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Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:19 pm

johnny h wrote:I really didn't mean to cause such grief here. All I asked was for the logic numbers, and also to address the issue of why Steinberg is unable to perform as well on OSX as Logic.


Hi johnny!

If that's truly the case I suspect you owe TAFKAT an apology, considering the HUGE amount of work he's carried out over many years measuring all sorts of PC-audio-related issues and being brave enough to go out on a limb with the results and face the wrath of the manufacturers :beamup:

It's easy enough to come up with suggestions, but the work TAFKAT does can require days of careful measurements for each investigation he carries out, to be repeatable and eliminate possible errors.

Oh, and if anyone else wants to find out more about his work, point your browsers at:

www.dawbench.com

Be prepared for LOADS of detailed analysis, graphs and caveats - this isn’t bedtime reading ;)


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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:41 pm

TAFKAT wrote:

mjfe2 wrote:
James Perrett wrote:As a user I'd offer a different perspective - I want stability more than absolute low latency.

Ditto

I don't see the argument unless I missed something in the mix.

If there is no instability for those requiring and using the lower latencies with the better interfaces , the question of stability is not even on the table , nor has it been in any of my testing.


I said that because of some comments that were made by reviewers when Focusrite replaced their BridgeCo interfaces with the DiceII based interfaces. Apparently the Focusrite DiceII interfaces and drivers were more stable than their older siblings when they were first introduced. I'm not amazingly impressed with the reliability of my Bridgeco based Saffire Pro26.

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:56 pm

Quick heads up,

Ran up the RME HDSP AIO card which is to be used as the base reference with the latest 3.24 driver and found some interesting performance variables in behaviour and results compared to the 3.08x drivers I had been using in the past.

The behaviour of the driver when pushed to the limit is very different to the previous, where the 3.08x drivers could be pushed right into and past the red on the ASIO meters and still deliver without causing too much garbage on playback , the new driver is a very different beast which will simply bork completely when tipped and also has an issue on loopback more so than the previous when close to the limit.

Results were down 5-10 % points which kind of scuttled my baseline idea a bit, so I have used the earlier 3.08x driver as the baseline and even the newer 3.24 driver is then gauged against it in regards to the LLP Rating.

I'll post the results later in the week for all of the interfaces tested on the new round using the new table format.

* On a side note, I went back and retested all of the FF800 results again just to be 100% sure, the one that stuck out a bit was the 064 results under legacy on the newer driver , and of course I couldn't repeat the 140 RXC result again, so I have amended the result back to 130 - which is the same as the 2.999x results under legacy. *

Stay Tuned

Peace

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:12 pm

So, it’s fast looking as if to get optimum performance at very low latency you need a particular make and model of interface running a particular driver version on a particular day when the wind is in the right direction :D


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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:59 pm

Hey Martin,

LOL, its not quite as drastic as that.

Re the latest RME 3.24 driver , there are new included features in regards to WDM streaming, so obviously some tweaks have been made to the driver as well as a new firmware to accommodate. I tested the driver first with the old firmware and the new one, and results were identical. Also the previous 3.085 driver works as before under the new firmware, which is a relief to be honest as re-flashing to a previous firmware could be a problem.. :-(

I need to be 100% transparent in this testing, so even RME themselves despite being the base reference, will have their new drivers gauged against their earlier work.

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:07 pm

O.K, here are the results for the first batch of audio interfaces on the new round of testing.

Image

Explanation of how the LLP- Low Latency Performance Rating is derived.

The results for the DAWbench DSP RXC across the latencies of 032 thru to 256 ( which has been the M.O for the last 5 years ) are added and the total is then % wise gauged against the result for the RME HDSPe AIO baseline card. The same is then calculated for the DAWbench VI CV/ NCV tests for 032-512.

Those 3 % results are then added and divided by 3 to give an average % .

I thought it important for the I/O and RTL figures to be an influencing factor on the rating as some cards have a lot lower overall latency than others, so the average % results is then multiplied by the last % result for the RTL.

How the RTL % is calculated is I combine the total of the RTL's across the specific available buffer settings for the cards ( all cards past the base reference RME were calculated using 064-512 except the M-Audio FastTrack which had a range of 128-512. You will notice 2 values listed for RTL for the RME HDSPe AIO , first being for 032-512, second being 064-512 ) , and then calculate the % variable against the baseline. You will see that some cards are actually better than the RME AIO card in regards to I/O /RTL i.e RME Babyface and the AVID MboxPro 3.

I think that is a fair appraisal using the collated data, and it gives deserved credit and advantage to those cards that do have lower individual In/Out and Round Trip Latencies.

Some cards do not report the correct I/O values to the DAW Hosts , only reporting the nominal value for the respective buffer sizes. In those instances I will make a note and default the RTL rating to .95 which is below the average of the other cards RTL % rating of around .97 , not perfect but a reasonable compromise.

A few side notes - the baseline reference is the RME HDSPe AIO card using the 3.08.5 driver. You will notice that even the new version 3.24 driver is also tested and gauged against that baseline result as the performance has dropped. If a later RME HDSPe driver levels or betters the 3.08.5 driver, then it will become the new baseline, unless of course another card has better overall performance and becomes the new baseline.

The performance of the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra was actually quite good for a USB2 interface at the available latencies, but its rating suffered due to the lowest available buffer being only 128. The results for the RME Babyface was very impressive for a USB 2 interface , edging out the FW - Profire 610 in the rating due to its lower overall I/O and RTL. The Result for the Focusrite unit using the dreaded Dice II FW controller , speaks for itself !

More results and analysis coming in the next few weeks

Stay Tuned.


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Original text edited at vin's request by MW
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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:12 pm

Woo - these look good Vin! 8-)

Will the manufacturers with the best-performing interface get a specially-presented DAWbench trophy of excellence? :D


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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:15 pm

Hey Martin,

The think the better performing will place me on their X-Mas card list, the not so better performing will probably send out the hit squad... LOL

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby John Roberts » Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:36 am

Hi Vin,

Excellent work as ever, however the ESI latency results are not credible.

If you look at the figures, you find that they add up exactly to the size of the nominal buffers: 1.451mS = 64 samples (63.989, to be foolishly precise), 2.902 is obviously double that (128 samples), 5.804 is 256 samples, and 11.610 is 512 samples (all at 44.1KHz).

Only the buffer size is being reported. The real giveaway is the fact that the RTL at any of the four buffer sizes is identical to the 'in' or 'out' latency at the next buffer size up.

None of the other interfaces with symetrical i/o buffers exhibit this behaviour.
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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:13 am

Hey John,

Yeh, I think you are right about the ESI only reporting the nominal buffers, I did notice that each successive buffer was double the previous when I was finalizing the numbers and raised an eyebrow with a note to revisit.

I'll double check in Reaper and StudioOne see if its reporting the same numbers , if so then its obvious reporting within the ASIO driver, and not something to do with Cubase.

I may even break out the CEntrance Latency Tool and see what it spits back via the AD/DA.

In the meantime I do to have a rethink about the RTL % results and adjust back to a say a 1.00 %, which will drop its rating.

Thanks for the catch and the prod.. :-)

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Fri Jun 24, 2011 3:16 am

Quick heads up,

All DAW hosts are reporting the same values on the ESI so its obviously inherent in the driver to report back only the nominal values, which is disappointing.

I didn't have much luck with the CEntrance Utility , only managing to get one reading which was so high I dismissed it and on subsequent attempts via both analog and digital was not getting any readings at all. Even if I manage to get an accurate reading, I am not entirely sure how it actually correlates to the values given by the other cards :-(

In the interim I did an average % calculation of all of the RTL ratings across the other cards and it came to .97% , so I have decided to assign a .95% value for cards that are not properly reporting the latency values, I know its not entirely accurate but it will allow a more reflective LPP Rating. The ESI has dropped to 7.50 using the latest calculations.

I'll update the tables and repost.

@ Martin and the other mods, its frustrating that I cannot go back and edit and amend my earlier post after the time out has expired, whats with that ??

This is the only audio forum that I know of that does have that timeout/lockout.

I digress..

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:21 pm

TAFKAT wrote:@ Martin and the other mods, its frustrating that I cannot go back and edit and amend my earlier post after the time out has expired, whats with that ??

This is the only audio forum that I know of that does have that timeout/lockout.

Drop me a PM - I can edit your previous post for you if you let me know exactly what you want to change.


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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:45 pm

Done.

Tables and LLP Ratings already amended.

Thanks again to John Roberts for the catch... :-)

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:04 pm

Text now updated as per your request 8-)


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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:23 pm

Thanks Martin.. :-)

I have finished testing the AVID HD Native card under ASIO and to say it was an interesting experience is an understatement. Input buffers are double the usual, Output are reporting Nominal , overall performance isn't too bad right down to 032 samples, but there were some major hoops to activate the ASIO driver in Cubase . i.e : needing to toggle off the ASIO driver back to the Generic and then back again to simply wake the driver on every session load . Interestingly I ran into a similar issue with the ESI on any latency below 512, where I had to reset the driver at each session reload to wake it up.

I am wondering how many interfaces are experiencing the same or similar issues. The only other interface over the years that I have stumbled on the same issue was an early Sapphire a few years back.

The 2 interfaces having the issue on the recent testing both have nominal values ( at least for playback ) , so I am wondering if that is a contributing factor. Also, the ESI had no issue at any latency in Reaper , so it is something to do with the way Cubase is making the call to the driver or vice versa.

With the HD Native card, its obvious to me that the card is specifically geared to Protools , the ASIO driver really being only for convenience , so its not really a player in the current comparative. I will upload the results later , LLP rating was 7.55 - it took a hit in the rating due to the double Input buffers.

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Jun 27, 2011 8:29 pm

My pleasure Vin! ;)

This is the first time I've heard of an interface with double input buffers - most do it on the output to keep things smooth when folk are aiming for low input latency :headbang:


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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:05 pm

Hey Martin,

Yeh the double input buffers are a bit weird, but we need to remember this card is specifically designed for PTHD , where the I/O and Mix Engine are controlled directly off the FPGA , so the I/O and RTL of the ASIO driver is not really telling the whole story with the card in its designated playing field, so to speak.

I had a chat to my AVID contact yesterday and discussed the encountered issues and anomalies and unlike some other companies that play ostrich as soon as any negative comments are expressed, the feedback was welcomed and will be passed along to the appropriate dev channels. I am trying to get some detail on the reported I/O and the ASIO driver activation issue , as well as some clarification of some other under bonnet aspects for the FW interfaces as well.

Stay Tuned

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:58 pm

Quick heads up,

I have finished the testing on the Steinberg MR816CSX and the USB2 Audio component of the SSL Nucleus as well as retesting the RME HDSPe 3.24 driver that was performing below that of the earlier 3.085. Going on a suggestion from M.C from RME that the new Multiclient option could be the cause of the slight performance drop , I retested with the option off, and sure enough, performance is identical to the earlier.

I'll post a summary next week as I have a few more interfaces to test before I post the updated charts.

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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:52 am

TAFKAT wrote:Going on a suggestion from M.C from RME that the new Multiclient option could be the cause of the slight performance drop , I retested with the option off, and sure enough, performance is identical to the earlier.

Isn't it reassuring when manufacturers like Matthias Carsten not only have some idea of why their driver efficiency has changed, but can also get it back as low as it was before with a simple tweak :beamup:

Not many like that around :frown:


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Re: Audio Interface - Low Latency Performance Data Base :

Postby TAFKAT » Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:05 am

Martin Walker wrote:Isn't it reassuring when manufacturers like Matthias Carsten not only have some idea of why their driver efficiency has changed, but can also get it back as low as it was before with a simple tweak :beamup:

Not many like that around :frown:

Definitely not many at all.

I'd suggest M.C has a pretty good handle on the under bonnet fine print , and with no fundamental changes to the driver / firmware except the inclusion of the expanded Multiclient aspect , it was the variable most likely.. :-)

RME have the advantage of being in total control of their drivers from top to bottom , unlike the manufacturers dealing with OEM whitebox drivers that they throw a different GUI on and hope for the best.. :roll:

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