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Hardware Crisis, Enough Is Enough
Old 27th January 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Hardware Crisis, Enough Is Enough

Good Evening!

First of, My name is Campbell. I'm a Sound Production Student from Scotland who plans to go into the film/games industry. I use a lot of VST instruments but also use a lot of recordings and samples.

Now, Straight into my problem.

For about 3 years now i have had a Saffire Pro 40, 2 of them years was on a macbook with hardly any use. It was then in April 2012 put onto a Windows 7 Machine. Focusrite support became my best friend but as of November i gave up. Constant drop outs and horrible stability almost made me cry.

I then decided to buy an M-Audio ProjectMix I/O. Mistake.... Big mistake. The Latency on it was superb i'll give it that. Everything else? Nuclear Disaster site... Audio Output quality is less than par, the pre-amps are naff and stability is unbelievably abysmal.

So now my conclusion is, SCREW YOU FIREWIRE!

So now i ask you people, Where should i go from here?
I was looking at the Scarlett Replacement for the Pro 40 and was thinking that's maybe the way to go however i'm very open to suggestions.
I've came to realise that i don't need all the inputs and outputs though so i'm okay going for something the same price or higher with lower inputs, as long as the quality of the device is high and stability is very good.

Feel free to ask me questions if I've missed anything or if you want to ask me specifics, i realise that I've probably missed out alot of key info, i'm very tired at the moment

Thanks in advance guys

Campbell heh
Old 28th January 2013
  #2
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Anyone?
Old 28th January 2013
  #3
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Jazz Noise's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
P.I.C.N.I.C

Have you gone to the M-Audio website and troubleshooted these dropout issues? Maybe they've software upgrades or preferred system settings? I know at least 3 or 4 people who work with a ProjectMix happily and my college has a room with 30 of them working fine.
Old 28th January 2013
  #4
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
The Project mix doesn't dropout, its just horrible in terms of quality and the stability of it is pretty poor. The Preamps ain't that superb either, plus it needs to go due to the tiny room i live in. The Saffire just doesn't want to play ball....
Old 28th January 2013
  #5
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popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I'm missing something...plug it back into the working MacBook...that you just didn't use.

Why one earth would you switch OS platforms...then change audio IO because the OS rendered you audio hardware dysfunctional...?

There's something to this story you're not sharing, no?
Old 28th January 2013
  #6
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Jazz Noise's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Then what do you mean by stability? Does it just not work in PT? Does it talk to your computer?

You need to sit down and sort out what you want to work with what and how and stop trying to throw money at the problem.

The preamps in a ProjectMix are fine.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #7
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann ➑️
I'm missing something...plug it back into the working MacBook...that you just didn't use.

Why one earth would you switch OS platforms...then change audio IO because the OS rendered you audio hardware dysfunctional...?

There's something to this story you're not sharing, no?
Ah, I should've mentioned that my Macbook didn't seem to perform very well at all on pro-tools, i got constant DAE Errors and CPU Overload, yadda yadda yadda.

So i now run on an i7 machine. The Saffire DID work for a while and whilst it drop out every now and again, it was usable to a point.

I spent months speaking to support who actually said they had never came across my problem before. They do have superb support mind.

It got to the end of november and sound quality and all sort on the saffire started going to ****. Software problem or hardware problem i've no idea.

Anyway i tried going back to the Saffire after using the projectmix about 2 nights ago (Uninstalled all M-Audio drivers and things) and its just unusable with constant drop outs, like the firewire light constantly drops off and occasionally the sound goes SUPER WONKY. Like really really horrible, quite hard to explain.

Anything else i can clear up for you?

Thanks for the replies btw
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #8
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazz Noise ➑️
Then what do you mean by stability? Does it just not work in PT? Does it talk to your computer?

You need to sit down and sort out what you want to work with what and how and stop trying to throw money at the problem.

The preamps in a ProjectMix are fine.
It works in pro-tools but sometimes the HUI decides to completely freeze, Faders will stop working until a full restart, the sample size and sample rate lock whilst nothing is happening, and is most of the time can't be changed. The output does this crazy thing as well which i can only describe sounds like phase on not just pro-tools, but anything and everything!
Old 28th January 2013
  #9
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popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
You've reinstalled the OS? Microsoft recommends this once a year. Clean install. They don't like that pointed out, but that's official MS support rec.

Do not surf the net on the machine at all...right? I hooked my Win7 box into the net to directly upload something to Soundcloud a few weeks back (thinking I'd save a few minutes)...and Explorer.exe hung repeatedly for days after.

Audio quality and glitches don't "just happen". Something changed. IF you're on the internet with it, the config is ALWAYS changing. Especially with defaults.

Protools is not a good solution for a native system. If you have the MB still, Logic is $200 in the app store. Protools is used by professionals in studios running Avid HARDWARE mixers and DSP--that is what the software is made for. You will never get the same performance on any platform out of it as an app made for native performance.

That said, I can record whatever resz you want on a ten year old WinXP box...no firewire involved. Put an SSD in the MacBook and I"m betting you'r good for as many tracks as you can fathom...on a laptop.

If going back to the MB is off the table, you are wasting your time trying to "fix" the install. It's pooched. Their support can't fix it. Reinstall the OS. Then the drivers for the Saffire you like the sound of...then your DAW...All good? Snapshot. Win7 makes this easy, FWIW. Now install plug ins. Still good? Snapshot. Use a secondary drive for the audio projects...that way you can flush the OS and revert back to the image at any point.

Update nothing.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann ➑️
Protools is not a good solution for a native system.
Pfffffff


Quote:
Originally Posted by C.Logan ➑️
So i now run on an i7 machine. The Saffire DID work for a while and whilst it drop out every now and again, it was usable to a point.

I spent months speaking to support who actually said they had never came across my problem before. They do have superb support mind.

It got to the end of november and sound quality and all sort on the saffire started going to ****. Software problem or hardware problem i've no idea.

Anyway i tried going back to the Saffire after using the projectmix about 2 nights ago (Uninstalled all M-Audio drivers and things) and its just unusable with constant drop outs, like the firewire light constantly drops off and occasionally the sound goes SUPER WONKY. Like really really horrible, quite hard to explain.
When the sound goes super wonky, is it static? I've had that problem occasionally. I'm almost positive it's interference from another data bus (or whatever the terminology is). Even though the Pro 40 is firewire, having usb devices plugged into certain ports would cause the Pro 40 to drop out now and again. Solved by a restart of the Saffire. Try rearranging your USB devices.
You do have a TI firewire card, right?

Other than that the Saffire has been rock solid on my Win 7 rig.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #11
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann ➑️
You've reinstalled the OS? Microsoft recommends this once a year. Clean install. They don't like that pointed out, but that's official MS support rec.

Do not surf the net on the machine at all...right? I hooked my Win7 box into the net to directly upload something to Soundcloud a few weeks back (thinking I'd save a few minutes)...and Explorer.exe hung repeatedly for days after.

Audio quality and glitches don't "just happen". Something changed. IF you're on the internet with it, the config is ALWAYS changing. Especially with defaults.

Protools is not a good solution for a native system. If you have the MB still, Logic is $200 in the app store. Protools is used by professionals in studios running Avid HARDWARE mixers and DSP--that is what the software is made for. You will never get the same performance on any platform out of it as an app made for native performance.

That said, I can record whatever resz you want on a ten year old WinXP box...no firewire involved. Put an SSD in the MacBook and I"m betting you'r good for as many tracks as you can fathom...on a laptop.

If going back to the MB is off the table, you are wasting your time trying to "fix" the install. It's pooched. Their support can't fix it. Reinstall the OS. Then the drivers for the Saffire you like the sound of...then your DAW...All good? Snapshot. Win7 makes this easy, FWIW. Now install plug ins. Still good? Snapshot. Use a secondary drive for the audio projects...that way you can flush the OS and revert back to the image at any point.

Update nothing.
Had the OS since June of last year, Not reinstalled HOWEVER that may be the way to go if that's the case.

Okay, I'm guilty, I do use this machine on the net, Perhaps after the Reinstall i shall disconnect it from the web and maybe use my Mac for internet only.

As for Pro-Tools, Well i know what you are saying but i'd rather not switch. Its the DAW that i'm most comfortable with, for composing, mixing and mastering.

Might upgrade the Mac to SSD, I should say its an MBP so the performance should be okay, Its Early 2008 mind.

I think i'll re-install windows and go from there, I did build this machine for uni work after all. I don't think there would be any harm in setting the MPB up either. Its recently been blasted with a new OS so should be okay.

Cheers popmann!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AidenW ➑️
You do have a TI firewire card, right?
Not a TI card but this is taken from the OHCI Tool and Tom (From focusrite support) says the chipset is the one that he uses.

Vendor : (1106) VIA Technologies
Chipset: (3044) VT6307/VT6308
Revision: 80
Support: Compatible, no known issues.

As for the Wonky sound, its kinda like static? I dunno how to describe it, its bloody horrible!
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by C.Logan ➑️
As for the Wonky sound, its kinda like static? I dunno how to describe it, its bloody horrible!
Sounds familiar. Try unplugging your usb devices. Might save yourself some trouble.
Old 28th January 2013
  #13
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Jazz Noise's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
It could be an IRQ problem.

I assume ye have turned off as much as possible in Windows 7, including system sounds? The OS is full of interrupts and will undoubtedly put their needs over those of peripherals. When the busses get busy with alot of USB and FW connectivity you can get drop outs. Certain USB devices are worse for it than most - my dad owns a fancy printer/scanner that doesn't seem to think it should have to share a bus with anyone else.

Go through your boot.ini and run HiJackThis! for a good overview of what's running on your system. After that it's down to informed decision making! As has been said, the TI card is the one to go for. The rest, from what I've heard, seem prone to dropouts.

Last point - you don't have any energy saving functionality, do you? Some computers will slow their CPU under certain conditions to reduce power consumption. A nightmare for audio!
Old 28th January 2013
  #14
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tha]-[acksaw's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by C.Logan ➑️
Not a TI card but this is taken from the OHCI Tool and Tom (From focusrite support) says the chipset is the one that he uses.
I'd be willing to bet good money this is a large part of the problem. Or even the whole problem. It's not so much of an issue of Focusrite, but rather Digi/Avid. ProTools requires a TI Chipset on your CA card. Period. No iffs, ands or buts. Spend the $50 on a new PCI card before u buy new hardware. You can thank me later...
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #15
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenW ➑️
Sounds familiar. Try unplugging your usb devices. Might save yourself some trouble.
Okay so as well as doing this, I also blasted everything to do with focusrite and M-Audio straight out of the registry. Reinstalled Mixcontrol 3.1 (Which contains drivers) And long behold, It works! No Dropouts and no dodgy noises! heh
I unplugged the ILok key which was sitting on the internal USB of the Firewire Card. Also unplugged my Wireless adapter as i'm running off Ethernet. Don't ask why i didn't before, i'm lazy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazz Noise ➑️
It could be an IRQ problem.

I assume ye have turned off as much as possible in Windows 7, including system sounds? The OS is full of interrupts and will undoubtedly put their needs over those of peripherals. When the busses get busy with alot of USB and FW connectivity you can get drop outs. Certain USB devices are worse for it than most - my dad owns a fancy printer/scanner that doesn't seem to think it should have to share a bus with anyone else.

Go through your boot.ini and run HiJackThis! for a good overview of what's running on your system. After that it's down to informed decision making! As has been said, the TI card is the one to go for. The rest, from what I've heard, seem prone to dropouts.

Last point - you don't have any energy saving functionality, do you? Some computers will slow their CPU under certain conditions to reduce power consumption. A nightmare for audio!
Cheers for the advice Jazz!
Already done most of them before, Windows Aero Off, Basic Look on, System Noises off, Noises in other programs off and computer is on full performance with all Energy saving turned off, i'm not much of a green man...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tha]-[acksaw ➑️
I'd be willing to bet good money this is a large part of the problem. Or even the whole problem. It's not so much of an issue of Focusrite, but rather Digi/Avid. ProTools requires a TI Chipset on your CA card. Period. No iffs, ands or buts. Spend the $50 on a new PCI card before u buy new hardware. You can thank me later...
I bet a good amount of money you are correct. Pro-Tools is still unhappy with the Saffire and keeps biffing out. I will get a new card and update you on how that goes
Old 28th January 2013
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Derp's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
+1 on getting a FireWire card with a TI chipset. I had a Via card on my last computer that gave me hell until I switched.

Sent from my LGL45C
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #17
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp ➑️
+1 on getting a FireWire card with a TI chipset. I had a Via card on my last computer that gave me hell until I switched.
Yep, I spoke to soon, The cutouts and the funny noises have started again.
Not as frequent but still there
Old 29th January 2013
  #18
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tha]-[acksaw's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by C.Logan ➑️
Yep, I spoke to soon, The cutouts and the funny noises have started again.
Not as frequent but still there
I realize it seems like such a small thing, but it really matters a lot. If you get the TI ship set it is absolutely night and day. I've been running an maudio 32 channel firewire unit for over 5 years with no problem, and no stability issues. had problems in the beginning, got the TI chipset firewire card, and no more problems . rock solid
Old 29th January 2013
  #19
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mitzush's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I must have gone through about 7 or 8 firewire interfaces over the last 10 years.

Every one of them needed a TI chipset to function properly.
Old 29th January 2013
  #20
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frans's Avatar
 
10 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Firewire, USB, whatever: it's the chipset and the drivers. Certain manufacturers don't feel like they got to use chipsets that care about the minimum specs... and certain drivers aren't finished before they hit the public. That's why pro audio stores exist: to hand over a working system instead of a "me-10-dollar-cheaper-the-specs-say-it-should-work" system you can find online.
Old 29th January 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I was having bit dropouts on my Windows 7 machine running a Lynx PCI audio card. This machine had had older versions of Pro Tools on it with other drivers for other audio hardware. Once I did a wipe and a re-install with only the software relevant to my current setup, it has worked flawless since.

Do yourself a favour..get the TI firewire card, then do a clean install of Windows.

The whole idea of Windows not being stable for Pro Tools is a myth. Once the system is configured correctly, it should be rock solid!

-Rob
Old 29th January 2013 | Show parent
  #22
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Well, I've got a TI Chipset Firewire card on the way, Cheers Folks! heh

I'll see how it does in the current windows installation and if its still playing up abit then i will re-install Windows

Mind you, If this improves stability and quality on both devices, I don't know which one to keep!

I'm thinking the Saffire over the ProjectMix, What do you guys think?

Cheers Again!
Old 29th January 2013
  #23
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popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
The whole idea of Windows not being stable for Pro Tools is a myth. Once the system is configured correctly, it should be rock solid!
He says in thread where a guy had a working config...then it stopped...then the next one worked better but still not 100%...

So, the more true Windows DAW rule...get it configured....and snapshot image it. Keep user created files on a different drive...takes ten min to put it back to know good.
Old 29th January 2013 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp ➑️
+1 on getting a FireWire card with a TI chipset. I had a Via card on my last computer that gave me hell until I switched.
golden rule no 1 ...always use TI chipset for firewire audiocards ...nuff said !
Old 29th January 2013
  #25
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johnnyv's Avatar
 
13 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Did you ever run the DPCLAT meter test to check your system,?? Laptops are notorious for interfering with DAW operation. Some will never ever work. Two things that will always get you Wireless card and Battery management- disable in Device manager and watch those spikes disappear.

DPC Latency Checker
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