Question for Chris/Helge re: low latency in Cubase

Hi Chris/Helge and all at the Cubase development team,

I’m currently a Logic user (and have been for a few years, previously having used Cubase for a decade, up to SX4), and I’d first like to say how impressed I am with the way you guys work with Cubase users on this forum to listen to their suggestions and make improvements to Cubase via updates. While Logic has had some excellent version updates in recent years, the Apple moderators on the Logic forum are there purely to delete posts that they deem unflattering to Apple and Logic. They provide no feedback, no clues to forthcoming updates, or acknowledgement to users’ concerns and requests. So as a previous user who is very keen to return, thank you for the way you listen to customers and communicate directly with them!

I have just downloaded the trial version of Cubase 6, and it is magnificent! Almost all the reasons for my move to Logic have been addressed perfectly (while Logic remains buggy and its maintenance apparently a low priority at Apple). Based on the trial, I am very keen to look at making the move back!

However, I am keen for your feedback and thoughts on one thing that really concerns me about the Logic to Cubase move - the way in which Cubase handles low-latency for virtual instruments and for monitoring audio with effects in real-time. Logic does this very well, even at low latencies of 64 or 128 samples (which are necessary for using BFD and other virtual drums with a Roland V-Drums kit - where even slight latency makes drum tracking difficult). Cubase really seems to struggle, even on my Mac Pro, at latencies below 512 samples.

Logic’s way of handling buffers and latency is impressive (and unique amongst DAWs, I believe) - it has a “buffer setting” option, which refers ONLY to the buffer used for the active recording track, and then all other tracks that are playing back operate at a high buffer (of 1024 samples, I believe), so that they are not adding pressure to the processor. As a result, even with tens of tracks, each with plenty of effects running, you can still add a new track - either a virtual instrument or an audio track - with the benefit of incredibly low latency running a buffer of 64 or 128 samples.

The purpose of this post is to provide feedback to you and ask for your views on this. It’s going to be difficult to move back to Cubase with the potential for a relatively small track count to cause crackles and/or processor overload warnings if operating at a low buffer setting. I get a sense that Mac users generally agree, on this forum, that this is the one area that Cubase struggles in, and would love to see a real step forward allowing complex projects with high track count and numerous effects to still allow additional tracks to be recorded at low latency.

I am desperately keen to move back to Cubase - the interface is so much clearer and snappier than Logic’s, everything is stable, audio editing is far better, and the icing on the cake is the great support and interaction Steinberg developers offer on this forum, in stark contrast to my Apple experience.

Would you be able to provide insight on whether improvements are in the pipeline with regard to Mac based Cubase users, either through the introduction of separate buffers for recording and playback tracks, or some other development? It would mean a lot to me to know if this can be expected, and roughly when it might occur, and would make my decision to move back to Cubase an absolute certainty.

Many thanks for reviewing this lengthy post, and thanks in anticipation for your thoughts on this issue.


I would also want to see the latency addressed. Also stability of Cubase could be better - at least I have been suffering from Cubase freezing/crashing now and then. It has been the same in Cubase 5 (32 bit, 64 bit) and Cubase 6 64 bit.

I upgraded my PC to Win 7 and a 6 core chip + 8 Gb RAM and thought that problems would be gone but they were just reduced a little.

I have been desperate for low latency for years. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I don’t know whether the Logic scheme is proprietary or would require re-coding from scratch or what not-but I think if it was ever going to happen, it would have already. It’s the only thing I really really want from the Logic side.

I’m glad to see I’m not the only one here testing the Cubase waters again. My first sequencer was Cubase Score 1.0, then during my PC years Cakewalk and Cubase, then DP then Logic as my main one from version 7 to now on 9. I too would love the low latency from Logic…that is something I missed right away. Having the slaves helps in this situation.

I would also love to see a better import feature aka Logic’s way of bringing in tracks or settings from another project.


How low do you all need the latency to be? Real world latency (of real instruments and hardware FX and real building reverb FX) is considerably larger than the 3ms I can get with Cubase although I run it, for a safe margin at 5ms with no ill effects.
I’d be very surprised if most of you can’t acheive that without a Cubase rewrite.

I’d also be very surprised if Mac Pro’s were unable to get low enough but I see one user, like me is running a PC system.
I use an i7 based system with, for the platform, quite modest specs.

Hi There,

I’m happy with latency 5ms or so (which is achieved with a buffer of 128 samples, on my system) - I don’t want to give the impression that my post is a request for ridiculously low latency figures in Cubase.

My concern is more that once a few tracks are running (let’s say 10 tracks) with a couple (perhaps 2 or 3) effects on each track, recording additional tracks with the buffer of 128 samples still in place becomes impossible. The audio breaks up, and it becomes necessary to move to 256 or 512 samples, at which point there is a noticeable lag… especially when recording BFD drum parts with the Roland V-drum kit. By this point the lag feels un-natural.

So my request is more to do with whether Cubase will feature two different buffer settings in the way Logic does (the record buffer, which can be set very low, and then an independent buffer for all playback tracks, which defaults to a high setting - 1024 samples I believe). The performance difference is huge, and for Mac users this remains the only reason that Logic has any appeal left (in my view) over Cubase. In every other area, it is sub-standard when compared to Cubase!

I’m very keen for comments and input from Chris and Helge, or any others from the Steinberg team on this!


Conman is here to help on this, pay attention to his thoughts about computer build.

I am not even running Win7 yet, and on a C2Q at 256 samples, I am hitting 5.33 ms delay. As to increasing my track count and having audio issues occur as a result? No, not here. I typically run 30 tracks and nothing changes. True, I have not tried 50 tracks but I doubt there would be an issue.

I hate to read about guys with audio issues in general, because I typically think it has little to do with the software. No, I didn’t always think this way when my first P4 was struggling with my noob background. But I learned. I hope you get your concerns worked out, but I also think that Steinberg in general is using this software without issue, as are many here, and the mention of ‘audio crackles’ etc. doesn’t have much impact. Sure, it’s a drag for you, but the logic says that the software is working very well and NOT causing this.

Have you tried turning on “Constrain Delay Compensation”?

(Second from left top menu bar).

Hi There,

Thanks for this feedback - definitely keen to listen to any suggestions Conman or others have.

I have a feeling from what I have read on this forum that the situation with Windows is very different to Mac, and that Windows users such as you are able to get great performance from Cubase.

Logically speaking though, if I am able to get the expected performance (track count, low buffer, lots of effects running) under Logic on my Mac, then if everything else remains unchanged and Cubase performs noticeably worse, it would suggest that Cubase doesn’t do as well on Mac.

I also know that Cubase uses a single buffer for recording and playback tracks, rather than the dual-buffer method Logic employs, and I really think that is what gives Logic such an edge.

Unfortunately, in a lot of other ways (stability, bug fixes, and general usability) Logic is really far behind Cubase, so if the performance of Cubase on a Mac was comparable, I would absolutely make the change. And from the posts of other Mac users on this forum, I suspect many others would too!

Thanks again for your thoughts!


This does help, but of course it means that several plug in effects are disabled when the Constrain is enabled.

Have you looked the “Freeze” function. I don’t know if it will help with latency but I would imagine it would.
Look at page 211 of the pdf manual.
“Effect plug-ins can sometimes require a lot of processor power. If you are using a large number of insert effects for a track, you may reach a point where the computer cannot play back the track properly (the CPU overload indicator in the VST Performance window lights up, you get crack- ling sounds, etc.).
To remedy this, you can freeze the track, by clicking the Freeze button in the Inspector.”

I’m going to make sort of a wild uneducated generalization here…so forgive me. I’m a happy windows user, peacefully coexisting with all the other platforms and users so not trying to start a platform competition.

Would it be fair to assume that mac users may be less likely to run a dedicated audio instance of their operating system, optimized, among other methods, by disabling most of the great eye-candy and visual effects?

I turn off pretty much everything but font smoothing, maybe a couple other things I feel like I need to make a decent looking, but very plain desktop experience, which is mostly beholden to the low-latency I need out of this thing when it counts.

That said, let me add something useful for everyone running into this problem when further low-latency tracking is required, after you’ve added too many effects for that to be a reality. You can easily export audio into a new project - there’s a checkbox for this in the audio export and it pops right up automatically afterwards. At that point you have a stereo track with no effects, so you can go back to your lowest latency. Track away at 64 samples to your heart’s content. When you’re done, export those tracks, and import them back into your main mix and mix at some higher latency setting.

On my mbp cubase definetly isnt buggy.Only crash i get is when pitch shift is in process and i push cancel, thats it.

Latency is another issue, i make quick song export to a empty song, then rec vocals with 128 buffer and then import vox back to original song for processing, 64 buffer is impossible with only few tracks, original song wave and vocals empty rec tracks.
I dont see this way of working changing for some time now cause im using lots of cpu hungry multi sample instruments, id presume it will be the same in logic, for me. But its a known thing that cubase is way too cpu hungry anyways compared to logic, but logic is way too minimal for me, lack and time consumig audio processing for example. Good topic anyways, if we dont push steiny then who else :mrgreen: finest christmas time to all!

Hi Jay,

Thanks for your suggestions - it has occurred to me that I could export existing tracks to a new project to free up resources for additional recording at low latency… but I was keen to avoid these additional steps if possible!

My Mac Pro is purely used for music and runs with an RME UFX interface, which is generally regarded well as far as low-latency drivers go. I use separate hard drives for audio / virtual instruments / the OS, so I consider my system to be well set up and optimised for music production. In Logic it doesn’t run into these issues, so I don’t think I need to re-think any other parts of my setup to improve performance.

Thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate them.


I agree - the purpose of this topic is definitely to ask Steinberg for a performance improvement for Mac users, but to ask respectfully rather than demand! They seem very open to feedback and discussion on this forum, so I’m just keen to open up this topic for discussion and hopefully hear back from some of the Steinberg guys to see if they can shed some light on what’s to come, possibly even in a Cubase 6.5 release or something along those lines!

This should not be happening. You should have ample power to do much more than this. CPU looks like it is being overloaded somewhere.
Might this:

Be a clue?
And what “known thng”? Show where it has been officially announced other than pot-boiler forums spouting “facts”, or it doesn’t exist. Beware of making uncorroborated quotes. It doesn’t help your case.

In conclusion I’d say that it’s your sample instruments that need looking at and not Cubase, which works for the vast majority of users.
But even if it is the sample instruments you should not get a lag. You would be more likely to get audio break-up.
You may find you need to tweak the BIOS (is your onboard soundcard off?) and/or look at the startup programs.

Beware being too quick to shout “Bug!” at absolutely everything that doesn’t work as I seem to see more users and their systems with bugs than I do any software with bugs and that is any software.
The real bugs are usually obvious with both types. :mrgreen:
Not really aimed at Yeloop but to stop it creeping in in this case.

Understood, just wanted to throw this out there. If you try it, you might see how very quick and painless this particular operation can be.

Often, after I’ve added a lot of processing, I want to add some more guitar with a VST amp sim, so I need to hear the amp as I’m tracking, and so also need to monitor through Cubase at low latency. This solution, after a couple times, has turned out to be pretty quick and not prone to killing inspiration…which I fully-understand happens so easily.

I might give it a try then - I’ll also spend a bit more time using the Constrain Delay Compensation option and see if I can benefit from that.

I’m still keen to hear Steinberg’s thoughts on this issue though - it’s been documented and discussed enough on this forum for there to be a clear discrepancy between the experience Windows users have and the experience Mac users receive, as far as high track counts and low latency.

I know that the Steinberg guys are very active on this forum (which I think is great) - so I’m hoping they will make some comments soon.

Thanks heaps to all those who have put forward ideas!


Very interesting thread…

It seems to me that one assumption that DAW writers have made is that it’s necessary to tie together the sound card buffer size with the DAW buffer size. Now, consider that I run my card at 256 samples, why should my DAW app also run at 256 samples? Could it not run at 1024 e.g. prepare 4 buffers worth for the sound card at once? Then when I want to monitor live my DAW uses two different buffer sizes, 1024 for most plugins, but 256 for my monitored channels. I wonder if this decoupling would make a difference to the smoothness of the system?

Also, I’d have thought there was some mileage in having an adjustable pre-render buffer (like disk pre-fetch but for the audio) which calculates the audio well in advance of piping out to the sound card. Thus again smoothing out any bits of my song which cause CPU overloads and allowing another chance at calculation and catchup before hitting the audio outputs.


Hi Mike,

This is EXACTLY how Logic does it! It has a buffer setting (called “I/O Buffer Size”) which refers only to traces that are being recorded (or monitored through Logic). So you can set this easily to say 64 samples, for great low latency performance.
It then has a separate setting (called “Process Buffer Range”) with three options (small, med, large), which refers to the buffer used for all other playback tracks. The “large” setting (I believe) is equal to 1024 samples, which would result in noticeable lag for recording, but which doesn’t matter at all for playback as it is automatically offset.

I believe Logic is the only DAW that uses this method, exactly as described by you, and this is why it can handle so many tracks at once, laden with effects, and still use a very low buffer setting for recording.

I would love to see Steinberg adopt this method for Cubase. As virtual instruments become more popular, and plugins become more CPU intensive, they will eventually need to do something like this.

Looking forward to hearing some comments from the Steinberg guys (although I am aware that it is holiday time and they may not be back on the forum for a while!).

Cheers and happy new year, all!