Help for Newbie?

Another lost soul

I’m sure you get this all the time, but I would be EXTREMELY grateful if some of you gurus could give a little advice with my new N-track setup.
I’ve recorded a couple little acoustic guitar tracks, and they all seem to be glitchy- pops, ticks, dropouts, etc. The first track was recorded at 24 bit, 96KHz. It gets particularly bad when I start to add in compression and reverb. I thought this system could at least handle a couple tracks like this, considering it’s better than the recommended minimum.
My PC is a little on the old side- an Athlon XP 1700+ processor with 512M Ram on a gigabyte GA7VAXP board. I have a better processor and some more ram coming for it- 2600+ processor with faster FSB and 1.5Gb total ram, so I’m hoping that will help.
My sound card is an M-audio delta 1010lt. I’ve been using the ASIO drivers.
I’m really getting frustrated with N-track because I’ve been able to record successfully to other programs at similar resolution. I recorded a stereo track from LP into Audacity, and had no problems at all. Of course I wasn’t using any effects, but I did monitor live while I recorded and no problem!
I could use some advice on system tweaks and N-track setup to get the most out of what I have.
Thanks!
Steve

The problems are not in the original wav files? If not (and it sounds like they are not), you probably just need to play around with buffering settings.

there are two problems recording at 96k, one is computer based the other is quality based -

first QUALITY - it is unfortunate that 96k recording has gained such MYTHICAL status when everything written on recording goes directly in opposition to it - 96k allows a frequency range between 20hz and 48khz to be recorded, however even the best human ears struggle to comprehend anything over 18khz, so at 96k you are recording 30khz of nothing (nothing that is but elrctrical noise) -

the ideal recording rate to match the human ear is 48khz at 20 bits - 48khz at 24 bits allows a suitable headrom af 6khz above human hearing and better resulition - thats why 48khz at 24bits is now the official standard for the broadcasting fraternity - 96k is a complete waste of time, not only that it puts twice the strain on a PC against 48k (and thats to much for older PCs) and comparing N to that other program is like comparing a pedalo to a F1 speedboat, what you see on the screen is not an indicator to the amount of processing that is taking place -

your Delta is designed to accept only one audio track per output, you have 8 outputs that equates to 8 tracks or 4 stereo pairs maximum, NOT 8 TRACKS INTO TWO OUTPUTS - to use a Delta correctly requires 4 stereo amplifiers and 8 speakers, NOT 1 amp and two speakers -

Delta soundcards are very good, they allow for a CERTAIN amount of missuse - to cure your popping increase the sample rate in the Delta control panel to maximum and keep to 48Khz and you will be better off alround - BTW N uses very little RAM plugins use LOADS OF IT and plugins slow down your PC-

see how you get on with these suggestions, there are a lot of things still to do to make a PC suitable for recording but some are a bit complicated and need to be treated seperately

Dr J

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I have a better processor and some more ram coming for it- 2600+ processor with faster FSB and 1.5Gb total ram, so I’m hoping that will help.


Even at that 96K is going to be fight you’ll probably lose. Stick to 24/44.1 or 24/48 and you should be able to record/playback MANY tracks glitch free.

Remember, at 96K your hard disk and disk subsystem has to move over TWICE the data compared to 44.1. Personally, I can’t hear enough fidelity gains in 96K to make it worth the performance hit.

D
Quote (DR Jackrabbit @ Mar. 05 2007,07:30)
there are two problems recording at 96k, one is computer based the other is quality based -

first QUALITY - it is unfortunate that 96k recording has gained such MYTHICAL status when everything written on recording goes directly in opposition to it - 96k allows a frequency range between 20hz and 48khz to be recorded, however even the best human ears struggle to comprehend anything over 18khz, so at 96k you are recording 30khz of nothing (nothing that is but elrctrical noise) -

the ideal recording rate to match the human ear is 48khz at 20 bits - 48khz at 24 bits allows a suitable headrom af 6khz above human hearing and better resulition - thats why 48khz at 24bits is now the official standard for the broadcasting fraternity - 96k is a complete waste of time, not only that it puts twice the strain on a PC against 48k (and thats to much for older PCs) and comparing N to that other program is like comparing a pedalo to a F1 speedboat, what you see on the screen is not an indicator to the amount of processing that is taking place -

your Delta is designed to accept only one audio track per output, you have 8 outputs that equates to 8 tracks or 4 stereo pairs maximum, NOT 8 TRACKS INTO TWO OUTPUTS - to use a Delta correctly requires 4 stereo amplifiers and 8 speakers, NOT 1 amp and two speakers -

Delta soundcards are very good, they allow for a CERTAIN amount of missuse - to cure your popping increase the sample rate in the Delta control panel to maximum and keep to 48Khz and you will be better off alround - BTW N uses very little RAM plugins use LOADS OF IT and plugins slow down your PC-

see how you get on with these suggestions, there are a lot of things still to do to make a PC suitable for recording but some are a bit complicated and need to be treated seperately

Dr J

Dr. J,
Not to start a war over formats, but I don't believe in Nyquists theorem correlates directly to sound quality. A lot of the point of the higher sampling rate is to avoid the need for a brick wall filter right above the audio band, which puts audible consequences due to phase shift and filter resonance IN the audio band. Also, it has been proven through older analog recordings that there is significant measurable information up to 50Khz from cymbals. My intent is not to record that high because my microphones are not capable of that. I have designed high order active filters and am aware of the problems associated with them. I believe that there is some truth to that side of the 44.1/higher argument. That being said, I do realize that my PC is not up to the task of 96Khz.
I'm not sure I'm following you about the sound card. It has 8 outputs configurable however I need to use them. Obviously, if I'm using them for two track stereo output, I'll need to mix my tracks down in software and assign the master outputs to 2 of the 8 channels. I'm not mixing for surround sound, so I won't be using the extra outputs. I needed 8 inputs to record my drum kit, which is why I bought a delta series. To be honest, what you're saying about the Delta isn't making a whole lot of sense to me.
The PC aspect and how it relates to the program is where I'm a little lost. I appreciate your comments on memory and processor usage, as this is still somewhat of a mystery to me.
I'm still trying to understand where the kink is in my system. The audio is not recording with artifacts, from what I can tell, but appears to be stumbling on playback. I have a 7200RPM hard drive, but it is IDE, not SATA. Could this be part of the problem? I realize that my expectations were too high to start with. At this point, I would like to be able to record 24 tracks at 24 bit 44.1KHz, be able to compress and EQ the tracks, and run a few plug-ins where necessary. What kind of hardware should I be looking at for this?
Quote (Diogenes @ Mar. 05 2007,11:01)
I have a better processor and some more ram coming for it- 2600+ processor with faster FSB and 1.5Gb total ram, so I'm hoping that will help.


Even at that 96K is going to be fight you'll probably lose. Stick to 24/44.1 or 24/48 and you should be able to record/playback MANY tracks glitch free.

Remember, at 96K your hard disk and disk subsystem has to move over TWICE the data compared to 44.1. Personally, I can't hear enough fidelity gains in 96K to make it worth the performance hit.

D
Thanks for the practical advice. This is the kind of info I need!

UPDATE:
Last night I was able to record two guitar tracks @24 bit 44.1KHz, and add compression, EQ,and a VST reverb plug-in. I didn’t have time to try more tracks, but these went fairly well. There was significant latency when I did the second track, as my buffers are adjusted up on the sound card. I want to try and get this worked down to a decent level. I switched from ASIO to WDM drivers, and that seemed to help, for some reason.
Any other hints for getting the most out of my old junker PC?
One thing I have been wondering about is this- When mixing a lot of tracks, if you can keep the system stable and running and do all the EQ, panning, compression, etc. to the tracks, will it mix down with the glitching I would hear on playback, or would it just crunch the numbers in non-real time, leaving a clean stereo master with all my processing and settings?

Another thing to consider is a second drive for the recording. I just got one. Unfortunately, I haven’t done any serious audio tracking since I got it, but have been doing some video work and it has helped immensely.

Had many of these issues in the past on a similar machine to yours. I reinstalled XP and tuned it using the suggestions on :

MusicXP

I also installed a second hard drive for the audio files, which helped a lot. NTrack ran great, 12 - 13 tracks, a lot of plugins, no problem at 24/48. However, as the machine is used at home, the wife & kids add programs, etc. and over time it just gets bogged down. When I look at the task manager I can’t believe the number of things running in there. And yes, it is on play back that I have problems now after some 5 tracks with plugs. Next reinstall I will set up a separate partition for ntrack alone. That way I can boot to record or boot for home use.

Thanks for the tips and the link… I really appreciate the help.
I might have to go out and get another hard drive and give that a try tonight. Also, the partition idea is something that I should have thought about because my system is a do-it-all too and ends up bogged down too. Thanks!
Steve