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Is my latency too high? Audio Interfaces
Old 29th September 2013
  #1
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Is my latency too high?

Hello!

I don't seem to find on the internet what the lowest possible latency of my Focusrite Scarlett can be. So I thought I'd ask here what your latencies are. The reason why I think about it is that when I write songs I like record a couple of chords, play with them, try different sounds and jam on them. Kind of like a jam session just with myself.

Anyway.. it is a little annoying when you can hear latency. And as you can imagine with 15 Samples Buffer Size it's hard when the project is a little bigger. 64 Samples are 11.4ms

So.. Is there a way to improve that or is it just normal for that interface price range?


My System
OS X 10.85 (Hackintosh)
Ableton Live 9
3770K @ 4.5Ghz
16GB RAM @ 1333MHz
Crucial M4 SSD

Lowest Latency: 9.38ms
Buffer Size: 15 Samples
Sample Rate: 48KHz
Old 30th September 2013
  #2
Even TAFKAT@DAWbench struggled to score the low latency performance of Scarlett on PCs. I remember it was low 4s, AFAIK.
Old 30th September 2013
  #3
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My UFX is 1.9.73 in and 4.6.49 out at 64 samples.RME is one of the best in that regard.My 816CSX is in the same ballpark.
Don't know if its your interface but 11ms is too much.That would drive me crazy when i use the drums triggers.
Old 30th September 2013
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavern View Post
My UFX is 1.9.73 in and 4.6.49 out at 64 samples.RME is one of the best in that regard.My 816CSX is in the same ballpark.
Don't know if its your interface but 11ms is too much.That would drive me crazy when i use the drums triggers.
11ms is insanity! One cannot work effectively under those conditions.
Since using the UFX, I can't even remember what latency issues are like to contend with.
Love it or hate it, the UFX is awesome for what it does.
UFX ,Apollo quad, Orion 32 really teeter on the edge of truly professional versus really nice pro-sumer gear.
As differently as these 3 are the are equal in just as many ways.
I've had big boy mixers tell me these are all toys.
Which I disagree with wholeheartedly.
Latency issues in the same narrative to a Focusrite sapphire interface would have me looking there for the culprit.
Safe to say an upgraded Soundcard is in your future .
Which means gear shopping.
Yay!..:D
Old 30th September 2013
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimi7777 View Post
I don't seem to find on the internet what the lowest possible latency of my Focusrite Scarlett can be. So I thought I'd ask here what your latencies are. The reason why I think about it is that when I write songs I like record a couple of chords, play with them, try different sounds and jam on them. Kind of like a jam session just with myself.

Anyway.. it is a little annoying when you can hear latency. And as you can imagine with 15 Samples Buffer Size it's hard when the project is a little bigger. 64 Samples are 11.4ms
Which Focusrite Scarlett are you talking about? The 2i2 is the only one I've personally experimented with, but I found it to have the worst latency of any interface I've used.

Also, what specific latency metric are you looking at? Input? Output? Round trip? I'll post a graph at the end of this post showing how the 2i2 fared against all other interfaces I've tried. The numbers were gathered with the RTL Utility, which reports various metrics about interfaces. Note that all my measurements are at 256 samples/44.1kHz... which brings me to my next question:

Why use such a tiny sample buffer? Especially at 48K a 15 sample buffer gives you virtually no protection.

Do you just want to eliminate the noticeable delay when tracking vocals or live instrument play? Most interfaces (including the Scarlett line) offer direct monitoring, so you don't feel the effects of the latency while recording. I've always used direct monitoring for this, so I almost never have to fuss with sample buffer sizes. Is there some other benefit to a tiny sample buffer that I'm not thinking of?

Anyway, here's that graph. Again, all 256 samples/44.1kHz; numbers are all actual round trip. The Scarlett is certainly usable (assuming you're using direct monitoring), but there are better options in its price range.


EDIT: Also, while the interface hardware and its driver do play a part in overall interface performance, your computer plays a large part as well. So my measurements at given settings won't necessarily be the same as those on someone with a faster or slower computer than mine. But the deltas/standings between different interfaces will be roughly the same. (The RME will always be faster than the Focusrite, given the same settings/driver, etc.)
Old 30th September 2013
  #6
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Quote:
Which Focusrite Scarlett are you talking about? The 2i2 is the only one I've personally experimented with, but I found it to have the worst latency of any interface I've used.

Also, what specific latency metric are you looking at? Input? Output? Round trip? I'll post a graph at the end of this post showing how the 2i2 fared against all other interfaces I've tried. The numbers were gathered with the RTL Utility, which reports various metrics about interfaces. Note that all my measurements are at 256 samples/44.1kHz... which brings me to my next question:

Why use such a tiny sample buffer? Especially at 48K a 15 sample buffer gives you virtually no protection.

Do you just want to eliminate the noticeable delay when tracking vocals or live instrument play?
Yes I am talking about the 2i2 Scarlett. And yeah I am talking about a Round Trip (Input and Output together?).

The reason why latency is important for me is just Songwriting. I use it to try things out. Play with them. Like you would in a Jam. And when I play for a example a solo that little chord progression I just recorded (drums and bass also added) I don't want it to delay. I could use Direct Monitoring of course but then I would not hear how the whole thing would sound with effects. Its not for recording just for playing. When recording I go back to a higher buffer size.

Yes, I have tried like 3-4 different driver versions, but all of them get me the same latency.


@GeneHall Yes, I'd love a RME. But my Focusrite is apart from the Latency issue a quite decent Interface. AND yeah. It is safe to say that

@cavern Yes! I mean I can get down to 6ms with 96Khz but that is quite hard on the CPU :')
Old 30th September 2013
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimi7777 View Post
Yes I am talking about the 2i2 Scarlett. And yeah I am talking about a Round Trip (Input and Output together?).

The reason why latency is important for me is just Songwriting. I use it to try things out. Play with them. Like you would in a Jam. And when I play for a example a solo that little chord progression I just recorded (drums and bass also added) I don't want it to delay. I could use Direct Monitoring of course but then I would not hear how the whole thing would sound with effects. Its not for recording just for playing. When recording I go back to a higher buffer size.

Yes, I have tried like 3-4 different driver versions, but all of them get me the same latency.


@GeneHall Yes, I'd love a RME. But my Focusrite is apart from the Latency issue a quite decent Interface. AND yeah. It is safe to say that

@cavern Yes! I mean I can get down to 6ms with 96Khz but that is quite hard on the CPU :')
Thanks man, but you know, the UFX is a very viable solution for you based on what you've said. We're songwriters as well and the RME is a godsend for our usage.
Our 2nd setup will be the orion32 or an Apollo quad. Nothing below these 3 can do the job, we tried mate...
Keeping in mind we only perfect programme demos , not master recordings or master prints.
Just ideas that are crystal clear for management and artists considering for their own releases.
The FF will never do the job. Imho.
Old 30th September 2013
  #8
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I believe you. There is a reason why those interfaces cost 10 times more. But I think I will live with the few milliseconds for now. I've got to resist the urge for new gear and focus more on music. And maybe in a couple of months I have lost those milliseconds
Old 30th September 2013
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimi7777 View Post
@cavern Yes! I mean I can get down to 6ms with 96Khz but that is quite hard on the CPU :')
yeah i get that at 44.1 on the UFX. (i use 48 sample rate for dig.drums wich gets me a bit lower.)
I haven't tried it at 96,i never go there.
Old 1st October 2013
  #10
Gear Nut
 

I have the Scarlett 18i6 and can run it at the lowest asio setting (1ms) until I load the project up with plugins. The RTL is reported at 6.7ms. I can't tell the lag with guitar or soft synths. When I get in mixing mode I have to set it to around 10ms or so for good results.
Old 1st October 2013
  #11
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Quote:
I have the Scarlett 18i6 and can run it at the lowest asio setting (1ms) until I load the project up with plugins. The RTL is reported at 6.7ms. I can't tell the lag with guitar or soft synths. When I get in mixing mode I have to set it to around 10ms or so for good results.
That is weird. They should actually have the same latency. What are your specs? And are you using it at 48000Hz or 96000Hz. Because I get 6.5ms @ 96Khz. Well the lag is very subtle in my case.. I am just used to real amps or acoustic and compared to that it feels uncomfortable.
Old 1st October 2013
  #12
Gear nut
 

For USB that is low. For a PCI card you would have about 1ms on a standard computer. Other factors are speed of CPU and RAM. With a computer above 3.2MHZ and 8mb of RAM and ASIO drivers a PCI card you would able to get lower .2ms.
Old 1st October 2013
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimi7777 View Post
That is weird. They should actually have the same latency. What are your specs? And are you using it at 48000Hz or 96000Hz. Because I get 6.5ms @ 96Khz. Well the lag is very subtle in my case.. I am just used to real amps or acoustic and compared to that it feels uncomfortable.


Running at 48000Hz, i5 quad core Dell XPS 8000. It could be 6.5 I wasn't at my DAW at the time (not right now either). I think even with the reported latency there is a little bit (maybe a millisecond or two) more depending on the system. But don't quote me on that.
Old 2nd October 2013
  #14
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Could you please tell me your exact settings? RTL, Buffer Size and Sample Rate. That would be great!
Old 4th October 2013
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimi7777 View Post
Could you please tell me your exact settings? RTL, Buffer Size and Sample Rate. That would be great!


Well, In Sonar X2a- buffer: 1ms (48 samples) 48KHZ sampling rate with 1ms the setting in the asio panel of Mix Control.

Reported latency round trip (RTL): 6.7ms (320 samples)
Old 4th October 2013
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by computeruser View Post
For USB that is low. For a PCI card you would have about 1ms on a standard computer. Other factors are speed of CPU and RAM. With a computer above 3.2MHZ and 8mb of RAM and ASIO drivers a PCI card you would able to get lower .2ms.
I'd love to know what this mythical pci card with .2ms latency actually is. At 48k that's only 9.6 samples to get converted, go into the computer, through the system and out the other end.
Old 4th October 2013
  #17
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Quote:
Well, In Sonar X2a- buffer: 1ms (48 samples) 48KHZ sampling rate with 1ms the setting in the asio panel of Mix Control.

Reported latency round trip (RTL): 6.7ms (320 samples)
I really doubt it. A RME Fireface UFX has a round trip latency of 14ms @ 44Khz and 320 samples.

EDIT:

I seem to have found the sweet spot. As it is mainly for jamming, not live or something. I can run about 8 tracks each with plugins at 7.6ms RTL (88Khz @ 64 Samples) without clipping. My CPU load is about 40% when I do that. Thats enough for me atm
Old 4th October 2013
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimi7777 View Post
I really doubt it. A RME Fireface UFX has a round trip latency of 14ms @ 44Khz and 320 samples.

EDIT:

I seem to have found the sweet spot. As it is mainly for jamming, not live or something. I can run about 8 tracks each with plugins at 7.6ms RTL (88Khz @ 64 Samples) without clipping. My CPU load is about 40% when I do that. Thats enough for me atm

Well, this is what Sonar says:
Attached Thumbnails
Is my latency too high?-sonar-latency.png  
Old 4th October 2013
  #19
Latency figures shown in DAWs are all confusing, sometimes accurate, sometimes not accurate, and more importantly, there are some 'hidden' or 'safety buffer' involved and occasionally not incorporated into the report. You can find many threads about these inconsistency if you search this forum or anywhere else. Reliable reading is RTL report utility which requires loopback connection.

As far as latency of USB2.0 interface goes, 48 sample ASIO buffer is really low, and there is a risk of dropouts, if channel counts are increased, or any other big plugins are engaged. I usually use 64 samples, even fro e-drum triggering superior drummer, just to be on the safe side. I know I can do 32samples if I'm 100% sure this is only about e-drum trigger.

Latency reports on Scarlett is somewhat inconsistent, and that's why Vin/TAFKAT struggled and didn't include Scarlett in his database. He just estimated the low latency performance score.

Btw, 1m in the Sonar's preference is the buffer (48samples/48kHz SR), not the RTL, as mentioned in the first post (#13).
Old 5th October 2013
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
Latency figures shown in DAWs are all confusing, sometimes accurate, sometimes not accurate, and more importantly, there are some 'hidden' or 'safety buffer' involved and occasionally not incorporated into the report. You can find many threads about these inconsistency if you search this forum or anywhere else. Reliable reading is RTL report utility which requires loopback connection.
That explains quite a bit. I guess in the end you can only trust your ear
Old 5th October 2013
  #21
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I benched the Focusrite 2i2 with the rtl utility, these are measured, not reported results.
All of the xmos based usb interfaces are not fantastic at low latencies.

11.138ms RTL - 1ms buffer
16.081ms RTL - 2ms buffer
21.094ms RTL - 3ms buffer
36.219ms RTL - 6ms buffer
Old 5th October 2013
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tombot View Post
I benched the Focusrite 2i2 with the rtl utility, these are measured, not reported results.
All of the xmos based usb interfaces are not fantastic at low latencies.

11.138ms RTL - 1ms buffer
16.081ms RTL - 2ms buffer
21.094ms RTL - 3ms buffer
36.219ms RTL - 6ms buffer
Thanks a lot for the values! Look quite like mine at 48khz.
Old 5th October 2013
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tombot View Post
I benched the Focusrite 2i2 with the rtl utility, these are measured, not reported results.
All of the xmos based usb interfaces are not fantastic at low latencies.

11.138ms RTL - 1ms buffer
16.081ms RTL - 2ms buffer
21.094ms RTL - 3ms buffer
36.219ms RTL - 6ms buffer
36ms RTL @ 6ms buffer is quite similar to what UltimateOutsider got in his table. His numbers are 256 sample buffer @44.1kHz (=~5.8ms buffer), and RTL reading (measured) was 36ms.

It's what it is. It's not good for low latency use (e.g. playing e-drums triggering Superior Drummer etc), but usable for other areas of use.

If you need low latency interfaces, check the TAFKAT's database, and go PCIe/FW or get RME.

PS: I've got RTL readings (measured with RTL utility and a loopback cable) for RME UFX (USB).
All @44.1kHz SR
4.2ms RTL - 48 sample buffer
4.9ms RTL - 64 sample buffer
6.4ms RTL - 96 sample buffer
7.8ms RTL - 128 sample buffer
13.6ms RTL - 256 sample buffer

You can anticipate similar numbers with RME Babyface (and UC, UCX as well).
Old 5th October 2013
  #24
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Those are dream numbers! :D

For now I can live with 10ms @ 48khz or 7ms @ 88kHz occasionally (now my powerful computer finally pays off haha)

But a RME is what I will get next!
Old 5th October 2013
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
36ms RTL @ 6ms buffer is quite similar to what UltimateOutsider got in his table. His numbers are 256 sample buffer @44.1kHz (=~5.8ms buffer), and RTL reading (measured) was 36ms.

It's what it is. It's not good for low latency use (e.g. playing e-drums triggering Superior Drummer etc), but usable for other areas of use.

If you need low latency interfaces, check the TAFKAT's database, and go PCIe/FW or get RME.

PS: I've got RTL readings (measured with RTL utility and a loopback cable) for RME UFX (USB).
All @44.1kHz SR
4.2ms RTL - 48 sample buffer
4.9ms RTL - 64 sample buffer
6.4ms RTL - 96 sample buffer
7.8ms RTL - 128 sample buffer
13.6ms RTL - 256 sample buffer

You can anticipate similar numbers with RME Babyface (and UC, UCX as well).
[bolded]

This is precisely consistent with what I get in Sonar (8.5) in XP with 128 sample buffers (and Sonar's WDM-KS monitoring buffer set to 2.9 ms), using a FW MOTU 828mkII.

I never monitor round trip on audio tracking as that 8 ms will drive me around the bend -- but I don't find the 3-4 ms latency problematic or even unnatural feeling when playing v-synth keyboard. (I am not, however, Chick Corea. )
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