New PC = New interface = New PC = catch 22

So this year I think that it is final time to retire my Delta 1010lt and 410lt cards. They have served me well for nearly 10 years now but I’ve probably got about another 6 months in the PC that they reside in.

The problem that I have is that they are both PCI cards and if I upgrade my PC then I’m going to be hard pushed to get a decent “future proof” mobo with even 1 let alone 2 PCI slots.

So to upgrade my PC I need to upgrade my interface.
As a minimum it will need

8 balanced analogue I/o minimum with good pre-amps
Full compatibility with cubase 8.5
I probably want it to be expandable to further Preamps if required so ADAT or similar
Very low latency
Must run on Windows 7
Ideally Rack mounted

And it must be current and as future proof as possible…

I’ve done some research and I quite like the look of some of the Focusrite products, especially the new thunderbolt line, but worry that, whilst promised in the near future, it may not be compatible with Windows, and especially win7. And I’d need to buy a thunderbolt card.

So now probably best to go with usb, but is that future proof??! Or fast enough. Can I achieve the low latency I want.

Quite a dilemma. Any suggestions/thoughts on the subject, much appreciated

I would recommend RME audio interfaces. They have a great track record of updating their old hardware drivers, and their performance is excellent.
Most of their units are rack mounted and offer analog and digital inputs.

Sorry it’s taken me a couple of days to reply.

I do like the look of the RME UF and UFX but I worry the FireWire or (less so the) USB2 might become obsolete. I’ve heard that thunderbolt reduces latenccies so much that all cards will start getting it soon?

Am I jumping too far ahead of time??’

Yes, I think so.

Fireface UC, UCX, UFX are all futureproof devices. Firewire on Windows is pretty outworn (on Mac it’s easily adaptable to Thunderbolt with a simple Apple FW>TB adapter as far as I read over the web, for PC there are PCIe cards available still) but USB2 definately isn’t. It’s compatible to USB3 which will most probably last for many years.

The latencies of USB2 are really low with RME’s drivers. Guess it’s safe to say that just a PCIe soundcard will give you the truly lowest possible latency <> in real life audio situations you won’t feel pain with RME/USB2 <> you might overrate TB on Windows (see below).

Thunderbolt under Windows seems a little shady to me. Don’t exactly know how the present situation really looks. My impression is that Apple (with predictable/clearly definded number of computer hardware components) has set a standard here that works while the PC/Microsoft world has a much harder fight to specify mandatory protocols for a much greater variety of possible hardware combinations to play together in harmony. Similar to what Firewire was under Windows - just a few manufacturers of computer hardware took it to a ‘pro’ working level, RME being one of them. Trying to rely on Thunderbold under Windows is something you might wait for forever.

As a long time RME user I can just recommend their stuff. It’s all excellent in terms of sound, build quality, features, software (TotalMix FX + Digicheck), drivers/driver updates. Even discontinued interfaces like FF800/400, released in 2004, have unrestricted driver support currently. Now you know where the sun is shining :laughing:

If the board you are going for has USB 3.1 (or a statement of direction supporting USB 3.1) then you are covered up to 10Gb/s - which is plenty more than an audio interface will ever need! This is in the same ballpark as Thunderbolt - , Thunderbolt 2 may be much faster - but I’d have to ask do you actually need it? The main driver behind speeding up Thunderbolt is for Mac users to do everything through one port. ie hook audio and video up through Thunderbolt - for PC users with separate video connectors, the sharing of bandwidth with video data isn’t a consideration.

Considering there are plenty of audio devices with excellent latencies on slow old USB2 - I wouldn’t worry about it!

but thunderbolt 3… :wink:

I’m going to be building my own machine so it will definitely have usb3 - but the choices with thunderbolt more limited.

I am coming round to RME, or at least a USB type interface. What sort of latencies are we talking about though - any really low latencies will be a bit of a luxury for me coming from the Deltas as I have to keep my buffer size quite high these days.

Focusrite are claiming 1.67ms with a buffer size of 32 - making it possible to track though a final mix with plugins etc, but I am taking that with a pinch of salt as it will of course have been through the marketing spin machine.

Lowest possible buffer on UFX via USB is 48 samples, a roundtrip of 3.2 ms. I never use such low buffer sizes though. For recording with i.e. amp sims I go 128 samples (= 7.8 ms roundtrip), which feels direct/natural. All at 44.1 kHz.

Most time my buffer size is 1024 (48 ms), so my machine can handle big mixes with lots of plugins (many UAD plugins) without a strain. That’s a mixing scenario, but as long as I don’t use plugins while recording I monitor through TotalMix anyway which is zero latency apart from the time the converters take for AD/DA (< 1 ms).

+1 for RME products. They work and last. And RME supports their products well. Their drivers are top notch. I currently have a PCIe solution (HDSPe AES) that has been working very well for several years.

I haven’t purchased any Roland interfaces lately, but I had a UA-5 back in the day (and I mean WAY back in the day). I think I was on a Win98 machine back then. They’ve steadily updated their drivers all the way to Win7, 64 bit. I’ve always been impressed with how Roland supports their products.


Unless using really heavy numbers of audio channels, TB has excess bandwidth.

FW is pretty well dead, as even finding TI-based FW PCie cards is getting harder. All RME FW-only audio interfaces have been discontinued. As noted elsewhere, their USB drivers give very low latency, so they should handle a decent number of audio I/O. Just make sure the USB is connected to a root hub on the motherboard, and not via an external one.

Hey, can I ask a question?

I have an opportunity to upgrade my pci Delta 1010’s with a pci RME AES-32 that my friend’s buddy will sell me. I read that they say that you can get 16 inputs and 16 outputs. But I’m a little fuzzy as to whether you can have both at the same time, or if it’s one or the other. I generally record 16 tracks simultaneously and want to make sure I can still do that with this card before taking the plunge. Can anyone advise me if this is possible?

@ lambchop, try posting on RME’s forum, if you haven’t already:

Their support is usually very quick to respond.