Newbie Qs on Monitoring Overdubs and Choice of Audio Interface

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Bob Simon, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Bob Simon

    Bob Simon Active Member

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    Jul 3, 2019
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    New Orleans
    I am getting ready to buy my first audio interface. With no digital recording experience, I need some advice on monitoring overdubs. I had been looking at the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre Thunderbolt audio interface (connected to my HP Spectre x360 with Thunderbolt 3) because it has especially low latency in hopes that I would be able to monitor my live overdub tracks via the DAW. However, Focusrite Tech Support suggested I get the USB version of the Clarett instead because there are problems with the Thunderbolt implementation on some Windows machines. Has anyone here tried to use Thunderbolt on the HP Spectre x360 - 13-ac076nr (Z4Z25UA)?

    Potential Thunderbolt issues caused me re-consider my whole approach. Do you find that it's simply not practical to monitor live overdubs through the DAW due to delay introduced by the computer? I suspect that is the case because all the interfaces I've looked at allow for direct monitoring by reconfiguring its signal routing. I imagine it would be way simpler to set up the interface routing once and forget about it but perhaps adjusting that is a necessary part of recording in a home studio. If so, then maybe spending double for the Clarett isn't justified since I'll need to manage latency through the interface routing anyway.
    If that's true, then the Scarlett 4i4 would work fine and provides two additional preamps. Or since I plan on initially using the free version of Studio One, maybe it would be better to get the PreSonus Studio 26c or 68c, which are only $200 and $300 respectively and come with Artist.

    All information/advice/suggestions on audio interfaces and dealing with latency in live monitoring are welcome.
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    You should not have any problems with latency on studio overdubs as long as (1) your interface has a way of mixing to headphones the live sound with any playback tracks, and (2) you use a DAW that can time-align replayed tracks during recording of new ones (or overdub of old). This alignment has to be able to include delays through the interface as well as delays due to output buffering in the DAW.

    Trouble-free Thunderbolt I/O on Windows DAWs is still work in progress as far as I am concerned. It's fine on Macs. If you use the alignment mentioned above, USB interfaces are not usually a problem for routine tracking and overdubs in the studio. Live sound in performance is another story...
     
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  3. bouldersound

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

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    Is there some overwhelming reason you need to monitor inputs through the DAW? Lots of people are doing it these days but there is at least a small, though often quite tolerable, amount of latency.

    The built in input monitoring is the most reliable way to monitor inputs with low latency. I would need a really good reason not to use them. (Actually, I have a really good reason. I have a mixer driving an 18-input line level interface system. But I'm still monitoring inputs without going through the DAW.)
     
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Your computer is current, you shouldn't have much issue monitoring thru the DAW, with modest buffer/latency settings. You may want to make sure your DAW of choice allows you to "freeze" tracks, so you can overdub with low latency even at the end of a project full of pluggins. Or just use input monitoring at that point.

    RME is known to have very stable, low latency drivers for their interfaces. Maybe something like a babyface will cover your needs for performance, quality, and price.
     
  5. Bob Simon

    Bob Simon Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2019
    Location:
    New Orleans
    No. I just thought it would be simpler to handle all recording, mixing, effects and monitoring tasks through the DAW. It seemed to me that this would be feasible given the reduced latency that Thunderbolt offers. But when I found out that some Thunderbolt implementations on PCs (as well as drivers) have issues, a USB interface started looking a lot more attractive. This led me to direct monitoring.

    So I'm now considering the Scarlett 2i2 (which will meet my current needs), the 4i4 (for future expansion), and the Clarett 2i2 for it's superior preamps and A/D converter. I expect to purchase this weekend then begin learning how to make it all work together.
     
  6. Bob Simon

    Bob Simon Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2019
    Location:
    New Orleans
    Well, I can certainly try it. If latency isn't an issue for me, so much the better. But if the delay is troublesome, I'm ready to do direct monitoring.
     
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