digital pedals : How much latency do they introduce?

Cableaddict

Member
Messages
151
Quite a number of people say that a few ms delay in the signal chain makes them feel 'disconnected' from the sound. And yet very few people say that being further away from their amp has the same effect. Why? Is it just an excuse to buy those expensive analogue pedals?

What I am suggesting is that it may be easier for the brain to compensate for the delay caused by the physical air gap. Why? because we spend our whole lives listening to sounds coming from different sources, in situations where we can perceive the cause of the sound ....
Interesting question. Although I personally can't stand being 10' from an amp, (or PA, when I'm singing) I have different hypothesis:

1: Some people simply have no feel. This is a known fact. Also, many people play consistently ahead of the beat. (esp keyboard players.) Having a little delay can actually put them more into the pocket.

2: Playing live, you here both your amp and the rest of the band, all bouncing off the nearest wall. Even though it's all delayed, it's all delayed kinda' sorta' the same amount, and it smears with the rest.....

3: Once again, the bulk of this thread discussing whether or not it bothers the individual player. That is not the most important factor.

As an engineer, I've done EXTENSIVE tests regarding all these issues, and there is just no question about how this all affects the total groove of a band.
YMMV, but probably not.
 

npfrs

Member
Messages
1,420
Man, you guys must have amazing hearing and skills because I have never been able to feel/hear/whatever the latency from a digital delay pedal.

I've never noticed latency from standing far from an amp either, for that matter.
Up vote.
 

shayneallen

Member
Messages
545
I agree - remember, I said that I feel it's hard to test this idea experimentally. Let me reiterate -

Quite a number of people say that a few ms delay in the signal chain makes them feel 'disconnected' from the sound. And yet very few people say that being further away from their amp has the same effect. Why? Is it just an excuse to buy those expensive analogue pedals?

What I am suggesting is that it may be easier for the brain to compensate for the delay caused by the physical air gap. Why? because we spend our whole lives listening to sounds coming from different sources, in situations where we can perceive the cause of the sound (by seeing it) faster than we can hear the sound. So It's entirely possible that the 3ms per metre delay is very easy to compensate for when we see how many metres there are between us and the source. Of course this would probably break down over large distances... or it may not be true at all. After all, we don't usually see the speaker cone moving and see that as being the direct cause of the sound in the same way as there's a causative relationship between seeing someone kick a ball, and hearing the 'thump' a fraction later.

One could think of other factors too -e.g. if you are playing through an effect that significantly changes the envelope of the picked note, that could also have an effect on how the brain processes the cause/effect relationship between the pick stroke and the sound coming out of the speaker. If you are playing a guitar that transmits more vibrations through to the player, this could also have an effect... or not. Or it could be different for different people.

These are just ideas, and ones I wouldn't know how to test - ultimately what we want to test is 'how easy is it to compensate?' which isn't really something that can be measured. But I do think it's presumptious to assume that there can't be any factors at work other than simply the amount of delay, when in everyday life there is a complex relationship between the sounds we hear, the things we see, the vibrations we feel, and our knowledge of how they all fit together.
You are all over it in my opinion.

We spend our entire lives learning to measure sounds... the size and shape of the space we are in, the distance we are from a sound source, the reflections that reach us before the direct sound even does... processing most of this without giving it so much as a second thought. All these hearing messages we receive affect so much more than we can even fathom.... and it's all done subconsciously. This stuff even affects things like your sense of balance.

Here's a quick exercise, just to see this in it's most apparent form. Have someone whisper in your ear from an inch away.... then from a foot away. Any different? Of course it is. Now... the difference will seem less profound with each foot they back off... but it's still there. If this doesn't bother someone in the world of playing music... that's cool and the gang, but to dismiss it as a non issue and to mock those it does bother is simply ignorant and arrogant. I don't care if it's only the equivalent of being one foot further from my amp, I have spent my entire lifetime subconsciously calculating what five feet from my amp (or any sound source) sounds like, and more importantly what it feels like.... and it doesn't sound or feel like six feet.

I'm not saying digital is the devil.... I've owned a ton of the stuff, it has it's place and it's benefits obviously. I work in pro tools every day, but I have absolutely had to find zero latency monitoring workarounds because it does bother me, even with figures in the low milliseconds. It affects pocket, feel, and even the slightest amount of latency affects singers... with pitch and just a general sense of fatigue.

None of this means that music can't be made with digital, or that people can't play and sing with digital obviously, it just means that the "it doesn't matter" or "you must have pretty amazing ears" argument is pretty obtuse. If there is measurable latency there, I don't think that it's such a stretch to assume the human ear and/ or body can hear it and sense it.
 

Skreddy

Member
Messages
2,311
Amazing how many people are really committed to de-bunking what other people feel and experience. I've experienced that sense of disconnectedness with digital; but my experiences in that regard have tended to be with older equipment, which would have had a much longer latency than newer. That said; as recently as the first PODs (yeah; that was a long time ago), I could *hear* that everything sounded good, but at the same time, it *felt* strange and artificial and disconnected. Obviously, like I said, newer stuff with shorter latency would have much less of this effect.
 

shayneallen

Member
Messages
545
yeah... I remember doing overdubs with a 1st gen pod when there was nothing else there at the studio, and hated every second of it... but it sounded just fine during playback. It's so much about feel.

and completely off topic.... I just got my lunar module deluxe from you (about 2 1/2 months earlier than expected) and can't say enough good about it. Really great sir! :)
 

nsjnsj

Member
Messages
1
If I didn't feel and experience latency, I would not have googled about it, found this page, and took the time to become a member so I could post this. And, when I clearly felt the latency, I was sitting a foot and a half away from my amp.
 

minty901

Member
Messages
2,124
If I didn't feel and experience latency, I would not have googled about it, found this page, and took the time to become a member so I could post this. And, when I clearly felt the latency, I was sitting a foot and a half away from my amp.
What pedals caused it for you?
 

-Empire

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,973
What pedals caused it for you?
@nsjnsj

Also interested in this. I made a video where I A/B'd taking 4 rounds of A/D > D/A conversion in and out of the signal path and it sounded and felt identical. A couple MS of latency isn't perceptible to me, especially since I (and the rest of the band) monitor with IEMs and play to a click. The purist in me still prefers pedals with analog dry through, but I don't want to sacrifice the simplicity/power of the timefactor or the power/price/size of the Zoom MS-50G in order to preserve something I can't even tell the difference between in a blind A/B.

 
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johnh

Member
Messages
4,591
I think that latency is very real, and I know that some people find it off putting. But I totally accept that it doesn't bother some folks at all.

I do think that comparing digital latency to standing 10 feet away from your amp is misleading. Especially if the rest of the band is also 10 feet away. The two issues may have similarities, but in my experience they're very different. I would guess that part of it is that my brain tells me that my amp should sound 10 feet away, because my eyes can see that it is. But when playing some piece of digital gear with lots of latency, my eyes and ears are telling me two things, which may be why it "feels" off.

I've certainly played through some digital gear in the past and while it sounded fine, it felt awful. Or disconnected. I'm not asking anyone to agree with me, or to feel the same way. But to tell me that it shouldn't matter to me, or shouldn't feel bad or disconnected is a bit silly, no?
 

aman74

Member
Messages
8,733
I think that latency is very real, and I know that some people find it off putting. But I totally accept that it doesn't bother some folks at all.

I do think that comparing digital latency to standing 10 feet away from your amp is misleading. Especially if the rest of the band is also 10 feet away. The two issues may have similarities, but in my experience they're very different. I would guess that part of it is that my brain tells me that my amp should sound 10 feet away, because my eyes can see that it is. But when playing some piece of digital gear with lots of latency, my eyes and ears are telling me two things, which may be why it "feels" off.

I've certainly played through some digital gear in the past and while it sounded fine, it felt awful. Or disconnected. I'm not asking anyone to agree with me, or to feel the same way. But to tell me that it shouldn't matter to me, or shouldn't feel bad or disconnected is a bit silly, no?
No.

Try closing your eyes?

Do you always stand facing your amp and look at it?

People keep talking about feeling disconnected with digital gear, but not necessarily saying they're feeling latency....that I could potentially understand....but then they're using this feeling to say "I dunno what it is, but it must be that".

I don't see a lot of people discounting others negative feelings about some digital gear. What I do see them doing is trying to debunk certain statements that simply can't hold any water and/or aren't following a logical path.

Despite the protests, moving further away from your amp is literally the same thing. Can't be argued. Somehow I don't think we'll have a thread where people are having this same negative reaction to the very same amount of latency were it to be caused by them having to stand an extra 10 feet away from their amp because they got a gig on a huge stage.
 

soundbee

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,258
Keep in mind that the "disconnected" feeling could also be from your signal going through a buffer. This happens even with analog buffers. However, I 100% agree with the folks that ad/da latency is a very real thing. Personally I try to keep an analog dry signal as much as possible and use parallel loops when needed.

My biggest battle with latency is during recording though... whether directly into Pro Tools and/or any other converter (currently using RME Fireface UFX)... I can't help shaking the fact that what I lay down, doesn't have the same groove when listening back. This drives me crazy... now a good part of it might be my "suspect timing"... but c'mon I can't possibly suck that bad.
 

olejason

Member
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4,118
Somehow I don't think we'll have a thread where people are having this same negative reaction to the very same amount of latency were it to be caused by them having to stand an extra 10 feet away from their amp because they got a gig on a huge stage.
I've actually had this happen a few times and it is terrible. Another peeve of mine is having to stand very far away from the drummer since I play bass. It isn't something I can't deal with but it isn't ideal.
 

aman74

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Messages
8,733
I've actually had this happen a few times and it is terrible. Another peeve of mine is having to stand very far away from the drummer since I play bass. It isn't something I can't deal with but it isn't ideal.
I knew I should have been more specific...was just trying to illustrate that the number we're talking about with digital pedals is most often going to be within the same range of distance that people are comfortable playing their amps. Also people are experiencing this intolerable level of latency with 10 feet of cord at home and fine from 20 feet on stage...

I'm not dismissing the effects of latency whether it be distance or digital....in some cases. Only asking that it be compared like for like.

Some are figuratively hearing with their eyes and in the case about, apparently literally as well. :) Is he experiencing intolerable levels of latency? Who am I to say, but is it because he can see the amp? Of that I'm doubtful.
 
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1,374
I think this is quiet an interesting area, and also quite hard to broad generalisations because everyone is different, and there are a myriad different situations where latency can be next to unnoticable, or really offputting, and it depends on the person, and what they do / context to a massive extent.

For me personally, I would start by noting the most obvious scenario that I can detect latency in my DAW.
First and foremost, tracking vocals with headphones on - this can be veryoffputting anywhere above 5ms, and the lower the better. This is why I need a Zero Latency setup - in my DAW I never use any VST effects when tracking vocals, it's just too off-putting.

Next up would be drums - again, tracking drums with headphones on against pre-recorded material. Latency is a killer here, I'm very susceptible to it, 5-7ms I can get away with, more than that and my feel goes.

Guitars and bass with headphones on I don't tend to notices quite so much - I can get away with up to 10-15ms, depending on what it is i'm playing.

So consistently I can notice latency with headphones on when a DAW is adding it's RTL (round trip latency), but it varies by instrument in terms of it's impact. Additionally, there is an impact thing - with drums you are right inside the kit, and when singing the voice is right in your head. For me guitar isn't quite as immediate as the other two - due to the amp, which I will come back to.

What I think people forget regarding the recording side of things is that, you generally always using headphones, so you are not dealing with any external 'through air' latency in these scenarios, because recording generally means avoiding bleed, and isolating the source. Guitars - probably close-micd, so little air travel. Additionally, recording can be a bit stressful for some people, so anything remotely sub-optimal can have a bigger effect than normal.

So ignoring device A/D latency for a bit, and looking at scenarios without recording involved, i think things are a bit more relaxed. We know what the sound of an amp from 5-10 feet away is like, we've played it for years and adapted to it, there is not just latency to consider there, there are many aspects of how the ear processes the sound. Whilst we try to keep bleed to a minimum I think if we were to try and record 'out loud' without headphones, we would not notice the DAW latency quite as accutely as we do with headphones on.

With regards to digital pedals, I've got a few - 3 Strymons (analog dry through), Source Audio Nemesis (A/D dry through), and i've also got a Digitech GSP1101 modeller / FX unit, plus a few other rack pieces.

I've never really noticed anything on any of these units that comes remotely close to the feeling of DAW latency (not even in the same universe really), they have a sound, but they've never had any impact to my 'feel' of playing - either with headphones on or cranked through an amp.

Personally, I don't think you can compare latency from an amp to the latency you will get from a DAW, and similarly I don't think you lump in the latency from a single device to the other two scenarios - whilst they have some similarities, there also significant differences IMO.

That said, I do also think there are people who have confirmation bias on digital pedals - because they know there is latency there, it affects how they hear and feel it; and this is not a bad thing perse, it's an individuals' perogative, and prior knowledge of something is well known to colour your perceptions - how many of us here have eaten something they don't like without knowing it and actually enjoyed it? I know I have!

And for anyone in doubt about how how something visual can mess with your hearing:-
 

mrboy

Member
Messages
140
@nsjnsj

Also interested in this. I made a video where I A/B'd taking 4 rounds of A/D > D/A conversion in and out of the signal path and it sounded and felt identical. A couple MS of latency isn't perceptible to me, especially since I (and the rest of the band) monitor with IEMs and play to a click. The purist in me still prefers pedals with analog dry through, but I don't want to sacrifice the simplicity/power of the timefactor or the power/price/size of the Zoom MS-50G in order to preserve something I can't even tell the difference between in a blind A/B.

Nice sound. Which Kemper profile is that?
 

ilyslue2

Member
Messages
841
I have tested the following pedals:

- eventide timefactor : 2.3 ms
- strymon Deco: 0,8 ms (either footswitch)
- neunaber Wet : 0 ms

The eventide and Deco is 0 at bypass when set to relay.…
 

-Empire

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,973
Nice sound. Which Kemper profile is that?
Thanks! That one is mbritt's "divided by 13 JRT 9/15 #3" from his amp pack #2. Gain and mids bumped up a bit, treble and presence backed off a bit. His profiles with gain sound pretty bright to me for some reason.

Another killer profile in that pack for taking pedals is the "Vox AC30 B1".
 

ogguitar

Member
Messages
1,469
I experience virtually no latency and run several digital pedals on my board (specifically - EHX POG2, EQD Sea Machine v1, BuGGFX Daydream Delay, Montreal Assembly Count to Five, Strymon Timeline, EHX Cathedral). I'll even run 4 or 5 of those at a time fairly often with no trouble. I suppose if I did wet/dry or parallel then something might occur, but then again it might not.
 

olejason

Member
Messages
4,118
I have tested the following pedals:

- eventide timefactor : 2.3 ms
- strymon Deco: 0,8 ms (either footswitch)
- neunaber Wet : 0 ms

The eventide and Deco is 0 at bypass when set to relay.…
The Wet would not be 0ms as it is FV-1 based
 




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