Latency test of 23 amp modelers

Jynx

Silver Supporting Member
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3,509
I think at this point we just need Vai to volunteer to a doubler blind test.

(Even is I am 99.9999999999999% sure he'll fail)
 

PLysander

Member
Messages
589
I think at this point we just need Vai to volunteer to a doubler blind test.

(Even is I am 99.9999999999999% sure he'll fail)

That would be fun :) People failing miserably at digital gear A/B tests is a YouTube guilty pleasure of mine...
 
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ejecta

Silver Supporting Member
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7,374
There're many things your body just cannot do. I can state that you (and Steve Vai :)) cannot discern 1ms audio latencies with the same confidence i state you cannot see infrared light.
I don’t have the arrogance to speak for what other people can or cannot do when I don’t live in their body and when it comes to things that are subjective like hearing and or feeling latencies of various electric guitar systems. You might feel comfortable speaking for others like that but I don’t.
 
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TubeStack

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,098
IDK, he seemed pretty much comfortable playing and shredding his ass off with Whitesnake at Hellfest with no amps in sight and joining Coverdale out front in the catwalk.

He actually sounded a little out tune/pitchy in the clip I saw, which was surprising as I've never ever heard that from him.

He was also making “turn me up” gestures to the soundperson.
 

Digital Igloo

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Messages
5,068
In fact, for many audio applications, the kind of latency introduced by digital devices is actually better behaved than acoustic latency, because it will be pretty much frequency invariant. There're no weird frequency and phase artifacts to worry about with digital sampling delays.
Hell, there's often negative latency in large venues, where your IEMs send you signals before you might expect to hear them, because your amp (or the drummer) is far away. That can also be extremely jarring for musicians, especially those used to playing clubs.
I do get your point regarding "natural" vs device-introduced latency, and how the brain interprets those (psychoacoustics strike again!), but remember: people have going back and forth over single digit milliseconds in this thread - and that's what's grinding my gears so bad. Frankly, it's a bit of a disservice to modern digital gear, which is for the most part exceptionally good at keeping these latencies as low as humanly possible.
Because the brain is extremely sensitive to tiny amounts of shenanigans—or rather, something that appears unnatural. Again, if you see an amp X feet away but it sounds like it's Y feet away, that is inherently unnatural, and some people can and do experience a disconnect. It's not anyone's job to tell another what they may or may not be experiencing.
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,740
if you see an amp X feet away but it sounds like it's Y feet away, that is inherently unnatural

Perhaps we run in different circles, but I've never performed looking at my amp and never seen a band do it either...

Because the brain is extremely sensitive to tiny amounts of shenanigans

The brain is also extremely sensitive to bias...
 

Digital Igloo

Member
Messages
5,068
Perhaps we run in different circles, but I've never performed looking at my amp and never seen a band do it either...
Clearly they know where their amp is, whether they're staring at it like a moron all night or not.
The brain is also extremely sensitive to bias...
What bias? Clearly, it behooves companies making digital audio products to insist latency isn't a big deal. However, my personal experience in the studio with countless artists over the decades says otherwise. Even when I can't necessarily hear or feel the latency they claim to, I'm not gonna tell them they're wrong like others in this thread seem to be doing.
 

Jay Mitchell

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Messages
5,832
Don't want to get into semantics here, but calling the time it takes a transducer to push sound waves to your ears "latency" is a bit... disingenuous within this conversation.
That statement is exactly wrong. Time of flight for direct sound is, by definition, latency. The fact that, in an acoustic space, there are multiple latencies - due to multiple acoustic paths - does not alter that.

If you wish to understand why playing through a cab a few feet away in an acoustic space is perceived differently than dry latency, you must look to those things that differ between an acoustic space and dry latency to account for that. There are several such things, BTW. FYI, time of flight in an anechoic environment would qualify as dry latency.

Latency within digital systems is absolutely, positively a thing, and companies have lived and died by it.
Straw man. This was never at issue. I can name products from major manufacturers that failed, both functionally and in the marketplace, for that very reason.

The question is and always has been "How much latency is too much latency? How much will begin to mess with your timing or feel?" That's an incredibly personal question,
Agreed. In addition, there are almost always variables in addition to latency that make the question impossible to answer.
I imagine the more experienced musician/producer/engineer one is, or the deeper in the pocket they're able to play, the more they may feel a disconnect due to throughput latency.
"I imagine" is the correct phrase to use.
But to discredit their experience because "Oh, it's only like being an extra X feet away from an amp so who cares?" doesn't get what latency is.
Another straw man. Nobody has said "who cares." Whether 2ms total latency is perceptible is one question. Whether an added 2ms can push an individual over a perceptual threshold - there are several of those - is quite another.
  • Playing an amp X feet away from you in a Y foot-sized room: TOTALLY 100% NORMAL, ZERO DISCONNECT
See the above reference to perceptual thresholds. Because of them, the exact value of X matters. A lot.

  • Playing an amp X feet away from you in a Y foot-sized room but it sounds or feels like it's Z feet farther away than it really is: FOR SOME, YES THERE CAN BE A DISCONNECT
Now both X and Z matter. A lot. If X is close enough to a perceptual threshold, Z could potentially be quite small and still have a major effect.

Imagine an amazing drummer and bass player playing in the tightest, funkiest pocket you've ever heard. If either one is hearing themselves 5-10ms later than they expect to be hearing themselves (again, they're likely able to easily compensate for being X feet away from a bass amp or floor wedge), that perfect pocket could definitely suffer.
Yet another straw man. The thread is about latency in digital modelers. You're referring to latency in monitoring.

One fact you can't argue with is that the bass player is hearing the kick drum anywhere from 4-10ms after the beater strikes the drum head. If the kick drum is close-mic'ed and the bass recorded direct, and the bass player's timing is perfect - meaning he plays perfectly in sync with the sound of the kick drum as he hears it - there will be a 4-10ms discrepancy between the recorded sounds of the kick drum and the bass. Are you saying that's a problem? It's always gonna be there.

It's not the same thing, but I've timeshifted tens of thousands of audio files by less than 5ms to attempt hitting a pocket.
If you're trying to "hit a pocket" with a postprocess, it's very unlikely there was a pocket to begin with.

But to be fair, I agree that 5-10ms is more than sufficient for most guitarists. But any producer who tells an artist they aren't hearing or feeling something isn't a very good producer.
I haven't seen a single "producer"make such a ridiculous statement in this thread. Links?
 
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Jay Mitchell

Member
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5,832
Hell, there's often negative latency in large venues, where your IEMs send you signals before you might expect to hear them,
It's not just IEMs. It's that floor wedge right in front of you, and the precedence ("negative latency") is worse with an all-analog sound system. That's been the case for as long as there've been floor wedges....
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,740
Clearly they know where their amp is, whether they're staring at it like a moron all night or not.

What bias? Clearly, it behooves companies making digital audio products to insist latency isn't a big deal. However, my personal experience in the studio with countless artists over the decades says otherwise. Even when I can't necessarily hear or feel the latency they claim to, I'm not gonna tell them they're wrong like others in this thread seem to be doing.

How without looking? A player takes 3 steps to the right to show boat for a few bars and they somehow have a perfect mental image of exactly how far they are from their amp and how many ms it should take to hit their ears? Or...the brain simply adjusts to that additional latency unconsciously.

I'm talking about player bias, not you personally. If a player believes digital in inferior, they will latch onto anything to justify it.
 

ejecta

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,374
I'm talking about player bias, not you personally. If a player believes digital in inferior, they will latch onto anything to justify it.
Again I think it’s a bit presumptuous to think you can say this is for a fact at play here or anywhere these discussions happen for that matter. You’d have to be able to judge someone’s motives and personally I’m not comfortable doing that even when I know the person very well by having them actually in my life, let alone people I only “know” via forum where very little is shared that would aid you to even come close to being able to judge like that. YMMV.
 

PLysander

Member
Messages
589
Again, if you see an amp X feet away but it sounds like it's Y feet away, that is inherently unnatural, and some people can and do experience a disconnect.

I'm not disagreeing with this in general. I'm just saying that anyone convinced that a difference of a few feet is throwing their playing off is, well, mistaken.

It's not anyone's job to tell another what they may or may not be experiencing.

Absolutely. I mentioned this before a couple times in this discussion: psychoacoustics are very real. If you feel that digital latency is impairing your playing, by all means, ditch it and use whatever makes you bond with your instrument and create better music. Steve Vai is convinced his Synergy modules solve a problem with his Axe-FX modelers, so he plays better because of it - and we all benefit. Who the hell am i to question that?

Just realize this cuts both ways. We're talking about differences that simply cannot be physically perceived - it's all mental. So anyone suggesting that X is empirically better than Y because it measures 2ms less in audio latency is doing a disservice.
 
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Digital Igloo

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5,068
That statement is exactly wrong. Time of flight for direct sound is, by definition, latency. The fact that, in an acoustic space, there are multiple latencies - due to multiple acoustic paths - does not alter that fact. If you wish to understand why playing through a cab a few feet away in an acoustic space is perceived differently than dry latency, you must look to those things that differ between an acoustic space and dry latency to account for that. There are several such things, BTW. FYI, time of flight in an anechoic environment would qualify as dry latency.
I typed and deleted anechoic chambers twice so far. Yes, messing with acoustics can screw with one's performance as well, which is why many guitarists dislike playing in overly treated rooms.
Straw man. This was never at issue. I can name products from major manufacturers that failed, both functionally and in the marketplace, for that very reason.
Huh? People in this very thread are suggesting throughput latency in digital modelers isn't a problem.
Agreed. In addition, there are almost always variables in addition to latency that make the question impossible to answer.
Of course, but when an artist is struggling with and complaining about X ms of digital system latency but is suddenly fine and appreciative about Y ms of digital system latency after setting up a control panel-based (or if necessary, analog-based) monitor mix, there's definitely a measurable delta, even disregarding other factors.
Another straw man. Nobody has said "who cares." Whether 2ms total latency is perceptible is one question. Whether an added 2ms can push an individual over a perceptual threshold - there are several of those - is quite another.
Again, not a straw man. People have repeatedly conflated acoustic latency with digital system latency in this thread... which is why I don't like calling acoustic latency "latency" at all, even though it technically is.
See the above reference to perceptual thresholds. Because of them, the exact value of X matters. A lot.
Agreed. At at certain distance, acoustic latency can also be jarring. We can probably assume that most people here are playing at traditional distances from their amps. If one's regularly gigging across an airplane hangar from their backline, they have bigger problems.
Now both X and Z matter. A lot. If X is close enough to a perceptual threshold, Z could potentially be quite small and still have a major effect.
Agreed, 100%.
Yet another straw man. The thread is about latency in digital modelers. You're referring to latency in monitoring.
No, I'm absolutely talking about latency in digital systems (modelers, DAWs, whatever). I'm saying that in the vast majority of cases, digital system latency is specifically what causes the DISCONNECT, not latency through the air (unless again, the X value is ridiculous).
One fact you can't argue with is that the bass player is hearing the kick drum anywhere from 4-10ms after the beater strikes the drum head. If the kick drum is close-mic'ed and the bass recorded direct, and the bass player's timing is perfect - meaning he plays perfectly in sync with the sound of the kick drum as he hears it - there will be a 4-10ms discrepancy between the recorded sounds of the kick drum and the bass. Are you saying that's a problem? It's always gonna be there.
Great rhythm sections pull off wondrous things even on largish stages. The 4-10ms time through the air is rarely a problem, because it's natural, expected, and subconsciously compensated for. But the perfect pocket can be easily upset with minimal additional latency from digital systems, depending on the musician.
If you're trying to "hit a pocket" with a postprocess, it's very unlikely there was a pocket to begin with.
I've never once encountered a musician whose takes not only couldn't be improved a bit with editing, but who didn't actively want me to fix timing issues here and there, sometimes sitting with me in the edit session, calling out things I personally can't discern. And yes, I've worked with some of LA's top session guys.
I haven't seen a single "producer"make such a ridiculous statement in this thread. Links?
Okay Jay, it seems like you're purposely trying to put words in my mouth now. I'm a producer. If I work with a musician claiming to hear or feel latency, I fix it for them. I don't tell them they're not experiencing something. Others here—whether they're producers or not—are saying 5ms, 10ms, or sometimes more should be a non-issue for anyone, including Steve Vai.
 
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PLysander

Member
Messages
589
If latency is the only difference between X and Y - it almost never is - then X is preferable.

Preferable? Absolutely. Perceivable? That's a whole different can of worms :)

Anyone convinced they can discern absolute single-digit ms differences in audio should give the BPM example i mentioned earlier a go.
 

Digital Igloo

Member
Messages
5,068
How without looking? A player takes 3 steps to the right to show boat for a few bars and they somehow have a perfect mental image of exactly how far they are from their amp and how many ms it should take to hit their ears? Or...the brain simply adjusts to that additional latency unconsciously.
It absolutely does, but add enough additional, unnatural latency via a digital system, and some musicians can have a very different experience than just walking around the stage.
 

Jay Mitchell

Member
Messages
5,832
I typed and deleted anechoic chambers twice so far. Yes, messing with acoustics can screw with one's performance as well, which is why many guitarists dislike playing in overly treated rooms.
You just admitted that latency is latency. In an acoustic space there are parameters in addition to TOF latency that may affect the perception of the difference. Nonetheless, when you stand 8 feet in front of your amp, there is approximately seven milliseconds of latency before the sound arrives at your ears. If you can adapt to that - and all the evidence indicates that millions of guitarists can - then you can adapt to seven milliseconds latency in your 'phones. It may require that a simulation of room sound be added to your signal, but there's a way to get there.
Again, not a straw man. People have repeatedly conflated acoustic latency with digital system latency in this thread... which is why I don't like calling acoustic latency "latency" at all, even though it technically is.
It perceptually is. It should tell you something that adding additional arrivals each with its own latency (room reflections) can make that primary latency less a problem. There may even be an epiphany in there somewhere.

No, I'm absolutely talking about latency in digital systems (modelers, DAWs, whatever). I'm saying that in the vast majority of cases, digital system latency is specifically what causes the DISCONNECT, not latency through the air (unless again, the X value is ridiculous).
The disconnect is caused by total latency in the signal. TOF adds to total latency.

Great rhythm sections pull off wondrous things even on largish stages. The 4-10ms time through the air is rarely a problem,
That's just evading my point. When you record a rhythm section live, there's no way for bass and kick drum to be reliably synchronized closer than the TOF-induced discrepancy I referenced, and the actual situation is even worse. The bass player hears kick drum late, and, in a live-in-the-studio environment, the drummer hears bass late. If you examine tracks zoomed in down to the millisecond level, there will always be observable timing discrepancies, even with the tightest pocket achievable. A microscope is seldom the best instrument with which to look at a sunset or a waterfall....
 
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ejecta

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,374
It absolutely does, but add enough additional, unnatural latency via a digital system, and some musicians can have a very different experience than just walking around the stage.
Situation A: Player standing 5 ft away from a tube head with guitar straight in and amp into cab.

Situation B: Player plugged straight in and standing 5 ft away from an amplified modeler into cab.

Let’s say we can use the term latency to refer to the time it takes for sound to travel AND the built in latency of a digital system due to hardware limitations.

Setting aside whether some people think a person can detect it or not…. it’s correct to say situation B would have more “latency” than A due to the additional latency introduced by the digital system?
 
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