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MIDI keyboards, interfaces, latency with android


SumOne
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I'm thinking of getting a midi keyboard - full size semi-weighted keys (probably M Audio Oxygen Pro 49), ideally to connect to my Android tablet for some simple stuff to play with a band live through a mixer/pa.

 

 I'm not sure if there is too much latency with Android though, and if interfaces like the Focusrite help reduce it.... if I need a decent Laptop or iPad and interface then the cost starts creeping up into electric piano territory. 

 

Anyone here using this sort of midi/android setup live and have recommendations? 

 

Edit: I am also interested in things like the Yamaha Reface and Microkorg XL, basically a cheapish but reliable synth that can do alright piano and rhodes sounds, annoyingly though they have small keys and I want full sized, but electric pianos tend to be massive/heavy and expensive. The M Audio 49 seems a decent half way point for portability and playability and price, but perhaps there are better options? 

 

Edited by SumOne
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The problem with Android is that historically the OS was not designed to prioritise real-time audio and MIDI in the way that iOS does. So unless the more recent versions have changed to accommodate this, it is the OS itself and not the peripherals that are the bottlenecks and source of latency.

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Without having all the answers:
For alright (=decent likeness) piano and Rhodes sounds, you might want a Reface CP, not a Microkorg - the latter being a nice but simple synth. What I did personally in this vein, was getting first a 19" rack electronic piano and later some iPad apps, but a Reface might be just as good, as it does spawn both a 5-pin and a USB MIDI port, which I gather can act as MIDI inputs.

Personally I've always found M-Audio to deliver well at its price point, and I bought several lengths of the Keystation model to accompany my fully-weighted keyboards.
Don't know M-Audio's other models.

On my very old iPad I had no latency problems, and I loved the combination of Keystation and iPad app. I say this coz and old iPad might be had for peanuts, and it offers a vast array of apps.
Sadly I don't know the first thing about Android latency these days (historically twas not decent at all), nor about the piano apps written for Android.

 

 

 

Edited by BassTractor
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Also for live use I'd be very wary of anything that uses consumer-grade computer connectors and cables, which means anything that you would plug in to your typical tablet or laptop. In my experience they are simply not robust enough for the rigours of gigging. I use a MacBook Pro live, but it is semi-permanently enclosed in a flight case with all the cabling between the devices in the case cable-tied and hot-glued into place and all the external connections made with XLR cables apart from one unavoidable USB connection for the footswitch that controls the laptop, for which I have multiple spare cables.

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Thanks @BigRedX and @BassTractor. I've ordered the M Audi Oxygen Pro 49 as it seemed to tick the right boxes.

 

I would've gone for the Reface CP if it had full sized keys. (although still might at some point - have seen a few reviews where people connect it to a midi keyboard). 

 

If the Android tablet has too much latency I'll use my Laptop (issue being I use it for everything else - I'm not sure how much I'd trust it for live use as something always needs an update/restart/various notifications popping up etc.). I'll keep an eye out for an older iPad to use as a dedicated 'brain'. 

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32 minutes ago, SumOne said:

I'll use my Laptop (issue being I use it for everything else - I'm not sure how much I'd trust it for live use as something always needs an update/restart/various notifications popping up etc.).

 

I'm assuming that this is a computer running Windows?

 

Is it possible to set it up with a separate log-in/user for music use like you can on MacOS?

 

Although my MacBook spends the majority of it's time being used for music, I do need it for work occasionally and each usage is on a different login with the preferences tailored to suit - Wifi and Bluetooth are turned off and notifications along with a load of other stuff is disabled for the music user.

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59 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

 

I'm assuming that this is a computer running Windows?

 

Is it possible to set it up with a separate log-in/user for music use like you can on MacOS?

 

Although my MacBook spends the majority of it's time being used for music, I do need it for work occasionally and each usage is on a different login with the preferences tailored to suit - Wifi and Bluetooth are turned off and notifications along with a load of other stuff is disabled for the music user.

Thanks, that's a good idea. It is a Windows Laptop and can have separate user profiles. 

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2 hours ago, SumOne said:

Thanks @BigRedX and @BassTractor. I've ordered the M Audi Oxygen Pro 49 as it seemed to tick the right boxes.

 

I would've gone for the Reface CP if it had full sized keys. (although still might at some point - have seen a few reviews where people connect it to a midi keyboard). 

 

If the Android tablet has too much latency I'll use my Laptop (issue being I use it for everything else - I'm not sure how much I'd trust it for live use as something always needs an update/restart/various notifications popping up etc.). I'll keep an eye out for an older iPad to use as a dedicated 'brain'. 

 

You could always pick up a MIDI module like a Roland XV or JV series.

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What interfaces are y'all using for a live setup with a MIDI keyboard? As said above - typical connectors are probably not reliable enough for gigs, using things  1/8" headphones jack and USB extensions seems unreliable and a good way to get some sudden loud noises (or no noise) through a PA.

 

Information online seems a bit thin on the ground. this video is pretty good, it recommends a Powered USB Hub (CalDigit),  and Audio interface (eg. MOTU M4, Focusrite Scarlett).

 

........Trouble being that costs start creeping up, I'm selling an MPC Key 61 (for £800) as it seems overkill (in size, cost, features) for what I need for live stuff and I'm worried I'll damage it if I keep taking it to wekly rehearsals and pub gigs. A £150 midi keyboard seems like £650 savings, but if I also need £400 worth of interface stuff (and potentially an upgraded Laptop/Tablet) then the midi keyboard route starts to look less cost effective.

 

 

 

image.png.233d2b3a4279b44b8a265fdf29b42e74.png

 

Edited by SumOne
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Ruggedised ethernet cables are more robust than standard Cat 5 and provide you with a bit more protection for live use. Something like this: https://www.canford.co.uk/Index/Cat-5e-ruggedised-Ethercon-cables/CANFORD-ETHERCON-CAT5E-SCREENED-CABLES-Using-Cat5E-R-ruggedised-deployable-cable

 

Roland also make one called the RRC2 cable, which is used to connect a VB99 or VG99 unit to the FC300 foot controller.

Edited by pete.young
Roland info added
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40 minutes ago, pete.young said:

Ruggedised ethernet cables are more robust than standard Cat 5 and provide you with a bit more protection for live use. Something like this: https://www.canford.co.uk/Index/Cat-5e-ruggedised-Ethercon-cables/CANFORD-ETHERCON-CAT5E-SCREENED-CABLES-Using-Cat5E-R-ruggedised-deployable-cable

 

Roland also make one called the RRC2 cable, which is used to connect a VB99 or VG99 unit to the FC300 foot controller.

 

The problem with Ethercon cables is that they will only plug into Ethercon sockets, so if the equipment you want to connect doesn't already have Ethercon Sockets you can't use them. I've still found that the weak point of all ruggedised ethernet cables is the cable itself which needs to be treated much more carefully than your typical mic or instrument lead, and while they are more durable than the standard office ethernet cable they still don't last particularly long (1 year as opposed to 1 month IME).

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1 hour ago, SumOne said:

What interfaces are y'all using for a live setup with a MIDI keyboard? As said above - typical connectors are probably not reliable enough for gigs, using things  1/8" headphones jack and USB extensions seems unreliable and a good way to get some sudden loud noises (or no noise) through a PA.

 

Information online seems a bit thin on the ground. this video is pretty good, it recommends a Powered USB Hub (CalDigit),  and Audio interface (eg. MOTU M4, Focusrite Scarlett).

 

 

 

image.png.233d2b3a4279b44b8a265fdf29b42e74.png

 

 

Personally I'd try and avoid using a USB Hub in a gig situation as it has too many points of potential failure (all those extra USB connectors) and go for an audio interface that also has MIDI connections on it. Connect your MIDI devices using MIDI DIN leads with metal bodied DIN plugs, and just have one short USB lead to connect the interface to the computer. Don't use a jack adaptor for the headphone it will put extra strain on the headphones socket on the interface which is probably only held in place by the solder connections to the PSB inside rather than actually attached to the case. Either get some headphones with the correct plug on them or replace the existing one with the right plug to plug directly into the headphones socket on the interface.

 

I do quite a lot of gigs with bands who use computers, and almost always they turn up with a bag full of leads and other devices, have to try and fit it all on a table or chair from the venue because they don't have a suitable stand for it (or even worse stick it all on the stage floor) and spend ages connecting everything up. My set up comes in a 3U 19" rack case which goes on a K&M mixer stand. The top and front panels come of the case and all the connections are made via a patch panel on the front. It takes just a few minutes to set up. I know of at least one other band who having seen what I do now have something similar to use at gigs.

 

When I get time I'll post some photos of it, so you can see how I have tackled these problems.

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The M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 arrived. Seems quite a solid and decent keyboard while being a fair bit smaller and lighter than my MPC Key 61. 

 

Knobs, sliders etc. are all good. Keys and pads are okay, not as good as the MPC Keys, but not bad. 

 

It worked straight away sending midi signals to my Laptop via USB, but I ran into the usual faff of drivers, settings, install/registrations etc (things that drove me to hardware) and for some reason it would not make a sound through Ableton or MPC Beats (but could see signals were being sent, so that's them/laptop rather than the keys), so I tried it out on Reaper and all is good. (Side note: Reaper is becoming my favorite DAW, it always just seems to make workflow better for me with reduced faff). And with the Laptop/headphones there isn't noticable latency.

 

So my next step is how to get what I'm hearing through my headphones into the band mixer/PA. The simplest is Laptop 1/8" headphone out to a 1/4" line input to the mixer (which I'll try tonight at rehersal), but that seems a bit shoddy and could pick up noise. If I can go from one of the Laptop USB as an out to an interface and then from that via XLR to the mixer that would seem a bit sturdier and more professional.

 

PXL_20240131_143425494.thumb.jpg.02d0d1581c80ebf7ef38dc7855790033.jpg

Edited by SumOne
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Here as promised are a couple of photos of my computer set up.

 

Firstly everything packed down into the 3U rack case and K&M mixer stand:

IMG-0519.jpg

 

The label on the rack top is indicate the front as it only fits properly one way round, and this allows a quicker pack away on dark stage or back-stage areas.

 

And  then set up ready to use. 


IMG-0520.jpg

 

I use the mixer stand "back-to-front" so that the front of the case is pointing slightly upwards which makes everything easier to see and get to. Only the top and front panels need to be removed as all the connections are made via the patch panel at the front. 

 

The interface is a Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 which in terms of audio ins and outs is complete overkill for what I need, but it scores on very important feature in that it is properly rack mountable and only occupies 1U of space. I previously had a "half rack" Saffire interface, but there was no way of fixing it securely in a 1U space, so it was sold and replaced with this. It also provides a single MIDI In and Out. Hidden inside the rack is mains distribution for the interface and MacBook, and an ART DTI box which provides transformer isolated outputs from the interface so there is no chance of earth loop hum or damage to the interface by being presented with phantom power or anything else unwanted from the PA.

 

The MacBook connects to the PSU and 2 USB leads which are the only connections that do not lock or have been permanently hot-glued into place, since I occasionally need the computer out for non-musical functions. The rest of the time it lives in this case. With the laptop closed there's a piece of foam that fits over the top and the flight case lid holds it all in place.

 

Connections on the patch panel from left to right are:

 

XLR inputs 3 & 4 for the audio interface. I puts these in just in case they might been needed. They haven't so far.

 

XLR outputs 1 & 2 from the audio interface via the ART DTI Box. These provide a balanced line to the PA without needing additional DI boxes.

 

Jack outputs 1 & 2 from the audio interface via the ART DTI Box. Occasionally we are presented with a PA engineer who insists on using their own DI boxes. The we use these outputs.

 

XLR output 3 from the audio interface. This is for the drummer's click track that I use with one of the bands. It goes to Behringer headphone amp.

 

The next two XLRs are for MIDI in and MIDI out and connect to the corresponding sockets on the interface. I'm not a fan of DIN connectors for live use, and where ever possible they are replaced by XLRs in my equipment. The MIDI out connects via a special lead (with 2 spares) to my Helix to send patch changes as the backing plays, so I don't have to worry about being in the right place at the right time to hit a pedal.

 

The USB socket (a necessary evil and with multiple spare leads) is for Elgato Stream Deck Pedal which I use for the remote control of the backing. This allows me to stop/start backing playback, and automatically load the next song in the set.

 

Finally there is a Powercon input socket that connects to the mains and provides power for the contents of the rack.

 

It might look like it's over-engineered, but I've only ever had one problem with this setup in the 6 or so years I've been using it which was on a very "bouncy" stage where the one connector that I didn't think would need hot gluing in place - the mains input to the Focusrite which is on a standard IEC mains lead - became disconnected mid song causing the backing to stop playing. Since this happened with the band that has a drummer we simply played through to the end of the song, after which I reached into the back of the rack, pushed the lead back into place and we carried on. I doubt anyone in the audience even noticed that the backing track had cut out half-way through. On returning home after the gig this last cable was also hot glued into place.

 

HTH.

 

 

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1 hour ago, sammybee said:

What exactly are you trying to achieve? Does it not make more sense to buy a sound module if all you are doing is using the laptop to generate sounds?

I might, but the key word though is 'buy' As I already have a Laptop with DAW and VSTs and don't want to spend alot. 

 

I used the midi keyboard with usb to laptop, then laptop headphone out to mixer/pa at rehearsal tonight and it worked fine, no noticeable sound issues. Probably not the most roadworthy solution, but it'll do for now and cost me about £150. I think the main thing now it to make sure it's reliable, so decent connectors/protection and making sure the Laptop is reliable (gig on Friday so I don't have long!). 

 

I need, Piano, Rhodes, Hammond, Clav, with some fx. If there is a module can do that without cosing a lot and connects easily to a midi keyboard and out to a mixer then I'll go for it. The Reface CP looks the best bet in my sort of price range, annoying it has mini keys otherwise I would've got just that, but could potentially use it paired with the midi keyboard for its keys. Pianobox might be good too. (And, I don't need the sounds, but do have my eye on the Behringer Mini D). 

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I'm sure the laptop/keyboard is fine when it works! Trouble is, you're setting yourself up for a whole world of pain if it ever goes wrong! Especially if it goes kaput on a gig

 

Once you start getting into bomb proofing your setup like the photos above it starts costing money/time. Of course if you are needing backing tracks/click/running the DAW as part of the live show it makes more sense... but just to generate sounds I'm not convinced it's worth the outlay

 

I'd keep the Keyboard if you like the way it feels and spring for the Reface CP (it has a MIDI in on a breakout cable)

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I've just pulled the trigger on a Roland XPS30 for 3000RMB so I can use a Yamaha CS6R quad synth module I've had kicking around.  I don't think the XPS30 is available outside Asia but it can do pretty much anything that an earlier Roland keyboard can do and play samples from WAV files.  I heard the Fender Rhodes patch on it and it was every bit as convincing as a Nord Electro so I was sold on that alone.

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10 hours ago, sammybee said:

ps you're selling that MPC Keys far too cheaply at £800 :)

 

I was hoping at £800 would be a quick sale and hassle free with someone collecting, and avoids Reverb/ebay fees. It's on Facebook marketplace though and so far there have just been a lot of:

 

Screenshot_20240201-093559.thumb.png.9e590713f678c4d1776ea61b9eca0e05.png

 

(even though the advert says 'if the advert is up, it is still available. Let me know if you have any different questions') 

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23 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Here as promised are a couple of photos of my computer set up.

 

Firstly everything packed down into the 3U rack case and K&M mixer stand:

IMG-0519.jpg

 

The label on the rack top is indicate the front as it only fits properly one way round, and this allows a quicker pack away on dark stage or back-stage areas.

 

And  then set up ready to use. 


IMG-0520.jpg

 

I use the mixer stand "back-to-front" so that the front of the case is pointing slightly upwards which makes everything easier to see and get to. Only the top and front panels need to be removed as all the connections are made via the patch panel at the front. 

 

The interface is a Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 which in terms of audio ins and outs is complete overkill for what I need, but it scores on very important feature in that it is properly rack mountable and only occupies 1U of space. I previously had a "half rack" Saffire interface, but there was no way of fixing it securely in a 1U space, so it was sold and replaced with this. It also provides a single MIDI In and Out. Hidden inside the rack is mains distribution for the interface and MacBook, and an ART DTI box which provides transformer isolated outputs from the interface so there is no chance of earth loop hum or damage to the interface by being presented with phantom power or anything else unwanted from the PA.

 

The MacBook connects to the PSU and 2 USB leads which are the only connections that do not lock or have been permanently hot-glued into place, since I occasionally need the computer out for non-musical functions. The rest of the time it lives in this case. With the laptop closed there's a piece of foam that fits over the top and the flight case lid holds it all in place.

 

Connections on the patch panel from left to right are:

 

XLR inputs 3 & 4 for the audio interface. I puts these in just in case they might been needed. They haven't so far.

 

XLR outputs 1 & 2 from the audio interface via the ART DTI Box. These provide a balanced line to the PA without needing additional DI boxes.

 

Jack outputs 1 & 2 from the audio interface via the ART DTI Box. Occasionally we are presented with a PA engineer who insists on using their own DI boxes. The we use these outputs.

 

XLR output 3 from the audio interface. This is for the drummer's click track that I use with one of the bands. It goes to Behringer headphone amp.

 

The next two XLRs are for MIDI in and MIDI out and connect to the corresponding sockets on the interface. I'm not a fan of DIN connectors for live use, and where ever possible they are replaced by XLRs in my equipment. The MIDI out connects via a special lead (with 2 spares) to my Helix to send patch changes as the backing plays, so I don't have to worry about being in the right place at the right time to hit a pedal.

 

The USB socket (a necessary evil and with multiple spare leads) is for Elgato Stream Deck Pedal which I use for the remote control of the backing. This allows me to stop/start backing playback, and automatically load the next song in the set.

 

Finally there is a Powercon input socket that connects to the mains and provides power for the contents of the rack.

 

It might look like it's over-engineered, but I've only ever had one problem with this setup in the 6 or so years I've been using it which was on a very "bouncy" stage where the one connector that I didn't think would need hot gluing in place - the mains input to the Focusrite which is on a standard IEC mains lead - became disconnected mid song causing the backing to stop playing. Since this happened with the band that has a drummer we simply played through to the end of the song, after which I reached into the back of the rack, pushed the lead back into place and we carried on. I doubt anyone in the audience even noticed that the backing track had cut out half-way through. On returning home after the gig this last cable was also hot glued into place.

 

HTH.

 

 

 

Nice setup! Mine is going to be a much more amateur sort of thing. 

 

Mine right now is: Midi keyboard > USB > Laptop (Reaper DAW and VSTs) > 1/8" headphone out > 1/4" adapter > SubZero DI > XLR > Mixer > PA

 

The red text seems the weakest link so I assume I need something like the M Audio air hub  to take USB from the Laptop and convert it to audio: meaning Laptop USB output rather than the more delicate 1/8" headphone out, lower Latency than using the Laptop soundcard (and less processing pressure on the Laptop),  can power other USB devices (again - reducing the reliance on the Laptop and less plugging things in/out), and it has headphone and line outs each with their own volume control. As the next gig is tommow night I've ordered it for next day delivery without giving it too much thought, so hopefully it's what I need! 

 

Edited by SumOne
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I don't so how sending the audio via USB is going to be any lower latency than using the headphone out sockets of your laptop. If you are getting noticeable latency in your current set then the problem lies elsewhere. I'd be looking at the USB bus architecture. Does Windows have a utility like the Mac that shows you how your devices are connected, and which bus each device is on? Remember that separate USB sockets do not necessarily mean separate USB buses. Also with a laptop there are plenty of built-in devices which will share the same buses as the USB sockets and be stealing valuable band width; such as keyboard, trackpad, the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth adaptors, Webcam, any card readers etc. I would start by disabling all of these except the keyboard and track pad and see if that improves the latency. Even on my Mac where the OS is designed to give audio and MIDI priority over non-timing critical events, I still have to have WiFi and Bluetooth turned off otherwise the computer is constantly polling its surroundings for devices to connect to. At a gig that is potentially every audience member's mobile phone!

 

IMO the form factor of the M Audio AIR | Hub looks horrible. I'm sure it would be fine in the studio where it's hardly ever moved, but at a gig it will be a lump that you'll need to find room for. What sort of stand are you planning to put all of these equipment on? Because you will need a stand. You'll also need to use the external PSU as I doubt the USB sockets on your laptop will be able to provide enough power for everything connected. That's another lead, mains and mains socket that you'll require. The problem I have found with small devices is that they tend to get pulled about by the cables attached to them, and can be a definite problem if not all the cables attach on the same panel as in this case.I'd look for something a bit heavier that has all the connections made on the same face.

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23 hours ago, BigRedX said:

I don't so how sending the audio via USB is going to be any lower latency than using the headphone out sockets of your laptop. If you are getting noticeable latency in your current set then the problem lies elsewhere. I'd be looking at the USB bus architecture. Does Windows have a utility like the Mac that shows you how your devices are connected, and which bus each device is on? Remember that separate USB sockets do not necessarily mean separate USB buses. Also with a laptop there are plenty of built-in devices which will share the same buses as the USB sockets and be stealing valuable band width; such as keyboard, trackpad, the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth adaptors, Webcam, any card readers etc. I would start by disabling all of these except the keyboard and track pad and see if that improves the latency. Even on my Mac where the OS is designed to give audio and MIDI priority over non-timing critical events, I still have to have WiFi and Bluetooth turned off otherwise the computer is constantly polling its surroundings for devices to connect to. At a gig that is potentially every audience member's mobile phone!

 

IMO the form factor of the M Audio AIR | Hub looks horrible. I'm sure it would be fine in the studio where it's hardly ever moved, but at a gig it will be a lump that you'll need to find room for. What sort of stand are you planning to put all of these equipment on? Because you will need a stand. You'll also need to use the external PSU as I doubt the USB sockets on your laptop will be able to provide enough power for everything connected. That's another lead, mains and mains socket that you'll require. The problem I have found with small devices is that they tend to get pulled about by the cables attached to them, and can be a definite problem if not all the cables attach on the same panel as in this case.I'd look for something a bit heavier that has all the connections made on the same face.

 

All good advice, I'll make sure I turn things off and look into the USB bus architecture.

 

Saying that though, I don't know if I need to change much of that as latency isn't really an issue I've noticed, the main reason for getting the interface is I dont trust the flimsy 1/8" laptop headphone output for live use as it seems the part that can easily get disconnected/damaged. Also, the 8 piece band I'm in has a lot of wires and wireless signals causing interferance so it's best to avoid un-balanced cables where possible.  

 

Bypassing the laptop soundcard/headphone out by using a USB out of the laptop to an outboard interface that then sends out audio via 1/4" or XLR seems a sturdier solution as far as the connector go, that's my main reason for getting it. A bonus being that online stuff seems to say that interfaces tend to have better audio quality and lower latency than using the laptop (or tablet) soundcard and headphone output (as they are made with more expense/focus to achieve their specific task). 

 

I've now realised there are differences between what are generally referred to as 'interface' (usually for guitar/mic audio conversion to digital: Analog-Digital Convertor ADC),  'Digital-Analog Converter (DAC) DI Box' ', and 'external soundcard' (ADC and DAC - but the market for these seems to be for gamers using these for headphones/mics, rather than live audio). 

 

As far as I can tell, things like the Focusrite Scarlett are primarily designed for ADC (guitar to Laptop)  and not for DAC (USB from the laptop to audio out), so it's a DAC DI Box that I'm after for my chain to be: Midi keyboard> USB> Laptop (DAW and VST)> USB> DAC with DI> XLR > Mixer.

 

......I'm still a bit confused though, interfaces like the Steinberg UR22mkII  have inputs (mic/line), midi in/out, line out so clearly do ADC and midi control, but they also say "the rock-solid drivers of the UR22mkII let you run VSTis at very low latencies", and, "interfaces feature high speed USB 2.0, which provides fast, reliable and seamless connectivity to Mac and PC computer...... Together with the enhanced low latency of our SSP2 chip and the latest drivers". These sort of interfaces seem geared towardes being an ADC to get analog audio digitised and into a Laptop rather than DAC taking digital out and making it analog audio - but their text seems to imply that it perhaps also works as a DAC. If that's the case then that covers my DAC needs and potential for ADC if I need to record Bass etc. 

 

DAC DI Box's more obviously cover what I need for the midi keyboard/Laptop out. Since I bought the M Audio Hub I now think the Art USB DI is probably better, or the Mackie MDB-USB Stereo DI Box , or  Radial USB Pro  (each has a increased price though), benefits being that none of them require a seperate power supply and they all have XLR outputs instead of the M Audio Hub 1/4" outs, drawbacks being they cost upto £200 extra.

 

Apart from being more sturdy and avoiding un-balanced cables, here's some stuff I've read online generally about the benefits of using an interface (I think they are usually talking ADC, but sometimes interchangably talking about features that relate to DAC). 

 

"Audio interfaces are essential for anything related to music production. They offer higher audio quality than the built-in audio interface of Mac/iPhone devices. These are the greatest advantages they offer over built-in sound cards from a Mac/iPhone: Much lower latency, more inputs, and better connectivity, and better quality—audio interfaces have better AD/DA converters," (I assume this is more so for Windows Laptopshttps://www.lifewire.com/how-a-usb-audio-interface-is-better-than-your-onboard-headphone-jack-7370406

 

I would definitely prefer an external audio interface for its quality and robustness, and the fact that you don’t have to fiddle around with 3.5mm jack adapters. Moreover, using an external audio interface generally allows you to use ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) that allows specific software applications (e.g., your DAW such as Cubase or Ableton) to communicate directly with the hardware interface, without the OS as intermediary. This can give excellent low latency performance https://www.skippyweb.eu/2023/08/using-a-laptop-during-live-performances/

 

When it comes to audio quality, a USB audio interface surpasses the onboard headphone jack found on most devices. The onboard jack may provide basic audio playback, but it falls short when it comes to delivering the highest quality sound. A USB audio interface is designed with specialized circuitry and converters, specifically engineered to handle audio signals. This dedicated hardware ensures that the audio signals are processed and converted with utmost accuracy and precision. These interfaces utilize high-quality digital-to-analog converters (DACs) and analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) to maintain the integrity of the audio signal throughout the recording and playback process. The result is cleaner, clearer, and more detailed sound reproduction. In contrast, the onboard headphone jack is typically integrated into the motherboard or sound card, and it shares resources with other components. This can lead to signal interference, poor dynamic range, and added noise and distortion. Moreover, USB audio interfaces often support higher sample rates and bit depths, providing a more accurate representation of the original audio. https://citizenside.com/technology/how-a-usb-audio-interface-is-better-than-your-onboard-headphone-jack/

 

Edited by SumOne
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Gigged with it last night (without the M Audio hub) and all was good, 1/8" headphone out of the Laptop to a 1/4" connector and into a DI box for the long XLR to mixer.

 

I'll probably return the M Audio hub, might get one of those other DAC DIs at some point though. 

 

 

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