Simple DAW with Indian instruments VST for M-Audio midi keyboard


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Hello Everyone,
Because of budgetary constraints, I bought an M-audio midi keyboard recently hoping to hook it up with some reasonably priced sound module without having to start the computer and open a program. To my disappointment, there is no such sound module which can be programmed with samples (Indian instruments) once in a while and play. The one available for general midi don't seem to be appreciated by music community.

So I set-up with Ableton DAW and few others which came free with this keyboard. Though my PC has a decent configuration, most of these DAWs had annoying latency. All I want is to be able to play keyboard with few instruments (acoustic guitar, piano and harmonium) without much of effects as I don't intend to use it for studio purpose. Fortunately, with SampleTank4 I got less latency with appropriate audio quality.

Now my question, is there any bundle with simple DAW and VST for Indian instruments (Tanpura, Harmonium and Santoor)?
My budget unfortunately is limited up to 100$.
 
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SeaGtGruff

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With respect to the issue of latency, there are two things that can make a big difference-- (1) the audio driver being used, and (2) the settings for the audio buffer.

Most modern computer operating systems are designed to be multi-tasking and need to juggle multiple processes which are running at the same time, each wanting a chunk of the CPU's time. This means that the computer's OS has to prioritize which things will get "first dibs" on the CPU, with the consequence that audio might get delayed a bit if it isn't given a high priority. That doesn't make much difference in many cases, because the delay might be too small to notice, or you might not even have any way to tell that there's any delay at all. For instance, if there were a delay of 5 seconds between the instant when the computer reads a specific chunk of audio data off of an audio CD or from a sound file on the hard drive, how could you tell? It's not like you can see which chunk of data is actively being read at any given time and then recognize when that specific chunk of data is played through the speakers. But even a small latency can be very noticeable when using a MIDI keyboard controller to play a software instrument, because your brain can easily tell that there's a brief delay between the moment when you strike a key and the moment when you hear the resulting sound from the software instrument come out of the speakers.

To help with these issues, companies that make DAWs and digital sound equipment (such as audio interfaces) have created audio drivers that can give better results than your computer's default audio drivers. For instance, ASIO is one such, although there are others. Your DAW (Ableton Live) may come with a set of ASIO drivers, so you might want to try using one of them to see if that helps. But if your DAW or audio equipment doesn't come with an ASIO driver, there's a free "fake ASIO" driver available on the internet called ASIO4ALL that can probably help reduce the latency a great deal.

However, even with a really good audio driver you could still end up with noticeable latency if the audio buffer settings are too high. That might sound backward-- that "high settings" can result in undesirable latency, whereas "low settings" can give better results-- but keep in mind that you want the data being sent from software instruments to reach the speakers with as much "immediacy" as possible, and the job of a buffer is to act as a sort of "waiting room" where data is allowed to collect until the buffer fills up, at which point the data that's been collected up to that point is sent along its way while the next "room-full" of data is allowed to collect. It's okay to have a large buffer size if it doesn't matter that there's a short delay between when the audio data is received by the driver and when the driver sends it to the speakers to be heard-- such as when you're playing an audio CD. But for using a MIDI keyboard controller to play a software instrument you want the audio to go from the software instrument to the speakers with as much immediacy as possible, so you don't want the audio driver to be holding the data back while it fills up a large buffer. Thus, you want the buffer size to be smaller, not larger, so the "waiting room" will fill up more quickly and send the data on its way. But you also don't want the buffer to be too small or it can result in bad sound, such as pops and crackles in the audio. So you need to experiment with the buffer size in the audio driver's settings to find a size that keeps the latency down but also keeps out any unwanted pops, crackles, and other noises caused by an inconsistent and unreliable flow of data.

As for your question about Indian software instruments, you could try searching for a specific instrument name, such as "free sitar vst" or something like that, or you could try looking at the product pages of companies who sell software instruments, such as AIR Music Tech, UVI, Arturia, and others, because some of them sell collections of "world instruments" or even sound packs from specific cultures.
 
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Thanks SeaGtGruff!
I had actually bought a midi keyboard back in 2009 and had the same issue. After 11 years, I thought of giving it a try again as I have better configuration laptop now (i7, 16GB, SSD etc.). I will try the options you suggested and update here.
 

SeaGtGruff

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I first encountered the issue of latency when I bought my M-Audio Axiom 61-II keyboard controller several years ago. The latency was so horrible that I couldn't play because the delay threw off my timing. That's when I learned about ASIO4ALL, which reduced the latency to virtually nothing. I now use an actual ASIO driver from Steinberg-- who created the ASIO protocol-- but if you don't have an actual ASIO driver for your DAW or audio equipment, the ASIO4ALL driver is the next best thing.

There are other options, such as Window's own WASAPI interface, which has been part of Windows since Vista, so you might not need to use an ASIO or "imitation ASIO" driver at all. I'd never even looked into WASAPI until just now, since I've been using ASIO, but I might have to switch to WASAPI so I can see how it works.
 
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During X'mas time, I did some experiments was able to get the acceptable latency. Somehow, a decent PC configuration seems to have ignored by most Youtubers. I would advise people reading this thread to have SSD and highest supported RAM. A 250Gb and 8Gb RAM together would cost around 50 bucks. It's easy to upgrade at home with simple screwdriver and couple of youtube videos.
 
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happyrat1

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When I owned an M-Audio Oxygen 49, Waaaaay back when, the cure for the horrible latency was to disable velocity sensitivity.

This was the only way I could bring a decent signal from that piece of crap into my Linux box.

Gary ;)
 
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