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Sub 2ms latency audio interfaces
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear  
Author Sub 2ms latency audio interfaces
pzoot
So there’s a new wave of mostly thunderbolt audio interfaces claiming to facilitate monitoring through the DAW without noticeable latency (eg presonus quantum, Motu 828es).

I really love my VST effects more than my eurorack effects. Obviously a bit different with respect to ability to modulate, but with Bitwig or I assume live it’s not really a technical issue (but could be a personal preference issue ... I don’t mind personally). But I’m thinking of funding a “close to zero” latency interface purchase with some effect module (and pedal) sales so...

Wanted to see if anyone has experience with sub-2ms latency interfaces and using then to monitoring their synths through their daw effects in real time and how that’s worked out for you
big job head
2ms is approximatively the minimum latency you could get with "zero latency monitoring" due to the AD/DA conversion.

VST effect will add latency no matter what. Your computer, driver and settings will be more determinant to minimize this.

Get a very good processor, ssd disk drive if you read audio from daw, switch to 96k and test different buffer size.
Also it's wise to use only built-in effects.

I do that when i jam with some friends, all is monitored thru ableton live using a cheap tc interface + adat : i get a pretty solid 10ms latency. not bad...
rkilman
Also interested to hear about people's experiences. I am considering the Motu 8A which has something like 1.6ms round trip latency. But my computer isn't the fastest, so am also considering getting an older RME UFX due to its solid reputation and built in multitrack recording to usb drive capabilities.
pzoot
Thanks for that. I’m going to give a MOTU 828es a shot and will report back. Not selling the FX modules just yet :-)

I think the way the quantum works at least is sort of like how Logic has a low latency mode with two streams. Not sure how it all works, but based on videos and reviews I t does seem that the sub-2ms RTL is legit ... at least in ideal circumstances
pzoot
Just reporting back as promised, I don't run crazy heavy projects, but I am getting stable performance in Logic Pro X at 32 samples running ~6 tracks live through plug ins. And a handful of others playing back. Getting mid 2ms reported latency in Logic, but running at 48khz not 96, which is how MOTU states sub 2ms latency.

Late-2013 MBP with medium specs

This is with the 828ES

Happy so far
rean1mator
can you clarify your setup/testing? are you bringing in external audio from hardware instruments into logic, processing via vst's and then to monitor? or just processing audio clips using vst's?


pzoot wrote:
Just reporting back as promised, I don't run crazy heavy projects, but I am getting stable performance in Logic Pro X at 32 samples running ~6 tracks live through plug ins. And a handful of others playing back. Getting mid 2ms reported latency in Logic, but running at 48khz not 96, which is how MOTU states sub 2ms latency.

Late-2013 MBP with medium specs

This is with the 828ES

Happy so far
calaveras
I think you guys should do the math on how fast sound travels in air at sea level.
Its approximately 1000ft sec.
So really every milisecond(thousandth of a second) is one foot of distance.
5 or 10 msec?
That is about how far away a guitar amp might be.
This is very approximate, but in the ballpark,
miminashi
I imagine most people would be hard-pressed to detect a few milliseconds (or even tens of milliseconds) of absolute latency. However, when layering sounds -- especially percussion or other sounds with sharp transients -- relative delay between sources even in the sub-millisecond range can have audible effects.

Even just the phase shift from running a signal through an EQ or compressor could have significant consequences when mixing it with the dry source.

So I wouldn't be so quick to discount the quest to achieve the lowest possible latency.
criticalmonkey
latency shows up the worst for vocals in my experience - recording studio scenario

the software that turns the audio interfaces into mixers is pretty good - motu cumin, apogee control, uAD has one - pretty much all of them eem to have something like that

once inside any DAW - latency is noticeable to most vocalist and many musicians to the point of complaint
only exception i've used is protools under hdx dsp card - but the moment you add a plug in, latency is there even in that case

all that said, i like to use plugins live and hasn't been an issue but it can get ugly - like 70 msec for some of the round trips in and out

btw latency is there for any digital effects unit too - just more optimized
sutekina bipu-on
Sure any digital effects have latency too but have you ever heard a pro recording engineer refuse to use digital outboard effectors over latency hmmm..... Where would lexicon, eventide's business be?

It seems to me that if you regularly record other people that if you absolutely have to let them hear an effected signal while they sing, get something cheap that does all the effects you could want and set it up on the studio monitor outs from your interface. You would in effect be doing what a standalone mixer with
built in fx does. No noticable latency, just a slight drop out while changing programs. thumbs up

If you're not working with other people, a small amount of latency on effects being used while recording is tolerable.
Shledge
I get around 6.3ms latency with mine and have been happy with that - thunderbolt or not, wouldn't 2ms or lower tax the CPU even further?
sutekina bipu-on
Shledge wrote:
I get around 6.3ms latency with mine and have been happy with that - thunderbolt or not, wouldn't 2ms or lower tax the CPU even further?


---Disclaimer, this is not directed at you personally in the slightest Shledge---

If i'm recording a session musician and all i have to use is my PC and my interface then you better believe all wireless radios are off, all non essential devices are disconnected and nothing is running but the DAW set to the highest priority level my OS allows because if the CPU isnt taxing itself as much as it needs to stay under 2ms - which has to include physical connections which may not be asynchronous, and thunderbolt is slower than gigabit ethernet at sustained data transfer - blah blah blah.... Then either the computer or interface isn't doing its job or the person recording would rather see low CPU usage than bring latency to or under 2ms and if you would rather have latency than a high CPU usage I hope people aren't paying you to record them.

As others have said in other threads, and is 100% true, you more are at the mercy of your operating system more than your hardware, and a lot of people have operating systems loaded with shit that doesnt need to be running.
bazzevo
I bought a Presonus Quantum for my live setup. It's a thunderbolt interface with some cool features. I can run at 96khz and get a roundtrip latency of under 2ms. Its really cool. You can also use the 2 headphone outputs as extra stereo audio outs. This was a game changer for me. I use guitar pedals in my rig, so I use these as sends to these pedals. It is definitely worth a look. Sounds pretty good too.
pzoot
rean1mator wrote:
can you clarify your setup/testing? are you bringing in external audio from hardware instruments into logic, processing via vst's and then to monitor? or just processing audio clips using vst's?


Definitely nothing approaching “testing”. Just anecdotal. My setup is running 5 channels from modular, stereo from a Kurzweil keyboard and one mic. I am monitoring live through a handful of plugins (just Valhalla reverb, Logic tape delay or sandman pro). I did try going a little deeper with live monitoring plug ins and eventually did get some crackles and scaled back the buffer size to 64 or even 128 for more comfort. So not perfect, but good with early tracking. I’m not recording bands here

Doesn’t seem like Ableton/bitwig are capable of such low latency given their modularity so I have switched over to direct zero monitoring thru the MOTU for now because now I have DC coupled outs to play with from the MOTU and I like the built in cv tools in bitwig. And I ultimately perform with bitwig so I like recording in there when possible to avoid having to move everything over. I’m just using logic as a tape machine really

Sorry not too scientific. But to my ears the 32 sample buffer was not really necessary.
calaveras
sutekina bipu-on wrote:
Shledge wrote:
I get around 6.3ms latency with mine and have been happy with that - thunderbolt or not, wouldn't 2ms or lower tax the CPU even further?


---Disclaimer, this is not directed at you personally in the slightest Shledge---

If i'm recording a session musician and all i have to use is my PC and my interface then you better believe all wireless radios are off, all non essential devices are disconnected and nothing is running but the DAW set to the highest priority level my OS allows because if the CPU isnt taxing itself as much as it needs to stay under 2ms - which has to include physical connections which may not be asynchronous, and thunderbolt is slower than gigabit ethernet at sustained data transfer - blah blah blah.... Then either the computer or interface isn't doing its job or the person recording would rather see low CPU usage than bring latency to or under 2ms and if you would rather have latency than a high CPU usage I hope people aren't paying you to record them.

As others have said in other threads, and is 100% true, you more are at the mercy of your operating system more than your hardware, and a lot of people have operating systems loaded with shit that doesnt need to be running.

pretty much. very frustrating

Used to be, not too long ago, that Mac's had an edge over PCs in this regard. But if I walk up to just about any Mac these days it has about 100 unnecessary things running all the time. You have to do serious workstation prepping to get the machine down to bone stock, and live without Adobe CC, Dropbox, and a lot of other things. (good luck getting rid of siri)

This is why I have a laptop that I do some music on, and a desktop Mac that I only do audio and video on.
GNSDG
Depending on what you're trying to do I also highly recommend the UAD stuff for this reason. As long as you're monitoring in Console I really can't hear any latency at all... I'm sure there's something but as others have pointed out a ms or two is not really audible. I'm always running pres and comps for live sources and then have like EMT 140 and AMS verbs going on busses.
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