How To Reduce Latency In Logic Pro | 3 Practical TipsNov 06, 2023
Regardless of how much of a powerhouse your computer is, as a music producer, your creative visions and artistic endeavors will put the limits of your gear to the test. Apple’s Logic Pro is a vastly popular digital audio workstation (DAW) thanks to its seamless integration with Mac computers. Though powerful, Logic Pro can bring forth limitations that create hiccups during the music creation process.
When recording audio, monitoring plays a crucial role in ensuring that you capture what you seek. Whether it is vocal, the guitar, or other instruments, listening to your input signal, along with the rest of your project, allows you to capture a track that suits the mood of your song. One of the main issues that can interfere with your recording process is latency (delay) in input monitoring. For professionals and those with sharp ears, even a few milliseconds of latency can result in an off-putting sensation when recording.
Therefore, it is vital to ensure you reduce latency as much as your software and hardware gear allow you to before proceeding to record a new track. Let’s dive deep into some of the best tricks and adjustments you have available in Logic to tackle latency issues.
Choose The Proper Sample Rate Before Kicking Things Off
One of the first things you want to determine before starting a project in Logic Pro is choosing the right sample rate. Your computer (or your audio interface) turns the audio signal into digital bits to process. In short, sample rate is the number of samples taken per second to create a digital representation of your audio signal.
A higher sample rate requires more storage space and processing power. On the other hand, a higher sample rate naturally results in a reduction in latency. Think of it this way: if you double the sample rate, you’ll halve the duration of each digital sample. So, although it takes more CPU power to deal with higher sample rates, smaller digital packets move more quickly from the input into the computer and to the output.
To change the sample rate for your project:
- Click “File” from the top-left of your screen
- Hover your pointer on “Project Settings” and select “Audio…”
- Change the project’s sample rate.
For regular industry-standard songs you hear on streaming services, 44.1 and 48 kHz are ideal. Higher rates focus on preserving high-fidelity audio for projects targeted at audiophiles.
Reduce I/O Buffer Size When Recording
The primary setting that directly affects monitoring latency is the I/O buffer size. This adjustment sets how much time your computer has to process a sound in real time. A lower buffer size means your computer has less time to process audio, which takes more processing power but reduces latency instantly.
On the other hand, a higher buffer size means your CPU doesn’t have to work as hard, but more latency will be introduced to the equation when monitoring audio.
Here’s how you change the I/O buffer size:
- Click “Logic Pro” from the top-left corner of your screen.
- Hover your pointer on “settings” and select “Audio…”
- From the pop-up menu, change the “I/O Buffer Size” variable.
In theory, you’d want the lowest buffer size possible when recording. However, going all the way down to 32 samples on larger projects with lots of CPU-hungry plugins can lead to harsh pops during the playback, lags and glitches in Logic, and ultimately a system overload message. One hundred twenty-eight samples is a good place to start when recording audio.
On the other hand, you’d want to maximize the buffer size (1024 samples) when mixing and mastering for better sound quality and reducing stress on your computer’s RAM and processor.
Sometimes, projects can get too hefty for the computer’s processor, not letting us lower the buffer size without facing a system overload alert. Thankfully, there are multiple ways you can manage CPU usage in Logic Pro to avoid facing such headaches. One way is to adjust processing threads settings within Logic:
- Click “Logic Pro” from the top-left corner of the screen.
- Hover your pointer on “Settings” and select “Audio…”
- Click the “Processing Threads” drop-down menu and select the highest one.
Bear in mind that this can affect your computer’s responsiveness if your Logic session is too demanding. In the case of ARM-based chips, the CPUs inside Mac computers have efficiency cores that run the basic tasks and high-performance cores that take care of more demanding programs. If you set all of your CPU cores to run a massive Logic project, your computer will run slower than it does regularly. Naturally, closing Logic or changing back settings to automatic will make everything up and running as before.
Use Logic’s Low Latency Mode
Some plugins can contribute to a lot of jarring input monitoring latency. A dynamic plugin, such as the Adaptive Limiter, can result in a lot of latency with its look-ahead function. In such cases, the built-in low latency mode in Logic saves the day by temporarily disabling any plugin that contributes to anything over 0.5 ms of input monitoring latency.
Here’s how you can turn on the low latency mode in Logic:
- Click “Record” from the top of your screen.
- Select “Low Latency Monitoring Mode.”
Alternatively, you can access its dedicated button by customizing the control bar at the top. Adding the tools you use frequently to the control bar and display at the upper section of Logic’s workstation is one of the primary adjustments you should make when customizing Logic Pro. Here’s how you do it
- Control-click on the upper section of Logic’s workstation.
- Select “Customize Control Bar and Display…”
- Check “Low Latency Monitoring Mode.”
You’ll see a little icon pop up on the menu bar that looks like a speedometer. Clicking that will enable/disable the low latency mode in Logic.
The low latency mode might temporarily disable some effects that we want to hear while monitoring the input. If you’ve used buses and sends to apply reverb, you might notice that they turn orange once you enable the low latency mode, indicating that Logic has disabled them.
You can open the mixer (press “X” on your keyboard), click on disabled buses, and select “Low Latency Safe” to enable them again while the low latency mode is still on.
Final Thoughts About Reducing Latency While Recording
These tips should help you reduce latency as much as possible with your current gear. However, if you’re constantly reaching the limits of your computer when working with Logic, you might want to consider getting a more powerful Mac for music production.
Moreover, your audio interface plays a major role in managing input latency. Typically, audio interfaces supporting Thunderbolt connection work better. The Universal Audio Apollo Twin X I use in my studio is a killer Thunderbolt audio interface many producers use.
For more lessons on music production, mixing, mastering, and songwriting, check out my Free 6 Pillars To Learn Logic Pro Faster guidebook.