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Online Guide Software Instruments
Latency

 

‘Latency’ is the term used to describe the amount of time it takes for the computer to generate a sound in response to a command. Practically speaking, it can be the
DelayAn outboard unit used to create time dependent effects where a source signal is sampled/recorded and replayed later by a adjustable amount, either singly or in multiples. The amount of delay results in a range of effects from chorus and slap back to rhythmic echo. Also used for time correction in large PA systems.
delay
between clicking ‘Play’ and playback actually starting, or the time between pressing a
KeyAn additional input on a dynamics processor such as a compressor or noise gate, enabling the dynamics of one signal to control the level of another. This can be used for many functions, including ducking (compressing a music signal when a DJ or announcer speaks), synchronised gating, and (in conjunction with an equaliser) de-essing.
key
on a keyboard and hearing a sound from the computer. In the days before
ASIOAudio Stream Input/Output: a protocol specified by audio software company Steinberg for computer soundcards. It offers low latency and high fidelity, allowing audio professionals to process audio without the need for external hardware.
ASIO
, latencies of half a second or more were the norm, which meant that playing anything ‘live’ was impossible. These days, with the right soundcard or
AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
audio
InterfaceA device enabling the connection of two or more devices, or types of devices. Examples include MIDI interfaces, for connecting MIDI equipment to a computer, and audio interfaces.
interface
, latencies are commonly so low as to be unnoticeable, and playing sounds on a computer has become as responsive as any other instrument.

Latency

Access TimeRefers to the time it takes for a computer or digital music device to respond to a command. When using digital musical equipment, access time can represent a delay between striking the note and the note actually sounding. The term can also refer to the speed at which a computer drive writes or presents the data stored on it, where access time is governed by the spindle speed, (e.g. 4,200 RPM averages 7.14ms latency).
Latency
is a natural function of computers, a built-in
DelayAn outboard unit used to create time dependent effects where a source signal is sampled/recorded and replayed later by a adjustable amount, either singly or in multiples. The amount of delay results in a range of effects from chorus and slap back to rhythmic echo. Also used for time correction in large PA systems.
delay
which allows the
CPUCentral Processing Unit: the silicon chip at the centre of a computer system.
CPU
to process information and get it out in an orderly fashion. The
DelayAn outboard unit used to create time dependent effects where a source signal is sampled/recorded and replayed later by a adjustable amount, either singly or in multiples. The amount of delay results in a range of effects from chorus and slap back to rhythmic echo. Also used for time correction in large PA systems.
delay
is caused by a ‘buffer’ which is a small piece of memory where information to be processed is temporarily stored and sorted. As data comes in - in this case representing sound - it fills the
BufferA small piece of memory where data is stored temporarily on its way to and from processing. Buffers are used to smooth and regulate data flow into a steady stream to ensure synchronisation. Commonly found in hard drives and also in relation to soundcard drivers and the speed of audio data through a system.
buffer
, while the
CPUCentral Processing Unit: the silicon chip at the centre of a computer system.
CPU
processes it and then sends it to the outputs in a constant stream. The larger the
BufferA small piece of memory where data is stored temporarily on its way to and from processing. Buffers are used to smooth and regulate data flow into a steady stream to ensure synchronisation. Commonly found in hard drives and also in relation to soundcard drivers and the speed of audio data through a system.
buffer
, the larger the delay/latency, and the smoother the output. For ‘real-time’ processing though, we want that
BufferA small piece of memory where data is stored temporarily on its way to and from processing. Buffers are used to smooth and regulate data flow into a steady stream to ensure synchronisation. Commonly found in hard drives and also in relation to soundcard drivers and the speed of audio data through a system.
buffer
to be as small as possible, but this puts added pressure on the
CPUCentral Processing Unit: the silicon chip at the centre of a computer system.
CPU
as it has to work faster to maintain the same smooth output. If the data moves through the
BufferA small piece of memory where data is stored temporarily on its way to and from processing. Buffers are used to smooth and regulate data flow into a steady stream to ensure synchronisation. Commonly found in hard drives and also in relation to soundcard drivers and the speed of audio data through a system.
buffer
too quickly then the
CPUCentral Processing Unit: the silicon chip at the centre of a computer system.
CPU
may not have time to process it all, and you end up with a glitch or crackle in the
AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
audio
, so you can see that greater
CPUCentral Processing Unit: the silicon chip at the centre of a computer system.
CPU
power enables lower latencies, and happily,
CPUCentral Processing Unit: the silicon chip at the centre of a computer system.
CPU
power has kept on increasing!

When it comes to playing software instruments, a
Access TimeRefers to the time it takes for a computer or digital music device to respond to a command. When using digital musical equipment, access time can represent a delay between striking the note and the note actually sounding. The term can also refer to the speed at which a computer drive writes or presents the data stored on it, where access time is governed by the spindle speed, (e.g. 4,200 RPM averages 7.14ms latency).
latency
of 10ms or less is generally regarded as real-time. To benefit from such low latencies though, it’s essential that you have a soundcard or
AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
audio
InterfaceA device enabling the connection of two or more devices, or types of devices. Examples include MIDI interfaces, for connecting MIDI equipment to a computer, and audio interfaces.
interface
with ‘drivers’ designed for the job.

 

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