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Latency Problem - Reason 5 / Korg PA1x-Pro
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MuratE
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Joined: 25 Jan 2012
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Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:29 pm    Post subject: Latency Problem - Reason 5 / Korg PA1x-Pro Reply with quote

Latency Problem - Reason 5 / Korg PA1x-Pro Question

I wonder if you could help me with this, it is probably a simple issue for you but not for me:

I am using Reason 5 and connect my Korg PA1X-Pro keyboard via midi, so it's the usual setup for midi recording. My issue is latency. I haven't got any special gear, all I use is a driver called ASIO4ALL driver and it seems to help but not great.

Could you please recommend an external device or anything which I could use to get rid of the latency problem? All I do is midi and do not require wav or actual sound recording so I presume a cheap device would do? Any suggestions please?

I am currently using an on-board SoundCard on my laptop hence the problem. I would like to buy an external device but not sure what to buy as there are thousands of products out there and some are not really relevant to what I require. I already have a USB to MIDI cable/adapter.

What should I buy? Could you recommend something please.

As I said, I don't want to record vaw files or any external devices, all I want to do is use Reason.

Thanks in advance Smile
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to use the synths in Reason you ARE processing audio, even if you're only recording midi notes. So you will need a more professional or prosumer grade soundcard/interface. You should count on a budget of around 150/200 euros. The Focusrite Scarlett series of interfaces is pretty popular right now. Other choices include Edirol and M-Audio.

Basically it's just a USB-connected box with midi and audio I/O. Hook it up to your keyboard and your speakers, tell Reason to use that as your soundcard, and you should be good to go.

A recording interface will have its own ASIO drivers. ASIO4ALL is a generic wrapper for WDM drivers, it doesn't actually make your card any better.
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MuratE
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Joined: 25 Jan 2012
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Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply/help.
I did have a look around on the internet and read about the Focusrite Scarlett series, although people wrote they still had latency problems while using this? Again, I guess it depends on the person, they may not have set it up properly?

any other suggestions please? I am new to this forum and midi recording as well?
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Latency is determined by a few things. When you press a note on your keyboard, it is converted to midi information and sent to the computer. In the larger scheme of things, this takes very little cpu power and time. Next, the computer has to calculate the sound that the softsynth will make from the midi note, and then send that audiostream to the soundcard's driver which has to process it and send it to the outputs. These two steps take the most time and the deciding factors are the CPU speed and the speed with which the soundcard's driver can reliably respond to playback requests (determined by the minimum number and size of ASIO buffers).

This is very much a layman's explanation but I hope it helps.

If you have a slow cpu or you neglect to set your ASIO buffers to a small size you will get a lot of latency. If the drivers are badly written and you can't set the ASIO buffers to a small size without crackling or popping you can blame the interface, but I don't think this is generally the case with the Focusrites. RME has a stellar reputation for driver stability and low latency operation, I would recommend them in a heartbeat but their cheapest interface costs a factor four more than the Scarlett (or something like that).
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MuratE
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Location: London

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the technical explanation, which is helping me to understand what's what.
Can I try and explain the setup I have currently? I've got a Samsung Laptop, i5 processor and 4GB Ram. Not sure what sound card I have, all I know is it's a HD sound. My keyboard is PA1xPro and I connect the two with a USB-MIDI adapter. When I first did the setup the latency was really bad, then I installed ASIO4ALL (not sure which version) and that helped greatly. The problem occurs when I play complex songs, ie a piano piece from Chopin, even a little amount of latency destroys any joy you can have from playing, so I'd like to make sure I get rid of this problem once for all. I am sure I could make it all slightly better by tweaking the settings on my PC, maybe downloading better and more appropriate drivers but not sure if I have the right equipment (soundcard) for this therefore I don't mind purchasing an external device if this will help me properly.
So, if Focusrite Scarlett would do the job perfectly, can I get the 2i2 version, this is the smallest one. As I said I don't intend to connect anything else and only for midi playing / recording?
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the sound card you're currently using is the on-board soundcard of your laptop, it's a cheap chip that does fine for games and media, because those applications don't really require low latency performance like love instrument playing does.

A dedicated card like the Scarlett 2i2 should be able to improve latency to non-detectable levels. Your laptop seems to be up to the job, especially since you're not planning on recording a whole bunch of tracks.
If you have read about bad experiences with the Scarlett (I haven't personally used them) and feel uncomfortable getting one, there are other offerings from for instance Edirol, M-Audio (not my favorite) and Native Instruments. I have limited personal experience with any specific model, but the same principles hold for all of them. I only went with the Focusrite recommendation because they seem to be getting a good rep as entry level devices in most places I frequent.

EDIT: The Scarlett 2i2 doesn't have midi ports. Which is no problem if you're using your USB/Midi cable, but if you're running out of USB ports or you'd prefer using just one device, go for the Scarlett 2i4.
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MuratE
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, thanks for pointing that out, I would get the Scarlett 2i4 then.
I've been reading reviews about the 2i4 and as you said the Focusrite Scarlett get all the good reviews, a few bad reviews but they could be users fault. For what I need to do the 2i4 seems to be perfect. many people said in their reviews that it increased their laptops sound quality as well. I am still waiting for a few more responds to my posts for confirmation then I think I will purchase the 2i4. The price is £149 on Amazon.co.uk (not sure about p&p though). Where would you recommend me to get one from?
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I can't really help you there, I'm in the Netherlands. I normally buy from Thomann.de or our local Bax-shop.nl but I just checked Thomann and it's 153 gbp there. So you're probably good with Amazon, unless there's a shipping difference.

Seems a fair price in any case.
Good luck!
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MuratE
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks.
I've just had a response to my post on another website regarding my issue and the 2i4:
"""That said, given that you don't wish to record audio, I don't want to recommend you buy this - the majority of the price of the unit goes towards its preamps and ADCs, which you'd never use! Better to find something with a simple stereo output (and perhaps a midi in, if you can find one - just to free up that USB port). Before you buy, though, check the manufacturer's website to make sure they do make their own drivers (a lot of cheaper consumer ones might rely on generic drivers, and you'd be back to square one)."""
He is right, although I don't mind paying the £150 for the 2i4 I am worried it won't be the perfect product for my needs, I rather pay the £150 for something 100% relevant to my needs. Or maybe 2i4 is perfect? I wouldn't mind having the extra features, that wouldn't bother me:) But having extra features could mean I am scarifying things I require?
Does anyone else have any ideas please? I am sure there are people out there knows exactly what I need?
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know what site that is but without trying to offend, it doesn't sound like a pro audio site Smile

There really aren't any interfaces with good drivers, decent sound, and only midi in and audio out. It is true that you will be spending some of the money on features you won't use. Yet. If a singer comes by in half a year, or you want to record your buddy's guitar, you will.
If you were using a desktop there are more preamp-less options like RME's HDSP 9632, but that one is even more pro quality and goes for 325 euros over here.

Perhaps I'm not aware of some brands/interfaces, I'd be interested to hear what this person's recommendations are.
EDIT: The smallest stuff is like the Edirol Duo Capture Mk2. Even that has a guitar preamp and no midi, and on top of that I'm not sure I trust it on quality.
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MuratE
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The recommendation was Tascam us-122 mkII - had a look on google and it seems to have the things I need but I haven't got a clue if it will solve the latency problem (as you mentioned this may not have the drivers etc?). What do you think?
Maybe I should just stick with the 2i4?
Who would be the best people to talk to about all this? I am going to Tottenham Court Road in London this Saturday to a few music shops but I am sure they will just try to sell what they have in stock and not what I actually need; they will probably be biased in the advise they will give me?
Don't mind spending a bit of money, but I have to ensure it is what I need.
EDIT: Looking at the website, Tascam us-122 mkII has ASIO drivers, could be the thing I need?
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Tascam is exactly the same kind of thing as the Focusrite 2i4 in the sense that it has the same "parts" that you're paying for. It's just cheaper and I've hear "some" bad stories about drivers. About the same amount as I've hear "good" things about the Focusrite. Doesn't really mean all that much.

If you're going to a shop, bring your laptop. If they're friendly enough and have some time, they may allow you to install it and you can see if it works for your setup! That should take away any uncertainties.
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MuratE
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for pointing that out, you are absolutely right! If I was to buy any of the two products I would go for the 2i4 to ensure I am buying a better product.
If you would like to join in the discussion there:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R2TRG1KBOE9AEI/ref=cm_cr_rev_detup_redir?_encoding=UTF8&asin=B009B15N0Q&cdForum=Fx112OKYSY363DG&cdPage=2&cdThread=Tx1B282T05TXD5G&newContentID=MxQJJB7UI3G3OF&newContentNum=13&store=electronics#MxAJ3MZE4ZZA5G
I am going into Tottenham Court Road in London, which is famous for all the music shops, I should be able to get some advice there as well. I am really looking forward to getting my setup to work perfectly so I can start enjoying the beautiful piano patches and start doing recording Smile Here is an example of a song I recorded using reason:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I6H2lmkF34
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, I don't have an Amazon account and don't need it for anything so I won't mix in that particular discussion. I can agree with the general sentiment that you're getting more than you need, however as was pointed out by them as well as me, there are really no options that have all that you need and nothing else.

Nobody but you can decide your budget. But I'll approach it from a different angle; you own an older but relatively serious keyboard. That says to me that you care about sound quality somewhat, or you'd have a basic Yamaha PSR or something. So I think you should skip the very very cheapest option for soundcard as well, since this directly affects the quality of sound/dynamics you can get out of Reason. While it is still true that you also pay for an increase in quality of the preamps, you will also get better sound. This won't generally be as dramatic as buying a new keyboard with all new samples and such, nor are the differences as huge between two cards in a similar price bracket, but the principle remains the same. If you spent I don't know how many hundreds of euros on your board and are using a 300+ software package, I don't think spending up to 200 bucks is unreasonable for a soundcard.
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SanderXpander
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh I also agree about forums being filled with clueless people answering clueless people, normally Wink
However, this specific forum has an unusually high amount of expertise. Mostly in the synth and keyboard area, true, but speaking in general it's a lot better than, say, Harmony Central.
I can imagine it must be pretty hard to make up your mind from these shreds of advice you're getting left and right. I agree with the Amazon folks it's a good idea to educate yourself on the basic principles of digital audio recording, but unfortunately there is often still quite a difference between devices that list the same specs. E.g. most semi-serious devices will list 24 bit 192KHz and low latency ASIO drivers, yet performance can vary quite a lot.

So my advice was based mostly on the kind of user you are and the market you're in.
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