what is there for us laptop users?

pjrey wrote on 10/18/2007, 9:28 PM
im curious what is out there for those of us who use laptops?
i just got the USB producer mic by m-audio, and it is terrible... i have an upto date system, dell inspiron 9400, running vista ultimate, 2.3 ghz intel centrino procs, 100gb 7200 rpm harddrive, 2gb mem... use 2.0 and firewire...
what can we use for zero latency? what works...
im tired of trouble shooting and messing around, i want something that works for recording myself!
i have a yamaha MD data 8 track, and love it.. but i hate having to mix out of the outputs to the ins and then burn to CD, i wish i could record all 8-16 tracks on the hardware, and somehow port over the 8 or 16 tracks to vegas and EDIT, post, from there! that would be ideal!!!!
what can i do
again, i am a laptop user...
what works! what are my options for recording music
please help!



drbam wrote on 10/19/2007, 6:20 AM
Forget about using a USB mic. Get a decent firewire interface (apparently Sony is partnering with Presonus on some hardware/software bundles) so a Presonus unit like the FP10 would probably work quite well for what you want to do. There are many other FW interfaces that also work well with Sony's apps (MAudio, Echo, RME, etc). Leave the USB gear the target market which podcasters and songwriters.
richard-courtney wrote on 10/19/2007, 7:20 AM
I have a laptop with firewire pc bus card running XP Pro and had no problems
with Echo http://www.echoaudio.com/Products/FireWire/AudioFire8/index.phpAudioFire8[/link]
An added plus is you can use professional mics.

Echo also has http://www.echoaudio.com/Products/CardBus/Indigo[/link] pcbus card with 1/8th inch jacks just for 1 or 2 stereo mics. Anything powered off a computer
power supply I always heard can be noisy, so I'd either test them at a local music
store or go with the firewire device.
pjrey wrote on 10/19/2007, 9:42 AM
but for something simple as one in, isn't USB ok?
i know there is more overhead with USB, but art they pretty comparable esp when it comes to just audio (no video)..
i dont need 10 ins, 10 outs..
i jsut want ZERO latency, one in, and be able to monitor it..
is that too much to ask!

thanks for posting back you guys!

drbam wrote on 10/20/2007, 7:05 AM
Is USB ok? Depends on your definition of what constitutes ok. For me a USB mic would not be ok - far from it. The onboard soundcard in any system is one of the first things I disable when setting up for serious audio. A USB mic would be utilizing the soundcard's awful converters on top of the noise that virtually every USB mic imparts into the signal. But in your original post you were asking for something that would allow you to transfer 8-16 tracks for editing/mixing . Now you're back to the USB mic thing. If that's all that you want to do then I personally can't assist but perhaps someone else around here might. What I can say is that you will not get "ZERO latency" with an onboard soundcard so an upgrade in that area is madatory if you absolutely need zero latency.
pjrey wrote on 10/20/2007, 1:54 PM
thanks for posting drbam
and your right, i did get off topic...
quick before i forget to ask: the usb mic uses the soundcard? no... it has its own a/d built in, correct? i could physically rip the sound card out of my computer and the m-audio usb mic would work... or am i wrong?

what i mean in the first post, is, i wish there was a way to record on a stand alone mixer, burn out to CD data, and inport the tracks.. that would be great!
i like recording on my yamaha md8.. but i want to be able to work with it post, on the computer, and i do not want to port over each song, one at a time.. over an analog phono cord...no thanks..
that was rant number one...

number two was, does anything exit that is like the m-audio mic, but less latency.. i dont know what makes for less latency.. but i dont like it...
makes me leery of computer recording...

the mic is working a bit better now, but not that happy with it...
the latency isnt bad, now it is just the quality...

another question.. how do you monitor your audio IN, the slider bar right?
how do you effect the line in level (not monitor)... is there a way within vegas, or do you need to use your audio sound card config?

thanks again everyone! i really appreciate all your help


farss wrote on 10/21/2007, 5:13 AM
I'm no expert but here goes.
You're correct, the USB mic has it's own A>D converter and preamp so in terms of recorded quality your soundcard is irrelevant. Where your soundcard will matter is getting the signal from the USB mic back out to your headphones or whatever. This can happen one of two ways. The soundcard might be able to directly route the data from the mic to it's own D>A converter, not certain on this one.
Alternatively you get Vegas to route it back to the soundcard. Regardless the performance of the soundcard will impact latency. Zero is impossible, so close it doesn't matter is possible with the right gear which is what I think others are getting at.
I've used the M-Audio Firewire 410 since it first came out with a quite slow VAIO and it works a treat. I can route the mic ins back out within the 410 which gives very, very low latency, probably well under 1mS.
I can also route the signal from Vegas back out to the 410 with almost zero latency, still under 10mS which is more than fast enough. Once you start to apply FXs in the monitoring chain the speed of the laptop comes into play.

Hope I've vaguely got this right.

And by the way, if you use the Rode Podcaster it has a headphone socket on the side of the mic for monitoring.

pjrey wrote on 10/21/2007, 4:51 PM
my m-audio mic has a headphone jack in it as well...
how can i test latency?

it is strange, i can change the latency on the m-audio mic... down to 128.. 128 what, mS? that would be terrible then right? that is as low as it goes, and it crackls when down that low.. why? my system is FAST...
i turn it to 342, and then enable vegas to detect latency...
is there anyway to test my TRUE latency now?
im still a bit confused about the buffer setting.. does that play a part in monitoring the audio as i record (live monitoring?)

thanks again
MarkWWWW wrote on 10/22/2007, 5:49 AM
The units you are quoting are in samples. So a latency of 128 samples would be (at a typical audio sample rate for video of 48kHz) approximately 3ms, a perfectly acceptable figure. (Anything below about 6ms is usually considered quite OK. To put things in perpective, it takes approximately 1ms for sound to travel 1 foot, so this amount of latency is equivalent to the sort of latency caused by having musicians standing a few feet from each other, something not normally considered to be necessary to worry about.)

If your system crackles at these latencies then it could be an indication that there is a problem with the way the system is configured. Most modern systems should be able to cope with latencies in the 6ms (128 sample @ 48kHz) region but there are a few motherboards whose architecture is such that this is p[roblematic. There is some good information about these issues on the RME website.

You can test the true latency of your audio system using a utility like LTU.


Geoff_Wood wrote on 10/22/2007, 1:10 PM
Why differentiate laptop v. desktop, and why do you think that you need zero latency ?

And what is it that is terrible about the M-Audio mic - is there a HUGE
latency inherent in it's driver or something ?

There are any number of 8 channel Firewire interfaces that work just fine, laptop or desktop. And many people have little trouble with USB2 interfaces significantly larger than one channel.

Please explain exactly what you perceive the problem to be.


Geoff_Wood wrote on 10/22/2007, 1:16 PM
Drbam - the USB mic has it's own converter and monitoring output. *Presumably* this is what the OP finds to have excessive delay.

But the thing is really a toy - not for serious musical projects. There are plenty of interfaces and mics that ARE suitable, and nothing of this has anything directly to do with any deficiency in Vegas.

Geoff_Wood wrote on 10/22/2007, 1:22 PM
Are you sure you have the best driver selected - ASIO might be better. Also are you sure you are on a USB2 port, or don't have some glitch in your USB subsystem? No otther USB devices attached (a separate port on the laptop may be on the same internal HUB which could cause complications) ?

drbam wrote on 10/22/2007, 5:52 PM
"Drbam - the USB mic has it's own converter and monitoring output. *Presumably* this is what the OP finds to have excessive delay"

Yes, my mistake Geoff - I stand corrected. And I yes agree, a USB mic is not intended for serious audio use and that was my main point. However, they are starting to market these things as such and I think it is grossly misleading. I've read several reviews, tests and shootouts on many of these and every model imparts varying degrees of self-noise (high frequency crap, evidently related to USB). Perhaps the manufacturers will work out this problem but even if they do, I personally have no need or desire to own one.
pjrey wrote on 10/23/2007, 7:50 AM
serious users, as in their profession, ok.. your right.. but for whipping up songs quick! its great! the latency isnt so bad, i have got it down to 256 samples... and have enabled acid to auto latency..... its right on... the sound quality isnt bad either!
its nice for on the go, all self contained, i do not need to bring the soundcard, power, cables, mics.. for doing voice overs in vegas it is great...
dont diss it till ya try it...

im still looking for something that works with acid/vegas... 8 ins/outs, with a hardware mixer interface... i want it to mirror what is on the screen to mixing board... motorized faders...
i want it to work, not "i think that should work ok, its got the makie interface bla bla"
no, i want it working 100%, and ill buy it


ps. http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/ProjectMixIO-main.html if this worked with vegas, i will buy.. anyone know for sure?
MarkWWW wrote on 10/23/2007, 11:54 AM
If you search back in this forum you will see that a number of people are successfully using the ProjectMixIO with Vegas.

It's always a bit of a compromise using this kind of kit in a way that it wasn't really intended to be used, but it seems that the ProjectMixIO's emulate-a-MCU-for-use-with-Logic mode allows access to all the functions you really need for Vegas.

Geoff_Wood wrote on 10/23/2007, 1:04 PM
There are many 8-channel USB2 or Firewire-connected interfaces. They ALL work with Vegas exactly s they work with other applications , if they work at all with Windows.

pjrey wrote on 10/26/2007, 9:41 AM
i want 8 channel, ins... so i can record, in vegas, up to 8 tracks simultaneously...
you say lots work huh geoff?
this isnt my profession (obviously), it is just a hobby, i do not want to go out and spend 2000$ on something i use now and then when i feel like it...

i would love to hear what other people are using, what works, what doesnt...

drbam wrote on 10/26/2007, 12:24 PM
I suggest that you re-read my first reply that included recommending the Presonus products. IMO, if you want 8 I/O, this is your best approach for anything under $800. If you want a control surface as well, then you're going to be looking at around $1000 just to get in the door. Hobbies can get expensive . . .
pjrey wrote on 10/26/2007, 2:26 PM
thanks drbam...
maybe i will try out the presonus...
there are so many models.. the f10, the project, the firebox...
is it the project that is the 8ins 8outs?
do they all use the same mixing/control software?

thanks for all the helpful posts everyone
Geoff_Wood wrote on 10/26/2007, 3:02 PM
I have used both MOTU 2408/2 which has 8 ins/outs at a time, and MOTU 24i which has 24 ins and 2 outs. These are no strictly-speaking Firewire, though the interface is Firewire -based on their custom PCI card (so no good for laptop).

However, more recent MOTU (and other) mutlichannel interfaces are straight FireWire or USB2, and work equally well for laptops, desktops, for all applications that handle ASIO drivers.

Geoff_Wood wrote on 10/26/2007, 3:06 PM
You sure you need 8 outs ?

Another approach might be a mixer with built-in Firewire interface. I picked up a Phonic Helixboard 18 that works well on my laptop.

drbam wrote on 10/26/2007, 3:57 PM
I agree with Geoff. If you don't need 8 analog outputs, then you have a great deal of options like the mixer he suggested. You should go to the various manufacturers' websites to obtain further info on the various models you're interested in (specific features, specs, etc).
pjrey wrote on 10/26/2007, 7:37 PM
no, i guess i don't need the 8 outs... would the Phonic Helixboard 18 do the trick..
what i am looking for, is something that i can use with vegas (by that i mean, route channel one of the mixer to channel one on vegas, helixboard 2,3,4 all to vegas track 2 etc...),

i want to be able to record seperate ins, simultaneously, to SEPERATE TRACKS, within vegas.. say i want to mic my drum kit with 4 mics.. two overheads, one kick and one snare.. i want the mixer to keep the signal separate, recording a separate wav file for each CHANNEL. will the Phonic Helixboard 18 do it?

do the faders on the Phonic Helixboard 18 control the faders within vegas 8, or just the overall record level input?
thank you geoff for your suggestion!

MarkWWW wrote on 10/27/2007, 5:35 AM
What has worked for me for some years is:

Audio interface:
RME HDSP Multiface: 8 analog I/O + 8 digital I/O (ADAT) + 2 digital I/O (S/PDIF)

Control surface:
Behringer BCF2000 emulating Makie MCU

Although I don't use this setup with a laptop I could if I wanted (the Multiface would plug into a PCcard or Expresscard rather than the PCI card it plugs into with my desktop machine).

These days I would probably go for the RME Fireface (which didn't exist at the time I bought the Multiface) but the Multiface II is the current equivalent to my setup.

If I had the money and space I'd have a real Mackie MCU, but the BCF2000 does a good enough job.

But you sound as though you are looking for a single item to do the job of both multichannel interface and control surface. I'm not aware of a single device that will do as good a job as having two separate devices each doing just what they are good at, but the ProjectMixIO is probably the nearest you'll get at the moment. As I said before, there are some people hereabouts who have reported success with this item.

I don't recall anyone attempting to use any of the other devices that combine audio I/O and control surface functions and having success with them, and there have been a number of reports of people trying and failing to get them to work as they would like. The audio side is usually OK (Vegas should work just fine with any sensible multichannel audio I/O device) but where they have trouble is with the control surface side of things. Most of the devices available do not emulate the MCU and this means that you will be unable to get the moving faders to work. They mostly seem to emulate the HUI which may be fine for other software but is not ideal for Vegas. (There is supposed to be software called WiseMix that can allow a non-MCU device to emulate a MCU but from reports hereabouts it simply doesn't work well enough to be usable with Vegas.)

pjrey wrote on 10/27/2007, 10:58 AM
thanks for your post mark.. geoff, i what size is the firewire port/.. its the 4 pin right? not the jumbo 6pin.
you CAN route from the helixboard to separate tracks within vegas, correct!?

i think i will get one, and wait till there is something that is truly functional, audio in out/control interface...
im surprised sony doesn't make their own board!