I'm playing Rocksmith on my PS3 and I have my video going out via HDMI and my audio going out via a fiber optic connection. There is a small delay between the time I pluck a string and audio comes through my speaker system.

I've read in manual that switching to RCA cables for audio is best. Before I start to dig through my basement to find the original PS3 connector, does this remove the audio delay completely?

  • I have connected the digital optical out on my PS3 to the back of my home cinema. I hardly have any noticeable audio lag. – user36288 Oct 30 '12 at 21:17

The delay is caused by two different factors. First, the television takes time to process the digital signal. Second, the game takes time to recognize the sound being played. The latter delay is unavoidable, but the former can be reduced by adjusting your television settings. Additionally, if the game knows exactly how bad the delay is, it can take that into account when determining whether or not you hit a note.

This article may have information you find useful. From the article:

Here are some simple steps to get you on your way:

  • Use the in-game Display Lag Correction to help your note highway come down faster or slower. The default is set to 50ms is most cases!
  • Make sure your console is set up to match your TV’s native resolution, whether it’s 480i to 1080p. In kind, make sure your TV is set up to match your console’s native resolution.
  • If your TV has a “PC” or a “Game” setting, try activating that. Often, these settings may auto-correct some unwanted lag across all your games, and not just Rocksmith.
  • If there are no PC/Game settings on your TV, access your TV’s options menu and fiddle with the settings here. Most prominently, image scaling and processing effects are going to be likely culprits. Deactivate them and you’ll probably see improvement.
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    "Since light and sound travel at different speeds" - that has nothing to do with anything. The delays mostly come from the processing time for the television to process the digital signal (analog CRTs did not have this issue, as there was very little to process). A better television will presumably have less delay. Also, there is a completely unavoidable delay in the time it takes the game to recognize the sound: low E has a frequency of about 80Hz, meaning it will take at a minimum a few milliseconds for the game to recognize it. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Dec 27 '11 at 23:15
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Interesting, I always thought it was the difference in speed of travel. Thanks for the correction! – Dave McClelland Dec 27 '11 at 23:50
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    @DaveMcClelland You should incorporate the info in comments into your answer. It'll read better and remain there even if the comments are ever removed for any reason (by flags, by mistake, etc.) – Adam Lear Dec 28 '11 at 0:23
  • @AnnaLear You're right. I was in a hurry when I made the first edit, but just updated it. Thanks for reminding me! – Dave McClelland Dec 28 '11 at 0:32
  • For games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero it was easy to mentally compensate for the lag since you were simply lining up button presses. Rocksmith is different in that you have the physical guitar string that you've struck but you are waiting for the processed sound to come out of the speaker system. I did end up switching to RCA cables and it did lessen the audio delay but it is still there a little bit. It is short enough now though that I was able to compensate for it after a few songs. – NA Slacker Dec 28 '11 at 13:53

The sound delay was killing my gaming experience. For good music, timing is everything, and I didn't want to play/practice playing guitar learning a sound delay. What I do is, run a sm. practice amp between the guitar and gaming console with a clean sound. That way I hear the guitar sound when I should, and the game play still works.

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  • Not a bad idea. – NA Slacker Jan 11 '12 at 17:15
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    Chris: ran...amp between the guitar and gaming console The instructions say to never hook up any device between the guitar and computer (I have PC). Might this damage something? I have a bad delay and would like to get rid of it. It is so bad that I have to play notes about a second or more early. Very disorientating. It sounds like a distant echo sometimes. – user37137 Nov 18 '12 at 18:06

The short answer to your specific question is that component/composite cables MAY help but most of the delay is probably elsewhere in your system. Read further for more details....

First, try to separate what's simply audio delay from "display lag." Most of the answers here address display lag, which is a video issue.

For audio lag:

  • Here the biggest concern is the time between when you play and when you hear the sound. Play while the game is paused. If it's still bad, it's audio lag.
  • Do not run audio through your TV in any fashion. This includes using HDMI for both audio and video between your PS3 and TV and then using the TV's audio output (digital or analog -- doesn't matter) to send to your speakers or receiver. This usually causes a lot of delay, because very few TVs are designed to handle this splitting/pass-through quickly. If you have no receiver or speaker system and are using the TV's speakers you have little choice. Sorry.
  • There's an inherent delay in the Rocksmith RealTone cable to do some ADC (analog-digital conversion), frequency analysis, etc of your guitar's output and for the Rocksmith software to interpret it, run it through its software mixer (the pedals, amps, etc you have set up), and then send the audio out. Some of this delay is purely in detection for the purposes of checking your play against the notes coming down the "highway," and I think Rocksmith goes ahead and passes through the audio before getting feedback on this, but regardless some audio delay is just unavoidable because you're running your guitar's sound through a lot of equipment.
  • (Info) An SPDIF out (or digital out) such as your optical setup is often considered better because it transmits the audio in a digital version. Your receiver then converts it back. Digital transmission is less prone to signal degradation and interference over the cable itself. Optical (tos) cables are even better protected from electromagnetic interference because it's light transmitting the data and not electric current. However, optical cables are not inherently faster. The fact that "light travels faster than sound" is irrelevant here because it's not sound being transmitted in the case of a coaxial (copper) cable for digital audio. It's electric current, which moves essentially at the speed of light (close enough anyway - no less than half the speed of light, even through a crappy cable)
  • Digital out (whether optical or coaxial) may be better than RCA, but it does induce some delay. It takes extra digital signal processing time for your PS3 to output the data and for your receiver to convert it into a signal for the speakers. In most cases this delay is small enough that it's not noticeable, but it's certainly possible that a bad receiver or one which doesn't support the PS3's output (see next point) might add noticeable delay, in which case a composite or component cable will help.
  • Be sure your PS3 is outputting a signal your receiver supports. Extra delay may come about from the receiver having to downgrade the signal. When in doubt, use stereo with the best sample rate your receiver says it can handle.

For video/display lag:

  • Here the biggest concern is that you see a note coming down the highway at the right time so when you play at the right time, Rocksmith agrees. Note that this is probably completely different from audio lag, so fix that first. There's a lot less you can do here but also a lot less you can screw up.
  • As others have suggested, toy with your TV's video settings. The less "clean-up" it's trying to do with the signal the quicker you'll get the video.
  • You can try composite/component cables. They may be faster to display on your TV, but these days it's still handled digitally, so chances are it won't make a big difference. (This is why some old NES games and such are nearly impossible to play now. Pretty much all modern TVs add about one frame of latency that wasn't there with CRT displays).
  • After reducing the delay as much as you can through these means, use the Rocksmith setting to change the delay.

With a half-way decent system and the right connections, you shouldn't have much audio or video lag. If it's very noticeable, something's probably wrong with your setup.

Good luck....

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