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PCIe Interface

Discussion in 'Recording' started by markdemanbey, Jan 25, 2014.

  1. markdemanbey

    markdemanbey Active Member

    Hi guys - my first post here, so howdy.

    I'm building a DAW - I've been playing guitar for many years, and even using DAWs for quite a few years, always low end with make do hardware. Now I'm in the position to build out a pretty decent spec machine, and I'm looking at audio interfaces.

    My almost built computer is an i7, 16GB SSD beast. In previous DAWs I've used USB breakout boxes (like the Tascam US series) - it's something that I know, they have familiar inputs and user friendly twiddly bits. However, I'd like to use a PCIe interface this time, as I'm likely to get lower latency and few hisses and crackles that way.

    I can see lots of PCIe cards on the market, but not many have the interface that I'm used to. Do I have to go really high end to get that? Do these PCIe cards have a common bus that can plug into any breakout box?

    Ideally I'd not want to spend more than £300/£400.


  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    You can get a MOTU 2408MK3 in your price range, which I think is the best bang for your buck, it has cue effects in real time, and decent conversion. There are no pres in this unit, so you'll need separate ones.

    why not just a FireWire or USB interface in your price range?
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    When you are talking about a PCIe interface, you choose this based on the converter you are using or planning to buy and how many channels you need?
  4. markdemanbey

    markdemanbey Active Member

    Hi - I was mainly thinking about low latency/lack of noise. My understanding is that the rule of thumb was that the close the audio processing to the motherboard, the better the quality overall - please correct me if I'm wrong. If the best solution is Firewire or USB that's cool, because that's stuff I'm used to. However, a direct connection via PCIe intuitively sounds to me like it would be the better option...
  5. rectifryer

    rectifryer Active Member

    You are spot on. However, I actually sold a PCIe card and started using a firewire device. It has a little more latency but since it has live monitoring it doesn't really matter for my purposes.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Indeed. PCIe is all I use when concidering Midi and large track count. I also use the new Orion32 USB and its extremely low as well. FW is also a favourite.
    PCIe is choice for both MADI and AES imho, oh, and MIDI.

    RME cards are what I use however, there are other interfaces people like too. Choose the interface based on your requirements.
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    What you're more likely to get is more channels in and out through the interface. Many 2-channel USB interfaces have an all analog input monitoring path. Latency doesn't get any lower than that.
  8. markdemanbey

    markdemanbey Active Member

    Thanks - that's a fair point - but doesn't the latency still affect what's recorded? Analogue monitoring might be in real time, but what's actually committed to disk will be slightly out, right?
  9. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    No, record latency (or record offset in some DAWs) is different from input monitoring latency. If you loop back an existing track and record it to another track it should be very closely aligned, and if it's not there's a record latency (or offset) setting that can be adjusted to make it right. Input monitoring latency is the time lag between making a sound and hearing it back. While that can make the new track imperfectly aligned with the existing ones it is for a different reason, that you're hearing the sound delayed and so playing/singing it at the wrong time and the system is accurately representing that fact.

    Hardware input monitoring comes in two varieties, analog and digital. The analog kind is simple but isn't practical with lots of inputs. The digital kind is more flexible to accommodate more inputs, and it has lower latency than software monitoring but is not true zero latency. Digital hardware input monitoring often has a software control panel but the signal is routed completely inside the interface, without a trip through the computer or DAW.
  10. markdemanbey

    markdemanbey Active Member

    ^ very useful - thanks!

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