Thanks to you both for the helpful replies. My new Dell desktop Windows 10 PC only has one pcie slot that fits the StarTech card. It does seem to be working, more on this below. This is the adapter card that I purchased, based on dozens of forum posts across the internet (here, Gearslutz, etc.) with success stories of folks using this in my exact circumstance (Multiface w/ PCI HDSP card on Windows 10 desktop): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024 … &psc=1
I have tweaked the system and power settings per typical suggested Windows 10 OS tweaks for audio production (I did all the suggested tweaks per the Sweetwater site). I will test out vinark's suggestions above.
After extensive testing, it is my opinion that the issue is the WDM side of the equation, which seems unavoidable for system audio in Windows 10, sadly, as everything I’ve read about it seems bad. Put another way--if I use iTunes or web-based audio (YouTube, etc.) in Chrome, it seems the audio is inherently going through the WDM drivers (ie "Audio Inputs and Outputs" in the Device Manager). I am getting scratchy glitches unpredictably--about 20-30 seconds of good audio, then a glitch for a second, and so on. Doesn't seem tied to any activity--even if nothing else is open and I'm not touching the computer, this happens. I have tried all manner of sample-rate and buffer size combinations, various settings in iTunes, using just 1 or all WDM Devices in the Hammerfall DSP Settings window, and I have tried HDSP drivers 3.08.5,4.29, and 4.36. After much more extensive and iterative testing of all three of these drivers, I don’t think any is better or worse than the others in terms of my WDM issues in iTunes.
Both 4.29 and 4.36 do have both WDM and ASIO drivers, so it would be great to get more insight into why these aren’t working well with iTunes. Fwiw, the HDSP PCI card I have plugged into the PCIe Startech adapter is hardware Rev 1.8, flash-updated to the most current that card can be (Revision 55). My “Global” tab in the Hammerfall DSP Settings says “Multiface (1), Bus=4, Device=4, Revision=55”.
The good news is that the ASIO drivers in Ableton Live 9 seem rock-solid, even at a 32 buffer-size. I haven’t yet swapped in my internal hard drive from the old machine to fire up some heavy-duty Live files for more intense testing, but I have listened for 8 hours of music in Ableton—zero glitches. Can’t make it through a single song in iTunes without at least a few glitches. So to me, it seems like the silly Windows 10 WDM issue is the problem, for iTunes, Chrome, etc., where I don’t know how to/ can’t use ASIO, and am stuck using the WDM drivers.
To drill-down on the WDM drivers, when I go to Device Manager>Audio inputs and Outputs, I see two things:
1. RCA-esque icon with “Analog (1+2) (RME Hammerfall DSP). When I right-click>”Properties”, and go to the Driver tab, it says the driver is 10.0.1904.1, provided by Microsoft, and the “Details”>Device description tab has a value of “Audio Endpoint”
2. Speaker icon with “Speakers (RME Hammerfall DSP). When I right-click>”Properties”, and go to the Driver tab, it says the driver is 10.0.1904.1, provided by Microsoft, and the “Details”>Device description tab has a value of “Audio Endpoint”
In the “Events” tab, these both point to “Aduioenpoint.inf” as the driver name. I am way out of my element, as I’m just embarking into audio on Windows 10, but it did seem odd that neither of these drivers seemed to be coming from RME, or mentioning HDSP. Maybe this is the issue? Any insight here would be greatly appreciated. Sure seems like ideally these would still be RME drivers here....
In summary—seems like WDM with iTunes is a problem, and ASIO with Live is so far, so good. More testing needed on the later (trying to do that tonight).
This multiface has been so good for nearly two decades, I am loathe to just let it go and drop a bunch of money on something new. Maybe sourcing a $350 HDSPe / PCIe card and avoiding the StarTech adapter will solve the issue, but I do wonder if this is more related to the WDM side of things? My whole studio gear setup is based around the Multiface not having any preamps, and it doesn’t seem like RME has an equivalent today, so the idea of buying an expensive new card with features I don’t need when I’m so close to making what I have keep on living is tough to stomach. Maybe worst-case I just get a used Apple TV, and stream music from my iPhone to it, and wire the optical out of the Apple TV to the multiface and just bypass WDM and iTunes for listening to music on my new PC. Definitely a hack work-around, but better than shelling out another $1,600 on a soundcard just to make iTunes work…