Could SteamOS Solve Streaming DJ Latency Issues?

There’s always been a strong parallel between digital DJing and the video game industry – so we’ve been watching Valve Software’s recent announcements very carefully. If you’ve missed the news, in a nutshell, Valve has announced SteamOS, an operating system that makes it possible to stream video games across local wireless connections from a desktop computer to the fancy TV in your living room.

Streaming video and audio isn’t revolutionary – but in the case of games, you’ve also got to account for user input – which means Valve’s new OS has put latency squarely in its targets. The SteamOS annoucement page notes:

In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.

What’s interesting for DJs is that this could mean that wireless audio streaming on a home network will suddenly be dramatically improved. Apple’s Airplay is the main technology used for local audio streaming to remote speakers, and it introduces a 2-3 second delay, making it extremely difficult for DJs to mix and cue against the remote speakers.

The SteamOS would need to account for nearly instantaneous user feedback on a game controller and reflect that in the video and audio, solving the latency problem entirely – something that many house party DJs can get excited about using in future gigs. Imagine being able to play in the basement and stream your set upstairs without introducing latency, or just walking into a living room with an incredible sound system and streaming to it without messing with the wiring.

More info about SteamOS on Valve’s official launch page. The OS is “coming soon”  and will be free of cost. 

airplaydjssteamsteamosvalvewireless speakerswireless streaming
Comments (17)
Add Comment
  • bno

    I don’t get it. Streaming upstairs? What about good old cables?

  • motosega

    since when was latency in linux an unsolved problem?

    preempt_rt has been arround for ages.

  • Pedro González

    Now I’d like my Traktor Linux version so I can take advantage of it all!

  • HennoLV

    Wasn’t expecting an article about SteamOS to appear in djtt. We live in a small world indeed (or internet).

  • Anon


  • Nolej

    Perhaps one of the biggest impacts this might have outside of video games is putting pressure on companies to increase there Linux compatibility.
    While the biggest impact will probably on the graphics side, we can hope that this will also push audio companies to increase Linux support, as well as facilitating audio within Linux.

  • Erik Andersson

    I doubt that the SteamOS will be going far away from the Linux kernel that has the most impact on latency, sound etc. It is more likely that they will be merging their optimizations with the current kernel and drivers, so that all Linux based OSs can rep the benefits.

  • davemex

    Wasn’t the first version of Traktor built off of a custom Linux shell where you had to run it in a dedicated OS to keep things stable? Or did I just dream that up?

    • Marcel Mcx Hnilka

      Yes, it was. But it was many years ago, when user friendliness of linux was just terible for non-tech people..

      • Signal Jam

        I believe it was the very first version of Final Scratch. It was originally developed on BeOS and then they switched to Linux I think.

        • Ibrahim Sha'ath

          This is true. I was there. Until Serato came out, the Linux version of Final Scratch was the only reliable DVS.

  • Safefire

    So. TraktOS. How about it, NI?

    • Guest

      TraktO’s, part of a complete breakfast!

    • Click


  • Greg Miernicki

    Wishful thinking… but I hope they decide to use something like jackd and netjack to solve this audio latency problem (given they are probably using Ubuntu inside!) (^_^)


      i think the odds of it running ubuntu versus a custom fork of a much less crufty distro are pretty low. it’s likely running linux, but most likely not ubuntu which is far more directly targeted towards consumer desktops.

      I have a feeling the low latency and video audio solution is going to be something in-house.