Soundcard suggestions

Hi, I’ve currently got a tascam us 4x4 and I’d like a better faster soundcard. I don’t need very many inputs. 4-8
I’ve been reading about thunderbolt 3
And pci cards. Basically I just want close to zero latency.

I’m sticking to PC as well. Or I am thinking of building a new of system. Any suggestions? Thanks!

RME! Best drivers, best support. Old or new all great. If you have PCI slot go for HDSP9652 or HDSP9632 second hand.
When I upgraded the increased efficiency was more the 75% and I run older machine then you. I still do without lack of power!

Yes, I cannot decide if it is better to wait for Thunderbolt 3 to take off or to just get a PCI interface. It looks as though the PCI-e cards are faster. Then, I have to buy an external device to power my mics and whatnot. the HDSPe RayDAT looks nice, I am not sure which is faster, etc. I know nothing about the PCI cards, I always used firewire and USB 2.0 interfaces.

PCI is dead, PCIe ,Thunderbolt 3 (when it finally is available in the native chipset), USB 3 or USB 2 are your choices.
PCIe, TB3, USB3 and USB2 can be in the same ballpark when it comes to low latency performance, the bandwidth has nothing to do with that.
But have a look at the Audio interface low latency performance data base.

I wouldn’t say that PCIE and TB3 are in the same league as USB 2.0 and 3.0
Usb 2.0 is decent, but not great and 3.0 offers nothing more in terms of latency.
And PCI might be dead but… It still is a viable option for in terms of latency, as it seems.
It might be a long wait until everything comes together for TB3 based units:(
I get decent results with my Tascam us 4x4 but I do notice latency when recording at times and it does get very annoying.

On a budget? Is this low enough for you?

“Super-low roundtrip latency was measured at 2.74ms, working at 96kHz with a 32 samples buffer on Logic Pro X, running on a Mac Pro and OS 10.11”

I use their 18i20 with a PC and it is very good, solid, low latency. Much cheaper versions available with fewer ins/outs. Same performance. Up to 192kHz.

Make sure you get Generation 2 though for the speed. Generation 1 was slower.

Good luck finding a motherboard that still has PCI and is not bridged using 3’d party chips.
If you look at the chart it is hard not to notice how poor some of the focusrite and presonus devices perform.
RME is still the best performing USB 2 and 3 devices on the market, the choice imho is really not that difficult.

Hmmm, what is considered good in terms of Latency? With regards to MS? Input and Output

Depends on the buffersize you can/want to work in.
And why you need low latency, if you are recording guitar using amp modelling plugins then it is important.
Or using midi keyboard and VSTi playing them realtime.
If you are playing analog/digital synths and using real guitar amps and fx, it is kind of irrelevant, just use Direct Monitoring.
I have played hundreds of gigs live in the past and mostly with poor monitoring, so i’m conditioned to huge latency 20ms +
Around 7ms or below is my comfort zone, for playing midi keyboard/VSTi, but we are all different so find out where your comfort zone is.
And some numbers, I’m using a RME Raydat, Latency numbers in Cubase are:

All 44.1 khz
Buffer 32 IN 0,771ms OUT 1,519ms
Buffer 64 IN 1,497ms OUT 2,245ms
Buffer 128 IN 2,948ms OUT 3,996ms
Buffer 256 IN 5,850ms OUT 6,599ms
Buffer 512 IN 11,655ms OUT 12,404ms

Those are good numbers, that of cause would be smaller at higher bit rates.
That makes it possible for me to play comfortable at 256 buffers, and leave enough breathing room for the CPU.

One word of caution when calculating stuff for cards that are digital only - like RayDat or Hammerfall 9636 I have on my former daw.

  • ASIO buffers is not the full story - the actuall A/D and D/A converters are not reported in these cases, so kind of not true roundtrip latencies just counting asio buffers.

When having ADAT connections you pretty much have to do loopback tests to see where actuall number will be.
It could be adding number manually for all handling in Cubase - or for specific tracks using specific hardware.

So me running 64 samples buffers - and having built in converters as well, ASIO can report full latency to host - and I get about 256 samples roundtrip when A/D and D/A is included as on analog 1and 2.

Later interfaces, where stated at RME site, has the newer faster converters with much less delays in them.

I also noted that my addon board AI4S had different delays making loopback tests compared to the two built in analogs. I discovered as I did both lined and amp recording and one input was via addon board - and it sounded a bit boxy to me, when mixing these two signal routes. And it turned out I had to compensate for that and it sounded normal. so it became an phase issue taking signals two routes.

But these are things you do once and set and forget, kind of, apart from which inputs to use and set a delay for a track where appropriate.
So having different brands and models of external gear over ADAT may need calibrating depending how inputs are used.