Clock: A Simple But Very Big Thing

The start of my guitar education marked the start of me using the input half of my snazzy audio interface (Focusrite Saffire). Prior to that my recordings, with a few exceptions, involved "in the box" sounds. Since I started recording myself playing guitar, I've been having timing problems. Sometimes subtle, sometimes not. Being old school, I'd just do a new take. Or being new school, I'd done some more modern magic and make corrections. I have read and heard people talk and complain about latency. I just chalked my problems up to latency and my own n00b guitar chops.

Several people I talked to seemed to think what I was experiencing might be a bit much but until today I've been accepting this crappy state of affairs. What changed? Today, I was playing around with a track from sudara and glu on alonetone. I noodled and noodled but every recording I made was way out of time. wtf!

Eventually, a gasket blew and I recorded myself playing quarter notes with a metronome. The recordings were like a 16th note off! Check the audio settings in Live. The reported inbound latency is 9ms (a lot less than a 16th note!) ... What gives? Look lower. On a Mac, lower in the software stack is CoreAudio and the app you use to configure things is called Audio MIDI Setup (pictured above). Here is where you select the default audio ins and outs, their properties, etc. Looking at my settings, I see Clock Source: and mine was set to Device. I change the setting to Mac and magically my guitar playing no longer sounds like a fall down drunk (just tipsy).

So there it is, I'm a dumbass. But maybe my story will save you some grief. Too bad I won't get back the time I spend recording and discarding takes. Argh!

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