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USB latency?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Funkateer, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Reading reviews and the like, I have come to understand that latency is an issue with the USB-connected recorders as opposed to PCI or firewire products. What does this mean in practical terms?
    My plans are to lay things down one track at a time, and this latency issue is a concern.

    This can't mean that you have to record all the tracks at the same time, or have to go back afterward to make corrections, because latency makes it impossible to sync with the recording?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Latency is only an issue if you don't use a mixer to get your signal in and out. If you have a mixer, you can simply monitor the mixer's signal:

    - On the initial track, you listen to the signal before it goes to the computer.

    - On all subsequent traks, you listen to the playback from the computer on your mixer, mix it with the signal you're recording, and then track.

    Both of the above scenarios work fine, but you won't be able to hear your plug in effects while tracking this way. If this isn't an issue, then USB is fine.
  3. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Things should start appearing in USB2 any day now, fastest protocol yet, even smokes firewire. PCI card adapters, all the benefits/compatible with of USB1. Most new mainboards come with it. I realize this has little to do with the question, but Chris answered it so I thought I'd throw this in as a FWIW.
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Latency is also an issue when you want to play soft-synths in realtime, e.g. Native Intruments' B-4 Hammond synth.

    USB 1.0 used to cause lots of trouble in the beginning, hence the proverb "usb kills audio". But with todays usb controllers it works fine in most cases, USB 1.0 is a little slow, that's all.
    A good PCI card is better than a USB 1.0 interface, I'm not sure if any USB 2.0 audio interfaces are available yet.
  5. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Track 1 gets a/d'ed in USB box, and digital output goes to the computer. I monitor the input to the box from my mixer. So far so good.

    I start playback of Track 1. The digital stream gets sent back to the USB box and d-to-a'ed. Seems to me this is the case with/without plugins or other computer based processing. The computer is effectively keeping time, and what you hear as d/a'ed output is 'late', and it seems to me that the start time of the track 2 input would have to be compensated for, as both the latency in and out have to be considered.

    What do I have wrong here?

    Thanks for all your help.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If you have a mixer, all you need to do is to monitor the OUTGOING signal from the computer and mix it with the input you're sending INTO the computer. If you can mute playback capacity of the track you're recording, everything should line up just fine.
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    generally Firewire beats out USB 2.0 in all respects, theoretically they are capable fo 400 mbps and 480 mbps respectively...however in real world performance firewire tends to have less latency and faster, more consistent transfer speeds. Basically USB 2.0 was intel(or whoever patented it...I forget)'s futile attempt to derail the trump I/O that is Firewire. Since the PC conglomos that did this are holding all the cards, USB 2 was forced upon the public, USB 2 really is not a very good protocol at all, because its not actually a standard, it's just proprietary I/O made to go real fast, slapped together quickly but it lacks integerity.

    Now that Firewire2 is out though, there is nothing that can stand in its way

    Firewire2 is 800 mbps, and scales upto 3.2 gbps!

    Firewire is the smarter choice for audio and video connectivity if you ask me. That said I use a USB midiman to use my midi keyboard, and they don't make many Firewire connectivity boxes(or mixers or recording units)
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    How much are they paying you? :D
  9. iplaybass


    Feb 13, 2000
    Houston, TX
    I'm using a USB(1.0) enabled receiver for audio. Sounds great, no real issues here. I don't have much experience with recording with USB, however.

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