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Delay Compensation

A process of manipulating the timing of digital audio tracks so that any latency resulting from the application of plug-in effects or instruments is accounted for, resulting in the accurate synchronization of those tracks with other tracks which are not affected by latency-causing processing. Even with the fastest possible computer CPUs and hardware-accelerated DSP cards, routing an audio track through digital effects plug-in creates latency in the output of the effected audio. This latency can be almost imperceptible, such as a few samples, or it could be greater, up to a few milliseconds. As a result, that track’s audio reaches the output stage slightly later than tracks that aren’t passed through a plug-in. Multiply the effect of one track’s latency by a potential of several tracks undergoing processing (each with a slightly different amount of latency) and you eventually end up with a “smeared” audio output – one in which the tracks aren’t in perfect synchronization with each other, with audible differences in attacks, phase and releases. Musically speaking, this may not necessarily be a bad thing (although hardly anyone could argue it’s a good thing), but if you’re layering unison parts, for example, the combined latencies of several processed tracks can be distracting. It’s also very destructive to building a proper soundstage in a mix.

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