“Harmonix tech support, The Doctor speaking.”

So, we had some woes with Rock Band and our new LCD TV today – we tried to ROCK OUT with it, only to find that there were serious timing issues with drum fills, and as we found out later, also with the vocal tracks.

The drum fills are where instead of just hitting the drum pads at the right time, and thus keeping the prerecorded drum track playing, you have to actually play a live fill, and the better you do, the more points you get. [Edit – Annette tells me that you don’t get points, you just get TO ROCK OUT!]

Problem was, even when the game had been manually recalibrated so the video matched the audio signal, the drum fill timing was WAY off. Like, half-a-second or so. And as it turned out, so was the vocal track, by the same amount.

A quick google showed loads of people complaining about this on the Rock Band tech support forums. And I’m not surprised because it really makes the game unplayable.

After tinkering with it for a while, we determined what the issue is – the TV itself has a small delay in processing all audio signals, probably in an effort to resync the sound with any video which has to be upscaled to match the LCD panel resolution. Which is fine, when you’re dealing with a broadcast or streaming signal. However, when you’re dealing with real time events like drum hits or vocals, it’s massively noticable.

The fix, for us, is to run the audio signals through an external amp which doesn’t introduce any delay.

Now, amusingly, there’s NO WAY that Harmonix can fix this from within Rock Band, because the delay is outside their control, it’s a problem with the way that the TV works. They can’t possibly know about a delay that happens after the signal from a live event leaves the console – they’d need to be able to predict the future to compensate for it. All those people on the tech support forums who don’t happen to have a separate audio system are SCREWED. Sucks to be the PR guy from Harmonix who’s assigned to this one.

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