Laptop + Audio interface performance question

Hi all

Another question since I am considering upgrading my system. I have been trying to find the weakest spot in my setup, and I guess it is my audio interface. I am currently using a Steinberg UR22 MKII, which is a USB2. My laptop has a USB3 port as well.

Would I gain a lot from buying a USB3 ready audio interface, such as the new Steinberg UR22C, or the new SSL2+?

I guess I am doing ok as for CPU and Memory consumption. Just for testing I was stacking several synths and then my Time Load goes far beyond 100%. So that’s why I deducted the USB connection might be the limiting issue. I do power the audio interface, so I am not using the USB bus power.

Your advice is appreciated



Hi Ad,

The USB connection per se is definitely not a limiting factor, unless you want to transfer insane numbers of channels in parallel (with USB2, you can technically transmit about 42 channels of audio at 48 kHz). USB2 definitely has sufficient bandwidth for anything you want to do with Cantabile live, and there are currently still a number of issues with USB3 interfaces and some motherboard chipsets, so for some of us, USB2 may actually still be the safer choice.

A far more relevant factor is the audio buffer size you are using - the smaller you set the buffer, the busier your CPU becomes just shovelling audio data from processing (i.e. your instruments) to output. A reasonable compromise is usually around 128 samples. Remember: the Cantabile time load is not the CPU utilization, but how much time Cantabile needs to process everything in your song within one buffer cycle, compared to the buffer time. If you reduce your buffer size, you give Cantabile less time to process.

An additional factor is the general efficiency of the interface hardware and its drivers. Steinberg aren’t known for super-low-latency performance, so a different interface may actually give you more mileage, but not based on the choice of USB connection. I run an RME Babyface (USB 2) which gives sensational low-latency performance (they’ve built their own USB firmware, optimized separately for Windows and Mac architectures), but I also get good mileage from my Zoom UAC-2 (USB 3) and a Behringer UMC 1820 (USB 2).

Hope this helps!



1 Like

Thanks Torsten for the feedback

I typically cannot use 128 samples: I am on 256 or 512 most of the time with the Steinberg.
The Zoom UAC-2 seems like an attractive option then fitting my needs.

Would be nice if in the plethora of audio interface options there is some quality criterium to choose from; they all seem to have similar specs, but practice is different…