What is Latency?

The term latency refers to the period of time a computer needs to process an audio signal. It is usually measured in milliseconds.

If the latency is too high, it can be disturbing while music recording and playback. This applies for example if you record a software instrument via a MIDI controller keyboard and the latency is so high that there is an audible delay between hitting a key and the playback of the audio signal through the speakers.

Thus, the latency should be set as low as possible to avoid audible delays. However, if the latency is set too low, distortion, crackles and dropouts may occur because the computer cannot process the audio material quickly enough. If this is the case, gradually increase the latency until the playback is clean.

Note for PC users: If you cannot find a latency that is both low enough and interference-free, also read the "Windows Tuning Tips" linked in the Related Articles area at the bottom of this page.

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