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Reducing Latency on a Laptop

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Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:33 pm
by Guest
I have an Acer A717 72G laptop, a gaming computer which I thought would be adequate for working with music production (Ableton Live and Cubase) equipped with an equipped with an Intel i7-8750H CPU @ 2.20 GHz which isn't blazing fast but I thought would be adequate.

I was having difficulty - no sound - and someone recommended an ASIO driver. I installed ASIO4ALL and it seemed to be working but recently I got the advice to get that driver off my computer and never use it. Now I have it set to MME/DirectorX driver. I do have sound. But the problem is rather pronounced latency from my Arturia miniLab MKII midi keyboard. Regarding the latency, an audiophile just informed that there is basically nothing I can do about it, can't reduce latency with my current gear.

Is this true? Would using an external sound card help? Are there any other solutions?

Thanks

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:06 pm
by James Perrett
Are you using the built-in sound system? If you are then you need to see if there is an ASIO driver for it. If not, using ASIO4All may well be the best you can do unless you change your audio interface.

A separate audio interface with decent drivers would be the best answer - these start at around £100.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:13 pm
by ef37a
There is absolutely no reason that I know of not to use ASIO4all. I have it on 4 computers and have used it now and again but most of my PCs use USB interfaces with their own ASIO drivers.
The best one, which should allow settings of 64 samples or even lower is my Native Instruments KA6 and you might pick one up for around £100 for the Mk1 version.
Other brands of interface are now very good for latency but do make sure they have an ASIO driver.

Now, it has been a long time since I dabbled with Cubase but have you looked at its buffer settings?

Dave.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:50 pm
by CS70
GTR_RO wrote:Regarding the latency, an audiophile just informed that there is basically nothing I can do about it, can't reduce latency with my current gear.

Is this true? Would using an external sound card help? Are there any other solutions?

Thanks

ASIO4All is a tool to allow programs which only "see" ASIO to be used also when you don't have an external sound card. It's fine for playback, but introduces a little more latency for recording.

In your case, you could try and use the WDM or WASAPI interface (especially WASAPI exclusive if your DAWs allow) but the best is usually to have an external interface with dedicated ASIO drivers, yes.

As for latency, it's a combination of unavoidable signal buffering, the computer real time performance, the signal processing you need (such as synthesizing a sound out of a midi byte or simply emitting one already in RAM) and the audio interface circuit, components and driver design.

There are a number of tweaks you can do regardless - disable all power management from the device manager and the BIOS, "high performance" power profile, disable core parking etc. All power-saving things that usually are turned on for a laptop but slow it down.

A gaming pc usually has good real time performance so it should be fine - even if the devil is in the details (the USB controller is not crazy involved in games, for example). But an interface would make a lot of difference - if anything, because a ASIO driver allows you to decide the size of the sound buffer. Unless of course you're playing a synth so heavy that the CPU cant keep up.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:34 pm
by Guest
I'm having some trouble with definitions here. Audio interface. I have a Focusrite Scarlett Solo. Is that an external soundcard? Most of my work will be with midi instrument tracks and I'd only use the Focusrite for recording a live track. Right?

True or False: I cannot use an ASIO driver without a soundcard.

Someone suggested other drivers. If I don't have those drivers in my dropdown, do I acquire them via download?

Thanks. I'm trying to sort this all out. I have no experience in this area.

Next life, I'm going to get into this much earlier in my life...

As for Cubase...I purchased a license and the e-Licenser crashed. I'm waiting for Steinberg to find a fix. At this time, I can't even open the program. Some issue about DCOM (but I'll let Steinberg solve that.)

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:37 pm
by The Elf
GTR_RO wrote: Audio interface. I have a Focusrite Scarlett Solo.
The Focusrite Scalett *is* an 'audio interface'. 'Soundcards' are (mostly) dissolved into history. They were called 'cards' because they literally were a card that you had to fit inside the computer.

GTR_RO wrote:I cannot use an ASIO driver without a soundcard.
Let's remove 'soundcard' from your vocabulary!

An ASIO driver exists to let audio software talk to an audio interface. Your Scarlett will have an ASIO driver. For the most part, if your audio interface has an ASIO driver then you should use it - and definitely use it with Cubase. When you are running Cubase you will select the Scarlett's ASIO driver for Cubase to use - NOT ASIO4ALL!

GTR_RO wrote:As for Cubase...I purchased a license and the e-Licenser crashed. I'm waiting for Steinberg to find a fix. At this time, I can't even open the program. Some issue about DCOM (but I'll let Steinberg solve that.)
Most eLicenser problems are solved by downloading the *latest* (as opposed to what may have arrived with your download of Cubase) version of the eLicenser software. The latest is always here:
https://www.steinberg.net/en/company/technologies/elicenser.html

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:12 pm
by Guest
Thanks. Sound card? What's that? Oh - you mean that birthday card that plays a song when you open it?

Yes, I know about the regular solution to the e-Licenser issue. However, when I plugged in my dongle - it crashed right away. An error msg popped up about the DCOM service. I checked it and it was marked as running. The Steinberg techs got into my computer and fixed it and even though I didn't create any files in Cubase, I had it up and running. And then Windows just did another update. I contacted Cubase again and spoke with a tech. He said they are working on a fix. I said I would hang in there and wait for a short while. And now I'm waiting.

I won't be using the audio interface all the time, actually not even most of the time. Would I still use the Focusrite driver and should I always have it plugged in? Thanks so much. Slowly this is starting to make sense.

A little.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:17 am
by ef37a
AFAICT the Solo does not have anything you can download called an ASIO driver but something called " Focusrite Control" download as "all software" I think the driver is in that.

Once plugged in and running the Solo becomes the route for all your audio (in fact back in the day it used to be recommended you disable the internal sound system. Rarely need to do that these days)

You will then need to find the setup panel for the Solo and that should have a setting for any MIDI device you plug in. Whilst Steinberg are getting their act together I suggest you install Cockos Reaper. No DAW is simple but if you coped, however briefly, with Cubase, Reaper should be a doddle! Free for as long as you hold out against the (very polite) nag and then only 40 quid.

Dave.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:22 pm
by Guest
Thank you ef37a. You have been so helpful in this and other threads I've posted.

I am starting to get a sense of how this all works.

As for Reaper...I do have the latest version of Mixcraft Pro on my other computer and I do believe my subscription allows me to install it on this one.

It's too bad...Jef Gibbons on YouTube makes Cubase hum.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:34 pm
by ef37a
Don't know Mixcraft Pro but one of the many good things about Reaper is that it is very CPU efficient and that means more resource free for low latency.

Please note! That last statement is only my understanding of comments made here and other places, I am but an old valve amp tech!

Dave.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:46 pm
by The Elf
GTR_RO wrote:It's too bad...Jef Gibbons on YouTube makes Cubase hum.
Don't give up on it. Cubase is fantastic and worth the effort to get it working properly.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:50 pm
by Guest
I do have one more question...

if I am not using the audio interface, would I select another driver? Will my DAW work best if I always have the Focusrite unit hooked in? I mostly work through a midi keyboard.

Cubase definitely seems to be what I am looking for in software. Thanks again for your help.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:58 pm
by The Elf
You only need to select a (ASIO) driver in your audio software. When you're not using Cubase, Reaper, or whatever you do not need to do anything at all. Windows will generally take care of it.

Keep the audio interface plugged in always, if possible. If you start Cubase up without the interface Cubase will warn you and want to know what other device you would like to use. You can tie yourself in knots with this, so best to always connect the AI before starting up.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 5:27 pm
by ef37a
The Elf wrote:You only need to select a (ASIO) driver in your audio software. When you're not using Cubase, Reaper, or whatever you do not need to do anything at all. Windows will generally take care of it.

Keep the audio interface plugged in always, if possible. If you start Cubase up without the interface Cubase will warn you and want to know what other device you would like to use. You can tie yourself in knots with this, so best to always connect the AI before starting up.

And it REALLY shouldn't matter these days but it is best to keep to the same USB ports for the dongle and AI.

Dave.

Re: Reducing Latency on a Laptop

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:27 am
by Guest
I just purchased a collection of virtual instruments, a Garritan collection of world instruments. I plugged in my Arturia miniLab MKII keyboard and had an incredible amount of latency between pressing down the key and hearing the tone. It felt like at least 1/4 of a second. This seemed more than I experienced when I had other software working. Did I just imagine this? Does the level of latency differ with different software or gear? At one point I had latency in Cubase and Ableton Live at a manageable level and now with the Aria player, it feels unimaginable.

Drivers - there are default Windows drivers for basic sound functions in a computer. Do the various devices (audio interfaces, midi keyboards, etc.) have their own drivers? Does software offer specific drivers for accessing the code? When adjusting latency levels - are the adjustments made all about the processing elements of the CPU? I know this is a lot of information I'm trying to comprehend but it will help me (and hopefully others) with a less technical understanding of computer based music to understand what's going on under the hood.

Thanks!