Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

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ersatzplanet
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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by ersatzplanet » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:41 pm

miminashi wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 6:22 pm
ersatzplanet wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:56 pm
This has never made live music too awful to listen to.
Prepare to eat your words. This is what happens when the singer is only 5ms out of sync with the instruments:
That sounds like more than 5ms! 5ms is less than 6feet in delay. The bass player and the guitarist are that far apart and their monitors are at least that far from them.
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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Richard deHove » Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:09 am

Maybe the singer had no foldback? Sing with no foldback and anyone will sound off.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by SingIt » Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:19 am

I had a multiclock for a while. Went through this timing hell, but realized a few things:
Old hardware setups were never dead on in sync, and those little ms of latency on time based effects actually add to the sound (as long as the setup is done right and is synced as well as the gear allows).

For me, I get no jitter using overbridge and an RME fireface. So I am able to use my analog rytm to clock all my hardware into ableton. Everything is in sync together. Very very small amount of latency coming in - i dont even worry about. That slight latency difference is not worth worrying about for me, plus I have the feel from the drum machine without jitter. Easiest hybrid integration for me - I even clock my modular with it.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Richard deHove » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:33 pm

SingIt wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:19 am
So I am able to use my analog rytm to clock all my hardware into ableton.
In all the mixed hardware and DAW/vst configurations I've tried it's always been by far the easiest and tightest when external hardware is the master clock.

So long as hardware runs hardware everything has been good. All my problems have always come from when the DAW is trying to command clocked hardware and syncing that to internal time-dependent VSTs.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by SingIt » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:37 pm

Richard deHove wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:33 pm
SingIt wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:19 am
So I am able to use my analog rytm to clock all my hardware into ableton.
In all the mixed hardware and DAW/vst configurations I've tried it's always been by far the easiest and tightest when external hardware is the master clock.

So long as hardware runs hardware everything has been good. All my problems have always come from when the DAW is trying to command clocked hardware and syncing that to internal time-dependent VSTs.
Yeah, agree. Overbridge takes some grief from people, but it has been a very reliable way for me to get stable sync between hardware and software.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by ranix » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:43 pm

francoprussian wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:48 pm
Even an Atari is not the answer as anybody who used Cubase back in the day can tell you, don't touch the keyboard while printing tracks to tape!
the keyboard on the Atari (actually the ikbd serial port, through which the keyboard communicates) shares an interrupt with the physical MIDI port on the device. It's not a problem when using MIDI via the side card slot (Unitor) or the Centronics cable (smp24)
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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by 3hands » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:46 pm

ranix wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:43 pm
francoprussian wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:48 pm
Even an Atari is not the answer as anybody who used Cubase back in the day can tell you, don't touch the keyboard while printing tracks to tape!
the keyboard on the Atari (actually the ikbd serial port, through which the keyboard communicates) shares an interrupt with the physical MIDI port on the device. It's not a problem when using MIDI via the side card slot (Unitor) or the Centronics cable (smp24)

Yeah, I’ve had Cubase since the beginning, and never had an issue with my Atari and the keyboard interrupting it. I was using the Unitor dongle though.
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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by francoprussian » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:26 pm

True. But not everybody could afford those dongles. And they're not easy to find today, nor cheap even.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by daveholiday » Sun Apr 12, 2020 7:13 pm

@rupect

I have used midi with a DAW for 20 years.....I don't have timing or latency issues*.

*MIDI has limitations, if you know and understand them, it helps!

There is much to be said about setup in the OS environment. Once that is set, streamline how you use MIDI.

If you are hellbent on using 16 channels of MIDI at once with CC data as well......timing is going to be a bit lackluster. I t all depends on what your ultimate goals are.
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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by teleport » Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:22 pm

The area where I've seen the greatest impact from both jitter and latency is with live played e-drums. This is an application where relatively small latency can cause a sense of disassociation from the act of striking the drum pad, (fast attack percussive sounds single-digit mS matter).
By far the greater of the two issues with stick drumming on triggers over midi is jitter - having any randomization of the time differences between strikes -esp. in fast buzz rolls ruins the feel. It's a subtle thing - but of you get a chance to A/B it it's night and day with certain playing techniques. (I became a believer after trying to replicate a hardware sampler rig in a software implementation (identical sample engine) and found it came tantalizingly close, but ultimately failed on this score).

To be sure - a certain amount of latency is not generally a problem and in a recording situation it's easy to compensate for. Acoustic delays aren't a huge problem for live musicians - but it does create a limit to the reaction time where delay experiencing agents can respond to one anothers changes.

The problem is much more perceivable with fast clusters of notes, if for instance a piece has lots of 32nd notes it's going to suffer more from whatever jitter the system has than something that sticks to more relaxed tempos.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Mr.ToR » Sat May 23, 2020 12:23 pm

I have tested many MIDI interfaces a couple of years ago when I was going crazy with timing issues around Din-Sync, MIDI Clock and MIDI latency.
I have an RME HDSPe MADI FX which goes via MADI into an RME ADI-648 which then decapsulates and encapsulates MIDI embedded into MADI from and to HDSPe. All that is connected to a trashcan MacPro via Thunderbolt 2 with a Sonnet Echo Express SE II Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Chassis. The MIDI from the HDSPe is the best I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I can't remember the timings but I can tell with confidence that the Roland UM-ONE mk2 and UM-ONE mk1 were only 1ms slower than the HDSPe which is amazing. They are the best and closest to RME's MIDI that I've ever seen. I can also tell for sure that all the multi-port MIDI interfaces are garbage and they slow down with increased data even with such simple things as increasing the tempo on a single port even on a single MIDI channel. After all the tests I got rid of all my multi-port MIDI interfaces. However, using all 16 MIDI channels on a good MIDI interface (PCIe, USB or whatever) does not slow and performance does not degrade with heavy usage. The last remaining multi-port MIDI interface was the Steinberg Midex 8, 8x8 USB MIDI interface. It also has all the problems I've mentioned above, in addition it had a terrible latency. Just as I was about to give it away for a good price, I somehow realized it could also be used as a standalone 8 port MIDI thru box. So right away I hooked it up and tested thru performance and it amazingly had 0 latency. Which is amazing. Remember, MIDI is just a current loop and MIDI thru operation does not need any digital processing. The best thing you can actually do is to use a MIDI thru box with a good MIDI interface. Now I just keep that Steinberg as a spare MIDI thru box now since I already have everything running over MIDI thru boxes anyways. Also, you really don't want to connect all your MIDI devices with the MIDI Thru ports of your devices in a daisy-chained configuration. The problem with that cheap and robust solution is that you need to keep all your MIDI devices turned on at all times. So you use a MIDI thru box. One other problem with MIDI is the return channel when you're using thru boxes. You can really only use one return channel per MIDI interface. I have a Roland A-880 and that is basically a MIDI router and a thru box all-in-one and you can choose which device will use the return channel. I can not recommend enough how good those cheap Roland UM-ONE USB interfaces are.

About testing: I've used Ableton for testing so I'll explain that but it shouldn't be much different for other DAWs. You need to have two MIDI channels right on top of each other on the arrangement view. One will be for playing and the other for recording. You will connect your MIDI interfaces IN port to the OUT port. So that will be a physical loop. You will enter a couple of MIDI notes to your play channel. You will play it in a loop so it will play the notes infinitely. Make the loop a bit further in the timeline for ease of seeing whats going on. You will have the second MIDI channel recording over and over in an overwrite mode so you will not end up with an overlapped mess. You will zoom-in and you will see the latency of your MIDI interface as a delay between the played note and recorded note. The latency is the delay between them. The jitter is how much this delay fluctuates on each pass of the play-record loop on the same point. You should increase the tempo to see if the latency and jitter changes. If it changes you should throw away that MIDI interface. Also, do this test with various MIDI interfaces you own. You will see that each will have a different result. Roland UM-One was the best one in all my tests except the HDSPe of course but you can not expect anyone to buy an expensive FPGA based audio device only for MIDI. The truth is actually that the Roland UM-One mk1 was a fraction of a ms faster than the mk2 but in all practical purposes normal people don't start to notice latencies up to 10ms anyways however in a studio environment 10ms latency is terrible. If you have everything connected digitally then you have to account for audio latency as well. I have around 90 audio channels and many MIDI channels and Din-Sync and MIDI clock and all that is happening in about 8ms overall where the audio input latency is less than 3.5ms, then you have MIDI interface latency plus the MIDI device MIDI/audio response latency etc. So everything happens in under 8ms such as sending audio to an external effects and returning. However, for example with drums you only have MIDI out latency + Audio in latency which is way faster than 8ms anyways and created no problem. I have all this with only 3 MIDI interfaces. I use RME's MIDI for MIDI clock and for Drums and some synths through the Roland A-880, first UM-One for only Din-Sync with a Kenton Pro Solo MK2 that converts MIDI clock to DinSync, finally the second UM-One only for a Juno-106 with Kiwi upgrade. There are also USB MIDI instruments but I don't count them.

There is also a big issue if you're using overbridge if you're an elektron user with MIDI, Din-Sync and MIDI Clock. For a time I've used overbridge and Analog-four as the MIDI clock and Din-Sync clock source for everything however that configuration for some strange reason screws up your audio interface's latency. If you're not using computer audio, overbridge seems as a good solution for syncing MIDI clock and DinSync but at the end I completely ditched that technology and I'm using my own audio interface for the elektron stuff and I'm using overbridge only as a MIDI controller for the Analog four and nothing more because it messes many other things.

Anyways, the conclusion is that use one or a couple of Roland UM-One interfaces with a MIDI thru box and everything will be golden.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by gruebleengourd » Sat May 23, 2020 10:53 pm

francoprussian wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:48 pm
Hardware sequencers don't have the multi-threading task management of modern CPUs to contend with, a big advantage.
No OS running under the sequencer definitely, helps, but the main issue with software on modern computers is the I/O. Like you say, apple will timestamp with the proper interfaces, and you can do similar with the roland /edirol interfaces on a PC, possibly the MOTU too, but I haven't tried them. Time stamping will result in a standard latency, and little to no jitter most of the time, however there will be the odd big fail here and there because ultimately you simply cannot get control of the serial bus.

The next big problem in a DAW is if the programming ties the midi timing to the audio buffer somehow, but then sends out the midi data through the serial bus. Some software will improve the midi timing performance if you reduce the buffer size and run at higher sample rates.

If you program with midi timing as the focus and are willing to write non-portable code using the OS API for threads. (My experience is in windows) it is possible to construct reliable timers with jitter under 10 microseconds. You can setup virtual ports and avoid some of the limitations of midi so long as you stay in the box.

For myself, I might use a number of different approaches depending on what gear I want to use. Either use a roland sbx-1 for midi i/o on modern pc and live with the 10 ms latency (not hard to do), sequence with a MiST FPGA running atari software, stick to hardware with built in sequencers and sync them via clock, din-sync, FSK or SMPTE, or manipulate the audio after recording most all daws now have good tools for time correction elastique audio and the like with options for moving start points without having to do timestretch or warping.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by francoprussian » Sun May 24, 2020 6:33 am

gruebleengourd wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:53 pm
sequence with a MiST FPGA running atari software
How's the MiST for MIDI? I was considering getting one a few years back when i felt nostalgic about my ST sequencers, but never got around to it.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Michael O. » Sun May 24, 2020 2:15 pm

francoprussian wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 6:33 am
gruebleengourd wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:53 pm
sequence with a MiST FPGA running atari software
How's the MiST for MIDI? I was considering getting one a few years back when i felt nostalgic about my ST sequencers, but never got around to it.
Curious about this myself. As an Atari ST user happily running Notator on a daily basis I’d be interested to see how it performs vs. the real thing.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Sir Ruff » Sun May 24, 2020 2:23 pm

There are 20 million variables of course, but I just came across some interesting results from a comparison of 5-pin DIN vs. USB on a MOTU MIDI Express XT and Cubase (both of which I use). It seems USB is actually quite slow, which is what I too have been noticing lately--a sizable (9-12 ms) bit of latency audio has to be snipped from the files and the jitter is also pretty bad. And here I was thinking USB was faster! But short of returning to my SB AWE32 MIDI interface though, which I can't do anyway because the drivers don't work, I don't see any work around other than minimizing MIDI to hardware whenever possible.

https://www.midi.org/forum/3502-midi-latency-in-2018

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by gruebleengourd » Sun May 24, 2020 8:40 pm

francoprussian wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 6:33 am
How's the MiST for MIDI? I was considering getting one a few years back when i felt nostalgic about my ST sequencers, but never got around to it.
The MiST is good. It is an FPGA emulation of the atari, so there is no other layer inbetween interfering with things like when you run a software emulator. The midi performance is as solid as a real atari. The main issue though is that you can't use atari hardware dongles, so if you want Notator or Cubase, you have to find cracked versions. For that reason, I don't know how those two are on it, but I've heard anecdotally that it if you had those, they are as solid as cracked versions were on an atari. ;)

I use Dr T's KCS and it is exactly like running on the atari -- except I can use a nice usb optical mouse and keyboard, and a VGA monitor without any adapter. There is software available to setup virtual hard drives on the SD card. Essentially it is like having a maxed out atari with all mod cons, but incompatible with dongle copy protection or add on hardware.

You can also run different cores on the MiST. If you want it can be an Amiga, or any of a number of other vintage computers.

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by francoprussian » Mon May 25, 2020 5:37 am

Nice, sounds very cool. No dongle means limited to 1x1 MIDI in/out though yes?

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Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by thunderheart530 » Tue May 26, 2020 10:04 pm

USAMO to Cirklon was my answer to syncing hardware to a DAW. You have to program everything in the Cirklon which isn’t an issue really. You can make any complicated midi in your DAW and record it to the Cirklon too.
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