Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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ninox_rufa
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Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by ninox_rufa » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:29 pm

Lies from the manual:
16.5 Device Delay Compensation
"The compensation algorithm keeps all of Live's tracks in sync, regardless of what their devices are doing".


More countless hours wasted troubleshooting this bugfest... I've been trying to figure out why my production is not sounding as tight as it should (the music I write is has a pretty quick tempo and relies heavily on gating and LFOs). Now I know why.


Try this if you like:

1. Create two audio tracks.
2. Place the same sample on both.
3. On one track insert any of Live's effects that rely on internal timing eg. Beat Repeat or an effect with an LFO such as Autopan and Autofilter (make sure the LFO is on).
5. Now copy this effect to the other track.
6. Insert Live's utility on one track and reverse the phase.

The tracks will phase cancel resulting in silence. This is expected of course.

7. Now, on one track insert any third party plugin of your choice in front of Live's effect. Make sure you turn the plugin off so it's not affecting the signal. Your signal flow should look like this:
Track 1: Beat Repeat
Track 2: 3rd party plug -> Beat Repeat -> Utility

If Device Delay Compensation works the tracks should still phase cancel right? Wrong. In fact the more third party plugins you insert in front of Live's effects the worst the timing gets. Try duplicating the plugin (or adding other plugins) and you'll see what I mean:
Track 1: Beat Repeat
Track 2: 3rd party plug -> 3rd party plug -> 3rd party plug -> Beat Repeat -> Utility


The problem isn't specific to Live's effects either. It's just easy to use them to demonstrate the problem. If you're using any effects that have gates or LFO's, and they're not first in the signal chain then they're not going to be in time. Add this to the fact that your automation isn't delay compensated and the result is a f**king train wreck.

I reported this bug 13 months ago (Ableton confirmed it) but I thought it was a problem specific to 3rd party gating plugins only (in my case CamelSpace). Now it appears that there's actually a major flaw.

I'd like to know if the problem exists on PC's if anyone would care to try.


So... Ableton,

Are you planning on having this fixed in the next release?

Gerhard stated "We have now decided to suspend all development towards new features while the whole team joins forces to address the current issues." Is this still the case? I've seen this question raised a few times on the forum and it's been ignored by Ableton. It makes me wonder that you consider L8 to be free enough of bugs that you've started working on new features. I consider it not fixed. I'd like to know where you're at with it.



23/01/11 Update

The issue has been confirmed by Ableton. It affects all users. Whether it's significant enough to be noticeable in your production depends on which plugins you use and how you order them.

If you'd like to read Ableton's comment and my response please turn to page 9.
Last edited by ninox_rufa on Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Khazul
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by Khazul » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:13 pm

Just reminded of one litle thing I liked in cubase - there is an info window that listts all the plugins along with their requested latency compensation value.

Allways wish Live had something like this as often with certain complex routings I often choose low latency plugis rather than higher quality for just this reason.
And while on the subject there is there extreme annoyance of the play line never actually matching what your are hearing if (for example) you have high latency plugins, fpor eq a common post mix chain of three or more UAD plugins.

So yes +100000000000 to fixing this ASAP and providing some latency information about the plugin you are using as I can easily imagin situation that Live could never actually compensate for, but where a combination of knowing the routing and knowing the plugin latency could help me sort it out.

BTW - its allways a good idea to disable all sends that you dont need - in fact I wish there was a button the would just blanket disable all non-zero sends as its a pain to go through all all when you add a new return track.
Nothing to see here - move along!

kb420
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by kb420 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:15 pm

I've experienced this bug before. I will try to see if I can once again verify this on my system.
H20nly wrote:fuck Bitwig.

opuswerk
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by opuswerk » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:26 pm

+1
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ninox_rufa
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by ninox_rufa » Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:39 am

I find it's no good even if they're low latency plugins. At higher tempos if you insert more than one plugin in front of a step/gate/LFO type plugin you can notice the problem.

Live at least appears to compensate perfectly for plugins that don't rely on 'syncing' to Live's tempo, even with really long chains. The manual shows that Ableton would like to believe that all plugins stay it sync. But they've failed to achieve it and they'd just prefer to keep pretending.

The error indicates to me that it's more than a bug. I'd be very surprised if it doesn't occur uniformly on everyone's machine (at least in OS X anyway). After 13 months I suspect it's a deep problem and they're having a hard time fixing it and/or they don't care enough and have decided to put more resources into developing new features.
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Rave
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by Rave » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:55 am

Agreed, this sucks.

timothyallan
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by timothyallan » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:06 pm

Khazul wrote:Just reminded of one litle thing I liked in cubase - there is an info window that listts all the plugins along with their requested latency compensation value.

Allways wish Live had something like this as often with certain complex routings I often choose low latency plugis rather than higher quality for just this reason.
And while on the subject there is there extreme annoyance of the play line never actually matching what your are hearing if (for example) you have high latency plugins, fpor eq a common post mix chain of three or more UAD plugins.

So yes +100000000000 to fixing this ASAP and providing some latency information about the plugin you are using as I can easily imagin situation that Live could never actually compensate for, but where a combination of knowing the routing and knowing the plugin latency could help me sort it out.

BTW - its allways a good idea to disable all sends that you dont need - in fact I wish there was a button the would just blanket disable all non-zero sends as its a pain to go through all all when you add a new return track.

Huge +1

BLuE_Lu
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by BLuE_Lu » Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:28 pm

I have the feeling that the more tracks I add to one of my projects (incl. 3rd party plug ins like compressors) the untighter the track becomes. I am currently heavily considering switching to logic 9 ( I am on a mac). Is logic the tighter daw? Thanks for your guys' input!

fx23
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by fx23 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:30 pm

+1 true that anyway, bypassing the vst should provide full canceled phazes, from what i experience, disabling a vst isn't equivalent
to if it was not there, the latency previously reported still affect the chain. Only if you delete the plug latency is removed.
Anyway this should be correctly compensated and phaze cancelation should occur as well.
there is something weird occuring in the path.

Khazul
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by Khazul » Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:28 pm

fx23 wrote:+1 true that anyway, bypassing the vst should provide full canceled phazes, from what i experience, disabling a vst isn't equivalent
to if it was not there, the latency previously reported still affect the chain. Only if you delete the plug latency is removed.
Anyway this should be correctly compensated and phaze cancelation should occur as well.
there is something weird occuring in the path.
The problem with disabling is that it is automatable and thus need to work while Live is playing something and this is often exploited in many racks, for eg macro controlling the auto-filter sweep might actually disable the filter entirely at one end or the other.
Adding/Removing a plugin that requires latency compensation requires Live to do quite alot of re-organisation to adjust audio bufferring and this means that either some silence has to be inserted into the audio stream, or some audio has to be dropped.
Nothing to see here - move along!

fx23
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by fx23 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:43 pm

yes, i agree and can understand the latency remain for the reasons you mention, that make sense nobody want to hear a silence or
kind of acceleration/jump in the mainstream while enabling or disabling, that also could certainly be sources of violent bugz.

but it's kind of strange and proven by the above tests that the latency affect also the folowing default device.
theorically if latency is correctly reported there is no reasons it affects two same devices, if their sync was also
correctly offseted.

it looks likes devices main timeline synchro is not following the latency compensation. it can be noticed easily with autopan that
will need some manual offset in cases it theorically shouldn't. I first supposed all sync and timed stuff aren't really sample accurate but based on a more average with less definition clock to save CPU, thus if the plugin reports a certain latency in samples it cannot be applied and buffer rounding occur, but the more you chain plugs the more it is offseted, so it looks more like latency is indeed not reported to individual sync clocks rather than some buffer rounding, and can lead to serious sync pbs if long or complex routings, resulting in manual offsets needz, not always possible and not very user friendly..still i can understand it might be a very hard pb to solve for them and wonder how it behave on other daws...

Khazul
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by Khazul » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:26 pm

TBH - Ive all but given up trying to sort this lot out (apart from wha I know about sends benhaviour) and try to stick with zero latency plugins where possible. Even the compressor I nearly allways use on zero look ahead especially if it being sidechained and find some other way to compensate for the oddities that causes in its attack behaviour.

I guess like alot of thing people winge about that annoy you as well - there comes a point where you either give up or say fukit and try make the best of it with what you know - which I guess is where im at most of the time.

Solving latency compensation in a DAW is actually pretty easy to do except for the feedback loop case. What would help though and save lots of messing aruond would simply be knowing what the exact behaviour is - rather than what it was intended to be, and that includes a way to query plugins to see what they are currently reporting in terms of pre-comp needs, so if it all goes horribly wrong in some subtle way, I have the choice of switching it off entirely and doing somethign about it manually.

BTW - why does it all get even worse when using external sync and why cant you use track delays any mroe with external sync? That is really annoying!

The funny thign is, back in the old days of midi sequencers all the jittter and thru delays etc never used to beother me (jitter of a few ms either way and midi thru delays of several ms on some gear) - I think maybe because you didnt end up with something sticking ouyt like a sore thumb, as the randomness and jitter combined with midi doing thing sequencially at a much lower instructions per second tended to just smooth everything out, coincidently removing the need for so much limiting as well as you tended not to get the attack envelopes of everythign hitting at exactly the same time. That said, all my signal processing back then was analog and so had no delays.

Perhaps thats the answer here - make an M4L device that just adds continuously varying random jitter of a few ms to everything to smooth it out - then you will probably never notice it (wont fix the play head line allways being in the wrong place though) :)
Nothing to see here - move along!

fx23
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by fx23 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:42 pm

so I did the simple test of same track + autopan in 1/4 gate mode, and clone with a high latency VST in between.
and it behaves exactly as i suspected and earlier noticed:

they won't cancel until you manually offset autopan of the amount that seem to correspond to the vst latency.
this clearly proves the Clock such devices rely on is not compensated in any way, as man would espect from ADC,
so sync is messed. Live compensate Audio, Not sync CLOCKS

So this can only "manually" be fixed, and only with devices that have precise build in offset feature. Beat reapeat for ex, has not such precise offset. Also man can't acheive same result by manually sample offset tracks, so a vst latency report wouldn't help that much, as man will have to manually convert this to live's device offset setting with very complex maths, and
go in each device subracks and apply, wich is quasi impossible in descent way, or manually add some simple delays on every other
tracks at specific insert points, wich is total nightmare too.

can we legitimate call something "Automatic Delay Compensation" if the sync clocks aren't relative offseted? i would say no personally. Is it then useful if man need to use only 0 latency plugz?, wich are very, very few and sometimes impossible to get for specific tasks that need audio buffer, ie randomslicers, reversers, linearphase eq ect...
Im ok to do workarounds as much as i can, but in this case we can clearly spot live doesn't support ADC for VST decently.

this can be real nightmare to deal with and would need to be fixed, cause it is one of the main reason live is perceived as not
tight vs other daws, and it is, indeed, not tight at all regarding this pb, as Vst latency can be quite huge and easy
mess the sync in quite noticable unwanted ways...especially at high tempo or with music that need tight results.

One thing that cannot be compensated in any manner and is a real drastic pb, easy to reproduce:
if you have a track with a high latency vst, then put ie an utility plugin after that you modulate via clip envelope.
the drawn modulation will not be in sync with what is heared, cause modulations as well are not compensated
to the amount of the vst/chain latency. The fact that modulations or automation are not compensated is quite huge pb imo,
making ADC totally irrelevant..

ninox_rufa
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by ninox_rufa » Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:04 pm

The problem with disabling is that it is automatable and thus need to work while Live is playing something and this is often exploited in many racks, for eg macro controlling the auto-filter sweep might actually disable the filter entirely at one end or the other.
Adding/Removing a plugin that requires latency compensation requires Live to do quite alot of re-organisation to adjust audio bufferring and this means that either some silence has to be inserted into the audio stream, or some audio has to be dropped.
I'm sure you know already but just to be sure anyone who reads this thread understands:

It's not about the latency of disabled plugins. The only reason the plugins are switched off is simply so you can compare the tracks by using phase cancelation. Because of course if they were switched on they'd affect the sound. I don't have an issue with the latency of plugins still being calculated when they're disabled. It is as expected.
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dbfs
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Re: Live + 3rd party plugins = FAIL

Post by dbfs » Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:02 am

And people wonder why theres always people who bitch about the sound quality of live.. This would absolutely start to make your mix phasy and sound like shit... The more plugs you get rolling, the worse it starts to sound.. This has been going on for ages with this program.

But were all still crazy and need to go clean our ears out and do the quadrupal blind test. :roll:

I love live, but honestly, with this many bugs with such senstive audio data, I don't know how any of you defend this program and its sound quality. I guess fanboys will be fanboys... :arrow:

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