Mic to Headphone Latency


CPU running Windows XP (1 gig of RAM)
Audacity 2.0.0 (obtained from zip)
Alesis Multimix 8 USB
Various mics

I have my mic plugged into the Multimix, which is connected to the CPU via USB. When I try to overdub vocals, there is a delay between the time I sing and the time I hear it in my headphones. The only way to avoid this is to not listen to what I am recording as I am recording it. I prefer not to do this however because I think it’s better to hear the whole mix. I do not have this problem when I connect the mixer via a standard TRS audio cable input. I think I read elsewhere on the forum that this cannot be fixed, but is this true? Wouldn’t upgrading the memory resolve this? Is there anyone else I can do to work around it? I know there is a separate latency correction, but this is only applied AFTER recording. My problem is listening to the track WHILE recording.

Any help would be great.

The one where you sing in perfect time and it appears on the recorded track in perfect time is Recording Latency and we got that one licked. That’s a slider in setup. See instructions.

The one where you arrive in your headphones late compared to your live performance is machine latency and you’re stuck with that one. The headphone feed will always be “one computer late.”

We published the three hardware solutions in the wiki specifically to illustrate how to get around this. In each case, the headphones are plugged into the device and not the computer. The device performs the theatrical music mix – perfectly correctly.

You did read the wiki, right? I will be crushed if you say no since I helped write it.


Under some conditions, you can force your internal sound card to give you “shortcut” sound to your headphones without going through the computer, but chances of that happening are slim and in most cases that screws up the Recording Latency adjustment.

This is where not having a Digital Audio Workstation is a problem.


Your headphones should be plugged into the Alesis Multimix. Is that where they are plugged in?
“Transport menu > Software Playthrough” should be off (not selected).

Thanks koz, I did read the wiki, but I didn’t see the issue of the headphone lateny addressed. Steve points out that I should plug the headphones into the multimix, but when I do, I can only hear what I’m currently recording, not the previously recorded track.

Would upgrading the memory do anything? If not, do either of you know how I can route the playback through the multimix? I could do it by devoting one track on the multimix to playback with a cable running from the output on the computer.

Thanks to both of you for your quick responses!

You need to set Audacity to use the Multimix as the playback device in the Device Toolbar: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/device_toolbar.html

Steve, I managed to get the playback through the multimix, but I’m having the same delay issue. Thank you though, because I feel like I’m closer to the solution.

I can get it to record in synch with previous tracks by turning off the software play through, but then I can only hear the previous tracks and not the one I’m recording. Is there any way to be able to listen to both without the latency? Audacity fixes the latency after it’s recorded, but it doesn’t help when I’m recording. It sounds like I’m drunk when I sing (and I swear I’m not). I can manage if it turns out I can only listen to playback and not the new live track, but I’m afraid people I record with may need this feature.

Then you have the computer and Audacity set up correctly.

Now for the bad news. :frowning:

What you would normally do, is to have the computer and Audacity set up as above, then use the mixer to route both the main out and the 2 track input through to the headphones so that you have “direct monitoring” (zero latency) of what you are playing, combined with playback from the computer.

I’ve been looking through the Alesis Multi-mix manual and sadly it appears that Alesis have missed out that feature. There appears to only be a switch for monitoring either the main out “or” the 2 track in. This is a problem for overdub recording with Audacity.

Your options:

What Alesis expect you to do is to use a DAW that supports ASIO (such as Cubase, Reaper, Sonar…)
With ASIO you can set up routing of the input and output through to the USB in the computer. Essentially this is the same as using “Software Playthrough” in Audacity, but because ASIO is a lot more efficient than the standard Windows drivers, the amount of delay is much shorter, typically less than 20 ms rather than half a second for Audacity. Unfortunately Audacity cannot be shipped with ASIO support due to licensing restriction. So option 1, use a DAW that supports ASIO instead of Audacity. :frowning:

Option 2. Connect the “Main Out” and the “Control Room Out” to any audio device that can accept 2 simultaneous inputs and has a headphone out. This could be an audio amp or a mini-mixer or similar. This is the hardware that (to keep the cost down) Alesis have apparently missed out.

Option 3. Don’t bother with monitoring the live input through your headphones. If you are using a microphone into the mixer, then presumably you can hear the sound source (your voice or whatever) acoustically. Some artists prefer to monitor in this way and listen to the previous tracks through one side of the headphones leaving the other ear uncovered.

Thanks again! If I continue with Audacity, I will likely use the external mixer idea but since the mixer came with Cubase, I think I may be switching. I got the playback to work almost flawlessly with no setup. With tinkering, it’ll be perfect. Still, Audacity is great for its price tag: free. Thanks again!

You need to set Audacity to use the Multimix as the playback device in the Device Toolbar

Hello there,
I have set Audacity but after that, I’m not using the Multimix as the playback device.

What are you talking about? Do you need help with something?