I'm working with Studio One v. 2, and in the preferences for audio I'm seeing the usual buffer settings (32/64/128/256 etc) which when changed gives the expected input latency, but also output latency.
The question is, is output latency something I have to worry about, or is it something that affects people doing more outboard gear stuff, be it MIDI gear or outboard effects?
In my Google travels, I've seen the answer "yes, you need to add both input and output, and that's what you need to worry about, even if you're tracking and then doing everything in the box", then I've also seen the answer "if all you're doing is tracking and doing soft synths, and then mixing in the box, you just need to worry about input latency. Output latency affects outboard effects/MIDI".
Just curious. The battles with latency is an interesting topic.
In is your ADC (analogue digital conversion), out is you DAC (digital analogue conversion)
Monitoring any input signal through your convertors (as opposed to direct) goes:
External sound -> [ADC] -> Hard drive, DAW, CPU, 1s and 0s, blah blah -> [DAC] -> Monitoring
This applies to all actual sound. Anything that goes through the ADC. Midi doesnt. Midi delivers instructions directly to your DAW/PC/However you want to look at it to play sounds from a sample library. They have to go through DACs, so only output applies. Nonetheless, automatic delay compensation (also ADC, confusingly) applies (not to just this, as a blanket term: plugins have their own latency in addition to the latency of processing raw audio which ADC is needed for), so in practice though MIDI doesnt go through ADC (conversion), it does go through the ADC (compensation) which is equal to the actual base ADC converter latency, so they play back in correct time.
I presume that whether one or both of in and out latency is at play when tracking audio to midi (very common, drums for example) is determined by whether youre activating the record monitoring on the audio tracks, instructing the DAW that youre using the track to monitor, or monitoring directly (hard line through your interface, from mic to headphones).
Edit: pretty sure at least. There are other AEs here that may be able to correct me if I'm wrong (the matts may help...?), cos I'm hazy on some of the details. Its my understanding that the buffer partially serves the purpose of being able to play back in real time despite the DAC output latency.