How to eliminate latency when recording live?

Pro Tools has their HDX card and DSP mode, which eliminates latency. If I were to use Nuendo to record live, how would you eliminate latency? Reducing the buffer isn’t enough and with the amount of tracks I’m playing back, I’ll be lucky if I can set the buffer to 256, which creates too much latency when recording live.

Get a sound card that offers ASIO direct monitoring. The steinberg interfaces offer this. Best are RME as their mixing software (TotalMix) is amazing.

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Would I be able to record with plugins (ex: reverb, fx, comp, etc…) or would that create latency?

Depends on what you mean: If you want the plugins applied just to the recorded signal, not the part you are monitoring, then no problem. While they will introduce latency, you won’t hear it. If you want them in the monitoring chain they will.

…However what you can do is just use the RME itself to do FX for monitoring. It doesn’t have advanced FX and you can’t load your own plugins, but they can do EQ, compression, and reverb. So you can use that for the monitoring chain with no latency.

You then have the option if you want to record those effects or not. It can route them into the signal that goes to the DAW. Then what you hear is what gets recorded, but of course they are baked in to the signal. Or you can have it not do that, and they can just be for your monitoring purposes, and the DAW gets a dry signal and you apply FX on that internally.

RME has a video on the basics of it on their site you can check out.

If I were doing it, I’d use TotalMix’s FX just for monitoring. Just set a basic reverb and compression so that it sounds pleasant in the monitoring, and then process the dry signal in the DAW with the plugins I actually want to use.

Also depending on the RME interface you get and the power of your system, you might find you can lower the buffer even more. I normally operate my system on a 128 buffer and that causes no issues. I can cut it down to 64 and it still works, though it does get spikey there and I have to be careful.

I have been using Focusrite’s RedNet Dante enabled hardware for a few years now. With a laptop, the I/O delay is around 4 mS (milliseconds). With the PCIe card on a tower, is is a little over 1 mS. The same performance as the Avid HDX cards,without the price.

Thanks for the info, Sycraft-w. If I use the TotalMix FX app, can I use it with the MTRX Studio and Lynx Aurora N, or do I need an RMX interface? Also what PCIe card do I need? I’m using a Mac Studio Ultra.

Thanks noeqplease. Good to know.

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You have to have an RME interface. TotalMix is just a control panel for the hardware, basically. It doesn’t do any processing in the software. The RME interfaces have an onboard mixer, how big depends on the interface some of them have thousands (the HDSPe MADI FX has a 4096-channel mixer) as well as a DSP that can do simple effects like EQ, compression, reverb and echo. TotalMix is what you use to interface with that onboard power and control things like levels, routing, FX and so on.

If you wanted a PCIe card the HDSPe line is what you want. The AIO Pro is a good choice if you do stereo audio. Stereo analogue I/O, AES I/O, ADAT I/O, and a headphone jack. All the basics, and it is probably the sole lowest latency card you can get out there.

If you need more channels, then it depends on the format. The have the RayDAT which has 4x ADAT so as many as 32 channels, depending on sample rate. The AES has 16 channels of, you guessed it, AES. The MADI FX is the big one with 3 MADI I/Os meaning 192 channels in and 192 channels out.

If you want something with more analogue I/O on board, or just more options in general, then you have to move to the USB offerings. Their PCIe stuff is all “Here’s a card that does this one thing really well,” the USB ones have more functions. Despite being USB, they are still very low latency. RME makes really good USB interfaces.

Another option for you, since you are a Mac user, is the stuff from UAD. I don’t like them as much, in part because their Windows drivers are garbage and I’m a Windows user, but they make interfaces with very powerful DSP chips on board. They are more flexible and you can use special plugins from them on the DSPs and thus get basically zero latency with them. Only works with the plugins specially for that, not just any plugin, but it does have more options than RME which is just their basic FX.

Something else to keep in mind is that your total latency is going to vary between brands even at a given ASIO (or CoreAudio) buffer size because it is one only of the buffers that there is and many of them aren’t made transparent to the user. So you can sometimes find an interface that works well at “32 samples” yet still has a few ms of latency, because of the other safety and DAC/ADC buffers it has.

Sycraft-w, thank you for the info. I appreciate it.

Say I go with one of the PCIe cards, I’m running my setup via Dante. How would I integrate the card?

Dante does provide a PCIe card. The PCIeR, which can do up to 128channels. It gives you the lowest latency possible, around 1mS. You still would need a converter unit to interface to that card. But, once you’re in the Dante world, it becomes easier to network other systems to what you have,including using several computers to stream audio between them, author Atmos on a second DAW if needed,etc. And there are tons of brands which have Dante capability,like consoles, speaker amplifiers, etc.

Do you already own the MTRX Studio? Though I love my Dante setup…it is another can of worms to open and more expensive when you factor in a converter etc. Dante is a great way to go if you specifically need high track count and to send the audio over long distances.

I you are looking to track w plugins I might go with (as much as I hate to say it) universal audio…but only if you are on a Mac.

Also please note that the Dante pcie cards are no loner manufactured by Yamaha or Focusrite…though there is this

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noeqplease and Sunshiny, thanks for the info. I have both the MTRX Studio and Lynx Aurora N. Since I’ll be using Nuendo, I need the lowest amount of latency going in. I also have a Bricasti connected to my Dante setup using an AVIO AES adapter. Knowing this, would I be able to use the PCIeR with relatively no latency?

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I am not familiar with any of those pieces. But Dante and the PCIE card will give you the lowest latency possible. Remember you have to add your computer’s latency on top of that for the RTL (round trip latency).

Hey guys, do you know if the HDX is ASIO compatible for Direct monitoring? Just wondering if this is even possible. Thanks

Hi Dean, you’d have to ask over on the Avid forum for that… regarding ASIO and the HDX.

From what I have here, and Avid PCI cards prefer using their proprietary interfaces and drivers. I used to have a Focusrite Rednet hardware that connected directly to the Accel cards I own, and then allowed me to use that Pro Tools system as if it were connected to an Avid hardware, but using Dante instead. 32 channels IO is all I needed. It used their “TDM” drivers.