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Soundblaster cards / latency

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by MKS, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. Hi,


    Please note that this is intended for SB users, to give some background to the problem and possible solutions. One simple solution is "buy a better soundcard". I'd prefer if people *didn't* post that solution here. Thanks! :D

    Reading through a few posts here and over at the Sound on Sound PC Forum, I got to hear about the kx project drivers for Soundb*****d cards including the Fraudigy, and I recently got round to installing them.

    Here's the scoop:
    HISTORY - Creative have never really got their act together in producing decent soundcard drivers for the Soundblaster cards, including the Audigy. Because these cards are "general purpose" cards and not particularly aimed at musicians, they didn't see fit to worry about the latency (time between input and output, what you play and what you hear) from the card.

    SOUND DRIVERS - Cakewalk Sonar is optimised for WDM sound drivers, and these drivers *are* available for SB cards under Windoze2000 and XP. One solution to the latency issue may be to use these WDM drivers for your card (in preference to the stock MME drivers). This will have a fairly good impact on latency.

    Other sequencers and software tend to be optimised for ASIO drivers (e.g. Cubase, FL Studio, Reason, Ableton Live!). These drivers are installed when you install Cubase, but not necessarily with other software.

    SOLUTION - A neat set of drivers has been written by the KX project (http://kxproject.lugosoft.com/index.php?skip=1) which allow you to tap into the basic functionality of the SB cards and provide really very good latency figures (as low as 2.6msec). They can be finicky to load under Win98, but are worth checking out. I recently loaded them under Win2K without any problems. There are one or two caveats that you need to be aware of - check through the documentation carefully. I would also say that you ought not to switch to these drivers in the middle of an important project... Just in case anything goes wrong! But if you're stuck with an SB card they may be worth trying out - take backups of anything important first of course.

    I'll post back when I've had a chance to use these suckers in earnest...

    More info on Sounblastered and Fraudigy cards here: http://sound-on-sound2.infopop.net/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=215094572&f=514099644&m=7963012837 and also here: http://sound-on-sound2.infopop.net/...51097254&m=2023003837&r=5893045047#5893045047

    Hope this info help. [/PSA]
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The fatal flaw of these cards is the chip. It can only process 48kHz signals internally, so EVERY OTHER sample rate has to be resampled on the fly by the driver => latency.

    The ASIO driver can give you low latency since it only works in 48 kHz mode, which doesn't need resampling and thus can give you low latency.

    So it's either latency or working @ 48 kHz (and having to resample all your e.g. AKAI samples by hand!).

    Or you buy a REAL soundcard, e.g. M-Audio's Delta line.

    So the reason is not the (admittedly) crappy drivers, but the hardware design. That chip is just a souped-up version of an decade-old design they acquired along with keyboard/sampler manufacturer EMU Systems, who designed it. In a synthesizer or hardware sampler there's no need to change sample rates, so it's ok to have just one, but not on a soundcard.
  3. Let us know how the drivers work for you. Just curious, what are you doing that makes latency such a problem? The only time it has ever affected me has been when I tried to use amp simulators in real time.