Understanding "Reduced Latency when Monitoring"

  • Live Versions: ALL
  • Operating System: ALL

“Reduced Latency when Monitoring” helps bypassing the additional latency introduced by plugins or track delays on tracks set to Monitor "In" or set to  "Auto", if "Record Arm" is enabled.

This setting can be accessed via the “Options” menu in Live. Being a global option, this setting is stored within a Live Set.

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Example #1: Triggering external MIDI devices via a MIDI and audio track.

When sending notes to external MIDI gear without using the External Instrument device, the system latency might cause the audio generated by a synthesizer to be played back by Live with some delay, depending on the audio buffer size currently in use and on the amount and type of devices or plugins in use.

By using a negative Track Delay for the MIDI track,  it is possible to compensate for this delay, but this will only work if the option Reduced Latency when Monitoring is enabled.

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Because in fact the audio generated by the external synthesiser is being monitored in a different (Audio) Track, using a negative track delay on the MIDI channel automatically delays all other channels, included the destination for the audio signals.

"Reduced Latency when Monitoring" will allow this additional latency to be bypassed, thus the audio signals should now be reflecting the changes of the negative Track delay.

Example #2: Plug-in Latency

A number of third party plugins, and in general all audio effects which use “Lookahead” features (certain Compressors, Noise Gates and Limiters) can add a certain amount of latency, determined by the audio buffer size.  Enabling the above option will let you bypass this extra latency for tracks set to “Input monitoring” or where the "Record Arm" button is enabled.

Important notes:

When "Reduced Latency when Monitoring" is active, clicks can take place when enabling Input Monitoring or record enabling tracks due to sudden changes in the track's delay compensation.  This is particularly obvious with Push, because of the fact that the device auto-arms selected tracks.

While performing live, you might want to disable this option to avoid annoying drop outs. 

Furthermore, when this option is active, automation recorded on armed tracks is placed at the wrong time relative to recorded audio and MIDI if latency-inducing plug-ins are currently in use.

As a result, what is played back sounds different from what is recorded.