I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
theophilus
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by theophilus » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:03 pm

Akshara wrote: Does using the External Instrument align the incoming audio to Live's internal audio which has been shifted forward due to inserting a timing dependent plugin in series after a latency inducing plugin?
think we are talking two different things... with External Instrument, yes, it shouldn't matter what you put after it, audio will be aligned,
however, you will have the same problems with automation and midi control alignment that a regular vst would have; in essence, it makes the external instrument work like an internal vst, for all that means.

it sounded like the original poster was working in hardware monitoring mode, and then expecting live to magically be able to be in sync with that with no latency. pdc isn't magic fairy dust you sprinkle on top of your set to get everything back in line, it's a tool, and one that requires a little bit of prework if you've got external synths. maybe live could make it easier, but it does make it possible.

midi controlling that external instrument or effect will likely cause issues though, as 100% of those cause latency.

theophilus
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by theophilus » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:14 pm

Akshara wrote: I also feel that automation being out of sync isn't the more important of the PDC issues. Timing dependent effects being out of sync makes certain types of sound design literally impossible to do in Live, yet it has been relegated to the sidelines, at least in that thread anyway. It gets tiring explaining the issue over and over again.
well, we have to agree to disagree i guess, and i don't know why you are taking it so personally. there are probably some small class of sound design that is absolutely impossible, but there is a larger class that, if you're willing to accept that there are many more or less interchangeable effects and some of those have zero or very low latency, and some have much more, you can still get it done in live. for example, if you have a large latency-inducing compressor at the beginning of your chain, you can replace it with a zero- or low-latency compressor - there are some decent ones on the list that can have zero- or low-latency. sure, compressors aren't exactly the same, but you can get close, and if you have a zillion tempo-based effects after it, how important are those small artifacts anyways. if you use zero- or very-low-latency effects, your tempo-synced effects won't be out of sync.

there are definitely situations where live just won't work currently - maybe your case is one of those. external hardware synths is a good case - they always induce latency. if you are tied to some high latency synth or effect, and there's nothing that even sounds close with lower latency, then it just can't be done in live.

i'm not saying life wouldn't be better if it were fixed... i'd like them to fix it. i'm just saying, that in the meantime, if you like live, you can make it usable. and there are reasons to do so. i tried doing some rack type stuff in studio one, and i don't even know if it's possible; it certainly isn't straightforward. i understand the frustration - it would be nice if you could put whatever you want anywhere in a live set and it would 'just work'. and i think it should be fixed. but in the meantime, make some music with what works.

Sage
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by Sage » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:14 pm

theophilus wrote:
Akshara wrote: I also feel that automation being out of sync isn't the more important of the PDC issues. Timing dependent effects being out of sync makes certain types of sound design literally impossible to do in Live, yet it has been relegated to the sidelines, at least in that thread anyway. It gets tiring explaining the issue over and over again.
well, we have to agree to disagree i guess, and i don't know why you are taking it so personally. there are probably some small class of sound design that is absolutely impossible, but there is a larger class that, if you're willing to accept that there are many more or less interchangeable effects and some of those have zero or very low latency, and some have much more, you can still get it done in live. for example, if you have a large latency-inducing compressor at the beginning of your chain, you can replace it with a zero- or low-latency compressor - there are some decent ones on the list that can have zero- or low-latency. sure, compressors aren't exactly the same, but you can get close, and if you have a zillion tempo-based effects after it, how important are those small artifacts anyways. if you use zero- or very-low-latency effects, your tempo-synced effects won't be out of sync.

there are definitely situations where live just won't work currently - maybe your case is one of those. external hardware synths is a good case - they always induce latency. if you are tied to some high latency synth or effect, and there's nothing that even sounds close with lower latency, then it just can't be done in live.

i'm not saying life wouldn't be better if it were fixed... i'd like them to fix it. i'm just saying, that in the meantime, if you like live, you can make it usable. and there are reasons to do so. i tried doing some rack type stuff in studio one, and i don't even know if it's possible; it certainly isn't straightforward. i understand the frustration - it would be nice if you could put whatever you want anywhere in a live set and it would 'just work'. and i think it should be fixed. but in the meantime, make some music with what works.
Comes across like he doesn't truly understand the issue in relation to this scenario. This is a thread about a live sound going through plugins, PDC only works for recorded sound, so it is completely irrelevant to this thread. Here's the chapter on PDC from the Logic 9 manual, which has an explanation of PDC's limitations: http://documentation.apple.com/en/logic ... tasks=true I'm sure I'm going to be told "I don't understand the issue" though :roll:

Akshara
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by Akshara » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:23 pm

Thank you, theophilus, for being considerate and thoughtful in all of your responses, even when we disagree. I would like to respond to three of your points in a like manner, if you will please bear with me.
theophilus wrote:think we are talking two different things... with External Instrument, yes, it shouldn't matter what you put after it, audio will be aligned
Yes, we are speaking of slightly different things. I am not meaning to place effects on the External Instrument channel itself. I am referring to the effects being inserted on another channel of the project, which pushes that channel out of sync with Live's base PDC. The External Instrument will be lined up with Live's base PDC calculation, but will still sound out of sync with the track that is out of sync with the grid. Make sense?

It doesn't matter if the hardware instrument is in perfect sync with Live's base PDC, either by using External Instrument or an Inner Clock Systems device, or even an efficient Direct Monitoring solution (which is entirely doable), if there are several other tracks within Live that are already out of sync with Live's own timing base. It just sounds wrong, and may be misinterpreted as the hardware being out of sync, when it isn't.
theophilus wrote:well, we have to agree to disagree i guess, and i don't know why you are taking it so personally. there are probably some small class of sound design that is absolutely impossible...
Well you touched upon it right there, why I take it personally. "Some small class of sound design" dismisses the importance of what I, and many others, are talking about, and makes it seem like some obscure issue which doesn't have real world importance. For you, this appears, at least, to be somewhat of a curiosity which doesn't really bother your process that much. For me, it has cost several thousands of dollars in lost studio time with clients, and headaches within my own projects, some of which had to be rebuilt in other hosts because of it, along with having to invest in other software tools and education materials, to work around the issue. So yes, I get frustrated by the dismissiveness, whether inadvertent or intended, which is quite honestly being handed out from those who either don't really understand the issue, or who think it either doesn't exist or is insignificant, because they haven't experienced directly. Some days, it can be infuriating.

Over the last few years, I have become tired of explaining it over and over and over and over... whether here or in other arenas; yet I will give it one more try, in the hope that you, who clearly has demonstrated a genuine desire to understand it, will hear me.

It is extremely common, in genres like uplifting trance and progressive house, which are very popular on a global scale, not some obscure art house experimental electronica, for synths to be run through a considerable series of effects. Like this...

Synth > Reverb > EQ > Delay > Filter > Gate > EQ > Transient Design > Dynamics

Depending on the quality level and type of plugin, and the order in which they are placed in the series, any or all of these can introduce latency to the signal. Often, the Delay, Filter and Gate are tempo synced to the host clock, with all kinds of internal modulation happening in realtime within each effect, independent of Ableton's effect automation, sometimes on 16th notes and sometimes across whole measures, and feeding their own internal tempo based processing into the next effect, which is adding its own tempo based processing on top of it, feeding into the next plugin, and so on.

This type of effect chain can happen across dozens of instrument and audio tracks - and it is extremely unlikely that any two or three tracks will use the exact same synths and plugins in the exact same number and order. Sometimes the processing is applied to prerecorded audio tracks, or external hardware synths being fed midi events from Live (which have been setup properly for accurate timing with the host, regardless of direct monitoring or not).

Knowing what you do now about Live's PDC problem, do you see how this could possibly get out of control? Dozens of tracks, with different latency offsets, running through several different combinations of tempo based effects? Forget about the automation problem, just set that aside for the time being. Just consider what happens to the sound itself when all of the tempo based effects, running their own internal modulations, are off grid and feeding into each other.

Now take all of those tracks, and any effects returns (which might be sending to other returns), and route them all into a series of multiband sidechain busses (audio tracks), being fed a sidechain signal that is in time with Live's base PDC grid, yet out of time with any of the tempo effected tracks and any returns using sends. If it seems complicated to even read and think about here, imagine what it could be like in a 48+ track project with multiple returns and busses.

Can it be managed? Sure. But the entire scenario I'm describing, which is a real world situation, is handled to the sample accurate level across all instruments, tracks, effects and busses in at least two other popular DAWs that I am familiar with, and reportedly is more accurate and manageable within other hosts that I either don't use anymore or have never used.
theophilus wrote:but there is a larger class that, if you're willing to accept that there are many more or less interchangeable effects and some of those have zero or very low latency, and some have much more, you can still get it done in live. for example, if you have a large latency-inducing compressor at the beginning of your chain, you can replace it with a zero- or low-latency compressor - there are some decent ones on the list that can have zero- or low-latency. sure, compressors aren't exactly the same, but you can get close, and if you have a zillion tempo-based effects after it, how important are those small artifacts anyways. if you use zero- or very-low-latency effects, your tempo-synced effects won't be out of sync.
As a professional, this is another argument which drives me bonkers, and which I strongly disagree with.

Often an artist or producer's sound is derived specifically from their instruments and effects. Suggesting that they just use other instruments and effects is not practical. Maybe on the hobbyist level, but not professionally. Every synth's oscillators sound unique, and delays from different manufacturers can sound very different and offer vastly different feature sets. If an artist has invested in advanced, and often expensive, instruments and effects, and in the time to master them, there is no easily interchangeable replacement, and the "well, just use something else" remark becomes exasperating.

Same with Live. If one has invested in the Suite, and the hardware, and Max and Bome's and iOS apps, and the tutorials and books, and given over a fifth of their life to using it, "just use something else" is not a casual decision or process. I wish that some of the members here, as colleagues invested in Live themselves, were more sensitive and understanding of this.

Akshara
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by Akshara » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:28 pm

Sage wrote:This is a thread about a live sound going through plugins, PDC only works for recorded sound, so it is completely irrelevant to this thread. Here's the chapter on PDC from the Logic 9 manual, which has an explanation of PDC's limitations: http://documentation.apple.com/en/logic ... tasks=true I'm sure I'm going to be told "I don't understand the issue" though :roll:
I don't recall the OP asking how to route live sound through plugins in realtime. I do recall him linking to the PDC Improved or Not? thread specifically, though.

There's also a great tutorial video at MacProVideo on Logic's Latency Toolbox, which details how to make practically any scenario a sample accurate situation, and what pitfalls to avoid along the way.

morerecords
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by morerecords » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:26 pm

Thanks everyone for responding.

Am I an audio professional? I did not think I have to defend my credentials. I have a Masters degree in music, I made a ton of $$$ in 2012, I have a great lifestyle all from music, and I perform regularly on most every continent. Do i know eveything? No. I am still learning, everyday. when there is nothing left to study or learn, i guess im done living. Ok? Good enough?

No, there are no effects instantiated on the synths being monitored. In fact, the audio is never passing through ableton. As I said The audio coming from the synths is monitored directly and bypasses ableton. But unfortunalty the midi sequence data being sent to the hardware synths is affected by the audio/pdc from ableton. I only want the midi sequences to remain static whilst traveling via USB to the midi devices, instead of being affected now by variable amounts, depending on which/how many latency inducing plug ins are instantiated on the audio and sample based tracks which do exist inside ableton. I wish opening a linear eq on a simpler track did not fuck up the timing of the neighboring midi sequence track which is traveling to my rack synths. It is the same symptom automation pdc issues have, and they are related even if not exactly the same. It does not have to do with driver error compensation or with the external instrument device delay parameter.

The culprit is USB, I'm thinking. Too bad there aren't midi interfaces which are not utilizing CPU busses which also have the possibility to be used by the audio app. ( like an isolated, dedicated midi bus on a computer would be brilliant) I have emails in for the sync gen pro to see if it will help.

No, I don't think I can go 'back in time' or defy the timestream. I am not looking to do anything that bypasses the laws of the universe. I want to take the dry midi data leaving ableton out of the path of pdc so that it remains consistently in one position withiin the timestream. I never had problems with cubase even back in the VST days, or with Logic, or, I honesty don't even remember having these issues in Ableton 7. But I don't think iwas using too many heavy duty plug ins at that time... Not like today.

I may just have to stop revisiting this issue every few months. Because, When there is only one synth in the equation , with "reduced latency when monitoring" enabled, you can layer,freeze,layer to your hearts content, all within perfect timing alignment to live's PDC. Just wish I could use multiple hardware synths simultaneously. Thanks for everyone's input as it got progressively helpful. I appreciate it. Forums ain't all bad!
-MR

theophilus
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by theophilus » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:59 am

Akshara wrote: Yes, we are speaking of slightly different things. I am not meaning to place effects on the External Instrument channel itself. I am referring to the effects being inserted on another channel of the project, which pushes that channel out of sync with Live's base PDC. The External Instrument will be lined up with Live's base PDC calculation, but will still sound out of sync with the track that is out of sync with the grid. Make sense?
yeah, that's kind of what i was getting at with the vst instrument thing, but you're right and it's a good point in general - i was realizing today that the way PDC works, you can throw in a latency-inducing plugin on any track, and automation on a send (for example) for all tracks can get out of whack as it adds in latency everywhere.
Well you touched upon it right there, why I take it personally. "Some small class of sound design" dismisses the importance of what I, and many others, are talking about, and makes it seem like some obscure issue which doesn't have real world importance. For you, this appears, at least, to be somewhat of a curiosity which doesn't really bother your process that much.
sorry if it seems dismissive. i am unashamedly an amateur so would like to learn what i can from pros like yourself :) along those lines... when you reproduced these effects chains in other hosts, which one did you use? wondering what the right choice would be if this PDC issue affects you. and also, which effects are giving you problems? and i honestly would like to see more examples of the chains that cause problems.'
It is extremely common, in genres like uplifting trance and progressive house, which are very popular on a global scale, not some obscure art house experimental electronica, for synths to be run through a considerable series of effects. Like this...
Synth > Reverb > EQ > Delay > Filter > Gate > EQ > Transient Design > Dynamics...
ok, so where i'm coming from i guess, is that for every one of those categories, i know of decent, zero-latency solutions. so i don't see why this couldn't be possible in live. not only that, i don't have a lot of expensive plugins, and among the list i've measured, i have very few that would even cause this problem. so i'm really wondering which plugins are giving you the most grief? and really hoping i'll get more people who actually do own those pro plugins to chime in and give their info (i really need to start that thread, will do it right away)

this isn't just idleness... this gives a lot better ammunition to get ableton to fix this (i think), basically you can't use X, Y, and Z pro plugins with live. as an example, using zebra or diva appear to have the issue. that should hopefully get some people's attention - even just the general thought that using the latest and greatest plugins might cause timing issues is pretty scary.
Often an artist or producer's sound is derived specifically from their instruments and effects. Suggesting that they just use other instruments and effects is not practical. Maybe on the hobbyist level, but not professionally. Every synth's oscillators sound unique, and delays from different manufacturers can sound very different and offer vastly different feature sets. If an artist has invested in advanced, and often expensive, instruments and effects, and in the time to master them, there is no easily interchangeable replacement, and the "well, just use something else" remark becomes exasperating.
yeah, i see what you are saying, it isn't always (or maybe often?) true. otoh, waiting for ableton may not be productive either. i do hope they fix it though.

Akshara
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by Akshara » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:59 am

Ableton is likely well aware of the situation, with plenty of ammunition, as you put it. I've already shared my process to the degree that I am willing to, and wish you success in your research.

MR... thank you for sharing your response. Wishing you success as well.

CooCooCaCha
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by CooCooCaCha » Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:57 pm

theophilus wrote: ok, so where i'm coming from i guess, is that for every one of those categories, i know of decent, zero-latency solutions. so i don't see why this couldn't be possible in live. not only that, i don't have a lot of expensive plugins, and among the list i've measured, i have very few that would even cause this problem. so i'm really wondering which plugins are giving you the most grief? and really hoping i'll get more people who actually do own those pro plugins to chime in and give their info (i really need to start that thread, will do it right away)
ANY tempo-sensitive third-party effect is going to shift off the grid if there are other, third-party, plugins before it. It's a simple as that.
What plugins are not effected? Non tempo sensitive effects such as EQ's will not be effected. This is something you and a lot of other people really need to understand before you post anymore.

If the VST is timing based, it will be effected.

Sage
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by Sage » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:33 pm

morerecords wrote:I wish opening a linear eq on a simpler track did not fuck up the timing of the neighboring midi sequence track which is traveling to my rack synths.
If you're not having timing issues when not using a linear phase EQ, this may be the cause of the problem as you're using it at the wrong time for the wrong task.

theophilus
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by theophilus » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:29 pm

CooCooCaCha wrote: ANY tempo-sensitive third-party effect is going to shift off the grid if there are other, third-party, plugins before it. It's a simple as that.
What plugins are not effected? Non tempo sensitive effects such as EQ's will not be effected. This is something you and a lot of other people really need to understand before you post anymore.

If the VST is timing based, it will be effected.
of course i understand that. not the point. what i am saying: if you have a sequence like synth -> linear phase EQ -> tempo based effect, it will be off the grid. if you can replace this with synth -> IIR or SVF type EQ -> tempo based effect, then the tempo effect will not be off the grid. nothing more than that. the question is, how close can you get? in my experience, you can get pretty close, though of course it will be different. once you smear it in a filter sweep + delays and reverbs, the difference might not be that much. it's not any third-party plugin that causes the problem, only ones with non-zero latency.

i understand the point though... if you've got a large set done, or have a sound you need in some synth that causes latency, it's not really that easy to switch without fundamentally changing a sound or going through a lot of work.

broc
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by broc » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:06 pm

morerecords wrote:I want to take the dry midi data leaving ableton out of the path of pdc so that it remains consistently in one position withiin the timestream. I never had problems with cubase even back in the VST days, or with Logic, or, I honesty don't even remember having these issues in Ableton 7.
I think the inclusion of midi tracks in PDC is new in Live 8 and was necessary for compensating the latency of MaxForLive midi devices. In some cases (like yours) this feature may be unwanted but it can't be disabled independent from audio PDC, unfortunately.

theophilus
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by theophilus » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:30 am

you can remove a track from pdc by introducing an audio loop into it. i wonder if you can do something similar with midi data?

deva
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by deva » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:42 am

CooCooCaCha wrote:
theophilus wrote: ok, so where i'm coming from i guess, is that for every one of those categories, i know of decent, zero-latency solutions. so i don't see why this couldn't be possible in live. not only that, i don't have a lot of expensive plugins, and among the list i've measured, i have very few that would even cause this problem. so i'm really wondering which plugins are giving you the most grief? and really hoping i'll get more people who actually do own those pro plugins to chime in and give their info (i really need to start that thread, will do it right away)
ANY tempo-sensitive third-party effect is going to shift off the grid if there are other, third-party, plugins before it. It's a simple as that.
Doesn't that 3rd party plug-in before it have to have some latency to throw the following tempo based effect off?

broc
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Re: I give up, Ableton, I really do. PDC/timing/hardware issues,

Post by broc » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:49 am

theophilus wrote:you can remove a track from pdc by introducing an audio loop into it. i wonder if you can do something similar with midi data?
Just did a quick test introducing a midi loop but it didn't disable PDC on the midi track.

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