ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

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AnalogueRoots
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ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by AnalogueRoots » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:29 pm

Hi All,

Just trying to get a sense of latency ES-9 users are experiencing and any tips on minimizing this (that factor in experience particular to the ES-9 and aggregate devices).

My setup is a MOTU Ultralite mk3, Digitakt, iConnect Midi4+, and Es-9 as an aggregate device. I’m using all hardware, with some VST’s for mastering and a touch of reverb here and there. In hosted mode, Ableton clocks PNW and Nerdseq via CV tools and outs from my MOTU.

I (again) watched the seed to stage videos and tried to scour the forums to better understand latency and what to do about it. I was a bit confused about things like the delay compensation, but making changes here didn’t seem to make any rational impact on the recorded latency from my Eurorack via ES-9.

Recently, I’ve been sequencing more complex drums on my modular, and also have drums on my Digitakt. Things are tight in standalone mode, where I suppose it’s equivalent to direct monitoring? It changes when I shift to the DAW, due to the various elements that contribute to latency.

When I try to record to DAW, my latency with the ES-9 is 49 ms (I.e. on my Eurorack tracks). With overbridge, the Digitakt records through USB with almost no latency (is it due to avoiding DAC?). I have delay compensation and reduced latency when monitoring checked (I’ve also tried without these checked). When I record my Eurorack with the monitoring set to “off” in Ableton (as per the seed to stage video), the latency drops down to 29 ms. I have a drum hit (Bitbox sequenced by NERDSEQ) on the first downbeat and am measuring the recorded latency.

Under Mac OS aggregate device, the master clock source is the MOTU and I turned off drift correction for the Es-9, only because it decreased the latency of recorded material. Only the iConnect has drift connection turned on. Not sure if this makes any sense, or would cause other issues, but it gives the best results. I don’t really understand drift correction at all (never noticed it’s existence in the last 10-15 years!).

In Ableton preferences: I’m recording at 44.1, buffer size 64, and the overall latency shown in Ableton is 20.3. If I change my Audio device I and O to just the ES9, it says the overall latency is 30 ms (which is about what is printed when I record without monitoring in Ableton). If I make it just the MOTU it shows 9 ms. I tried to record at 48, but it made no real difference in my numbers (have to sort independently whether I should be recording in 48 or 96!).

Am I making some obvious, dumb mistake? Are any of you able to record from the ES-9 with better numbers? At present, my only solution is to record some hits on the one, figure the recorded latency, and then move all the ES-9 related audio forward by that many ms. So far, I haven’t been too focused on having it sound tight while playing, as I’ve been doing that in standalone mode for a few days before committing to tracking and then further work.

I’m using a 2011 iMac with 20 GB RAM. Not sure if a better computer or audio interface would make any difference, but I’m open to some more fundamental change as I grow my set-up.

Thanks!!!

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by Lokua » Fri Mar 12, 2021 9:35 pm

Just a sanity check but are you recording using the two track setup where one is the "monitor" via external instrument and the other is set to record that with monitoring off?

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by AnalogueRoots » Sun Mar 14, 2021 1:33 am

Thanks for the reply. Yes, that's what I'm doing. Two tracks, with one monitoring and the other with monitoring off. I'm not using "external instrument" (not sure if that makes any difference) in this test case, as my Bitbox Sampler is in my modular rack and receives MIDI directly from another module in the rack (the NERDSEQ). I do use external instrument with my other synths that go straight into my MOTU interface (Novation Summit, Moog Mother 32, etc)... Not sure if that's helpful. Any thoughts?

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by Lokua » Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:22 pm

It is worth using external instrument on your monitor for ES-9 inputs with recording track reading from that monitoring track. Apparently this is only needed if you record in Session view, not Arrangement view (see https://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=185047 for more details).

Also you mentioned Bitbox, but doesn't Bitbox itself have latency? I'd try to test with something analog just to remove any variables. In my case I'm using all 14 inputs and 4 of those are from an ER-301. The ER-301 has ~9ms latency, so I have to use negative track offsets for those (which end up being around ~-12ms in Ableton) to get things to line up (when outside of an ES-9 context I have to route all audio through the ER-301 to deal with this - I even brought up the idea in this forum to support per-input offsets on the ES-9). On top of all this I have to send negative MIDI clocks to all of my outboard gear, but I've used the analog signals going into the ES-9 as the base by which all else must align. In the end when I press record, nothing is perfectly aligned to the grid, but I've given up on that. Instead I just want to get my base analog tracks as close to the grid as possible and make sure all of my other gear is compensated one way or another (again either via negative track offsets or negative MIDI clock outs).

So anyway to get to your original post, what I'm seeing is:

2017 Macbook Pro, 16GB
Aggregate Device: ES-9, AudoFuse, Digitakt (waiting on some cables so I can eliminate this from my aggregate)
Sample Rate: 48kHz
Buffer: 1024 (at 64 overall latency is around 8ms, but more on that later)
Overall Latency: 49ms
Actual lateness of recording material: ~22ms (at buffer=64 it's around 1 or 2, perfect!)

That "actual lateness" varies depending on my buffer. It's around 8ms when buffer is 64, however it can't go even a minute without dropouts which are more like stutters (so no audio glitch) which causes CV tools to skip and that pretty much screws everything up (meanwhile when this happens, the MIDI output clock is rock solid and my MIDI gear has no problems). This still happens when my buffer is higher but much less the higher it is - seems pretty damn excessive to have to use 1024 but it seems much more stable at this number. I only tried 1024 yesterday as I've had the skipping issue ongoing for months and just assumed "no way do I need that much buffer on a Macbook" but apparently I do, or there is something fundamentally wrong with either my Mac, the ES-9, the AudioFuse, or aggregate devices in general, but I keep seeing people use them without problems which is really frustrating "why me!?!". I also have no idea if I should or should not use drift correction.

Just some data hope it's helpful in some way.

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by Mr. Pete » Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:04 pm

I am more of a LOGIC user but have LIVE - but I think its an OS problem not the DAW

In my system, the major/only issue I keep seeing go wrong with the aggregate devices in OSX is after awhile (usually a long LONG while) the rate will flip to 48 instead of 44.1 ~ particularly opening or reading new projects - leaving Logic running for hours/days and or switching the ES-9 off and on etc when this happens LOGIC shows an error window "trouble syncing MIDI" or something like that and I have to quite Logic to fix it.

…it's a PITA but easily corrected by recreating a new aggregate in AUDIO MIDI setup

this happened when I still had my ES-8 and now ES-9 too which I have configured as the top 16 channels on an RME Fireface 802 with an RME FF800 + Focusrite Octopre using the 16 ADATs

oh and you mentioned drift correction - I keep that box checked in Audio Midi setup for the ES-9 only
Audio Midi setup sees Fireface 802 as one device at 44.1 + then I add ES-9 with drift checked)
Lokua wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:22 pm
or there is something fundamentally wrong with either my Mac, the ES-9, the AudioFuse, or aggregate devices in general, but I keep seeing people use them without problems which is really frustrating "why me!?!". I also have no idea if I should or should not use drift correction.
Just some data hope it's helpful in some way.
You can call me, "PETE"
https://petedako.bandcamp.com/music
@petedako on Twitter/FB/Instagram

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by magicdust » Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:09 pm

I have consciously moved to a madi interface to avoid any interface aggregation. It’s a headache. Sorry I cannot be of help. All I’d suggest is if you can route the audio through one interface that will yield the best result.

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by Lokua » Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:52 pm

magicdust wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:09 pm
I have consciously moved to a madi interface to avoid any interface aggregation. It’s a headache. Sorry I cannot be of help. All I’d suggest is if you can route the audio through one interface that will yield the best result.
I realize that this is getting off topic but I assume you're doing DC stuff? If so I'd be curious to hear more details about your setup.

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by magicdust » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:57 am

Lokua wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:52 pm
magicdust wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:09 pm
I have consciously moved to a madi interface to avoid any interface aggregation. It’s a headache. Sorry I cannot be of help. All I’d suggest is if you can route the audio through one interface that will yield the best result.
I realize that this is getting off topic but I assume you're doing DC stuff? If so I'd be curious to hear more details about your setup.
I’m using a ferrofish a32 for audio-only coming from the modular and other rack mounted gear. I’m passing the external rack gear directly to the output of the interface that is internally routing to a nw2s io. I’m using 3 nw2s modules for routing audio in but mainly out of the modular and also inside the case between the MD and virus.

I am creating music without a computer but have the ability to send audio in and out of the computer for soft synth processing and multi tracking. I like to jam live and I use the Addac 807 for mixing in a performance scenario.

Ferrofish do a 16 channel io interface with dc coupling which most likely will be the expansion device for my interface once I run out of channels (soon).

Out of site is a 16u rack with analogue synths and hardware fx units.

Hope this helps
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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by Lokua » Wed Apr 21, 2021 6:59 pm

Holy shit nice rack and case!
Appreciate the info.

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by magicdust » Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:45 pm

Lokua wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 6:59 pm
Holy shit nice rack and case!
Appreciate the info.
Thanks and no problem. Got the case from Gould Caseworks

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by AnalogueRoots » Fri Apr 23, 2021 9:04 pm

I was hoping to spend some extra time and really get the latency better sorted, but didn’t really. It seems like Overbridge VST does a great job of recording things tight. The whole modular seems slightly off, but it’s easy enough to adjust it after the fact. I’m still wondering if a new audio interface or computer would help. But if it’s better yet still needs to be adjusted to line up on beat, then it doesn’t really help me. I’ve been spending most of my time composing DAW-less and shift to the DAW at the end, so the flow is fine enough. Can’t believe I just now, after more than a decade with the MOTU boxes, realized that in Cuemix I can create mix buses and route my signal through the same pedal sends that I use in Ableton. So I can run some synths through my Big Sky and don’t need Ableton just to get some Valhalla reverb. Before I was unplugging and connecting it to my Bored Brains Interfx at times, which I still do if I want to bring in a particular pedal from my pedalboard. But, the more steps I have to do, it just takes me out of the creative flow. I’m really enjoying the ES-9 in standalone mode. Just gotta get that MIDI mixing in motion, with the beta firmware and I’m set!

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Re: ES-9 Latency, Aggregate Device, Ableton

Post by Mr. Pete » Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:59 am

Very weird that since putting the ES-9 in a 4ms POD … and changing *nothing* else this problem has disappeared :despair:
no drift or sync loss — aggregate remains at 44.1 as it should
Screen Shot 2021-06-11 at 11.54.58 AM.png





Mr. Pete wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:04 pm
I am more of a LOGIC user but have LIVE - but I think its an OS problem not the DAW

In my system, the major/only issue I keep seeing go wrong with the aggregate devices in OSX is after awhile (usually a long LONG while) the rate will flip to 48 instead of 44.1 ~ particularly opening or reading new projects - leaving Logic running for hours/days and or switching the ES-9 off and on etc when this happens LOGIC shows an error window "trouble syncing MIDI" or something like that and I have to quite Logic to fix it.

…it's a PITA but easily corrected by recreating a new aggregate in AUDIO MIDI setup

this happened when I still had my ES-8 and now ES-9 too which I have configured as the top 16 channels on an RME Fireface 802 with an RME FF800 + Focusrite Octopre using the 16 ADATs

oh and you mentioned drift correction - I keep that box checked in Audio Midi setup for the ES-9 only
Audio Midi setup sees Fireface 802 as one device at 44.1 + then I add ES-9 with drift checked)
Lokua wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:22 pm
or there is something fundamentally wrong with either my Mac, the ES-9, the AudioFuse, or aggregate devices in general, but I keep seeing people use them without problems which is really frustrating "why me!?!". I also have no idea if I should or should not use drift correction.
Just some data hope it's helpful in some way.
You can call me, "PETE"
https://petedako.bandcamp.com/music
@petedako on Twitter/FB/Instagram

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