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Starting the recording journey from scratch, again. Help needed.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by jmm22, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    My first question here had been about a Firebox replacement, and I was very grateful for the replies, from several moderators no less. While I was able to get the Cubase LE4 and the Firebox to function, somewhat, here and there, for fleeting moments, I have not the patience to continue a futile attempt to figure out why I am constantly being disconnected and riddled with problems. It may have something to do with my computer now being 64 bit Vista (my first somewhat more successful recording effort was on a 32 bit) but to be blunt, I need to start again, with a completely new DAW and interface.

    I am not tech Savvy. I need an inexpensive and reliable program that is not from Steinberg, and I need a two or maybe four channel audio interface that is not from Presonus. I am sure I need a clean break from the bad experiences I have had to make any headway. I did hear an acoustic guitar recording made through protools and D-tar which impressed me, so this is the only hint I have in the way of new options.

    Any insight or recommendations would be very welcome.
  2. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    O.K. so I am waking up to the sobering reality that I will have to reacquaint myself with the products that are available today, and that no one is going to be able to say "buy X and all the problems dissappear" and that Cubase might still be the best option. I am expressing the general frustration of one who is struggling with unreliable gear. It is horribly frustrating to have hours evaporate in trying to get something to function.

    Maybe my Cubase LE4 is just too old. How buggy is something like Cubase Essential? Maybe I only need to change one or the other (Cubase or the Firebox).
  3. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Of course I cannot buy a new program at 11:25pm, so I am back at it, trying to figure out what is going on. If I use the computer's AISO driver, I can always hear sound and see the meters jumping while in playback (playing back the miracle sample track that I somehow managed to record, but can no longer accomplish), which is almost a good thing -except my computers soundcard is sonically inadequate- and which leads me to believe my problems are rooted in the Firebox, because If I switch to the Firebox, I get no sound and no meters jumping, even after exhausting practically all button pushing options that present themselve to one groping in the dark while cursing the very ground that Presonus engineers walk on. Of course one cannot rule out the possibility that the one exact combination of pushed buttons that will get this thing to work is the one that is eluding me.
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    The problem may very well be Vista. It's not the best operating system.....actually it's about as far from a good operating system as could possibly be. Windows 7 is a large improvement but even then XP is still more stable when it comes to certain audio apps. 32 Bit Windows 7 may be better but running 64 bit right now I have some sync issues. I'm just testing out some new settings so we'll see where that goes. Make sure you're running the installer as Admin. Make sure you run it in XP compatibility mode.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Vista when tweaked contains more latency than XP but should not provide any significant impediment to recording. I've successfully used it and many professionally built DAWs by reputable companies were built using it. That said, it still has to be tweaked.

    On the software side, not every DAW works well in a 64 bit environment. Hueseph is correct in that if you are working with "lite" versions of software then you may indeed run into more issues than not. I'm going to recommend you download Reaper 64 bit (free fully functional trial) and try that with your Firebox. You are going to have a major learning curve on any worthwhile DAW but Reaper isn't as difficult as some. Most importantly, it's written for a 64 bit environment. Then when it does work, pay the man the $60 donation for a license. Really.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Also, any DAW and any interface is capable of making a decent recording in the right hands on a tweaked computer so throw out any preconceptions you have on a name. Understanding signal path and mic placement are still the #1 goal. Tweaking a computer of any OS to work as a single purpose machine for recording is somewhere down the line.
  7. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Thanks for the replies. You will have to forgive the fact that my posts are bound to be exasperation with the gear, and do serve a purpose in causing me to continue to problem solve, just by talking things out loud.

    I have made some progress. The main reason my Firebox was not communicating with my computer is that I was not disabling the computer's internal sound card driver. I remembered that I had to disable it in my previous round of recording days, because if both the Firebox driver and the computer's driver are enabled, the computer goes with the internal one. I will continue to struggle with this setup, and hopefully things will smooth out. It certainly would be easier to go with the gear I have instead of starting anew.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Ah huh! There is your primary problem! Your Firebox is communicating with your computer. You aren't. In any audio program that you use be it Steinberg, Adobe, Sony, et al., they will all default to the computers on board built-in soundcard not your external device. You must select within each recording program from what source you want it to record from. These settings are within the DAW audio programs. You can actually set the operating system to default to your external soundcard also. But if you turn on the computer without your external soundcard/interface, the computer will default back to its internal soundcard. This can be extremely infuriating to deal with and sounds like exactly what you're having problems with. For instance, on numerous occasions, I have used, 3 different USB audio interfaces along with the computer's own onboard piece of crap. This allowed for 8 tracks of real-time recording from 4 simultaneously functioning different internal & external audio cards (I'm only saying audio cards as a general expression, they're not cards). This required me to set each track to " see" each individual card and whether I wanted stereo or dual mono split between 2 tracks. So, I had to set EDIROL to record left channel to track 1, Mono. Right channel to track 2. M-Audio Transit left channel to track 3. Transit right channel to track 4. Digidesign M-Box 2, stereo to track 5. Crappy onboard soundcard to left channel to track number 6 & right channel to track 7. Now telling the audio program to do that requires a deep understanding of the audio program and not so much the computer. The computer settings are a different matter altogether. For instance, no screen saver's, no virus programs, non-dynamic file paging/disk caching, no other programs running in the background, period. So if this is a computer you are surfing the Internet on, playing games on, using for everything on, you may want to set up a different user list. This will allow jmm22internet to use it for the Internet. Then when you restart jmm22record to utilize your audio programs and jmm22games for just those purposes. With this information hopefully, your frustrations will turn into jubilations. I'm a really good experienced engineer and I'm Jewish so I'm frequently enjoying Jewbilations in my recording prowess.

    Bastardizing the English language as best as possible
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Mind you, I might have premature in thinking I had a handle on this one point of connection. Indeed, solving the driver issue allowed the Firebox to work, but it is still outrageously unreliable. It stops working more often than it works. When it quits, it then it requires an incomprehensible combination of putting the computer to sleep, unpugging the fire cable, or unpowering the Firebox. I am back to thinking I have a lemon.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Have you changed the USB cable to a new cable yet? If that achieves nothing then you might have a bad USB port. Also, you need to tweak your computer. I doubt you've done any tweaking of the OS yet. Also, you cannot reasonably expect to record to the same hard drive as your operating system. You need a completely separate drive preferably firewire or internal or eSATA. Check the sticky at the top of the Computers forum for links to tweaking recommendations.
  11. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Thanks for the reply. The Firebox is a firewire connection as opposed to USB, but I suppose I could try another firewire cord. While I can certainly see the benefit of tweaking, and doing all those things that you indicate as necessary for maintaining a DAW (which I will do so at some point) I cannot even get this Firebox to stay in contact while just listening to music or watching something on Youtube. I am confused as to how the tweaking could possibly make the Firebox stay connected when it cannot do so under the most modest demands that are not recording related. This is what leads me to believe that the instability has root in the Firebox or its related software, but I readily admit this is just a conjecture.
  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Firewire cables are just as susceptible to failure as USB. You might have to tweak your OS TO get the Firebox to connect. You can't go halfway to solving the problem.
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I've run across a lot of crummy FireWire & USB cables that were even brand-new. Nothing like an XLR with a locking pin I always say. I can't stand these awful FireWire/USB connections. Even the old serial & parallel connections/connectors had screws on them to make sure they were well seated & tight. And if you can find goldplated connectors, that's a lot better and worth the investment. Yup, it could be the Firebox but I can tell you that I have opened up some of PreSonus' boxes. I must say, I was very impressed with its beautifully rugged & build quality. Really quite something in comparison to many others. Quite impressive and I've been inside a lot of pieces of equipment throughout my years. One of the worst build qualities was the TASCAM DA 88's, of which I had 3 which was an investment of over $12,000 in 1993! Terribly flimsy a total opposite of the Ampex/Studer/Scully/3M like quality. Nothing like in comparison to their previous analog machines which were all built like little Ampexes. So while there could be something wrong with your box, I really think it's something with your computer or cord. Think about it. Some of us actually know what we're talking about. I am of course the first to admit that I'm probably the least educated of anybody on this site. But 40 years of experience in the broadcast & recording industry teaches you a few things. Just a few.

    One of the few
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Think about it. Some of us actually know what we're talking about.


    Hmmm... Make no mistake, I will try another cord because you and others say I should, otherwise I would not be posting for help from experienced people :smile:. But that does not mean one is not allowed to wonder how a cord problem could manifest this way. I mean there have been times where there was dead calm, i.e.. no movement of me or the cord, yet it stops functioning just like that. If there was some correspondence between movement or jiggling of the cord or the computer, it might be easier to understand. I also tried some Caig cleaner on the contacts, with no improvement. I will try to pick up another cord within a few days as the next solution. Unfortunately, the closest well stocked music store is a two hour round trip away.
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Here is the deal with wire-usb, firewire, audio, electric, whatever. As it passes current it can and will heat up. As it heats up it will expand. If there is a break in the wire or a very thin spot that is ready to break, that heating and contraction will eventually separate the wire. Sometimes not enough to completely cut the connection but many times enough to ruin any chance of data pass through or TCPIP lock. In the case of electric wire whether Romex or 250 MCM when this happens usually the magic smoke leaves the premises. In the case of flimsy very thin data cables like USB or Firewire, they just stop working reliably.

    This is the primary reason to learn to wrap mic cables; electric cables; and yeah verily, firewire and usb cables. The usual consumer idea of wrapping them as tight as possible around the device or bundled in as tight of a figure 8 as possible is the inadvertent means of destroying said cables.

    All this aside, you will still need to tweak the OS even if you verify a good cable (which you can really only do with a cable tester anyway).
  16. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    I'll probably get a lot of crap for this, but... If you're really serious about making a clean break and starting over? Get a Mac.

    Garageband is included for free and totally adequate for getting started. All current desktop Macs have firewire ports built-in (albeit FireWire800 these days, so you'll probably need to get a $12 FireWire400->FireWire800 adapter in order to plug in your FireBox).

    After you outgrow Garageband, you can upgrade to Logic Express of Logic Pro and still be able to use your Garageband project files.
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Geez John do they make USB & FireWire testers? They must? I've never seen one. Too bad you don't find that stuff today on other cable testers that accommodate 1/4 inch, RCA, XLR after all, we're only looking at continuity here.

    Two hours round trip for a cable? It would be less expensive to order it over the Internet but maybe you don't get mail delivery where you are? You still need to make those tweaks to the operating system it's imperative. All power savings off. All screen savers off. All virus programs off. Paging file, same fixed large and small size 1 1/2 times the size of your physical RAM.

    Here's another question for you. At what bit depth & sample rate are you running at? Everybody wants this ultimate fidelity bull crap for what? Rock 'n roll? Make sure you're running the thing at 16 bit/44.1 kHz like a CD. This may be particularly necessary if you're trying to playback from the OS hard drive. Otherwise you should be playing back from a dedicated hard drive internal/external USB, FireWire or SATA. And set your performance settings to background services & system cache which is obtainable through control panels/system/advanced/performance. Stop being a silly newb and do it. Listen to your mother!

    Another mother
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  18. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Professional All in One Cable Tester 350174 $119.00
    This one does USB cables. Somewhere I remember seeing a 1394 tester. Markertek maybe.

    @vttom: The kinds of issues described by the OP are going to happen regardless of the computer. The Firebox is a workhorse for Presonus and works on every OS I've ever tried both Windows and Mac.
  19. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    ahhh yes. And at Wally world none the less.
    Walmart.com: Eclipse 400-007 PC Cable Tester w/USB/1394 Connectors: Home Improvement
  20. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Well, I just got some bad news and some good news. I had a inquired about this problem in parallel over at the the Presonus forums. They get just a fraction of the traffic here, so I was not expecting much, but lo, a nice fellow directed me to a utility that analyzes chipset driver compatibility.

    The bad news is that my HP Pavillion computer chipset is not compatible with Presonus' DICE drivers, but the good news is that the unending frustration is over, and the cause of my misery now has a face. While my Firebox and I must go our separate ways, I will be making an obligatory call to Presonus customer service to ask how they can make a piece of equipment that is incompatible with the #1 best selling notebooks made by the world's largest computer manufacturer.

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