Thursday, February 19, 2009

M-Audio Fast Track USB with GT Player

Latency!!! ...resolved... ahhh :)

Yes, at first there was latency -- and then there was none. I bought an M-Audio Fast Track USB 2 Computer Audio Interface for use with my laptop. I'm planning to move from San Francisco to Thailand later this year, and want to bring as little as possible when I go. I, however, am unwilling to give up music -- writing and recording.

Since I track one by one (drum machine, guitar, bass, vocals, fun sounds), a single channel sound card will do just fine. So I go out and buy the very affordable $100 Fast Track USB. It has 1 XLR mic input with level control, 1 quarter inch guitar input, headphones jack, and stereo RCA output. Simple, perfect; now does it work?

I plug it right into my Vista laptop and it recognizes it straight away, tells me it has installed new hardware successfully and is ready to go. Cool. I fire up Audacity -- simple freeware recording software , and test out recording. I make some noise with a mic and it shows up on the track. Excellent. Now I grab a guitar and want to try out the GT Player software that came with it. I install it and plug my guitar in, and right off I hear about a 2 second delay from the time I strum a chord to the time I hear the sound. I do, however, hear the nifty effects from the software. The interface looks really cool too. It's like images of pedals with adjustment knobs and dials. Fun! But wait... I can't record with this latency.

The included guides don't help much, but suggest playing with the buffer size and quantity of buffers to reduce latency. So I spend about an hour trying different combinations and reduce the latency a little bit, but not enough. I go online and find out that M-Audio makes a special Vista 32bit service pack 1 driver for this card. You can find the right driver for your hardware / OS here: . After installing the new driver and restarting, a little red icon appears in the tray that lets you adjust latency. It solved my delay problem after trying one adjustment. Yay! No more Latency!

I'm nearly golden. Just need to try recording now. It turns out that you can't record the effects from GT Player into a recording software without adding the effects as vst plugins to a vst compatible recording software, which Audacity isn't. Hold on! I found a plug-in that makes audacity VST compatible , but not VSTi compatible, the "i" standing for instrument. So with Audacity you can't play your guitar through the GT Player effects and have it record onto a track. :(

That's ok, it's still fun for practicing, and you can record on the GT Player interface itself, and then, I think, import your files to Audacity. Either that, or I'll find another recording software that allows VST plug-ins. The Fast Track did also come with a demo disc of Pro Tools M-Powered 7, but I haven't tried it. I'm not even sure that Vista supports it.

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