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Pro Tools HDX vs S1/Quantum Latency
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Pro Tools HDX vs S1/Quantum Latency

The topic of HDX latency came up on the DUC and I posted a response comparing my recently purchased S1/Quantum system. I saw the .7ms HDX figure mentioned again here today and thought I'd look at it a little deeper.

The .7ms HDX figure is at 96K and 64 samples so I thought I'd use those figures on the S1/Quantum to see the comparison. My system that is moderate by today's standards (i7-8700) handles it just fine including tracking with plugins.

A Pro Tools HDX system with a 8x8 IO is $9298 plus $399 annual support plan vs S1 and Quantum at $1149 and no support plan.

I can imagine S1/Quantum on a more powerful system (think iMac Pro or the upcoming Mac Pro) would literally have no limits and you can use multiple Quantums to get insane amounts of I/O.

I've been using this system for a little over a month and the more I use S1 the more I like it. I haven't even opened Pro Tools for a couple of weeks now.
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Pro Tools HDX vs S1/Quantum Latency-ptvss1latency.jpg  

Last edited by TexasCat; 4 weeks ago at 05:27 PM.. Reason: wrong support plan price
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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Two things:
Annual support plan is $399.

The point of HDX is guaranteed performance. If you push the Quantum to extremes, you can't guarantee it won't glitch. You run HDX with HDX-DSP plugins, you can. Fairly important in critical tracking sessions.

That being said, go for what you like. If you like S1, use it and move on.

Also, it should be mentioned that CoreAudio has an offset buffer built in. Most DAWs do not count that buffer (counting only the audio interface sample buffer) but it exists and does increase delay. When using HDX, you aren't using CoreAudio at all -- it's direct access. When using "normal" Pro Tools you are using CoreAudio and the same issue applies. RME and the CoreAudio SDK write about this (fun fact, at Apple, there is only one guy who manages/develops CoreAudio -- and he's a really nice guy and very open about the trials/tribulations of the CoreAudio framework in Apple's ecosystem)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Two things:
Annual support plan is $399.
Support plan price noted and changed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post

The point of HDX is guaranteed performance. If you push the Quantum to extremes, you can't guarantee it won't glitch. You run HDX with HDX-DSP plugins, you can. Fairly important in critical tracking sessions.
S1/Quantum seems pretty stable and I've not found it's limits so far. With modern Computers this is becoming a non issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post

That being said, go for what you like. If you like S1, use it and move on.
I have mostly moved on but I hold on to the hope that Avid will get it together. If they would just drop the 32 i/o limit and sort out the buffer issue so you didn't need an interface with direct monitoring I'd keep using Pro Tools and gladly pay the Support Plan extortion even.

I like S1 but It'll be a long time before I know it as well as I know Pro Tools.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Also, it should be mentioned that CoreAudio has an offset buffer built in. Most DAWs do not count that buffer (counting only the audio interface sample buffer) but it exists and does increase delay. When using HDX, you aren't using CoreAudio at all -- it's direct access. When using "normal" Pro Tools you are using CoreAudio and the same issue applies. RME and the CoreAudio SDK write about this (fun fact, at Apple, there is only one guy who manages/develops CoreAudio -- and he's a really nice guy and very open about the trials/tribulations of the CoreAudio framework in Apple's ecosystem)

Just before I bought this system I also switched to PC from Mac so I personally can't testify as to how it preforms on MacOS but I thinks Windows is different in this regard.

When I use Pro Tools with the Quantum I can't get anywhere near this performance for some reason. 64 sample buffer just produces CPU spikes, I really don't get it...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCat View Post
Just before I bought this system I also switched to PC from Mac so I personally can't testify as to how it preforms on MacOS but I thinks Windows is different in this regard.
Yes, ASIO does not have this type of buffer.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCat View Post
Support plan price noted and changed.



S1/Quantum seems pretty stable and I've not found it's limits so far. With modern Computers this is becoming a non issue.



I have mostly moved on but I hold on to the hope that Avid will get it together. If they would just drop the 32 i/o limit and sort out the buffer issue so you didn't need an interface with direct monitoring I'd keep using Pro Tools and gladly pay the Support Plan extortion even.

I like S1 but It'll be a long time before I know it as well as I know Pro Tools.




Just before I bought this system I also switched to PC from Mac so I personally can't testify as to how it preforms on MacOS but I thinks Windows is different in this regard.

When I use Pro Tools with the Quantum I can't get anywhere near this performance for some reason. 64 sample buffer just produces CPU spikes, I really don't get it...
I have done what you did years ago. Moving from the Mac Pro Xeon to a PC and moving from Protools to Reason 10 and Studio One. I love both these programs better than Protools.

I dont have the ridiculous problems l use to have.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCat View Post
The topic of HDX latency came up on the DUC and I posted a response comparing my recently purchased S1/Quantum system. I saw the .7ms HDX figure mentioned again here today and thought I'd look at it a little deeper.

The .7ms HDX figure is at 96K and 64 samples so I thought I'd use those figures on the S1/Quantum to see the comparison. My system that is moderate by today's standards (i7-8700) handles it just fine including tracking with plugins.

A Pro Tools HDX system with a 8x8 IO is $9298 plus $399 annual support plan vs S1 and Quantum at $1149 and no support plan.

I can imagine S1/Quantum on a more powerful system (think iMac Pro or the upcoming Mac Pro) would literally have no limits and you can use multiple Quantums to get insane amounts of I/O.

I've been using this system for a little over a month and the more I use S1 the more I like it. I haven't even opened Pro Tools for a couple of weeks now.

HDX is a very different kettle of fish. It is essentially an expandable, cascade-able digital hardware mixer. And it feels like it too, when you use it. There is little to no change in performance between a 100 track stereo music mix, or a 700 track 7.1 surround mix. You can chain multiple HDX rigs together to obtain insane channel counts. You can lock them all to central tri-level sync for frame accurate playback.

Native processing might get there one day, but the targets keep moving as well. A Dolby Atmos template is a mind-boggling session before you even put any audio in it. The 12 channel wide 7.1.4 surround bussing, the objects, and 128 audio outputs feeding the Dolby RMU. It is an impressive beast. There is no doubt the Quantum is an impressive interface, and that native processing has come leaps and bounds... but it's a grave underestimation of the HDX system to try and reduce it to just its latency figures. It is a professional system through and through, that has earned its place rightfully in commercial facilities.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDStudios View Post
HDX is a very different kettle of fish. It is essentially an expandable, cascade-able digital hardware mixer. And it feels like it too, when you use it. There is little to no change in performance between a 100 track stereo music mix, or a 700 track 7.1 surround mix. You can chain multiple HDX rigs together to obtain insane channel counts. You can lock them all to central tri-level sync for frame accurate playback.

Native processing might get there one day, but the targets keep moving as well. A Dolby Atmos template is a mind-boggling session before you even put any audio in it. The 12 channel wide 7.1.4 surround bussing, the objects, and 128 audio outputs feeding the Dolby RMU. It is an impressive beast. There is no doubt the Quantum is an impressive interface, and that native processing has come leaps and bounds... but it's a grave underestimation of the HDX system to try and reduce it to just its latency figures. It is a professional system through and through, that has earned its place rightfully in commercial facilities.
Hard to disagree with any of that and the reality is it's probably more of a direct comparison to HD Native (Not Vanilla) but the discussions that led me to this thought were about HDX having the lowest RTL in regard to monitoring during tracking. If you are in post then HDX has no competitors but that's not the impression I get of most users.

S1/Quantum would hold it's own against HDX tracking and mixing music. If Avid didn't cripple Vanilla an interface like the Quantum would make HD Native obsolete. That's all it would take for Native processing to be there today.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCat View Post
When I use Pro Tools with the Quantum I can't get anywhere near this performance for some reason. 64 sample buffer just produces CPU spikes, I really don't get it...
I don't have any direct experience with the Quantum but ASIO devices can surely do a 64 sample buffer on an i7-8700.

I'm able to do a test project with 128 tracks of 24/48Khz at 64 in S1 with an I7-9700K @4.6 GHz with a Focusrite (the project is something like the old DVERB test only using 4 Blue Cat freeware plugins instead of DVERB) and I can replicate that same project in Pro Tools except there I can use 32 sample buffer plus add a couple more plugins per track. So, S1 performance is very very good and I like it, but Pro Tools should have no problem matching it.

I wonder if you are hitting this dumb bug.. Try running Pro Tools as administrator. I mean, right-click the icon and choose "Run as Administrator" and then let it start.

Once it's running, go into the Setup> Playback Engine and change the sample rate to 128 and click OK to dismiss the dialog, wait for the audio to start back up (say, 10 seconds) then open the Playback Engine again, and switch it back to 64 samples like you wanted.

If it plays back correctly at 64 samples now, you're hitting the bug I'm talking about, and I can give you some better ways to work around it, but no point in typing it all out if you're having a totally different problem (or too happy with S1 to bother with this nonsense, I won't judge!)
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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i have not tried out the s1 quantum interfaces. Therefore i can not speak on the quality of conversion vs an avid 16 io or even a digi 192.

I do use hdx and s1 almost daily. With s1 we are running a focusrite 16line over dante usually at 48k. With this rig the only way i can get S1 to get anywhere close to the performance of hdx is to run S1 at a 16 buffer. Then and only then is the latency low enough where I feel somewhat comfortable in recording. Even at that buffer it still does not feel as good to me as recording in HDX. A 16 buffer is not sustainable in S1...maybe a few synth and drum tracks...but i quickly get spikes if i seriously start to build a production.

in pro tools hdx for the most part unless i have some really high latency plugs on the 2 bus i can just go and not think about it. That is why I have hdx.

ej
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejsongs View Post
i have not tried out the s1 quantum interfaces. Therefore i can not speak on the quality of conversion vs an avid 16 io or even a digi 192.

I do use hdx and s1 almost daily. With s1 we are running a focusrite 16line over dante usually at 48k. With this rig the only way i can get S1 to get anywhere close to the performance of hdx is to run S1 at a 16 buffer. Then and only then is the latency low enough where I feel somewhat comfortable in recording. Even at that buffer it still does not feel as good to me as recording in HDX. A 16 buffer is not sustainable in S1...maybe a few synth and drum tracks...but i quickly get spikes if i seriously start to build a production.

in pro tools hdx for the most part unless i have some really high latency plugs on the 2 bus i can just go and not think about it. That is why I have hdx.

ej
That's interesting, I wouldn't have expected S1/Focusrite to really be much different than S1/Quantum but I've been tracking vocals with 64 buffer and it feels solid. No detectable comb filtering to my ear. I have also tracked 16 i/o using a Clarett Octopre to expand via ADAT and that was pretty solid as well.

I'm using Windows 10 though and if you're using the 16 line that would be Mac. Pentagon mentioned an extra buffer for core audio, perhaps that's the difference.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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HDX - actual A/D - D/A RTL is ~0.5ms. Then everything adds a little. Mixer routing - sends etc. Then plugins - the lowest are ~10 samples but are rare and old. Then all the newer ones ~33 samples minimum and 64 samples not uncommon. HDX RTL with EQ Comp and some routing much more like 1.5ms at 96kHz. Only AAX-DSP plugins to boot. A good number of them but nothing like Native. The good news is that a MacMini will run this and the fundamentals never change with load. (I owned PTHD 12 years and HDX 2.5).

Native at 96kHz and 32 buffer can do 1.1ms. So many plugins won't run there with a REC enabled track (even just as playback ones) - 7th Heaven and most high quality reverbs for example. S1 comes real close to isolating the REC buffer but still has random spikes and dropouts - even on the i9 iMac. 64 buffer is better but still has issues. 128 is getting there but RTL is now closer to 3ms. If S1 could work out the performance of the dual buffer at 96kHz 32 samples though - I could see actually going there in the future.

The only way to track Native reliably at super low RTL (IMO and IME) is to use DSP assist on your interface. Forget trying to put Native plugins on REC tracks unless you are OK with 3.5ms + types of RTL. I am totally spoiled and track acoustic instruments and vocals at 0.3ms to 0.5ms for years now - buffers set wherever you wish - with either Antelope and now Apogee DSP assist (0.3ms) - and no CPU load at all.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProPower View Post

Native at 96kHz and 32 buffer can do 1.1ms. So many plugins won't run there with a REC enabled track (even just as playback ones) - 7th Heaven and most high quality reverbs for example. S1 comes real close to isolating the REC buffer but still has random spikes and dropouts - even on the i9 iMac. 64 buffer is better but still has issues. 128 is getting there but RTL is now closer to 3ms. If S1 could work out the performance of the dual buffer at 96kHz 32 samples though - I could see actually going there in the future.
It sounds like you have a lot of experience with this. I just got the Quantum about a month ago so I'm still getting to know the system as far as how much I can safely push it. It seems like I am getting pretty stable performance at 96kHz 64 samples even with some lighter plugins. I'm going to try some tracking at 32 samples this weekend to see how that goes.

My question is, what do you know about the extra core audio buffer that Pentagon mentioned earlier? I switched to Windows just before I got the Quantum and I'm wondering if there is a performance difference based on that.

I'd really like to understand this because even though I'm happy with my current system for now, the upcoming Mac Pro is definitely on my Radar.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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I just did a little searching on Core Audio, Safety Buffer and RME. I am no authority on this subject :-)! Regardless - from what I read i believe the Safety Buffer feature is an optional one that gives the writer of the devices hardware Driver the ability to add extra buffer to ensure the performance they are after.

I do remember UAD (only had this a short while) having the option to enable or disable an extra buffer. There is also many allusions to MOTU having this feature in their driver. In the past I have noticed with AVID i/o's that the RTL at different sample rates did not exactly = the ratio of the sample rates.

But for me - I test the loopback of all my interfaces. If it is spot on (Apogee, AVID, ULN8 always spot on - Antelope - always off a little) - I assume the driver is right. If not, I worry, and use Logic to correct the hopefully consistent error. Past that I measure RTL in the analog world which is all I need to know.

Regardless - what is your concern about it?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProPower View Post

Regardless - what is your concern about it?
I only switched to windows because it was my plan "B" for a failed Hackintosh build. I put this system together to buy a couple of years till the new Mac Pro is out in the wild.

My concern about the extra core audio buffer is that if/when I go back to the Mac there is a possible RTL penalty because of it. My whole reason for going down this rabbit hole was because I just don't like the external app that so many interfaces require to provide usable monitoring.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCat View Post
I only switched to windows because it was my plan "B" for a failed Hackintosh build. I put this system together to buy a couple of years till the new Mac Pro is out in the wild.

My concern about the extra core audio buffer is that if/when I go back to the Mac there is a possible RTL penalty because of it. My whole reason for going down this rabbit hole was because I just don't like the external app that so many interfaces require to provide usable monitoring.
I believe any RTL penalty will be interface specific - not all Apple.

I am also in the same boat with not wanting to use a second mixer. Since I am 99% just one monitor mix the Apogee with Logic solution, limited as it is, is getting all the use here.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCat View Post

My question is, what do you know about the extra core audio buffer that Pentagon mentioned earlier? I switched to Windows just before I got the Quantum and I'm wondering if there is a performance difference based on that.

I'd really like to understand this because even though I'm happy with my current system for now, the upcoming Mac Pro is definitely on my Radar.
As far as I am aware, Windows is still more efficient than OSX, especially at low latency.

The reason for the extra buffer in Core Audio is because it uses an internal software clock. This allows the aggregation of multiple interfaces from different brands.

Windows, or rather ASIO, doesn't allow aggregation of interfaces like Core Audio and doesn't need a software clock, it reads the hardware clock of your interface. So no need for the extra buffer.

Alistair
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
As far as I am aware, Windows is still more efficient than OSX, especially at low latency.

The reason for the extra buffer in Core Audio is because it uses an internal software clock. This allows the aggregation of multiple interfaces from different brands.

Windows, or rather ASIO, doesn't allow aggregation of interfaces like Core Audio and doesn't need a software clock, it reads the hardware clock of your interface. So no need for the extra buffer.

Alistair
That's why l love working on ASIO4ALL Windows
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