Tascams GigaStudio FAQ

  • Q: What is GigaStudio?
  • Q: Who would use GigaStudio?
  • Q: Is the MIDI response quick enough in GigaStudio?
  • Q: Can I run GigaStudio and a Sequencer on the same machine.
  • Q: Will GigaStudio run with a hard disk recorder (DAW application) on the same computer?
  • Q: Is it time to stop thinking in terms of hardware samplers?
  • Q: What exactly is GSIF?
  • Q: What Audio Cards will GigaStudio work with? What about multiple outputs?
  • Q: What is “Multi-Client” when referring to sound cards?
  • Q: What about SoundBlaster Live?
  • Q: Can GigaStudio read other library formats?
  • Q: Is there a wide range of sample library products available for GigaSampler?
  • Q: Where/How do I get GigaStudio sample libraries?
  • Q: Do you recommend a laptop for portable use with GigaStudio?
  • Q: What are the system requirements?
  • Q: If GigaStudio streams samples from the hard drive, what difference does the installed memory make?
  • Q: How much RAM can I load on to my system for Giga to use?

Q: What is GigaStudio? top

GigaStudio is a full-featured software-based sample playback device. Like it’s hardware sampler predecessors, GigaStudio allows you to load an instrument, or groups of “samples” into the program and play them with a keyboard via MIDI control messages.

Libraries available for GigaStudio include acoustic instruments (pianos, strings, brass, woodwinds, etc), textural collections (drones, sound EFX, atmospheric), drums and percussion, and modern music devices (synths and loops), and a wide collection of unique and rare instruments (ethnic collections, Mellotrons, Hammond organs, Dobros, etc).

Here are some of the major differences between hardware-based sample playback devices and GigaStudio:

  1. GigaStudio far surpasses traditional sample playback devices with regards to samples that can be played at once. GigaStudio can deliver up to 160 samples playing at one time.
  2. GigaStudio’s hardware requirements are a PC computer. Unlike fixed hardware devices, you can always upgrade the performance of your GigaStudio computer by updating processors, hard drives, and memory.
  3. Unlike the puny little LCD displays on a hardware sampler, GigaStudio let’s you use any number of computer displays available on the market for a big, comfortable, and most certainly informational interaction with the software.
  4. GigaStudio’s technological advancement allows you to take advantage of massive libraries that could never have been played on a less powerful hardware sampler.
  5. Because GigaStudio is a computer-based application, you have the flexibility of purchasing and using any number of standard sound cards currently on the market to address your specific I/O needs…not what the hardware sampler manufacturer thinks you will need.
  6. Finally, A full-blown GigaStudio computer will cost considerably less money than a hardware sampler that isn’t half as powerful! 

Q: Who would use GigaStudio? top

Anyone doing any sort of musical production, whether it is professionally or just for fun. GigaStudio gives you access to instruments that are difficult to own, play, or perhaps you never dreamed you could have used in your creations.

GigaStudio is used in film composing, music for TV, records, commercials, live, and just about any other situation that requires high-quality instruments.

Q: Is the MIDI response quick enough in GigaStudio? top

Everyone that has not seen GigaStudio in person always asks if it really plays back in real time with no delay like all the other soft-synths on the market. The latency is approximately 5 ms or less but may vary slightly on different sound cards. It is as fast as most professional hardware MIDI devices, especially with more than just the first three notes playing. The latency on many hardware samplers will degrade as the polyphony increases so that only the first three notes are actually within 4ms or so. Once the polyphony is maxed out, the latency can be as high as 20ms. With GigaStudio, all 160 voices will be the same low latency. There may be some variance depending on your sound card or MIDI hardware. 

Q: Can I run GigaStudio and a Sequencer on the same machine. top

Yes, you can sequence on the same computer while running the GigaStudio. You simply designate the sequencer you want to use as the default sequencer in the GigaStudio Setup Page and by pressing the “sequencer button” at the top of the main GigaStudio page and your favorite sequencer will launch ready for recording and playback. GigaStudio shows up in the MIDI output ports window just like an internal MIDI I/O card.

Q: Will GigaStudio run with a hard disk recorder (DAW application) on the same computer? top

Yes you can with the right setup. You will need a Multi-Client sound card (one that can output audio from two different applications simultaneously). You will get the best performance with two hard drives, one each for the DAW’s audio playback the other one for GigaStudio samples to stream from. Keep in mind that when splitting resources on a single computer, you will never get the same performance as if you ran two separate systems. The bottom line here is that you need to find what is an acceptable tradeoff for your working situation and budget.

Q: Is it time to stop thinking in terms of hardware samplers? top

You bet. One GigaStudio rig can outperform 2 or even 3 hardware samplers costing twice as much money each. 

Q: What exactly is GSIF? top

GSIF stands for “Giga-Sampler-Inter-Face”, and is the ultra-low latency audio driver that GigaStudio uses. 

Q: What Audio Cards will GigaStudio work with? What about multiple outputs? top

Just about every major soundcard manufacturer offers a GigaStudio compatible sound card, with more being added on a weekly basis. Manufacturers like Frontier, MOTU, RME, M-Audio, EGO-SYS, and TASCAM offer excellent solutions to use with GigaStudio. The only thing to consider is what type and how much I/O you will need. GigaStudio can support up to 32 discrete outputs, so it is really up to you how you will need to work with GigaStudio and what sound card solution will work best for you. 

Q: What is “Multi-Client” when referring to sound cards?top

Multi-client simply means that the designated sound card can output audio from two separate applications simultaneously. This would be necessary if you were planning to run GigaStudio and a DAW application (Cubase, Sonor, Nuendo, etc.) on the same machine as GigaSudio at the same time. With a multi-client sound card, you could split the outputs however you desired between the two applications, with GigaStudio using the GSIF audio driver and the DAW application using ASIO or WDM. Outputs 1-8 of a 16 channel sound card could be used for Giga, while the DAW app used 9-16 for it’s audio. A majority of the Giga-compatible sound cards are multi-client, so the choice is yours! 

Q: What about SoundBlaster Live?top

Only certain SoundBlaster cards will work with GigaStudio under very specific scenarios. The thing to keep in mind here is that GigaStudio will really get to shine utilizing it’s own specific audio driver (GSIF). SoundBlaster sound cards do not support GSIF, and must interface using Window’s Direct Sound audio driver. Direct Sound will only support a single pair of outputs and will not give you the ultra-low latency available with the GSIF audio driver. Giga can currently only use Direct Sound audio drivers under Windows 98SE and ME with certain SoundBlaster cards.

Q: Can GigaStudio read other library formats? top

It sure can. Built in to all versions of GigaStudio is a function called S-Convert which will allow you to insert any Akai formatted CD-Rom and convert the entire disk’s content over to the GigaStudio format. Above and beyond that, there is a third party software application made by Chicken Systems called Translator. With Translator, you can convert just about every major library format (E-Mu, Roland, Kurzweil, Ensoniq, Sound Font, and Sample Cell..both Mac and PC formatted) over for use with GigaStudio. 

Q: Is there a wide range of sample library products available for GigaSampler? top

GigaStudio formatted libraries have become the new industry standard, and with well over 250 libraries currently available in native GigaStudio format, there is probably something for everybody in the way of sampled instruments. Some of these are familiar standards that have been improved to take advantage of GigaStudio’s large capacity and dimension controllers. GigaStudio supports looping and most traditional sampler functions – even though they may be only optional for many sounds. 

Q: Where/How do I get GigaStudio sample libraries? top

There are a number of sample libraries available from the TASCAM website, but there are still many others available from companies like Big Fish, East West, Sonic Implants, and a variety of other, well established sample library developers. 

Q: Do you recommend a laptop for portable use with GigaStudio? top

In the past, it was best to stay away from laptops for use with GigaStudio. These were the main reasons why:

  1. Single, slow hard drives 
  2. Impossible to use GSIF compatible sound cards 
  3. Limited Ram installed 
  4. Slow, inexpensive processors (like Celerons) 

But over the last few years, advances in external hard drives and sound cards coupled with faster processors and expandable RAM installations have made laptops a viable solution for GigaStudio. Now, if you can stick to the following guidelines, you can easily set up and run a respectable GigaStudio laptop: 

  1. External Firewire or SCSI hard drive (via PCM/CIA card) for the Giga instruments 
  2. Run a respectable P4 or AMD XP processor 
  3. Install at least 256 MB of Ram 
  4. Utilize an external GSIF compatible sound card 

Q: What are the system requirements? top

GigaStudio is a powerful computer audio software application. Working with audio on your PC has a different set of considerations than other, less system-intensive computer chores. Here is a brief description of specific system components that play an important role in how well GigaStudio will perform:


Processor Pentium, and most recently, AMD processors are considered the standard for doing any sort of audio work on a PC. To get the maximum performance from GigaStudio 160, you need to be running a processor with an 800 MHz rating or higher spec. Processors like Intel Celerons are fine for basic computing chores, but are not well suited for audio and should be avoided.
RAM Although Giga streams the samples from your installed hard drive, GigaStudio does buffer a small portion of each sample into the installed RAM. This allows your computer to play back the sample with minimal response latency.The amount Giga buffers into RAM is a mere 64K per sample (a little less than ¼ of a second). With this in mind, it is a good idea to put a respectable amount of RAM into your system. A bare minimum of 256 MB, and a recommended 512 or more is a good amount to have and will make your computer audio experience much more pleasant.
Hard Drive There are 3 considerations when choosing a hard drive for your GigaStudio computerRPM Rating: A minimum rotational speed of 7200 RPM is recommended to run Giga efficiently. It is not really necessary to run SCSI drives, but if you have them…use em’. A good ATA 100 drive will do the job just fine.Seek Time: Seek time is the measured amount of time it takes for your drive to access the data. When streaming instrument data from a hard drive, you want to be able to access the data as fast as you can. The faster the seek time, the better the performance. A seek time of no more than 8-9 milliseconds is recommended.Size: Keeping in mind that Giga instruments are rather large, you need to make sure you get a hard drive that will give you enough room to put all of your instrument data. The flip side to this drive consideration is that although drives are getting bigger and bigger (100 GB and higher these days), the components within the drive, specifically the platters that the data is written to, are being made thinner to accommodate a larger storage capacity. For Giga, you should try to not go too far beyond the 60-80 GB size rating unless it is necessary. It is also a good idea to put all of your Giga instruments onto a separate drive from your OS and program data. This is common practice in the world of computer audio, and is most certainly a good idea with Giga.

Q: If GigaStudio streams samples from the hard drive, what difference does the installed memory make? top

Although GigaStudio does indeed stream samples from the hard drive, it does buffer a very small portion of each sample into the installed RAM. The reason for this that there is not a hard drive on the planet fast enough to begin streaming a sample instantly when you hit a key on the keyboard. GigaStudio buffers approximately 64K (roughly 1/5 of a second) of each sample into RAM to allow for instantaneous attack, and the rest of the sample subsequently streams from the hard drive. The beauty of this method is GigaStudio will use the same amount of RAM whether the samples are 5 seconds or 5 minutes each! 

Q: How much RAM can I load on to my system for Giga to use? top

It is always a good idea to have as much RAM as a) your system supports, and b) you can afford. With the way GigaStudio functions at the kernel level there are however limitations as to what amount of the installed RAM GigaStudio can access at the kernel level of your computer. Windows has put the cap on RAM access at kernel level for 98SE/ME at roughly 1 GB of installed RAM, and 1.5 GB of the installed RAM on an XP/2000 machine.

Even though GigaStudio has a RAM limit determined by Windows, amounts of installed RAM above what GigaStudio can actually access will help in many other areas of your computer’s performance.