Very basic question about audio interfaces


at risk of sounding very ignorant (I am!), what is the purpose of adding a dedicated audio interface such as Focusrite 2i4 in a Cantabile configuration? I’ve been using the sound card on my laptop (Toshiba Satellite Pro P755-S5390) to produce audio. The signal goes out of the headphone jack and into a small mixer/preamp, then on to our sound board (Presonus 16.0.2). I like using the WASAPI as my audio driver. No latency problems and in shared mode I can run Cantabile and Transcribe or VLC player at the same time.

My set up is used primarily for live gigging with my band. Keyboards are connected directly to the laptop via USB and are the only instruments I play.

Should I stick with what I’m using?


One reason some might use an external box would be sound quality and reliabilty of drivers. That said, if your current setup covers all the bases, the drivers are stable and you like how it sounds, then stay with it. The shared capabilities alone give it some advantages over ASIO. That’s my opinion anyway. :relaxed:


I had been using exclusively vst instruments for several years, much as you are doing now. Using the laptop’s soundcard worked great and no problem with latency. Cantabile works GREAT with that setup. I switched to a Focusrite 18i8 last year because I wanted to eliminate the extra hauling and setup for my guitar, which I also play. I now use the interface to send my guitar thru vst amp simulators, and I am also running my vocal mike thru the interface. Now, with Cantabile, everytime I switch songs, my keys, guitar, and vocals are setup automatically. There is a little better quality with the interface, and the Focusrite driver is really good for what I am doing. Just saying, if you don’t want to spend the extra $$$, you are good for what you have going.


If your setup is working well for you, then no need to change! It seems to be a bit of a black art, setting up a good reliable computer for hosting plugins, and if yours is delivering the goods, stick with it!

For me, I found that internal audio interfaces were often noisy, sometimes prone to hum (PC power supplies don’t tend to provide the cleanest earth!), and typically didn’t allow me to run VSTs with sufficiently small buffers to have a latency low enough that I could tolerate. Everyone’s tolerance to latency is different (I once did some research into people’s tolerances for latency in a previous job, and it was quite surprising - some people could happily tolerate latencies of 60-70ms, whereas others were feeling a latency of 7ms was affecting their playing). I now need an audio interface with multiple input and output channels, so have to have a dedicated external unit anyway, regardless of the above points.

I’d say, stick with what you’ve got if you’re happy with it!



@Neil_Durant were you polling pipe organ players? Seriously, those guy have to learn to deal with latencies I couldn’t put up with.

+1 to the “If it works don’t fix it”


Hehe actually one of them was, and he was quite happy with 250+ms latency! I think we left out that data point in our subsequent work :stuck_out_tongue:



Hi, I’m looking at your 3 year old post about audio interfaces. I too have been using the output from my laptop, straight into my speaker amplifier. However, I can’t really tell if I’d get better sound quality using an external audio interface. What is your advise 2 years on? Also, what do you use for your pre-amp? Regards.


I’ve used both WASAPI and ASIO (Focusrite Scarlette 2i2). Haven’t used WASAPI in a while, but honestly, I think any difference in sound quality would be imperceptible.


IF the shielding of your built-in audio interface is good and doesn’t “leak” computer noises, then WASAPI is indistinguishable from ASIO. That however is a big IF. I went to the Focusrite 2i2 myself when getting started again some years back due entirely to that shielding issue on the line outputs.

Also, for Cantabile use, it does not currently accept WASAPI inputs, so if you need to input a microphone or other audio stream into Cantabile you will need to go with an ASIO device or use Voicemeeter’s ASIO mode (which is in actuality WDM/KS, not WASAPI).