MIDI Timing Troubles (Cubase 6.5.5 x64)

Hi all,

I’m having timing issues with Cubase 6.5 that I hope somebody can help me sort out. I have read so much about this problem, and haven’t found a definitive answer. So, I am curious if there even is an answer. Most threads seem to end with name-calling and people saying RTFM or check the knowledgebase; I have done both, and so far nothing has helped.

My system :

  • Intel 3930k + ASUS Sabertooth X79 + 32GB RAM + 240GB SSD (system/programs) + 1TB RAID (audio data)
  • Windows 7 Pro x64
  • RME PCIe Digiface (audio interface)
  • MOTU Micro Express (MIDI interface)
  • Cubase 6.5.5 x64

My problem is, that MIDI event are recorded 9ms early and played back 9ms late (+/- 2ms). The way I test this is:

  • Load up a metronome sound on my keyboard (Kurz PC3k has a program called Click Track)
  • Play along to the Cubase metronome, recording audio AND MIDI
  • When I’m sure I played on the beat for a bar or two, I zoom in, and notice that all MIDI is around 9ms early, while the audio is on time. BUT, when played back, they sound simultaneously, since the MIDI is played back 9ms late.

So, in this situation it’s strange, but not a huge deal since the MIDI offsets cancel out. But the problem comes in when I quantize. If I record some MIDI drums to a click, and quantize, they all play back 9ms late (on average, the jitter makes it 8-10ms). This is very noticeable, and makes them sound quite bad when played to, say, a softsynth, or a pre-recorded loop (or any audio placed on the grid). I can confirm this by recording the audio, then zooming in. The MIDI events are exactly on the grid (quantized), and the audio events are all 8-10ms late.

I have tried different keyboards and sound modules (Access Virus, Alesis QS, Kurz K2600, DSI MoPho, Fantom) and they all have the same 9ms average latency.

This is all using the MIDI ports on the USB MOTU. I then tried the RME MIDI, and that has about a 5ms latency. Better, but still off.

What I’ve tried:

  • System Timestamp boxes in every combination; checked is what I’ve settled on (unchecked the latency is more like 12ms and the jitter is around 4ms).
  • Using the reportfilter files to enable/disable emulated ports. Emulated ports have worse latency, so I stuck with the defaults (Windows MIDI ports for the MOTU, and DirectMusic for the RME).
  • Applying BlackViper’s Windows 7 optimization tips to no effect.
  • Changing buffer of the RME card. I keep it at 64- all other values have no effect.
  • Changing USB ports, and removing all extraneous USB hardware
  • Trying a different DAW. I also have SONAR X1. The MIDI in SONAR is rock solid, no latency at all.

The fact that MIDI works so well in SONAR is damning for Cubase, IMO. I personally can’t get past the bugs and crashes of SONAR so I would really rather not use it (that’s why I bought Cubase in the first place, to get away from X1). But I have a very large project I am starting, scoring a video game, and I would like to sequence it in MIDI for flexibility reasons as far as tempo etc.

My workaround is simply to offset all quantized MIDI tracks to -9ms, which works fine. I just can’t mix quantized and non-quantized MIDI on these tracks, since the non-quantized will be off. It’s irritating, but doable. I would just like to find a solution, since I don’t like having bugs in my setup.

Thank you for any help you can give me!