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#2305800 - Yesterday at 08:40 AM Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference?
johnlewisgrant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 463
Loc: canada
Will the advent of USB 3 and the new fast SSD hard drives mean any real improvement in the playability (or sound quality) of vst piano samples?

"Improvement" means improvement over what I have now: usb 2, two first generation ssds (for various piano vsts), running on an Intel Core i7 with 12 gig mem, usb 2, some regular hard drives.
I'm assuming I'd have to replace the Gigabyte X58S-UD3 mainboard. But I don't know about the Fast Track Ultra Interface. (Currently getting 5.4 ms latency, at best).

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#2305813 - Yesterday at 08:58 AM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
CountSmith Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/01/13
Posts: 17
5.4 ms is very good. I don't think you would be able detect a noticeable difference if you were to reduce your latency any further.

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#2305850 - Yesterday at 10:17 AM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3782
Loc: North Carolina
Drive performance won't affect latency.

1. The VST plugin or host will load the first period of each piano sample, and save in buffer memory. When you press a piano key, the sound is fetched from memory with darn near zero delay.

If you hold down the key, the software must fetch later samples from disk. But it has LOTS of time to do that ... all because the early portions of sound were instantly available from memory. Until those samples are exhausted, the sound plays uninterrupted.

Only a very slow computer will fail to keep up. (But if the computer can't keep up, as with very old computers ... you don't get latency. You get dropouts.)

So drive performance doesn't matter much anymore during performance. (It does matter if you're doing studio work, building a multi-track musical production, but I assume that's not the topic here.)

2. Latency comes from the PC sound system. The native PC audio chain introduces delay ... which is irrelevant when playing recorded music or video. But this delay is a killer when performing from a keyboard. The fix is to use an ASIO driver. (But this has NOTHING at all to do with disk drive performance.)

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#2305896 - Yesterday at 11:33 AM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: MacMacMac]
Digitalguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 359
Loc: Switzerland
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
2. Latency comes from the PC sound system. The native PC audio chain introduces delay ... which is irrelevant when playing recorded music or video. But this delay is a killer when performing from a keyboard. The fix is to use an ASIO driver. (But this has NOTHING at all to do with disk drive performance.)


What affects the asio driver buffer, and therefore performance, is mainly the CPU power. So a powerful CPU will be able to handle a small buffer without cracks and pops and therefore have negligible latency. Also, the sound card has an impact, especially if the CPU is not very fast. In this case, an external card can help (I managed to run some software pianos without latency on a low power windows tablet thanks to an external card for instance...)
_________________________
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#2306010 - Yesterday at 03:01 PM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
Jeff Hurchalla Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/11/14
Posts: 8
Loc: Portland OR
A faster drive can help if you're having drop-outs. Sometimes when you try to push the latency lower you can get hard drive drop-outs, depending on how the software implements streaming from disk. It's quite unusual to get a drop out on an SSD.

However, trying a lower latency will typically first expose you to bottlenecks in your audio drivers/audio device, or bottlenecks in other drivers on your system. If you're on PC, definitely check out DPC Latency Checker, which can tell you if you're getting limited in latency by your drivers. The author wrote good information on DPCs, so I won't try to explain them here.

Some of the first gen SSDs were horrible for performance consistency, every once in a while stuttering with a second of pause before continuing back to high performance. The Intel X-25s were fine, but not all the others (JMicron controllers if I recall correctly). Pretty much any new SSD this is completely inapplicable. But if you happen to have one of those old affected SSDs, you'd do well with a new one. The Samsung evos are great on performance/$ if you're shopping.

USB3 is great for external hard drives. You can stream without dropouts pretty much any software piano that exists using a modern new drive over USB3. This isn't necessarily true for USB2, or even firewire 400/800 though they're an improvement. Thunderbolt should also be great, and the internal drive interface best of all. I won't get into why unless you're interested, but with hard drives, the important things for performance are: 1) fast interface 2) using a drive with enough free space so that there's still a huge amount left over after installing, and 3) just having a huge (ideally 3TB+) drive to start with. 7200rpm vs 5400 are relatively minor considerations.

It would seem odd to me to use an SSD on USB3, since the performance would be limited by USB3, but on the plus side you could view it as getting pretty much 100% of everything USB3 can offer on performance.

Hope that helps!

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#2306027 - Yesterday at 03:42 PM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
johnlewisgrant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 463
Loc: canada
Thanks very much. Very useful info.

I guess I'm good to go, even with my now 5-year-old i7/12gig/usb 2/fast track ultra set up.

Thing is, with the new really fast SSDs (Samsung) plus of course usb 3, seems to me that some of the big samples would load faster. And maybe even play more seamlessly (although most of my work is rendering my own midi files, not live playing).

I should note that when I installed the first gen SSDs (128 gigs each), I noticed a HUGE difference over my 5400 hard drives. I DID in fact get occasional pops and clicks on the "old" hard drive technology. And I'm not talking live playing; I'm talking midi files played via various piano samples, the more demanding the sample, the more pops and clicks, even when I was simply playing midi files, mind you, with some pretty demanding convolution effects!!

But once Ivory, Imperfect, Black, etc., etc... were loaded on the SSDs, the occasional pops and clicks were just GONE.

Hence the question: I'm thinking that USB 3 plus the Samsung SSDs will give me 0 errors. IE there won't even be the remotest possibility of errant hard drive behaviour.

So I get the new main board first, with usb 3, say 12-16 gigs men, and 2 512 gig Samsungs, 1000 dollar upgrade..... and what have I really gained???

Not much, except speed, I'm guessing.

But then the "weakest link" (not the TV show)? The Fast Track Ultra: that's still "state-of-the-art" in the interface department? (Here thinking of recording or studio work, rendering midi files, not live performance).

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#2306070 - Yesterday at 05:02 PM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
theoak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 60
Loc: Idaho, USA
What is on your motherboard now SATA2 (3 Gbps)? A modern motherboard will have SATA3 (6 Gbps), which most modern SSDs are reaching.

While USB3 is fast (5 Gbps), you will get more bang keeping your SSDs on your motherboard.

I am not familiar with how large these samples are, but if these applications are 64 bit, with 12 GB of RAM ... I say load the whole sample into RAM (assuming you can configure that) and call it good smile

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#2306090 - Yesterday at 05:55 PM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: theoak]
johnlewisgrant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 463
Loc: canada
Originally Posted By: theoak
What is on your motherboard now SATA2 (3 Gbps)? A modern motherboard will have SATA3 (6 Gbps), which most modern SSDs are reaching.

While USB3 is fast (5 Gbps), you will get more bang keeping your SSDs on your motherboard.

I am not familiar with how large these samples are, but if these applications are 64 bit, with 12 GB of RAM ... I say load the whole sample into RAM (assuming you can configure that) and call it good smile


My main board IS old, Gigabyte x58a, and WOULD require upgrading!

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#2306095 - Yesterday at 06:00 PM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3782
Loc: North Carolina
If you're just playing the piano software, you won't need an SSD. It's a waste of money for this purpose. Your computer is way more powerful than what I used to use ... and everything worked fine on that old 1.7 GHz Duo with 2 GB RAM. Even with multiple pianos loaded up in Kontakt.

And the money waste would be even bigger if, as you suggest, your core computer requires an update for compatibility. Don't waste your time and money.
Originally Posted By: johnlewisgrant
My main board IS old, Gigabyte x58a, and WOULD require upgrading!

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#2306122 - Yesterday at 07:09 PM Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: MacMacMac]
Macy Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 601
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
If you're just playing the piano software, you won't need an SSD. It's a waste of money for this purpose.


I'd recommend just the opposite. SSD's solved all my piano problems with Ivory II. I'd never use anything but an SSD for piano samples (or anything else - except backups) ever again. The prices on the Samsung 840 EVO's are great (heavily discounted now). But to each their own ...


Edited by Macy (Yesterday at 07:11 PM)
_________________________
Macy

CVP-409GP, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, True Keys American D, Ravenscroft 275, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

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#2306289 - 44 minutes 52 seconds ago Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
joflah Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 274
Loc: St. Louis, MO, USA
I use an SSD because it's utterly silent. With a fanless power supply, and a low speed CPU fan, the computer adds no audible background noise to the piano. Though the piano operates fine with an ordinary hard drive, an SSD's speed may help with loading time for piano software or scores.
_________________________
Jack

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#2306294 - 4 minutes 18 seconds ago Re: Will USB 3 & new ssd speeds make a difference? [Re: johnlewisgrant]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1150
Loc: uk south
I like the lightning fast load times using SSD. Many of the sample libraries will work fine using a conventional HDD but some are borderline, notably when layering perspectives so a modern SSD is the best worry-free option.

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