Lowest latency audio+MIDI interface for Windows?

Just ordered a new HP 490t PC with an i7 980x processor. It has me thinking about whether or not FireWire is the best way to be doing audio.

I currently have a ProFire 2626 that I use with my 4-core Q6600 machine. I find that I have to use 512 sample or higher latency on my current PC on a well-loaded project. I am thinking some of that is related to the fact that it’s an external FireWire interface. I’m wondering if there is a proven winner for low latency multichannel recording.

Perhaps a PCI-e card?

I really only need 2ch in/out and one MIDI input for my day to day work. If need be I could buy an external mic preamp.

Looking for something that’s rock solid in Cubase x64.


I think most anyone will tell you to get an RME or Lynx based system. There are other options, but both of these companies seem to have solved the driver wars.

Looks like with the PCIe solutions I’d need a external mic preamp that either outputs AES or SPDIF. The unfortunate thing is that any PCIe solution from either of them is overkill as far as I/O.

(The ProFire is as well, but because it came with 8 high quality mic preamps at a fairly low price it seemed like a bargain.)

Really all I need is a super low latency PCIe card with 2-4ch I/O… especially since none of them come with a breakout box with mic preamps.

Ah, PCIe, the Lynx-Twos are PCI. Wish they would come out with that form factor in PCIe. Not sure about your options then.

I only really want PCIe if it’s going to give the lowest possible latency.

I think given the prices, the fact that I would need to buy a good mic preamp, and the fact I just dopped $1800 on a new PC, maybe I should see how low I can go with my existing ProFire on the new PC before I spend more $$… :wink:

Best decision. Take it slow and test everything. Then look around the forums and reviews, see what’s hot and try to get some new year bargains.
Emu are very good value for most although when they don’t work can be awkward to put right.

You should be able to get a lower latency from the Profire. It may be something else in the Q6600, usually the FSB speed on older specs, that is slowing down your data. I would think that you will be mightily impressed with the i7 and you can safely bring down that buffer setting to 128. Even 64 but you may get some bufferchatter :nerd: at times.

Have a GOOD look at the PCIe RME Multiface II… working at 96Khz it’s possible to get down to 0.7ms (32 samples) which is faster than the equivalent PCI version.
RME cards also prioritise incoming audio so even if you might have the odd crackle if your ASIO load is high then the recorded audio will still be free of glitches.
Yes if you use mics etc then you will need some kind of pre-amp to go with it, i’m absolutely blown away with mine, the included DIGICheck software is superb too!
As i understand it PCIe is a true ‘two way’ full duplex system whereby data is able to flow in both directions simultaneously whereas PCI has to ‘flip’ between I/O… data throughput is supposedly much higher with PCIe.
It’s certainly by far the fastest interface i have ever used :smiley:

For some reason people [and interface manufacturers] are reluctant to actually say what the latency is on their gear… Probably because every system is different.
The best performing system I have used is a Toshiba laptop in 2002! Running into a Fireface 800 we consistently used 64 samples for recording and live performance.
See my other posts, but Firewire may be a thing of the past with Display Port being the next technology for data transfer. :nerd: :sunglasses:

Well for me it really seems like I’m CPU-bound as I don’t hit any ASIO overloads in the DAW Bench test untl I’m close at or above 90% on all 4 cores. So hopefully the i7 will change all of that… we’ll see.

But, if you are just doing the multi-band compressor test, then you ARE just doing a CPU test. There are other stressers for ASIO. Multi-track recording for example. Streaming samples and Audio data on the same drive etc… The DAW bench simply provides a common measure of 1 of the bottle necks to compare by.

Jut from experience with my current machine, the reason I have to bump the latency up to 512 or beyond is that I have too many VSTs. I generally don’t seem to be running into other bandwidth issues.

My i7 arrives Wednesday so we will see if this machine has other bottlenecks. What other tests should I run? I have dpc latency checker and DAW bench. I want to stress the machine as much as possible in the 21-day grace period.

RME - definitely! Since I moved to a Mutiface PCI interface I’ve have zero driver related issues. Also The onboard MIDI outperforms my MOTU Express 128 when doing Steinberg’s midi loopback test. Nice! I read somewhere that the new Fireface UFX (in USB2) is outperforming PCIe on some of the newer systems. Some posted samples of the onboard pres sound really good too…bonus! I know that PCIe seems like the most solid platform for low latency performance, but whatever works, right? I’m also looking at the RME RAYDAT PCIe interface with outboard converters/preamps with ADAT. Specs look nice and two MIDI I/O as well.
Happy New Year!