Sound blaster internal sound card

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rbduck
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Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Tue May 05, 2020 2:52 pm

I am looking at different hardware that would allow me to obtain the lowest latency possible. I am using the Behringer UMC202HD. I've read good reports about that and the Presonus 192. One advantage of the Presonus 192 is the USB 3.0 interface with the PC. Has anyone tried the Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 Hi-Res Internal PCIe Sound Card or something similar. This would bypass any bottleneck of using a USB port. This particular card is ASIO compatible. I'm looking for opinions and ideas. One question I have is , is the internal sound card actually possible of obtaining lower latency compared to the Presonus with USB 3.0 interface? Please give me ideas and poke holes in my theory. My hardware is a 7000DLE mkII black and I am using Voicemeeter Potato.
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Ruben
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Tony EI7BMB
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby Tony EI7BMB » Tue May 05, 2020 3:26 pm

Just wondering why you would not just use the pre sonus on its own ? I use the behringer UMC 204HD with no other sound card.
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rbduck
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Tue May 05, 2020 3:56 pm

Let me explain my question. The Presonus uses a USB 3.0 interface. the 3.0 USB interface is a bottleneck. What I am reading is that one could use an internal sound card instead of the Presonus bypassing this bottleneck. This has the possibility or capability of obtaining faster data transfer. This would allow for lower latency. I'm trying to figure out if the internal sound card really offers any capability for lower latency. Doing the math I don't see how internal sound card would offer any benefit. Or would the internal card would make it easier to obtain lowest latency. I'm already pushing my hardware limits with the settings of a Sample rate of 96000, buffer size of 128, Buffer latency of 0 in and out, PortAudio of 30 in and out. I get occasional burst of a few Overflows and Underflows. My goal it to either get higher sample rates or I would even be happy with a more stable settings that I now have. I know that sometimes one just to have to bite the bullet , buy the hardware and experiment. I'm using a PC with an I7- 9700 processor. The Soundblaster internal card also has it's own 4 core processor.

I'm either going to buy the Presonus or the Soundblaster and I'm trying to make up my mind as to which would be better. I do love experimenting.
73
Ruben
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby w-u-2-o » Tue May 05, 2020 4:08 pm

Ruben,

You are entering the realm of diminishing returns. You can almost certainly get better latency with that card than with any USB based interface. Even the best USB interfaces using USB 3.x and ASIO are typically in the 10ms realm, while the cards can go lower than that.

If you are doing this, I strongly suggest you invest in a way to actually measure the mic to RF latency so you can see where you really, really stand as you make each change and adjustment to your system. I did this by using a two channel scope, the output of my high power RF coupler (normally used for PureSignal), and an audio signal generator. I'd put a short tone burst into the mic input, trigger off that on channel 1 of the scope, then watch for the RF output on channel two of the scope.

The guy that probably has the most sophisticated (and expensive!) setup is Bryan, W4WMT. He uses a professional PCIE AES/EBU interface card and the audio comes from the AES/EBU output on his external microphone pre-amp. And he uses a Bodnar dual output GPSDO with phase locked 10MHz and 48KHz outputs, the first going to the ANAN, the latter going to the "world clock" input on his AES/EBU pre-amp. This means he does not have to use the VAC resampler, either.

I used to be a die hard latency chaser, and my setup is pretty low latency, what with the Presonus and some highly optimized VAC and buffer settings. But I stopped chasing the last few milliseconds when I realized that all the cool audio DSP in Thetis (and PowerSDR) isn't free from a latency perspective and starts to add up pretty quick, well over 100ms if you use every stage like I do.

However, if you use outboard, analog audio processing, and turn off everything in Thetis/PowerSDR, i.e. no leveler, no pre-EQ, no CFC, no post-EQ, no rotator, you should be able to get your mic to RF latency down around 30ms or maybe even less (don't forget to stick with the low latency filters, too).

Measuring the RF to speaker latency is harder and I've never tried that. But it shouldn't be too much harder if you have a convenient, local source of pulsed RF (I don't). Nevertheless, it should be comparable to the unprocessed transmit latency.

73,

Scott
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rbduck
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Tue May 05, 2020 4:35 pm

A quite enlightening post Scott. I've been looking at scopes. I may go ahead and make the move to get one. As I've stated in other posts I'm retiring in a few months and I'm trying to get set up test equipment now. I intend to spend more time in the hobby. I'm on vacation for the past two weeks and I've had to most everything else , but spend more time chasing my interests. I'll try.

Last week I had the SSD Drive in my PC and I lost almost everything. I've had problems getting back to the settings I had before I had to install everything. I believe it's a driver problem and I need to figure out which one. The drive went dead. Seeing that it was bad anyway I slapped it hard down on the desk and it came back alive, I now have all my backups in three completely different locations. My problem is remember to back them up in every area each time I settle on the changes I want to keep. Thanks Scott for the great information. I believe I have read every post you have ever made relating to this subject and I have learned much. At least enough to be dangerous. I'll make updates here on my progress.
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Ruben
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Tony EI7BMB
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby Tony EI7BMB » Tue May 05, 2020 4:46 pm

I'd be interested also to hear how it goes Ruben. My next upgrade will be Motu M4
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby ea3aqr » Tue May 05, 2020 6:01 pm

I've used for several months a SoundBaster Z and right now I'm using a SoundBlaster AE-5.

With Creative's ASIO drivers I can achieve very low latencies and just a few over/underflows from and to VAC (not audible).

My settings are as follows:

Audio_Setup.jpg
Audio_Setup.jpg (250.67 KiB) Viewed 3276 times


I've never tried an USB sound interface, but my experience with SoundBlasters is great!

EDIT: Using a PC with an AMD 3700X 8 cores/16 threads processor and 16Gb of RAM at 3600MHz (powerfull enough to run Thetis at just 4-5% CPU use).
Last edited by ea3aqr on Sat May 09, 2020 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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w-u-2-o
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby w-u-2-o » Tue May 05, 2020 7:01 pm

And that's a nice demonstration of the kind of settings you can get down to with high performance audio hardware (USB or PCIE), ASIO drivers, and careful tuning. A buffer of 128 samples at 96KHz is only 1.3ms long. And the ringbuffers at 3ms is very good.
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rbduck
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Tue May 05, 2020 7:41 pm

Thank you for the information. I was wondering if that was possible with the Soundblaster. I may try and see how it works for me. I understand I may have a different result. Your input is invaluable
73
Ruben
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Fri May 08, 2020 11:44 am

I received my Sound Blaster AE-9 card in record time from the seller. I'm still working with the settings and this is what I have presently. Image

I'm hoping I can find something that I can do that will give me the ability to get the RingBuffer timings lower. You have to love Windows 10. Before I lost the SSD Drive I was able to get these same settings with the RingBuffer down to the 3ms range. This was using a Behringer UMC202HD. I had to do a clean install on a new drive. I loaded all the drivers as I had previously. I'm sure I had the new install set the same because I kept detailed notes from the previous install. I can't remember everything so good notes is a plus. With the new install of Windows 10, Thetis 2.7.0 a3, and all the relevant drivers I have had a difficult time even getting close to my previous Sample rates and Buffer settings. I'm not sure what the difference is. These settings now are not too bad at all with the new sound card. It is a challenge to squeeze the few more milli-seconds out of the setup. I'm still reading and working with it and I will update this post if I gain any improvements. :D
73
Ruben
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby w-u-2-o » Fri May 08, 2020 1:36 pm

That's not bad performance. I'm also running a buffer of 128 at 96KHz, and the best I could do for Buffer Latency is 5 in and 8 out for a completely stable setup.

I also use the resampler.
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby Tony EI7BMB » Fri May 08, 2020 1:45 pm

Ruben would it be worthwhile checking windows 10 power settings ? A recent windows update messed mine around but I did see an improvement when I changed back to high performance profile.
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby ea3aqr » Fri May 08, 2020 2:36 pm

Ruben, first of all, try your settings unchecking Force to and from VAC

You can also take a look at this link:

https://forums.guru3d.com/threads/windows-line-based-vs-message-signaled-based-interrupts-msi-tool.378044/

And check your interrupts, I've changed my SoundBlaster and GPU interrupts to MSI-mode without any issue.

Hope this helps to reduce a little your ringbuffers settings.
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rbduck
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Fri May 08, 2020 3:31 pm

Mr. de Cassoles,
Very interesting reading on the interrupt front. Did you manually make your changes or did you use the MSI utility? I know manually changing them might be very labor intensive sometimes, but somewhat safer than a utility that might change things that need to be left alone. I remember back in the Windows 3.1 days interrupt issues were the norm. We were always digging around there and solving problems.

Tony,
Yep, Windows and their incessant updates. It's like a box of Cracker Jacks with a surprise in each box. I'll check the power settings. Thanks for the tip.

I use the resampler because I get a more stable result from it. In the past I seemed to get varied results with the resampler. It's probably determined by my configuration.
73
Ruben
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby ea3aqr » Fri May 08, 2020 3:55 pm

I did make manually all my changes, it's quite easy...

By the way, "de Cassoles" is not my surname (no surname shown in my qrz.com page), it's just part of my street name :D

Please, before changing anything make a new restoration point in Windows!

Good luck
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rbduck
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Fri May 08, 2020 4:15 pm

I knew I was going to be wrong on the name. :mrgreen:

I'll go through and check the interrupts when I'm finished babysitting my granddaughter later today. She has a problem with recurring "timeouts" :lol:
73
Ruben
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rbduck
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Re: Sound blaster internal sound card

Postby rbduck » Sat May 09, 2020 9:51 pm

I went through the settings mentioned here and Yes, My power settings in Windows 10 had , at some point in time, got changed from "High performance" to "Balanced". I changed it back.

I went through device manager and looked at whether the mentioned drivers was set to "MSI" mode. I was able to change a couple of the drivers. The Soundblaster would not accept the change. I performed a search on the cloud and it seems this particular Soundblaster driver will not work in "MSI" mode. I'm still reading.

I'm happy with the results I have been able to attain. The 10 ms In and 10 ms is very good. The major difference between the Behringer UMC202HD and the Soundblaster AE-9 is that the 10 ms is much more stable on the Soundblaster. At this timing I get no Underflow/Overflows. If I go to 9 ms on either the IN or Out I start seeing a steady flow of these errors. With the Behringer I started seeing errors at about 15 ms on both the In and Out and it would get gradually worse after I would changed the values to a lower number.

I'm chasing the latency mainly because I think it's interesting and i'm learning a lot along the way. I won't continue to buy more equipment in the quest for 4 or 5 ms. Like anything else it does reach the point of diminishing returns. I will continue to read to see if I can find the "magic value" I can change to get these lower latency's. Thank you for the discussion, information and ideas in this area.
73
Ruben
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"Beware the typos and edits. My brain can't keep up with my fingers."

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