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CoredusK

Easily switch between Focusrite interface and Helix

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Hi all!

 

I take my Helix back and forth from rehearsal space every week.

When I'm not using my Helix as an audio interface, I got my Focusrite 2i2 hooked up to my monitors.

 

Is there a way to more easily switch between the two than unplugging the audio cables from the Focusrite and plugging them in the Helix?

Basically, can I hook up both my Focusrite and Helix to the same speakers, and switch as I need to?

This way my Focusrite is always plugged in, and I can just plug in the Helix when I can and switch to it.

How would I go about this?

 

Cheers!

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By "audio cables" I assume you mean the speaker cables?

Just plug the Helix OUT (XLR or 1/4, whatever your AI takes) into the AI. set the Helix OUT to mic or line level to match the Input.

Turn the dial to full left to monitor Helix directly, or full right to monitor thru the computer.

Audio from the computer (sounds, streaming, YT, Spotify, etc) will be sent to either the Helix or the 2i2 depending on which one is selected for playback in Sound Panel (Windows).

In a DAW, playback will be sent to whichever is selected as the ASIO driver in OPTIONS/PREFERENCES (or what ever your DAW calls it's settings dialog).

The DAW settings are unrelated to the Sound Panel settings UNLESS you're using a Windows driver (vs ASIO) in the DAW (NOT RECOMMENDED!).

 

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The easiest thing, and what I did now, was actually just buy Helix Native :)

If I need to transfer tones, I can just easily carry a laptop to the rehearsal room and transfer it there.

 

I found routing the Helix outputs to the input of the interface adds unnecessary noise, so I don't really like that. Although it's definitely a clever response.

Thanks for the reply!

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17 minutes ago, CoredusK said:

The easiest thing, and what I did now, was actually just buy Helix Native :)

If I need to transfer tones, I can just easily carry a laptop to the rehearsal room and transfer it there.

 

I found routing the Helix outputs to the input of the interface adds unnecessary noise, so I don't really like that. Although it's definitely a clever response.

Thanks for the reply!

 

Ditto this... Helix Native is only 100 bucks, and frequently discounted below that.  Well worth the convenience.  Otherwise I believe the device you are looking for is called a Studio Monitor Controller.  An inexpensive one with only two stereo inputs is about the same price as Native... for your use case, just get Native.

 

P.S.  Just realized that it was @CoredusK answering his/her own question... but for others' reference... that is the hardware solution to the problem!  Have fun with Native @CoredusK!

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Using Native might not be a too great option with the 2i2 in case it's not a 3rd generation model as roundtrip latency isn't all that low.

Anyway, I do as well recommend getting a small monitor controller or perhaps a small mixer (I'd actually prefer that personally). These can be had for cheap, especially in case you don't need the preamps much but rather use it as a line input mixer.

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37 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

Using Native might not be a too great option with the 2i2 in case it's not a 3rd generation model as roundtrip latency isn't all that low.

Anyway, I do as well recommend getting a small monitor controller or perhaps a small mixer (I'd actually prefer that personally). These can be had for cheap, especially in case you don't need the preamps much but rather use it as a line input mixer.

 

My 2nd gen Scarlett 18i20 with Reaper at 48k/24bit/128samples running on a 7th gen i7 with Win10 gets (according to Reaper) 6.1/6.1ms for 12.2ms RTL. Not great, but perfectly acceptable with Native, and better than using Helix at 5.2/15ms. I don't recall seeing any numbers indicating improved latency with the 3rd gen Scarlett interfaces over the 2nd gen. If you have a link to such, I'd be curious to know. FASTER is BETTER!

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16 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

 

My 2nd gen Scarlett 18i20 with Reaper at 48k/24bit/128samples running on a 7th gen i7 with Win10 gets (according to Reaper) 6.1/6.1ms for 12.2ms RTL. Not great, but perfectly acceptable with Native, and better than using Helix at 5.2/15ms. I don't recall seeing any numbers indicating improved latency with the 3rd gen Scarlett interfaces over the 2nd gen. If you have a link to such, I'd be curious to know. FASTER is BETTER!

 

Seriously, for me, RTL numbers higher than something between 5-6ms make things feel distracted. It's not even exactly a timing thing, just the pick feeling kinda "sticky". From 7-9 it's really not much fun anymore and I defenitely can't deal with anything above 10ms.

Note: This is all when using headphones. Without, my tolerances are a lot higher (after all, 10ms equal a distance of around 3 meters and everybody will be able to play with his/her amp 3 meters away). Anyway, as I play a lot through headphones, low latencies are crucial for me.

As far as the newer Scarletts go, I think I remember someone mentioning better drivers and lower latencies to come with the 3rd generation models. Maybe there's also something about it in this epic (and highly informative) thread at Gearslutz:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/618474-audio-interface-low-latency-performance-data-base.html

Personally, I'm using a Zoom UAC-2 under Logic, at 44.1 and 32 samples (a setting that works for most things but some rather demanding synth patches) my RTL is 4.5ms, at 64 samples it's 5.9ms. Add to this that some plugins add their own latency (amazingly enough, HX Native doesn't seem to) and things may cross my "headphone-latency-tolerance-line".

 

Whatever, this is one of the very reasons why I really love the Helix so much. I can monitor through the hardware without anything but the device latency (something around 2ms) and just record the DI guitar which will then see HX Native slapped onto them. Fantastic - and a one of it's kind in the modeling world.

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Thanks for the link, but any Gearslutz thread that goes past 10 posts devolves into a cat fight, so I think I'll pass on digging through that. I did send a query to Focusrite support though. Might as well have the definitive word.

 

I'm glad I don't suffer from the same latency sensitivity as you. The price of interfaces with more than 2-4 I/O that get that low is prohibitive.

 

I do agree about direct monitoring though, which is why I have a HX Floor and a Stomp!

 

 

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5 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

The price of interfaces with more than 2-4 I/O that get that low is prohibitive.

 

 

Not all that much anymore. There's a bigger version of the UAC-2 I'm using, the UAC-8, comes with 8 mic preamps, 2 line ins and when you feel like getting fancy you can connect another 8 I/Os via Adat connections, offering 18 ins and 20 outs in total. Price over here is around €600.

 

Fwiw, that very thread over at Gearslutz is rather civilized.

 

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Got a reply from Focusrite. The RTL difference between 2nd and 3rd gen at 48/64 is 1ms (one-way 3.9 vs 3.4).

I'm not bothered by the higher latency, I only use Native for re-amping anyway, and I'm not a good enough KB player or drummer for it to matter, but if the ZOOM UAC-8 is really getting <5ms at 48/64, at the same price, you betcha that's going to factor into my next upgrade decision!

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Well, I was actually only mentioning the Zoom, not exactly recommending it (even if I own the smaller model). Thing is, if you really never exactly need software audio monitoring (or just occasionally), other interfaces might be a better choice. The Zooms are pretty good but support seems to be non-existant, so in case something goes wrong (for whatever reasons, but let's assume there's a computer OS update and the old drivers won't work anymore) you'll likely be out of luck. Also, there's defenitely better mic preamps on certain interfaces in that league (such as on the Audients, which are really sounding excellent), so if you need these, that might be something to look for as well.

Personally, my next interface (in case I really need one) will likely be a used RME Babyface (first generation) as RME is known to support their stuff for a loooong time after they stopped making them.

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10 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

The Zooms are pretty good but support seems to be non-existant, so in case something goes wrong (for whatever reasons, but let's assume there's a computer OS update and the old drivers won't work anymore) you'll likely be out of luck.

 

Always something!

Hopefully, if I ever need to upgrade, Focusrite will have come up with a 4th gen that has primo latency numbers. I really like their stuff, and their support is excellent.

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Update from Focusrite:

 

4b1512efab893aef55a6f3f0db8563d6?size=40&default=https%3A%2F%2Fassets.zendesk.com%2Fimages%2F2016%2Fdefault-avatar-80.png&r=g

Charlie Moon (Focusrite )

31 Oct, 00:59 GMT

Hi Ed,

Testing in Reaper today I got the following results: 

Scarlett 3rd generation
DAW: Reaper
Buffer size: 64
Sample Rate: 48kHz 
Latency result: 4.5ms RTL

If you have any further questions or concerns please feel welcome to let me know. 

Best regards,
Charlie Moon // Technical Support
Focusrite Novation Inc.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

So, right up there with others at it's price point. Since the current 7.6ms RTL doesn't bother me, by the time I can afford (or I NEED) to upgrade, it'll be gen 4.....

What happens when $600 AIs match the "near zero" latency of the $3500 models?

"Our preamps can record the sound of an Angel's breath in all it's GLORIOUS purity!".

HALLELUJAH! 

Can't wait!

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Uhm...

Apparently he's relying on what Reaper reports. These numbers often aren't correct. The only way to properly measure RTL is by doing it physically, connecting one output with one input. You can then use Obliques RTL utility, which is made just for these purposes.

 https://www.oblique-audio.com/free/rtlutility

I do believe that they've noticeably improved RTL on their new branch of interfaces, but I only really trust reports of physical measurements.

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8 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

Uhm...

Apparently he's relying on what Reaper reports. These numbers often aren't correct. The only way to properly measure RTL is by doing it physically, connecting one output with one input. You can then use Obliques RTL utility, which is made just for these purposes.

 https://www.oblique-audio.com/free/rtlutility

I do believe that they've noticeably improved RTL on their new branch of interfaces, but I only really trust reports of physical measurements.

 

Yada yada. I know all that, I've done it that way in the past, it's not that big a difference (gen2 = 7.75-7.78ms).

 

Of course, if you can feel the difference between 7.6ms and 4.5ms, NEAR ZERO LATENCY is worth an extra 2 or 3 grand, I get it.

 

Bottom line. Since it doesn't bother me at 7.6ms, it's going to be that much less of a bother at 4.5ms.

 

Since you seem to be very technically oriented (me not so much), here's a link to a latency study done by the AES (Audio Engineering Society) using real musicians and real instruments.

 

http://jd-xlabs.com/AES_Latency.pdf

 

Conclusions:

 

How much latency can be present in a signal path
before a musician will perceive an artifact in the audio
signal?
This is highly dependent on instrument type. Please
see Fig. 36 for a worst case estimate and follow the
lines for the Good Rating. If we ignore the inconsistent
saxophone data, latency values greater than 6.5ms for
wedges and greater than 1ms for IEM would likely
produce slight artifacts for some instruments.

 

How much latency can be present in a signal path
before a musician will perceive an actual delay in the
signal?
This is highly dependent on instrument type. Please
see Fig. 36 for a worst case estimate and follow the
lines for the Fair Rating. If we ignore the inconsistent
saxophone data, latency values greater than 16ms for
wedges and greater than 6.5ms for IEM would likely
produce some audible delay for some instruments.
6.4

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

My takeaway - Listening through the air (not IEMs), under 10ms ya gotta be REAL sensitive to hear latency, and SUPER sensitive to hear it with drums or keyboards. 

Since drums and keyboards are the only instruments I play using VSTs, I'm in no rush to go out and upgrade to gen 3, much less spend 2-4 grand on an Antelope.

 

I'm not saying you don't hear what you think you hear. It's obvious from the study that people vary radically in their sensitivity to latency. What I am saying is that, for most people, and guitarists in particular (12ms threshold), 4-5ms is "much ado about nothing".

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Well, I am not saying that I "hear" the difference between 4.5ms and 7.9ms (the numbers I'm getting out of my Zoom UAC-2 at 32 samples and the Helix at 64), but when using headphones, I "feel" the difference with my picking hand. Reliably that is (would happily take part in an ABX blindtest).
I know about most of the physical implications (such as 10ms being equal to a distance of just 3 meters, how things might be entirely different for singers as they may run into phasing issues with very low latencies, etc...) and I've read the AES paper long time ago with great interest.

And I also know about many (as in "more than you'd think") drivers not reporting the interface latency properly to the host. I have been building and configuring audio workstations for a good while, so checking things such as latencies and recording offsets (another thing many interfaces suffer from) was more or less 101 to me. Which is why it's a bit astonishing to see that some Focusrite employee seems to be trusting the driver values reported in Reaper. Not that they're necessarily wrong, but the only way to make sure they're right is by measuring things physically.

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23 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

Well, I am not saying that I "hear" the difference between 4.5ms and 7.9ms (the numbers I'm getting out of my Zoom UAC-2 at 32 samples and the Helix at 64), but when using headphones, I "feel" the difference with my picking hand.

 

The study was clear about the differences between IEMs (headphones would be same I guess) and speakers. Again, I'm not doubting that YOU can tell, just saying that for most people it's a non-issue.

 

25 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

Which is why it's a bit astonishing to see that some Focusrite employee seems to be trusting the driver values reported in Reaper. Not that they're necessarily wrong, but the only way to make sure they're right is by measuring things physically.

 

I DID point out that I DID measure physically, and the difference was tiny.

The Focusrite employee, never said he trusted the reported latency, nor did he offer it as proof. I ASKED him about REPORTED latencies because MOST people DO NOT test physically, they look at the reported latency. Given the tiny difference between the two methods, it's close enough for Rock'n'Roll. Again, much ado about nothing.

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1 minute ago, rd2rk said:

 Given the tiny difference between the two methods, it's close enough for Rock'n'Roll. Again, much ado about nothing.

 

Sorry, but without physically testing, you can't say for sure there's a tiny difference. And with certain interfaces, the difference is huge.

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13 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

Sorry, but without physically testing, you can't say for sure there's a tiny difference. And with certain interfaces, the difference is huge.

 

DUDE! TWICE I've said that I DID test it physically, and the difference between those results and the reported latency was infinitesimal - <.25ms!

What's the difference between your UAC's physical numbers and your DAW's (please specify) reported numbers? 

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8 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

 

DUDE! TWICE I've said that I DID test it physically, and the difference between those results and the reported latency was infinitesimal - <.25ms!

What's the difference between your UAC's physical numbers and your DAW's (please specify) reported numbers? 

 

I wasn't talking about you but about the FR employee who seems to rely on Reapers driver menu reports.

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On 10/31/2019 at 12:56 PM, SaschaFranck said:

 

I wasn't talking about you but about the FR employee who seems to rely on Reapers driver menu reports.

And I also said that I ASKED him specifically for those numbers!

 

FWIW - It's been a couple of years and a couple of driver updates since I last did the physical test on my 18i20, so I did it again just now. At 48k/64, I got the results shown in the screenshot below:

 

 

 

Close enough for Rock'n'Roll!

 

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These are no bad values for a sort of aging interface at all. Yet, one of the reasons I'm so happy with the Helix would be that I just don't have to worry about all of these things anymore, even if my interface allows for lower latencies. We should keep it at that.

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23 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

These are no bad values for a sort of aging interface at all. Yet, one of the reasons I'm so happy with the Helix would be that I just don't have to worry about all of these things anymore, even if my interface allows for lower latencies. We should keep it at that.

 

I was just pointing out that in this case, Reaper was actually reporting accurate numbers. I've read that it has something to do with the way the drivers work. Since I see the same numbers from Ableton and Cakewalk, I'm guessing that Focusrite's drivers are getting it right.

 

You know, I've seen your posts on a number of other forums. You're usually a well informed and positive contributor. I'd like to think that we can disagree about something on one thread, without animosity bleeding over into other threads. We ARE going to bump heads from time to time, and we WILL agree on some things. When I'm wrong about an objectively provable subject, I admit it. I've done it often enough right here on this forum to know that I don't know it all.  It would be nice if everyone on ALL forums could do the same, but we know that ain't gonna happen. All we can do is try our best.

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40 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

You know, I've seen your posts on a number of other forums. You're usually a well informed and positive contributor. I'd like to think that we can disagree about something on one thread, without animosity bleeding over into other threads. We ARE going to bump heads from time to time, and we WILL agree on some things. When I'm wrong about an objectively provable subject, I admit it. I've done it often enough right here on this forum to know that I don't know it all.  It would be nice if everyone on ALL forums could do the same, but we know that ain't gonna happen. All we can do is try our best.

 

Fwiw, I am not someone arguing for the sake of arguing, but I am honest. And most of the time, I'm pretty well informed regarding the subjects I'm talking about. Hence, I may appear as a tough guy to discuss with. Some people (especially those from the other side of the big pond) seem to think of that as arrogance. Might as well be a language issue (I'm german, english is just something I have more or less learnt in dubious ways). In the past, I have even been a victim of some cyber bullying (or stalking, if you will) because people couldn't deal with it. There's been one particular person who took things as far as it gets (so much that I considered legal actions, would've been a very expensive endeavour, so I just couldn't do it...), which, fwiw, ultimatively resulted in my permanent ban from TGP (you might remember me from there). I won't elaborate on this any further right here - if you're interested in whatever wicked details (and it's really a strange story...), drop me a line. I'm just mentioning all this here because I'd like to make clear that I hardly ever take something personal. I may sometimes be pretty tough to deal with in discussions, but that's largely because I've been through all that so often that it's getting tiresome here and there (just as with the entire latency thing which I have been exploring left and right around almost 20 years ago already, back when there were still mailing lists and usenet groups). I still don't take any of this personal, regardless of how much we may disagree about certain things. It takes a lot to really wind me up in a personal way. Ok, enough of that, cheers!

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