Audio card (dedicated or not?)

I’m gonna use Cubase 11 just for MIDI, no audio, although I will render midi tracks to Audio whenever - I wonder if I still need a dedicated audio card or audio card that comes with the motherboard is enough? Intel i7 2.2Hz 16 RAM.


Sound card is enough but you will need the Yamaha USB/midi driver from the Steinberg. Net site on the support/downloads page

Why would you need the Yamaha driver if you don’t have a Yamaha/Steinberg device?

There is only one way to find out if you need a dedicated audio card. Try the onboard motherboard audio and see if it works for you.

When you say “just for MIDI, no audio” I’m a little confused. How do you plan on the MIDI producing sound you can render as audio?

One way or another, I believe a quality interface with a well written driver will be beneficial even if you don’t initially plan on recording any audio directly.

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…just wanted to add- for using the built in sound, the Generic Lower Latency ASIO driver is installed with Cubase. You might find latency to be a problem when recording midi live to a VST instrument though.

and yes, as @Scab_Pickens points out, the Yamaha/Steinberg driver is for Yamaha Steinberg devices (as is true for every manufacturer)

What is a “Yamaha Steinberg device”? I don’t have any Yamaha device. And Steinberg… Well Cubase would be Steinberg (isn’t it?). So I’m not sure what you mean by that. Do I still need to use Yamaha Steiberg audio driver or not?

By audio what I meant was that I don’t plan to record any direct IN audio, but I will need to render midi recorded stuff to audio clips and work with audio clips.

Also what’s confusing to me is that a lot of ppl use laptops for similar things with Cubase - what do you ppl use for ASIO? Or I hope laptops for the above intentions shouldn’t be dismissed or should they?

Hi even if a dedicated audio card would be recommended for professional usage chances are you will do well also with an onboard audio chip for your usage cases.
One thing that helps a lot is to install the ASIO4All driver ( that has a good latency (in absence of dedicated ASIO driver for your onboard chip).

I have an external audio card that I use for my recordings but for MIDI and even mixing I use the normal Realtek audio chip in my motherboard. I used the same workflow also on old i7 (2600k) and there are no problem at all.

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“Device” refers to a hardware device that you physically plug in to your computer, like an audio interface.

If you plan to use only virtual instruments (VSTi) you can render your midi to audio any time. The quality is independent of the audio interface, so built-in is good enough.
If you use external instruments (ie. they are physically outside of Cubase) you can only render midi to audio by using your audio interface. This is where built-in stuff is usually weak.
Furthermore: if you plan on playing VSTi’s live the generic driver for the built-in audio will introduce a very noticeable delay between key pressed and sound played (latency). That’s where a dedicated audio interface with a low latency ASIO driver is necessary.

Personally I work on a laptop and have an external audio interface attached via USB.


Johnny, could you elaborate on that a bit? Which external audio interface do you use? Also I thought to have external audio interface you gotta have a desktop but not laptop, but you’re using external AI attached to your laptop via usb - pls share a bit more details about it on specifics.

I use a RME Fireface UC, my experience with it is positive. I am not a professional musician or engineer who depends on his gear to make a living. I expect a good enough sound quality for work on a project/demo level and that interface delivers. Drivers are very stable, never had any issue with them. The latency can be lowered so that I can play VSTi’s live.
While I take the laptop with me when I travel for business the interface stays at home. While the Fireface UC is not big, there are interaces out there more suitable as a travel companion.
Connection is via USB 2.0 but I hear that USB 3.0 interfaces starting to become available . If you have a Mac you can also connect via Thunderbolt (to Mac users: is that still valid or do you guys already have something else?).