How Latent Are You?

by | May 18, 2016 | Software, Technology | 5 comments

latencyThe fancy new audio chain I bought isn’t exactly working like I thought it should.  Oh, it makes an incredible recording, but the unit itself dangerously overheats, and playback is fraught with pops and crackles (Rice Krispies!) that are not in the waveform.

Luckily, the company has great customer service (ZenDesk), and I’ve been going back ‘n’ forth with them about my “issues”.  They confirm, that yes, the unit does get hot, and it must be used in an environment that is well ventilated. 

Well, right there I’m in trouble.  My studio (a converted 2nd-floor closet) has NO ventilation.  It’s my own private little Las Vegas sauna for +100°F Summer months.  I keep towels handy.  So, now, to use the unit, I place it atop plastic freezer bricks.  Hey, don’t laugh…it works!

But the playback popping is another thing.  I’ve checked cables, plugs, shielding, and power supplies.  Naga.  Those artifacts make my editing times 2 or 3 times as long, ’cause I keep having to go back and check to see that the blips are not really there.

So, my ZenDesk friends sent me instructions for retrieving computer system information, and they also asked for a specific report from a program called “LatencyMon”.  This free program installs quickly, and once you set it’s mechanism in motion, it reads the amount of latency you have in your audio playback signal.  They ask you to run it for 10-15 mins, and be sure to play back some audio through the program in question.

The results are saved and sent to technicians in a .txt file.

I didn’t have to be a technician, though, to tell right away that my system was flunking the LATENCY issue.  Lots of red flags.

 However, the program is long on diagnosis, and short on solutions, so I’m waiting for my ZenDesk friends to offer some suggestions.  In the meantime, ‘seems like this might be a good tool for any of us to be implementing, just to check on the efficacy of your audio playback system. 

BTW, Latency refers to a short period of delay (usually measured in milliseconds) between when an audio signal enters and when it emerges from a system. (Wikipedia).  I think my latency involves LOTS of milliseconds.  ;\

I’ll let you know what happens.  In the meantime if this is a test that sounds worthwhile for your needs, here’s the download link: http://www.resplendence.com/downloads.  Scroll about halfway down the page until you see  “System Monitoring Tools”, and download “LatencyMon 6.50”  It installs quickly and is intuitive to use. 

I hope this solves my Snap, Crackle, Pop!

CourVO

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5 Comments

  1. Michael Orenstein

    Dave – are you using an Apollo Twin by any chance? Mine acts like a mini-heater in the studio. It gets to be over a hundred and fifteen degrees outside in the summer where I am – so my Twin now sits outside my Whisperroom – even if you can cure the pops and clicks (I’m sure you checked this – but sometimes mine will change up it’s recording rate from 44.1 to 48 when it gets hot) – try to find a way to get the unit outside your closet – that way it’ll get some air on it and it won’t heat up your recording space.
    Anyway – hope you resolve your issue quickly – and these towels work great to cool you down – http://www.missionathletecare.com/collections/cooling-towels?gclid=CjwKEAjwpfC5BRCT1sKW2qzwqE0SJABkKFKR05dtfTGBBEMrrPVKPSRRywPp0nCLxfGUW93XaPSJ7hoCJ7Lw_wcB

    Reply
  2. Howard Ellison

    My favourite word is ‘kluge’ – credit George Whittam. It means a solution that works even if it’s ‘unofficial’. This is mine for latency: click the pet clicker (a la Dan Lenard), and let the mic also pick up what emerges from the cans held nearby. On the recorded trace, set to milliseconds, measure the distance between the two spikes.
    As for overheating… you should be so lucky! I live in England. No remedy for that.

    Reply
  3. Paul Benedetti (Voices For All)

    Dave, wondering why the latency is mattering to you? The only time it really matters is if monitoring through your software because you will hear the delay. If you are monitoring the source while recording, it doesn’t matter if there is latency because you won’t be hearing it while recording. On playback everything you heard is latent by the same amount of time in a given track so it matters not for that. If you are using more than one track and you have different plug-ins on each track with different amounts of latency from the plug-ins themselves then you should compensate for the difference. Pro Tools does this automatically, not sure about other software.

    The pops and clicks could be related to your unit overheating, especially if it is not on the recorded track, that means it is a playback issue, possibly the D/A. Could also be a clock issue, make sure everything is synced to the same clock source. Hope this helps!

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for writing. I’m not really sure why ZenDesk requested the latency test, because I agree with all you say, and wasn’t thinking I had a latency issue. I thought maybe their theory was that the pops and clicks were related to the latency… as it’s def not related to the heating. I get the artifacts in playback on the unit whether it’s hot or not. I have no idea what you mean by D/A. I’m acronym-challenged. Also, no clue to how to perform a clock sync…or even WHAT to sync.

      ‘Gave up on ProTools a long time ago. I liken it to getting into an F-16 to cross the road for a voice-actor. But I know it’s the choice of audio engineers almost unanimously. I use Adobe Audition CC.

      ‘Really appreciate your response…I learn something every time I write a blog article!

      best,

      Dave Courvoisier

      Reply
      • Paul Benedetti (Voices For All)

        Dave, ok so first, D/A is digital to analog converter, this is the chip that converts the digital audio back to analog so we can hear it. Sometimes if they overheat they can get funky, but you said it happens when the unit is cool so that most likely is not to blame.

        How do you have your buffer set? This may be why they were asking about latency. It may have been in regard to your buffer settings and not plug-in latency or monitoring latency while recording. Try setting your buffer higher like 512 or 1024 even as a test to see if that rids you of the issue. If it does then you need a higher buffer for your computer to process properly, this usually means you need more CPU if you cannot run a VO recording at a low buffer setting.

        If the problem still persists… There can only be one clock in a system if there are more than one clock running you can get pops and clicks. This means your software has to be set to use the same clock that the interface is using, so they are in sync. Make sure your software is set to use the clock of your interface and not your built in audio card. The clock must be set to use the same clock as whatever device you are using for audio. If you are listening back through a USB interface and your clock source in the software is set to use your built in sound card, clicks and pops can occur. Have you done a test where you try to play back through your built in audio and does it still have the issue Check your clock settings to try and rule that out.

        I assume you have done fresh restart and tried playback wth only your audio program running, yes? Make sure no background processes are taking place using your hard drive etc.

        Hope this helps!
        Paul

        Reply

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