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Scott Kendrick

Reduce/Eliminate Latency - Capturing Midi From Roland Drum Module

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Hi all - I've read a lot of posts and had some feedback on unrelated posts, but still a little confused about the best approach to capture midi in-time with an existing track/click track in Cakewalk.

  • I use a Roland TD25
  • I run Cakewalk on my Dell Precision 5520, 2.6 GHz, 32 GB of Ram, SS drive, Windows 10
  • Ultimately I need to map the midi to EZDrummer instrument (but as noted below - learning I should probably do this after Midi capture)

So here's the approach I'm taking based on advice so far from this forum.

  • I have a bed or click track already in my cakewalk project that I need to play along with - tempo is all set
  • I connect my TD25 to my laptop with the USB cable... everything working there
  • I connect my laptop audio out back to my TD25 audio input
  • Headphones connected to TD25 module
  • I setup an instrument track in Cakewalk that I'm capturing the midi within - as mentioned above, I used to have this be an EZDrummer midi folder of tracks, but in a vdrums form it was recently recommended that I not use EZdrummer at this point to reduce one possible source of latency 
    • Q1: So do I use an instrument or just a basic midi track? (not certain I understand the difference)
    • Q2: Will all the different triggered notes map to the right drums when I move to EzDrummer? And what's the best way to do this... just copy paste?
  • I arm the track and record - so audio out of the cakewalk bed track and my drums as I play are all mixed via the module through my headphones

I still have had some latency issues - but I was using WASAPI as the driver mode. I just tried installing ASIO4All and MAY have this working - not certain if it's improving or not, time will tell - I was running into drop out issues. There are so many settings in Devices, DRiver Settings, Playback and Record, and the Midi section - not sure if I have everything as it should be

  • Q3: Is this the best/right approach to reduce or eliminate latency while capturing midi (don't need the audio) from my Roland Drum Module?
  • Q4: To improve/simplify things - would a Midi interface device (hardware) between the TD25 and the laptop be of any help? Or since I already have USB direct out of the TD25, will that make any difference at all? 
  • Q5: If dedicated midi hardware device would help - does anyone have recommendations for Midi interfaces that work well with Cakewalk and Roland Drum Modules?

Thanks very much in advance!

Scott

 

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I have a MOTU Fastlane and Roland drums. All you have to do is just listen to the audio and record away! Midi card does not affect latency - mostly the audio card.  If I am looking for low latency, I usually bounce the projects music to a single track. Then open it in a new project (No plugins).  Add the midi track and record. I also have a MOTU  Express 128 that I also use.  Not much difference between these when only recording a single midi track.

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Did you install the midi driver for the Roland drums? This makes a big difference in latency. Otherwise Widows will use a crappy generic driver. 

And it does help to have a proper ASIO interface. I have no problem just like Max. 

I insert a blank midi track. set the input to my drums and the output to what ever VST drummer I choose, never makes a difference to me. I don't use simple instrument tracks I always keep midi and VST on there own tracks. 

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I do have the Roland Midi driver installed... I believe that is the only way the TD25 actually gets recognized as an input device on my PC. W/o I dont' think I'd be able to capture with either EZDrummer or Cakewalk. But if there's a way to check to make sure it's installed and I'm using it correctly, please let me know.

And to confirm - yes, I've got a single audio track and trying to capture a single midi track aligned to it. No other tracks, FX etc. 

If the midi card does not affect latency and I'm not trying to capture audio, is ther any point in having something like a MOTU Fastlane?

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I don't know that much about the TD25, but it looks like it already has a midi device built in and accessible VIA USB cable.

https://rolandcorp.com.au/blog/recording-v-drums-masterclass-td-17-and-td-25

You should be able to record just fine from here?

Q1: So do I use an instrument or just a basic midi track? (not certain I understand the difference)

There is no actual differenct - it is only about how you look at it.  I like a plain and simple midi track. No VSTs, No VSTi's Listen to TD25 with one headphone and the Laptop audio other ear. Or use a mixer and route both to some Monitors.

Q2: Will all the different triggered notes map to the right drums when I move to EzDrummer? And what's the best way to do this... just copy paste?

There will be nothing to copy and paste. Just midi. Once it is recorded you add the EZ Drummer VSTi and point the Midi track to it.

Q3: Is this the best/right approach to reduce or eliminate latency while capturing midi (don't need the audio) from my Roland Drum Module?

It is the only good way to do it. I never had much luck with ASIO4All. Better luck with 

Q4: To improve/simplify things - would a Midi interface device (hardware) between the TD25 and the laptop be of any help? Or since I already have USB direct out of the TD25, will that make any difference at all? 

Not sure but I don't think it would make much difference. TD25 already has midi.

Q5: If dedicated midi hardware device would help - does anyone have recommendations for Midi interfaces that work well with Cakewalk and Roland Drum Modules?

I like MOTU products. One thing, though- what a lot of people perceive as MIDI latency is really audio latency. Which is another discussion altogether.

 

 

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On 9/17/2020 at 11:16 PM, Max Arwood said:

Once it is recorded you add the EZ Drummer VSTi and point the Midi track to it.

Can you explain in a little more detail here -- what I had been doing is starting with the EZDRummer VSTi vs. adding it after, so I'm unsure how to add it to an already existing midi and making sure I get all 16 outputs from EZdrummer.

On 9/17/2020 at 11:16 PM, Max Arwood said:

It is the only good way to do it. I never had much luck with ASIO4All. Better luck with 

It looks like maybe you didn't finish your thought here? Better luck with... ?

On 9/17/2020 at 11:16 PM, Max Arwood said:

what a lot of people perceive as MIDI latency is really audio latency.

Can you explain --- I'm only sending/trying to capture midi out of the TD25 and yes it is sending midi, and I can capture it. The problem is, when I'm playing along with an audio track in my Cakewalk project there appears to be delay. Example - I can hear what I play on the TD 25 and then a few miliseconds later I also hear what cakewalk is sending back. as it captures it during recording.

 

Thanks!

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OK - so I did make some progress.. I had a heck of a time getting the ASIO drivers to work. Cakewalk would hang constantly - turns out I had to uninstall both ASIO4ALL and part of my soundcard (RealTek) drivers that had their own ASIO... once I did that I could select TD25 for both INPUT and OUTPUT devices and use ASIO as the driver mode... then when I play my audio file in cakewalk to play along with, the audio actual transmits back to the module through the USB - don't need audio out from the PC. The only tentative problem right now is as soon as I start turning buffer down, I get audio drop outs, playback stops or choppyness... so if in the end I can't get lower buffer/latency, I don't know if I gain anything, but it's seeming like maybe the latency is pretty low. Not sure where an audio interface fits still, also not sure how to capture drums in a midi and then route back to the EZDrummer instrument, without reating a new instrument and copying midi into that..

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*without creating a new instrument and copying midi into that..

I usually already have extra tracks set up. Nothing wrong with copying to a new midi track. I usually record several tracks then point them to the Drum instrument track to audition them.

Glad you are getting close! 

Not sure why of how much latency you have.  Low quality midi cable could cause data errors and slow things down a little.  Also the length of the cable makes a small difference (Not much but some) 

 

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Don't confuse the OP talking about midi cables. The TD25 uses USB, not midi cables. 

Midi latency can happen if your project contains a bunch of CPU intensive VST effects plug ins.  Always bypass all FX while tracking. 

Yes a low buffer will cause dropouts depending on your system -  audio interfaces build quality, drivers and CPU all contribute.  

Yes a good quality interface like Moto or RME interface will probably solve the audio latency issue. 

No you do not need an interface with midi. You have the midi via USB which is just as good if not better. 

I use a plain midi track to record my drums. I like my drums to all be in one track so as to make editing easier in PVR. And I have my own reasons for not cluttering that up with a simple instrument track. Midi in a track(s), VST in a track(s) 

You can start with just using the mixer built into the VST GUI. Later you can learn how to insert a VST with multiple audio outputs. Myself it's rare I need to do this unless I need a better effects or processing than the VST supplies. I don't have EzDrummer but Addictive drums  seems to have pretty good EQ, reverb and compression. 

 I used to always track the drums using the sounds from the Brain. I found I played tighter to the tracks.  I used a small mixer to blend the computer playback with the brian output. So I leave input echo off during tracking. Otherwise there is always just a tiny echo. 

On rare occasions I might use part of the brain sounds I they worked for the song.  Example the cymbals and hi hats works better from the brain.  They don't sound better than the VST but they respond correctly to CC. 

Edited by John Vere
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Your audio interface will determine the lowest latency you can achieve.

Of course, the machine has to be able to keep up with the load (or you'll hear glitches or experience drop-outs).

 

Are you using the TD25 as your audio interface... or are you using the Laptop's onboard audio?

The TD25 (if it's like the large TD50) functions as a USB audio interface.

Between the Laptop's onboard audio and TD25, the TD25 has a proper ASIO driver (which will out-perform ASIO-4-ALL).

If you're after super low round-trip latency, you won't be happy using either the TD25 or Laptop's onboard audio as your audio interface.

If getting a dedicated audio interface (that offers low round-trip latency) isn't an option, use the TD25.

 

If you're dealing with an audio interface that doesn't offer 5ms round-trip latency or lower, forget triggering samples from EZ Drummer in realtime (there will be too much lag).  

In this scenario, I'd record the MIDI performance from the TD25 (monitoring its internal sounds while tracking against the click-track).

Once the TD25 MIDI performance is recorded, you can then route the MIDI track to an instance of EZ Drummer.

You'll miss being able to play the EZ Drummer sounds in realtime... but it's the most effective work-around (to avoid latency).

 

If you had a Thunderbolt audio interface like the Presonus Quantum... paired with a fast machine, you could trigger EZ Drummer in realtime... with no perceptible lag/latency.  

Quantum can run at 96k using a 32-sample ASIO buffer size (resulting in total round-trip latency of 1ms).  

At these settings, the machine has 1/3 of a millisecond to process the next buffer and get it in cue for playback.

If anything interrupts this process, you'll hear glitches.

This can be done, but (needless to say)... it's extremely demanding.

 

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thanks - I definitely don't need to hear the EZDrummer instrument while recording. I manage all that post capture. but can you elaborate on best way to do this

>>"Once the TD25 MIDI performance is recorded, you can then route the MIDI track to an instance of EZ Drummer."

I want to make sure I can map the captured midi to the individual tracks for mixer track in Ezdrummer - e.g. a kick, a snare, overheads - etc... that's the way I record now and I do this so I can independently apply effects, adjust volumes etc. The only way I've approached "routing" the captured midi is to insert the EZD instrument track after the fact and copy paste the midi from the base midi track into that instrument track. Hope that makes sense.

Also I've been learning towards the FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 for my audio interface - seems like a pretty popular one, but would it work for these purposes we are discussing? (if you're familiar)

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While it is possible to split each MIDI note or groups of notes into separate tracks

3 minutes ago, Scott Kendrick said:

that's the way I record now and I do this so I can independently apply effects, adjust volumes etc.

all of this may be done by breaking out the audio from EZDrummer into separate tracks and use a single MIDI track as its input.

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18 minutes ago, Scott Kendrick said:

I want to make sure I can map the captured midi to the individual tracks for mixer track in Ezdrummer - e.g. a kick, a snare, overheads - etc... that's the way I record now and I do this so I can independently apply effects, adjust volumes etc. The only way I've approached "routing" the captured midi is to insert the EZD instrument track after the fact and copy paste the midi from the base midi track into that instrument track. Hope that makes sense.

Also I've been learning towards the FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 for my audio interface - seems like a pretty popular one, but would it work for these purposes we are discussing? (if you're familiar)

You'll need a MIDI Drum Map that changes the MIDI notes (recorded from the TD25)... into the MIDI notes that trigger the desired sounds from EZ Drummer.

If one doesn't already exist, I'm sure you could create one in 30-60 minutes.

 

Create a test project with the following:

  • MIDI Drum performance (recorded from the TD25) - on a MIDI Track
  • MIDI Drum Map (to map the TD25 pad notes to articulations in EZ Drummer)
  • Instrument Track with EZ Drummer

You could (also) change the MIDI notes the TD25 pads send... to match the desired sounds in EZ Drummer (thus eliminating the need to use a MIDI Drum Map).

There are also MIDI Drum Maps in EZ Drummer (there is a "Roland" Map but not sure it matches the TD25).

There's no right/wrong way to get to the proper MIDI notes (to trigger the desired EZ Drummer sounds).  Pick what makes most sense to you.

 

With the above test project:

On the MIDI track with your MIDI drum performance, select the MIDI Drum Map (you created for the TD25) as the MIDI output

If you use a MIDI Drum Map in Cakewalk, that Drum Map allows you to select the EZ Drummer instance for the MIDI output of each mapped MIDI note

  • If you use EZ Drummer's MIDI Maps, skip this step.
  • If you changed the MIDI notes sent by the Nitro pads (on the TD25 itself), skip this step.

If not using MIDI Drum Maps in Cakewalk, set the MIDI Output (of the recorded MIDI Drum track) to EZ Drummer.

The recorded MIDI drum performance should now be triggering EZ Drummer (with the desired articulations).

 

When you insert EZ Drummer into your Cakewalk project, you have two options for the Instrument track.

  1. Simple Instrument Track - creates a single stereo output for EZ Drummer
  2. Instrument Track Per Output - creates a track for each audio output from EZ Drummer

With the first option, you'd have to mix the drums within EZ Drummer.

With the second option, you've got individual mic channels that can be mixed within Cakewalk (Kick, Snare, HiHat, Toms, Overheads, etc).

There's no right/wrong... just how you prefer to work 

 

The Focusrite Scarlett series is OK when it comes to round-trip latency (~6ms at the smallest buffer size). 

It would be better for triggering EZ Drummer samples in realtime (than the TD25's onboard audio interface)... as it offers lower round-trip latency.

Some drummers would find even 5-6ms round-trip latency too much lag to comfortably trigger EZ Drummer samples in realtime.

Get that lag (round-trip latency) sub 3ms... and it feels a lot more immediate.

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Scott Kendrick said:

The only way I've approached "routing" the captured midi is to insert the EZD instrument track after the fact and copy paste the midi from the base midi track into that instrument track.

I think the easiest way is to click Insert at the top, select your synth, uncheck 'Create MIDI Source Track", then direct your MIDI track to the synth. No copying necessary.
Potato, potahto. 

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Actually all you have to do is set EZ drummer as the output of the midi track. 

Roland possibly uses GM midi mapping? EZ drummer I think has a GM mode. I know AD2 and Session drums do. 

As scook has said all you need to do is when you insert EZ drummer is choose the multi output option. 

 

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On 9/22/2020 at 12:46 AM, Scott Kendrick said:

OK - so I did make some progress.. I had a heck of a time getting the ASIO drivers to work. Cakewalk would hang constantly - turns out I had to uninstall both ASIO4ALL and part of my soundcard (RealTek) drivers that had their own ASIO... once I did that I could select TD25 for both INPUT and OUTPUT devices and use ASIO as the driver mode... then when I play my audio file in cakewalk to play along with, the audio actual transmits back to the module through the USB - don't need audio out from the PC. The only tentative problem right now is as soon as I start turning buffer down, I get audio drop outs, playback stops or choppyness... so if in the end I can't get lower buffer/latency, I don't know if I gain anything, but it's seeming like maybe the latency is pretty low. Not sure where an audio interface fits still, also not sure how to capture drums in a midi and then route back to the EZDrummer instrument, without reating a new instrument and copying midi into that..

My TD11 shows ~12ms latency.  I guess TD25 is in the same category. But before thinking about reducing it by audio interface, there are several things to check.

  1. if you can't set all settings to lowest (in Roland ASIO panel) without drop outs/choppyness, you need to optimize your computer till you can. Another interface will not help to solve that problem
  2. it can be 12ms is ok for you. Simple check: put speakers ~4m away from your head. Is it still comfortable to play e-drums? If yes, you should be fine when playing throw EZDrummer using headphones (10ms ~ 3.4m for the sound speed).
  3. check that latency throw EZDrummer is really what is expected based on current reported latency. I repeat, if you see 12ms it should really be close to the same in headphones with EZDrummer as with internal TD sound and speakers 4m away.

 

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