Understanding latency with audio interfaces

Question

Will I experience any latency when im playing realtime through my computer?

Answer

When you play through any device that uses AD or DA converters, latency will always be introduced. When you play through a computer (no matter which computer, using any type of audio interface), the operating system introduces additional latency on top of the converter latency.

So, yes, you will, no matter what, experience additional latency if you use a computer compared to not using one. The question is how much latency you experience, and whether it will matter to you, or not.

Beware that as it does takes some time for sound to travel through the air (343 meters per second @ 20 degrees celsius, sea level), even moving a few meters away from a speaker will introduce latency. A distance of 1 meter typically results in approximately 3 ms latency. So if you stand 3 meters from your speaker (-s), you'll experience approximately 9 ms of latency.

The latency in your system also very much depends on how much other work your computer has to do. If you play back a lot of tracks and use a lot of plug-ins, you will typically have to raise the latency, for the computer to be able to cope with the workload in the first place. If you don't play back a lot of tracks and use only a few plug-ins, you can typically lower the latency significantly.


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