M-Audio Audiophile USB with Cakewalk Home Studio 2004

As mentioned in a previous article, I am running Cakewalk Home Studio 2004 on Windows Vista. I have now added an M-Audio Audiophile USB audio interface to my set up, and can happily report that the Cakewalk & the Audiophile play happily together.

There are a few bugs that appear with the Audiophile, though they seem to come and go. For example, when I first fire up the Audiophile, it often won't play back sounds (such as application sounds & music) at a good volume. When this happens I have to crank the headphone volume up all the way just to hear a quiet but distorted signal. Restarting the Audiophile almost always immediately corrects the problem.

Another issue is that when in Cakewalk, if I play a MIDI drumbeat through my SoundFont player (LiveSynth Pro), the samples sound distorted until I record something into another audio track. The easiest solution is to set up a new audio track & record a small amount of silence that can then be muted. Later on I will use that track for something else. This bug might lie with any of the components used: the Audiophile, the Cakewalk software, etc.

With my system (which includes a Dell Inspiron laptop) I can lower the latency in Cakewalk to about 5ms. I find this is still too much to be able to ignore when using input monitoring, especially for faster guitar parts. Also, the extra processing power needed causes the occasional audio dropout which sometimes results in losing a good take whilst recording.

These issues aside, I am very happy with my set up, especially as Cakewalk Home Studio 2004 was never intended for Windows Vista usage. I recently purchased a small desktop mixer, the Soundcraft Compact 4, which I run through the Audiophile, and that has also been integrated seamlessly into the system. The best feature of the Compact 4 is that it eliminates the need for input monitoring in the software as it has outputs to blend the playback from the Audiophile (or any other input) with the instruments & vocals I am also plugging in. Therefore, when recording I use the "artist" headphone output on the Compact 4 and experience zero latency!

For Christmas I might treat myself to Pro Tools M-Powered, which is another sequencer designed to work with many of M-Audio's audio interfaces and soundcards. I am hoping that the bugs I currently experience will be gone. The other reason to change software is so that I can more easily collaborate with other users of Pro Tools, which seems more popular for audio based music (as opposed to MIDI based music). If and when I do move to Pro Tools, I'll be sure to post an article on this site with my thoughts!