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Do you still need to use ASIO4ALL in 2020?
Does ASIO4ALL for Mac exist?
What is the ASIO4ALL alternative?
How to fix your latency issues for good.
Do I Need ASIO4ALL On Mac OS?
The short answer is: no, you will not need to install ASIO4ALL if you own a Mac.
Even if you wanted to, you’re not going to find a Mac OS version. Macs use high-quality audio drivers called Core Audio, making ASIO4ALL redundant for Mac users.
What Is ASIO4ALL?
ASIO, or short for Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) is described by Wikipedia as a “computer sound card driver protocol for digital audio specified by Steinberg, providing a low-latency and high fidelity interface between a software application and a computer’s sound card.”
Why Do I Need ASIO4ALL?
When your manufacturer builds a sound card, there are these clever little mechanisms called drivers, which are responsible for how the audio interface communicates between the application’s software to the hardware device itself.
In a way, it’s kind of like how the central nervous system in our body works, connecting our brain to the rest of our organs in order to transmit signals and tell the body what to do.
ASIO4ALL is that driver.
Can’t I Just Use My Computer’s Drivers?
By today’s standards, Windows was quite a primitive piece of software. If you didn’t have your own external soundcard, you were pretty much at the whim of Windows’ laggy audio processing, as the entire signal had to be run through Windows own proprietary mixer, which meant that simple audio processing tasks would get bogged down by all the other processes in the signal path that Windows was already taking care of. In a word, it was inefficient.
A few improvements by Windows were made over the years, but nothing very substantial.
Then a few impatient heroes in capes, who went under the name of Steinberg (commonly known as the developers of Cubase), came to a gentleman’s agreement with Windows and offered up a solution known as ASIO.
If you’re operating straight from Windows, and without any sound card or audio interface, I highly recommend downloading and installing ASIO4ALL drivers.
Do I Need ASIO4ALL If I Have An Audio Interface?
Provided your soundcard isn’t an absolute dinosaur (made before 2009), you most probably won’t need ASIO4ALL.
Most audio interfaces come loaded with their own drivers now, and so ASIO4ALL is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
In fact, it is probably advisable that you don’t use ASIO4ALL if your soundcard has its own drivers. The company-specific drivers they’ve provided you with are there for a reason, so use them and forget about ASIO4ALL.
What Is Audio Latency?
Audio latency, or commonly referred to as lag, is when digital audio playback suffers from unwanted, delayed response time.
It kills a musician’s ability to play in time, and is both a musician and a producer’s nightmare.
And audio latency doesn’t just happen with recording ‘live’ instruments, either. This can also affect plugins. If you’ve ever loaded up a soft synth VST, played a note, and heard the note playback a fraction of a second later, that’s latency.
What Causes Audio Latency?
In most cases, audio latency is caused by a lack of computing resources which bogs down the ability of your computer/laptop to handle audio processing correctly. Here is how audio travels from sound source, through the computer, and out of the speakers.
Your voice enters the microphone.
Your voice is then passed through Analog/Digital converters to turn your voice into digital information.
This data then passes through a bus, and enters an input buffer on your PC or Mac.
The CPU then has to deal with this information, while simultaneously having to deal with other processes like your 40 Google Chrome tabs that have been left open for 2 months.
Once the computer has fully processed the information, along with any effects that it also had to process in the chain, it’s then rerouted through an output buffer, back through a Digital/Analog converter (in order to convert it back to audio).
Your voice can now be heard through your speakers.
It may seem like a lot for a computer to handle, and if you’re running a computer made in the 90s, it’s going to struggle.
But any decent, modern computer or laptop will be able to process all theses stages in a matter of milliseconds.
The problem is, they can add up to a noticeable delay, and a rubbish soundcard that is not designed to handle professional-grade audio processing will suffer from lag.
Do I Still Need ASIO4ALL In 2020?
Users of Windows 7 and upwards all use something called WASAPI (Windows Audio Session API), which has superseded ASIO4ALL.
“WASAPI (Windows Audio Session API) is Microsoft’s multi-channel audio interface for communication with audio devices. WASAPI was introduced with Windows Vista™ and is supported by Windows 7 and later versions. WASAPI delivers an unmodified audio-stream to a sound device, and provides similar benefits as ASIO.”David Aleksandersen
So, if you’re using anything older than Windows 7, you will still need ASIO4ALL (if you aren’t using a dedicated soundcard with its own drivers).
As mentioned above, ASIO4ALL Mac does not apply, and likely never will.
Do I Need A Soundcard For Music Production?
For all the points above, a soundcard is absolutely advisable for anyone who is looking to take music production seriously. At the very least, even if you’re looking to pursue it purely as a hobby, you’ll want to buy a soundcard so you can enjoy the experience without tearing your hair out over latency issues. It is the biggest buzzkill to creativity.
What Are The Best Soundcards For Music Production?
Mackie Audio Interface, Onyx Artist 1X2 USB Audio Interface (Onyx Artist 1-2)
Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High Performance Audio Interface
Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
Tracktion Music Production Software
ProTools, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time & Tone, Red Plug-In Suite, 3-Month Splice Subscription
If you’re currently producing without a soundcard, and this article has given you the encouragement you need to finally invest in one — we’ve provided a short list of the top 3 soundcards for recording music in 2020.
Getting into music production has never been cheaper, and good quality, entry-level audio interfaces can cost you less than $100 USD.
Mackie’s foray into the budget audio device world has been nothing short of a success. The Onyx promises, and delivers zero-latency monitoring, pristine preamps, and is a powerhouse of an audio interface for the price.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has been the undisputed champion of budget soundcards for new producers, due to its reliability, quality preamps and attractive price point.
It’s feature-packed, and allows you to select the source type for each input, and has visual indicators of when your signal is clipping/distorting — which even many of the expensive audio interfaces lack!
This is great if you’re new and still learning how to correctly gain stage, but honestly — it’s just handy to have, regardless of skill level.
On top of that, you get high-speed USB connectivity, two preamps, and it also comes with four bundled plugins and even a copy of Ableton Live Lite!
Other Tips You Can Try To Improve Your Audio Latency
Reduce the audio buffer size
Buffer size dictates the time required by your computer in order to process data. If you set this too large, you’ll get latency. Conversely, reducing the buffer size by too much will place strain on your computer and glitch out your audio. Experiment with different buffer sizes to see which works best for you.
Last update on 2021-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API