Can someone explain why vocal sounds lag?

I am very confused as to why vocal sounds have a lag.

Can someone explain this to me? Is there a way to have them perform right on the beat with no lag?


I suspect it’s simply that the attack on the sounds are too slow, compared to other sounds. You could try experimenting with the ‘Breath Amount’ and ‘Amp Attack’ parameters in the HALion Sonic SE window to see if you find any combination of those settings works any better.

I am experiencing the same problem.
Playing with the controls Daniel mentioned does not make any difference.
Moreover: The lag is not a constant, it increases with time. In other words the voices go through the process at a lower speed.


Ugh. The second I heard those vocal patches I switched them to piano. Attack is sludgy and the overall timbre is dull.

I’ve also been suffering from the vocal lag. I was thinking it was just me (or my machine), so quite glad to know that others have the same problem.

I have to say that overall I’m enjoying experimenting with Dorico. As others have noted, the layout seems to work well by default (and typically better than my efforts in the past with Sibelius and Finale).

I compose (mostly) unaccompanied choral music and I agree that the sounds have quite a strange, dull timbre. They currently lack the brightness of the Sibelius ‘Ah’ patches (which I am not fond of either). Much better sound with the Kontakt choir sounds, but it would be good to have a better Steinberg default (please!)

Still suffering from this problem - the lag increases when there are more notes in other parts. Very noticeable! Any more recent solutions? Thanks!

I haven’t tried this, but you could select all notes, filter to make sure you have only notes selected and nothing else, then in the properties panel below, set the voice start offset to something like -30. You can play around with that. There are 480 units in a quarter notes, if I remember correctly.

The trouble is that the delay seems variable!

Andrew Chadwick

I’m quite surprised: this thread was born with Dorico 1, five years ago. Since then, Olympus micro choir was included in Dorico to make up for the flaws of the original vocal sounds in HSO (or HSSE, I don’t know. They were unusable)
Could you provide a file exhibiting the problem, so that we can really try and help you? Which library are you using?

Thanks Marc, that was the first vocal sound I found. Perhaps Steinberg need to withdraw it I will have a look at the library you recommend. For the moment so have a workaround using a flute so our singer can hear her line. Happy to provide the file with HSO vocal though, if that is useful for diagnostics

Andrew Chadwick

A bit of housekeeping: it looks like you’re replying directly from email, and appending your mobile phone number (possibly as a signature?) to each post.

Such information is likely to be ‘harvested’ by spammers, sadly.

As for the issue at hand: a sample file, plus an audio export, would be useful. I only rarely use the bundled Olympus voices, but lag is not my main problem with them.

Thanks for the warning on phone number, now edited out. Good point. Here is an incomplete Dorico file and corresponding zipped
Faure songs b.dorico (1.4 MB)
audio export from an early draft of this arrangement. The voice slows down very audibly between bars 18 and 24 and then is OK at the next entry. The piano part is rendered using Pianoteq which may be competing for processing, but is in time. Strange. I have now switched to a flute sound from HSO which keeps in time…
Faure songs b - Clair de Lune with voice lag (1.8 MB)

Olympus Micro Choir is much better; zip of audio for same arrangement attached. I had to wind down the reverb a lot from the default. It is clearly a choir, though, rather than solo voice.
As the option only shows ‘Olympus Micro’ on the menu, and I am using Dorico Pro which may not automatically select this version for voice, I had missed this option completely. Adding the word ‘Choir’ might help new users find this, perhaps?
Faure songs b - Clair de Lune Olympus Micro Choir much less (1.6 MB)
Aside: I did finish the arrangement of the first song and after we have rehearsed, and perhaps after I’ve added two more Faure/Verlaine songs as ‘flows’ it would be happy to share it freely.

1 Like

I turned on the metronome to get a clearer picture. It’s a bit hard against the syncopation in the piano!

There’s definitely something screwy here. I f I select a bar of the vocal line and press P (just to solo that part), then it plays perfectly in time. But (even though I don’t have Pianoteq, and am using a different piano sample), when all play together, it gets late.

In Play mode, I removed all automation and Reset Playback Overrides, but that doesn’t seem to help.

Here’s a render of that Dorico file with a couple of tweaks:
Faure songs b - Clair de (2.2 MB)

The metronome is turned on so it’s easier to hear but beware of long silence in the end - empty bars in the file are rendered automatically.

I noticed a couple of issues with the original Dorico file itself, mostly with incorrect expression maps, dynamics and offsets:

  1. Viola should have “Modwheel Dynamics” expression map assigned, so that CC1 is triggered as the correct dynamics controller. A second pass to review dynamics markings will help a lot and of course manually drawing or recording the continuous controller in addition to written markings is the best approach.

  2. Selecting and filtering all viola notes and then applying playback start & end offset of about “-30” helps keep in time. However, viola struggles to play legato double notes (bars 6, 14, 15), and they should be manually edited in the key editor, which I haven’t done. The delay is still audible in these bars. This might be fixable if a proper expression map is created for it and “Legato Fast” is specifically applied to double or fast notes, but I haven’t done this so it’s just speculation.

  3. The Choir/Voice part should have its expression map set to “Default” - that’s because this instrument responds to velocity for dynamics instead of modwheel.

  4. I applied approximately “-80” to playback start and end offset to get the voice play in time. These types of offsets are practically inevitable for any instrument that has the ability to produce variable attack (strings, voice, woodwinds, brass) - it’s the effort to preserve the attack that results in the delay that has to be manually adjusted.

  5. I also adjusted the settings in the mixer and applied a reverb preset once the expression maps were reassigned. And finally, all these instruments sound pretty bad because there is only a single articulation used throughout and there are no expression maps created. As I mentioned earlier, manually drawing dynamics is always a plus.

Thanks for all that work. An educational process for me. I’m lucky in that my scores usually get played by humans, so I just needed enough to check the notation was correct and for the singer to get used to this transposition.

If you do this often, it probably makes sense to create a playback template for this workflow that includes the instruments, their expression maps and pre-balanced volume and reverb levels, so that you don’t have to do the same thing from zero every time. Or simply apply the HALion template

I have forked out for the Spitfire iconic strings (great solo viola samples!) and worked out how to use UACC via #32, so that is progress I guess. Thanks for pointing me in a useful direction.

1 Like

Anytime, and ping me if you need any help!

1 Like