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Cheap dedicated sampler PC?

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  • Cheap dedicated sampler PC?

    I have been toying around with Battery on my PC, but the problem is I have so much junk and other peripherals on it, the latency is horrible. I can hardly get any polyphony without setting the buffer to 150 ms or more, anything less and I get clicks and noise. This is with an AMD Duron 1000, 256 MB RAM, etc.

    I'm using a SBLive platinum, and I'm thinking maybe my PCI bus is saturated, or there is too much IRQ sharing going on, or something like that. Anyway, rather than swap out all my peripherals or reinstall everything, I was wondering how much I could expect to pay for a servicable PC to do just sampling with Battery, nothing else. I would hope for a nice low latency...

    So what do y'all think? What would be the minimum specs? I have an extra monitor and hard drive already.. Could I build one for $400 or less that would run Battery standalone with low latency?
    kit pr0n.

  • #2
    I know there are (unofficial) APS drivers available for the SBLive that are supposed give very low latency.

    I had a link http://come.to/sblive but the site does not seem to be there anymore.

    You might want to try http://alive.singnet.com.sg/musician/

    I have never tried it myself and I it does not seem something for the faint-hearted.



    • #3

      Couldn't really find the drivers, apparently they're cancelled or something according to that site...

      Maybe I'd be better off just getting a cheap no-frills sound card with APS/low-latency drivers? Any of these come to mind?
      kit pr0n.


      • #4
        You may want to try the unofficial drivers. I'm using Battery with a oem Audigy card (cheap-$70) and have almost no noticeable latency. The Audigy has an ASIO driver though, so that may be where the difference is.

        Here's what I have:

        Athlon XP1800
        256mb PC2100 ram
        MSI KT3 Ultra Mainboard
        Seagate Cuda IV HDD
        SB Audigy Gamer (OEM)

        Last edited by molson; 08-20-02, 02:50 PM.
        ATV aDrums, aD5 (Customized)


        • #5
          Well it seems the unofficial drivers require a hardware hack to the SBlive card... And you lose analog sound... Forget that. I don't have an SPDIF setup right now... I just want a sampler PC. So maybe I should just get an Audigy and a cheap PC and be done with it...
          Last edited by tonycpsu; 08-20-02, 05:16 PM.
          kit pr0n.


          • #6
            Originally posted by molson
            Athlon XP1800
            How's Win98 running on your AMD box? More or less stable than the Intel equivalent? I have an AMD box (Abit KT7 + Thunderbird 850) which I was planning on sacrificing to Win98 as soon as I put together my next system (Debian of course)...
            Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)


            • #7
              Originally posted by ufotofu

              How's Win98 running on your AMD box? More or less stable than the Intel equivalent? I have an AMD box (Abit KT7 + Thunderbird 850) which I was planning on sacrificing to Win98 as soon as I put together my next system (Debian of course)...
              Fairly solid. My only problem is that my Geforce ti4200 occasionally locks up my system - but that's a card problem(lots of people having that trouble). I'm using both Battery and Gigasampler LE in 98 with good results, although Giga tends to crash occasionally.

              ATV aDrums, aD5 (Customized)


              • #8
                As you've spotted, the latency is quite bad on the SB Live for software instruments.

                However, if you want to use your PC as a sample playback device for performance, then you could use Soundfonts for that job.

                There is no latency to speak of when playing soundfonts via midi since the playback logic and hardware is on the SBLive chip, and building soundfonts to just playback samples is very simple and quick to do using Vienna.

                The only real limitation with the SBLive and soundfonts in that the SBLive can only address 32MB of soundfont memory at once. This is not obvious since you can load much more than this onto the card at any one time, but there you are

                Apparently, that limitation has been eliminated in the Audigy, but I have no experience to back this up for sure.
                - Sean

                TD-8K v1.10 + 2xCY12C/R + 2xKoby Micro Pad


                • #9
                  Hmm. I haven't done anything with soundfonts or this "vienna" you speak of before... I guess I'll have to do some reading.
                  kit pr0n.


                  • #10
                    Oh, okay.

                    Well I'm not sure how much to assume then so I'll fill in a little...

                    Soundfont is the native sample format for Soundblaster cards since the AWE32 - i.e. AWE32, AWE64, SBLive, SBAudigy.

                    The EMU APS also uses Soundfonts, which kinda makes sense since it uses the same EMU synth chip as in the SBLive.

                    Vienna Soundfont Studio is the free tool given away by Creative Labs to allow users to create their own soundfonts. It has been continually updated as new cards came out and Version 2.1 and onwards supports the SBLive. The latest version is 2.3. This is available as a free download from www.soundblaster.com A little confusingly you'll have to look for it in the "Drivers" area of the Downloads section.

                    A point to note is that since the soundfonts are essentially loaded into the windows drivers there is no native "MIDI IN" for soundfonts, so you will need to use a sequencer to select the soundbanks and also pass the MIDI signals from your kit into the SBLive Synth output.

                    I mention it in case you're used to running Battery standalone and can select a MIDI source so you can play straight into it.

                    Vienna <i>will</i> work as a MIDI-Thru when you are editing soundfonts but it doesn't route the midi signals very quickly so response is terrble, which makes it useless for performance - be warned. It is good enough for auditioning sounds though.

                    I don't know which sequencer you use, but I use Sonar, and it has native support for Soundfonts. You specify which 'font(s) are associated with a track, and it loads them into the card automatically when you open the file. This might be a good solution for quick changes of sounds during performance - saves on jumping in and out of AudioHQ to changes banks.

                    Hope this helps.
                    Last edited by seanb; 08-23-02, 08:05 AM.
                    - Sean

                    TD-8K v1.10 + 2xCY12C/R + 2xKoby Micro Pad


                    • #11
                      That helps a lot. Will do some toying with it this weekend.
                      kit pr0n.


                      • #12
                        I think these are the drivers you will be looking for http://kxproject.spb.ru/index.php


                        • #13
                          Plexman, that link was perfect. Those drivers have reduced my latency to around 20ms. I can probably get it to 10 if I tweak... Thanks!

                          No hardware hack needed, either. Coolness.
                          kit pr0n.


                          • #14
                            tonycpsu M8, you might be able to get down to around 5ms as that's what i can get and i have around the same spec pc as you.


                            • #15
                              No hardware mod needed

                              Hey all,
                              For the record, I wrote that SBLive hardware modification page over 2 years ago.... http://alive.singnet.com.sg/musician...ring/index.htm it's very outdated.

                              We left it up for those who want to learn more about the SBLive's electronics, but the KX drivers do all and much, much more than my modification ever did. And they work with Win XP\2000.

                              If you have problems getting the KX drivers going please feel free to ask questions ... best to ask in the KX forum though.

                              Good luck