Get the lowdown on low latency, and what it means to you
By Craig Anderton
Recording with computers has brought incredible power to musicians at amazing prices. However, there are some compromises—such as latency. Let’s find out what causes it, how it affects you, and how to minimize it.
1. What is latency? When recording, a computer is often busy doing other tasks and may ignore the incoming audio for short amounts of time. This can result in audio dropouts, clicks, excessive distortion, and sometimes program crashes. To compensate, recording software like SONAR dedicates some memory (called a sample buffer) to store incoming audio temporarily—sort of like an “audio savings account.” If needed, your recording program can make a “withdrawal” from the buffer to keep the audio stream flowing.
Latency is “geek speak” for the delay that occurs between when you play or sing a note, and what you hear when you monitor your playing through your computer’s output. Latency has three main causes:
The sample buffer. For example, storing 5 milliseconds (abbreviated ms, which equals 1/1000th of a second) of audio adds 5 ms of latency (Fig. 1). Most buffers sizes are specified in samples, although some specify this in ms.
Fig. 1: The control panel for TASCAM’s US-2×2 and US-4×4 audio interfaces is showing that the sample buffer is set to 64 samples.
Other hardware. Converting analog signals into digital and back again takes some time. Also, the USB port that connects to your interface has additional buffers. These involve the audio interface that connects to your computer and converts audio signals into digital signals your computer can understand (and vice-versa—it also converts computer data back into audio).
Delays within the recording software itself. A full explanation would require another article, but in short, this usually involves inserting certain types of processors within your recording software.
[All customers who purchase Music Creator 6 Touch on Steam will have a Demo Project for the Portal 2 song “Want You Gone.” We suggest that you open the Demo Project and follow along to best understand the concepts explained below. Click on any of the images below for a larger view.]
One thing I’ve learned over the years, which I believe is a key component to making great music, is the art of collaboration. Sometimes creating music on your own is the way to go, but a lot of the times the genius and magic in music comes from creative minds working together. In Music Creator 6 Touch, it’s easy to collaborate with other Cakewalk users by saving your project as a “bundle.”
If there is anything the Cakewalk crew likes as much as music, it’s computer technology. So, as you might imagine, we have more than our fair share of hardcore PC gamers.
When the Cakewalk gamers found out that Steam (the enormous video game platform by Valve) was opening up to offer other computer software, we became hell-bent on being the first major music software on board. And that day has finally come!
Music Creator 6 Touch is a great fit for Steam users and anybody looking to get started making music with fun, powerful, and inexpensive recording software. Music Creator 6 Touch makes it easy to create original music with no musical experience required. Music Creator has all the tools, loops, instruments, and FX needed to create, edit, and mix music, transforming any Windows 7 or 8 computer into a music studio. Musician’s can share music with the world by burning a CD or using SoundCloud to post music on Facebook and Twitter.
Music Creator 6 Touch was previously available as a download from Cakewalk’s store for $49.99/£39.99/€49.99, and now it makes its debut on Steam. Created by Valve, makers of best-selling game franchises like Portal and Counter-Strike, Steam has more than 50 million users around the world and offers more than 2,000 titles. And the folks at Valve could not be cooler.
They let us have a little fun recreating the song “Want you gone” from the Portal 2 video game in Music Creator for the new Music Creator 6 Touch video. Check it out!
Music Creator 6 Touch makes it fun and easy to create original music or remix your favorite songs – with no musical experience required. Transform any Windows 7 or 8 computer into your own personal music studio. Music Creator has all the tools, loops, instruments, and FX you need to create, edit, and mix great music. And when you’re ready to share your music with the world, you can burn a CD or use SoundCloud to post your music on Facebook and Twitter.
Music Creator 6 Touch also adds touch support for Intel-inspired Ultrabooks and other Windows 8 touch enabled devices. Use the same multi-touch gestures you’ve grown accustomed to on your smartphone to interact with Music Creator 6 Touch.
NEW! Seamlessly create, record, edit, and mix your music using the award-winning Skylight user interface – with over 100 enhancements
Get creative with 32 audio tracks and 128 instrument tracks
NEW! A complete backing band – features 6 virtual instruments including Studio Instruments (Bass, Drums, Electric Piano, and Strings)
All the must-have FX including Reverb, EQ, more
NEW! Plug-in your guitar and get incredible sounds using the Overloud TH2 Creator amp sim
NEW! Create beats and drum tracks with the integrated Step Sequencer
Trigger audio and MIDI loops using the Matrix View for real-time performance and remixing
Easily drag and drop loops, instruments, FX, and project templates from the built-in Browser
NEW! Windows 7 and 8 support
NEW! Use any Windows 8 touch enabled device and interact directly with the software using your hands (touch device not required to use the software)
Save more with new bundles: You can get even more value and savings when you purchase Music Creator 6 Touch bundles which include Music Creator 6 Touch plus additional sound packs.
Download Music Creator 6 for only $19.99
Music Creator 6 turns your computer into your own personal recording studio and includes everything you need to create, edit, and mix professional recordings. Whether it’s a cover of your favorite tune or an original composition, turn a simple idea into a finished song with Music Creator’s powerful suite of tools, loops, instruments, and effects. And when you’re ready to share your music with the world, you can burn a CD or use SoundCloud to post your music on Facebook and Twitter.
Based on Cakewalk’s acclaimed professional studio software, Music Creator’s elegant design and drag and drop interface makes creating and sharing music fast, easy, and fun.
Through February 19th, you can download Music Creator 6 for only $19.99 – save 60% off the price.
Recording and making music on your computer can seem overwhelming when you are just getting started. You have the musical ideas in your head but you need to get them down and into a finished song format. This post will walk you through device setup, recording audio, playing virtual instruments, working with loops, and more.
Recording and making music on your computer can seem overwhelming when you are just getting started. You have the musical ideas in your head but you need to get them down and into a finished song format. This post will walk you through device setup, recording audio, playing virtual instruments, working with loops, and more. But first let’s go through some questions and make sure you have all the ingredients to begin recording.
What do I need to create high quality recordings on my Windows computer?
The simple answer is that you will need three basic things to begin building a Windows based computer recording system.
A relatively new and well performing computer.
An audio interface or a high performance computer sound card.
The version of Cakewalk music recording software that fits your needs.
Is my Windows computer good enough for recording music and audio?