How to Set Buffer size – Learn once and forever the BUFFER | Tips for music producing and recording

HOW TO SET BUFFER SIZE.

 

When talking about Buffer and Buffer Size, before you understand the all concept on how to set Buffer Size, there are a few technical things that you need to know first.

We have to think that  when using the computer, we have multiple programs running,  the PC is constantly working to give us the best performance. For every task our computer has to manage to convert the Command given into Action in a matter of milliseconds.

When playing audio trough our computer, to be able to ear it from the speakers, the PC has to put the audio trough a process which converts the sound from DIGITAL to ANALOGUE.

BUFFER AND BUFFER SIZE.

It’s a really complicated task  for a Computer to make everything work at the same time.  Looking at our emails, surfing on the web, playing games, producing music etc., are actions that takes a lot of Memory, RAM and that give a lot of work to the PC  Processor.  Luckily the PC’s of today, can process billion of things at the same time and it wouldn’t seem so hard to complete all these tasks but unfortunately to be able to play audio, the PC has to sample sounds and make a sort of a Queue so that they are  ready to be thrown out. This Queue  of Samples is called BUFFER.

The BUFFER SIZE is there to indicate how many samples of audio the PC has put into waiting mode (QUEUE). The lower the size the less Samples will be ready, the highest the size the more samples will be ready.

 

I am sure that somehow you already came across Buffer settings and you probably have notice the term “sample”,  528 samples, 128 samples ect.. Well these samples, to be more specific are pieces of audio that our computer has set and put them a side ready to go, so that when we give the command to play audio these samples are ready to be  processed form DIGITAL to ANALOGUE and be played straight away.

DEEPER INTO THE BUFFER SIZE

So now that you got the technical part and you completely understood what the Buffer and Buffer Size  is, we can go to the next step which is  “HOW TO SET BUFFER SIZE“.

 

I presume you are already using a DAW,  if you don’t  just letting you know, no matter what DAW you are or will be using, you’ll need to set your buffer size.

HIGH BUFFER SIZE.

Having an high Buffer Size means to command our PC to sample more sounds which will be ready to trough out.

So in conclusion if we are producing music with a lot of plug-in  and sounds,  is preferable to use an high buffer size because it will get our computer ready to play a large amount of audio out of the speaker avoiding any glitching or interference with the audio.

There is an important thing you have to know though, when setting up an high buffer size, if we want to record voices or instrument from a microphone there will be a delay into the recording audio. This is obviously a big concern for music producer but there is a way to make everything work. I’ll explain later.


LOW BUFFER SIZE.

Setting up a low Buffer Size is completely different  then having an higher one. The low Buffer will decrease  the latency of any audio recorded trough microphones.

So if you already know that you need to record audio for your Music Project keep in mind to have a  LOW BUFFER SIZE so that your recording won’t present any latency.

There are also a few Cons for having a Low Buffer Size.  Low Buffer won’t allow us to use many plug-in, virtual instrument or other external device like MPC, MPD ect. because our PC won’t have enough Sample ready to throw out and will struggle to keep up with all the sounds related to the production that we are making.

 

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TIPS AND TRICKS.

 

Now you know how to set the Buffer Size but there are more things to talk about. Buffer is an important part of Music Production and you need to be really aware about it.

We said just before that having an HIGH Buffer Size will allow us to to use many plug-in and other device all at once but it will affect our recording giving latency if we record audio or instruments trough microphones.

There are a few question that many people ask when learning “How to set the Buffer Size”, That’s why i am going to list the question and answer in advantage for you !!!

Question #1;

What do i do if i need to record audio and at the same time i have a tons of plug-in and other virtual instruments or devices connected???

Well in this case  you want to Set the Buffer size low and try to deactivate certain plug-in or other devices not needed at the moment.  Some DAW already offers the “Freeze Track” button which allows the user to freeze the track or audio for the recording latency issue. Then once we reduced the number of active plug-in needed you can record what you need, convert the recording into audio, activate all the plug-in deactivated for the recording session and bring the Buffer Size High again

Question #2;

Is there a certain buffer size that i should use  when recording or when just Producing???

When setting up Buffer Size we can say that if you want to record is recommended to set it up around “128 Samples” instead when producing at around “1024 Samples”. These are only guide numbers, it all depends from your set up, every set up can be different and it has to be set differently for each one, but roughly is about 128 for recording and 1024 for producing.

Question #3;

Can my Computer affect the Latency  issue and the Buffer???

Having a powerful PC is always better, but also with a less powerful  PC we can make everything work out by spending more time setting up the Buffer Size and finding out which one works better for our needs. Our computer uses a lot of CPU for every program that we run and even more when we are producing music. So if you already know that a good an powerful PC is needed, it will be a good option for you to get it instead of getting one that may struggles avoiding to create problem in the future for you !!!

 

I hope you got to understand once and forever How to set up the Buffer size. It is a very important part of producing music. Buffer and Buffer size are the foundation of music.

I also Hope this guide was  helpful for you, i tried to make it easy, if you still have more question don’t hesitate to ask me or leave a comment . Have a good one!!! All the best !!!

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