Understanding "Driver Error Compensation"

  • Live Versions: Live 9.2 and later
  • Operating System: All

Background

In Live's audio preferences, the total overall latency is reported by the soundcard or audio interface depending on the audio buffer size and sample rate selected. When recording audio and the recording track's monitor is set to "Off", the recorded audio is offset by the amount displayed in 'Overall Latency' so that it lines up correctly. However certain soundcards and audio interfaces may report an inaccurate latency.

Driver Error Compensation gives you the ability to manually correct these errors.  

It's possible to correctly calculate the deviation from the stated latency and then input this amount to the "Driver Error Compensation" field in Live's Audio preferences. Once correctly set, the offset on the recorded audio will be adjusted so that it lines up properly. 

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When to use Driver Error Compensation

If Live's Delay Compensation is active, the recording tracks monitor is set to "off" and you are still experiencing mis-aligned audio after recording, then it's likely that your soundcard or audio interface is not reporting its latency correctly. In this case, you'll need to correctly set the Driver Error Compensation amount.

Driver Error compensation is only relevant in cases when recording audio, where the recording track's monitor is set to "Off". If monitoring AND recording on a track where the monitor is set to "In" or "Auto", then Driver Error Compensation is not applied.

Which interfaces report latency correctly and which don't

Certain interfaces have native Core Audio (Mac) or ASIO drivers (Windows) which are provided by the interface manufacturer.

Class-compliant interfaces use the built-in driver of the system itself - on Mac this is Core Audio, on Windows this can be ASIO or MME/Direct X. On Windows we recommend using the ASIO drivers where possible.

Some interfaces can switch between Native mode and Class-Compliant mode. Others have no native drivers and only be used in class-compliant mode.

We have performed internal tests on a number of interfaces and drivers and have the following observations:

Audio interfaces using their own native Core Audio or ASIO Drivers

Interfaces running in Native mode report accurate latency values, meaning that if you use one of these devices there should be no need to adjust Driver Error Compensation.

Class-compliant audio interfaces

Interfaces running in class compliant mode report latencies inaccurately.  For these devices, Driver Error Compensation should be correctly tested and set in Live's Audio preferences.

Built-in Soundcards

Mac and PC built-in soundcards do not report latencies accurately. Not only are they inaccurately reported, but the latency value grows as the buffer size increases.  When using these soundcards, Driver Error Compensation should be correctly tested and set in Live's Audio preferences.

How to set Driver Error Compensation properly

Live has a built-in lesson including a specifically calibrated set which allows you to set Driver Error Compensation correctly.  For the lesson you will need a cable and an audio interface with at least one physical input and output. This can be found in the help view:

Help > Help View > Show all built-in Lessons > Driver Error Compensation (under the Hardware Setup category).

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It's also possible to adjust the Driver Error Compensation amount by trial and error, using sound from an external hardware device with a sharp attack, like a drum machine hit or synth stab. Create a MIDI pattern which plays the external hardware, then record the audio back into Live - compare it to the MIDI pattern in arrangement view and adjust the Driver Error Compensation amount. Repeat and continue adjusting until the recorded audio lines up correctly. However using this method is less accurate if the hardware device has its own inherent latency.

Note 1: The Driver Error Compensation amount can be positive or negative, depending on the specific offset needed.

Note 2: The Driver Error Compensation amount is only correct at the buffer size and sample rate used when testing. If either of these change, then it needs to be calculated again and adjusted.

Note 3: If Driver error compensation is set incorrectly, either to an extreme amount or used when it doesn't need to be, it can cause playback issues.

Finding out more about Latency

Latency and Delay Compensation Overview

Understanding "Reduced Latency When Monitoring" 

Driver Error Compensation not working