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#2404713 - Yesterday at 01:04 AM Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup?
idfpiano Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 01/25/15
Posts: 12
I have the following setup:
Casio PX-150 -> USB_MIDI -> PC (using Win8.1, Asio4all, Kontakt 5) -> AMD Discrete GPU card HDMI -> Pioneer 920K receiver -> Speakers. I also have an onboard sound card. Don’t know if it matters.

My goal is to use the superior virtual piano a PC can offer as well as the much better speakers the receiver is connected to. I care only about live playing - not recording or anything of that sort.

I mostly care about improving overall latency and have 0 MIDI issues. Does adding a discrete sound card (while not changing connectivity!) makes any difference at all? would it be actually used?

If the answer is yes, what sound card would be recommended only for this purpose? Ideally I don’t want to spend a lot of money on this.

Thanks!

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#2404805 - Yesterday at 09:13 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
MacMacMac Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4036
Loc: North Carolina
If you have latency problems, an add on sound card will probably help.
If you have sound quality problems, likewise.

From what I've read on this and other boards, PCs often have latency issues, but Macintoshes not. Faster PCs often have no latency issues.

In the end ... if you have these problems, fix them with a sound card. If not, don't.

Which sound card should you choose? Ask five people, get five answers. So just toss a coin ... and choose one priced within your means.

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#2404808 - Yesterday at 09:18 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12572
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
You say you only care about live playing - does that mean for playing gigs? If so, you will need a slightly different set up vs. playing at home.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher FT



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#2404814 - Yesterday at 09:33 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
PtJaa Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/12
Posts: 253
Loc: Czech Republic
If you intend to keep sending the audio through HDMI, a new sound card won't change a thing - AMD high definition codec is used in that case, not a soundcard.

If I may, are you sure the AMD codec is the culprit? What VST piano and at what ASIO buffer size do you use? Also, if you need a large buffer, have you tried optimizing your PC or debugging the problem with LatencyMon/DPC latency checker?
_________________________
Kawai CA65 :: Galaxy: Vintage D, Vienna Grand, Giant :: Pianoteq 5 :: Kontakt 5 :: Reaper :: True Keys pianos

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#2404879 - Yesterday at 11:44 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 331
You can get a Windows based PC to perform well with realtime instruments at low latencies. It just takes a little more work than a Mac.

You need an ASIO driver first of all.
A lot of people are able to use their stock sound card with the ASIO4ALL driver.

Then you need DPC Latency Checker software.

This will allow you to test your system for activity that may be slowing down your PC's ability to stream audio at acceptable latencies in real time. For example, I have a blue tooth radio on my Windows laptop which I need to disable when using software instruments.

In general on Macs running OSX, this isn't an issue and the on board sound card with core audio does a very good job of running software instruments at low latencies out of the box.

In either case, a dedicated sound card can be a help in achieving best performance, but you have to pick wisely. If you share more about how you will be using your setup, we can advise better.

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#2404910 - Yesterday at 12:34 PM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
idfpiano Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 01/25/15
Posts: 12
I have Asio4all installed with 0 in/out compensation and with ~500 samples, force 44.1k OFF, allow pull ON. I use Kontakt with The Grandeur piano. The setup is for playing at home. When it works correctly, sound is awesome.

LatencyMon is all green. Power saving is set to max performance.

My main issues are:
1. >10ms latency.
2. Sometime notes suddenly stop making sounds before I release the key or before the sounds fades down. Really annoying in songs with long-playing notes.

I couldn't find any tweak that completely eliminate this annoying phenomena.

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#2404961 - Yesterday at 02:51 PM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 331
You'll have to share the computer's spec's as well.
Is it a fairly modern i5 or i7?
8gb of RAM?
7200RPM hard drive?
Or SSD drive?

And, yes, I do advise using the DPC latency checker to see if there is anything else going on here.

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#2404996 - Yesterday at 04:14 PM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
PtJaa Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/12
Posts: 253
Loc: Czech Republic
Originally Posted By idfpiano
I have Asio4all installed with 0 in/out compensation and with ~500 samples, force 44.1k OFF, allow pull ON. I use Kontakt with The Grandeur piano. The setup is for playing at home. When it works correctly, sound is awesome.

The size of ASIO buffer can be set differently in different application. I presume from your answer that you have 500-sample buffer set in Kontakt in ASIO settings, and also that the output in Kontakt is set to ASIO, of course.

If I may ask, if you switch to the on-board integrated soundcard of your computer (still through Asio4All), do the problems remain? And what buffer size can you reliably achieve? (Your 500-samples-buffer is unbelievably high, the fact that it doesn't work notwithstanding.)
_________________________
Kawai CA65 :: Galaxy: Vintage D, Vienna Grand, Giant :: Pianoteq 5 :: Kontakt 5 :: Reaper :: True Keys pianos

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#2405141 - Today at 12:18 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
idfpiano Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 01/25/15
Posts: 12
I ran DPC latency checker - it shows ~1020us latency, pretty stable. It's a modern (haswell) i5, 8gb ram, 7200rpm drive with kontakt and the OS on an SSD. Changing the buffer size to 250 samples doesn't solve the stopping-sound issue (but obviously reduced the latency).

The premature-note-stop baffle me. The note was received by the PC, since I heard it. I haven't released it. What makes the noise stop? I don't know the internal of Midi and whether this might be a keep-alive that was dropped. I care about this much more than the latency.

Any idea?

BTW - It was mentioned in the thread that the output in Kontakt should be set to ASIO. What setting does this refer to? Not sure I have done this.
Will later also check the onboard sound directly bypassing AMD HDMI altogether.

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#2405190 - Today at 04:00 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
toddy Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 2003
Loc: Portugal
Originally Posted By idfpiano

The premature-note-stop baffle me. The note was received by the PC, since I heard it. I haven't released it. What makes the noise stop? I don't know the internal of Midi and whether this might be a keep-alive that was dropped. I care about this much more than the latency.

Any idea?



Can you reduce the sample buffer to 128 samples? That would give you an acceptably short latency. If that works without clicks and cracks, try 64 samples - that would reduce latency well below 10ms.

Regarding the notes cutting out, this sounds to me like a problem with the HDD. Only the first portion of the piano (or other sound) is pre-loaded to RAM. For the note to continue longer, the computer needs to pick up more data from the HDD. It sounds to me from your description that this is failing.

I also have this problem - but only sometimes. I suspect my HDD has a problem, but I'm not sure. Maybe someone else can advise on this problem/solution.
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2405197 - Today at 04:28 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1877
Loc: uk south
If your audio is clean at your current buffer setting - and it should be with an i5 and fairly modest demand of a 256 sample buffer - what you describe is very odd. In earlier days messing with midi, and even more recently when using dodgy usb-to-midi conversion leads, I might sometimes have a note sustain even though it had been released but you have the opposite problem. It could be a glitch in one of the laptop components as toddy suggests, or maybe a fault in the Casio? Is it always the same pitch or pitches? Might a faulty sensor be sending out a note-off message even with the key depressed.

Do you have any sort of DAW?, a means of recording the midi data of a performance which exhibits the glitch? If you could upload the MIDI file (not the audio), specifying which note cut out, it would be fairly straightforward to examine the midi data and so either rule out or implicate the DP.

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#2405258 - Today at 08:28 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
MacMacMac Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4036
Loc: North Carolina
As DT suggests, maybe the piano is having a problem? Maybe it's wrongly sending a note-off message? Kontakt has a MIDI-monitor built in. You can see every incoming message.

So, press a key and see the note-on message. While holding that key, you should see NO more MIDI messages. But if you see an errant note-off message coming in, then there's some sort of flakiness in the keyboard.

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#2405266 - Today at 08:42 AM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 331
MIDI-OX is also a handy utility for narrowing down MIDI message issues. Just a side note.

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#2405333 - Today at 12:02 PM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
idfpiano Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 01/25/15
Posts: 12
Quick update: I think I ruled out piano AND midi issues.

I played the piano without connecting to MIDI - NO ISSUE (of note off without key release).
I played with Kontakt & Grandeur - ISSUE HAPPENS. However, when I'm looking at the keyboard status in Kontakt when a note is disappearing - the key seems to still be pressed!

Also, I noticed that this happens much more after restart. Could be a warm up issue.

My guess right now is that this is an HDD issue as toddy suggested. This might explain why this is looks like a warm up issue because I assume samples are cached after they are played once.

Obviously I can move Kontakt to the SSD, though I'm almost out of space there. Any other suggestions?

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#2405342 - Today at 12:24 PM Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1877
Loc: uk south
- I didn't know kontakt had a midi monitor, that's neat!

Is it always the same note or particular notes? If so, yes I would suspect the HDD trying to pick up some data that's gone missing or become corrupted. Or, if variable notes, then quite possibly a performance issue, being just on the margin.

Try re-installing the library on the HDD. Best of all, do it before you delete the old occurrence so it resides in a new location on the disc.

If that doesn't work then definitely move it to the SSD.

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#2405361 - 19 minutes 3 seconds ago Re: Adding a soundcard for VST playing on my setup? [Re: idfpiano]
toddy Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 2003
Loc: Portugal
Kontakt has a disk and CPU usage monotor on the main window - near top right. You will see the disk one reacting when it needs to pick up extra sample data from the HDD. And when it fails to do the operation correctly, it goes red (quick flash). That would indicate HDD problem - or some setting that needs to be changed. I have the same problem, but it's erratic, and as you say, it tends to disappear once the notes have been requested. But not always (frustrating and strange!)
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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