Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Any music gear discussions that don't fit into one of the other forums.

Moderators: lisa, luketeaford, Kent, Joe.

rupect
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:11 pm
Location: Toronto

Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by rupect » Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:33 pm

Hi! I've been using these strange times to reconfigure the MIDI ins and outs of my studio.

Decided to chase down all MIDI jitter and latency, because why not. If it can be avoided, I'm not looking to start a thread that discusses whether sub millisecond timing inaccuracies are audible or not, but rather more interested in best practices and equipment to reduce latency and jitter in and out of Logic.

Is a "GM5 inside" class compliant USB 3 interface like the ESI M4U eX the current best timing MIDI interfaces with Logic?

Or would I be better off with one of:
- Edirol UM880 running generic mode
- old eMagic interface with Unitor family driver
- multiple Roland UM-ONE mk2 into a USB 3 hub
- multiple Roland UM-ONE mk2 into a Thunderbolt 3 hub
- multiple Roland UM-ONE mk2 into a USB 2 hub
- something else?

I've got an Expert Sleepers USAMO for MIDI out timing, and I'm trying to figure the best way to interface with a Linnstrument, OB6, Prophet 6 and Buchla Easel. Not 100%, but at the moment I've ruled out MOTU because of issues I read about SysEx mangling, and ruled out anything by iConnectivity for a reason I can't remember, and ruled out Bome Box because I don't want to buy 3 of them to use MIDI 5-pin, and because I don't trust using them all on USB MIDI to the Bome and then ethernet to the computer without something getting weird.

Thanks!

nadafarms
Buy and Sell
Posts: 441
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:53 pm

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by nadafarms » Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:50 pm

Man, I kind of gave up and just use the MPC Live and record to the computer like a tape deck with no grid... rock solid.

Have you tried using the Roland sbx-1 it can allow you to send jitter free clock to a an external sequencer then record audio from your synths back in.

I'm no expert here obviously, just feel your pain.

User avatar
Gizmo
Common Wiggler
Posts: 244
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:50 am
Location: New England USA

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Gizmo » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:07 pm

OT maybe, but related: How to define, and measure, latency with precision? Seriously; measurement being a first step to remediation.

User avatar
rurs
Common Wiggler
Posts: 70
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:33 pm

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by rurs » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:19 pm

I realise you said no to iConnectivity and granted I don't use Logic, or a Mac for that matter.... but I'm very happy with the iConnectMIDI4+, the ethernet connection gives very tight timing. Granted, I haven't got any figures or tests to hand, but for example, recording the note output off a drum machine, synced to MIDI clock, back into the DAW is very consistent.

Plus it will all run standalone if the PC is powered off, 4 devices in DIN, 7 on a USB hub.

How do you propose to integrate the USAMO? Merge it's output with whatever interface you end up with? I can imagine that might cause more bother...

User avatar
Richard deHove
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 277
Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:32 pm
Location: Van Diemen's Land
Contact:

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Richard deHove » Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:24 pm

nadafarms wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:50 pm
Man, I kind of gave up and just use the MPC Live and record to the computer like a tape deck with no grid... rock solid.
This is where my thoughts are now.

I half-wrote a long piece of blather about all my current woes and configuration thoughts, but instead I think I should boil it down to this: It's very difficult to get perfect sync if you run a mixture of hardware and time-sensitive plugins.

User avatar
teleport
Common Wiggler
Posts: 121
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:43 pm
Location: Oakland

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by teleport » Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:44 pm

Gizmo wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:07 pm
OT maybe, but related: How to define, and measure, latency with precision? Seriously; measurement being a first step to remediation.
If an oscilloscope is available that's probably the most direct way to observe variations in the time between signals. Trigger off of the not-yet-jittered signal (input to the system in question) and put the signal of interest (output) on a second channel. The static delay is the latency and differences between repeated instances represent the jitter. There are probably more involved methods that involve computers and digitizing the signals but a scope is about the most purposeful equipment for this task. A USB logic analyzer would also be a great option for more intricate studies, but is a bit of an investment (time and $$).

Sir Ruff
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1846
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:23 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Sir Ruff » Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:45 pm

Gizmo wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:07 pm
OT maybe, but related: How to define, and measure, latency with precision? Seriously; measurement being a first step to remediation.
Program some thing in MIDI, then record in your DAW. Whatever time difference there is between the midi notes (or simply the start of the measure) and the actual audio will be your latency. Bear in mind that a good proportion of any latency you find could from t hardware itself and will not be fixable. This will be especially true on older gear.

These days are use an MOTU XT via USB and it works great. There is still some latency, but I just trim that off the audio file and move on.

To the OP, the UM880 is supposed to be one of the tightest modern interfaces around, but it’s also very rigid in terms of the routing (to the point of being useless for me). The MOTU is much more flexible and I haven’t noticed any real difference in terms of timing.
Benjamin Vraja (1950-1996) - Anthology: https://benjaminvraja.bandcamp.com/album/anthology

User avatar
3hands
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1024
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:36 pm
Location: Ottawa Ontario

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by 3hands » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:33 am

If your serious about this, dig up an old Atari 1040.
Gum is fun, but not on a cat.

My minds an art gallery.

User avatar
WaveRider
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1658
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:08 pm
Location: Montreal

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by WaveRider » Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:36 am

hardware sequencer!

User avatar
3hands
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1024
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:36 pm
Location: Ottawa Ontario

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by 3hands » Fri Apr 10, 2020 12:03 pm

I use an MSQ700 and can get things super tight (like Erasure tight). I’m not sure what prices are like on them these days but they’re a ton of fun of use, and relatively simple once you get the hang of it!
Gum is fun, but not on a cat.

My minds an art gallery.

miminashi
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 322
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:14 pm
Location: SLC, Utah

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by miminashi » Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:14 pm

I don't think you're going to do better than Silent Way for either latency or jitter when it comes to spitting out MIDI from your DAW. It's essentially perfect. If you have a spare SPDIF output, an ES-40 + ESX-8MD will give you 8 output ports. It's a shame there isn't an input version, but at least for me output is far more important.

heckadecimal69
Common Wiggler
Posts: 231
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:36 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by heckadecimal69 » Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:28 pm

Yes, if you want to work with a computer and hardware, you need to get sample accurate sync and MIDI out of the box ain't gonna cut it.
I've been using the Expert Sleepers USAMO which is the cheapest way to get this, and once it's set up it works awesome. A lot of friends have the ERM Multiclock and it's pretty impressive, has a lot more options and connectivity, but at a steep price.

francoprussian
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 441
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:54 am

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by francoprussian » Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:48 pm

I think the secret to the UM880 interface is that the individual ports are addressed by the devices' microcontroller simultaneously (multiplexed?), whereas most of the others are served in series scanning 1-8 or the like, this adds to the measured "tightness" of the unit when utilising the multiple outputs (information gleaned from the MIDI latency analyser thread on g*****utz). It's as if each port is a separate device. But if you're just on one output, there's basically nothing that can help except sending less information from the port. A lot is to do with the underlying MIDI drivers. Apple coreMIDI is ok, and has timestamped input/output if the sequencer software and MIDI interface can handle them. Supposedly Logic does fine with this but i have no way to confirm that. Audio to MIDI conversion like Expert Sleepers devices should be the least prone to jitter, being driven from the audio clock, but might have bigger latency. It's variable depending on how the sequencer implements MIDI. Ableton even has varied latency on MIDI depending on what settings are activated in relation to armed tracks and monitored channels and devices. Gets very messy. 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! Hardware sequencers don't have the multi-threading task management of modern CPUs to contend with, a big advantage. Cirklon is apparently top of the pops in all the tests people do.

rupect
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:11 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by rupect » Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:56 pm

nadafarms wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:50 pm
Have you tried using the Roland sbx-1 it can allow you to send jitter free clock to a an external sequencer then record audio from your synths back in.
Ya, hardware clock is an option but I'm also interested in solving input jitter/latency.

rupect
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:11 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by rupect » Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:58 pm

Gizmo wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:07 pm
OT maybe, but related: How to define, and measure, latency with precision? Seriously; measurement being a first step to remediation.
This thread has some exhaustive testing that seems well thought out. For the output jitter and latency at least. Page 9 or 10 solves lots of the issues and he achieves atari like output with a um880 and logic with no driver. Maybe Apple has solved lots of this for us, and I've got some other ghosts in the machine that aren't midi related affecting things for me? Hmm.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/electro ... st14648565

rupect
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:11 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by rupect » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:00 pm

rurs wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:19 pm
I realise you said no to iConnectivity and granted I don't use Logic, or a Mac for that matter.... but I'm very happy with the iConnectMIDI4+, the ethernet connection gives very tight timing. Granted, I haven't got any figures or tests to hand, but for example, recording the note output off a drum machine, synced to MIDI clock, back into the DAW is very consistent.

Plus it will all run standalone if the PC is powered off, 4 devices in DIN, 7 on a USB hub.

How do you propose to integrate the USAMO? Merge it's output with whatever interface you end up with? I can imagine that might cause more bother...
I'm actually back to considering the MioXM, with a really fast non-USB connection to the computer. Doesn't seem like that has been measured yet though, where the um880 has, and it seems to be stellar, so I'm torn.

rupect
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:11 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by rupect » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:05 pm

[/quote]
...
To the OP, the UM880 is supposed to be one of the tightest modern interfaces around, but it’s also very rigid in terms of the routing (to the point of being useless for me). The MOTU is much more flexible and I haven’t noticed any real difference in terms of timing.
[/quote]

In what way was the um- 880 rigid for you? It seems super full-featured to me with merging/thru routing/filtering, presets, standalone, with a very simple looking button centric interface. I get the MOTU is even more full featured as a router/filter/merger/thru, but in ways only a more complex setup than mine would benefit from, as far as I can tell from the manuals having not spent time with either.

rupect
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:11 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by rupect » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:10 pm

francoprussian wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:48 pm
I think the secret to the UM880 interface is that the individual ports are addressed by the devices' microcontroller simultaneously (multiplexed?), whereas most of the others are served in series scanning 1-8 or the like, this adds to the measured "tightness" of the unit when utilising the multiple outputs (information gleaned from the MIDI latency analyser thread on g*****utz). It's as if each port is a separate device. But if you're just on one output, there's basically nothing that can help except sending less information from the port. A lot is to do with the underlying MIDI drivers. Apple coreMIDI is ok, and has timestamped input/output if the sequencer software and MIDI interface can handle them. Supposedly Logic does fine with this but i have no way to confirm that. Audio to MIDI conversion like Expert Sleepers devices should be the least prone to jitter, being driven from the audio clock, but might have bigger latency. It's variable depending on how the sequencer implements MIDI. Ableton even has varied latency on MIDI depending on what settings are activated in relation to armed tracks and monitored channels and devices. Gets very messy. 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! Hardware sequencers don't have the multi-threading task management of modern CPUs to contend with, a big advantage. Cirklon is apparently top of the pops in all the tests people do.
The thread linked below on Gearslutz actually shows better (and actually amazing) um-880 performance without the drivers, I don't know if that defeats the ftp processing you're referring to or not, but the output specs are atari-level good.

And while the no-computer solutions are tempting, I'm too into editing MIDI and automation now for that, maybe someday.

I've got a USAMO on the way, but am also getting more interested in pushing the limits of rtpMIDI and seeing where that leads.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/electro ... st14648565

User avatar
ersatzplanet
Synthwerks Design
Posts: 6524
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:18 pm
Location: Seattle WA

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by ersatzplanet » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:56 pm

The latency "problem" hasn't ever really affected me personally. I often hear people complaining about MIDI latency and the latency of lots of sample playback modules. I acknowledge that different people have a different views of how "tight" they may want their music to be, but the latencies they complain about are much smaller than the common timing errors between members of a band playing live. This has never made live music too awful to listen to. I guess there might be the tendency of people making music with machines to want their music to sound like music made with machines though.

As a point of reference - Sound travels at a speed of approximately 1130 feet per second. In milliseconds that is 1.13 feet per millisecond (a millisecond is 0.001 seconds). so the members of a band 10ft apart (like typically the bass player and the guitarist) on stage, can easily have almost 9ms of delay hearing each other. Add on top of this the distance to the listener in the audience.
-James

James Husted - Synthwerks, LLC - www.synthwerks.com - info@synthwerks.com - james@synthwerks.com
Synthwerks is a proud member of the Mostly Modular Trade Association (http://www.mostlymodular.com).
Always looking to trade for Doepfer P6 cases

francoprussian
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 441
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:54 am

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by francoprussian » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:57 pm

UM-880/550 are quite hard to track down. Was looking for one for a while, but saw only a couple over a few months, and those that came up were £££.

The 'driverless' operation is probably down to time-stamping in coreMIDI. Obviously Roland implemented compliance to it in the base firmware. Quite annoying they dropped the ball afterwards though. Nothing since those two devices seems anything like as good.

billyk419
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 560
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:11 pm
Location: PHX

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by billyk419 » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:17 pm

miminashi wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:14 pm
I don't think you're going to do better than Silent Way for either latency or jitter when it comes to spitting out MIDI from your DAW. It's essentially perfect. If you have a spare SPDIF output, an ES-40 + ESX-8MD will give you 8 output ports. It's a shame there isn't an input version, but at least for me output is far more important.
I can second this. I use this combo plus an ES-3 for my modular. Everything is rock solid. Takes some time to setup, but once it's configured, you don't have to mess with it anymore :tu:
"If it sounds good, it IS good." ~Duke Ellington

Case

FS/FT

miminashi
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 322
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:14 pm
Location: SLC, Utah

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by miminashi » 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:

francoprussian
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 441
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:54 am

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by francoprussian » Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:15 pm

^^ It's like a slacker Tony Clifton!

User avatar
th0mas
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 623
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 9:36 pm
Location: Ottawa

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by th0mas » Sat Apr 11, 2020 7:00 am

Not sure about other DAWs, but ableton will happily generate more MIDI data than what fits on the hardware MIDI bus. In this case the interface will drop events. You can cause this easily by using envelope automation (like the point to point) instead of drawers automation with the pencil. It'll generate thousands of modwheel, pitchbend, or CC events.

Easy problem to cause,easy to fix, something to be aware of.

Thorsday
Common Wiggler
Posts: 150
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:22 am

Re: Obsessing about MIDI latency and jitter

Post by Thorsday » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:38 am

Get a Roland SBX-1. Or ACME SND-4.

Post Reply

Return to “General Gear”