ASIO - Audio Stream Input/Output Technology

ASIO and drop outs

Windows PC users may have to change an option in regard to the processor scheduling in order to work with low latency ASIO drivers without trouble.
  • Go to Windows Start menu, select “Control Panels”
  • There, start “System”
  • In the window “System Properties” select the tab “Advanced”
  • Click on “Settings” in the section “Performance”
  • In the window “Performance Options” select the tab “Advanced”
  • There you find the “Processor scheduling” options, set it to “Background services”.

Your system is now ready to work with low latency ASIO drivers without drop outs.

ASIO is a protocol to be able to digitally process audio input (from your musical instruments) through your audio interface, with a imperceptibly low latency -i.e. a delay in transmission between input (playing a string) and output (the sounding of it in your speaker system) down to a few milliseconds.

The ASIO standard is developed by Steinberg to adress the need of musicians for responsive sound cards for their musical instrument, to be able to process input from their instrument by software - amp or effects emulators - with a latency comparable to what you would get if your audio was processed by dedicated hardware - your amps and effects. That is an imperceptibly low latency, and that means a latency of just a few milliseconds. Latencies higher than 6 ms can be disturbing. You may be able to reduce it by updating your drivers and insure that you've selected the correct driver.

When you plug your musical instrument into your computer, you'll always get some latency, however. But the more the input is processed - the higher the latency. But with sound cards
With ASIO And that's what audio sound card that supports ASIO can do.

Consumer-grade soundcards usually does not have built in support for ASIO.

This is very important if you want a sound card
So, ASIO makes audio cards capable of stream input audio AND process with a very low latency.

It means that if your have a good soundcard that supports ASIO (ASIO 2.0), input from you instrument can be prosessed and outputed with a very low latency. You can plug your guitar into you sound card, run the input throught software based virtual amps, guitar setups, and VST effects plugins, and output it back to the output of your soundcard without troublesome delay.

From Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia:

ASIO provides an interface between an application and the sound card. Whereas Microsoft's DirectSound is typically for stereo input and output for consumers, ASIO provides for the needs of musicians and sound engineers. ASIO offers a relatively simple way of accessing multiple audio inputs and outputs independently. It also provides for the synchronization of input with output in a way that is not possible with DirectSound, allowing recording studios to process their audio via software on the computer instead of using thousands of dollars worth of separate equipment. Its main strength relies in its method of bypassing the inherently high latency of operating system audio mixing kernels, allowing direct, high speed communication with audio hardware.


Audio Interfaces native ASIO drivers or Asio4All

Getting guitar software - like Guitar Rig, Amplitube, ReValver Mk II, or GuitarFX 3 - to work on your machine, you may need a new soundcard with ASIO support (i.e. low latency) with native ASIO drivers.

Windows If you don't have a audio inteface with ASIO drivers, you could try ASIO4ALL. ASIO4ALL is a universal ASIO driver for WDM audio that wraps ASIO capabilities around your existing sound card. Works for a lot of audio interfaces - but not all. ASIO4ALL is freeware. Asio4All may even surpass native ASIO drivers for some soundcards.

If this doesn't work, you need a new audio interface.

  • asio4all - a free driver for 32 and 64-bit Windows, that brings ASIO support to users of consumer-grade soundcards.
  • ASIOTestSigGen - a simple, free Audio Test Signal Generator utility to test ASIO setups
  • The kX Project - third party WDM audio drivers for EMU10K1 and EMU10K2-based sound cards (ie. SoundBlaster Live or SoundBlaster Audigy 1/2 cards)
  • ASIO SDK Steinberg ASIO Developer Information Area