Migration considerations

bye n?

I am getting frustrated.

I am currently running V. 4.0.x with ASIO, and I have lots of problems with this setup. Nothing more than annoyances, mind you, but nevertheless enough to impair the workflow in my studio. I have to set ASIO latency low (no more than 5-8 msecs) when recording, or the sound in the cans is delayed making it hard to play while monitoring. But then I have to set ASIO latency high (100 msecs) when I mix, or n-Track will stutter, or even crash. The setting is not the easiest to reach (Open a recording VU-meter, click on the hammer, get into the recording settings, and, four windows deeper, into the ASIO latency setting), and, in the high ASIO latency setting, n-Track is very sluggish. When Stop is pressed, it takes up to four seconds before the audio cuts. This makes mixing a nightmare, and makes it hard to find cues etc. :(

Recently, I got my hands on a copy of Samplitude 8 SE (came with Computer Music magazine), and after installation, I am already very pleased with the performance of this program. I will put the program through the paces in the coming weeks, and unless I find something to be considerably easier/better/more powerful in n-Track, I’m afraid that n-Track will probably be phased out in favour of Samplitude.

I have not been particularly satisfied with the performance of n-Track version 4 and up, and unless something radical is going to happen with its performance and stability, I guess I will make the move and migrate. I will keep n-Track around for reference and the remixing of older projects. I have learnt a lot over the years by using n-Track (since version 1.x) and struggling with it. Despite my grips, thanks again to Flavio for bringing it to life, sine qua non… I have always found Cubase to be awkward, marginally stable, and over-complicated, but Samplitude seems to deliver… - let’s see. ???

Samplitude V8 SE may be had for €49,- at the Samplitude site. Click on the Available as e-version… - link to get it. Now, that’s competition for you…

regards, Nils

Eyup!

Nils, I had a play around with Samplitude (version 7 I think) and was most impressed with it.
It’s the only other piece of multitracking software I considered seriously apart from NTrack.
The price put me off, I couldn’t justify it for a piece of hobby software.
However, I shall be taking a look at the SE version.

BTW Nils, I’ve never migrated from NTrack V3.3

Steve

Hi,

Not sure how much Samplitude costs but if latency is your only problem you could fix this very cheaply by using a cheap 4 channel mixer and monitoring direct instead of through the soundcard and software (you might even have an old cassette portastudio lying around that you can use as a mini mixer).

Basically, whatever you are recording, you split the signal (using an adapter from Radio Shack if necessary) and feed it into your soundcard and also into the mini mixer. You also feed the output from your computer into the mini mixer. You set up your soundcard so that it doesn’t relay the live signal. This way you monitor what you are recording plus the tracks you have already laid down via the mixer with ZERO latency. Even with the best software in the world you will experience some latency using any other method (some people can tolerate more than others). Also you have full control over the volumes of the part you are tracking and the other tracks (often, the monitor volume of the track you are recording is dictated by the level it needs to be at to get a good signal onto “tape”.


Some sound cards (such as M-Audio) have a setting that allows you to do this internally without using a mixer with a setting that feeds the input straight to the output without going through the computer.

The only downside of this is that the monitor feed of what you are currently laying down is completely dry. Having said that you can pick up some very cheap hardware effects these days and a cheapo echo or reverb unit wired into the monitor mixer will probably be fine for the purposes of monitoring (you aren’t recording this effect to disc as it is only on the monitor mixer).

Perhaps I haven’t explained it very well but it isn’t as complicated as it sounds, the hardware you need can be found very cheaply and your latency problems are gone forever.

Regarding sluggishness on monitoring - I have found the freeze function works wonders with all my effects “printed to tape” cutting the processor overhead and making everything else respond much quicker. It’s easy enough to unfreeze and tweak if something doesn’t sound right.

Jeff, do happen to have a link handy that goes into the play-by-play for this procedure? I’m going to Google it anyway, but just for the general sake of it… thanks.

I’ve scribbled out a simple diagram that I’ll scan in and post when I get home.

Quote (JeffM @ Sep. 06 2006,12:01)
I’ve scribbled out a simple diagram that I’ll scan in and post when I get home.

Thanks Jeff. I also did download an article by Sound on Sound mag, and there’s some info, though it’s specific to having certain gear on hand.

Anyhoo, I appreciate it!

there’s another way, with a mixer.

using the insert points of most mixers, you can tap signal out from a mixer’s preamp, right after it’s been boosted.

signal path goes as follows:

1. microphone xlr cable plugs into xlr input on mixer channel 1.

2. signal is tapped off at the insert point, by plugging a TS 1/4" jack in only 1/2 way. This taps signal, but doesn’t break the signal path through the rest of the mixer.

3a. The signal tapped from the insert goes into the computer, without any further interuption, to be recorded.

3b. The mixer sends the same signal through the rest of the mixer, because we didn’t break path by plugging in the 1/4" jack all the way. Only half way. The signal goes through the channel fader, and out the mains / sub groups just like normal. Here is where you attach your monitors or monitoring solution.

4. Connect the soundcard’s outputs (L & R) to the mixer’s last stereo pair inputs (L & R). Now you have pre-recorded signal coming from the computer, into the mixer, and out the monitoring solution.

Signal flows to the computer, without travelling through the mixer first, but also, signal flows through the mixer, to be heard by the engineer, and performer. Plus, the pre-recorded signal comes into the mixer, to be heard in the monitoring solution.

Now, you can add an effects unit (i use an old zoom 1010) to add reverb or whatever to the monitor signal. Put this in the aux send and return, then you can use channel sends and returns to control levels of effects. Because the effects are added after the insert point, there’s no effects signal getting to the computer, only in the monitors.

Works great for me. I’ve been doing this for a few years.

I use a yamaha MG16/4 and a ESI ESP1010. Hosa makes 8 channel snakes that are color coded that work great for connecting the two together.

hth

Quote (Nils K @ Sep. 06 2006,04:39)
I am getting frustrated.

I am currently running V. 4.0.x with ASIO,
Recently, I got my hands on a copy of Samplitude 8 SE (came with Computer Music magazine), and after installation, I am already very pleased with the performance of this program.

I'm afraid that n-Track will probably be phased out in favour of Samplitude.

I have not been particularly satisfied with the performance of n-Track version 4 and up, and unless something radical is going to happen with its performance and stability, I guess I will make the move and migrate.

regards, Nils

Nils,

I was getting fairly good results with nT v 4 with its bundled plugs using asio at about 4 ms latency with live monitoring.

The hobby of course grew and I added some more plugs from Fxpansion and Nomad Factory to the collection and that's where the problems started for me.

Using Rock Amp Legends with a 4 track playback and monitoring live input using Rock Amp Legends, I would get complete interface slow down, pops and clicks in the recording. Weird spikes in CPU usage.

When I used Guru (drum synth/step sequencer) the same would happen and many of Guru's features like drag and drop midi would not work with nTrack.

If I ran two 3rd party vsts at once the problems were so bad I had to stop recording all together.

Did all the tweaks to the OS and switched to WDM and did get better performance but still with the same problems in a lesser degree.

Finally had enough. Should I continue with nTrack or should I stop using a pluggin that costs 240 bucks? I ended up switching to Sonar HS4, I don't have my OS tweaked, multiple instances of my pluggins work fine and the machine does not bog down.

Still watching from the sidelines though, hoping that v5 will be a success and a patch made for v4, as I've already spent nearly the same amount of money on nTrack upgrades as I did on switching to HomeStudio 4.

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I’ve never migrated from NTrack V3.3


nor me, and it runs smooth…

Here’s my diagram of how to hook up a cheap mini mixer and optional FX box to get zero latency monitoring. Apologies in advance for the quality - if anyone wants to draw it nicely be my guest!!!

Jeff, that’s great- thanks! It’s much simpler to see a picture than to decipher even a good explanation. Many thanks dude.

My apologies to Nils and others concerned for the sidetrack!

I have also gotten Sonar HS4, and am keeping an eye on v5. I’d probably have gone for Sam SE though, if it had been offered at the time!

If you’re looking for the best in an audio multitracker, then SawStudio is the biz.

It blows away anything and everything, nothing else comes close. Sonar, Cubase, Protools for PC…they’re all kiddy toys.

SAW is written in assembly and it’s lightning fast and totally stable, and…and…and…

But it don’t do Midi and it’s $2500 of real money.

So n-track really aint that bad considering everything. :)

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Basically, whatever you are recording, you split the signal (using an adapter from Radio Shack if necessary) and feed it into your soundcard and also into the mini mixer. You also feed the output from your computer into the mini mixer. You set up your soundcard so that it doesn’t relay the live signal. This way you monitor what you are recording plus the tracks you have already laid down via the mixer with ZERO latency. Even with the best software in the world you will experience some latency using any other method (some people can tolerate more than others). Also you have full control over the volumes of the part you are tracking and the other tracks (often, the monitor volume of the track you are recording is dictated by the level it needs to be at to get a good signal onto “tape”.


Thanks, Jeff, but that’s the way I did it before I got my new setup and EMU 1820 soundcard. It works in a smaller setup, but is a problem when recording four people playing and wearing headphones at the same time - there’s too much hard rewiring required between takes in order to monitor recordings. Besides, The way my setup is laid out now I really need the mic preamps in the 1820 to get a good sound. I even have the opportunity to add soft effects to the recording and to the foldback separately and independently without having to use a physical patchbay.

Besides, Samplitude has a sound out of this world when compared to n-Track. I have no idea to the cause for this, but I did a small test yesterday with a 24-bit sound file of an acoustic guitar recorded in n-Track. I imported the soundfile into Samplitude and added just a touch of reverb to it -sweet sound! I then added chorus to it, doubled the part, and added flanger to the doubled part - even better sounding!! When I tried that in n-Track, everything just muddled into a strange-sounding blodge. The effects actually enhanced the guitar sound instead of drowning it. Every pick of the strings standed out clear, and you could actually feel the room it was supposed to be in. (SIR actually wirks in Samplitude - no hassles, no questions asked, no fiddling with latencies or anything)

I agree that n-Track can’t be beaten at the price - until now, that is.

I feel that migration approaching faster now…

regards, Nils

Hi,

Yes, the setup I described is only really feasible for 1 track at a time stuff.

My own setup is slightly more sophisticated than that now in that my soundcards (4 input 16 out) allow me to route the input channel straight to one of the outs (internally without going through the processor) so I don’t have to split the input signal which simplifies it. I also use a 20 channel desk which helps and I can add effects to the monitored tracks using the aux sends and returns on the desk.

Might download the demo of Samplitude for comparison purposes when I get some spare time.

Quote (Nils K @ Sep. 07 2006,03:08)
…I did a small test yesterday with a 24-bit sound file of an acoustic guitar recorded in n-Track. I imported the soundfile into Samplitude and added just a touch of reverb to it -sweet sound! I then added chorus to it, doubled the part, and added flanger to the doubled part - even better sounding!! When I tried that in n-Track, everything just muddled into a strange-sounding blodge. The effects actually enhanced the guitar sound instead of drowning it…

I take it you used the exact same plugins with the exact same settings to the exact same file?
Quote (teryeah @ Sep. 07 2006,16:53)
Quote (Nils K @ Sep. 07 2006,03:08)
...I did a small test yesterday with a 24-bit sound file of an acoustic guitar recorded in n-Track. I imported the soundfile into Samplitude and added just a touch of reverb to it -sweet sound! I then added chorus to it, doubled the part, and added flanger to the doubled part - even better sounding!! When I tried that in n-Track, everything just muddled into a strange-sounding blodge. The effects actually enhanced the guitar sound instead of drowning it...

I take it you used the exact same plugins with the exact same settings to the exact same file?

Yep.

Kjaerhusaudio Classic Chorus and Classic Flanger in both instances... - only difference was I had to use another reverb plugin in n-Track (Glaceverb) than in samplitude SE (SIR). SIR does not work in n-Track (I've complained about this before)

Sounds gritty and muddy in n-Track, great in Samplitude.

I've also found that the Aux channels are actually normaled (0 dB in equals 0 dB out) in Samplitude. In n-Track, the plugin levels are all over the place...

I've used Samplitude extensively for a couple of days, for everything (and more) I use n-Track for. Not a single crash, nothing I couldn't do with it, no audio dropouts or hiccups regardless of ASIO settings or load from plugins or number of tracks, no GUI surprises, very precise (sample-accurate) editing and automation (volume envelopes adjusts to within 0.1 dB and a thousandth of a second - with pop-up box displaying position in level AND time), VSTi's actually works - regardless of manufacturer, plus, a sweet, sweet sound.

regards, Nils

Hmmm… very interesting.
Did you by any chance apply n-Track’s EQ to the file?

Eyup!

When I had a go with Samplitude, I too noticed a distinct difference in the sound. Whether Samplitude is “better” is a matter of opinion of course.
There is no way for us to know what (if any) pre / post processing is applied as standard.
So, is N giving the “true” sound, or is Samplitude?

Steve

Well as you say, Steve, sound tends to be subjective. I don’t know that I’d necessarily want ‘true’ sound anyway! Besides, your ears are constructed uniquely, so it becomes moot, I would think.

And this is not the first comment about Samplitude sounding “better” that I’ve come across.