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Low-latency software synth for MIDI keyboard?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by belzebass, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012

    Didn't know where to post my question so it winds up here :)

    I have a MIDI keyboard that I want to use for practice and learning. What software synth do you advise? I need something basic (don't care much about tone, it's just for practice), lightweight and low latency. Oh, and free (freeware or open source) and running on Windows. I don't mind software without GUI.

    I tried ZynAddSubFX, it works great but latency is quite notable :-\

    Do you know software synth for me?
  2. Maraki


    May 2, 2012
    I don't know if it is on Windows, but on Linux (and I'm pretty sure Mac), fluidsynth/qsynth using jack can be pretty low latency, if you're familiar with using soundfonts.
  3. MIDI doesn't involve AD conversion or playback of recorded material, so for what it's worth I've never heard of latency being an issue with any MIDI controlled soft synth.
  4. Did a little research and it seems MIDI latency is a thing, but I've never run into it on my Mac machines over the years. Anyway, this video may help you:
  5. lossfizzle


    Jul 8, 2013
    While some synth plugins chew up more CPU than others, latency is generally not a *softsynth* specific issue, it is a *driver / sound-hardware* specific issue.

    Under Windows, if you do not have a sound card / USB interface of some kind that "speaks" ASIO (which is the best-choice protocol for low latency performance under Windows), you are going to have latency issues with any softsynth and/or host.

    There is a free alternative / universal driver called ASIO4All which you can install as a "cheater driver" for commodity / built-in sound hardware. With some experimentation, it will bring the latency down to about 10-20ms on most systems, which is not great, but a lot better than what you're probably experiencing "stock." If you drop some buxxx for "proper" ASIO-capable sound hardware by the likes of Tascam / Presonus / Focusrite / maybe even Behringer, and use the factory ASIO drivers, you can probably get something closer to 2-6ms, which is comparable to hardware synths.

    ...Oh, and then you can play with your computer as an amp modeler / effects processor for bass / guitar too. :)

    If you're just trying to learn keyboard basics as opposed to the ins and outs of synthesis, I'd recommend just getting yourself something simple with a good basic piano or organ sound. ZynAddSub is going to be needlessly complicated for a beginner, and Native Kontakt Free may have some usable "ROMpler" patches, but it's painfully heavy in terms of system footprint and requires registration with the Native mothership. You may want to look into something light, simple and free like the 4Front piano plugin for starters.
  6. WarriorJoe7

    WarriorJoe7 Banned

    Mar 12, 2004
    Syracuse, NY
    Get an ipad, dozens of great midi synths for under$10. All you need is a irig midi $30 on ebay. Contact me fora bunch of ipad synths cheap.

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