Good old latency

Good old latency
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#1

My recording computer seems to have a huge latency issue with whatever midi instrument I plug in. I know it’s finding that balance with a buffer setting but my question is, how much of it is the computer? I am thinking about getting a new windows computer for recording and I am wondering if there is a spec to shoot for that will reduce latency. Many thanks for any help with this.

James


#2

I use mac so I am not sure about windows specs. There are certain things you can do to help when you record though. Freeze tracks is the biggest thing. This will give you a significant boost on any computer. Also if you can turn off any tracks that you don’t need to listen to while you record. In logic, you can power on or off a track to make it have no CPU drain.


#3

Some interfaces can to low latency better than others. The computer is also a pretty big factor. If the computer can’t crunch the numbers fast enough, it’s going to start dropping out. So like Paul said, freeing up your computer by freezing other tracks and disabling processes that aren’t needed can help quite a bit.

How low can you get now, and how low do you need?


#4

Are you tracking with any master buss processing on?

For example, many older analogue modelling plugins are not optimised for near zero latency, or (limiters in particular) have look-ahead algorithms that will cause massive latency no matter where you set the buffers.

Make sure you don’t track with any of that stuff on, because even with the fastest computer at the smallest buffer size, you will get latency.


#5

Lots of great practical advice from others here, definitely freeze tracks to free up resources on your computer.

Latency is complicated, yes the buffer settings for your audio interface are important but it’s really about the whole computer as an ecosystem. My current set up works best under windows 7, not so much because of the OS, but because of the drivers, temporarily disabling my network interface gives me an extra boost under windows 10 though, if you want to find out what’s hurting your latency baseline download latencymon from here http://www.resplendence.com/latencymon

Basically you want to profile what processes are running in the background that would prevent your computer from being able to handle a steady constant stream of audio data needed for low buffer settings, it’s not always that you just need more cpu power but there may be process which take up the use of the processor for a long time halting the audio stream.

It gets pretty technical but that tool makes it simple to get a good idea of what might be impacting your audio interface’s performance.


#6

It might help if you mentioned the exact model and specs for your equipment, too. Some tweaking on Windows 10 goes a long way towards improved latency values.


#7

That is a good question, I will have to figure that out. I think Tachin 1 has a link below to get a handle on the answer.


#8

Yes, it looks like I have been.

Great to know. :heart_eyes:


#9

Years ago my brother gave me a list of the basic things needed to have running and things not to have running and I could check them in “task manager process”. I am sure that list is probably outdated but I need to go and revisit all the things running on the computer as I see there are many things running on task manager with my computer now. This computer is only for recording so I don’t need the weather bug app going on there.


#10

Yes, I usually do list out what my machine is and all that has going on it. I guess I was more asking for what to get in a new machine rather try to work with this one, mainly because this computer is about 10 years old and I thought I would get a new one before this one dies and leaves me stranded. I am using a Dell Optiplex 780/Win 7 professional ver 6.1/Service pack 1/ 8 gig ram/ 64 bit operating system/ 1 TB hard drive/Core 2 quad 2.66/ Q9400@2.66 GHz/ 4 TB external hard drive /Sonar X3 studio(64 bit)/ M-Audio fast track ultra interface.


#11

For buying a new computer here is the general process that I use to consider what will work. Keeping in mind that I am a mac guy. I don’t know a lot of folks that need a bigger machine than me. At mix, I am running 56 outputs and 80 inputs simultaneously on 150 tracks that all have some level of plugins. When you factor in flextime processing etc my computer need to be robust.

As a business person, though, the dollars spent need to make sense. I look at how long the computer is predicted to last divided by the total cost and get a cost per year. In the past, I’ve bought the biggest iMac money can buy and get it the fastest processing that it can handle. They typically last 4-6 years. Last summer when I did the numbers I looked at the mac pro that I think I can get 6-8 years out of but possibly 10. It was cheaper per year for me to get the mac pro than an iMac.

When I am looking at buying a new computer and I look at its lifespan (which is hard to predict in the world of computers). One thing I like to do is separate out different needs. Monitoring, DAW needs, Midi (in your case). If you have a low latency monitoring interface and a computer for recording you may be served well to keep your current computer as a “midi computer” that you use as an external instrument. This way you are not taxing your primary computer with every job. All of your equipment will last a lot longer.

I still record at 24/48 to keep processing needs low and will be recording at this rate for the foreseeable future.


#12

Brilliant idea.

I am not opposed to buying a mac. I think it is just the learning curve and the cost of protools, ect. I think you might of just swayed me to get on the mac train.


#13

I use logic. I have stayed away from protools because the cost-benefit analysis doesn’t make sense to me. Logic has gotten very stable over the last few years. It is also very in expensive for the second most demanded DAW in pro studios.


#14

WGL: that machine is fine. Save your money. I use what I call “service boxes” which are my worker drones to my big machines as well as my beta machines. Most of them are old Dell Inspiron’s with i3 processors and 4 gig of ram. I can record in sonar using 64 buffers in real time on those boxes, and a few of them have quite a few running processes. I’ll get to that later…

3 things come to mind for me about your issues.

First, M Audio and Sonar sometimes do not play well together. I’ve worked on the Sonar beta crew for years. You and I can private message if you want and I can share some settings that may help. But if we fail, I’d suggest a different interface. Maybe a Presonus or something that still has good options and good converters.

Second, the running processes can be an issue but it depends upon 2 things. One, the processes they actually are. If they are resource hogs, we may be able to handle them and all your issues go away. Two, it depends on how many there are.

I’ve found that most windows machines start to struggle a bit with DAW software when you get into the 70’s with running processes. It depends on what they are though as well as how strong your CPU is…which it appears to be strong enough to handle things. My rule of thumb for any windows recording box is to never hit 50. My service boxes are at 58 and work flawlessly and are less powerful than yours. My real recording boxes have 40 or less running processes and are impeccable.

What makes me think your interface? I have several sound interfaces that I use for different reasons, both pro, middle of the road and garbage. The middle of the road to garbage sometimes struggle at lower latency buffers. Better interfaces handle things better. Example, I have an old Layla 24/96 from 1997 that never has an issue with 64 buffers. On that same machine, I have a client who came over and insisted we use this Behringer mixer interface because he started his project using it and wanted to use all stuff he was familiar with. It made no sense, but hey, whatever worked for him. What we found out immediately was, that interface via USB struggled at 64 buffers and was barely useable at 128 for synths played in real time. My recording boxes are 6 and 8 core monsters that idle at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. So they can handle anything. We tried a few different interfaces via USB that I have and didn’t have the same problem.

So, here’s my advice to you. Find out what’s running on your machine, see if you can kill them and get things as close to 40 running processes as possible. I never allow anything that isn’t an important windows or driver file to auto load. Any programs that auto load that aren’t needed for your system to run, kill them.

Next, we can try a few sonar tweaks but as long as you are using any soft synth as an instrument track where it’s built into the track, you should be able to press the FX button on the control bar in sonar and it will free up everything but the synth and give you more CPU power. After your done tracking, press the FX button to turn things back on. It’s a big button that will change colors when you press it.

If that fails, we can try a dummy test with your onboard sound card (usually a Realtek which may be disabled in bios) using asio4all drivers. I can use them without fault on my Dell machines I told you about. I don’t have good interfaces in them because I don’t use them for recording. But I can and they will not fail me. My last beta test for the new sonar by band lab ran 57 tracks with soft synths etc using one of those crap machines. So let’s look a little deeper into things before you spring for a machine. If we can make your stock interface work with no issues, we know you need to unload the m-audio. I had problems.with one of those and sonar years ago.

Sonar is my DAW of choice and has been since it came out on floppy disks. That said, on certain systems using certain soundcards/interfaces, it may take a little setting up. :slight_smile: Try some of the above as well as what some of the others have told you and let me know how you make out. If I have to help you troubleshoot, we can do that too, OK?


#15

Hi Danny,
Thanks so much for jumping in on the topic and putting all that down for me to think about. Let me start with the programs running. I Just counted and its 75. I also have known that my interface has not always been the best and it is actually at a point where it is either not coming on or it has a short inside and there is this horrible loud feedback screeching sound. So I am in the market for a new interface as we speak.

James


#16

You’re very welcome, James. Yeah get a new interface, cut down on some of the running processes and you and I can work on some Sonar tweaks.

Also, and use this with caution…but www.blackviper.com is where I have gone for years to tweak every operating system I have ever owned. It explains what some of the running processes are as well as whether to allow them to auto start or not. Just be careful to remember what you do in case you have to undo something. :slight_smile:


#17

Danny, do you recommend a particular interface in the $800 range?

Thanks,
James


#18

Hey James, I’d say MOTU or Presonus. They both have some good options in your price range. If you could spend a little more, something from UAD would be a good.choice also. It depends on what your needs are, but all of those have good converters. I like the UAD Apollo stuff because it’s a really good interface and their plugins to me are as good as the hardware they are simulating.


#19

I’d second the Motu stuff. The presonus stuff is the best entry level converters. I am using the Motu AVB system and I have RME and Apogee converters mixed in. They stand up just fine alongside high-end stuff.


#20

I’ve been running a UA Apollo on my home rig and the UA Arrow for my portable rig. If you have the ports (Thunderbolt), I highly recommend those. My projects almost live exclusively on an external SSD. I track with a low buffer size (between 32 and 256 depending on track count) and mix at the highest buffer size when I’m finished. I track with a 48 kHz sample rate and a 24 bit depth. This usually doesn’t tax my CPU too much and I rarely, if ever, run into latency issues.

I’d echo some of the others for freezing and/or bouncing tracks that don’t need any more work. That’ll take a huge load off of your machine. Turning off WI-FI, closing internet browsers, media players, etc. will also help.

It looks like everyone here knows enough to give you the help you need, but feel free to reach out if you’d like me to dive a little deeper into what you’re doing and how I could help too. It looks like everyone else has got you covered though.