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Delay Compensation Explained! (Part 1 of 2)

Now that Pro Tools 9 includes delay compensation as a standard feature (Finally!!!)  I am getting a lot of questions about it.  Here are the nuts and bolts of Delay Comp!

First, you have to turn on delay compensation.  This is enabled in the audio engine dialogue.  You can choose short or long engine (1023 or 4095 samples of compensation per channel).  Once that is enabled, make sure “Delay Compensation” is checked in the options menu.

Once this is on, check your “Dly” indicator in the edit window.

If the Indicator is Green everything is as it should be.  In this case, it is Red, which indicated that at least one track is over the compensation limit.  Let’s check out the mix window to find the problem. Make sure you check View|Mix Window View|Delay Compensation to view the delay compensation numbers for each track.

You will see a variety of numbers below each track:
dly  =  Samples of Delay reported by plugins.
+/-  =  User delay that you can set.
cmp  =  Samples of compensation on the track.

  • If you see all numbers are green…

…the track is healthy.

  • If the numbers are orange…

…this is your most delayed track.

  • If the numbers are red…

… this is a track that is over it’s allotted compensation.

One way to solve this is to ignore the reported delay by control+command+clicking on the dly number (it will turn grey) and then manually compensating the audio on that track by sliding the audio.  If it’s an Aux, you will have to reduce the number of plugins on that aux, or switch some RTAS plugins to TDM (if you have an HD system).

Once you have fixed all red track, double check your edit window to make sure the “Dly” indicator is now green. Hooray everything is now compensated.

Next time we will go over some other ways to fix broken compensation, and special cases where you want to turn off or force compensation.

10 Responses to “Delay Compensation Explained! (Part 1 of 2)”

  1. resistordog says:


  2. JazzyJ says:

    I don't understand when you talk about:

    'manually compensating the audio on that track by sliding the audio'

    This is what I do in Pro Tools 8.

    Surely the point of ADC is that the 'A' stands for 'Automatic'.

    If you have to maually nudge your audio why on earth do you want to pay for PT9?

  3. Major says:

    @ JazzyJ
    You only have to manually compensate when compensation is over the allotted delay compensation number. So up to 4092 samples you are covered.(this number is much higher in PT10)

  4. James says:

    Very informative… Thank you kindly….

  5. Joe says:

    I agree with Jazzy J…its not automatic! None of the other DAWs have this stupid problem…

  6. STFU says:

    Go use a different DAW then Joe.

  7. Alex says:

    sooooo I have a few DLG tracks where there OUTPUT is set to a bus(3-4) that is INPUT into an AUX track(holding all my plugins) which is then OUT the mains. The AUX track has a delay of 5824….so do I simply nudge back ALL the DLG tracks the 5824 samples?

    I’m new to mixing fyi 😉

  8. Hello, just wanted to mention, I loved this post. It was funny. Keep on posting!

  9. illution says:

    Thanks so much for your article.
    Very concise and intelligible! One question which I am going to ask out of safety even though it might be silly: When looking at the options of delay compensation in the “Playback Engine” menu, I would assume that the “maximum” setting would provide the more desirable results for compensation, and “minimum” would yield less accurate processing. In what scenario would one want to choose the “minimum” setting? My guess would be that slower CPU’s would only be able to handle this setting? Better and faster CPU’s would have the ability of handling the “maximum” setting?

    Thanks again!


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