doesnt cut it. If you want a cheap option which works good, you have the older creative soundcards, anything like Audigy will be just fine. you install its driver and make sure that its being used in the preferences of your daw.

Second, there is an option with all ASIO drivers to change how much of a latency your card will have by changing its buffers. Some ASIO interfaces you can just change the latency in ms values, for example 10ms, which i believe is 512kb bufffers which in most situation is all you need. The good thing about those old Creative cards is that their ASIO drivers got really low latency, i have seen 10x as expensive audio cards which cant go down to as low as 10ms, and for playback thats all that matters, if the rest of your system cant handle the playback it will start to crackle the sound, too many voices for example. Just fiddle with the ASIO settings and make sure your DAW is using the drivers/ Audio Preferences.

If you managed to install ASIO4ALL and your soundcard is able to use it then you dont need to change a thing, they are great when it comes to low latency, you just need to make sure you understand what you are doing by adjusting its setting for lower latency in its prefereneces. They usually come standard with a setting of 50ms or more.

This is what you are looking for on Creative;
[img]http://img11.**************/img11/8424/asio.png[/img]

Last edited by joees; 01-15-2012 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gyroman View Post
Don't understand; the ASIO4ALL driver is for the audio side and the only thing tied to that via options audio device, is my mic (the lowest setting for which is 64). MIDI does not appear to be associated with the ASIO driver. There are certainly no settings in the options / MIDI devices??

Nevertheless, I tried adjusting to 64 - no change
I will clarify.

ASIO controls the latency within your audio signal path. MIDI input goes to trigger the audio source you are using and if there is large latency betwen the source receiving the midi instruction to play and actually playing it, you have...audio latency.

To cut across all the bandaid remedies we have been offering, what you really need is a proper pro audio interface and a decent vsti plugin to get the sounds you need. The inbuilt sound card nd its accompanying soft synthesizer is always going to be a compromise and difficult to get working well.
There are a bunch of FREE VSTi sources out there and the interface need not cost you a huge amount.
But the reason you need the interface is BECAUSE it will offer you direct monitoring at the very least and assuming its ASIO drivers are well designed, near-zero latency if you want to hear what you are playing and recording from within Reaper or any other DAW.

Hopefully this will make sense' but don't be afraid to keep asking questions if you still don't understand.
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Old 01-25-2012, 02:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
I will clarify.

ASIO controls the latency within your audio signal path. MIDI input goes to trigger the audio source you are using and if there is large latency betwen the source receiving the midi instruction to play and actually playing it, you have...audio latency.

To cut across all the bandaid remedies we have been offering, what you really need is a proper pro audio interface and a decent vsti plugin to get the sounds you need. The inbuilt sound card nd its accompanying soft synthesizer is always going to be a compromise and difficult to get working well.
There are a bunch of FREE VSTi sources out there and the interface need not cost you a huge amount.
But the reason you need the interface is BECAUSE it will offer you direct monitoring at the very least and assuming its ASIO drivers are well designed, near-zero latency if you want to hear what you are playing and recording from within Reaper or any other DAW.

Hopefully this will make sense' but don't be afraid to keep asking questions if you still don't understand.
Thanks Ivansc. Having looked again, I see that the outputs from the ASIO4ALL drivers are 'not connected' so I have been working under a misundertanding. The only way I can get a sound output (with unacceptable latency) is using the WaveOut in the Audio Device option.
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Old 01-25-2012, 02:07 PM   #15
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You have to turn off the windows software GM synth to get low latency from ASIO 4ALL. It is in the ASIO4ALL documentation.

With that done and a softsynth VST in REAPER, you will be able to play without any unreasonable latency.

I use an old Roland MIDI PC180 and a cheap Roland USB to midi interface.

From my own page here http://www.artandtechnology.com.au/g.../pedal-fx.html

" If your audio hardware didn't come with ASIO drivers, ASIO4ALL is required to have low audio latency. Make sure you turn off the software GM synth in windows as per the ASIO4ALL FAQ.

For a VSTi GM/GS synth get sfz player, Fluid R3 SoundFonts and the sfARK file decompressor. This will get you back the GM synth capability, and other drum kits and instruments."


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