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What does an audio interface do?

Discussion in 'GUITAR RIG' started by dmorgan, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. dmorgan

    dmorgan New Member

    Right now I plug my guitar jack straight into the line-in jack on my laptop, using an adapter. From reading more about Guitar Rig, I guess this is not the correct way to do it?I was looking on the NI website for the Rig Kontrol pedalboard, but couldn't see it on there. On the Guitar Rig page, the Komplete Audio 6 was listed under additional hardware. Is this what I need to buy? I would really like the pedalboard so that I can easily switch effects. What are my options here?
  2. jaslan

    jaslan NI Product Owner

    Simply put, the audio interface is a sound card. BUT, it is designed to operate with lower latency (lag) than the soundcard you already have in your computer and most audio interfaces have multiple inputs and outputs. Some even have built in effects so that you can monitor your playing directly through the interface without software on the computer. Komplete Audio 6 is an audio interface but it is not the one you necessarily need. There are several other decent audio interfaces in the $100-$200 range. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Presonus Audiobox 22, Steinberg UR22 (all USB 2.0 interfaces). I strongly recommend you do some research if you decide to buy an interface. One catch with using an audio interface is that you will need powered monitors to plug into them or, if it has a headphone jack, you can plug in headphones or standard computer speakers. The Rig Kontrol is also an audio interface with the added feature of MIDI controller footswitches that allow you to select different effects, etc. It also has a pedal that can be assigned to whatever you want such as Wah, Volume, or even Delay time, etc. There are other ways to do this as well. The Line 6 FBV Shortboard MkII can send MIDI to your computer. If you don't necessarily need to be able to step on it, a MIDI controller keyboard can do it as well and many of those also have expression pedal jacks (for Wah, Volume, etc.). If you are a straight up guitarist, the Rig Kontrol or Line 6 solution probably makes the most sense but if you want to use a keyboard as well, a keyboard MIDI controller might make more sense. There are also many NON-keyboard MIDI "pad" controllers that could be set up to turn on and off effects. If fact, there are Apps for phones and tablets to do it. TouchDAW, for example, has a free "simple" version of the App. There are TONS of options for audio interfaces and MIDI controller so take your time, do research, and plan ahead about what you want to do.

    If playing through the MIC input on your computer is working, there is nothing wrong or "scary" with it. If you notice a delay from the guitar to the speakers you can try to adjust the latency in the options. If you can't get the delay short enough without getting crackles and drop-outs then you have reached the limitation of your sound card. I use the sound card in my laptop when I am away from home (where my audio interface and monitors are) and I can get about 25ms latency. It is noticeable but not unworkable depending on what I am trying to do. With my audio interface, I can get 6-10ms total latency. It is pretty much negligible. I have read that people can detect roughly 6ms latency.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, just ask.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  3. dmorgan

    dmorgan New Member

    Thanks for taking the time to type out that very helpful reply!I really want a pedalboard so that I can switch effects and patches while playing live. Will the Line 6 Shortboard work with Guitar Rig 5? I actually have a Line 6 Spider already, but haven't used it in ages as I prefer the Guitar Rig sounds. Do most of these interfaces connect to the computer via USB?It really sucks that the Rig Kontrol was discontinued. That was exactly what I am needing I think.
  4. jaslan

    jaslan NI Product Owner

    I would recommend going to the Line 6 website and downloading the manual. It says on the brief description I read that it works with many amp simulator software programs. It seems to just use standard MIDI Continuous Controllers so I can't imagine why it wouldn't work. You could ask on the forum there or send support an e-mail to confirm. I have never touched one to be honest. Just thought I would mention it.

    Many of the low to mid grade audio interfaces are USB now. The higher end ones tend to be Fire Wire or PCI bus cards but there are some very high end ones that are also Thunderbolt or USB etc. The FireWire and PCI usually have slightly lower latencies than the USB due to the way the computer prioritizes the different busses. For home studio applications, USB 2.0 seems to be plenty good enough.
  5. aeleus

    aeleus New Member

    I have the Line 6 FBV Express MKII Foot Pedal Controller and can confirm that it works just fine with Guitar Rig 5. The Express is (essentially) a 4-button version of the Shortboard (it uses the same software to configure the MIDI functions). As jaslan surmised, it works as a MIDI controller with GR.

    For less than the cost of the Line 6 Shortboard, I found the Rig Kontrol on Craigslist. You can find them on eBay as well. It's only 8 buttons versus 13, but it has several advantages: it's also a soundcard/audio interface (powered by USB), has 2 guitar/line inputs, integrates seamlessly with GR, and can work as a MIDI controller using the Controller Editor software if you need it.

    There's nothing else available that compares to it. I don't know why NI discontinued it.
  6. eviltobz

    eviltobz Forum Member

    as an addendum to the description of what an audio interface is - different types of sound creation/capture devices that you might want to plug into your computer operate at different level. a microphone needs a pre-amp to raise the level up, line-level things like electric keyboards or somesuch have a much higher level, so are captured without an amp in the way. guitar, i believe, is somewhere between the 2. most audio interfaces have instrument level inputs designed for plugging in a guitar or bass, but going straight into your computer will likely have a sub-optimal mismatchy thing going on. if you're happy with the sound, that's fine, but you may find that a proper audio interface will help you get a clearer sound out of the guitar and into the computer.
  7. Vitaly Medvedev

    Vitaly Medvedev New Member

    Can someone explain to me: if I use a midi controllers (a keyboard and a launchpad), which are connected to a computer via USB directly, not through the audio interface, will the audio interface help with the latency? Or do I need to connect via an interface?
  8. LBH

    LBH NI Product Owner


    The soundcard will not help on your controller latency if your controller use it's own connection on your computer, and not is going thru the interface, but use the controllers driver and the quality of that package.
    Controller connection via the controllers own USB or via MIDI thru an interface is perhaps also a matter of drivers what's best.
    I think controller manufactures recommend to use the direct USB connection to control software. But i can't say if a very fast high quality interface can be faster. I don't think it will be much faster if the controllers usb driver is good. I also think the soundcard shall handle more data if it shall handle both in and outgoing signals. That can both be slower and create drop outs i guess. So perhaps it's good to keep the controllers and the soundcard conections apart. That's my thinking. Knowleagde about this is wellcome. I am not come across any. And i'm not a technician.

    But the soundcard can still help on latency if it has good and fast drivers, possibility for low USB bus clock, and fast audio converters.
    For instance a better soundcard than a computers build in soundcard should be better if it's not a very bad soundcard.

    You can read a little about latency here:

    But for instance without a fast CPU you can never get a reel low latency, as fast soundcard settings require a fast CPU to drive it.

    You can also in some cases experience audio dropouts if you need more RAM, uses too slow disks, have bottlenecks of some kind in your system, using bad cables or a connection gets overloaded.

    The point is, that low latency is a matter of many factors and about where you need fast equipment
    Both your computer system, your soundcard and your controller driver has to be good to get reel low well working latency.

    A good soundcard provide better sound when it is used.

    BTW:: With a guitar kontrol interface made for instance for Guitar Rig i think the package is optimized for that usage.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
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  9. Vitaly Medvedev

    Vitaly Medvedev New Member

    Thank you for a very detailed answer. That is a big help to me.