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Thread: Recording with USB passthrough to VM

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    Recording with USB passthrough to VM

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    I'm a computer type, and thus most of my computers run some variant of GNU/Linux. One of the only reasons my desktop still runs Windows is because I do some studio stuff sometimes and am accustomed to DAWs that are Windows-only (e.g. Cubase), plus my USB audio interfaces (Tascam) have little or no Linux driver support.

    I'm thinking about building a new desktop fairly soon. So, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience running a (fairly beefy) Linux host with a Windows VM plus USB port/controller passthrough in order to do recording/mixing on the Windows VM. I've seen online that it is certainly possible and that USB controller passthrough is preferable, but I am wondering if it is actually practical and worth configuring versus having a separate bare-metal Windoes install for studio purposes.

    Any thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by whirlwindRA View Post
    I'm a computer type, and thus most of my computers run some variant of GNU/Linux. One of the only reasons my desktop still runs Windows is because I do some studio stuff sometimes and am accustomed to DAWs that are Windows-only (e.g. Cubase), plus my USB audio interfaces (Tascam) have little or no Linux driver support.

    I'm thinking about building a new desktop fairly soon. So, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience running a (fairly beefy) Linux host with a Windows VM plus USB port/controller passthrough in order to do recording/mixing on the Windows VM. I've seen online that it is certainly possible and that USB controller passthrough is preferable, but I am wondering if it is actually practical and worth configuring versus having a separate bare-metal Windoes install for studio purposes.

    Any thoughts?
    There is a guy with the sobriquet 'Folderol' over at sound on sound forum and he is BIG on Linux. I loaned him my NI KA6 and he bought one on the strength.

    Pop over for a chat. (don't ask me, I can barely run Windows!)

    Dave.

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    Dang! That's hardcore.

    If there's no driver support for it on the host, I suspect getting the VM to recognize it will be pretty difficult. Does your hosting software support some kind of "just pass this USB through and let the VM handle it" option? 'cause if there isn't something like that, I have no idea how it could ever work.

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    Two words. Don’t do it. Ok 3, one of which is technically a contraction, so...but, latency is one of the ghosts each digital audio gear-head chases, so why risk injecting a bunch of who-knows-what software drivers into the ‘mix’ (pun intended). Can it be done, I’m sure someone has. Why would you want to? If your just trying to prove a point with Linux, go for it. If your truly looking for a stable recording platform in an industry with its own conformance/compliance issues, your wasting good creative time. Throw some free Oracle VirtualBox on your host and see how much fun that is. Again, prove you can do it, sure, use a VM and expect it to perform with 30 plus tracks loaded all using multiple plug-ins, dozens of edits per track, automation, etc. Your money would be better spent on a new car to drive yourself to a real studio : )
    IMO, do yourself a favor and roll over like rest of us have had to, dual boot is your best option for performance, otherwise, indeed run Linux but, make the Linux install the VM instead. It’s free with VirtualBox and while not a true hypervisor, you get your cake and Linux too.

    Best of luck
    -PC

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    Quote Originally Posted by cecerre View Post
    if your just trying to prove a point with linux, go for it.
    qft

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    So I was very discouraged by some of the information in this thread, and I had planned on not going this route or trying it at all. I ended up going with a dual-boot, but the same Windows instance can also be booted from Linux using KVM and GPU passthrough in case I want to use both at the same time. Anyway, with my new rig, I was having issues getting my USB interfaces to work for more than a few seconds when booted into Windows (Tascam USB issues with new desktop build). Since it wasn't working in native Windows, I decided to try my USB interfaces while running Windows in KVM just for fun. As expected, using USB device passthrough, I just heard some clicks. But passing the entire USB controller through, my device worked exactly as expected (surprisingly)!

    Quote Originally Posted by VomitHatSteve View Post
    Dang! That's hardcore.

    If there's no driver support for it on the host, I suspect getting the VM to recognize it will be pretty difficult. Does your hosting software support some kind of "just pass this USB through and let the VM handle it" option? 'cause if there isn't something like that, I have no idea how it could ever work.
    You're not hardcore unless you live hardcore.

    Actually, not difficult at all. You just tell the hypervisor/manager (in this case KVM/virt-manager) to pass through a device or controller, and it just works. No need for drivers on the host.

    Quote Originally Posted by cecerre View Post
    Two words. Don’t do it. Ok 3, one of which is technically a contraction, so...but, latency is one of the ghosts each digital audio gear-head chases, so why risk injecting a bunch of who-knows-what software drivers into the ‘mix’ (pun intended). Can it be done, I’m sure someone has. Why would you want to? If your just trying to prove a point with Linux, go for it. If your truly looking for a stable recording platform in an industry with its own conformance/compliance issues, your wasting good creative time. Throw some free Oracle VirtualBox on your host and see how much fun that is. Again, prove you can do it, sure, use a VM and expect it to perform with 30 plus tracks loaded all using multiple plug-ins, dozens of edits per track, automation, etc. Your money would be better spent on a new car to drive yourself to a real studio : )
    IMO, do yourself a favor and roll over like rest of us have had to, dual boot is your best option for performance, otherwise, indeed run Linux but, make the Linux install the VM instead. It’s free with VirtualBox and while not a true hypervisor, you get your cake and Linux too.

    Best of luck
    Quote Originally Posted by VomitHatSteve View Post
    qft
    You are right, but it actually works much better than expected, as I sit here playing back 60 tracks of a fully-produced song with many plugins, a bunch of Melodyne instances, automation, and edits. Okay, ideally there would be no artifacts or dropouts at all in a digital audio setup, but they maybe occur a couple times a minute. And the project takes a long time to load (comparatively), but that's probably because the raw hard disk/SSD (even with virtio) isn't quite as fast as it would be with SATA controller passthrough. But it is usable for basic recording and certainly editing, and I may have to use it until I can swap out these interfaces for one that cooperates with my motherboard.

    My only problem now is that Windows and Cubase keep fighting over which sample rate to use on the interface, which has some interesting effects on the sound :P, but that's for another time...

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    "My only problem now is that Windows and Cubase keep fighting over which sample rate to use on the interface, which has some interesting effects on the sound :P, but that's for another time... "

    I am pretty sure you can set Cubase to grab "everything" and tell Windows to eff off?

    "Release Drivers in Background" Find that and DON'T do it!

    Dave.
    Last edited by ecc83; 06-09-2018 at 05:00.

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