Drum & Bass Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments)?

Discussion in 'Production' started by XenfleX, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. XenfleX

    XenfleX Member

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    I am using a Yamaha MW12CX USB mixing studio to play my music out from my computer to two Yamaha HSS50 monitors. I am confused about whether or not I need to spend the money on a soundcard to lighten the load on my Macbook Pro or to enhance the quality of the sounds I am making. I only make drum and bass using softsynths (NI Massive, Absynth, FM8, Ableton Live).

    Thanks!
     
  2. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Re: Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments

    An audio interface is definitely a worthwhile investment.

    First, it will give you a better signal when going from the digital to analog realm (D-A) which in this case, would be from you audio interface to your monitors.

    Second, by having an external device as your sound card, you will "lighten the load" so to speak because the internal CPU processing doesn't have to account for processing all of the audio. This will greatly reduce any potential latency or processing issues.

    Finally, an audio interface will not reduce the CPU strain caused by soft synths, however, it will improve any potential latency issues. If your goal is to improve loading/cpu strain with soft synths, you have a couple of options:

    1.) Have all of your instrument presets located on an external drive. This is often overlooked and will definitely reduce your loading time when first initiating a large plugin (i.e. Massive). If you use a sampler like Kontakt, having the Kontakt instruments on said external drive will help out dramatically.

    2. Max out your RAM and work in 64-bit.

    So to sum, an audio interface will give you a more accurate playback of your tune (speaking in terms of frequency, dynamic range, A/D conversion), which is essential when it comes to producing and mixdowns.

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  3. Sulihin

    Sulihin Active Member

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    Re: Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments

    Until I got a cheap Beringer U-Control interface I was experiencing horribly latency in Reaper. I'd have a project open for 30 minutes and then it would be 1s latency and I'd have to restart. Maybe just a Reaper/Mac thing but getting the audio interface fixed it. I want to get a beefier interface eventually, but the U-Control is great for laptop work since it's small and bus powered.
     
  4. XenfleX

    XenfleX Member

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    Re: Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments

    Thanks for the info. What I have is one of these:

    http://usa.yamaha.com/products/music-production/interfaces/mw/mw12cx/?mode=model

    What I want to know is, should I buy a sound card and use it in addition to this Yamaha USB mixing desk/audio interface to lighten the CPU load on my computer?

    Really appreciate your knowledge sharing on this one!

    Thanks
     
  5. Sulihin

    Sulihin Active Member

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    Re: Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments

    I'm really new at this but I'm a techie in general and my understanding is that an audio interface replaces a sound card, so you wouldn't get any value by having both. There are DSP cards/external devices that you can potentially run software FX on, is that what you're meaning?
     
  6. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Re: Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments

    You're correct.

    What's interesting is from the description of that Yamaha, it seems that it's capable of bi-directional audio processing via USB - yet I can't find anything that details the specs of the onboard sound card/audio interface, which is a bit odd.

    XenfleX, when you have a moment, go to your CPU's audio property's (or to your DAW's preferences) and let me know what it has listed for your sound card/audio device. I'm a bit curious.
     
  7. XenfleX

    XenfleX Member

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    Re: Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments

    I thought that possibly having a soundcard would enable me to reduce latency from having a big project loaded with lots of plugins and about 50 channels, but it seems the best solution is to switch from Ableton (32 bit, meaning it can only utilise up to about 2gig RAM) to Cubase 6 (64 bit and the best SAW from what I read) or Logic (seeing as I'm a MacBook Pro user, using an Apple DAW would mean less crashes etc.), and/or have my plugin presets sitting on an external hard drive. I am very interested in UAD's external plugin harddrive. Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q92kCvRjuc0

    Stepchild, next time I'm on Ableton I'll have a look at the audio properties.

    I wish Ableton would just hurry up and release Live 9 which will be 64 bit, but Live 8 crashes on me about 10 times a day as my projects typically have about 50 tracks with many 3rd party plugins. Live 8 came out almost 3 years ago.
     
  8. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Re: Do I need a soundcard if I only use softsynths (no recording external instruments

    I understand your frustration. Msmith222 and I are avid Logic users, so 64bit is a godsend when. I certainly agree that Ableton needs to step it up and deliver 64bit to their users. I'm actually a bit shocked they haven't released a patch/update (similar to what Logic did a while back) to enable 64bit within Ableton...