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MCH

Latency.....

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MCH    0

Is it a problem with soundcards or the recording software? Currently I'm using a SoundBlaster Live soundcard and Audacity plus Kristal. I find trying to record another track while listening to a previous track impossible because of the latency. Is there a trick I'm missing? I'm going to upgrade to the M-Audio 2496 soundcard (supposedly highly recommended for the price range), will this help the latency problem? Would really like to be able to record other tracks while keeping time to the previous tracks.

any help would be greatly appreciated.

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I also have a Soundblaster Live card and had some issues with latency when using my cheapo (US $30.00) Cakewalk Music Creator 2 software. I added memory on my Dell, tweaked the sample rate on the driver, and it worked. It took a while to learn the software, but it actually works well for me. All I need is guitar, guitar, bass, vocal and drum loop.

Now I'm "back in the studio", here in my room, this time sporting a Line 6 TonePort UX1 amp modeling, USB interface. I love it. Love it. The range of tone is incredible. The free ableton lite recording software is limited to only four tracks, so I'm sticking with my Cakewalk.

Anyway here's the bottom line in the form of a question for mods and other experienced studio folk: Will this TonePort/USB unit cure all latency issues, even for computers with limited capacity? If so, it's another reason to run out and purchase one. It's an incredible little unit.

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Lcjones    8

Hey Folks,

These is my very simplistic thoughts on "Latency".

Home recording and latency has been brought up and I thought I'd add to the collective.

Let me also add, I'm just learning home recording, so I am by no means an expert by any stretch. I'm sure others here have quite a bit more experience than I, but I'll part with what I know. So all you old timers be sure to chime in!!!! And please be sure to correct me!!!!!

Back in the day, before digital recording, latency wasn't a real problem. It was all analog. No processors or memory or hard drives to deal with all that input. On the other hand, editing tape be hand is an extremely tedious job. A snip here and a splice there, glue it up and hope like the devil you got it right. ( Those folks are the masters and seriously dedicated to sound! )

Latency is time it takes for sound to come into (input) the recording device and back out (output). It has everything to do with the power of your machine and hard drive speed and disk space.

Remember that when recording, what is being input is also being written to the hard drive at the same time. So the slower a hard drive is i.e., a 5400 RPM vs 7200 RPM vs 10,000 RPM, the more likely latency will creep in. At the same time, if the HD is quite full, the "seek time" required to write to the disk is longer... more latency.

Processor speed and the amount of ram is also included in latency. If you're doing home recording, this is one instance where more is better! More processor and more memory. You just can't have enough! Even if you can't upgrade a processor, you should be able to add ram, so get as much as you can.

Lets take a look at your equipment:

What type (speed) of processor?

The amount of ram?

Hard disk size and available space?

Also, if you have a fairly new machine and feel you have enough memory, check hard drive performance. If you're running a Windows machiine, be sure to run Disk Defrag on a routine schedule. Defrag will help decrease seektime during writing.

You want to be sure your sound card has the lastest drivers available. One thing to keep in mind to. If you have an on-board soundcard it is more than likely "sharing" your base memory. In other words if your machine has 256 MB of memory and your on-board sound card requires 16 MB to operate, that 16MB less power you have to process the input. And if you have on-board sound, you probably have on-board video and that too is eating up memory.

This is the first place I'd start looking for latency issues. Adding a mixing console or any external piece is not going to help latency if you don't have the power to back it up.

My system is a 3.4Ghz proc, 1Gb mem and 80GB HD. and I've just ordered another 80Gb HD to keep my recording seperate from my everyday tools.

Hope this helps! I'm sure others can get into greater detail, so feel free to chime in!

Les

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MCH    0

lcjones

What soundcard are you using? I have a 2.7Ghz cpu and about 20gigs of freespace on my hard-drive (don't know the speed of my HD). 768 MB of ram. Soundblaster Live card.

I noticed you use Audacity. So you have no problems when dubbing other tracks?

allthumbs

Are you using the free version of Muti-Track Studio (I think it's called Lite)?

sorry if I'm belabouring this. But I would really like to record other tracks over previous tracks.

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Lcjones    8

MCH,

Sounds like you have plenty of guts. Yes, I use Audacity. I'm currently using the beta 1.30 Windows port. And I also have the 1.24 version.

Let's clarify "dubbing" vs "multi-tracking". First Audacity has virtually unlimited multi-track abilities but that is limited only by your equipment.

Dubbing is when you literally lay sound over top of another sound on the same track. Literally "dubbing it in".

Multi-tracking is a layered process, much like todays graphics programs. You almost have to think in dimensions.

The Dylan song I posted had, I believe, 6 tracks:

2 tracks main guitar

1 track secondary guitar

1 track bass

2 track vocals

I think this is whats happening for you. Your first "track" is literally being recorded into your second track.

To explain. You make your first recording, perhaps your main guitar rhythm. When you start your second track, the sounds from the first track are "again" recorded into the second track. That is where your dubbing is coming into play. As you build each successive track, the previous tracks are recorded into the new track. So by the time you get to your last track, all that sound from all the other tracks are "muddied" into the last track.

So, if thats the case, then thats your latency issue. Perhaps not literal latency, just over-dubbing. And when over dubbing takes place, you can't control the timing. If your first track is at a specific speed, based on your systems abilities, when you record the second track it may be a few milli-seconds different than the first....BUT... that first track is being recorded into the second track and doesn't "time match", hence "perceived latency problems".

[edited to add this .....]

In the case as I mention above, each succesive track you make, even though in the same "work space", "IS" a new recording and not a seperate track.

hmm ... Did that make sense ?????

Les

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MCH    0

Thx for trying to help me get through this.

lcjones

I understand what you are getting at in regards to the 1st getting muddled into the second. I've now started to use headphones to moniter my previously recorded tracks, I'm a slow learner. I've tried another piece with headphones monitoring a recorded track and then adding another vocal track. This seemed to work. I think trying to put down 2 tracks of the same finger-picking piece is going to be difficult. The reason I want to do this is to try a piece with 1 track recorded in the open position and then the 2 second indentical with a capo. I think the timing is going to be tough on this; probably impossible for me.

Thx for all the kind help.

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LarryKu    0

To resolve the latency problems of soundcards, you might want to check out the iMic USB audio adapter. They run approx $35 (USD) and work with both Mac's and PC's.

Larry

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nocat    0

Latency is the one thing that will make or brake your aspirations as a home recording

enthusiast... There are 4 factors that affect latency. In order of importance...

1) Your sound card

2) Your processor (cpu)

3) Your recording software

4) Your system's memory

lcjones is absolutely correct in comparing analog to digital recording...

When you record on tape (analog) there is no latency when monitoring your playing. What goes into your input comes out of the output instantly. The same is true for digital, but only while monitoring... The real difference is after you recorded a track...!!! In an analog system this is not a factor. The signal is read from the tape and played instantly. However, when you record a track to digital, a few things happen. The analog signal has to be changed by a transducer (microphone, pickup etc.)to an electrical impulse. Once it gets into your sound card, it must again be changed into a series of 0's and 1's or a "digital signal". That digital signal now has to be read by your recording software and sent to your cpu for processing. Once the cpu is done with it, it gets stored in your ram, so that your recording program can access it and send it to your sound card, where it gets changed again into an electrical pulse which gets sent to your speakers...

Your sound card plays a major factor in all of this. Different sound cards will have different latencies at different sampling rates -- the higher the sampling rate, the lower the latency. In that sense, the latency occurs in numbers of samples, dependent on the number of samples that need to be put into a buffer before monitoring begins. Because the latency in samples is fixed or defined by the card, then the faster the sampling rate, the quicker a fixed number of samples will pass through the buffer. Hence, faster sampling rates = lower latencies. Often, a buffer size can be set in the sound card's control panel, and a lower buffer size = fewer samples that need to be buffered. As long as your system can handle the lower buffer size, lowest is best.

Your processor (cpu) must be able to keep up with the billions of calls that the software is imposing on it to "process" the numbers and return them to the sound card's buffer, while also maintaining your operating system and all its processes. So, you can see how a powerful cpu is essential. If the processor can't keep up, information is dropped, and you notice this as clicks and pops in your sound, some times to the point of distortion... (very unpleasant...!!)

Your recording software comes into play when you are monitoring in a "tape type" fashion, which is essentially monitoring through the program. While you have the program in 'input,' you hear your instrument from the inputs of the program much like a pro tape deck. If you 'roll tape,' or rather put the program into play, you no longer hear the instrument until you punch in, again, like a pro tape deck. All of this, unlike a pro tape deck, occurs with a bit of latency between what you're playing and what you're hearing through the program.

Some say that 11 or 12 milliseconds of latency is acceptable. You can be the judge. At higher sampling rates, 3 ms latency might be possible. If you desire this type of monitoring, which is a fairly normal and accepted way of recording, then this may be the best that hard disk recording has to offer.

ASIO is a standard for audio device drivers. As much as possible, ASIO bypasses the Windows or Mac operating system, creating a more efficient communication between the audio device and the software, thus lowering the amount latency in the audio..!! Windows latency can be as high as 50 or 75 milliseconds, so that 'tape type' monitoring is not feasible using only MME drivers. Waiting 50 or 75 ms is a heck of a lot of time to hear the monitoring signal of something you've just played. That's similar to the timing you'd use in a slapback delay...!!!

Your system's memory must be adequate enough to contain all the information required by the recording program with out having to create a paging file, or, virtual ram on your hard drive. Even the fastest, most efficient HD will not be able to keep up.

If the track you just recorded won't fit on your system's memory, it will get written to your hard drive, which will later have to be recalled and move something else out so it can occupy it's place... This slows the whole process down, and although it won't affect the sound, it will affect your system's performance and put even more of a load on your cpu...!!!

I hope this helps you guys... If you have any questions or need further explanations, I'll be more than happy to help...!!!

Cheers...!!!

Ben

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munky    0

I suggest the Line 6 UX1 or UX2. Both are USB powered and have next to zero latency. You don't have to hook it up to a sound card at all. The Gearbox software gives you a wealth of guitar tones and it comes bundled with a version of Abelton Live so you can record straight away.

I bought one on ebay about a month ago and I've been absolutely delighted with it.

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MCH    0

Thx for all the advice.

I'm patiently waiting for my new soundcard that is on order. It's the M-Audio 24/96. I think this will go a long ways. I'll probably also add some memory (768 - 1GB). I'll use the Kristal software, which allows ASIO drivers. I don't think the Audacity has this capacity.

But for now am patiently waiting for my soundcard. It's been a month. I don't know how some businesses can stay afloat with poor customer service. Trying to get my soundcard has been an ordeal.

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737blues    0

Well I've plugged the Line 6 gear a couple of times on this forum and I'll do it again simply because it does resolve the technical issues and BTW, will install and setup the ASIO drivers for you. Both the earlier Guitar Port and the current Gearbox/Tone Port setups are brilliant IMHO and are great modelling processors.

If you are trying to use your sequencing software and plug-in's to provide effects and playback/monitor/record all at the same time, then that's a big ask of any computer. I use GP and Audacity 1.23 and have never had any latency problems. If you don't fancy the line 6 stuff, do at least install the ASIO drivers as Marino says.

For my two bob's worth, I think any software which is both processor and memory intensive needs a reasonable computer as has been pointed out already. Probably the two most demanding tasks your computer has to perform would be graphics and sound. As a rule of thumb you need lot's of fast RAM, lots of fast hard disk space, make sure your computer is not running too much trash in the background and has the use of a large cache, (swap file) on a fast disk. I have a 5G partition on one of my disks just for the swap file. If anybody is still using Win98, you really are batting from behind in lots of areas and also limited to 768 mbs RAM. Time to make the change to XP.

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Its usually a hardware issue, and be extremely aware that most of the buffer claims do not hold up to the truth. Often there are hidden safety buffers, so its hard to do an apples to apples comparison without using something like CEntrance's LTU

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WernHalen    0

MCH,

I had exactly the same problem a while back with the drivers for my SB live card. It is a Audigy NX card. The SB cards do seem to need the original drivers to operate properly. I 'lost' (read misplaced...) my installation CD's and as a result had lots of problems trying to get the card to work again. I eventually got a copy of the original drivers from Clancy. (bless her soul... :wub: )

Before Clancy sent me the right drivers I spent hours surfing the net trying to sort out latency issues with all sorts of drivers. the only drivers that got anywhere near solving the problem was the ASIO4all drivers.

If you are having latency issues it is a hardware issue with the drivers not being able to syncronise the internal clocks of the various components being used in your recording chain.

I was never able to completely solve the latency issues without the use of the original drivers, but like i said ASIO4all got close. Maybe I did not spend enough time on the issue.

* Are you running the original drivers?

* Do you only use your soundcard for recording or do you have other components connected that might be using world clock times?

WernHalen

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