Built In Audio; LATENCY

Hi, I’m a Cubase newbie going through the online tutorials. In Devices Setup, VST Audio System, the Built-in Audio Input Latency is >13msec, and the Output Latency is >14msec:
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 9.12.46 PM.png
(I currently have no audio interface hooked up to this brand new iMac.)

Those latency’s are rather high, no? The online tutorial states "Anything above 5msec will begin to be noticeable. I apologize if I’m overlooking the obvious. Any insight you can provide to this newbie will be appreciated.

What are your buffers set to? Do you know how to change them?

I have now checked latency at various buffer settings. Here is an example screenshot documenting these measurements:
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.19.02 AM.png
From this screenshot, one can see that at Buffer Size 512 Samples, Input Latency (IL) is 32ms and Output Latency (OL) is 32 ms.
Here are other measurements:

Buffer SizeInput LatencyOutput Latency
512…32ms…32ms
384…23ms…26ms
256…15ms…20ms
192…10ms…17ms
128…9.4ms…14ms
64…5.9ms…11ms

All of the above measurements were made under the same conditions, after the iMac computer had sat all night in sleep mode, with the following apps loaded (not running) in the background (not including Cubase):
Finder, Safari, Chrome, Itunes, Quicktime, Activity Monitor, Preview. I also had a USB MIDI keyboard plugged in.

I tried unplugging and plugging in the keyboard, and turning off the background apps one at a time. There was no appreciable difference in the above values in doing so.

I rebooted the machine, and took the following couple of measurements, after opening and closing Chrome (the MIDI keyboard, and of course eLicenser, were still plugged into USB ports):

Buffer SizeInput LatencyOutput Latency
512…32ms…32ms
128…9.5ms…14ms

Are not these latency values for Built-In Audio extremely high?!

In Steinberg’s online tutorial, “Cubase 8, Chapter 2”, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6SU1pdgu2I)the IL and OL are shown (@~3:50 into the video) to be only 7.9ms and 14.7ms for Built-in Audio on his Mac. It is not clear in the video what his Buffer setting is set to for Built-in Audio.

Besides my atrocious latency values (doucumented above), here is another issue raised by that video: Why is the latency for the Yamaha Steinberg FW less than Built-in Audio?!? Built-in Audio should typically be a computer’s lowest latency configuration. Adding an external interface should not decrease latency for today’s powerful computers. How can that Steinberg EXTERNAL interface possibly being doing a lower latency A/D conversion than the motherboard A/D converter? Is the ASIO Driver adding additional (slow) processing to the Mac’s CoreAudio that consequently makes it preferential (from the perspective of minimizing latency) to use an EXTERNAL (typically expensive) interface?!?

Built-in Audio should typically be a computer’s lowest latency configuration

It isn’t and never was. Get an outboard interface for low latency audio and/or midi…
The quality of the onboard audio is crapy anyway.

Use a low buffer size for low latency. @44.1 khz; 64 =1,5msec, 128 = 3msec and so on.
Higher sample rates will give you lower latencies.

But; this is only the internal latency of your computer, the AD/DA converters (in your case those in the onboard soundcard) add latency too…

An examle: using an ASIO RME digiface @ 64 samples buffersize: the internal latency without converters is 1,5 msec @44.1khz, the measured roundtrip latency (with external AD/DA conversion) is 190 samples , thus the in/out converters also add 63 samples each (so you then have a total latency of 4,308 msec @44.1khz, the equivalent of a distance of 1,42 meter). I can play and record using huge projects with this setup on my computer without problems.

More modern AD/DA converters will have lower latencies. For example the latency of the behringer ADA8000 is 126 samples in/out, the ADA8200 has a latency of 44 samples in/out, (2x 0,55 msec). 44 +64 samples would give you a roundtrip latency of 108 samples (2,4 msec @ 44.1khz).

For lowest “real life” latency results in your project:
Use only plugins that do not add any latency.

Hope this helps.

As another noob to this when I first plugged my guitar in I had an unplayable latency of 50ms. I only have a basic Focusrite Audio Interface but looking up what to do about this I reduced the samples to 64 which brought it down to 18ms, then realised I had to set up the Audio Interface in Devices properly and that brought it down further to 10ms, then found the Audio Interface settings of “record” "balanced"and “master” and after setting it to “record” it came down to 5ms (which i understand is the target value and I assume is no accident).

I would get a Audio Interface since they are specifically designed for this sort of thing (including the drivers etc) which onboard soundcards are not. Additionally an Audio Interface should double or triple both the quality and volume of what you hear in your headphones or monitors.