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The Effects of Latency Audio Interfaces
Old 29th August 2007
  #1
Gear Nut
 

The Effects of Latency

Hi People.

I have a simple question.

I usually record with a 512 buffer size, which gives me around 12 ms in, 12 ms out latency. I use Zero Latency Monitoring in my soundcard, so monitoring is not an issue. I dont track with plugins.

In case I switch to lower buffer sizes, lets say 128 (3 ms in, 3 ms out latency), Will the result be much tight, syncronized tracks, with each overdub?

Lets say I record a guitar track. Then I overdub a vocal track. Then I record a violin track.

If I use lower buffer sizes during recording, Will the delay between the tracks be much smaller, resulting in tighter, more accurate, syncronized tracks?

Sorry if this is too simple. Just wanted to know if theres a benefit in recording with smaller buffer sizes.

Thanks

Pandemonium
Old 29th August 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 
nukmusic's Avatar
 

man...I think you are THINKING too hard on this one....LOL

why not record and then listen/compare for yourself?
Old 29th August 2007
  #3
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Raw-Tracks's Avatar
 

Latency as you are describing it only affects what you are hearing while recording. Your tracks will be recording in time, regardless of your buffer settings. Don't worry about it.
Old 29th August 2007
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raw-Tracks View Post
Latency as you are describing it only affects what you are hearing while recording. Your tracks will be recording in time, regardless of your buffer settings. Don't worry about it.
Hey, thanks for your answer.

I thought buffer size also affected the time used to write the information to disk. I though there could be a delay between different overdubs.

Thanks
Pandemonium
Old 29th August 2007
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Slaytex's Avatar
 

I use direct monitoring from my FF800 so my buffer "ALWAYS" stays at 1024 because there is no reason for it to be at a low (occasionally unstable) buffer in this aspect.
Old 29th August 2007
  #6
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Slaytex's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pandemonium View Post
Hey, thanks for your answer.

I thought buffer size also affected the time used to write the information to disk. I though there could be a delay between different overdubs.

Thanks
Pandemonium
This is why you should just leave the buffer size alone if you use direct monitoring.
Old 29th August 2007
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pandemonium View Post
Hi People.

I have a simple question.

I usually record with a 512 buffer size, which gives me around 12 ms in, 12 ms out latency. I use Zero Latency Monitoring in my soundcard, so monitoring is not an issue. I dont track with plugins.

In case I switch to lower buffer sizes, lets say 128 (3 ms in, 3 ms out latency), Will the result be much tight, syncronized tracks, with each overdub?

Lets say I record a guitar track. Then I overdub a vocal track. Then I record a violin track.

If I use lower buffer sizes during recording, Will the delay between the tracks be much smaller, resulting in tighter, more accurate, syncronized tracks?

Sorry if this is too simple. Just wanted to know if theres a benefit in recording with smaller buffer sizes.

Thanks

Pandemonium
What you're talking about, I think, is often referred to as "tracking alignment" (sometimes "recording alignment" or "overdub alignment") and refers to the tendancy of most hardware driver-DAW combos to not accomodate properly for latency.

According to the DAW makers, this is the fault of the hardware manufacturers and those who write their drivers.

Whatever, it's a widespread and pernicious issue.


Of course, there are a number of latencies that we have to sort out in PC recording. There's the conversion latency -- which does directly relate/contribute to tracking misalignment. And there's also the monitoring latency you typically set in your DAW -- this is the playback buffer that allows your DAW to accomodate for various software processes from the DAW and plug-ins. In general experience, this setting does not directly affect tracking misalignment.


The DAW makers seemed to want to sweep this under the rug.

I first became aware of it when the Mbox was introduced and the DUC was awash with newbies with latency issues of various kinds. The blend-control issues were quickly sorted out -- but that left the trackin misalignment that then affected PT LE and all the host-based PT systems. I was feeling all holier-than-thou -- until I checked my own tracking alignment with a ping loopback test. And mine was right in there.

Since the tracking misalignments were always the same at a given sample rate and buffer size, it begged the idea that Digi ought to just build in a fixed compensation. Which, in essence, they finally did, some years later. But other DAW makers were even slower.

When my DAW started advertising "total hardware latency compensation" I naturally assumed they'd taken care of the issue. Until I did a ping loopback test and found an 8ms misalignment with my MOTU 828mkII.

My DAW, Sonar, finally took care of the issue with a simple offset setting in 2006's Sonar 6. Bing. But it took a huge and, at times, ugly thread over at Harmony Central where, first, the problem had to be explained -- at length and in depth -- to some people you would normally think of as highly knowledgeable (you know, people paid to be experts). I mean... we literally had to explain what a ping-loopback test tests!

(It was kind of laughable, looking back, but it was crazy-ass frustrating at the time with people you'd normally expect to get it right away saying things like, well, gee, I never record the output of my DAW, so why do I care if when I do that it doesn't line up with what I played back. You know, you're sitting there going -- that's your time reference -- the "now" in an overdub... of course, it should line up -- to the sample. Funny. Ha ha. People can be dense.)

Anyhow, PT now has an alignment of some kind built in for its host systems. Mackie tracktion has a nice little automated ping-loopback, alignment calibration utility. Cubase's hardware comp can apparently be used to make this adjustment. I'm told Logic has such a compensation, now. Sonar, of course, has a rudimentary alignment offset. And I'm not sure about the others.
Old 29th August 2007
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Unclenny's Avatar
Hey Blue.....

Perhaps you could shed a little light on this...

Five years back I first plugged into the MBox that I still use today and was mystified by that horrible echo (the term 'latency' had yet to become a part of my lexicon).
Through trial and error I figured out that by muting the track that I was recording on the echo disappeared.

To this day I still record that same way.

During all of these latency discussions I haven't heard much about this method.
Old 29th August 2007
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
What you're talking about, I think, is often referred to as "tracking alignment" (sometimes "recording alignment" or "overdub alignment") and refers to the tendancy of most hardware driver-DAW combos to not accomodate properly for latency.

According to the DAW makers, this is the fault of the hardware manufacturers and those who write their drivers.

Whatever, it's a widespread and pernicious issue.


Of course, there are a number of latencies that we have to sort out in PC recording. There's the conversion latency -- which does directly relate/contribute to tracking misalignment. And there's also the monitoring latency you typically set in your DAW -- this is the playback buffer that allows your DAW to accomodate for various software processes from the DAW and plug-ins. In general experience, this setting does not directly affect tracking misalignment.


The DAW makers seemed to want to sweep this under the rug.

I first became aware of it when the Mbox was introduced and the DUC was awash with newbies with latency issues of various kinds. The blend-control issues were quickly sorted out -- but that left the trackin misalignment that then affected PT LE and all the host-based PT systems. I was feeling all holier-than-thou -- until I checked my own tracking alignment with a ping loopback test. And mine was right in there.

Since the tracking misalignments were always the same at a given sample rate and buffer size, it begged the idea that Digi ought to just build in a fixed compensation. Which, in essence, they finally did, some years later. But other DAW makers were even slower.

When my DAW started advertising "total hardware latency compensation" I naturally assumed they'd taken care of the issue. Until I did a ping loopback test and found an 8ms misalignment with my MOTU 828mkII.

My DAW, Sonar, finally took care of the issue with a simple offset setting in 2006's Sonar 6. Bing. But it took a huge and, at times, ugly thread over at Harmony Central where, first, the problem had to be explained -- at length and in depth -- to some people you would normally think of as highly knowledgeable (you know, people paid to be experts). I mean... we literally had to explain what a ping-loopback test tests!

(It was kind of laughable, looking back, but it was crazy-ass frustrating at the time with people you'd normally expect to get it right away saying things like, well, gee, I never record the output of my DAW, so why do I care if when I do that it doesn't line up with what I played back. You know, you're sitting there going -- that's your time reference -- the "now" in an overdub... of course, it should line up -- to the sample. Funny. Ha ha. People can be dense.)

Anyhow, PT now has an alignment of some kind built in for its host systems. Mackie tracktion has a nice little automated ping-loopback, alignment calibration utility. Cubase's hardware comp can apparently be used to make this adjustment. I'm told Logic has such a compensation, now. Sonar, of course, has a rudimentary alignment offset. And I'm not sure about the others.
Hey, Thanks Blue.

This is very important info. It clarifies a lot of details for me.

I will try to find the Hardware Compensation in Cubase SX3.

Cheers
Pandemonium
Old 29th August 2007
  #10
Gear Addict
 
davidperetz's Avatar
 

This Problem is a real pain.
after years working on various DAW (Pro-Tools LE, Nuendo) i switched to analog monitoring through a console, and all of a sudden things were grooving and clicking way much better. suddenly the song felt more together. musicians were feeling much better and they were right on time.
amazingly had to return to digital monitoring for a while and the problem's were back.
Didn't do any test, but i feel that all this "small" latency and compensation issues are really getting in the way to make music. specially when you overdub a Lott.

Any-way that's my 2 Cents.
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