USB midi problems...latency

please help!


i recently bought a laptop. (P4 3ghz, 768mb ram) ive got an edirol um-1 midi to usb, which i want to use to record a roland td-6 vdrum kit. ive been using reason 3 and cubase sx (and had a quick try with ntrack). my problem across all programs was the latency from the drumkit making it impossible to monitor and play at the same time (about half a second delay).

i can see in these programs that the midi is going at exactly the moment the td-6 is hit. but the sound is delayed. is this my soundcard’s problem??

i do not have an external soundcard yet, just the soundmax digital audio that is inside the laptop. (ive tried asio4all but it didnt seem to make any difference)
i plan to buy an outboard soundcard next payday. this is the one i was planning to get:

its a phonic helixboard 18 firewire. it doesnt have midi capablitiy, and i am wondering if i should get a different option, something similar but with a midi input as well? or will my edirol um-1 be enough once ive got a decent soundcard with decent asio drivers?

realise this has little to do with ntrack, but ive searched other places (like the vdrums forum, and midi forums) and had no luck, and you people have helped me in the past.

thanks for anyones advice.



is this my soundcard’s problem??

Possibly. Let us know a little more about what you are doing or WANT to do. You are recording the MIDI data from the TD-6 right? When you say the sound is delayed by a half-second, WHAT is producing the sound? Is it a soft synth in your laptop? The Microsoft MIDI synth? If it’s the MS synth, forget it! That thing is notoriously SLOOOOW…

More details and maybe we can help you out eh? :)


ok, more info…

the sound is delayed by half a second, the output is “SoundMax Wavetable Synth” or “Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth”. both are about as delayed as each other. i am using the GM drum map in Cubase as the trigger sounds.

(in reason, i have since managed to get the latency down by changing the buffer size within reason/preferences/audio - but for some reason the drums are all mapped to incorrect tiggers - ie hitting hihat will cause tom1 to fire, or hitting the snare rim will cause the mute button of the crash to fire…very odd, but thats another problem)

in my list of midi outputs, the edirol USB to midi is also listed, but i assume i do not want the midi data to go BACK to the td-6 again?

the only other midi outputs are the same three isted again with (emulated) next to the name (from cubase searches im told these are not good and shouldnt be used).

so - do i need to get an audio soundcard with midi capability? or will getting a decent audio card fix this problem? i thought buying the edirol usb to midi and an audio card would be all i would need…?

Both the SoundMax Wavetable Synth and the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth are software synth MIDI devices. What yo are seeing is by-desing when using these are the MIDI Out device. To get lower to nearly no latency you’ll have to select a differnt device. This is not a the fault of your soundcard be the design of those particular devices. Emulated will be even worse.


i do not have an external soundcard yet, just the soundmax digital audio that is inside the laptop.

Since that is the case you will nedd something with hardware MIDI capabilities.

That said, VST instruments can be used as the MIDI output. (someone that does that should pipe in the how todos)

ok i can now record realtime drums in reason 3 (changing buffer sizes worked) and i sorted the drum map issues. this is great, i can record and overdub drum parts in real-time. no notable delay on the midi at all when going through reason.

so i can use reason, but cubase is still delayed. i used asio4all (to change wdm drivers to asio) so my latency in cubase now shows as 3ms, but there is still a delay on midi.


What yo are seeing is by-desing when using these are the MIDI Out device.

sorry phoo, i just cannot understand what this sentence says…

can someone please clarify for me: my current midi output (Soundmax Wavetable Synth) is the device that ‘plays’ my midi files? and NOT my asio drivers?

however, i got low latency in reason 3 by altering the audio buffer size, even though reason is purely playing midi files at present. but when i alter the buffer size in cubase (using asio4all) there is no difference in my midi latency in this program.

i am confused…! please help. i am buying a soundcard next week, and need to know whether to change my planned purchase for something that does have midi inputs and its own version of my integrated soundcard’s wavetable synth.


What yo are seeing is by-desing when using these are the MIDI Out device.

That’s my bad typing…dyslexia combined with not spell checking.

What you are seeing is by-design when using one these as your MIDI Out device. That’s the way they work.

can someone please clarify for me: my current midi output (Soundmax Wavetable Synth) is the device that ‘plays’ my midi files? and NOT my asio drivers?

Yes, SoundMax Wavetable Synth is a device that plays MIDI files. It’s a software synth. Software synths, such as that one and the MS Wavetable Synth have a lot of built in latency. That’s latency that you will get and can’t get around when using one of those. This is NOT caused by the drivers and can not be solved by using ASIO or changing buffer settings.

There are alternatives. Someone else will need to explain them since I don’t have a good handle on how to explain it will. I use a hardware stand alone MIDI sound module. That totally avoids the issue.

I know that I haven’t fully answered your questions or given much in the way as alternatives.

thanks for your help phoo.

but changing buffer settings in reason HAS given me lower latency on midi…which goes against the conventional wisdom i suppose.

anyone help me out? many thanks in advance.


Changing buffers settings will change the apparent latency since it changes the latency of wave palyback – software synths end up as wave playback. It won’t work well to solve the real issue of software synth latnecy since that latency is caused by a different reason. THAT latency is the processing to create the sound in the first place. (VST instruments have ways of compensating for this so they are a good alternative.)

There are some folks around here that can help you out, much better that I can. They’ll pipe in eventually. :)

There’s a few different things going on and it’s hard to separate them.

You might try setting up Cubase SX with a MIDI track with the input FROM the Edirol and outputting to the included LM-7 VSTi softsynth. You load the synth by going to the Devices menu and selecting VST Instruments. Load the LM-7 in one slot and give it a whirl.

phoo is correct in stating that the SoundMAX Wavetable Synth and MS GS Wavetable synth are lousy by design. They are OK for simple playback of MIDI tracks but the processing delay makes for terrible performance as a “real time” instrument.

Try the LM-7 and get back to us…


ok thanks for the help guys. midi is very new to me.

i got the lm7 up and running, thats going at a pretty acceptable latency now.

to get round this problem long term then, i am gonna need to get an outboard soundcard with midi capability? or do i need a standalone midi hardware controller AND a soundcard? (i want to record audio too.)

thanks again

I hate to bring up the obvious, but did you set the soundcard settings to the asio driver for cubase? Using the wdm drivers will kill your latency.I have an edirol pcr-1 and asio for all worked great with it. Hope this helps, if not good luck