I currently have an EMU 0404 PCI soundcard in a new system I built at a very high spec. (Core i7 930 overclocked to run at 4GHz, 6GB RAM, Windows 7 64bit)

I've been tearing my hair out as I'm getting awful latency on the soundcard that is preventing me from doing anything with MIDI controlled sound on the card - no softsynths, virtual drum machines etc so its just not workable.

What should I be using instead? Any tips?

Ive got a novation USB controller keyboard I'll be using as main input so will only not need that many audio inputs.

  • How much latency are we talking (in ms)? What DAW?
    – Warrior Bob
    Jan 10, 2011 at 6:44

6 Answers 6


There will always be latency with software synths, or any audio processed by your computer. When soundcards advertise "no-latency monitoring", what they mean is that it has a built-in analog mixer to allow you to hear the audio on the output just as it comes in the input, via analog. (By the way, your current card supports this)

First, make sure you are using ASIO and that there isn't a problem with it. Your card supports ASIO, which must be used for low-latency.

Next, read the answers on this question: What is the key parameter for a sound card, if I want to record at home using Guitar rig?

It answers almost the same question.


// - Edit Is it possible that you have not configured your DAW to use the Emu card; you should really have very low latency with that card

I have an M-Audio 2496 PCI card it 4 ins/outs including midi, its a very good card and cheap (£70-80); i am currently achieving latency of around 5ms using pretty old and low powered hardware; this allows real time audio monitoring whilst recording; the latency is not noticeable at all.

Previously i was using the usb interface on an allen heath z14 mixer; which is a brilliant mixer however the latency over usb was unusable for me. (25ms+) I got that down to 16ms using the asio4all driver; which is 'almost' usable for real time; anything under 10ms and you should be ok.

I still use the allen heath; however now i have an analogue line out to the M-Audio card, which i cant recommend enough; it has solved all of my problems.


I was using realtek onboard sound for a while and had the ASIO4ALL driver as suggested elsewhere in this thread, and I found that (in addition to adjusting the buffer setting) raising the sample rate from 44/48k to 96k was crucial for getting latency to an imperceptible level.

AFAIK, midi has nothing to do with ASIO and latency, but if you are using the card to monitor the sound live, then you will experience latency.


I like RME cards. I chose them because they had good linux drivers but they are great on Windows too. The built-in DSP based router provides very low latency from in to out and does mixing. They are really easy to use with either prosumer or pro interfaces.

They are expensive compared to consumer devices, but cheap compared to high end pro cards.


I have a Creative Soundblaster X-Fi PCI-card, which is obvisouly not a "professional" card for music recording, but for me it gives very good results.

The card is promoted as being very good for gaming, but also having great recording properties.

When recording guitar with a software effect/amp (which means that besides recording the pc also has to process the sound) latency is stable at 2milliseconds, which is low enough. There is an option for 1 millisecond, but that lags for me.

I have a Quad Core 6600 processor (processor is important if you want to achieve low latency, as the computer has to process the sound, not only record it)

So if you have any processor better or as good as that, this card will give you the same latency properties I have (2 milliseconds). You can get this card for a little less than approx. $120, and you also get a very good gaming audiocard.

(And yes, it supports ASIO of course)

(I saw that you have an i7 so obvisouly a better processor than mine ). In that case you will probably be able to use the 1ms latency seting, which is like lower than any human can notice)


you may wanna just get a mac/build a hackintosh. im sorry if i sound like an apple fanboy but im using the intergrated sound card on my ga-h55m-s2v motherboard hackintosh. on windows i get horrible latency but on my osx side there is absolutely no latency at all. you said u have intel cpu so im pretty sure it's supported just google it and look around at insanelymac.com http://tonymacx86.com/

  • I don't see how this would help the asker. There are many readily available internal/external sound cards that will work and not require a complete change of OS and possibly a new DAW. Apr 19, 2012 at 13:36
  • 1st of all "absolutely no latency at all" is impossible. Second of all, latency is driver related. You probably had problems because you were using DirectSound or Wav rather than ASIO.
    – horatio
    Apr 20, 2012 at 17:16

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