1/2 second latency no matter what I do

I’m using Audacity on an Asus PC, but I have a 1/2 second latency in the computer no matter what combination of microphones and speakers I use. Even with just a USB mic plugged directly into the PC, or with the mic going through a Scarlett 4i4, the latency is the same. I’ve tried every optimization I can find, I’ve replaced all the drivers, everything is up to date, my PC has heaps of memory, SSD and processing power, and the Scarlett 4i4 is plugged into its own USB 3 port. No matter what I do, the latency is always the same.


Settings:

Headphones (Realtek)
Recording Analogue 1+2 Focusrite

Open Audacity:
When I play a project, I hear it fine.
When I say something into the microphone, I see a level on the microphone level meter, but I can’t hear the microphone on my headphones.

If I select that microphone in Windows - Settings - MoreSoundSetting - Analogue 1 + 2 - Properties - Listen, I hear the microphone, with the 1/2 second latency, just as if I were listening to my USB mic direct. I’ve played with the buffer sizes and latency compensation settings in Audicity. NOTHING touches that latency, which is always the same.

What am I missing here?

Thanks, Mike

Speaking of which, what are these settings?

I checked the online manual and your Focusrite has an option for direct-hardware zero-latency monitoring (where the monitoring path doesn’t go through the computer). It looks like that has to be enabled with the Focusrite utility.

DVDdoug and jademan: I found the Focusrite instructions but they didn’t work as shown.

https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360006972599-Direct-Monitoring-on-the-Scarlett-4i4-3rd-Gen

I had to play with various settings and finally found a setup that worked for initial 2-track recording. I had to change settings on Audacity, on Windows, and on the Focusrite 4i4.

When I try to add tracks, I still hear a slight delay, but when I play back the added tracks, the timing is spot on with Buffer = 100, Latency Compensation = -100.

Tomorrow when Focusrite tech support opens up, I plan to call them and see if I can learn what those controls mean so I will know why it works. Maybe they’ll have a solution that works for Zoom, so I can use my good microphone through the interface on conference calls.

Thanks for the info
Mike

There are two latencys. Machine latency is when you plug your headphones into the computer and hear the Audacity round trip delay from your microphone. That one is permanent. The only way to get around that is is to listen directly to your interface, microphone, or mixer—as several have suggested.

This microphone has provision to send live, perfect, correct sound not only to the computer, but to your headphones as well.

Screen Shot 2022-09-05 at 09.15.23.png
It also has the ability to send the backing track to your headphones and mix them as you perform.

The other latency is overdubbing latency. That one you can set in Audacity preferences. When you overdub, or sing to yourself or other backing track, overdubbing latency can make sure that your new voice overlays perfectly with your old voice. If you do that right, you can sing The Four Tops one after the other and all four voices will play back in perfect time.

There is one other way to solve this. There are pay-to-play software packages that create special, separate sound pathways so that Audacity’s sound and your headphones sound from the computer are separate. It’s not as perfect as getting your headphone sound from the microphone, but it’s usually so close that nobody cares.

Koz

Thanks for the clear nomenclature and description.

I’ve got the overdubbing latency almost solved on Audacity, using the Latency Compensation. However when I’m dubbing tracks, I hear a little latency in the monitor but it does not show up in the actual recording. I got this working with the Focusrite documentation suggested by DVDdoug, with a few workarounds.

The machine latency has me baffled. It is so bad I can’t use my digital interface on Zoom. This is the problem I’m really trying to solve. When I connect my headphones to the headphone output on the laptop, and use any sort of microphone - USB Yeti Blue, Rode through Focusrite 4i4, or the built-in microphone on the laptop, I hear 1/2 seconds latency.

It seems like a modern, up to date computer should not have 1/2 seconds of machine latency (I’ve spent the last two days making sure everything is up to date).

Is it reasonable for my laptop to have such a huge machine latency, or am I missing something?

(Before I knew about the latency compensation, I just created a click track and used time shift to align things)

Mike

It is so bad I can’t use my digital interface on Zoom.

Ding!

Are you trying to record Zoom calls? The short answer is, you don’t. Both you and Zoom are having a bloody fist-fight as to who gets to control the computer. Usually, Zoom wins and your local productions distort or fall apart.

Set up your local computer for straight, clean, simple microphone and headphones in a quiet room. Forget Stereo Mix and those other tricks and get Zoom to record the conversations. They’re remarkably good at it and I understand they can even send you individual sound files instead of everything smashed together into one mix.

That’s not to say you can’t record at home. You can do it the way the broadcasters do it.

The computer on the right is connected to Skype. It thinks it’s doing a plain, simple conversation. The computer on the left is recording the vocal mix from the mixer and sending background music back to the mixer and on to the Skype computer. The machine on the left has no idea the Skype computer is there.

What you can’t do is everything on one computer, and not all mixers work, either. You have to be able to create two different mixes.

And yes, this does work. Denise is three time zones away from me. This is an engineering test, so no academy awards.

Koz

I’m not trying to record Zoom. I’m just connecting with no other applications running on my computer.

I still have the mystery: There is no reason for my laptop to have a 1/2 second latency when it is up to date, has ample resources, and is doing nothing else. It happens even when I’m not running Zoom, and the only thing it is doing is listening to the microphone and playing back the signal on the headphones. While I am able to work around that for recording music by using direct monitoring on the 4i4, for Zoom and any other application that requires me to listen and speak (or play), it is unusable.

I still have the mystery: There is no reason for my laptop to have a 1/2 second latency

You can work that out by yourself, but there’s no shortage of common ways to work around it.

I have a Behringer interface that has a “direct” button on the front. When I press that, it adds my outgoing voice in real time to the incoming sound from the application in my headphones. It drops right into an Audacity overdubbing session.

I’m pretty sure the Yeti has real-time monitoring all the time, and it should be able to connect to a Zoom call if you tell Zoom that your Yeti is both headphones and microphone.

The 4i4 could have some problems because as near as I can tell, it tries to do switching and sound channel management in software. That means it can get stepped on by other software also trying to manage the sound channels. Zoom comes immediately to mind.

What happens when you connect the Yeti to a Zoom call? Plug your headphones into the Yeti.

Koz

I have been using the Yeti microphone, but I want to use the Rode analog mic because I play music on Zooms and it sounds better.

But I still have the bigger question: Is it normal to have such huge latency between any microphone input (including the onboard mic) and the output on a modern, fast, underutilized laptop? Or am I dealing with an anomaly here?

(That direct button sounds much easier than the gyrations I have to go through to get direct mode on the 4i4)

Mike

the gyrations I have to go through to get direct mode on the 4i4

I saw that in the instructions. I’m going: “You want me to do what now?”

The Samspn G-Track series has three knobs right on the side of the microphone so you can tune your own headphone mix.

Is it normal to have such huge latency

If you find a way around that, post back.

Koz