playback latency

OK, I switched audio interfaces from a Roland Duo Capture to a FocusRite Sapphire. Right now, I wish I hadn’t upgraded but I still have 30 days to evaluate for FocusRite.

When I bought the Roland, I plugged it in and it worked … all aspects. Now that I am replacing it with the FocusRite, things did not work out of the box. Couldn’t hear sound on my speakers. Couldn’t record. I eventually got things to work but it was a wrestling match.

One of the things I solved recently was recording latency. I did the microphone loopback thing and all is well. My problem now is playback latency. In other words, when I simply play audio in Audacity, the sound is about a half second behind the waveform on my screen.

Did you upgrade for a non-audio reason? If your new device is a lot more powerful or versatile than your older one, you may have run out of computer horsepower. Odd delays like that may mean the computer can’t keep up with all the tasks.

Did the new device come with software drivers and did you look for newer ones on-line?

Are you running other software like Skype or other audio programs? Is your hard drive filling up or fragmented?

Did you keep the receipts?


ha, i kept the receipts!

yes, I am working with the most up-to-date drivers as I’ve spent some time on the phone with focus-rite.

I’m not running skype or any other audio programs when mixing and recording. Not that it matters as this is a new pc with an abundance of processing power (16 GB Intel Core i5 @ 3.4GHz).

Finally, I am using an ssd drive that is mostly free-space.

Again, this is “playback” latency … not “recording” latency. When recording multiple vocal tracks, I need Audacity’s playback line on the waveform to match the accompaniment so that I know exactly when to come in for particular notes and how long to hold them.

Which video card do you have? If you have a slow video card and a killer monitor requiring frame conversion, the framerates and refresh intervals in all the systems may not line up fast enough to do split beat accuracy. I have a system like that and I have award-winning lip sync problems. Audio has nothing to do with it.

You are listening to the backing track while you record new sounds on their own fresh track, right? I can’t think of a musical reason you would need the cursor to be split second accurate.

Your new sounds are put down in their own track and you can use the Time Shift Tool (sideways black arrows) to push everything into alignment, so you don’t have to hit it precisely during the recording. You can cure a lot of problems like that in post production. If your new work isn’t on its own track by itself, then you may have set up Overdubbing wrong.


Everyone is going round and round trying to figure out the cause but we know what the cause is … the FocusRite Saffire 14. Remember, all was well before I replaced my Roland Duo Capture with the Saffire. So, the Saffire is the problem.

Let’s focus on solutions. Does anyone know of a way to adjust “playback latency”?

FYI: yes, you are correct, I don’t “need” this but it sure was nice when I had it. You see, when doing harmonies, I like to watch the wave form to know exactly when to start a note and when to release it based on the other vocal tracks previously recorded.

we know what the cause is … the FocusRite Saffire 14.

Then return it. I don’t think there’s anybody on the forum that has one and if we haven’t hit something by now, there may be no good solution.

You violated the decision making process. Start with the show design and goals and then go on to buy hardware that does it. If this doesn’t do it, then buy hardware that does – or stay with what you had.


Ha! I wanted to use my spdif VRM box but the Roland Duo did not have SPDIF. Guitar Center does not carry the Rolland Quad and the Saffire was the only interface in that pricepoint with spdif. Anyway, back to the Roland Duo tomorrow.

We truly have no idea why it’s behaving like that and no good way to find out. Audacity is a complete slave to the computer and equipment surrounding it.

I’m going to send Guitar Center a Get Well card. I attended a tiny voice and music performance at a bookstore in Pasadena a month or so ago. I know the performer and he had a metric ton of amplification and special effects equipment with him – all this in a tiny bookstore after hauling it all with his Prius. He had some voice effects trouble and claimed he was going to take the stack back to Guitar Center – again. So if he continued the idea of performing like that, it would be his third pass.

I talked to him later and he said the latest version seemed to work OK.

I used to think Guitar Center was overpriced, but now I’m less sure.


To make sure, open the Audacity Recording Preferences and set the Audio to Buffer to as low as you can without the playback or recording breaking up.

Look for similar settings in the Saffire if it has a control panel.


OMG … that did it!!! Why didn’t the people at FocusRite know this?

FYI: Audacity sets the default buffering to 100 and strongly recommends you leave it that way. I tried a setting of 0 and 1 and couldn’t play anything back. However, the setting of 50 was MAGICAL!!!

Thanks Gale!!!

To be fair, I’ve not known that setting to make a lot of difference unless set to extremes, so I’m quite surprised that a change from 100 to 50 has made so much difference. Thanks for the feedback - useful information.

If the Saffire has a buffer setting and it’s set too high, it could be the explanation.