Outboard MIDI variably later than Audio on track

Hello -

I finally got around to testing my system in terms of MIDI and Audio timing. I don’t use VSTi’s that much, so I did my test with a hardware synth. I didn’t put this in the “MIDI Timing suggestion in recorded VST instruments” thread, because there are no VST instruments discussed in mine. If people think this should nevertheless be folded into the other thread, I’d be happy to do that.

I found that when I hit a note (a single sharp wood-block note) on my Yamaha Motif synth, with USB MIDI and Audio connected to my Delta 66 soundcard set at a buffer of 256 msec, 44.1KHz, I got the following results:

Hit #1: MIDI appeared 59 samples AFTER audio.
Hit #2: MIDI appeared 46 samples AFTER audio.
Hit #3: MIDI appeared 100 samples AFTER audio.

Hit #1: MIDI appeared 307 samples BEFORE audio.
Hit #2: MIDI appeared 191 samples BEFORE audio.
Hit #3: MIDI appeared 211 samples BEFORE audio.
Hit #4: MIDI appeared 130 samples BEFORE audio.
Hit #5: MIDI appeared 192 samples BEFORE audio.

I’m guessing (?? … any comments here to help me understand it better would be appreciated) that the apparent “early” MIDI relative to audio when Local Control is set to OFF actually reflects: … a delay in audio getting printed (?? since Local Control is OFF, the audio isn’t printed on the track until Cubase receives the MIDI, sends it back out to the synth, then the synth sends the audio to the sound card with its 256 buffer delay, then on to Cubase).

Any comments on this would be much appreciated. Thanks!


Did you made these tests repeatedly with sending different MIDI notes, different sample rate? How long cables do you have? Did you try to use Motif as sound card (if it’s possible?)? Did you try to use both analog and digital connection of Motif to the Delta? Any results?

To tell the truth, I’m not surprised. Local Off Delay is logical of course.

Good questions, but all the testing I have done is in my OP.

I did this because I believe some people had mentioned in various threads that their MIDI “earliness” was occurring with MIDI being played from outboard synths, not just VSTi’s. I didn’t recall that, so I quantified it here. No “earliness” occurring with my MIDI at all as far as I can tell.

I see.

Btw, which MIDI driver (system) did you use? There are an emulated ports… Maybye this can make differences too.

Good questions again!

Windows MIDI is the only Device that shows up in my MIDI Port Setup window. I have the “Use System Timestamp” box checked.

The “IgnorePortFilter” and “enableemulated” files are still located in the “Midi Port Enabler” folder in the main Cubase Six folder.

I vote to keep this separate thread which is separating out the VSTi variable and confusion.

From what I understand, I think the DirectMusic MIDI drivers are designed to resolve some of these timing issues. Windows MIDI is limited. Your numbers (local control on) translate to 1 - 3 ms after which isn’t too too bad. I have 13 msec (Firepod MIDI) and 7 ms (USB Midi). And these are both Windows MIDI.

I did a little check to see about Delta 66. I didn’t see a USB MIDI connection, so I am little confused on that. Can you clarify the MIDI connections?

My question - is there a USB<-> DIN5 MIDI convertor that has a DirectMusic driver?

Hi Steady Eddie - The USB goes straight into my computer, not the sound card/interface.

Curious, I just noticed you post and thought I’d throw this in… Last year I picked up a Motif Rack-es. In the course of reading up on it I found an review article in SOS magazine that talked about the original Motif suffering from a MIDI latency problem that was never resolved. They specifically said that the Rack-ES version DID not suffer form this.

I wonder if you’re running the keyboard equivalent of the original Motif and perhaps it has a similar issue???

I’m not at all sure of this but I am sure that I read about this problem in the orginal rack Motif and it was a hardware review article in SOS.

Hope this helps.

Hello Karl - Thanks for that!

Yes you are remember correctly, the original Motif Rack suffered from major MIDI timing problems that remained unresolved to the end of its product cycle (as an aside, it is completely beyond me how a major piece of gear can be released with such major problems … and never get fixed). http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may05/articles/yamahamotifes.htm

The question is whether the original Motif hardware synth suffered from similar problems. I don’t recall ever reading anything about that. Having said that, even if I’m wrong, in a real sense it doesn’t matter to me that much … if my math is right, the MIDI delay is just 1-2 msec compared to the audio (at the settings I wrote in my OP). My playing and ear are not so good that that is a problem for me!

Thanks - BTW - how do you like that Motif Rack ES? :smiley:

The Motif rack is VERY NICE! Fantastic sounds and capabilities. I picked it up to use for doing some live shows. Really a remarkable unit. Got it for a great price too (as usual, on ebay).

If your delays only amount to 1-2 msec, thats pretty imperceptible. I can start to hear 5-6 msec latencies but below that, pretty well invisible (unless I’m singing and have cans on monitoring…chorusing effect is fairly obvious but not so bad that it really throws me off.

edit: sorry that’s just pretty messed results.

are you sure your system is even stable?


SOS: Dec 07, Martin Walker:The test itself is easy, and is exactly the same for any sequencer. Start by creating a song running at 120bpm, and make sure Auto Quantise is disabled; create a MIDI part lasting several bars; and then use the pencil tool to fill it with continuous 16th notes. Route the output of this track to the MIDI Out to be tested. Next, create a second MIDI track and leave its output unconnected but route its input to the MIDI In to be tested. Finally, connect a MIDI cable between this MIDI output and input, then select the second track and record for several bars, so that the hand-drawn notes from the first track are passed through the MIDI output, then back through the MIDI input and recorded onto the second track.

Another neat trick is to do the same tests after installing a Virtual MIDI Cable (VMC) … My best setting was Windows MIDI with timestamp enabled, when I measured random note timing offsets between 0ms and 3ms with the Maple VMC loopback, and delays of between 1ms and 4ms with my Emu MIDI port loopback. > In other words, the combination of my motherboard timers, Windows and Cubase alone produced a maximum jitter of 3ms, while the jitter was identical after adding my MIDI port, but with 1ms additional latency (which ties in with my MIDItest utility latency and jitter results). > Bear in mind also that these results are the total of both MIDI input and output jitter: when using VST Instruments you’d only experience the input side, giving a likely MIDI jitter of possibly 1.5ms.

Just to close the loop: His MIDI jitter using virtual loop back cables was up to 3 msec (note: this bypasses his MIDI interface, so any latency and jitter is purely from “in the box”).

Though it’s not exactly the same test, since my measurements are relative to my audio rather than an absolute MIDI measurement, I think this shows my max jitter is about 1 msec (41 samples at 44.1K). I’m interpreting all this to mean that MIDI jitter, thus MIDI timing variability, of a few msec is unavoidable, and that my system is pretty well tuned in that respect.

Any comments from people who actually know what they’re doing (unlike moi) would be much appreciated!

Thanks -