Which the best audio interface for lowest latency?
Good question. Anyone with good setup (both mobile and desktop) - please let us know what you use!
I still haven’t found the perfect interface, but here are some thoughts:
Generally you want to find one that suits your requirements in terms of number of inputs, types of inputs (guitar, mic), balanced/unbalanced (are you using active studio monitors).
Three critical things:
If you use Windows, you absolutely want stable/native ASIO drivers. That means avoid Behringer if you use Windows and always avoid OEM/no-name stuff. You want it from a brand/company that can afford a ASIO driver software developer/maintainer.
On Windows, be aware of DCP latency. This is not so much about your interface, but other components in the system. Notebookcheck.net post DCP latency results with every laptop review. Many Dell laptops are awful in this area. See @Herold’s guide below.
Since you most likely play guitar you want a guitar input (sometimes called high impedance or hi-Z) input with a small preamp to adjust your input gain.
A safe bet in the USD100 range is FocusRite Scarlett 2i2.
If you have/plan high quality studio monitors:
Another overlooked thing: Im using Genelec’s 8030 - a near field monitor that fits the desk for both audio work and music listening which, like most modern monitors, have auto-standby.
They are certainly expensive (but without going into silly-audiophile pricing), so I skipped one cycle of laptop upgrade for these and they will last for life.
Anyway, if you use monitors with auto-standby, you want an interface that keep quiet enough to let the monitors power down and also doesn’t make a pop sound when the computer wakes up. Oddly enough this has not been tackled by most interfaces! So far, the only guitar interface that I found which works here is XTONE (strangely enough). Thats why I use it on a Mac and iOS, despite it has higher latency than for example Scarlett. It doesn’t have native ASIO drivers, so its not a good option on windows. And only the XTONE Pro has input gain.
XTONE is also cool because it has midi footswitches - built in floorboard and even can connect an expression pedal! But the switches dont operate as you’d expect though so some kind of MIDI translation layer is needed (future MG will handle this, but for now i DAW is needed).
Il’l keep an eye on any new interfaces which has midi footswitches included, for a minimal setup.
I completely agree with what has just been said before me.
As a Windows user, I would nevertheless like to point out that there is one essential point in the choice of an audio interface: the ASIO driver must be multi-client, otherwise you will not be able to use several audio applications simultaneously (for example, several instances of MG2 or MG2 standalone + a daw, etc.).
If you absolutely want the lowest latency, choose the RME brand: the latency is as low as possible and the stability is impeccable, which is almost more important than the latency.
The latency does not only depend on the interface but also on the quality of plugins used, and on the characteristics of the computer used (type of processor, bus architecture, etc.) and especially on the optimisation of the OS for the best performance of the audio applications and even more the best possible stability.
See this link about Windows optimisation: he Ultimate Guide to Optimize your Windows PC for the Stage
The choice of model will depend on your needs: number of inputs/outputs, number of headphone sockets, but also the type of connection (USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt), the format (rack, desktop), the location of the connections (front, back, top).
In other words: first target your needs and then look for what corresponds.
Finally, if you use Windows, I am happy to help you.
If you don’t use Windows, I’ve wasted some of your time.
In all cases, So that you have more appropriate answers the next time you have questions, read this post:
How to report issues and ask properly for help?
Many thanks guys, lots to investigate there
I use an iPad Pro and MacBook Air for audio with MidiGuitar running on both. For interfaces I’ve got a MOTU M4, an Audient EVO 4, and the Xtone mentioned above and each of them performs well with minimal latency and excellent audio. If I had to choose one it would be the MOTU M series.
There’s a long thread on GearSlutz about the MOTUs and some folks with PCs have run into problems while others have had none at all. As @Herold said, RME has a stellar reputation but their products are way more expensive.
I didn’t dare to talk about it… and I’m still waiting to win the lottery to buy one…
I’ve had an RME Fireface since 2004 and always impressed by the low latency, but in the past year I bought a MOTU M4. Because of global pandemic my SG is in storage so I’ve got a $5 garage sale guitar (Fender Squier), playing to an SM-57 into the MOTU. It’s effortless; tracks as good as you want it to. I couldn’t recommend the MOTU (M2 and M4) enough, but caveat beware: 1. it’s USB and you need to set Device Manager items for no sleep and whatnot; 2. M4 needs toggling on and off after any power event. This would get annoying quick as main DAW interface, but for tracking with MIDI guitar it’s absolutely perfect at this point and there’s nothing more for me to worry about. On the go the M2 will always be quicker to work with because the M2’s outs default to 1 & 2 while M4 defaults to 3 & 4).
I can’t emphasize what a rotten, hard-to-play high-action-strings resemblance of a musical instrument this is, going in and out of tune on a cycle-by-cycle basis LOL But MIDI Guitar gives me no bum notes unless I want it that way.