Dedicated Internal Sound Card?

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KVRer
2 posts since 22 Sep, 2021

Post Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:05 pm

Hey all. Newbie here. As a purely recreational musician, I've just started using a DAW (Reaper), banging away on my digital piano as midi input, and playing around with (mostly) free orchestral instrument plugins. I have a very capable PC with a Core i7 chip/motherboard and lots of RAM running Win10. But it only has the built in audio card that came with the PC.

Even after researching around, I'm still confused as to whether I would benefit from a separate audio card to either enhance audio quality and/or get a better driver than ASIO4ALL. As a recreational user, I don't need exceptional sound quality. But I can certainly afford $50-$75 on a separate "budget" card if it would help on both accounts. I know audio interfaces like Focusrite are out there. But I don't record guitar or singing...yet.

I don't fully understand ASIO4ALL stuff (vs WASAPI ,etc) but I do know that the driver "takes over" audio when my DAW is running so YouTube and other programs won't run.

I'm sure this has been raised countless times before so thanks for answering it yet again!!!

--Jeff

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KVRAF
13196 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Wed Sep 22, 2021 10:51 pm

JeffB99 wrote:
Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:05 pm
[...] banging away on my digital piano as midi input, and playing around with (mostly) free orchestral instrument plugins.
[...]
I'm still confused as to whether I would benefit from a separate audio card to either enhance audio quality and/or get a better driver than ASIO4ALL.
Yes, you will get better latency: the time between you hitting a note on the keyboard and you hearing that note.
JeffB99 wrote:
Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:05 pm
I don't need exceptional sound quality.
Built-in sound cards aren't as bad as they were 20 years ago. Yes, the sound coming out of a proper audio interface will be of better quality, but don't expect a night & day difference. It's a bit more subtle, like total silence being absolute total silence instead of a faint rattling sound you only hear when the headphones are cranked up.
JeffB99 wrote:
Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:05 pm
I can certainly afford $50-$75 on a separate "budget" card if it would help on both accounts. I know audio interfaces like Focusrite are out there.
I'd personally avoid Focusrite. The stories I hear about them are not in their favour. They make decent hardware, but writing stable software is not their strength. You could be lucky (it seems somewhat system dependant) or you could get audio dropouts even with simple projects.

There are multiple old threads here with recommendations for simple audio interfaces. Here is one:
viewtopic.php?f=102&t=560676
JeffB99 wrote:
Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:05 pm
I do know that the driver "takes over" audio when my DAW is running so YouTube and other programs won't run.
There are cards with multi-client capabilities. They will allow a DAW thinking it has exclusive control through ASIO, and also allow YouTube etc play using the default windows audio system.

If that aspect is important to you, this is something you should definitely research further.
Old thread:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=560749
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KVRer

Topic Starter

2 posts since 22 Sep, 2021

Post Thu Sep 23, 2021 6:54 am

I'm clearly showing my age when I think that a CreativeLabs Sound Blaster card will make some huge difference! :neutral: Thanks for bringing me forward to the 2020s! The info and links were very helpful!

--Jeff

KVRer
6 posts since 26 Sep, 2021

Post Sun Sep 26, 2021 3:55 am

I use asio4all aswell, my soultion to the muted audio is plugging in two headphones if your computer has two headphone jacks(motherboard jack and case jack). If it's laptop your computer probably doesn't have two jacks unless you also have a monitor with a headphone jack, that works too. I think asio4all takes over the motherboard headphone jack (on my system it's called speakers in windows sound) and if you choose in windows sound icon to use case jack(headphones on my system) or monitor jack - youtube and everything else should work. I don't need to switch between them either if my main input is not the motherboard jack.

KVRAF
29958 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Sun Sep 26, 2021 4:01 am

BertKoor wrote:
Wed Sep 22, 2021 10:51 pm
Built-in sound cards aren't as bad as they were 20 years ago. Yes, the sound coming out of a proper audio interface will be of better quality, but don't expect a night & day difference.
I can absolutely confirm that. On the contrary, I think my Soundblaster Z sounds a tiny bit better than my Steinberg UR22 mk2 audio interface. Very subtle difference, as you say, though.

The reason for getting an audio interface over an internal sound card for audio production would be a different one for me: The audio interfaces usually have a better, lower CPU ASIO driver. The Soundblaster Z comes with Creative's ASIO driver, but, it uses significantly more CPU than the Steinberg/Yamaha one. Same would hold true with an internal card without dedicated ASIO driver, when you use ASIO4ALL. So, I would rather say, go for a USB audio interface for roughly 100 €. You won't regret it. If you want to shell out $75 anyway, better spend a bit more, and have something which is really capable of sounding good, providing low latency, and using less CPU.
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

KVRist
145 posts since 8 Mar, 2003 from Cologne

Post Thu Sep 30, 2021 1:43 am

I don't fully understand ASIO4ALL stuff (vs WASAPI ,etc) but I do know that the driver "takes over" audio when my DAW is running so YouTube and other programs won't run.
ASIO4ALL wraps another driver model to the ASIO driver model. IIRC it uses WDM driver model to do low latency output, it is comparable with WASAPI regarding the latency.

Apart from this I also would buy a USB audio interface instead of a internal soundcard(e.g. from Steinberg or NI). Also Internal soundcards tend to create some background noise if you are unlucky.

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