USB microphone and latency

Computer microphones introduce software latency to audio processing.

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The delay in a computer microphone, known as "latency" among the audiophile set, is usually not a big deal when video calling Grandma in Duluth. But when it comes time to record a podcast or sync up musical tracks, the latency can become more than just an annoyance - it can ruin your hard work.

Causes of Latency

Microphones connected to a computer via a USB port have to first convert the audio information into digital code that the computer then re-converts into audio through the sound card and then speakers. The time it takes for that conversion to take place shows up as a slight delay. The more software that gets between the microphone and the eventual output, the greater the delay is likely to be. Computers can have enhancements to the audio - like reverb, or equalization - there can also be programs that monitor the audio for voice recognition purposes. If you're recording multiple channels of audio through one USB 1.1 input you may experience latency due to the bandwidth limitations of the older USB specification, a 2.0 or 3.0 USB port allows for the higher bandwidth necessary for recording multiple tracks at the same time.

Operating Systems

The first place to check for any software delays is in the operating system. The audio properties for recording devices allow you to see what settings are in place for the mic. Disabling enhancements can help reduce delay. There may also be an option to listen to a microphone so you can hear, through headphones, what sound the microphone is picking up. However, this also causes a slight delay in the audio. Make sure that any such listening option is disabled.

Hardware Drivers

Higher-end USB microphones may have proprietary drivers created by the manufacturer to interface with the computer. Operating systems have built-in, generic microphone drivers that will suffice for most USB mics but may not have the fine-tuning capabilities possible with a driver written specifically for that microphone. Check with the manufacturer to see if there are hardware drivers you can download to work with your microphone.

Recording Software

Computer microphones introduce software latency to audio processing.

I didn't have much luck with the Lightsnake USB

by toddg

Adapter. Its fine for recording, but there's too much latency to allow you to play live through your computer.
If you're recording, you may want to consider a USB microphone. Will allow you to record other instruments, and to record some of the room. Guitars recorded direct sound unnatural to my ears, like they're being played in some weird abstract space.

Samson Meteorite review | USB Microphone | TrustedReviews  — TrustedReviews
The Samson Meteorite is a cracking little portable USB microphone that will be perfect for those that want to take the first step towards higher quality audio recordings. It's incredibly portable, easy to use and provides good quality sound.

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