And milliseconds add up.
I have found myself in the middle of a deep, dark place. A place known as sunt facta verbis difficiliora. Works are harder than words, or, in today’s parlance, easier said than done.
At the moment, I am trying to juggle too many things and I am losing that most precious asset, time. Time is a constant reminder that I have work to do and that I need to be using time effectively to get all the tasks finished.
I have been making progress so I should not be too hard on myself. However, between now and my daughter’s wedding, I have yet to see a way through it all. And when the unexpected happens, I do the only reasonable thing a human being can do.
I like totally freak out.
One of the many projects I have on the go involves recording. I am producing, engineering, arranging and playing on this project. I am behind schedule. I got behind schedule because I was late on another task which involved mixing and mastering two sets of performance tracks. The work on performance tracks took over 20 hours. Which is not a lot of time, but enough to take out a week on the calendar. Which pushed the current project out. I thought I would get caught up this week-end except that I am playing and recording the whole week-end. Rehearsals Saturday morning. Sessions Saturday afternoon. Practice Saturday evening. Rehearsals Sunday morning. Downbeat Sunday morning. Rehearsals Sunday afternoon. Downbeat Sunday evening.
Okay. Plan B. I will use the evenings during the week to get caught up. This impacts cycling but maybe I can just take a break from riding for the week. Except that I am going out of town for most of next week on business and I will wind up losing two weeks of cycling.
I’ve lost the thread. Oh yes. Milliseconds.
So, I am hard at work in the studio last night. I have basics down. Drums, bass, electric guitars. And now I need to track acoustic guitar tracks. When I track acoustic guitar, I use open mics. Time for headphones and cue mixes. I have a wireless keyboard which is what I use to drive the Pro Tools rig remotely.
I get the input signal chain all lined up. Prep the cue mix — click track, stereo drums, stereo electric guitars, bass, acoustic. Initiate recording.
Er. What’s up with the delay?
As I started to play, there was somewhere north of 20 to 30 milliseconds of latency in the system. In other words, from the time I struck a note, there was a delay of about 25 milliseconds before I heard that note in my headphones. Now, I know what you are thinking. Can 25 to 30 milliseconds matter?
Yup. Basically, I could not track. When I would hear a downbeat, my instrument would be late to my ears. Virtually impossible to record.
I have a Pro Tools HD system. Latency is not supposed to be an issue. And it has not happened to me in the past. I have tracked thousands of hours on this rig. No latency issues. I mean, maybe there is some latency in the system but nothing that I would perceive. Certainly nothing like a 20 to 30 millisecond delay. I spent most of the night last night trying to troubleshoot the latency. Reconfigure buffer sizes. Reconfigure automatic delay compensation. Reboot the rig. Reconfigure the studio master clock. I mean, who has time to do all this stuff?
I decided to start a test session. One acoustic guitar. One Master Fader.
Obviously, the rig is fine so it must have something to do with the particular session file I was using. I bring that session file back up and check all of the parameters. The system has lots of capacity. 8 open audio DSP engines. Less than 20 percent utilization on the CPUs and the PCI bus. I cleaned up the buses and used my standard default configuration.
Maybe some plug-in is causing me pain. I generally include a stack of reverbs and delays in my sessions. 1/8 note delays, 1/4 note delays, 1/2 note delays, hall verbs, drum plate verbs, harmonizers. I took them out. All of them. Banished them into the great digital wasteland.
And, at that point, I was done. Frankly, I don’t care which plug-in was causing me grief. Maybe it was a bad buss assignment. I don’t know. All I know is that I lost an entire evening chasing down a phantom gremlin in the system. A 20 to 30 millisecond delay took out 4 hours of productive work.
How do projects get late? One day at a time. In my case, one millisecond at a time.
I completely understand. Just finished up a project myself in my home studio (my first full-band recording) and can attest to the joys of tracking myself. Wireless mice = wonderful invention.
Oh so that’s why you got new mic or whatever, so that you could track it.
The Secret Powers of Time
“Time is the most important resource you have. This video is a great example of how your perspective of time can change you.
Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.”
“The revolution of time what if we added an 8th day to the week – how would you spend it?”