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I've been recording with a Focusrite Saffire USB 6 audio interface for about a year now and I have improved my musical skills over the time, but I still seem to have timing issues.

When recording vocals over any other track (f.e. MIDI track), my vocals sound off, delayed and not exactly on time; not only on specific parts, but usually over the whole song. I am not sure if it is a gear issue, or if my performance is just weak. Same issues when recording guitar over a 6mm jack (POD Bean). However, an acoustic performance (vocals and guitar at the same time) sounds in time.

The connection type of the interface is usb 1.1, maybe that's a problem... Are there any timing issues known with older audio interfaces or is there an other option to avoid that problem?

Additional info and gear I'm using:

  • RØDE NT1-A
  • XLR cable that was included with the mic
  • Reaper (DAW)
  • I record everything at home
  • Monitoring my track with headphones (output on the interface) when recording
4

Try recording either the output of monitor speakers along with your singing, or at least rerecording the signal you are getting on your headphones on a separate track with your singing.

Is your singing off-time with regard to the rerecorded track? If so, it is your singing.

If it isn't, then you are having latency. Figure out whether your soundcard settings include latency: less latency means more critical timing (and thus possibility for recording errors) but better synchronicity.

However, in multitrack scenarios, latency is not really a critical problem: as long as you know the latency, you can just offset the tracks by as much.

A reference signal is easy to generate by rerecording: a handclap works well for that (for the synchronization reference of sound film, a clapperboard is traditionally employed). If you play the original signal on one ear of a headphone and the rerecorded signal on the other, you can shift the delay of the original recording until "both" claps occur simultaneously.

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You are hearing the device's latency - the amount of time it takes to process the signal in & again out of the computer.

You can reduce the latency, depending on DAW software, by reducing the buffer size used for the interface - but this is at a cost of increased processing power required.

The usual solution is simply to not listen to the throughput when recording, but listen to the direct input source instead. Zero latency that way.

That Focusrite has a control to swing the balance between input & output at record time.
From their site…

Dedicated input/playback mix dial
Blend your monitor mix between what you're recording and the audio from the computer, for true zero-latency monitoring.

enter image description here

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As long as you are singing in time with what you heard coming out of your speakers/headphones, it doesn't matter if the resulting recording puts these tracks out of sync. It's entirely normal - you just shift the start of tracks as necessary to align them, which should be pretty trivial; I had to do this when recording separate piano parts for a dozen Christmas carols recently and in Audacity it only took a handful of seconds per song to sort out.

Of course if your vocal goes in and out of sync with an instrumental, that means one of those isn't in constant time to start with and you need to figure out which, maybe add a click-track or something.

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