Sunday, September 27, 2020

Ableton latency even with no plugins loaded

Ableton latency problem

I am posting this here in the hope that when I solve this latency problem Ableton others will find this post and be able to also solve the latency problem for themselves.

I have exhausted the knowledgebase on the Ableton site and the user help section is now closed. I'm at the stage that if I can't fix this I'll have to abandon Live and go to Logic, which is not what I want to do.

I have an infuriating latency echo, even on a brand new project with no plugins loaded at all. I have been using Live for years but have not had this problem before. No hardware or software changes have happened recently.

Here's where I am:

  • Ableton 10 Suite
  • macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 
  • Mac Pro (mid 2010) 
  • Memory 32gb 1333 MHz DR3 
  • 1tb SSD system drive 
  • Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2048mb
  • 2nd gen Focusrite 6i6. I have updated the control software, the drivers and the firmware.


I have tried all buffer sizes.

Latency does not exist in any other bit of software on my computer, all of which route out through the Focusrite interface.

I have tried reinstalling Ableton.

The problem persists regardless of the size of the sample I'm playing, the device I'm using (hardware and software) and also happens with live microphones.

I have installed the Focusrite latency software they make available at https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/208736249-How-can-I-improve-latency-using-my-2nd-3rd-Gen-Scarlett-Clarett-USB-interfaces-on-Mac

The Ableton setting 'reduced latency when monitoring' is activated but appears to make no difference whether on or off.

I'm running out of ideas :(


UPDATE 29th September 2020

A response from Ableton

Hi Andrew,

Thank you for getting in touch with Ableton Support and sorry to hear about your problem!

Due to the current situation we are unfortunately working at the limits of our capacities. Therefore unusually long response times may occur.

We apologize for this and any further delay.

It is important to understand that the global latency of Live is only partly connected to the processing power of the computer. It depends on several other factors.

The first one would be the set buffer size of the audio driver.
It defines how many samples the processor has to pre-calculate before the audio signal leaves the interface. It can be set in powers of 2 (e.g. 64, 128, 256 Samples) and defines the delay between input and output.

On top of that time for calculating the signal and converting it from Analog - Digital / Digital - Analog (AD/DA) comes the so-called roundtrip latency.
It is defined by the technical buildup of the device and the used connection interface (USB, FW, etc.).
This value is reported by the driver and gets added to the whole processing latency.
The resulting number can be found in Lives preferences as the Overall Latency value.

Some interfaces have an error in the reported number.
For this case, we integrated a function to manually even this error. It is called Driver Error Compensation.
Many users misunderstand this value and use it so that it evens out the whole reported latency.
This should be avoided because it causes further problems and issues.
For most situations, it is fine to leave it at 0 Samples.

Should you still want to find and even out a possible driver error we integrated a lesson that you can find in Live's help view.
Further, we have an article with more info on the topic, which you could read --> When to use Driver Error Compensation

Unfortunately, this is not where the story ends.

There are devices and plugins that can also cause latency.
For example, because they use a look-ahead function (compressors/limiters) or they use other complex algorithms (e.g. mastering processors like Izotope Ozone, the audio effects from Soundtoys, Waves and many more).

This latency can't be avoided easily and adds up for each instance of the device, so that you can experience latencies of several seconds even with the smallest buffer size (64 samples).

If and how high the latency that a device introduces is can be found when hovering the mouse cursor over the device title bar:


Even some of Lives internal devices can create additional latency
To make it possible to record in such a set (even with high global latency) we introduced a feature which enables Live to avoid it, if possible.
It is called Reduced Latency when Monitoring and can be set up int the options menu-

The downside of that option is that whenever a track changes its arm state one could hear little crackles.

For a complete overview I'd recommend reading the following article:
How to reduce latency

Should the problem still persist send me a Status Report
With that info, I can investigate further.

Please let me know about your progress and feel free to come back at any time!

All the best,

Will

Tech Support

UPDATE 29th September 2020

I received this email from Ableton which was pretty disappointing so I decided to make a screen capture video to send to Ableton support to demonstrate that changing the buffer size made no difference. While doing that I had to change the Abelton output settings to route through the screen capture software I use (ScreenFlow). When I did this the latency stopped.

So the problem must be my Focusrite 6i6 2nd Gen interface. So now I'm going to try and get some support from Focusrite. 


Update 06-10-20

I connected the 6i6 to my macbook and it was fine. I idly updated Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra and all latency went away... I'll report back if anything changes!

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