ASIO vs Windows Audio Shootout!

OK Kids,

So here we have a little game. 4 FLAC files - each containtng 2 samples, one recorded with an SSL2+ ASIO audio interface, the other with native Windows Audio (not the Realtek ASIO driver, just plain ol’ Windows Audio).

They were recorded seperately in GP using their respective outputs (the SSL2+ outputs for the ASIO and the Headphone Jack output of my laptop for the Windows) and sent to my workstation PC captured through a Tascam US16x08 then recorded in Cakewalk.

Playback and recording both done @48 kHz. No post processing was done, other than to create the FLAC files with both ASIO and Windows comparisons together (ie: each file has an ASIO & a Windows Audio performance).

Which parts of each of the 4 files are ASIO output, and which ones are Windows Audio output?

This is on Windows 10 or Windows 11?
Who’d say that Windows Audio is this good on Windows :slight_smile:

It might take sense to post screenshots of both setups (Audio Options) in Gig Performer.

Perhaps also to post specs of your PC.

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I’ll take a crack at it: City of Love and Yours is No Disgrace are Windows Audio.
Without any audio glitches I wouldn’t expect much in the way of quality difference @48kHz anyway—all about latency and feel.

Each sample has 2 performances of the same thing, 1 is ASIO, the other Windows.

Win 11

I will post specs tomorrow :slight_smile:

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Oops! I should have read more clearly…
Here are my guesses:

Rhodes: part 1 ASIO, part 2 Win Audio
Yours Is No Disgrace: part 1 Win Audio, part 2 ASIO
And You and I: part 1 ASIO, part 2 Win Audio
City of Love: part 1 Win Audio, part 2 ASIO

I just listened to two of them

AYAI — as far as I can tell the first version sounds better than the second.
City if Love - second one sounds better


Windows Audio using the RealTek audio driver is HD to the headphones port. It’s really pretty good.

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01-Rhodes - both samples sound the same to me, but I give the first sample advantage since I hear a note louder in the second sample (G# ?).

02-YIND - both sound the same, except that kind of reverb is a bit more richer on the second sample.

03-AYAI - both sound great, can’t really tell the difference. Perhaps the first sample sounds a little bit brighter (only a tiniest nuance).

04-City of Love - hm… for some reason I hear noise on the first sample (blew my ears away).

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Wow, almost the opposite of @edm11’s picks!
I didn’t consider if loudness differences influenced things. But on my headphones I really thought I heard one of the clips lacked in frequency response vs the other.

Clip 1: Part 2 preferred
Clip 2: Part 1 preferred
Clip 3: Part 1 preferred
Clip 4: Part 1 preferred

Oh this is very interesting…I love the different comments justifying why someone feels one clip sounds better than the other.

If nothing else, this exercise shows that, while no one out there will dispute ASIOs overall superiority to Windows (Realtek) HD drivers, there are instances (even professional ones) where the sonic output of the Windows Audio is more than acceptable!

To answer @npudar in his request for the hardware of the laptop used for this experiment:
HP Pavillion / Win 11 / i7 (11th Gen) / 64 GB RAM / 1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD

Once we get a few more participants I will disclose what was what :slight_smile:



well… I have an SSL2+, and those two 4k buttons come into play when recording :wink:
unless they weren’t used at all ? @Joey

Those are only for analog inputs.

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I want to play too, but I need to be in the studio… an iPhone won’t be enough to decide…


Yes, most home consumer audio is based around this very premise (at least for the Windows realm). The biggest drawbacks to Windows Audio are latency, lack of timecode synchronization, and of course the usual lack of input/output options on the interface itself.

Your examples are good, they do show how you can get good quality sound using Windows Audio. One could certainly get away with using Windows Audio for small recording purposes. For your own purpose, you’ve stated that the latency issues don’t affect your live playing experience. For anything percussive, that level of latency is unplayable (for me) live. Vocals also require less latency than Windows Audio can provide me.


We can wait…


My guess would be:

  1. ASIO / WIN
  2. WIN / ASIO
  3. ASIO / WIN
  4. WIN / ASIO

I based my guess partly on the reproduction of the highest frequencies but more on the clarity of the sound stage. Those I’m guessing are the ASIO takes sounded like they had a wider more stable and clear stereo image than the WIN takes. That I would be putting down to the difference in the quality of the converters in your laptop chipset and those in the SSL2+ interface. However, in a live gig situation I would defy anyone to detect any audio difference.

Does anyone else care to put their ears (and ego) to the test here?

Come on, gang…Windows Audio output quality sucks, doesn’t it? This should be a no brainer!! LOL…

Damn straight!

I imagine having heard a slight diffrence, but i can’t tell which is which… talking about nuances.
In every example there was one piece that somehow sounded a bit more “open”, “brilliant” or “transparent” compared to the other half… it’s like the separation of the diffrent frequency ranges was a bit better.
Presuming the music world’s wide spread opinion that Windows Audio is always the bad boy and ASIO is the good girl, then i would tend to this conclusion:

  1. ASIO / Windows
  2. ASIO / Windows
  3. ASIO / Windows
  4. Windows / ASIO

Looking forward to the official results! :smiley: