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What is the best procedure to set up a DAW to automatically compensate for latency and how do you get the least amount of latency without clicks

I had been DAWless for a few years and I seem to have forgotten how to set up the automatic latency compensation. I used to have a standard procedure for setting this but I seem to have forgotten what it was. Since I'm asking this, I might as well add a question about how you set a DAW up for minimum latency because I believe both should be part of the same process

I'm using Cubase and Live but I believe every modern DAW has this function. Essentially what it does is to delay pre-recorded material and VST outputs to sync with signals coming into the analogue audio inputs so that there's no delay (latency) between the two.

Ideally I'm looking for a procedure that can be replicated on any DAW and give automatic sample accurate latency compensation.


In Ableton Live you can set this up from the Preferences window at the Audio tab. enter image description here

There's also a Test section where you can generate a test tone and simulate high CPU usage. I believe this is to help you set the size of the audio buffer before changing the error (latency) compensation but confirmation on this would be appreciated.


In Cubase it is found in the Device setup window (under Devices) enter image description here


I think this could be a helpful question for beginners and users of other DAW software so please make your answers apply to any DAW and make them easy for beginners to follow.

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It's a trade-off, so it's not a case of setting it up once and leaving it.

In general, lower buffer setting = lower latency = higher CPU load!

When recording a live singer or musician, you want your latency to be as low as possible without there being any audible glitches. Usually I do this by trial and error, working up from the lowest possible buffer value, until I stop getting glitches. This is because it's hard to record to a backing track when there is an audible latency.

Upon playback only (mixing arranging etc), you can set latency to the highest possible value to free up more processing power for additional CPU intensive plug-ins.

The record latency should be calculated automatically (it corrects for the fact that your musician is hearing everything late, so it pushes the recording back by the same amount). You would get involved in changing the value if you knew there was something else introducing latency in addition to your DAW (external equipment?). Personally I never change this value, as I don't introduce additional latency.

Hope this helps!

  • Hi Simon. I was under the impression that if you don't set this correctly any recorded material will be offset (delayed) by the latency amount. A number of people I know who write fast music had this problem but from what I read on the Ableton site, it appears you're right. Apparently this setting is mainly for onboard audio interfaces that don't report the latency correctly. – Schizomorph Sep 18 '17 at 17:52
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  • Hi @Schizomorph. Glad you found the help article, useful for anyone else finding their way here! – Simon Bosley Sep 19 '17 at 14:17

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