Windows Audio APIs
Microsoft Windows has three audio APIs: MME, DirectSound and ASIO. MME is the oldest one. DirectSound is aimed for gaming purposes on and some soundcard it's played with a degraded internal resolution. ASIO is actually not a native part of Windows, but rather a hack invented by Steinberg in order to bring the latency down. This is achieved by using a very low buffer size and bypassing Windows' native APIs.
Comparison of sound APIs
|WaveOut, WaveIn or "MME"||Works everywhere, never looses a buffer||Very long latency|
|DirectSound||Lower latency than MME, low CPU overhead||Degraded audio quality with some audio drivers|
|ASIO||Very low latency||More prone to stuttering if the CPU or bus is strained, unstable with some audio drivers when combined with MME or DirectSound usage|
|WASAPI||Very low latency||Vista only, might be resampled somewhere (research needed)|