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Sound Card or Resources Problem?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by patrick_like_static, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. It seems that anytime I'm mixing more than a few tracks with only modest effects--and I experience this with both Acid Pro 5.0 and Cubase SX 2.0--my computer gets really logy and produces choppy audio (sometimes to the point of crashing). I've done a number of tweaks designed to make my system run better for audio, but my question is this: will having a factory sound card affect playback during mixing? I'm running a 2-gig P4 with 512 megs of RAM, and if not the sound card, do I just need more RAM, or worse, a newer system? Any comments and/or links to overlooked threads are appreciated. Thanks much.
  2. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Tell us about your hard drive setup. Where are the files streaming from?
  3. I've got a 40-gig Maxtor HDD (factory) that I run applications and XP Professional from, and an aftermarket 250-gig Maxtor [although Windows really only sees it as a 137-gig drive] for audio files, plug-ins, and my media. I think the jumpers are set to Master and Slave, respectively, and each drive has no partitions--for some reason, even after wiping both drives and doing a fresh XP install, Windows didn't like the idea of my partitioning the larger drive.

    Have I left anything out?
  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    I don't think the crappy card, in theory, would cause a problem. I don;t know why it couldn't handle a stereo audio stream. After all, after it leaves the software, that's all it is. Track count should be irrelevant. Track count and bandwidth are directly proportional, which would make me think there's a bottleneck somewhere, like the HD for eample. It certainly isn't a lack of RAM or processor cycles. If I were your only resource, I'd probably recommend benchmarking tests next, but thankfully for you, I am not your only resource. I'm moving this to the computing forum so it get's seen by the guys that really matter.

    Sorry I don't have more insight.
  5. I looked up some stuff on benchmarking tests, but I'm still not sure what you mean by that. Bottlenecking sounds like a plausible culprit--can you tell me, or even redirect me to, how I should arrange the jumpers for optimal...optimization? Should the drives be in a master/slave configuration even if they're both on separate IDE channels?
  6. I've decided to reset my IDE devices tonight and to do a fresh install of XP, and I'd like to go deeper with my setup question: I have two HDDs and two cd/dvd devices, and 2 IDE channels. Should I set these up as...

    Primary channel: Smaller HD (for applications) and CD-Rom
    Secondary channel: Larger HD (media files and plug-ins) and DVD-Rom


    Primary channel: Smaller HD and Larger HD
    Secondary channel: CD-Rom and DVD-Rom ?

    http://www.pcmus.com/hardrive.htm#setup seems to favor the latter, but what do you all think? Also, can you tell me how I should have the jumpers set in the preferred situation? I know it's a lot to answer, so thanks much.
  7. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    I don't think you want a hard drive on the same IDE as a CD-rom.
    Also, you might try jumpering your 250 hard drive for "cable select." A lot of Dell, compaq, etc computers are setup to use the drives this way.

    Here's another crazy thing to try: Go to Control panel, System folder, Hardware Tab, Device Manager, IDE/ATA controllers, and check out the properties of your primary and secondary IDE channels. Under Advanced Settings, the current transfer mode should be Ultra DMA Mode 5. One time I had a drive that was configured as PIO transfer mode somehow, and it really funked things up.
  8. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Yes, it will and can cause these issues. The drivers for the built in factory sound cards are not true ASIO based and will have severe performance problems due to lack of buffering capabilities.

    You need a sound card that has decent drivers and a decent buffering capability to handle the information being passed through it.

    There are several cheap choices to go with if all you are doing is using internal sample based sounds and mixing.

  9. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Opus, even when the only thing that's coming out of Cubase is two track stereo? Is this even right? I still can't see why the track count influences anything, but there's a lot that I can't see. :D If you could shed some light on this I for one would be very happy.

    Thanks Opus. 8)
  10. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Remember that FX by nature adds information to the audio stream thus making the audio card work a little harder. When you add more audio tracks, also depending on what sample rate and bit depth, the sound card needs to be adjusted to handle the information. Thus why you raise the buffer size settings within the audio cards control panel.

    From what we have in regards of information is not clear as to how many tracks it truly takes to make the system start to stutter. If only a stereo audio track is playing with one fx plug in inserted and it stutters...then there may be some issues within the software. Now I'm not assuming but typically most people that have Cubase and ACID with a built in factory sound card have "borrowed" or are "trying" the software out. So the case in point here could be that! :D

    Now, regardless of that fact I still say a cheap built in sound card with cruddy on-the-motherboard-uart chips won't be able to work as well as one would want to since they aren't designed for that nature. Couple that with no ASIO drivers(in which the software truly needs to utilize to perform) and you are looking at a possible disastrous scenario of lots of hair pulling troubleshooting.

    Thus the test is to throw in a sound card with real ASIO drivers and adjustability of buffer settings and see if the same thing happens.

  11. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, I was thinking he was asking if having a factory soundcard still active in the system (not disabled) would effect performance. I didn't consider that he was actually using the factory soundcard for recording in Acid and Cubase SX. That would be a serious waste of a powerful and rather expensive recording program. Are these programs legit BTW? that can be a source of glitches...

    Recording soundcards are cheap. Hook it up dude.
  12. Both programs are legit: Acid came boxed and shrink-wrapped to my apartment, and I got the copy of Cubase from the studio I interned at when they started using Nuendo. After a fresh install of XP, loads of tweaks and streamlines, and innumerable IDE configurations, I'm pretty sure it's not entirely one of these issues. Knowing that the soundcard COULD be a problem tells me much.

    Opus (or anyone else)--will you recommend a cheap soundcard to alleviate this? Will something prosumer [e.g. SoundBlaster] suffice? This board seems to reference M Audio's Audiophile 2496 as being somewhat ubiquitous, so opine on this, too. I don't need anything extremely fancy in the way of ins and outs, as I do little recording here, and I'd like to spend as little as possible to upgrade.

    Thanks so much, you three, for all the responses.
  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The Audiophile is just about it. The EMU 0404 is quite good too, and it has hardware effects. I would avoid Creative if I were you.
  14. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    The 2496 is fine, but the next step up, the 192 somethingorother, has TRS inputs which is nice. Somewhere around $150. For the love of God, get a real soundcard. Your life will become easier and your sound better.
  15. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Amen brother! :D

  16. Spy

    Spy Guest

    In the meantime, you could try downloading ASIO4All to use with your current soundcard until you get your new one.

    It's not a panacea but many people have tried it to good effect. Some even claim it's better than the drivers that come from the manufacturers, plus it allows you use multiple soundcards.

  17. Thanks, all. Asio4All didn't do anything to help my current setup, but I'll keep it in mind for when I get my new card (which action I'll soon be taking).
  18. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    I'm tired... Long week.

    STOP further "work" on your audio until your system "sees" and works fine with all drives and everything else you already have. Make no purchases until what you have works - it should "playback 2 channel audio"(Surround for that matter!) just fine and dandy. It should record 2 channel audio fine and dandy('Scuse the "noise" of the cheap sound device, which you won't "hear" anyway.).

    First thing I don't like is that you say Windows "does not see" all of your larger drive? Something is, basically, wrong here. Second thing is that you "cannot partition your large drive". Something is wrong here, too(I wonder what software you are trying to partition with?). Still, don't partition any Windows HD's - even if you find you can. Under NTFS it is not needed - even, by Windows, not desired - Let Windows setup the OS, do all updates and forget it.

    Don't use the ASIO drivers. Use the "other" ones... Whatever they are? I am tired... ASIO drivers, frankly, are for people who not only know what they are, but actually need them. I am not one of those who need them(Or even understand what they are), but I do alot of audio work, on a very expensive audio card, and get along fine without ASIO.

    Setup your drives like this:

    First. Make sure your EIDE cables are the proper cables and long enough to comfortably reach where they have to go. You want the "80 conductor" cables and you may not have them! You may have 40's! ASK SOMEONE WHO KNOWS! Proceed.

    EIDE Channel 1:

    Your 40 gig set as Master or on cable select(CS), with the little pins that come with the drives. This drive, your "main" C: drive goes at the very end of EIDE cable one(The Mother Board is labeled for cable 1 and cable 2.). You put the OS, your audio software and everything else, software-wise, on this drive, including any plug-ins(Unless specifically recommended by the software maker!). When you're "doing"(Recording/mixing) audio, you turn off all the "automatic things" that run(Like your Internet and anti-virus, all software automatic-updates, etc. Though, again, for just "playing" 2 channel, none of this should matter.).

    Put your other HD on the "middle" of EIDE Cable 1. "Pin it" either as slave or CS. This drive is where you tell your audio software to(Or just manually) "store" your audio files(As well as the rest of your files, documents, whatever, if you like.), this is your "data" drive. Also, if your software wants to have a place for "temp files", you create a folder on THIS drive for those(Preferences or Options in your audio software will help you do this). Temp files(Created for actually "making" your audio), generally desire a "seperate, physical" hard drive for best performance.

    Put your CD/DVD, which wants to be a master, on the "end" of EIDE Cable 2, make it "master", if "pinnable" or it will just "be" master, of cable 2, all by itself. The last EIDE connector, center of Cable 2, can be used for a 3rd. HD(I use mine for a backup drive, normally "out of system" on a shelf, as ALL my HD's are on drawers - Search: "Mobile Hard Drive Racks"). I would recommend any "other" CD/DVD device be on USB/Firewire, but an other "may" live OK, on your last/Middle of Cable 2, EIDE connector? However, whatever is on the middle connector of Cable 2, MUST be a slave(Or CS).

    "Simple"(Even pretty darned complex) audio should do just fine with all Audio software settings at "default". Start with default settings everywhere, anyway - don't be modifying "buffers" or anything. Make sure(As above) your drives are set for Ultra DMA, where possible.

    If things don't work NOW, there is still a problem somewhere. Re-check all of the above, make sure all of your drivers, for all devices, are up-to-date, check your Maxtors for proper operation(Maxtor offers a piece of "checking" software - there are lots of others), then come back here, or take the machine to a good shop(This is not magic, just basic computer knowledge.), no audio specialist needed - likely "normal things" are just not hooked-up correctly, are improperly installed or configured or just "broke"(Least likely, but I did throwout 3, relatively young, Maxtors last year - nothing lasts forever.).


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