Basic Latency Question

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Matt C.
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Basic Latency Question

Post by Matt C. » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:06 am

I recently switched DAWs and for the first time I'm having to wrestle with obnxious latency issues. My question is a general one - what parts of the computer system play the biggest role in determining the amount of latency we're stuck with? CPU speed? amount of RAM? The converters/interface? Basically I'm wondering, if I were to upgrade something, what is gonna have the biggest impact in terms of lowering latency?

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by kslight » Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:25 am

Working backwards but if you provided your settings/specs I think that we could help diagnose the cause before you spend money.

Modern DAWs, computers, interfaces...should be capable of delivering relatively low latency. If you start piling on plugins/have a complex session, you will have to increase the buffer (and latency) to get performance without errors/clicks/pops. So to an extent it can be a CPU thing. But certain plugins as inserts and settings can create lots of latency as well... Example “look ahead” processors like the L2 on your master buss cause latency...because they actually delay the signal slightly to “look ahead.” And some plugin instruments are just hogs in general.

As far as RAM goes, depending on your usage you may be able to get by with 8gb but i don’t recommend less than 16gb... if you watch your CPU/system usage while in your daw you can diagnose a weak point if you are spiking the CPU with a certain plugin or at the limits of your ram usage.

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by Matt C. » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:33 am

I've got a PC with a 3.2GHz AMD Athlon processor, 16GB of RAM (I don't remember which variety), running Windows 7 64-bit. Converter is an old MOTU 24i/o with it's proprietary PCIe interface card.

I'm not especially interested in dumping more money into my digital setup but working around latency is truly obnoxious.

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by digitaldrummer » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:37 pm

kslight was on the right track. are you finding latency with plugins enabled? If so, then try tracking without them enabled. Use the lowest possible buffer setting you can. if the Motu interface has a "console" type app, then mute the monitoring in the DAW and monitor via the app - it will usually be lower latency. This is what I have to do with my UAudio Apollo if I want to run with plugins in the session ( w/o plugins I can usually get the buffer setting low enough that it still runs and is not annoying)

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by kslight » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:22 pm

Matt C. wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:33 am
I've got a PC with a 3.2GHz AMD Athlon processor, 16GB of RAM (I don't remember which variety), running Windows 7 64-bit. Converter is an old MOTU 24i/o with it's proprietary PCIe interface card.

I'm not especially interested in dumping more money into my digital setup but working around latency is truly obnoxious.
What DAW, any plugins, what sample rate?

I'm not super familiar with that interface, but from what I read online, there shouldn't be a lot of latency induced by that interface...so I don't think that's the problem.

You said you recently changed DAWs before this started happening...if you went back to your previous DAW does it still have latency?

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by Matt C. » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:02 pm

Recently switched to Reaper, mainly working at 96kHz. Not using plugins during initial tracking, but once we're toward the end of the overdubs stage, yes there are plugins running (a modest amount, but some) and they definitely contribute to the issue.

For years I worked in Nuendo, which provides direct monitoring from within the DAW, so latency was a non-issue. I see now how spoiled I was by that feature. Workarounds like turning off existing plugins or using the interface's console app for monitoring are the sort of thing I want to avoid, but maybe I can't...

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by losthighway » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:17 pm

Matt C. wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:02 pm
Recently switched to Reaper, mainly working at 96kHz.
I'm not a black belt in computers, but 96k is pretty robust. It's been a while, but I remember when I updated my computer and software last I did some little demos of myself with different resolutions and found that 16 and 24 bit were similarly stable at 44.1 and 48, but after that it seemed to be pretty laborious when I went higher with either variable. After a certain track count or plugin weight performance started to choke.

Also not an expert, but I seem to recall some people smarter then me saying that as you increase bit and sample rate you get diminishing returns (i.e. 16 vs 24 is significant, and 44.1 vs. 48 is a subtle improvement, but then 32-bit or 96k isn't palpably better even though it's way more data). But then again I might just be begging someone with greater expertise to explain how wrong I am here.

In the mean time.... why not 48khz? See if the latency is better?

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by Nick Sevilla » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:16 am

Hi Matt,

If it is ONLY the DAW... then there have to be settings within it that are different from the older DAW which would be making the difference.

If it is the PLUG INS (you seem to state that once you put plug ins into play, THAT is where it gets wonky), well, then that is the plug in architecture.

I also owned Motu PCIe interfaces for many years, I actually have a set right now, but on a W2K machine, so I cannot really point to the operating system you are using as the culprit. Also, since the only change is the DAW, then there is where the issue really lies. With my system, at 24bit 48kHz, I would get a throughput latency of about 2-3mS. This is with ancient drivers from Atlantean times, and Windows 2000 (professional...)

96kHz gets you a tiny amount LESS latency, but not much. Typically a Motu system like yours can get under 2 mS latency, but this depends on your MOTHERBOARD. It has nothing to to with RAM, CPU, etc. This, of course, is with zero plug ins. Just in and back out of the DAW.

When you were using Nuendo and their direct monitoring, you were not able to monitor plug ins in real time. Only aux send things like reverb etc. This would be the same in Reaper, although I do not know enough about it to say if it has the direct monitoring feature.

What I recommend that you do is this: Go back to your Nuendo, and write down ALL your settings. Then try matching this in Reaper.

Another thing: Are you using ASIO in Repaer? Or a different driver? ASIO is the best, fastest driver that Windoes machines can use. All other drivers suck, except proprietary ones by the hardware manufacturers, but Motu does not have this.

Good luck getting your latency down.
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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by Matt C. » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:31 am

Thanks Nick. I am using the ASIO drivers.
Nick Sevilla wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:16 am
If it is the PLUG INS (you seem to state that once you put plug ins into play, THAT is where it gets wonky), well, then that is the plug in architecture.

96kHz gets you a tiny amount LESS latency, but not much. Typically a Motu system like yours can get under 2 mS latency, but this depends on your MOTHERBOARD. It has nothing to to with RAM, CPU, etc. This, of course, is with zero plug ins. Just in and back out of the DAW.

When you were using Nuendo and their direct monitoring, you were not able to monitor plug ins in real time. Only aux send things like reverb etc. This would be the same in Reaper, although I do not know enough about it to say if it has the direct monitoring feature.
I guess your comment about plugin architecture gets at the heart of my question - does a faster processor/more RAM/whatever allow me to run more plugins while keeping latency low? Or does the design of the plugins create a set amount of latency regardless of the power of the system? Or does the answer depend on whether or not a given plugin is using look ahead?

I don't have any strong need or desire to run plugins on the tracks I'm currently recording (hence Nuendo's direct monitoring working well for me), but when I'm doing overdubs and have already started putting plugins on other tracks, I don't want to have to go through and turn them all off and goof up the sound of everything.

Reaper does not have any kind of direct monitoring feature built in, so I'd have to navigate through MOTU's CueMix console which I find to be cumbersome. But maybe I'm stuck with it. Or maybe this is the excuse I need to just start recording everything on tape...

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by Nick Sevilla » Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:24 pm

Matt C. wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:31 am
Thanks Nick. I am using the ASIO drivers.

I guess your comment about plugin architecture gets at the heart of my question - does a faster processor/more RAM/whatever allow me to run more plugins while keeping latency low? Or does the design of the plugins create a set amount of latency regardless of the power of the system? Or does the answer depend on whether or not a given plugin is using look ahead?

I don't have any strong need or desire to run plugins on the tracks I'm currently recording (hence Nuendo's direct monitoring working well for me), but when I'm doing overdubs and have already started putting plugins on other tracks, I don't want to have to go through and turn them all off and goof up the sound of everything.

Reaper does not have any kind of direct monitoring feature built in, so I'd have to navigate through MOTU's CueMix console which I find to be cumbersome. But maybe I'm stuck with it. Or maybe this is the excuse I need to just start recording everything on tape...
Hi Matt,

Mostly, plug ins have a set amount of latency, which depend entirely on the plug in code, the more complex, = the more latency.

I would try to use less intensive plug ins while tracking, and use the good ones for mixing. At least the musicians get some sense of the final sound this way.

I'm spoiled in that I've been using Avid Pro Tools HD (with the process cards et al), which is still the best way to track with plug ins inserted. Another solution is UAD's Apollo hardware, they seem to have gotten this right too.

However, even with your Motu PICe system, you should be able to run at least some plug ins without much latency. Maybe a little experimentation on your end to see which ones are bad latency, and which ones are ok to use, is in order? A lot of plug ins only add a few samples of delay, so some should be usable in your set up. Check with the plug in manufacturers, most have latency figures for their products.

Cheers!
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Matt C.
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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by Matt C. » Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:12 pm

Thanks again Nick, that makes sense. From what I've experienced so far, you're right that some plugins don't create enough latency to be an issue. Like I said I've just been spoiled by Nuendo's direct monitoring letting me more or less side step this issue for the past ten years. Now I'm finally having to deal with the problem I've heard everyone else bellyaching about...

If it just meant spending a few bucks on a couple new sticks of RAM in order to alleviate this problem then great, but it sounds like it is not that easy. Anyway thanks for the advice and for potentially saving me some cash.

On a side note, Reaper is great, despite the lack of direct monitoring

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by vvv » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:17 pm

Every time I read the thread title, its strikes me as a kinda personal inquiry for novices ...

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Re: Basic Latency Question

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:53 pm

Matt C. wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:12 pm
On a side note, Reaper is great, despite the lack of direct monitoring
No problem Matt.

Reaper is fantastic, until you use the "varispped" knob. LOL.
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