"You need to learn how to play 30 milliseconds early."

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by lordradish, Feb 25, 2024.

  1. lordradish

    lordradish Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    Okay, not sure what to make of this.

    I've been multitrack recording my jazz trio's performances lately. Everything is mic'ed except the bass, which goes direct.

    I notice sometimes that something sounds a bit off in a way I can't put my finger on. I'm an experienced player and these guys are all topnotch and wouldn't be playing with me if my timing sucked. When I've done just room recordings, I don't seem to notice this.

    So anyway, I was wondering if maybe there was some sort of latency issue with the basss being DI'd, so I asked a question about it on the recording Reddit.

    Some guy responded with this...
    "If you're a really good musician you could be playing slightly ahead because you're compensating for the delay of the signal from the bass amp to your ears. Speed of sound is 343metres per second, so if your amp is 10 metres away you need to play 30ms early.

    I tell this to bassists when I need to massage their ego before I fix their time. It's really your playing. "

    Is this guy blowing smoke/trolling or is he right? I mean I understand playing ahead/behind the beat (when it's intended). But 30 milliseconds? I've been playing for close to 40 years, played with pros and pro sound guys and nobody has EVER said this.
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  2. In round numbers sound travels at 1ms per foot, closer to about 1.13ms depending on air temp and humidity.
    If the mixer is digital that would add maybe a couple ms. The DI and bass amp would not add any delay, short of maybe a digital pedal and or some digital preamp processing.

    Maybe do an experiment using in ear monitors of headphones.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
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  3. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Re-read the post.

    He's not blowing smoke, he's saying this is the smoke he'll blow when he knows he's going to have to chop a performance to hell cause the player sucks.

    That said - to answer your question of why it doesn't sound "quite right" - it's probably more to do with how an amp (even a clean one) and speaker (even hi-fi ones) will slightly even out dynamics, smoothing over the exact point at which your body actually "feels" the attack happening.

    Once you've got some basic EQ/compression on the DI track (to say nothing of once you've done that to the rest of the tracks) I bet your perception of the issue will go away.

    Hell, I've hit ridiculous clams that I can't unhear in a DI'd track that all but disappear in a mix if you don't know exactly what you're listening for.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
  4. MuseChaser


    Sep 17, 2023
    Central NYS
    If your amp is "10 metres away," or approx 30 feet, the first question is ... Why? Your Reddit poster may indeed to relocating burnt particulate or engaging in under-bridge denizen behavior.

    Having said that, if you're playing in a room, live and acoustically with the other players in your group,and you're the only one going direct, that could indeed be a source of some timing issues heard in the recording, dependant upon equipment and the person(s) operating it. If you're "going direct," what bass amp is in the picture? Where is it? What are you all listening to as you play... live acoustic sound? Cans? Monitors in booths?

    Too many unknowns.
  5. lordradish

    lordradish Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    Using the DI out of the back of my Markbass, a few feet behind me. Just a few stage monitors... it's a small stage.
  6. lordradish

    lordradish Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    So my snark detector wasn't working?
  7. MuseChaser


    Sep 17, 2023
    Central NYS
    What are you hearing in the recording? Do you sound like you're slightly ahead of the drummer's ride? Could it be just the effect of a completely dry channel (yours) mixed with unavoidable ambient sounds in the other mic'd tracks?

    To be honest, I wouldn't worry about it. If you want to use live recordings to critique your playing and learn from them, put a pair of mics or a handheld digital recorder out front and call it good.
  8. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    So the other members are rushing their beats?
  9. How do you know when your drummer is at your front door? He starts knocking 30 milliseconds before he is supposed to.
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  10. "It's a wonder it works at all..."

    Maybe your recording engineer doesn't run fast enough. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
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  11. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Definitely a troll response at some level. What he is referring to is something we all do automatically without thinking. And he didn't answer your question. Yes there is probably some latency depending on what you are plugging into. if you are plugging into an audio interface on your PC, there can be a good amount of latency there. But it's not something the player is supposed to compensate for, it's something your software is supposed to compensate for.

    So what are you using to record the band?
  12. logdrum

    logdrum A person! Supporting Member

    So in orchestra, double bassists do play a little early on some sections of the piece but no one is timing anything that tight or specific. The reasons are, they are in the back, it slower to bow a note and low register. low notes take a while.
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  13. SunByrne

    SunByrne trained monkey Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    I’ve identified the problem as being right there.
  14. klattman


    Jan 8, 2008
    I would trouble shoot your signal chain. Processing delays can happen. It’s particularly annoying with cabsim and digital effects.

    it’s not the kind of delay you can really hear live, but compared to a completely unprocessed input (your miked band mates) the difference can be perceptible.

    Are you cable to defeat any cabinet sim coming out of your amp? Split your signal an and try recording with nothing but a passive direct box instead or record both and compare playback. You could also mike the bass cabinet and see if that makes a difference.
    Seems unlikely that it’s your playing, but you should be able to diagnose.
  15. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe .. El Jefe del funk Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    The shortest amount of time that a person can perceive (I'm assuming in excellent/lab conditions) is 13ms. No bass player that I know of stands 10 meters from their amp.

    You're most likely experiencing a delay due to processing, some sort of gear, etc.

    In addition, if it's your playing, it would be a constant thing, not some of the time. This again points to some kind of processing delay or momentary lack of timing on your end, which would be noticable when you are playing if you are paying attention.

    The guy is a tool.
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  16. Jonny Reese

    Jonny Reese

    Jun 27, 2020
    Boston, MA
    I always try to play a bit BEHIND, as my favorite bassists and drummers do.
    jnewmark likes this.
  17. lordradish

    lordradish Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    I was counting the minutes until someone wrote this, two seconds after I hit post.
  18. lordradish

    lordradish Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    See, I can't quite pinpoint it. It just sounds off in some way, in a way that it doesn't sound like when I'm playing or recorded the room. I wonder if there is something about the dry/ambient thing.
    31HZ likes this.
  19. lordradish

    lordradish Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    A tascam model 12 mixer, straight to the SD card.
    sean_on_bass likes this.
  20. lordradish

    lordradish Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    There's no cab sim in the amp. I think next time, I'm going to mic the amp without the DI, just to see how different it sounds.
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