mobile audio latency

One of the key issues with digital DJing is audio latency. Back in the days of Final Scratch, the response between hand movement and corresponding sound felt like minutes compared to today’s instant response. But it’s still an issue on mobile platforms, especially Android. But the guys at Superpowered (the clever people behind DJ Player) have come up  a scientific test to check the latency of your chosen mobile iOS or Android devices. And they’d like your help.

Here’s the science bit — this is a test of roundtrip audio i.e. your mobile device plays a note from the mobile speakers, and the time that it takes to hit the built-in microphone is measured. There are individual tests to be run for iOS8 and Android (v3 and above), and the results are sent to the Superpowered servers to compile a comprehensive list of as many devices as possible.

The tests can be found here, but must be opened up from your mobile devices to work. Pleas run them and submit the results to Superpowered. Not personal data is transmitted – just mobile model, OS, and latency.

Mobile Latency — some surprises

When you check out the growing set of results, it won’t come as any surprise that Android devices generally run with higher latency than iOS devices. There are some notable exceptions, but it’s the variation in the iOS devices that is most interesting. You’d expect that newer iOS devices would have lower latency, but that doesn’t appear to be the case at all. The iPhone 6 Plus in particular fairs worst, and the iPhone 6 has yet to be tested.

So what does this tell us? It tells us what we already knew, but what this Superpowered test does do is to put pressure on all mobile device makers who wish to be taken seriously in the pro audio world to shape up.

It’s important to make it clear that this is day one for this particular test, and your device might not be listed just yet. It’s also important to note that Superpowered has tried to work with Samsung but didn’t get too far. I suppose nobody like to be told that their stuff sucks, and have it proved with science but it’s the only way things will improve.

So again, please do the test on your iOS or Android device. Submit the results and trust that your help will make audio latency a distant memory.