AnotherScott Posted December 30, 2012 Share Posted December 30, 2012 PIccking up from an old thread at https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2445263/1 (which I did not revive here because of what would have been the red herring of the subject line) there was a lot of discussion there about the benefits of using an interface on a Mac (and how that compared to the Windows environment). Something that seemed to get a little confused there is whether some comments were referring to adding a MIDI interface or adding an Audio interface (and of course, some interfaces perform both functions). I am finally getting around to doing some experimentation of my own here, on a Macbook Air (1.6 gHz i5, 4 mb RAM, and of course, SSD). First, to be clear, I always need to use a MIDI interface, as opposed to connecting my keyboard vis USB, because the board I am using is standard MIDI and not USB. So that's a given here. The question, then, is about the need/desirability of using an Audio interface (as opposed to the headphone out). Obviously, if it's a long run, the headphone jack is not sufficient, but compared to traditional keyboard setups, that's not a limitation of the headphone output per se... even if I was running a line out directly from a keyboard, unless it had a balanced out, I would need a direct box regardless. My biggest question here is about latency. Ashville Guru said that an interface greatly reduces latency, and in thinking about it, I'm not certain he was talking about that being a benefit of an audio interface, or merely one of a MIDI interface, which as I said, I would use regardless. I have connected my keyboard with a little Edirol 1x1 MIDI interface (basically, little more than a cable with an in-line piece the size of a fancy cigarette lighter). I have plugged headphones into the output of the Air. I am triggering the software from an older Casio PX piano that has its own speakers. I have adjusted the settings on the Mac to the point where I sense no latency, i.e. no "echo" between the immediate-feeling native keyboard piano sound I hear coming from the Casio's speaker and the sound of the simultaneously triggered computer-genereated piano sound coming through my headphones. So at least so far, since I have no latency issue or hums/buzzes, I see no reason to consider an audio interface. Besides passing along my experience there, I wanted to ask this question to clarify my understanding: Does an audio (not MIDI) interface have the potential to improve latency? It wouldn't matter to me now, as I'm effectively experiencing no noticeable latency anyway, but this "low" setting on the computer for no perceptible latency does increase CPU usage, so I imagine latency could become an issue if I make more significant demands on the system. I have not yet attempted to task its polyphony, or trigger more than one sound at a time, or load any plug-in that does more that straight sample playback. If I do run into issues in attempting to do any of those things, I'm not sure whether it can be addressed via an audio interface or a more sophisticated MIDI interface (or both), or, for that matter, if either of those things are nearly as beneficial as simply using a more capable computer. For example, if I do run into a situation where I want to improve the latency performance of my system, which of these solutions provides more improvement? --- adding an audio and/or better MIDI interface to the 1.6 gHz i5, 4 mb Air I'm using, or --- upgrading to a new Air, which can have a 2.0 gHz i7 and 8 gb RAM (a lot more expensive at $1350, but I could get a bunch of it back my selling my old Air, and have the benefit of a faster computer for everything else I do, so this may not be unreasonable) (I realize a new Mini, which can have a 2.6 gHz i7 and 16 gb RAM at $1500, would be even better than that improved Air, but I can't subsidize the cost of that with the sale of my existing Air, as I still need a notebook, so that's a bit more difficult to rationalize. That's apart from the separate discussion about the relative suitability of a notebook vs. a Mini vs. a notebook-in-a-rack for gigging, in terms of ergonomics, aesthetics, accessibility, imperviousness to drops, convenience in setup and in transport, safety from theft, etc., that has been somewhat discussed elsewhere.) Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-) Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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