Tweaking Surface Book

Surface Session EP07: Tweaking the Surface Book for Music Production

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This is how you get the Surface Book to behave for music and audio production. A full in-depth guide to the Windows tweaks that are going to matter. Every setting is fully explained so that you know the reasons for and the results of every tweak. I will be releasing a quicker, simpler cut of this video with no explanations very soon so that you can just skip to the chase.

If you object to any of the tweaks or have additional ones that you think are vital then stick them in the comments.






17 thoughts on “Surface Session EP07: Tweaking the Surface Book for Music Production

  1. Which of the inexpensive audio interfaces would you recommend with this? Focusrite Scarlet Solo? Presonus Audiobox? (It’s for my wife -she’s just having fun with it if she can get the audio working)

    1. I’ve heard that people have had problems with focusrite interfaces on the Surface – I have no evidence of why. Presonus use the same tech as focusrite. So I avoid those two just in case. Check out Steinberg or M-Audio.
      All mic inputs with preamps will support dynamic mics so that won’t be a problem.
      Hope that helps
      Robin

  2. Hi Robin,

    As a PT user since 1999, I’ve had plently I’ve set up. Obviously with the SP4, it’s a bit of a different animal in some respects. I can’t seem to get rid of the MIDI delay on the input. It’s simply hit a note and hear it play about 40 – 50ms later. I’ve adjusted the Playback down to 128 in the audio settings. Going to 64 just breaks everything, even in a session with just 1 instrument track only. I tried Low Latency and Delay Compensation. All have little effect on the MIDI delay. Any suggestions? Did this happen to you? I’m using the SP4 8GB/256SSD/i5 model. I’m using a Korg nanoKEY2 as the controller. It’s plugged into a Patriot 4 port USB 3.0 hub. Thanks in advance!

      1. Although I have several audio interfaces (including an Eleven Rack), I haven’t introduced them into the scenario because I want to be able to use this in a coffee shop etc. with just the Surface, Korg nanoKEY 2 and headphones. Thank you

          1. Oh, were you able to use the onboard Windows drivers somehow? For me, Pro Tools wouldn’t work that way. It had an issue with the interface and would only allow to quit. It wasn’t until I researched and found others having the same issue, who said Asio4all was necessary. (fyi: I’m running PT 12.6.1 )

      1. well, I’m not having issues with the audio, as I was describing in the original message. It’s the USB MIDI delay that’s troublesome.

        1. Oh ok, suit yourself. Audio latency is usually (always) caused by the audio interface and driver, that’s why i’m pointing you to my video demonstrating that with ASIO4ALL and how to minimise it. If you believe it to be the keyboard then all I can suggest is trying another keyboard – you can’t do anything magic with MIDI drivers.

          1. Hi. I was never talking about audio latency. 🙂 I was specifically addressing MIDI latency. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

          2. That must be why you were asking my about ASIO. I figured I’d just answer your question in case there was some type of possible issue for whatever reason. It is a MS device after all .lol

          3. You are obviously a man who knows their own mind Bob – but humour me for a second. Record some MIDI notes alongside a click track. Is the MIDI always off-set by the same amount? If so then that’s MIDI latency. Or you could try routing your MIDI keyboard out to a hardware MIDI sound module – if there’s a delay in hearing the note then that’s MIDI delay. If, however, you are using a virtual instrument within Pro Tools and there’s a delay between striking a key and hearing a noise then that’s “Audio Latency”. Audio latency is a function of the audio interface and the CPU. Upon striking the key the CPU generates the sound but has to negotiate that data through the audio sub-system – this takes time which we experience as a delay to the sound – we call this “audio latency”. It is not the fault of the MIDI keyboard. In your original post you talked about buffer sizes – that’s audio latency!! Latency can be improved by using a USB audio interface with decent ASIO drivers. Latency with the onboard sound can be reduced to a degree using ASIO4ALL which wraps up the Windows drivers and let’s us push the buffer size down so that it becomes playable. Although “playability” is always a function of the user.

            With ASIO4ALL you need to make sure the settings are correct. It you’d much rather not watch the whole video on ASIO4ALL then maybe I can persuade you into watching just a couple of seconds where I show you what you need to set to get rid of the latency. Here – https://youtu.be/z5ZQGwkM_0g?t=2m35s – it may well be that you’ve done all this already and the level of latency looks/sounds similar to what I’m showing in the video. In which case unfortunately you’re going to need a USB audio interface to get a faster response. But I honestly suspect – based on the thousands of people who have asked me about it, the thousands of views and positive comments on my video tackling latency and the decades I’ve spent tackling this issue – that this will solve your problem….. hopefully.

  3. Sorry. I see your point. I’ve been on Mac so long in terms of audio (for obvious reasons) that the “man of your own mind” overlooked that avenue in PC problems. Believe me, I have been a tech for years and many earlier years supporting Microsoft (from 1994 – 1999), while other years working as an Apple authorized service center. So some things on the Apple side I’ve clearly taken for granted because you just don’t have this level of involvement in getting great results. This brings me right back into reminding me of the countless hours I spent on Windows. I realized (at least for myself) that once I was using Mac in my studio (from 1999), a lot of the required and constant tweaking went away and I just got things done. My point isn’t to start a PC/Mac debate, but to thank you for helping me and give a little reasoning for my inability to see your point in the beginning of our conversation. You seem like a pretty great guy and one I’d likely hang out with if we were in the same area. 🙂 I’ve been doing sound for video games since 2004 and would probably have a lot to talk about between our diverse experience. At one point I wrote some of the Tone Module patch code for a great app called PatchMeister if you heard of that. I also used to use it in conjunction with Bars and Pipes. I suspect that may have run across your past as well 🙂 Thanks Robin!

    1. To be honest we tend to ignore on-board audio on PC’s. That’s because Windows has to deal with all sorts of wildly different crappy hardware on a gazillion different devices – so they built in a 500ms buffer to the audio engine. It makes it work on every machine for multi-media applications. These things are improving. Apple only have one or two different hardware configurations to worry about and so their Core Audio system is awesome. If using on-board audio is the main defining factor in your choice of computer then a MacBook is the best bet. Otherwise carry a little USB audio interface with you and you’ll be sorted. It’s not about problems, it’s about getting the best out your computer 🙂

      Cheers!

      1. Absolutely! That’s why I’ve stuck with Apple. That tight integration had it’s advantage. Being that this is known hardware to MS (as in, ‘their hardware’), I was hoping it’d be different. Anyway, It’s all fine. I knew good and well what I was getting into. It all comes down to how much time one has to tinker. You are doing a fantastic job here Robin and I am grateful to you for saving me the time I’d have spent on this. Anything I can do for you, or any info I may be able to provide in return, just say so! 🙂 -Bob

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