Software synths for live performance latency

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Doobie Dan
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Software synths for live performance latency

Post by Doobie Dan » Sat Jun 29, 2019 7:49 pm

Hi,

I've been trying to play a number of software synths through my Ableton set via MIDI controllers and am getting some pretty intense and unpredictable latency. My audio output latency is down to 5-6ms but the playback through the synths is much greater.

This occurs consistently with plugins and Ableton devices, even with Drum Rack.

Is there any way to improve this latency? I'd like to avoid going to something like Mainstage for the convenience of drawing envelopes on the software instruments, but will go outside of Ableton if that's what it takes.

Thanks!

pottering
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by pottering » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:35 pm

https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/artic ... ce-latency

https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/articles/209072409

https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/artic ... onitoring-

Also, Input Latency also matters if there is input (like MIDI controllers), it is not only Output. If you are not recording audio you may want to set the audio inputs to "No Input".

jlgrimes
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by jlgrimes » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:55 am

Doobie Dan wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 7:49 pm
Hi,

I've been trying to play a number of software synths through my Ableton set via MIDI controllers and am getting some pretty intense and unpredictable latency. My audio output latency is down to 5-6ms but the playback through the synths is much greater.

This occurs consistently with plugins and Ableton devices, even with Drum Rack.

Is there any way to improve this latency? I'd like to avoid going to something like Mainstage for the convenience of drawing envelopes on the software instruments, but will go outside of Ableton if that's what it takes.

Thanks!
What interface are you using. Some interfaces get lower than others.

Doobie Dan
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by Doobie Dan » Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:42 pm

Thanks Pottering, that gives me a lot to experiment with. I'm especially curious to try the "Reduced Latency When Monitoring" option.
Also, Input Latency also matters if there is input (like MIDI controllers), it is not only Output. If you are not recording audio you may want to set the audio inputs to "No Input".
jlgrimes wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:55 am
What interface are you using. Some interfaces get lower than others.
I'm using a iConnectivity PlayAudio12, which doesn't have audio input. Since that's turned off, it lists my input latency as 0ms in preferences. But maybe there's a hidden input latency anyway that applies to MIDI?

pottering
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by pottering » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:24 pm

No, if it is 0 ms already, then that's the better one can do for that setting.

TLW
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by TLW » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:31 pm

Could the software synths or any other plugins used be adding to the total latency? Some plugins have a minimum latency because of how long they need to process audio, sometimes the plugin-induved latency can be considerable Convolution reverbs, compressors with “look ahead” and linear eqs tend to be the worst offenders but there are others as well.
Live 10.1 Suite, M4L, 2014/15 MacBook Pro 15.3” Retina i7, OS Mojave 10.14.5. RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

Angstrom
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by Angstrom » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:43 am

Its rare that a software synth adds a really large amount of latency. They usually consume CPU if it's something which processes lots of audio, or if it's a loop shuffling thing it might use a bunch of memory too.

Most software synths are pretty low latency.

Things which introduce latency are usually those which require a bit of a buffer, for instance compressors have a lookahead, or FFT based reprocessing requires some time to do a window of sound.

I'm inclined to think there's something else going on here. Like ... you have a fancy multi-band finaliser on your outputs or something. A compressor with lookahead, or some other beast like Ozone 8 across the master.

Doobie Dan
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by Doobie Dan » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:47 pm

Angstrom wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:43 am
I'm inclined to think there's something else going on here. Like ... you have a fancy multi-band finaliser on your outputs or something. A compressor with lookahead, or some other beast like Ozone 8 across the master.
Ding ding ding!

So I've cut down my latency over 70% at this point. I'll have to do some tweaking to figure out the rest, but of all the suggestions, there were two main items which did the trick:

- Reduced latency when monitoring

Thanks pottering for linking to this article. I had never even heard of this option before. Definitely the way to go for live play.

- "fancy multi-band finaliser"

Yep, I had some mastering plugins running which weren't too bad on the CPU, but must have been using lookahead.

Each one of these options shaved off a couple dozen milliseconds. Thanks for being thorough Ableton community!

TLW
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Re: Software synths for live performance latency

Post by TLW » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:44 pm

Angstrom wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:43 am
Its rare that a software synth adds a really large amount of latency
True, but there are a few which have inbuilt latency of 64-128 samples or so. Such as Waves electric pianos and Codex synth (I’m not picking on Waves, they’re just handy examples because Waves state what the latency of their plugins is, unlike most plugin makers).

But yes, the usual latency increasers are anything that uses look-ahead, linear phase eqs and some effects and mastering plugins which do really complicated stuff.
Live 10.1 Suite, M4L, 2014/15 MacBook Pro 15.3” Retina i7, OS Mojave 10.14.5. RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

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