Using my pc as an amp/practice rig.

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by dflo91, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. dflo91

    dflo91 Supporting Member

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    Ok tried reading a bunch about this but I seem to be confusing myself with information overload. I don't gig, I just play at home as a hobby. I want to be able to just practice with either headphones, or using the studio monitors I have connected to my pc. I assume with either headphones and monitors I would be able to play over backing tracks from youtube or whatever. Also a plus would be being able to use my pedalboard. I am giving myself a 1500$ budget. So if you could please dumb this down and reccomend me what I need to purchase that would be great. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. adamquek

    adamquek Member

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    If you want to play with back tracks and over youtube, you might want to go with a Mac. For low latency audio, you need to use ASIO in widows, which is typically makes exclusive utilisation of your hardware. Otherwise, you will need run a line in (say from the onboard audio interface) into an audio interface with at least 3 inputs (one for guitar, stereo for line in) and a built in mixer/monitoring.

    I perosnally use and recommend a MOTU Microbook II as the do-it-all interface. Plenty of ins and outs, works with windows and Mac, and in Windows, playback with ASIO and windows built in audio is possible (though spotty... I still use the line out from the onboard sound to line in)

    More simply, I also use an iRig HD 2. On a Mac or iPad this is ideal, and also workable on Windows but with more of a learning curve.

    You don't need lot of horsepower to run a single instance of a modeller with low latency, I would go with a mid range laptop with a core i5 processor (avoid the ultra low powered variety). Spring for more processing power if you can, it doesn't hurt.
     
  3. 108

    108 Member

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    For my home playing, I mostly play through plugins in Logic, usually BIAS and Mercurial. I have cheap Tanniy Reveal monitors and an Audient interface. It sounds great to me, and with the exception of the laptop (PC is far cheaper) it was extremely affordable.
     
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  4. dflo91

    dflo91 Supporting Member

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    I have a last years model MacBook Pro but my main rig that I will be using is my gaming desktop. It's pretty decked out, so power should not be an issue. I saw the iRig as well and it looks like a fun thing to use if I don't want to play in the man cave. So pretty much all I need is an audio interface, correct cables, and software to start playing out of my pc correct?
     
  5. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    I can’t recall when was the last time I had any problems with simultaneous ASIO and WDM playback. It was years ago.

    Also, Mac OS can cause much more trouble than Windows related to OS updates. One benefit of Mac OS is that built in drivers have low latency, so audio interfaces can be plug and play, without installing additional software. But native drivers provided by interface manufacturers should still be better. In some cases at least.

    The critical part in going with plugins is the audio interface. Most of them are utter crap. I don’t know a single one I could call excellent. Some are usable compromises though.

    What kind of music are you playing and what kind of guitars do you have? If you have a Strat with single coil pickups, the choice is easier. If it’s an extended range guitar with hot humbuckers, it’s tough.
     
  6. Ed_Saxman

    Ed_Saxman Member

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    Bad idea.

    A CPU is not a DSP.

    What this means?

    Any interruption with higher priority will **** up your computer-based experience.

    If you need real time effects, then buy a DSP based solution.

    IMHO, the Helix+Native plattform offers the best from both worlds:
    —Play, perform and record with your DSP.
    —Process your tracks endlessly with your CPU.
     
  7. dflo91

    dflo91 Supporting Member

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    Both of my guitars are single coil at the moment. Ill be adding in a LP probably in the near future. Right now I am just playing 90's rock, classic rock, some bluesy stuff. A little of everything I enjoy listening to. I saw the helix too. Would I be able to throw a backing track on and use the simulator with it? For the audio interface I was looking at a Universal Audio Arrow, I saw some videos on it and it looked quality.
     
  8. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    Helix is fine for playing, my main home practice rig is a PC with Native, but it’s definitely not the best solution for recording.

    It works internally at 48 kHz, any other sampling rate will trigger realtime SRC, which makes sound worse. Even at 48 kHz it doesn’t appear to have a lot of oversampling though. The benefit of course is that it’s compatible with hardware and doesn’t tax the CPU much.

    Also, when using third party IRs, it’s best to find those that are already at 48 kHz, or at least resample them and convert to minimum phase elsewhere, not letting Helix do that.
     
  9. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    If you plan to use single coils and play bluesy stuff on an LP, UAD Arrow should be fine.
     
  10. dflo91

    dflo91 Supporting Member

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    Ya originally I was just going to get a kemper head and plug some headphones and voila. But I thought gettting a audio interface and some software would be far less clutter on my battlestation :p
     
  11. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    Kemper is a peculiar beast, very different from the rest of the pack, be it plugins or Axe-FX.

    I personally don’t like the whole “find a profile for every sound” workflow, and vastly prefer to dial stuff I need myself. Others hate tweaking presets. You kind of have to decide on what suits you.

    I don’t use any hardware at home except an audio interface and headphones/monitors - I just find this extremely convenient. But a lot of people are struggling with plugins and computers in general for some mysterious reasons.
     
  12. dflo91

    dflo91 Supporting Member

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    Ya kinda made me iffy on the kemper was tweaking settings and having to find a profile. Seemed like a lot of work. I love the way my amp sounds, but for late night noodling it is too loud. So now I am on a quest for something that sounds good and would save me some money by not buying a bunch of amps I don't need just because they make a sound I like :p
     
  13. ModMeister

    ModMeister Member

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    Core Audio performs a little bit worse than ASIO according to people at the low latency thread at GS. The exclusivity is ASIO exclusivity (not WDM), 99.9% of interfaces can play WDM and a single ASIO stream at the same time. What you're describing is the side effect of using ASIO4ALL. Some higher end interfaces even have support for multiple ASIO streams.

    Desktop CPUs are far more powerful than any DSP chip available, even the UAD Octo cards can barely run stuff compared to an average desktop. With DSP units everything is tied together, you can't upgrade software, converters or processors individually like with a DAW setup (not to mention running plugins from multiple vendors together). There's a reason there are no 8s IR loaders like MixIR and reverbs like EA Nimbus on DSP.

    Computers are so powerful they can take the performance hit of running a full OS and still make DSP chips look puny.

    Now back on topic.

    As far as audio interfaces go, most of the low end stuff is very similar and a small Steinberg UR or Focusrite Scarlett would be sufficient for most uses. For the $250 spot the Zoom UAC-2 (or the 8 if you want more I/O for your pedals for $600) is pretty good, especially since it has far better low latency performance. The next step up is an RME Babyface Pro, which is what I personally use. These are IMO the best options for all ranges under $1000.

    You'll also need a DAW, I like using Reaper because of it's customization options and general workflow. It's also pretty cheap for a personal license (they don't have different tiers, the personal license is fully featured) and they offer a very generous free trial that lets you keep using it even past 60 days.

    What I recommend is to demo everything and buy what you like the most. Get an interface, download Reaper and start checking out different amp simulators and plugins. With your budget you can get a couple of amp sims (my favorites are Thermionik, Waves PRS SuperModels, Helix Native and the Mercuriall stuff), some IRs and maybe throw in some stuff from SoundToys, D16, Audiority, Exponential Audio, ValhallaDSP, Fuse Audio, Plugin Alliance, Softube, Lexicon or Eventide since you got the budget.
     
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  14. dflo91

    dflo91 Supporting Member

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    I think I am going to end up going with something higher endish like the RME Babyface Pro you recommended. I am a buy once cry once kind of guy and don't like to be left wanting. You end up spending more that way. Right now I am on the youtube research binge to make sure I kinda have a grasp on what I am doing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
  15. Jim Roseberry

    Jim Roseberry Supporting Member

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    That depends on who's configuring the DAW.
    I can run Helix Native at 96k using a 32-sample ASIO buffer size.
    Total Round-Trip Latency is 1ms (audio is glitch-free).

    I'm running an i9-9900k with all 8 cores locked at 5GHz.
    There's no issue with DPC Latency... or other process to interrupt audio data-flow.

    If the OP is strictly looking for a practice setup, I think a hardware modeler is more practical.
    By the time you factor in the cost of a PC, quality audio interface, and software/plugins... you've got way more than the cost of something like Helix/HeadRush/etc. You can use a cheaper PC, audio interface, etc... but each time you make compromise in performance/sound.
    Helix Native (running thru a $200 audio interface) doesn't sound as good as Helix Floor (hardware).
    A cheap PC/laptop will likely suffer from high DPC Latency... which won't allow you to effectively run Helix Native (or similar) at ultra low latency settings (low round-trip latency).

    If you're running a high-end gaming PC:
    Right now, the RTX-2xxx series video cards are causing high DPC Latency.
    This isn't the case with the previous generation GTX-1xxx series video cards.
    If you're trying to run the likes of Helix Native at the lowest possible round-trip latency, that can cause a problem.
    The lower the ASIO buffer size you're trying to run, the more important to have low/consistent DPC Latency.
    A 32-sample ASIO buffer size at 44.1kHz = 0.75ms.
    That's the amount of time the machine has to process the next audio buffer and have it in place for playback.
    If that process is delayed by anything, the result will be a gap in the audio (glitch/pop/tick or transport dropout if severe).
    Nvidia will ultimately get this ironed out... but it's not ideal (right now) for working with ultra low audio latency.
     
  16. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    I’m not saying Kemper is more work. It’s not like plugins don’t require tweaking, and a lot of people are suffering from too many options in traditional modelers.
     
  17. dflo91

    dflo91 Supporting Member

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    Right now I am running a i7-6700k with a 1080. I was gonna build a new rig soon but I got back into playing and my fun funds are now being allocated to the guitar. There are so much options though and all of them seem to be good/great so its very hard choosing what to do.
     
  18. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    You should be fine with that CPU.
     
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  19. Jim Roseberry

    Jim Roseberry Supporting Member

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    If you're going to use the computer for recording (at least quasi serious), then investing in quality machine, audio interface, software/plugins makes good sense. If it's just rehearsal/practice, you'd be up-and-running quicker with a hardware modeler (and at much lower cost).
    • HeadRush Gigboard is ~$649
    • HX Stomp is ~$600

    If you go the computer route, stick with your GTX-1080.
    I wanted to add a RTX-2080ti to my main studio DAW (for video processing/rendering).
    With the 2080ti installed, DPC Latency was high... causing glitches when running Quantum at 96k with a 32-sample ASIO buffer size.
    With the 1060, DPC Latency is low/consistent... resulting in glitch-free audio at those same settings.
     
  20. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    How did you measure that?
     

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