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What is (roughly) the lowest real-world latency achievable for the "roundtrip" from a guitar/mic input through realtime software-based processing and out to the speakers?


Bonus questions:

  1. What apps and "virtual buses" (like JACK) are best for low-latency realtime audio-processing?
  2. What apps and "virtual buses" are worst for latency?
  3. Does "chaining" PC-based (either within a single app like Ableton Live or when chaining between multiple apps) effects necessarily compound the latency?
  4. What is roughly the typical latency of "DSP-based" (not software-based but not analog) guitar/vocal effects?
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I can't answer the main question, but I can give some guesses to the bonus ones: For 1., I believe the better systems (ASIO, Jack, Core Audio...) all get to the limit of the hardware. There are differences in practise, but these have to do with the kernel and drivers more than the virtual buses. — For 2. I'd strongly suspect WSS. — For 3., yes, how could it not? There's no way the subsequent plugins could foresee what the first one will output after its latency delay. — For 4. I believe it is possible to get zero latency with embedded DSPs (when running with sample-rate synchronous clock). – leftaroundabout Mar 18 '12 at 13:29

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