Built in audio more robust than Saffire FWire

Something unexpected. On an old Lenovo T420 with an i5 2520, the built in audio functions beautifully at a buffer of 128 under ASIO4ALL with WiFi and Ethernet active.
The dedicated Saffire will do the half second dropout thing, interrupting midi and audio which buffers and splurges out on recovery.
If the network adapters are all disabled (as per conventional rig wisdom) all is fine.
It’s only noteworthy insofar as I can run a very comprehensive rig with only a midi interface (none if I use USB keyboards, which my fave controllers aren’t) and get very acceptable audio from the headphone jack.
I know these are prone to picking extraneous noise. Any thoughts on optimizing outputs?


Remarkable result for a 12yo PC.

I use the headphone output on a MacBook Pro of the same age (2012). The audio out goes to the mixer with a 5m unbalanced cable, but if I need to connect it to FOH over a long distance, I keep a DI box in my bag.

So far I have had no problems with hum/hiss, but I have not yet played in proximity to a 5KW FM radio repeater. :thinking:

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That Lenovo has been a real champ.
I think the DI is the trick. Super short cable from laptop and into the DI. I’d need to test in a RF noisy environment but on a purely keyboard rig not requiring multiple audio outs, I’d risk this.

As for performance, one steers away from super heavyweight hogs. Even more modern CPUs can feel the strain with certain exotic synth patches, but there’s still strategies for running those sounds ……
I think most of us (with rare exceptions) can see page faults running into the thousands when using Spectrasonics and some other synth culprits. I wanted to use the Trlian upright and, even though the signal was clean, it concerned me seeing those faults rocket from low double digits into the 4-6k realm.
I broke out an old piece of software from Bernard Chavonnet, the CDXtract developer best known for his sample library conversion utility.
Samplit allows the user to set up automatic sampling from any plug in, with a user specified key range and number of velocity layers, and export to popular sampler formats such as Kontakt or Halion.
As my fave pianos are in Halion, I already have an instance going, with White Grand, Scarbee Rhodes and Wurli. The CPU demand is very low - so much so that I’m reserving the newer EP88 from Scarbee for the studio rigs because Kontakt takes way more juice on the T420 and, frankly, the way the old Scarbee Rhodes sounds through Anvil and a Melda Pan, plus Petit Excite, is really bloody good. Transformative.
So, fired up Samplit, snd within 10 mins I had a 3 velocity layer Halion patch which, after a couple of envelope tweaks, was doing all I needed for way less ram and no page fault overhead!
I believe this is within the spirit of the license, as long as one does not offer the resultant library to any third party, even for free.

If I really needed some exotic patch from a hog, I reckon this is a totally viable approach. Performance controls, such as filters, can easily be dialed in, as well as great quality FX from the likes of Valhalla and ReLab, along with my GVST faves, all of which play nicely.

As these laptops (and newer iterations) can be purchased, refurb’d for little money, the idea of having a couple of backups - your entire rig minus the keyboards, makes me wonder why folks are still investing in heavy, expensive, workstations.

I’m off to extract a couple of cpu crippling Sines patches. :sunglasses:


Kontakt itself is very light. Then it depends on how the sounds are programmed and the simultaneous voicing.

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Yes, any plugin in which has the potential to demand little and can also demand everything can only be judged in a direct comparison. What I’m seeing is that Kontakt may be ramping up the Page Faults when it’s asked to do something while Halion doesn’t introduce the same kind of wild ramp ups under similar conditions.
Certainly, for me, the issue is if a grand piano patch can be equally effective with less mercurial demand, that can have enormous value as a Cantabile setup becomes more and more intricate.

This doesn’t really apply in a ‘studio’ setting where the demand is differently applied and, in any event, the libraries required are only available in the excellently supported Kontakt.

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