Random MIDI Latency

This week, I discovered an alarming MIDI latency issue in Cubase 9.5, whereby outboard hardware synthesizers are recording audio to Cubase with a delay of 10ms or more. More importantly, the latency varies from note to note by several milliseconds. Consequently, the problem can’t be fixed by merely dragging an audio track to compensate for the latency.

I noticed the trouble while working on some percussive material - the transients of VIs and outboard synths wouldn’t match up, even when the corresponding MIDI notes were quantized 100%. I tried the following:

  • Reduced ASIO Buffer Size to 32 (minimum)
  • Adjusted MIDI Latency Mode to Low (max MIDI performance)
  • Enabled/Disabled Constrain Delay Compensation

These had some effect, but not enough. You can see in the attached screen capture a latency of 11.5 ms, with a variation of almost 4 ms. This is typical but far from the worst I’ve seen. Here, the “Raw MIDI Recording” and “Raw Audio Recording” tracks were recorded simultaneously, whereas “Re-recording #1” through “Re-recording #3” were recorded by playing back the aforementioned “Raw MIDI Recording” track, simply to demonstrate that the latency varies randomly with each pass. For the record, the Raw audio recording doesn’t always outperform the MIDI playback recordings. Occasionally, it’s actually slower!

Any ideas how to resolve or work around this? I recall reading somewhere that Cubase 10 addresses some “timing issues.” Can anyone verify if this has been addressed in Cubase 10?

Any assistance is appreciated.


This is normal in any DAW. It’s related to the way, how do DAWs work. Please read more about the Buffer Size, what exactly it is, and how does it work.

Thank you, Martin.

Okay, so I did some more research and discovered the operative term: “MIDI jitter.” This describes the fluctuation I’m seeing in latency from note to note. [Who knew it was a “thing?” :slight_smile: ] As usual, there’s plenty to be found on the subject, once you know what to look for.

I still can’t believe it’s inherent in all DAWs, but I just ran the same test in Sonar and - surprise, surprise - the results are similar. For the record, Sonar’s MIDI latency is closer to 8 ms with a mere 2 ms of jitter. But, it’s a different day - maybe my system is running more efficiently; there’s fewer Windows updates going on in the background; or whatever.

Some have claimed that other DAWs don’t exhibit MIDI latency or jitter, but I’m not 100% sure they’re discussing the same thing. I think they’re talking about VIs, rather than hardware synths. Maybe I should hit up the folks at Gearslutz.

Thanks again.

Welcome to the wonders and dreams of sample accurate timing.

Nexus VST also lacks this, certain BPMS are worse than others. The Virus TI is a Hardware synth that claims sample accuracy, if totally integrated via USB, but the other issues will likely be worse.

Just think of it as intended swing. However, if tight layering is required to mould a few sounds into 1, extremely transparent, layers from different synths is next to impossible.

Stick Volume Shaper on the master bus set to 1/4. It’s a perfect visual reference for how in time, out of time your hardware is. Helps when adjusting the timings of the track, nudging the delay forward or back.

I’ll definitely check that out. Thanks!

I haven’t tried it yet, but this gets me thinking that some phase alignment tools (e.g., Waves InPhase) might also work well for lining up layered percussive sounds coming from outboard synths.