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#1486706 - 08/02/10 03:19 PM Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac?
Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 132
Loc: Germany
If I want to run Pianoteq or Kontakt 4 Player (with Galaxy Vintage D) on a Mac or on a PC, there is a significant difference in the latency.

My lowes possible values are (everything at 44.1KHz)

MacBook Pro Core Duo, 2 GHz, Onboard Audio:
Pianoteq: 64 Samples, 1.5 ms
Kontakt 4: 128 Samples, 4 ms

PC, Core 2 Quad, 2.4 GHz, Onboard Realtek HD Audio, ASIO4All
Pianoteq: 512 Samples, 11,6 ms
Kontakt 4: 512 Samples, 11,6 ms

PC, Athlon 64 x2, 3.1 GHz, Onboard Realtek HD Audio, ASIO4All
Pianoteq: 1024 Samples, 23,1 ms
Kontakt 4: note tested any more

11.6 ms is just playable but feels very awkward. Everything higher is not playable any more in my opinion.

Big question: Why is that?

Are the onboard Realteks really that bad? Would a better card help, internal or external? Can a PC reach the low latency of a Mac? Is there any simple setting I forgot?

I know there are some users here, that use a PC with Pianoteq or another software piano. How do you do it?

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#1486721 - 08/02/10 03:50 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: Upright]
hpeterh Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/26/10
Posts: 824
Loc: Germany
I think the main reason are the drivers and interrupts.
I use 6ms total latency (processing + output) with my laptop.
It is a MSI EX600 with Core2duo 1,82 GHz CPU.

The worst thing was the cardreader, when a card was inserted. This coused a lot of crackles. I disabled this. Also disabled the softmodem and Firewire that share interupts with the soundinterface.

I also used msconfig and prevented the startup of realteks bloatware (soundmanager).

I had only luck when I used the newest drivers offered by my laptop manufacturer. (MSI)
Also tried the newest original drivers from Realtek and the stock windows drivers, but these where much worse.

In ASIO4ALL I use pullmode (WaveRT) This is most advanced mode.

When I switch off the wireless then I dont have any crackles even if the CPU load rises to 80% on both cores.

The CPU load caused by the soundinterface itself is unmeasurable low near zero. (You can see this when you stream a simple sine tone that by itself doesnt cause CPU load or system load. Use the reference tone in Kontakt for this)

To answer your other question:
Yes I think, Mac is better. When you get a PC you never know wahat hardware and what drivers you get.
Mac is standard and known as working and reliable.

But beware, the current versionof Kontakt has performance issues on Mac laptops as well as on PC laptops.




Peter


Edited by hpeterh (08/02/10 04:01 PM)
_________________________
1929 Galaxy Blüthner Baby Grand
acer aspire m3300 AMD Phenom II X6


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#1486728 - 08/02/10 04:05 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: Upright]
robdean Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/10
Posts: 88
Loc: UK
Realtek are a pain. There are a 3 Realtek chipsets in my household and they all behave differently, but none of them well. Two of them do worse than your results, my Core2 Quad does similar-ish to yours.

On the Athlon 64, I'm surprised to see 1024 samples - do things screw up with fewer? Is is a '64' driver issue maybe, perhaps a non-64 bit driver in the chain? (I don't pretend to actually understand that stuff!)

Have you tried the advanced ASIO4ALL settings? I find the effects unpredictable but worth trying. Oh and Realtek seems to work internally at 48khz, so you will likely do better at 48 than 44.1 - though it won't be night and day.

And a better audio card or usb interface would almost certainly help - anything intended for use by musicians will tend to kick seven bells out of anything Realtek... with the caveat that any computer ever built has the ability to give you the middle finger any time the mood takes it. If you are buying one, ask around for advice: you might like something which will work on both Mac and PC. But if you manage to buy anything WORSE than Realtek, let us all know, it would have to be really special...
_________________________
Kawai MP4 - Roland TD-6KV - Reeve 4-string - 1973 Gibson SG

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#1486733 - 08/02/10 04:10 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: hpeterh]
EJR Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
Pianoteq 3.5.3
Asio4All V2
Acer Aspire 5630 Centrino Duo with nVidia graphics and XP
I'm using 96000 Hz, 256 samples and it shows 2.5ms

I selected a laptop with separate graphics rather than integrated/shared because aparently it improves DAW performance...
_________________________


Daily ramblings....

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#1486790 - 08/02/10 05:52 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: EJR]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9679
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Pianoteq 3.6.1 (demo)
Mac OS X 10.5 (Core Audio)
Dell Mini 9 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6ghz
44100 H\, 96 samples, 2.2ms

Go Hackintosh! wink

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1486964 - 08/02/10 10:39 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: Kawai James]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Pianoteq Play 3.6.1 (full version)
Netbook Asus Eee PC 1005HA (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6ghz)
Realtek audio with ASIO4all
44100, 256 samples (I could even get fewer samples, but then there occurs some rare crackling when playing with lots of pedal)

Works perfectly! It sounds strange to me that some of you have that big problems with getting decent latency with CPUs that are much more capable then my little Netbook with a standard Realtek sound system...
_________________________
<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>

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#1487037 - 08/03/10 12:43 AM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: Upright]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
All (well 90%) of the latency is in the software. Hardware matters only becuse some hardware limits your choise of software.

The reason for the latency and why the software engineers purposely add it is to handle uncertainly on timing and access to the CPU. The details don't fit into a forum post but the main point is that itis there on purpose and by design, Without some latency you'd suffer from pops, clicks and dropouts.

If you care about this use an operating system that is designed to handle music. Either Mac OS X or some variants of Linux. AS your measurements show Latency is mostly a PC Windows thing.

Yes MS Windows fans will tell you that Windows can be made to work as well and they are right. But notice the 30 pages of instructions.

How much latency is to much? If we can agree that the latency built into an acoustic grand piano is acceptable that let's say we should accept no more than that. An acoustic grand has roughly about 10ms. Abut 5ms is in the time it takes for the hammers to hit the strings and another 5ms for the sound to travel from the soundboard to the player's ears (at about 1ms per foot for the speed of sound in air) I don't think most people can notice 10ms. I think 20ms might be detectable in some people. A classic orchestra s large enough that speed of sound latency make plying together hard so the use a conductor to keep time.

Another thing. I would NEVER buy expensive hardware that requires drivers. What happens is that one day they stop making that hardware and then very soon after they don't see the point of paying to have the drivers updated for new releases of the operating system. This is a non-issue with non-driver-required hardware. No matter how good the company eventually they abandon driver support. So it is good to choose a combination of computer, OS and device that does not require software driver support.

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#1487042 - 08/03/10 12:52 AM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: mucci]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: mucci
Pianoteq Play 3.6.1 (full version)
Netbook Asus Eee PC 1005HA (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6ghz)
Realtek audio with ASIO4all
44100, 256 samples (I could even get fewer samples, but then there occurs some rare crackling when playing with lots of pedal)

Works perfectly! It sounds strange to me that some of you have that big problems with getting decent latency with CPUs that are much more capable then my little Netbook with a standard Realtek sound system...


It's not the sound chip. It has to do with the over all design. Things like if the interrupt is shared or not. In some designs the software needs to poll several devices to see which triggered the shred interrupt. Netbooks have the advantage of being new designs and also they hardware and software is designed by one company and likey they cared a lot abut perfoormance, they had to because the machine is so slow

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#1487065 - 08/03/10 02:39 AM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: ChrisA]
Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 132
Loc: Germany
Thank you for that many answers in such a short time.

Originally Posted By: robdean
On the Athlon 64, I'm surprised to see 1024 samples - do things screw up with fewer? Is is a '64' driver issue maybe, perhaps a non-64 bit driver in the chain?

Everything less produces crackle.

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Dell Mini 9 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6ghz
44100 H\, 96 samples, 2.2ms
Go Hackintosh! wink

I actually considered the Dell Mini 9 because of this. But currently I am looking for something, that can run Kontakt 4 Player with Galaxy Vintage D. Don't know, if the Mini is able to do that.

By the way, on my PCs I am still running Windows XP. Is Windows 7 improved in the sound area?

I am going to try some things like drivers etc. and will keep you updated here.

Has anybody experience with cheap USB interfaces like the BEHRINGER U-CONTROL UCA 202. Is the latency any better there?

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#1487408 - 08/03/10 03:52 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: Upright]
Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 132
Loc: Germany
I did some test, played with the settings and installed the newed driver version. But I didn't have luck with the Realtek. It just did not get better.

But I had an idea: I used the USB to Audio Adapter from my Plantronics headset. With that I got good latency results

Kontakt Player:
48KHz, 96 samples, 7 ms

Pianoteq:
48 KHz, 128 smaples, 2,7 ms

without crackle. Both on the Core 2 Quad. So it is possible. Unfortunately, the Plantronics adapter has a lot of background noise in the audio. So it is not the solution yet.

Can anybody recommend a good interface? Maybe up to 100 € or $?

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#1487435 - 08/03/10 04:32 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: Upright]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
I'm using this and I recommend it. As far as I can tell the audio is flawless.
http://www.presonus.com/products/Detail.aspx?ProductId=4

I have the outputs connected to two a set of studio monitors and to a 50WPC stereo amp and headphones. The interface is flexible enough that I can send a different mix to each.

I have it connected to an older 24" iMac. The iMac is an Intel Dual Core at 2.16Ghz with 3GB of RAM. As Apple Macs go this is a low-spec machine. The slowest "Mini" currently sold will run circles around what I have.

Even so I can run a half dozen virtual instruments simultaneously and I don't have to kill my web browser and email software to do it. Why several simultaneously? It is the normal method for multitrack recording. You record some tracks then listen to them in headphones as you play along and record another track. It's common to have a dozen tracks going at the same time. The older iMac does just fine. A new Mini would do better. If you are going to do any but the most casual recording you will need the abilty to run several software instruments at once.

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#1487449 - 08/03/10 05:03 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: ChrisA]
JackTG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 41
Loc: Nashville, TN
I run a E-MU 1212m and have never had an issue running up to 10 tracks.
_________________________
Jack Guthrey
Miller Piano Specialists
Yamaha, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin, Petrof, Pearl River, Young Chang & Roland
Nashville, TN
JackG@millerps.com
www.millerps.com
(615)771-0020


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#1487534 - 08/03/10 06:28 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: JackTG]
robdean Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/10
Posts: 88
Loc: UK
I've tried the BEHRINGER U-CONTROL UCA 202 and felt it was worth buying - in fact I ordered one but it hasn't arrived yet! Behringer supply a good ASIO driver on their website - a Behringer-specific version of the Ploytec driver which is kind of the commercial competitor to ASIO4ALL (with a more direct hook into the hardware). Since all you appear to need is low-latency 16-bit stereo output I'd suggest that it's worth trying, especially if you can get it from a vendor who'll refund if you are not happy with it. In fact, with all those computers to play with, a cheap spare USB audio i/o box may well come in handy anyway!
_________________________
Kawai MP4 - Roland TD-6KV - Reeve 4-string - 1973 Gibson SG

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#1487547 - 08/03/10 06:52 PM Re: Latency question with software piano: Windows or Mac? [Re: Upright]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1207
Loc: London UK
A PC generally comes with a utility-level "soundcard". It's fine for playing entertainment media. Musicians will wish to add a more advanced audio interface. You can pay a moderate amount for a simple stereo-in, stereo-out card. You can pay thousands for a top-flight device which includes microphone preamps, lots of channels, timecode ports etc. etc. And there are lots of choices in-between.

A Mac user can choose to add all these advanced options too. But its built-in audio is one step up the ladder. For the vast majority of users, who will never play a softsynth through MIDI on their computer, a low-latency soundcard is overkill. But if ONE step up the ladder is all you need, paying the extra for a Mac in order to get it neatly installed as standard might seem a good deal.

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