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Latency / Sync problems (can't use ASIO)

Erik Wennstrom


Problem: audio recorded through microphone is out of sync with the metronome click track

This seems like a really basic problem, but all the fixes I can find online aren't really an option for me.

I'm using a Dell laptop running Windows 10. Headphones just plugged into the laptop's built-in soundcard. Microphone is maybe two tiny steps above using the built-in microphone.

The first big suggestion I've seen online to switch from WASAPI to ASIO, but that doesn't seem to be an option with this computer. I get the "This driver is known to be incompatible with Cakewalk." message if I try.

The second suggestion I keep saying is to go out and buy a "dedicated audio interface", but I'm not at a point where I want to buy more equipment just to record some music. 

Presumably there's just some way I can tell Cakewalk to automatically nudge the audio by x number of milliseconds. The delay seems consistent, so I can probably just measure that and get close enough, but I can't for the life of me find any option for how to do that.

Anyone have any tips for how to help me out here?

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Yes, and you're not going to like it. You need to get a proper audio interface that has a proper ASIO driver. Which will necessitate getting a proper microphone.

Yep. You're going to have to spend some money. There just isn't a good way around it.

Focusrite interfaces come highly recommended and really aren't that much. Especially if you can find a used one on eBay that someone is selling because they upgraded to something with more inputs.

Edited by Byron Dickens
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Thank you, Bass. That video had exactly the information I needed.

It's much more useful to be told what the limitations are for my set up than to be told I can make things better with a different set up.

For those who may find themselves in a similar place in the future, here are the details I needed from that video:

  • If you have a simple plug 'n play (PnP) microphone like me, you'll need to use WASAPI. ASIO may be better, but it isn't an option unless you have a separate audio board or a microphone with one built in.
  • The latency goes down if you use WASAPI exclusive, instead of WASAPI shared, but that does mean that nothing else on your computer can use your headphones or microphone while you are using it in Cakewalk. (You can select "Suspend Audio Engine When Cakewalk Is Not in Focus" so that you can tab away to say, a tutorial YouTube video.)
  • WASAPI can't automatically tell what latency adjustment to use like ASIO can, but there's a "Manual Offset" for each device where you can enter in a number to try to compensate for any remaining latency.

This last thing is really what I was looking for. In fact, I'd tried using this before, but I couldn't get it to work properly because the number here doesn't (at least on my system) seem to correspond directly to a millisecond delay, so the values I was setting were way too small to notice a difference. I had about a 90 ms delay (just enough to be noticeable and annoying), and I had to set this value to around 2000 to compensate. I don't know if this number is measuring in different units or there's something else going on, but it worked for me.

I expect I'll likely have to adjust this value periodically, but I'm okay with that annoyance. 

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