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Latency from digital pedals?


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#1 dannybuoy

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 09:27 AM

Latency is well known about and discussed when it comes to audio interfaces for PCs/Macs/iPads - basically there is a processing delay between you playing and the signal coming out of the other end. If there's 10ms or more delay between me playing and hearing I can feel it, especially when playing fast funky stuff. Most devices can operate around 5ms which is fine for me.

But what's the typical latency of a digital pedal? They have nowhere near the processing power of a computer or tablet, but on the other hand they will be more optimised, e.g. not having to route audio through a USB controller. I've never noticed any latency from a digital pedal so it must be pretty low. But I have seen boards where people run several digital pedals in series (e.g. multiple Source Audio, Strymon and Eventide pedals) - surely they must be stacking up and approaching the tipping point where it starts to become noticeable? I wonder if these players would have a revelation in re-experiencing the immediacy and direct connection with their instrument if they were to switch to analog gear or just plug straight into the amp!

Edited by dannybuoy, 01 March 2016 - 09:29 AM.


#2 rmorris

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:20 PM

Interesting question. Bear in mind that just the analogue to digital conversion and back again takes some time. On modern delta sigma type converters it's in the order of 1ms so thats around 2ms per pedal.
From that point of view it would be better to have the option of a digital input and output when chaining pedals using, say, SPDIF or AES3 but that's not usually available on pedal units ?
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#3 Meddle

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:48 PM

My Boss OD-20 and Zoom G3 both have a subtle latency issue. When you blend them with another signal you get a subtle comb-filter effect.

#4 cheddatom

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:49 PM

I have loads of digital pedals and I've never noticed any at all!
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#5 Skybone

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 02:00 PM

Likewise, I have a few digital effects, and don't notice any latency at all. All of the recent Line6 Zoom gear I've tried has been great.

I've owned digital delay pedals where it was a problem (and they coloured the sound too much as well), but that was quite some time ago.

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#6 Dapper Bandit

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 03:02 PM

Having played through multiple Eventide pedals for a number of years now I cannot say I've noticed any latency and when I've plugged in directly on other occasions there has been no revelation or increase in immediacy.
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#7 dannybuoy

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 03:11 PM

For single pedals I don't think any modern pedal would have an issue - it's more when they are stacked up in series, there's a lot of redundant A/D D/A conversion going on... but I guess if you had enough pedals to make a difference, your sound would be so smeared in delay/reverb/whammy that you wouldn't be able to tell anyway!

#8 Dad3353

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 03:11 PM

View PostDapper Bandit, on 01 March 2016 - 03:02 PM, said:

Having played through multiple Eventide pedals for a number of years now I cannot say I've noticed any latency and when I've plugged in directly on other occasions there has been no revelation or increase in immediacy.

But aren't Eventide essentially delay pedals anyway..? :lol: :P
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#9 rmorris

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 03:15 PM

View PostMeddle, on 01 March 2016 - 12:48 PM, said:

My Boss OD-20 and Zoom G3 both have a subtle latency issue. When you blend them with another signal you get a subtle comb-filter effect.

Yes. In practice this may be more of an issue. If you sum a delayed signal with a non delayed signal then you will get a comb filter effect as you have fixed time delay acting on a range of frequencies. You need only a small delay for this to be noticeable.
eg you'll get this if you split a signal with one path going through eg a digital compressor effect and being summed with the original.
For many it won't be an issue but it can be in some cases eg using a digital compressor for "parallel compression".
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#10 Dapper Bandit

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 08:53 PM

View PostDad3353, on 01 March 2016 - 03:11 PM, said:



But aren't Eventide essentially delay pedals anyway..? :lol: :P

Curses, I've been rumbled!

Thinking back, one song we did involved some intentionally freaky-deaky pitch shifting with the Pitchfactor and I could never get it to skip or waver even when playing at the limits of my ability. Which probably says more about the limits of my ability in all honesty...
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#11 Cato

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 09:04 PM

My Zoom B1on has noticeable latency on some patches but not on others, some of the envelope filter patches are pretty much unusable for very fast stuff, whereas other, similar sounding filter patches are fine. Maybe its a it's more of a tracking issue?

Edited by Cato, 01 March 2016 - 09:06 PM.


#12 Meddle

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 09:16 PM

My Digitech Bass Squeeze is another pedal with latency issues. I tried side-chaining it as a piece of outboard gear when recording, No dice! Comb filtering and phase issues with that pedal.

#13 rmorris

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 12:44 PM

View PostMeddle, on 01 March 2016 - 09:16 PM, said:

My Digitech Bass Squeeze is another pedal with latency issues. I tried side-chaining it as a piece of outboard gear when recording, No dice! Comb filtering and phase issues with that pedal.

Bear in mind that any digital kit will give phase issues when configured in parallel to a straight through signal. It's not really a problem with the digital unit itself. The latency need not be large enough to give a perceived problem when used alone.
The only real way around it is to put the same delay into the 'straight through' path.
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#14 ahpook

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 08:56 PM

View PostMeddle, on 01 March 2016 - 12:48 PM, said:

My Boss OD-20 and Zoom G3 both have a subtle latency issue. When you blend them with another signal you get a subtle comb-filter effect.

My B3 does as well and I've just done a very quick experiment - the delay looks to be ~1ms between a direct signal and one through the B3,

I do wonder if I can feel that milisecond - sometimes do feel less 'connected' when I'm playing through the B3 with a 100% wet signal like an amp sim

#15 Sibob

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 09:16 PM

It's commonly thought that most of us can't hear under 10m/s, and highly unlikely to physically register anything under 5m/s.
In my job I've had people arguing the toss over two devices reporting a difference of 0.3m/s and I really have to stop short of telling them where to go.
Bear in mind that you're likely hearing a latency of around 2m/s when playing an acoustic upright piano, considering the hammer mechanism and the time it takes the sound to travel from the string to your ear.

Of course, that analogue latency can perhaps start to build up marginally if you're adding a number of digital pedals maybe.
Generally speaking the digital conversion found on audio interfaces will be <1m/s each way, as you decrease the size and/or quality of the chip (as you might need to do for a pedal), less is possible. That said, some pedals will come with excellent conversion technology, for example I can't imagine Strymon spash out on Sharc DSP on their Big Sky and then skimp on the conversion.

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#16 dannybuoy

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 09:34 PM

You see some of these mega boards in the breeders thread on Talkbass where they can have several Source Audio, TC, Strymon etc then start to wonder how much delay they're adding if they were to switch them all on!

The TC pedals have a cool feature though where than the dry part of your signal in a delay for example passes through an analog signal path, being blended with the repeats from the digital converters just before the output.

#17 Woodinblack

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 10:47 PM

View PostSibob, on 31 August 2016 - 09:16 PM, said:

In my job I've had people arguing the toss over two devices reporting a difference of 0.3m/s and I really have to stop short of telling them where to go.

Sorry to be that guy, but I was seriously confused what you were doing in your job that meant you had to explain a difference of 0.3 meters per second, and had to read it several times until I realised you didn't mean m/s and actually meant ms (as in millisecond) :D
I know it should have been obvious in context what you meant but in my job I deal with both times and distances every hour of the day, so couldn't get my head round it!
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#18 Sibob

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 12:24 AM

View PostWoodinblack, on 31 August 2016 - 10:47 PM, said:



Sorry to be that guy, but I was seriously confused what you were doing in your job that meant you had to explain a difference of 0.3 meters per second, and had to read it several times until I realised you didn't mean m/s and actually meant ms (as in millisecond) :D
I know it should have been obvious in context what you meant but in my job I deal with both times and distances every hour of the day, so couldn't get my head round it!

No you're completely right, it's a really bad habit that I'm in, which is off as it actually takes more effort lol

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#19 ahpook

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 12:47 AM

View PostSibob, on 31 August 2016 - 09:16 PM, said:

It's commonly thought that most of us can't hear under 10m/s, and highly unlikely to physically register anything under 5m/s.
In my job I've had people arguing the toss over two devices reporting a difference of 0.3m/s and I really have to stop short of telling them where to go.
Bear in mind that you're likely hearing a latency of around 2m/s when playing an acoustic upright piano, considering the hammer mechanism and the time it takes the sound to travel from the string to your ear.

Of course, that analogue latency can perhaps start to build up marginally if you're adding a number of digital pedals maybe.
Generally speaking the digital conversion found on audio interfaces will be <1m/s each way, as you decrease the size and/or quality of the chip (as you might need to do for a pedal), less is possible. That said, some pedals will come with excellent conversion technology, for example I can't imagine Strymon spash out on Sharc DSP on their Big Sky and then skimp on the conversion.

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I'm not sure how the chips in the B3 are in the grand scheme of things, that's the only digital box I use at the moment. Thanks for the info about the thresholds. Food for thought - maybe I need to dome some double-blind tests.

#20 BigRedX

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 07:08 AM

If the manufacturers of digital effects were really on the ball they would all include digital ins and outs. Then you'd only have to do the A-D and D-A conversion once.

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#21 xroads

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 07:26 AM

Just bear in mind that sound in air travels 0.3m per millisecond; i.e. if your digital pedal introduces 4ms of delay, it would be the same as standing 1.2m farther away from your speakers.

#22 Woodinblack

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 04:32 PM

View Postahpook, on 01 September 2016 - 12:47 AM, said:

I'm not sure how the chips in the B3 are in the grand scheme of things, that's the only digital box I use at the moment. Thanks for the info about the thresholds. Food for thought - maybe I need to dome some double-blind tests.

The advantage of the B3 is that once it is digital you can do loads to it before converting it back.
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#23 Woodinblack

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 04:34 PM

View Postxroads, on 01 September 2016 - 07:26 AM, said:

Just bear in mind that sound in air travels 0.3m per millisecond; i.e. if your digital pedal introduces 4ms of delay, it would be the same as standing 1.2m farther away from your speakers.

Indeed. Or if you were just underwater, the same as standing 0.6m away!
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#24 ahpook

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 04:35 PM

View PostWoodinblack, on 01 September 2016 - 04:32 PM, said:

The advantage of the B3 is that once it is digital you can do loads to it before converting it back.

Very true !

#25 xroads

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 06:10 PM

View PostWoodinblack, on 01 September 2016 - 04:34 PM, said:

Indeed. Or if you were just underwater, the same as standing 0.6m away!

I like your thinking...I might replace some cables by water hoses...

#26 lefrash

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 05:45 PM

Not that I've noticed it in pedals, but when recording and there is a tiny bit of latency (ie not enough to hear it but it slightly feels disconnected) I quite like it and I think I sound great! 😁 very odd!

#27 Jack

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 01:16 PM

Bumping this to see if anyone has any more thoughts. I found it as I'm concerned about my 8ms Smoothhound working with a planned purchase of a "Less than 7ms" GK Plex....

#28 uncle psychosis

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 10:17 PM

 Jack, on 09 September 2017 - 01:16 PM, said:

Bumping this to see if anyone has any more thoughts. I found it as I'm concerned about my 8ms Smoothhound working with a planned purchase of a "Less than 7ms" GK Plex....

There's no way 15ms when playing a bass will be an issue. 15ms is about the shortest latency anyone can really detect.

It's like moving a few meters further away from your amp. No big deal.
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#29 dannybuoy

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 07:07 AM

If you were already a few metres from your cab that gave you a 15ms delay when plugged straight into the amp, then adding an extra 15ms could well be noticeable. I can certainly feel a 30ms delay affecting my timing when recording, 15ms not so much.

#30 Jack

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 10:08 PM

Thanks guys, I think I might swap to a wireless with a shorter delay anyway just to make sure...





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