Learning to time

Table of contents
  1. How do I know my timing?
  2. How do I fix my options?
    1. Step one - adjust your green number
    2. Step two - fix your offset
  3. FAQ
    1. I fixed my options, why do I still get so many SLOWs?
    2. I fixed my options, why do I still get so many FASTs?
    3. What about white number?
    4. Should I play super easy charts for timing?
  4. Further reading

How do I know my timing?

If you haven’t already, follow the instructions here to enable real time FAST / SLOW display. It is helpful to place it right above your judgement display, but feel free to move it elsewhere if you find it too distracting.

Additionally, make it a habit to check out the FAST / SLOW section in the result screen.

If you are playing on the lightning model cabinet, the touch screen display has fine-grained breakdown of your timing information as well, if you tap on the “Player Analyze” menu.

FAST:SLOW ratio should be roughly 1:1, but don’t fret if it is slightly off.

How do I fix my options?

If your timing feels significantly off, you should fix your green number first before adjusting offset. If you feel the timing is slightly off, then you can fine-tune using the offset feature.

When you are calibrating your timing, play a chart that meets these criteria:

  1. a song you are familiar with
  2. a relatively easy chart, compared to your peak playing level
  3. not heavy on scratches

You should avoid charts that are too easy or too hard when trying to dial in your settings.

Some recommend songs around levels 6-9:

  • Sleepless days (6/9)
  • Element of SPADA (7/9)
  • Fly Above (8)
  • Shining World (8/9)
  • DAYDREAMER (8/10)
  • Mermaid Girl (8/10)

Step one - adjust your green number

If you are getting too many FASTs, consider decreasing your green number (to make notes scroll faster). The explanation for this is that, if have too much time to react to a note coming down, you may tend to hit too quickly. By reducing the green number, there will be a smaller window between the moment you read the notes and the moment you press the buttons.

If you are getting way too many SLOWs, you may not be having enough time to react. Increase your green number (make notes go slower) and see if it helps.

Don’t use a green number that is too high or too low. When it is extremely low, you are playing purely on reaction speed, which has severe (negative) impact on timing. When it is extremely high, you are giving your brain too much time to process the notes, which leads to inconsistent timing. A typical GN range is between 260 and 300.

Once you find a green number you are comfortable with, stick with it. Try to keep the same one for at least a few sessions. Avoid changing it mid-session.

Step two - fix your offset

Use the offset setting in the blue menu to change your visual offset.

Don’t fiddle with this too much. Once you find a good offset for the environment you play on (particular arcade cabinet or your PC), try to keep the same offset for a while and see if you can get adjust to it.


I fixed my options, why do I still get so many SLOWs?

One explanation is that you are playing charts beyond your typical skill range. You should try dropping down to easier charts and see if this is still an issue.

Other than that, getting SLOWs is usually a result of your settings being wrong. You should try to dial in your hi-speed and offset options again.

I fixed my options, why do I still get so many FASTs?

One example is, again, if you are playing charts beyond your skill level; you may end up pressing the buttons way faster than you should be.

For charts around your skill level – do note that getting many FASTS is very common! Usually this is more of a mindset problem. You’re at a point where you can read where the notes are, but not quite the spacing between the notes (i.e., the timing of notes). This just means you need practice timing. Try to listen to the music, the beats (bass / drum lines) and tune yourself to the BPM.

You might also be used to pressing buttons way earlier if you are coming from other rhythm games. Many rhythm games tend to have timing windows skew a bit earlier to compensate for audio and input latency. Since IIDX is built around low latency audio, input, and display, the game is able to have more “accurate” timing windows, so the skew is practically non-existent. You’ll just need to get used to IIDX timing with practice.

What about white number?

Some say that having a large lane cover (high white number) is not ideal, as it “compresses” the notes together, making it difficult to tell them apart. If you are playing with a white number higher than 500, you might want to experiment with making the lane cover shorter.

That is just one opinion - you should find a white number that you are comfortable with.

There are valid reasons for very high white numbers – one of them being playing on a display with severe ghosting problems, which can be remedied by a high WN. In that case… sorry, not much you can do there.

Should I play super easy charts for timing?

When you are practicing for timing, or when you are calibrating your options, don’t fall into the trap of playing extremely easy charts.

When you play a chart that is significantly below your skill level, you are not using the same parts of the brain that you would be using for charts around your skill level. For example, on a ☆3 chart, you might try to follow each individual note from top to bottom and press the button when it exactly hits the judgement line - but that isn’t how you would normally play, so it is pointless.

Therefore, for timing practice & calibration, you should try to play songs at - or slightly below - your typical skill range.

Further reading

Tips for improving accuracy in rhythm games on the-safari

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