A while back when I was dorming in college, I remember having to do most of my practicing through my laptop and freeware amp sims because amplifiers were banned from the dorms.

The latency on my setup was noticeable but playable, and after 10 mins it felt negligible. However, since getting back home, I've noticed a stark increase in my synchronization and timing with all my techniques. At the same time I've also changed my practice methods, habits, techniques and so forth so it's hard to isolate the cause.

So, while I did manage to improve during that time, do you think that practicing on a latent system like this could hamper progress or does our brain adjust? And, if it is a problem, do you know of any good solutions?

  • 1
    I bought a line6 pod hd500x recently (~$450), and I don't notice any latency. The latency probably depends on the effects processor whether it's a PC or a standalone system like the pod. Jun 30, 2016 at 14:29
  • I am skeptical that it has any impact that cannot be corrected through practice. However re: latency on a cheap system, hopefully you are using ASIO drivers. Note that my first foray into amp sims was on on older desktop with realtek chipset and I found that setting the ASIO to 96k (higher quality) actually reduced latency (iirc about 3-5 ms). I suspect this is because the chipset was 96k native and the "normal" 44/48k was downsampling and therefore increasing latency.
    – Yorik
    Jun 30, 2016 at 18:10
  • I will say that using the exact same setup (Focusrite interface > Reaper > FR Monitors) on PC and Mac, there was significantly less latency with the Mac. The PC is a solidly built gaming rig, and a MacBook pro. I can practice with latency, but then while recording I find myself playing before the beat. I am sure this is probably person-independent but latency issues are called issues for a reason. Try to find a setup that decreases it as much as possible.
    – Kyle
    Jul 1, 2016 at 10:32

1 Answer 1


While any latency does upset the feedback loop between ears-brain-fingers, you can of course work around this through practice. You could probably become proficient without being able to hear the sounds at all.

Sure, it could slow down learning until your brain has come to terms with the latency delay, but as you still have the physical touch feedback from your fingers, this is not a terminal problem (playing at large venues, I have on occasion had monitors fail, so all I can hear is my own sound reflected from the back of the venue - which can give a significant delay! Annoying, but you can cope)

The solution, as Frank mentioned, is to get a good amp sim. I too swear by Line6, and have the HD500, and I use that in the studio, practicing, and gigging at small venues or festivals. There is no noticeable latency on one of these.

Even modern laptops with a good amp sim and ASIO drivers should be short enough latency that you won't notice it.

So - update your laptop, get ASIO drivers, and possibly think about a better amp sim.

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