Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

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WisdomWriter
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Post by WisdomWriter » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:20 pm

iiiiinteresting. I use just simple midi and audio connection and was still gathering a bit of latency. i adjusted the offset to account for the latency but it still wasn't in sync. this gave me couple ideas. thanks all!

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Post by cs1729 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:28 am

I found this thread while I've been trying to figure this out, but I can't seem to get the settings right. Whether I use the ext inst/eff devices or negative midi delays, the recordings are always either a little late or pushed too early and cut off the part of the first beat.

I was wondering if it is because I'm trying to use ableton as a monitor/mixer and also send out that audio via ret tracks to hw effects then back in again.

The best results I was able to get were not using the ext devices, using reduced latency when monitoring and setting a neg midi delay. But that is confusing as well when you switch off monitoring.

Any other tips? Is this problem easier to deal with in cubase or reaper or another program?

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Post by gongondy » Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:43 pm

Yeah I can't for the life of me get this to work. It seems like everything is so inconsistent. I am clocking my modular from Live and an ES-8, turning the monitoring off, and using an external instrument, have delay compensation/low latency monitoring on. My recordings are still coming in way behind time. I'm also sending clocks from my Elektron Digitone to a Mutant Brain module and my recordings are behind but by MUCH less. The hardware latency parameter on the Ext Instrument device doesn't change a thing when i try to adjust it! I'm even recording at 32samples buffer time. I've been dealing with this for three years and I think I'm going crazy. I don't even know what I can buy or who i can pay to fix this for me. I was having this problem even before I bought I was using MIDI. I've been getting Jitter/Latency with just my ES8 and modular for as long as i've owned it. I've owned 2 ES8s, 2 computers, and many versions of Live. Nothing ever changed. Would any of these external sync devices even help me if i'm using both sync clocks and MIDI?

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goldplate
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Post by goldplate » Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:47 am

Guys, I don't get this.

You have a solution provided in stating that it's the only one found from very much experiments and you come here to complain that you don't find the solution while you didn't fulfilled the requirements to get at it.

The solution may look shitty to put in place at first, but once it's done, it's right, you never have issues anymore, WHATEVER you do (regarding audio). You can use external hardware effects and latency inducer plug-ins at the same time and your monitoring, recordings and grid will always match, not "only if you enable this when you do this, etc." for every task.

Sorry but this thread is about the solution, not your issues about other ways to set up which miserably failed.

EDIT: OP was updated to include the eventual prior need to set the Driver Error Compensation right before setting anything else.

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Post by Panason » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:06 am

cs1729 wrote:I found this thread while I've been trying to figure this out, but I can't seem to get the settings right. Whether I use the ext inst/eff devices or negative midi delays, the recordings are always either a little late or pushed too early and cut off the part of the first beat.

I was wondering if it is because I'm trying to use ableton as a monitor/mixer and also send out that audio via ret tracks to hw effects then back in again.

The best results I was able to get were not using the ext devices, using reduced latency when monitoring and setting a neg midi delay. But that is confusing as well when you switch off monitoring.

Any other tips? Is this problem easier to deal with in cubase or reaper or another program?
Don't use negative MIDI delays in Ableton- the only way a negative delay can work is by adding a positive delay to all the other tracks, and this will create problems. Nudge the MIDI data back instead.
It's ok to use negative delays for MIDI clock output (in Live's MIDI preferences) when syncing hardware sequencers/ drum machines) but not ideal.
I monitor through the DAW and seem to get the best results by NOT using Reduced Latency When Monitoring and by putting all external sound sources on External Instrument tracks. (Plugin Delay Compensation is always on). Then create another audio track to record the External Instrument but always monitor through the EI track.

The most important thing for MIDI timing is to be able to run your project with a Audio buffer size of 64 samples or less, which means having a decent CPU. This is because Ableton (at least on Mac) uses MIDI timestamping which sends the MIDI data out together with the audio. AFAIK.

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Post by Patch Me I'm Famous » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:08 am

Guys, thank you for this post! It is amazing and solved my problems. :bananaguitar:

One Question maybe someone can help me with this.

if i use Expert Sleepers Silent Way as a Midi Clock it is rock solid tight.
if i use Ableton CV Tools as a Midi Clock its out of timing.
Image

I think the problem would be solved if i can use the workaround from
goldplate wrote:
But how should i insert the Ext Audio Effect after the CV TOOLS plugin, CV Tools does not allow me the hear the output of the plugin!? :-(



Image



I only use the demo version of Silent Way, so i can buy Silently now or wait for a workaround.
Does anyone got it running with Abelton CV Tools?

Thanks

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Post by goldplate » Tue Dec 17, 2019 1:09 am

I haven't tried CV tools yet, but seeing how MIDI Clock output is handled in Live, this may be that they did the same shit with this.


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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by alexander92 » Fri Dec 27, 2019 12:41 pm

Came across this article today, which might solve the issue of modular recordings: https://cycling74.com/articles/audio-ro ... leton-live

Also this https://isotonikstudios.com/product/modulat/ . Owner claims zero latency, as there is no midi what so ever involved. I didnt try both, for latency issues, but it might be a option for your rig. Especially in the first link, that floating 'audio device' looks rather interesting.

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by past » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:36 am

I find this extremely helpful but I have a few questions:

First:
a) I synced up the USAMO with my Electribe sequencing my AKAI S-3200.
b) Implemented the monitoring chain as described
c) I am using a Roland M16e mixer and can only record via Rec Out

I want to use a VST synth now to go into my Roland Mixer and back into the soundcard for recording in sync with my machines and I can never get it to sync up with my gear. Why is that? In theory I would have to delay the VST sound in order to play it at the same time? It's delayed either through External FX Out or Ext Out directly. My main problem now is to get the VST in sync during playback.

Since I am using this method with only 1 rec out, I will have to record my different machines with + hardware latency added in order for them to be recorded on the same grid. Is that correct? Since different machines have different delays, It's not possible necessarily to get them extremely tight with this monitoring function? e.g. My AKAI always flanges a bit because it's 1-3 ms late.

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by past » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:37 am

Additionally I can adjust the failed recording on grid with the track delays I guess.

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goldplate
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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by goldplate » Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:22 pm

The rules: as soon as you use the computer for any audio, every audio need to go through it so it can delay it so everything plays in sync. So even if you use an hardware mixer, as soon as you turn on the computer you should stop listening to its analog outputs and listen to the soundcard.

If I understand correctly, the VST is sequenced by Live ?

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by spilthyfred » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:21 pm

Expert Sleepers ES-3 for sending audio clock pulses from Ableton to the modular. All audio tracks into interface. Interface into Ableton.

Its a perfect loop. I use this setup with the WMD PM and DB-25 expander into my interface so I can multi track, and it works great.

Since the ES-3 handles audio instead of MIDI, it syncs perfectly. All that needs to be done is to have an audio pulse set up in your DAW to something like 1/16th notes (you DO NOT need silent way). Also, you can send any other form of audio from the DAW such as samples or even full tracks... and with something like CV Tools in Ableton you can send things like CV signals.

The ES-3 and the PM with DB-25 are a perfect marriage, they are absolutely essential to me. I can't think of a more seamless and simple way to multi-track modular.

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by past » Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:43 pm

goldplate wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:22 pm
The rules: as soon as you use the computer for any audio, every audio need to go through it so it can delay it so everything plays in sync. So even if you use an hardware mixer, as soon as you turn on the computer you should stop listening to its analog outputs and listen to the soundcard.

If I understand correctly, the VST is sequenced by Live ?
Yeah the VST is sequenced with Live.

So basically now: DEC is 1.71+ ms according to the tutorial. My machines recorded into live are 8-9ms late because they're going into a mixer first and not directly into the soundcard again as according to the tutorial. I adjusted the DEC according to that and have the machines now as close as it can get on the grid. (I hope this logic makes sense?)

However, I always need to use a negative MIDI delay of -14,50 ms in order to get the plugins through the mixer bang on. My output latency is roughly 6,40 ms, so that could be roughly the output + the mixer latency.

I understand I shouldn't be using track delays but I have found that to solve my problem in some way. Is there anything I misunderstood? As I understand it's not needed to adjust the USAMO clock offset to go together with the click of Ableton Live.

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goldplate
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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by goldplate » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:46 am

Yeah the VST is sequenced with Live.
If the VST is sequenced in Live you shouldn't have any issue if things are set up correctly (unless it doesn't report its correct latency).

My machines recorded into live are 8-9ms late because they're going into a mixer first and not directly into the soundcard again as according to the tutorial. I adjusted the DEC according to that and have the machines now as close as it can get on the grid. (I hope this logic makes sense?)
If your mixer is analog then it doesn't add any latency. Isn't it ?

You shouldn't use the Driver Error Compensation for anything else than its own purpose, otherwise you can be sure that you will get wrong latencies here and there.

8-9ms may likely be the MIDI processing latency between the sequencer and the synths. I announced a minimum 1.25ms latency, but it's really the very minimum I can get when using only my Cirklon processing only one track and sending the signal via a gate (CV/Gate) signal. When recording MIDI synths, the latency can go up to 10ms, but this varies up to an order of 5-10ms depending on the device. I decide that I accept these differences as this matches how it always worked to make good music with MIDI gears in the past, but if you want to match them more you can use the Hardware Latency setting on the Monitoring track's External Instrument device.

However, I always need to use a negative MIDI delay of -14,50 ms in order to get the plugins through the mixer bang on. My output latency is roughly 6,40 ms, so that could be roughly the output + the mixer latency.
"plugins through the mixer" ? Please reread what you just quoted from me.

I understand I shouldn't be using track delays but I have found that to solve my problem in some way.
As I understand it, the Track Delay feature is there in a last resort or to add an effect and mainly because users asked for it. It can be used by the user for what he wants as it's clear where it will have an effect (post mixer), unlike the other delay/latency settings.

As I understand it's not needed to adjust the USAMO clock offset to go together with the click of Ableton Live.
No because with the method I describe, the clock is always sent by Live as soon as possible regarding its own clock, so what would you want more ?

past
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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by past » Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:39 am

Hi,

I have put the DEC now back to the result of the Ableton Tutorial (1,71ms).

VSTi sequenced via Ableton but the audio is going into the Mixer and then back into Ableton.
The Ableton clock is around 9 ms different to the USAMO when I compare both next to each other.

Now I have my USAMO going into my machines and I have them coming back into Ableton. I have adjusted the hardware latency for the monitoring by 9 ms now. I guess since everything is going into a mixer and not just into the soundcard it gives me a 9 ms latency.

I have the track delay for the VSTi now to -14.50 ms (Overall Latency + DEC) and I get all roughly bang on the grid now.
The VSTi without going into the mixer straight in Ableton are in sync btw.

I am not sure why I have to do that but it seems to work now as I understand. Sorry to bother. I have followed all of your tutorial and have to say that it's the closest I was able to get to all of the sync problems ever existed.

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by goldplate » Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:48 pm

VSTi sequenced via Ableton but the audio is going into the Mixer and then back into Ableton.
If you send it out to the mixer and get it back individually in Live, you use your mixer track as an external effect and then you should use the External Effect device in order to get the latency compensation right. That's why you had to set a Track Delay. How Live would know that this track come back in and that it is needed to delay all other tracks so this one is in time ? It can't unless you make it go out with the External Effect device.

EDIT: OK I reread your original post and I see you use the Roland M-16E so the 8-9ms delay definitely comes from the MIDI processing. If you doubt about it you can connect your sequencer's MIDI out (ideally with light data for it to treat) to one of your soundcard's audio inputs or M16-E (ANALOG DOESN'T ADD DELAY) and you will see that the signal is more close to the grid. Now you want to mix the VST in the M-16E... This seems to me not compatible with my method as it is based on the idea of sending the MIDI clock as soon as possible, and the VST processing and other processed tracks will add delay to the audio which goes out via the latency compensation system. This means your hardware will always be early. Using a Track Delay as you did is a workaround which may only work in the case of a "blank" project, but as soon as you will add effects inducing latency on other tracks or load other VSTs, the Track Delay amount may need to be set again.

The Ableton clock is around 9 ms different to the USAMO when I compare both next to each other.
How do you measure it ?

I am not sure why I have to do that but it seems to work now as I understand.
To test if your setup works, you can use an External Effect device in a new track and set its Hardware Latency to a high amount. This will adds a lot of latency to the latency compensation system and then you will be able to hear if all kind of tracks are shifted correctly.

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by past » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:55 am

I measured the difference of the clock signal by letting a USAMO clocked Kick running with the Ableton click.

Thanks for the clarification. The track delay is indeed not needed when using the external fx plugin and the VSTi audio through the mixer gets recorded bang on, unfortunately recordings with the machines are coming 9 ms late since they're clocked through the USAMO and not Ableton unlike the VSTi.

I would always hae to adjust the hardware latency for some reason when recording and everything is recorded on grid at least. Sucks for the Playback though.

I will see if I can sequence the VSTi via the USAMO on a different MIDI channel maybe or just have to use the workaround with the track delay for now. At least it works that way with recording and monitoring tight. Since my main concern only is just getting the jam recorded properly to edit it later on.

Nevertheless thank you for the effort :) Amazing!

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by drowld » Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:17 am

spilthyfred wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:21 pm
Expert Sleepers ES-3 for sending audio clock pulses from Ableton to the modular. All audio tracks into interface. Interface into Ableton.

Its a perfect loop. I use this setup with the WMD PM and DB-25 expander into my interface so I can multi track, and it works great.

Since the ES-3 handles audio instead of MIDI, it syncs perfectly. All that needs to be done is to have an audio pulse set up in your DAW to something like 1/16th notes (you DO NOT need silent way). Also, you can send any other form of audio from the DAW such as samples or even full tracks... and with something like CV Tools in Ableton you can send things like CV signals.

The ES-3 and the PM with DB-25 are a perfect marriage, they are absolutely essential to me. I can't think of a more seamless and simple way to multi-track modular.
I'm using a similar configuration.

Ableton cv tools clock >>>>>>>> Expert sleepers Es3 >>>>>>>>>> Pamela New workout
Ableton midi + audio >>>>> Expert sleepers Es3 >>>>> Eurorack modules
Eurorack >>>> Es6

The thing is without the Er-M multiclock i can't set ableton to start late. I want that when ableton start Pamela new workout start at the exact same time. So i would have to correct the latency of PNW. With the multiclock it was doable because i was able to offset the clock of some of the clocks.

I recall working it out but forgot how.. lol

Edit: btw it's way tighter with your method and a delay on the clock (i've been trying to use e-rm multiclock samples as the source of the clock for pamela) It's still not that great but i have to live with it i guess
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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by spilthyfred » Sat Oct 03, 2020 2:29 pm

drowld wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:17 am
I'm using a similar configuration.

Ableton cv tools clock >>>>>>>> Expert sleepers Es3 >>>>>>>>>> Pamela New workout
Ableton midi + audio >>>>> Expert sleepers Es3 >>>>> Eurorack modules
Eurorack >>>> Es6

The thing is without the Er-M multiclock i can't set ableton to start late. I want that when ableton start Pamela new workout start at the exact same time. So i would have to correct the latency of PNW. With the multiclock it was doable because i was able to offset the clock of some of the clocks.

I recall working it out but forgot how.. lol

Edit: btw it's way tighter with your method and a delay on the clock (i've been trying to use e-rm multiclock samples as the source of the clock for pamela) It's still not that great but i have to live with it i guess
Instead of using cv tools for my clocks I just set up a simple midi track with a 1/16 note loop that triggers a snappy audio signal. Then I put other clips in the track with different time divisions like 1/8, 1/4, whole note etc.. along with maybe some euclidean rhythms for more interesting clock signals. Then I duplicate the track a few times so that I can have different clock signals coming out of the ES-3 at the same time. Its very flexible and I can change things on the fly just using the push to launch different clock clips. Everything I clock this way is in perfect sync.

Then I set up another track with an empty loop and I put an audio trigger directly before the loop, then set the start point of the loop at that trigger so that it only fires once. This is my reset signal and I mult it coming out of the ES-3 and into all my sequencers. Everything starts at exactly the same time. As far as PNW goes, I dont own it. I have heard it does not like to accept an external clock, which is why I dont have one.

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Re: Ableton Live & sequencers, workaround for latency issues

Post by schematicwizard » Thu Nov 19, 2020 5:19 pm

I just wanted to thanks OP for the great post and describe my working setup!

My master clock is Ableton. I've got 5 types of devices to sync :
  • VST / Ableton Samples / Ableton Instruments
  • Modular INs/OUTs triggered by Ableton with ES-8 input/output in ADAT mode + a clock
  • Modular INs, triggered by a sequencer in the modular with the modular's clock
  • Midi instruments
  • Elektron's Digitakt with Overbridge VST (which is a bit different from a standard VST)
My interface is a Focusrite 18i20 3rd gen, Buffer size is set to 64 samples (latency is IN 4,04ms / OUT4,04ms)

I spent ~3 nights brute forcing every combinations of settings, messing around with Ableton's latency compensation and driver error, and the only solution that worked for me is the one OP described (monitoring/rec tracks separated, internal audio routing after monitoring/almost no driver error compensation). Everything is now in perfect sync (not sample accurate but almost) in monitoring AND in recording mode, and my recorded samples start right on the grid.

Image
Look at this beauty :D

Image
For each external instrument I have this midi monitoring track and rec track using internal Ableton's audio routing, just as OP describes. I put my audio effects on the group.

Image
(sorry it's in french) In options I use "Global latency compensation" but no "Reduced Latency when monitoring"

Image
In settings I didn't configured Driver Error's compensation as described in Ableton I/O Lesson. Keep in mind this setting is for recorded samples, and seems to be only useful when you work with external mixers/direct monitoring (which I don't). For some reason, when the value is !=0, it seems to enable something in overral Latency reduction computed by Ableton, that's why I put it to something non-null. I had to tweak it a little to reduce the flanger effect OP was talking about when playing a recorded sample AND monitoring the same sound at the same time.

I send my clock to the modular with a sample, triggered with a simpler to a ES-8 output (plugged to a Pamela's New Workout) at 24PPQN. There's a great sample/midi clip you can download on E-RM's website (I don't have a Multiclock but you can just use this). I don't use CV Tools' Clock Out (it works ~OK but has to be on a SEND channel in Ableton otherwise it starts with a latency). I don't trust CV Tools anymore.

I have to add/emphasis on two specific points though:
  • CV Tools are great but the behave very poorly with Ableton's Latency correction. We have to use an External Audio Effect instead of "Audio From" in most CV Tools (CV Instrument for example). You can do this on the same midi track, it works. I also had to replace my CV trigger with a drum bus playing the same sample as my clock with a simple in "1 shot" mode + external audio effects. You can use an extra chain to get the return input from the modular (Audio From) with an extra External Instrument with No Output
  • I also had to tweak latency in the "Hardware Latency" settings of all my External Instruments/External Audio Effects:
    - ~14ms for my midi external instruments (MS-20)
    - ~11ms for a drum rack that sends triggers to my modular drums (different outputs to ES-8 but just one input from ES-8)
    - ~45ms (!) for a standard "External Audio Effect" put after any CV Instrument (see first point)
More screenshots :
Image
Image
Image


No delay on any track.

Despite those enormous Hardware Latency settings, I now have 0 desync between any of my midi instruments, drum racks, vst and modular. I'm happy, just wanted to share :)

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