Real-Time Audio

The -i and -o flags can are used to specify realtime output instead of the ordinary non-realtime file output. You should use -o dac for realtime output and -i adc for realtime input. Naturally, you can use either one or both if your hardware supports it. You can also specify the hardware you want to use by appending a device number or name to the flag (See -i and -o).

Period & Buffer Sizes

Period and buffer sizes will vary greatly from one machine to another. Lower buffer sizes will result in lower latency, but might cause breakups or clicks in the audio. The Csound flags which control period and buffer sizes are -b and -B, respectively. Buffer size is hardware dependant, and some experimentation may be necessary to find the optimal balance between low latency performance and uninterrupted audio output. The values given to -b and -B should be powers of two, and the value of -B should be at least one power of two higher than that of -b.

Currently, with -B set to 512, audio output latency is about 12 milliseconds, fast enough for reasonably responsive keyboad playing. Even shorter latencies, are feasible on some systems.

Control Rate

Low values for ksmps will in general give a higher quality of synthesis, but will consume more system resources. There is no hard and fast rule for setting ksmps - different orchestras will require different control rates. A waveguide instrument will need a ksmps of 1 (and may not be suitable for realtime use), whereas a simple FM synth may be run with a higher ksmps without noticeable degradation of sound. If the FM synth were to be used to play a monophonic bassline, a very low ksmps may be used, however more complex note clusters will require a higher ksmps. A well-tuned Linux system should be capable of running even complex polyphonic synths with ksmps values as low as 4 or 8. If full duplex audio is required, -b must be an integer multiple of ksmps. Bearing this in mind, a rule of thumb might be to only use powers of two for ksmps.