How To Change A Sound Card Latency


09.11.2011

How To Change A Sound Card Latency

If a sound that is created at one moment arrives at the final output with some delay, it means that you have a latency problem. The delay is measured in increments of milliseconds because it is usually very brief. At the same time, the recording or the playback of audio aren’t affected by a roughly 20ms latency because it is generally unnoticeable. But, those heavily processed audio signals will experience for sure increased latency levels. This issue will be solved by adjusting your sound card’s sample buffer.

Make sure you follow the instructions below:

  • Check if your sound card is installed properly, if it is connected to your computer properly also make sure you download and install the latest drivers for the device. You have to know also that there are some audio cards that are internal but there are others that are external USB or FireWire devices. That kind of audio cards are double as audio interface, for example the Apogee Duet and the M-Box devices made by Avid. If using an external one, try to use the shortest cable and so avoiding the latency that is directly related to the distance that the sound must cover. Also, the processing it undergoes on the way will affect the spread of the sound.

  • Access the sound card’s sample buffer setting through the software-based. But there are also sound cards that provide different the access. There are sound cards that are giving you the possibility to access directly the sample buffer setting and also some others settings that are associated with the card. All of this is possible grace to the front-end software for their driver. If you are a Windows user choose the ASIO generic driver called ASIO4All that may be very easy to access from the “Hardware and Sound” section which you will find in Windows Control Panel. If you want to access the sample buffer setting make sure you have read first your sound card’s documentation.

  • If you want to decrease the latency make sure to low the sound card’s sample buffer setting. Also, if you want to remove the distortions that are caused by a buffer setting that is too low, as the pops and clicks, raise it. Extreme distortions may occur if you will reduce the sample buffer to the lowest point immediately while you try to decrease latency. Try to low it in increments and to check latency level each time, with each one. If using, for example, a microphone or an instrument input, make sure you low the setting and then test the signal before to make any other lowering again. If the latency becomes at one point imperceptible, it is the time to stop the lowering of the buffer setting.

There are also other approaches to adjust latency that are also less direct. You should consider increasing the amount of available RAM on your system and make sure to close any other applications that you don’t use at the moment.

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