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Q. How do I lower the latency on my laptop?

By Sam Inglis

I have been experiencing some big problems with latency whilst trying to use Cubase SX. I would be grateful for any help or advice you can offer me. I'm using a Sony Vaio laptop with a 1.4GHz Intel Celeron M processor, 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a Realtek High Definition Audio sound chip. I've tried reducing the buffer size on this driver and upping the sample rate to 96kHz, with no effect on latency. Could the cause be my hardware?

Carol Robinson

Features Editor Sam Inglis replies: The latency is almost certainly caused by the hardware — most built-in laptop sound chips only have Direct X and MME drivers, and these can suffer latencies of half a second or more. Ideally, you'd be better off with a specialist audio device for music with proper ASIO drivers: upgrading your sound hardware will improve both audio quality and driver performance. Either a PCMCIA or USB device should be OK, or a Firewire one if your computer has a Firewire port. However, you could also investigate third-party ASIO drivers such as ASIO4ALL (www.tippach.net/asio4all) which are designed to work with any hardware. 

Published February 2006