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I am really confused on how Windows 10 audio works.

Ge0

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#1
I am really confused on how Windows 10 audio works. Is there a guide for beginners or dummies that does not assume you are already an expert? I get a headache reading most of the articles I have uncovered.
  • What is windows native audio vs. AISO? Why do I need ASIO?
  • How does windows route sound from an application to an audio layer?
  • How does windows route the audio layer signal to physical hardware?
My end goal is to figure out how to get a VST host to work seamlessly within windows. How can I route 2 channel input to the host? The host output would be routed to a multi-channel audio interface output's. Each channel will have its own cross-over filters applied for the purpose of actively driving a set of loudspeakers.
 
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Ge0

Ge0

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Thread Starter #2
Here is what I want to do. Any sound source from windows:

volume mixer.png



Then route then to a VST host where I can have plug-ins perform various functions.

ej9INXzw.jpeg


Finally, the output would be routed to a multi-channel audio interface like this:

GIGAPORT_eX-Angle-2.jpg



I picture the overall block diagram looking like this:

Windows 10 audio block diagram.png



Who can help walk me through this process?

Thx

Ge0
 
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maverickronin

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#3
That's totally possible but you're likely to have either have dropouts or high latency which will limit its use to straight music.
 
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#4
Imo, you better ask this type of question on a more software development focused site. But still, our forum has some people who works / used to work extensively with Windows audio interface like Amirm, who was a developer at audio division as Microsoft IIRC. They may give you a detailed answer on the POV of a system developer.
 

Vasr

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#5
You already have most of it figured out. The plumbing inside windows is all done via sound devices (playback and recording). These can correspond to real or virtual devices. First figure out the full chain and get it to work before worrying about ASIO and direct access, etc. Mixing the latter with the plumbing is going to make it unnecessarily complicated in the learning phase.

For your 2-ch input, you can use a virtual cable. When you install it, it creates a virtual playback device and a recording device. You point the media apps to play to the playback device of the virtual cable. You use the recording device side of the virtual cable as the input to the VST Host (yes, it may be counter-intuitive to some). This gets the media playing into the VST Host.

If the output of the VST Host is a multi-channel output, then you need a playback audio device that can accept multi-channel audio. This could be installed by the driver of an internal or external sound card (via USB, for example). Configure this playback device for the number of channels you need. Point the output device setting of VST Host to that multi-channel playback device.

This completes the Windows plumbing.

For how to configure the VST Host inside for the plugins you want to use, you should go to a forum that are using such plugins and they should have specific instructions for each plugin.
 
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Ge0

Ge0

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Thread Starter #6
Here is my current setup. It works OK. However, the EDIROL FA-101 audio interface has not been supported for years. It is a royal pain trying to trick Windows 10 to accept it's unsigned Windows 7 drivers. It takes days of trickery to get working. Then, every time Windows issues an update it blows the rouge drivers away. I need to start all over with re-loading. That's why I would like to upgrade my multi-channel audio interface.

Current Setup.PNG


Here are the VST Plug-ins I have running.
ej9INXzw.jpeg


@maverickronin mentioned potential dropouts and latency. I don't experience either with my current setup. At least not that's noticeable. I do watch movies and plenty of video on this computer and do not notice audio being out of sync.

This may not be the case with the new setup I suggested above.

Ge0
 
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Ge0

Ge0

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Thread Starter #7
You already have most of it figured out. The plumbing inside windows is all done via sound devices (playback and recording). These can correspond to real or virtual devices. First figure out the full chain and get it to work before worrying about ASIO and direct access, etc. Mixing the latter with the plumbing is going to make it unnecessarily complicated in the learning phase.

For your 2-ch input, you can use a virtual cable. When you install it, it creates a virtual playback device and a recording device. You point the media apps to play to the playback device of the virtual cable. You use the recording device side of the virtual cable as the input to the VST Host (yes, it may be counter-intuitive to some). This gets the media playing into the VST Host.

If the output of the VST Host is a multi-channel output, then you need a playback audio device that can accept multi-channel audio. This could be installed by the driver of an internal or external sound card (via USB, for example). Configure this playback device for the number of channels you need. Point the output device setting of VST Host to that multi-channel playback device.

This completes the Windows plumbing.

For how to configure the VST Host inside for the plugins you want to use, you should go to a forum that are using such plugins and they should have specific instructions for each plugin.
@Vasr ,

Now that you say it this way it finally makes more sense to me. I tried using virtual cable in the past but couldn't figure it out. I gave up. I was missing the step where you need to route the RECORDING SIDE of the cable to the VST host. I couldn't wrap my head around the concept.

So, I used a physical TOSLINK output on the PC to route to a physical TOSLINK input on my audio interface.

Of course the multi-channel outputs route to physical outputs on the 10 channel audio interface.

As far as the VST plug-ins are concerned. Well, I have plug-ins I like. But, to admit this is a huge and wildly unknown frontier for me. My current plug-ins are probably 8 years old. I'm sure progress has been made. I'll have fun exploring. I just need the framework set up.

Thank you :)
 
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Ge0

Ge0

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Thread Starter #8
That's totally possible but you're likely to have either have dropouts or high latency which will limit its use to straight music.
Does computational power improve latency issues when processing a chain of VST plug-ins? I'd think an 8 core 16 thread 5GHz processor could keep up. All processing is complete by the time I reach the audio interface outputs. Sure, there will be some latency through the interface. But, this could be adjusted based on the material being played back.
 
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Ge0

Ge0

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Thread Starter #9
Imo, you better ask this type of question on a more software development focused site. But still, our forum has some people who works / used to work extensively with Windows audio interface like Amirm, who was a developer at audio division as Microsoft IIRC. They may give you a detailed answer on the POV of a system developer.
Well, I thought this was Audio SCIENCE review. I thought this topic would be relevant for a tech section. Not asking about how VST software processing works. I'm just asking how to properly set up an audio interface in windows. That seems to be a common topic here.
 

maverickronin

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#10
Does computational power improve latency issues when processing a chain of VST plug-ins? I'd think an 8 core 16 thread 5GHz processor could keep up. All processing is complete by the time I reach the audio interface outputs. Sure, there will be some latency through the interface. But, this could be adjusted based on the material being played back.
It's not really a question of CPU power, just that Window (and MacOS and Linux too) aren't realtime operating systems so other stuff going on in the background is likely to cause hiccups and buffer underruns. I've haven't been able to get satisfactory results with virtual audio loopback on two different heavily overclocked i7 systems, but I may be more OCD about latency than most.

Are you currently running stereo out from your PC's optical to the EDIROL, back to into the PC via the EDIROL's firewire, through the VST host, and back to the EDIROL over firewire again?

I would guess that keeping it mostly in ASIO like that, through the interface's drivers, is still likely to have the best results. I'm not big on the pro audio scene though, so I don't really know what interface would be best to replace your EDIROL.
 
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Ge0

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Thread Starter #11
It's not really a question of CPU power, just that Window (and MacOS and Linux too) aren't realtime operating systems so other stuff going on in the background is likely to cause hiccups and buffer underruns. I've haven't been able to get satisfactory results with virtual audio loopback on two different heavily overclocked i7 systems, but I may be more OCD about latency than most.

Are you currently running stereo out from your PC's optical to the EDIROL, back to into the PC via the EDIROL's firewire, through the VST host, and back to the EDIROL over firewire again?

I would guess that keeping it mostly in ASIO like that, through the interface's drivers, is still likely to have the best results. I'm not big on the pro audio scene though, so I don't really know what interface would be best to replace your EDIROL.
@maverickronin That's right. I forgot Windows has ADHD. It can process fast as h3ll but can't focus on one task for too long :)

Your description of what I am doing with the EDIROL FA-101 is exactly correct. I used the optical cable because I could not get the Virtual Cable to work correctly. I needed an output to route to the VST host input. As strange as it sounds it does work very well.

I wasn't too familiar with pro audio gear either. But, I wanted 10 output channels. You don't find that with consumer grade interfaces. I just wish windows still supported my unit. I paid a lot of money for it. But, it's over 10 years old now. It's time to look for something more modern that may perform better. I'm looking at my options for 8 to 12 channel units now.

Running loudspeakers fully active with so much flexibility is interesting. You're no longer bound by the crossover network and its properties. You can really get the most out of the drivers you select. And, I'm constantly changing drivers trying to extract better sound.
 

tential

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#12
@maverickronin That's right. I forgot Windows has ADHD. It can process fast as h3ll but can't focus on one task for too long :)

Your description of what I am doing with the EDIROL FA-101 is exactly correct. I used the optical cable because I could not get the Virtual Cable to work correctly. I needed an output to route to the VST host input. As strange as it sounds it does work very well.

I wasn't too familiar with pro audio gear either. But, I wanted 10 output channels. You don't find that with consumer grade interfaces. I just wish windows still supported my unit. I paid a lot of money for it. But, it's over 10 years old now. It's time to look for something more modern that may perform better. I'm looking at my options for 8 to 12 channel units now.

Running loudspeakers fully active with so much flexibility is interesting. You're no longer bound by the crossover network and its properties. You can really get the most out of the drivers you select. And, I'm constantly changing drivers trying to extract better sound.
Ask bassthathz on avsforum. His setup
Sounds like this, but it's like 96 channels or something absolutely insane. He uses motu boards(this stuff? https://motu.com/en-us/products/audio-products/studio/)

I think you're doing something similar. He's a little eccentric, but well when you want a loudspeaker like this, you have to be I guess.

I'm no expert in this, this is too advanced for my head. I just plan to build a good diysg 15 inch speaker and place it on top of a 21 inch gsg audio midbass kit, use a mini dsp and call it a day. Excessive and easy to do.
 
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maverickronin

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#13
Your description of what I am doing with the EDIROL FA-101 is exactly correct. I used the optical cable because I could not get the Virtual Cable to work correctly. I needed an output to route to the VST host input. As strange as it sounds it does work very well.
I had trouble with VAC too so that does not surprise me at all. Actually they do have another donationware product that people have been recommending lately, but which I haven't tried yet. Voicemeter Banana.

I wasn't too familiar with pro audio gear either. But, I wanted 10 output channels. You don't find that with consumer grade interfaces. I just wish windows still supported my unit. I paid a lot of money for it. But, it's over 10 years old now. It's time to look for something more modern that may perform better. I'm looking at my options for 8 to 12 channel units now.
Maybe if Voicemeter Banana works on your system you could shave a couple requirements off your pro interface needs.

I've heard people say that RME provides long term driver support so that may be something worth looking into. I don't really know though. I just got an RME ADI-2 DAC a couple years ago and have loved it. Since I mostly use headphones it has enough DSP options and has essentially no latency.
 
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Ge0

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Thread Starter #14
Ask bassthathz on avsforum. His setup
Sounds like this, but it's like 96 channels or something absolutely insane. He uses motu boards(this stuff? https://motu.com/en-us/products/audio-products/studio/)

I think you're doing something similar. He's a little eccentric, but well when you want a loudspeaker like this, you have to be I guess.

I'm no expert in this, this is too advanced for my head. I just plan to build a good diysg 15 inch speaker and place it on top of a 21 inch gsg audio midbass kit, use a mini dsp and call it a day. Excessive and easy to do.
BassThatHz is a freaking nut case :). I've been reading his 60 page long thread on his audio system for the past 2 nights. I still haven't come to any indication that he is using audio interfaces. But, I'm sure that will come.
 
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#15
I guess you allready checked usb interfaces with 8+ channels like Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen or cheaper Behringer UMC1820 ?
 
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Ge0

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Thread Starter #16
I guess you allready checked usb interfaces with 8+ channels like Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen or cheaper Behringer UMC1820 ?
I have looked at both. I'm considering the Focusrite. It's on my short list.

I'm a little concerned about the quality of the Behringer. It seems to cheap to be true.

I'm also looking at a 16 channel device from Motu. But, I am afraid it is cost prohibitive.\

I'll search out reviews and measurements for all devices
 
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#17
I have looked at both. I'm considering the Focusrite. It's on my short list.

I'm a little concerned about the quality of the Behringer. It seems to cheap to be true.

I'm also looking at a 16 channel device from Motu. But, I am afraid it is cost prohibitive.\

I'll search out reviews and measurements for all devices
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 i would choose too..keep us informed how it goes if u get it.
 
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Ge0

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Thread Starter #19
I am aware of the miniDSP products. I was actually planning on using a PC and VST plug-ins to perform crossover, EQ, phase, and timing. However, for the same price as a Focusrite 18i20 I can buy a miniDSP C-DSP 8x12 V2.0 which contains all this functionality in the box. Another option on my short list :).

The only downside to a pre-configured DSP box is that I am stuck using the filter types the box provides. For instance, say I wanted to experiment with FIR equalization filters vs. IIR.

Ge0
 
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