SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements

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2012/09/23 12:00:40 (permalink)

SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements

Earlier this year, I decided to use X1 in a live situation from my laptop. It was only an i5 2nd gen CPU with 8GB of RAM. During sound check, I was adding effects to the vocal strip and starting introducing latency.  Luckily I had my 32 channel board in the car and was able to swap out.  I'm a hardware guy and prefer to use hardware for live gigs, however, in a duo or trio format, I don't want to lug around a 32-channel board and a 10u rack of EQ,FX,Compressors, Crossover, etc.  I've since then built a really beefy DAW (see signature below) in an SKB 6U rack on wheels.  Since SONAR X2 has improved on their audio engine, wouldn't mind giving it another chance.  Obviously a hybrid approach (SONAR X2 with hardware FX, etc.) may be the answer. Any thoughts/comments?

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    Silver Bronze
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    Re:SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements 2012/09/23 12:49:04 (permalink)
    There are certain effects that add latency by design requirements. E.g. perfect space. A faster machine cannot overcome this kind of latency. You can in a pinch turn off PDC (plugin delay compensation), but that just makes things a bit out of sync. That may or may not be what happened with your i5 laptop, but it's definitely a factor to be avoided in a live situation.
    Silver Bronze
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    Re:SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements 2012/09/23 12:58:49 (permalink)
    As bvideo said, just avoid those plugs such as perfect space and the linear phase EQ.
    Jim Roseberry
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    Re:SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements 2012/09/23 15:10:03 (permalink)
    Since SONAR X2 has improved on their audio engine, wouldn't mind giving it another chance.  Obviously a hybrid approach (SONAR X2 with hardware FX, etc.) may be the answer. Any thoughts/comments?

    As has been mentioned, neither X2 (nor any other DAW application) will eliminate latency introduced by latent plugins. 

    The solution to your scenario is two fold (latency is introduced by your audio interface and latent plugins).

    1. Start with an audio interface that provides extremely low round-trip latency.Unfortunately, low round-trip latency is not the forte' of Tascam USB audio interfaces.The Presonus 1818 VSL... or an RME or MOTU unit would be a much better choice for this purpose.
    2. Avoid using latent plugins (phase-linear, mastering, and convolution plugins often use additional buffers).

    Best Regards,

    Jim Roseberry
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    Re:SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements 2012/09/23 15:28:54 (permalink)
    another thing to consider adding to your low-latency arsenal: the Alloy 2 channel plugin. it was designed for low-latency applications. it has a zero-latency mode that if used with Sonar in low latency (with like an RME card) would give you close to hardware-level low-latency. maybe even as low as a couple milliseconds.
    Jeff Evans
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    Re:SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements 2012/09/23 17:00:47 (permalink)
    Hi there harpman58. Sorry we going off topic a little here but I guess live set-ups may or may not involve computers. Personally I tend to keep them away live. You don't have to carry a heavy 32 channel board around to do a gig. What about something light and powerful and small like this:   

    My digital mixer in my studio had some faults and I had to take it out and repair it. While doing that I got this Samson to fill in doing mainly monitor duties which it did very well. This is a quality sounding mixer with built in effects and they sound good. With maybe one extra effects unit you would have a powerful but small mixer feeding your main FOH speakers.

    X2 may not give you enough of a latency jump to do a live gig and use more CPU intensive plug-ins within your DAW live. I would be more inclined to use either built in or hardware based effects live. Another option is to feed all the dry signals through the Samson mixer direct and also send those signals out to the DAW for effects processing and return the effects only buss from the DAW to the mixer. 

    Another thing to consider. It is not always best to use your finest sounding most CPU intensive reverbs in a studio mix or live situation. Sometimes it is best to use courser or rougher sounding reverbs because they can actually fit into a mix better than trying to fit several expensive lush sounding reverbs into a mix. The brain and also the live room acoustics tend to smooth out rougher sounding reverbs. But the great thing about them is they are usually very light on the CPU and will operate even with great live performance latency. Try them and see how they sound live. We all have reverb plug-ins for example that are lower quality and a little lumpier sounding. But we tend to shy away from them because we think they don't sound any good but they can sound very good.

    Perhaps just use the laptop for backing track playback duties only. There are other player hardware alternatives for that job too.

    post edited by Jeff Evans - 2012/09/23 17:14:10

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    Noel Borthwick [Cakewalk]
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    Re:SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements 2012/09/23 18:03:12 (permalink)
    If all you are doing is using it for live playback you may be able to reduce latency further by clicking the PDC override button. Then make sure that the track channel you are playing through doesn't have any latent plugins.

    Noel Borthwick
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    Re:SONAR X2 Audio Engine Improvements 2012/09/24 05:56:19 (permalink)
    Also, bear in mind that with reverb and echo type effects the short latency delays are not noticeable so long as they are bus (send) effects - just think of it as a little bit of pre-delay at no extra charge...


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