Performing with VDL2

I'm in the pit orchestra for a musical and I'm using VDL2 and a synth instead of packing in a bunch of mallet instruments.  It's working allright so far, just a few issues I could use some feedback on.  First, any suggestions on how best to amplify?  I'm running it off a PC laptop.  Also, I'm getting a bit of delay from the time I hit the key to the time the sound comes out.  Is that unavoidable, or can I do something to the settings to fix it?  I have the output latency set to 40ms.  I tried turning it down to 7 and it destroyed the sound quality.  I'd like to, if possible, hook up my effects pedal so it will control the volume of the VDL sample instead of having to turn them up in the computer interface. 

Has anyone tried to use VDL2 in a live performance setting before?  I'd be interested to hear what your experiences are like.

J. Peter Wolk-Laniewski
George Fox University
HP Laptop
709 MB  RAM
Pentium 4
Windows XP
Technics KN2000 Keyboard
That's great to hear! Thanks for keeping us posted on your successful dive into the ";live VDL2"; performance pool.
So it turned out the latency problem was imaginary.  I played all my parts in time and the report from the music director was that it lined up.  We had a great run, barring a few brain farts (me forgetting to load a sound, etc.), and VDL2 performed admirably.  Thank you to everyone for your help in making it all happen.

J. Peter Wolk-Laniewski
George Fox University
You know, if he's in a big area, and there's a significant delay from house speakers to his ears, it may be possible to cut some of the time through in-ear monitoring.  Whether it's feasible is another thing, but if the speakers are just a scant fifty feet up, his true latency is 17 + 50ms, since sound travels roughly one foot per ms.

Unless there's a miraculous speeding of sound beyond Mach 1, the best way to improve his relative audible source on his noggin...
[quote author=nervoustic link=topic=1397.msg6370#msg6370 date=1161885906]
Luckily, I go to a Christian University, so we pray before every show anyway.

[/quote]

Excellent. :) I hope that works out for you.
After some tweaking, I got the latency down to 17ms, and the sound guy put a speaker in the back so I could hear myself.  Unfortuneatly, running the computer through the house sound system has added a significant amount of latency that noone seems to be able to do anything about.  I'm basically playing the parts early and hoping they sort of line up.  Luckily, I go to a Christian University, so we pray before every show anyway.

J. Peter Wolk-Laniewski
George Fox University
[quote author=nervoustic link=topic=1397.msg6355#msg6355 date=1161709056]
Last night I went in and cranked the buffer size to maximum.  It cleaned up the sound, but increased the latency.  I'll take a look at that website and see if I can improve it.  Thanks for the quick reply!

[/quote]

Exactly. This is what I would expect would happen. Buffer [b][i]is[/i][/b] latency. I don't think cranking it to the max would be advisable for live performance, but perhaps if it were a notch higher than when you had it at 13ms, it might work better for you. Hopefully you might find some more assistance with the asio4all crowd as well. Good luck!
Last night I went in and cranked the buffer size to maximum.  It cleaned up the sound, but increased the latency.  I'll take a look at that website and see if I can improve it.  Thanks for the quick reply!

J. Peter Wolk-Laniewski
George Fox University
Well better today than on opening night, right? :)
Sorry - not poking fun at your problem. Hopefully it's something you can get ironed out in the next day or so.

For starters, be sure you're launching your session FRESH and have no other audio programs running at the time you launch VDL.

Also, if you haven't already, I'd suggest running down the nice, long list of Tuning Tips which you can find at:
http://www.musicxp.net/
This will help you streamline Windows for the best possible audio performance since, by default, it's not necessarily setup for the audio performance you're asking of it.

Depending on your output device, you may or may not have a latency slider in the VDL2 soundcard setup window. As you've discovered, ASIO4all is one of those. You'll probably see a new button called ";ASIO Config"; next to the output device (which, in this case, is ASIO4all - kind of a virtual soundcard as it were). When you click on this, you shoud be able to alter the latency (aka buffer size) up or down, possibly in increments of 128.

Since you can't spring for a real audio interface at the current time, ASIO4all may have to be your best bet, but from reading their site, it is one of those ";use at your own risk"; pieces of software. Still, from what I can tell, it's been quite stable for many folks. If you haven't already, you should carefully sift through the FAQ's at http://www.musicxp.net/. They also have a forum where you may receive answers from people better versed in Asio4all.
So I installed ASIO4all and it appeared to fix my latency problem.  Then, about five minutes ago, I plugged everything in for a sound check and my computer is spitting out distorted bells sounds.  It sounds the way it did when the latency was set too low on the old driver, but I haven't touched the settings since I installed ASIO.  What gives?  In the sound card setup you can't alter the latency settings under ASIO, either.  We open on Thursday, so your haste will be appreciated.

J. Peter Wolk-Laniewski

Latency 13ms
44100

Technics KN2000 Keyboard
M-Audio Midisport Uno USB/MIDI interface
In a live situation like this, rather than reaching for the mouse (or trackpad as it were), most people would probably switch instruments by simply switching channels on the actual midi controller (your physical keyboard). It's probably faster that way.

I'd start saving some pennies for the audio interface and RAM, but in the meantime, you might find some improved performance to lower latency by using ASIO4all. There are some posts on it on this forum if you do a search. I believe you can download it (free) from http://www.asio4all.com.

The only caveat about outputting to the house would be that I'd assume you still need a way to monitor yourself. Might be a question for your sound guy.
A few more details.  First, I am a poor college student so as much as I'd like to, I can't beef up my RAM or by an expensive external sound card.  I'm not sure how the sound guy is planning to amp the synths.  We tried running it through a cheap amp and it sucked.  Would you recommend running through the house sound system?  How exactly can I get the sound to run through the synth speakers?  That would help alot with controlling the volume.  Right now one of the problems is that everytime I load a new instrument, I have to remember to turn the volume up on the VDL interface and I forget sometimes.  Because I have such limited RAM I'm only loading 3 or 4 instruments at a time and switching between them by changing the MIDI channel on VDL.  If there's a better way to switch instruments I'd be glad to hear it.  Thanks for all the info so far!  Keep it coming!

J. Peter Wolk-Laniewski
George Fox University
For live performance, you definitely want the latency setting as low as you can get it. My guess is that you're using a cheap, on-board soundcard. If you use an audio interface that supports lower latency (ASIO drivers), it shoul be very useable. Since you're using a laptop, it may be easiest to use an outboard USB interface like the M-Audio Mobilpre which has two 1/4"; line outputs that can go to the amp.

As Gabe mentioned, if you had a bit more RAM, you could de-activate DFD altogether (meaning all samples will load completely to RAM) to avoid possible artifacts from a slow moving laptop hard drive. I doubt 700mb RAM is enough to fully load all the instruments you're wanting to use, so DFD is probably mandatory until you can beef up memory. So while you're using DFD, try fiddling with DFD settings, and ensure you have the no. of reserved voices set to 256.

Fun to hear that you're doing this with VDL2! Let us know how your setup is progressing.
First you should try adding more RAM to help with delay.  I have used the VDL:2 sounds with a Malletkat and ran the laptop through a soundboard.  Are you using a synth. player?  Can you hook into the  Sytnth's amp? It is probably going straight to the house rather then from an amp in the pit.
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