What is latency in music production?

Audio latency is one of the things that you will pay more and more attention to, once you're getting more skilled at music production.

Latency is the time delay it takes for your hardware and software equipment to read the sound signal that's being played, process it, and play it into your speakers.

To be more in-depth, when an audio signal is being played on any device, let's say microphone or guitar, for example, that sound is in analog form and being delivered into your system. Your software then converts it into a digital signal in order to be processed, and then changes it back into an analog, for it to be played into your speakers/monitors.

This whole process, having low processing power in your machine, not having the correct settings and tools optimized for lowest latency output, and a couple of other factors, are all potential reasons that might cause a high latency.

Having a better setup will of course help in reducing latency, but there are other things you can do to improve your latency.

One of the most important things you need to do if you want to start producing music is to get an audio interface. Buying an audio interface is going to be a lot more reliable than using the cheap sound card your pc or laptop has built-in.  It also allows zero-latency recording, with its built-in "direct monitor" option. Just remember to update all of the drivers for it first.

Buffer size is the amount of time spent for processing the audio, measured in ms. Installing an audio driver like Asio will give you the option to increase or decrease your sample rate. Having a lower sample rate is going to improve your buffer size, but it's a lot more taxing on your system.

Use the lowest sample rate when you are recording, and set it to a higher rate when mixing, this will spend less of your computer's resources, and allow you to use more plugins without stutters and errors.

Updated: Aug 08, 2020

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