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Latency

November 23, 2012 9:54 AM

Up to now I've always used stand-alone DAWs (Yamaha AW2400, for instance). Recognising the need to step up the quality of percussion in my recordings, I've gone with NI Studio Drummer (thanks to unSane for his ever-helpful advice). It's an exciting Aladdin's cave of goodies and I'm looking forward to it making a big sonic difference - sounds terrific. However......latency is immediately apparent and not something I've ever had to deal with before. Wondering whether running this software on a bog-standard Acer laptop in Windows is part of the problem? Any tips and fixes for latency anyone?
posted by MajorDundee (12 comments total)

When I upgraded from Windows 7 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, NI Studio Drummer and NI Battery started experiencing latency issues that hadn't happened before. After a lot of searching, I ran across this article about latency on the NI web site. It's got some tips on how to troubleshoot latency problems, and in my case, changing the hardware settings worked for me.
posted by NemesisVex at 3:12 PM on November 23, 2012


In order to get the latency down you typically have to reduce the audio buffer size to the least you can get away with (ie no cracks or pops or crashing). That's one source of latency: the other is your soundcard, so you may have to go in there and mess with some. I don't know how well it transfers, but I can work OK with buffer sizes of 256 samples or less in OS X. The more powerful your computer the lower you can go. What are the specs of your laptop?

DAWs have all sorts of latency compensation built into them that make this stuff a lot easier.
posted by unSane at 6:13 PM on November 23, 2012


Should have previewed -- that latency article NemesisVex posted is terrific.

One strategy that can work is to track the midi for your drums using a low-latency soundsource, and then switch to the high latency source for mixing, and shift the track slightly to compensate (either the midi track or the recorded audio track). I generally track my drums using a low quality sampler that doesn't have much overhead, using a small audio buffer, then switch to a big audio buffer for mixing, and bring in the big guns.
posted by unSane at 6:16 PM on November 23, 2012


PS I'm really stoked that you took the plunge, Major -- can't wait to hear the results.

Once you get comfortable with it there are some wonderful budget and free sounds for Kontakt from the likes of Hollow Sun -- eg their £10 Crumar Performer which is just wonderful.
posted by unSane at 6:31 PM on November 23, 2012


Guys - many, many thanks. I think, amazingly, I've fixed the problem. Usual hand-wringing from me re IT stuff but after a while I realised that I was on a typical learning curve with this - bewilderment -> frustration -> enlightenment. Which is kind of cool in itself - pushing myself into new territory and, guess what, it's going to work out just fine!

One thing I have to learn to do though is to read the bloody manuals! I tend to be really intuitive about just about everything and, although I get there in the end, I think I'd save a lot of time and angst if I just sat down and did a bit of reading first.....
posted by MajorDundee at 10:27 AM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


In addition to buffer size, NI might also have a "low quality" monitoring mode where the drum sounds are played back in a lower quality than they do when you export the audio, so a read through of the manual is definitely in order -- you may be able to get your latency so short that you can't tell it's even there.
posted by chimaera at 10:19 PM on November 25, 2012


Studio Drummer comes with 'lite' versions of the instruments but they just have fewer velcocity layers so they take less memory -- I don't think they have any impact on latency. Neither Kontakt nor SD has a dedicated 'low latency' setting that I know about.

Generally to cut latency in a sampler you have to reduce the CPU overhead, which means turning off FX and so on. But if Kontakt is the only thing that's running I suspect the effect on latency would be marginal.

NI Guitar Rig does have a hi-q/lo-q setting, but it's much more processor intensive.
posted by unSane at 3:35 AM on November 26, 2012


Ah, I must have been thinking of Guitar Rig -- I have guitar rig and for drums I use BFD (when I need realistic drums).
posted by chimaera at 2:41 PM on November 28, 2012


I was on a typical learning curve with this - bewilderment -> frustration -> enlightenment

Quite so....

In my benighted IT ignorance, I thought that the free version of NI Kontakt 5 would have some kind of sequencing capability that, coupled with the magic of midi, would enable me to step out finally into the sunlit uplands of 21st century music production, blinking in the glare but with a new spring in my step, joy in my heart and, who knows, maybe even the glimmerings of a hard-on. Does it facilitate all, or indeed any, of that? Does it fuck.

I'm not inclined to fork out about 350 euros for the all-singing, all-dancing version of Kontakt. This is the version that apparently has all the editing whizz-bangery that enables what I want to do.

Alternative seems to be a stand-alone sequencer that uses Kontakt as a plug-in. I have an antique version of Cubase LE that doesn't like the ASIO format I need to run Kontakt in to avoid latency problems. I need something that I can synch with my Yam AW2400 hardware recorder.

Once you've all stopped laughing at this doddery old geezer's entanglement with software, some advice would be VERY welcome. Maybe I should just buy a drum kit... AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrggghhhhh!!!!
posted by MajorDundee at 12:23 PM on December 1, 2012


Maybe I should just buy a drum kit...
Bingo.
posted by chococat at 12:42 PM on December 1, 2012


Or, dodder less, perhaps?
posted by Zenabi at 6:26 PM on December 1, 2012


Kontakt is just a sampler, even the full version. You need a DAW to do the sequencing part.

Fortunately there are a ton of good options right now.

Free: Ardour
Very cheap: Reaper
Not cheap but has a free version: Presonus Studio One

These are all very, very good.
posted by unSane at 7:40 PM on December 1, 2012


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