Magazine article Guitar Player

Techno Tools: Digital Latency

Magazine article Guitar Player

Techno Tools: Digital Latency

Article excerpt

It takes time for a digital system to convert an analog signal into digital, process it, then spit it back out again as analog. The amount of delay involved in this process is called latency, and it can range from one millisecond to several hundred milliseconds.

With most gear, the delay is not objectionable. Because sound travels approximately one foot per millisecond, a two millisecond delay equates to moving your head only two feet further away from a sound source. However, latency is a major issue when running digital-audio software, as the computer adds its own layers of processing complexity. Some Windows sound cards produce so much latency that if you overdubbed a guitar solo into a hard-disk system and monitored through the sound card output, you'd hear what you played after you had played it.

Latency is also a problem if you want to use software plug-ins to do real-time processing. If you record a live drum kit, for example, and want to put compression on the kick, reverb on the snare, and EQ on the toms, each plug-in will add different amounts of latency. …

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