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DAW: smaller audio buffer size= better MIDI timing?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software  
Author DAW: smaller audio buffer size= better MIDI timing?
Panason
I saw a comment on GS that (if i understand it right) DAWs send out MIDI in packets with a frequency dependent on the audio buffer size- the smaller the buffer the more frequently it sends out the MIDI data, which results in better timing.
Quote:
The sloppiness comes from the fact that midi is transmitted with audio buffer chunk. The shorter the audio buffer, the better the midi timing. Having 64 Samples Buffer size gives you very good midi performance.

Is this correct?
JohnLRice
hhmmm, I hadn't heard of this before. hmmm..... seriously, i just don't get it
Shledge
I have tried this and it seems to hold true. 512 samples would cause major MIDI jitter, while 64 samples is rock solid, to the point that I can send MIDI clock from DAW to my PNW without any dropouts or issues.
JohnLRice
Good to know, thanks all! thumbs up
catchin
Not sure which DAW you use (I use Ableton Live), but this helped me a lot.

Also after you figure out what you want to do with your sound, when it's time to record turn off the monitoring of the track you're recording on.

Quoting Ableton manual, page 666 Flamey -
Quote:
Do not enable track monitoring if you are recording MIDI while listening directly to a hardware device such as an external synthesizer (as opposed to listening to the deviceā€˜s audio through Live via the External Instrument device). Likewise, disable track monitoring when recording MIDI data that is generated by another MIDI device (such as a drum machine). When monitoring is enabled, Live adds latency to compensate for playthrough jitter. Therefore, it is important to only enable monitoring when actually playing through.
rjungemann
It'd depend on how the DAW was written. It's certainly convenient to have the code doing MIDI processing and audio processing happening at the same interval, but there's nothing strictly requiring it. I have code a little like this in a sequencer I made:

Code:

// Runs as quickly as possible
void loop (...) {
  if (previous_time + block_size >= current_time) {
    // Fill a buffer with audio samples...
  }

  // More code here...
}


But there's nothing forcing them to necessarily do the MIDI processing when doing the audio processing, although it may make certain things more convenient. At least as far as I've dug into music software and plugin development.
Panason
Thanks for replies. I guess this is what MIDI time-stamping is about. I think I read somewhere that Ableton does this.
catchin wrote:

Quoting Ableton manual, page 666


Yeaahh that paragraph in Live's manual always makes my head hurt. They don't give a clear enough explanation for serious things like this that can easily trip the user over.
Panason
I finally upgraded to a quad-core i7 mac mini (from a dual-core i7 MBP). I can now run my current Ableton project (around 16 tracks with a dozen VST plugins) at a 64 sample buffer size (down from 128-256 before).

I can confirm that the smaller buffer size affects Live's MIDI timing. I think it's for the better (tighter) but still testing.
JediDJ
Audio buffer affects midi timing.
The best timing is under OSX with ESI and EDIROL interfaces.
Panason
I have an ESI smile Things are sounding tighter with the new lower buffer setup, but I now have to re-tune clock offsets and nudge notes back to the grid as I had moved them to compensate for latency.. lol At over 140 bpm even tiny offsets can make a big difference to a groove.
JediDJ
You need to have ESI M8UXL.
They got Ploytec chip inside.

And there are some with less ins and outs also.

Old ESI doesn't have that chip.
Panason
I have the M4UXT. sounds close! Does it have the same chip?

I did a long session with my new setup last night. It's a revelation. It's like I can finally get stuff to gel together, rhythmically, whereas before it always sounded loose. I am so glad I got a faster computer rather than another synth, at this point!

I don't understand why Ableton do not point this issue out in bold... probably 'cause they don't really care about MIDI all that much.


I just saw that ESI now have USB 3 interfaces with host port!
Quote:

The Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 and macOS compatible device provides not only perfect timing and the highest low latency performance of any MIDI interface in it's class on the market today, it can even be used fully standalone without a computer: different operation modes allow you to route input to output signals, merge MIDI signals or use M4U eX as a MIDI thru box. These modes can be selected with the push of a button when needed.
JediDJ
Yes. This one has it too.
JediDJ
Panason wrote:

The Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 and macOS compatible device provides not only perfect timing and the highest low latency performance of any MIDI interface in it's class on the market today, it can even be used fully standalone without a computer: different operation modes allow you to route input to output signals, merge MIDI signals or use M4U eX as a MIDI thru box. These modes can be selected with the push of a button when needed.


USB3.0 definately increases data bandwidth, but timing problems shall be the same I guess.
It's been already experienced when the industry switched from USB 1.1 to 2.0.
Windows 7-10 USB midi runs on HAL. (hardware abstraction layer), so this is why it's hard or even impossible to get perfect timing there.
The exception is Steinberg Midex, because Cubase can output it's signature timestamp only to this interface.

OSX is much better.
It provides timestamping by nature.
So if using Ableton Live or Logic X (with external instr plugin), + modern ESI or EDIROL interfaces, you can obtain 0.2 ms jitter easily.
Panason
Thanks. So you don't think using the new USB 3 interface will make a noticeable difference in MIDI clock output jitter and note latency?

Alyseum (who released the first USB 3 interface) claim that MIDI USB 2 does not get enough priority given to it by computer operating systems and that this issue is much improved with USB 3....
JediDJ
We'll see, but I doubt so.
The problem lies in another part, system interruptions.
But I think OSX will be much better still.
And 3.0 shall let using that midi interface along with other high speed devices
without sacrificing bandwidth, maybe .... wink

Are there many persons nowadays using much external gear via midi on Windows ? I doubt so.
Some movie composers, yes, are using Windows, but only large Kontakt sample libraries.
So manufacturers don't give a damn f... bout Windows midi users.
Especially Microsoft wink
They are heading more to a tablet/mobile architecture.
That's where the money is.
Shledge
USB 3 will do nothing for jitter.

Quote:
Are there many persons nowadays using much external gear via midi on Windows ? I doubt so.


You're looking at one wink
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