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Latency mon.... can anyone help?

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Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby gingertimmins » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:26 pm

Hi everyone, I'm suddenly experiencing terrible latency, pops etc. I have been using an M-audio fast track ultra for a few years which finally gave up the ghost with the most recent Win 10 update.
I have replaced it with a Tascam US-4x4 and the pops were even worse- even with large buffer sizes. I'm sending it back as I don't like the driver software and it's not as flexible as I thought. I'm replacing with a steinberg UR242. I use cubase so it will integrate well, it has some basic DSP effects and the the features just seem right.

Anyway... I have been running latencymon and getting the following message:

Your system seems to be having difficulty handling real-time audio and other tasks. You may experience drop outs, clicks or pops due to buffer underruns. One or more DPC routines that belong to a driver running in your system appear to be executing for too long. At least one detected problem appears to be network related. In case you are using a WLAN adapter, try disabling it to get better results. One problem may be related to power management, disable CPU throttling settings in Control Panel and BIOS setup. Check for BIOS updates.
LatencyMon has been analyzing your system for 0:32:58 (h:mm:ss) on all processors.


I don't really understand it all and I'm wondering if someone can walk me through what I have to do to to get the best from my system.

FYI, my typical usage would be one instance of EZdrummer, a couple of electric guitars which may or may not use an amp sim (typically steinbergs basic ampsimulator plugin) recorded bass and some vocals. each channel will have a bit of eq, some compression and there will be a delay and reverb here and there set up as send effects.

Really nothing too strenuous, right?

Here are my computer specs:
OS version: Windows 10 , 10.0, build: 16299 (x64)
Hardware: VPCSB3L9E, Sony Corporation, VAIO
CPU: GenuineIntel Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-2330M CPU @ 2.20GHz
Logical processors: 4
Processor groups: 1
RAM: 8107 MB total


I realise that my laptop isn't cutting edge but I have managed more complex musical tasks on a lesser machine in the past.

If anyone can help me I would be eternally grateful!

Many thanks,
Chris
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:48 pm

Quick question, apart from the laptop and the tascam, what else did you have connected?
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby gingertimmins » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:52 pm

An Arturia minilab usb keyboard and a wireless keyboard/mouse. I also run a monitor via either HDMI or VGA depending on which room I'm in.

I've tried most combos I can think of- No arturia.... wired mouse.... no screen....etc but nothing seems to work.

BIOS is up to date, as are the drivers for my graphics and USB ports.
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby CS70 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:06 pm

Well, firsts thing first: for recording, the buffer size you set needs to be large enough to allow the CPU some breath time to process audio, but not so large to generate huge latency. So too small a buffer, and you'll overwhelm your CPU capabilities - which results in pops and cracks as pieces of audio are randomly dropped; too large a buffer, and monitoring via the PC will be really unpleasant as the signal will take too long time to come out after you play.

Depending on the hardware, the audio interface drivers and the processing you do, you'll be able to set the buffer size to a minimum which reduces latency to a minimum but doesn't give you cracks and pops. It's not a given that this minimum latency is playable tough, more below.

For playback, you can set the buffer as large as you want with no noticeable effects, as there is no external signal to process, when you push "play" it'll take a few millisecs more for the sound to start.

It's not uncommon to set the sizes differently when you record and when you play back. So playback is very seldom a problem - just the the buffer size very big and you'll be fine.

That leaves recording. Certain audio interfaces offer direct monitoring - that is, the signal which enters the interface is immediately sent to the headphone output (besides the DAW) so that you don't need to use the DAW monitoring. The disadvantage of course is that you will hear the raw signal, without any processing (like reverb) you may be applying in your DAW. Some interfaces offers on-board effects to add the few effects which are useful at recording, like reverb and delay for vocals, but most don't. Not sure about the Tascam.

Direct monitoring aside, as of above, there's three factors impacting the system perfomance: how hard the CPU must work, how optimized the drivers are and how much additional real-time processing you're trying to do when recording.

The last one is easy: when you record, don't use any additional effect (i.e. no VSTs on any track). If you need a base track (to sing over, for example), bounce it and record it in another project, and then import the newly recorded track in the original project. The only exeception is usually a bit of reverb if you are recording vocals, chose as lightweight plugin with a dry/wet mix knob and place it directly on the track you're recording (to avoid delays implied in bus processing). Most well tuned system will be able to do that.

It also goes without saying that if you record a synth and the synth itself is excessively CPU heavy, you simply don't have enough steam to use that synth.

Regarding the drivers, it's a manufacturer issue. RME has the most performant drivers (since they design theior chips, they can squeeze every last inch of performance from them). I've read PreSonus has also a high performance one. But most interfaces should allow you to record at least one track at a time easily (as above, bounce all the base you need to a single stereo track and load it in a different project only for recording over it).

If the right buffer and the "recording-purposed" project aren't still enough, this leaves the toughest nut to crack: optimizing your laptop for reducing the "idle" CPU work as much as possible. Audio recording is a real-time task and real-time performance does not depend from the strongest link in the chain, but from the weakest. The good news is that if you recorded earlier with a different interface, your hardware can work fine. It could be that the new interface drivers are worse written than your previous' ones - but it seems unlikely. M-Audio and Tascam are pretty much built to the same philosophy and (I guess) with third-part chips and drivers.

So something's in your set up may be doing lots of interrupts and reducing the availability of an adequately powerful CPU to the point that it can't carry on realtime tasks. A few things you can do:

- disable all power management. Both in the "power setting" (all must be high performance, no sleep whatsoever on any component when on battery), and in the Device Manager - especially for all the USB hubs you must uncheck the "allow power management for this device" box in their properties, but by all means go thru all the hardware listed there and uncheck relentelessly for any device.

- old laptops Intel network and Bluetooth chipsets used to do a lot of CPU interrupts (which is the source of LatencyMon generic advisory) so disable all the radios (either via the hardware switch if your laptop has one, or in the device manager).

- Disabling all networks anyway would also minimize the impact of a Windows Update task waking up, as it will fail very quickly and go back to sleep if the network card is reported "off" by the system.

- in the BIOS you may have settings that allow the CPU to be put to sleep and USB to be interrupted or throttle the CPU power - to be sure, you should disable all of them there.

- Make sure you have a clean system, with as little background processes going as possible. No browsers, no gadgets, just a barebone system. Obviously a virus would often trigger unexpected slowdowns, so make sure you have none.

- Ensure sufficient space on the disk. If it's a rotating disk, defragment if necessary - basically you want these disk heads to see free space very quickly to write down your precious recording data and free the DAW buffers.

- Go in the Task Scheduler and check if there's any task that has been run in the period when you experienced problems. Reschedule the ones you see are scheduled for periods when you'll record. A word of caution here - Windows uses tasks extensively for critical system behavior so don't go and delete and disable something unless you know what you're doing. Just move the scheduling sometime different.

Good luck!
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby gingertimmins » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:23 pm

CS70 wrote:Well, firsts thing first: for recording, the buffer size you set needs to be large enough to allow the CPU some breath time to process audio, but not so large to generate huge latency. So too small a buffer, and you'll overwhelm your CPU capabilities - which results in pops and cracks as pieces of audio are randomly dropped; too large a buffer, and monitoring via the PC will be really unpleasant as the signal will take too long time to come out after you play.

Depending on the hardware, the audio interface drivers and the processing you do, you'll be able to set the buffer size to a minimum which reduces latency to a minimum but doesn't give you cracks and pops. It's not a given that this minimum latency is playable tough, more below.

For playback, you can set the buffer as large as you want with no noticeable effects, as there is no external signal to process, when you push "play" it'll take a few millisecs more for the sound to start.

It's not uncommon to set the sizes differently when you record and when you play back. So playback is very seldom a problem - just the the buffer size very big and you'll be fine.

That leaves recording. Certain audio interfaces offer direct monitoring - that is, the signal which enters the interface is immediately sent to the headphone output (besides the DAW) so that you don't need to use the DAW monitoring. The disadvantage of course is that you will hear the raw signal, without any processing (like reverb) you may be applying in your DAW. Some interfaces offers on-board effects to add the few effects which are useful at recording, like reverb and delay for vocals, but most don't. Not sure about the Tascam.

Direct monitoring aside, as of above, there's three factors impacting the system perfomance: how hard the CPU must work, how optimized the drivers are and how much additional real-time processing you're trying to do when recording.

The last one is easy: when you record, don't use any additional effect (i.e. no VSTs on any track). If you need a base track (to sing over, for example), bounce it and record it in another project, and then import the newly recorded track in the original project. The only exeception is usually a bit of reverb if you are recording vocals, chose as lightweight plugin with a dry/wet mix knob and place it directly on the track you're recording (to avoid delays implied in bus processing). Most well tuned system will be able to do that.

It also goes without saying that if you record a synth and the synth itself is excessively CPU heavy, you simply don't have enough steam to use that synth.

Regarding the drivers, it's a manufacturer issue. RME has the most performant drivers (since they design theior chips, they can squeeze every last inch of performance from them). I've read PreSonus has also a high performance one. But most interfaces should allow you to record at least one track at a time easily (as above, bounce all the base you need to a single stereo track and load it in a different project only for recording over it).

If the right buffer and the "recording-purposed" project aren't still enough, this leaves the toughest nut to crack: optimizing your laptop for reducing the "idle" CPU work as much as possible. Audio recording is a real-time task and real-time performance does not depend from the strongest link in the chain, but from the weakest. The good news is that if you recorded earlier with a different interface, your hardware can work fine. It could be that the new interface drivers are worse written than your previous' ones - but it seems unlikely. M-Audio and Tascam are pretty much built to the same philosophy and (I guess) with third-part chips and drivers.

So something's in your set up may be doing lots of interrupts and reducing the availability of an adequately powerful CPU to the point that it can't carry on realtime tasks. A few things you can do:

- disable all power management. Both in the "power setting" (all must be high performance, no sleep whatsoever on any component when on battery), and in the Device Manager - especially for all the USB hubs you must uncheck the "allow power management for this device" box in their properties, but by all means go thru all the hardware listed there and uncheck relentelessly for any device.

- old laptops Intel network and Bluetooth chipsets used to do a lot of CPU interrupts (which is the source of LatencyMon generic advisory) so disable all the radios (either via the hardware switch if your laptop has one, or in the device manager).

- Disabling all networks anyway would also minimize the impact of a Windows Update task waking up, as it will fail very quickly and go back to sleep if the network card is reported "off" by the system.

- in the BIOS you may have settings that allow the CPU to be put to sleep and USB to be interrupted or throttle the CPU power - to be sure, you should disable all of them there.

- Make sure you have a clean system, with as little background processes going as possible. No browsers, no gadgets, just a barebone system. Obviously a virus would often trigger unexpected slowdowns, so make sure you have none.

- Ensure sufficient space on the disk. If it's a rotating disk, defragment if necessary - basically you want these disk heads to see free space very quickly to write down your precious recording data and free the DAW buffers.

- Go in the Task Scheduler and check if there's any task that has been run in the period when you experienced problems. Reschedule the ones you see are scheduled for periods when you'll record. A word of caution here - Windows uses tasks extensively for critical system behavior so don't go and delete and disable something unless you know what you're doing. Just move the scheduling sometime different.

Good luck!

Thanks man. I should add that recording is fine, it's purely playback/mixing that is the problem. When recording the guitar I generally just run through my pedal board and into a real basic amp sim just to take that DI edge off. Alongside this there will be EZdrummer playing a stripped down kit. Throw in a bass line and that's where I have trouble brewing.

Power management is disabled, CPU throttling is disabled, USB sleep thingamajig is disabled and bluetooth is swithched off (although probably not disabled)

I've done a lot of research prior to posting here and I'm at my absolute wits end!
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby CS70 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:28 pm

Hm, have you tried setting a huge buffer?

And use the task manager to monitor your CPU usage while you play back?

I don't use amp sims so I have no idea how heavy they are, but it might be you're just hitting the limits with three heavy synths/plugins producing output at the same time?

Also, are you running the same versions of the software you were previously using? Newer version usually are sonically better but are specced to stronger baseline hardware
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby gingertimmins » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:50 pm

CS70 wrote:Hm, have you tried setting a huge buffer?

And use the task manager to monitor your CPU usage while you play back?

I don't use amp sims so I have no idea how heavy they are, but it might be you're just hitting the limits with three heavy synths/plugins producing output at the same time?

Also, are you running the same versions of the software you were previously using? Newer version usually are sonically better but are specced to stronger baseline hardware

Not actually tried a huge buffer but will. I have been using task manager and cpu usage is hitting around 35% tops. I did have a recent-ish problem with my disc usage constantly hitting 100% (a common problem apparently) I can't remember what I did but that's no longer an issue.

Currently using cubase elements 9.5 which I have been using since it's release. I do find that 9.0 is a bit smoother though.

Oddly enough, I have my laptop in the living room and I am testing projects using the generic low latency driver to listen through headphones and it's absolutely perfect.

More annoyingly, in a bit of a fit of rage I earlier boxed up the tascam unit ready for sending back so can't do any further testing until I get my steinberg unit next week.

Can we agree though that my machine should be fit for purpose? I'm only knocking up basic song ideas to present to a band, not even looking at demo quality!
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:59 pm

One thing to consider is that you might have grounding issues, if all your devices run off wall-wart type power supplies you might have no actual ground in your system. This can lead to all manner of odd clicks, pops and drop-outs.
There's a bit more from Hugh in this thread: https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... nk#p544966
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby CS70 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:06 pm

gingertimmins wrote:
Not actually tried a huge buffer but will. I have been using task manager and cpu usage is hitting around 35% tops. I did have a recent-ish problem with my disc usage constantly hitting 100% (a common problem apparently) I can't remember what I did but that's no longer an issue.

Currently using cubase elements 9.5 which I have been using since it's release. I do find that 9.0 is a bit smoother though.

Oddly enough, I have my laptop in the living room and I am testing projects using the generic low latency driver to listen through headphones and it's absolutely perfect.

More annoyingly, in a bit of a fit of rage I earlier boxed up the tascam unit ready for sending back so can't do any further testing until I get my steinberg unit next week.

Can we agree though that my machine should be fit for purpose? I'm only knocking up basic song ideas to present to a band, not even looking at demo quality!

Well, the fact that you could use it earlier surely points in that direction. It does sound more like a system issue than an interface issue tough, but hope the Steinberg will fix it!
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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby gingertimmins » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:19 am

blinddrew wrote:One thing to consider is that you might have grounding issues, if all your devices run off wall-wart type power supplies you might have no actual ground in your system. This can lead to all manner of odd clicks, pops and drop-outs.
There's a bit more from Hugh in this thread: https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... nk#p544966
Thanks drew, that's a really good shout but upon checking this morning I'm pretty confident that I do have a ground in the system. I have active monitors, an old skool mixer powered by a kettle lead and my guitar amp would definitely be grounded. Most of these things are connected together most of the time.

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Re: Latency mon.... can anyone help?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:48 am

Good stuff, i guess it's down to working through CS70's list then...
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