Weird pops and clicks

Hi there,

Just a quick question that is driving me to distraction … and may or may not have a simple answer.

I bought a new PC a year or so back, 1GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive, 2.8GHz Dual Core CPU, and a (cheap undoubtedly) SoundBlaster 24bit soundcard.

I also bought a Hercules 16/12 Firewire audio interface.

Everything works great, recording on all 12 inputs simultaneously is a breeze, but …

When working with the resultant recordings, everything goes a bit screwy, and the sound ends up with various pops and clicks … OK up to a few tracks but once more than half a dozen or so and especially when adding effects.

The mixdown is fine, so it isn’t in the wavs themselves, and it makes no difference whether I am listening back through the speakers (i.e. via the SB soundcard) or the headphones (i.e. via the Hercules).

Anyone have any clues what might be going on here … could it, for example, be the soundcard, and I need to actually disable the thing when using the Hercules?

Another interesting quirk is that I occasionally get a message from n-Track that my soundcard is not 24bit compatible, which it clearly is … although being Soundblaster I guess there may well be some strange things going on in there.

Cheers,

Obvious question first Dave… have you tried upping your buffer settings or trying different drivers (ASIO/WDM/MME)?

Yes I have, neither option (buffers/drivers) makes any difference.

Quote (DaveC @ Feb. 08 2007,14:04)
Yes I have, neither option (buffers/drivers) makes any difference.

I thought you probably had being an n-track veteran so to speak. Not sure what else to suggest... Is you PC optimised for audio? Is there a virus scanner running? All the usual stuff that you've probably tried already.

Yeah … enditall is my friend.

It is a pity really, the end result is fine, just the listening along the way can get wearing due to the rogue noises. Even updated the drivers for the soundcard to no avail.

Could it be that you have too many effect, etc., and it’s taxing your system? I think this has happened to me before. Try freezing some or all of the tracks and see if the clicking goes away.

Dave, I have a DAW with almost exactly the same specs as you (except for the soundlbaster 24bit soundcard - mine is the Terratec EWS88MT). But I do get pops and clicks from time to time - and I’m becoming more and more convinced that I’m going to have to bite the bullet and purchase a second SATA HDD. The industry gurus keep stating that the recording drive should be separate from the main OS drive - and I’m beginning to believe them.

Paul

FIRST THING - make sure DMA is enabled on your hard drive - WHY ? - well this allows N to directly access the hard drive without windows interfering - which makes disk access faster

SECOND THING - when a track is put on the hard drive the chances of it being put in a continious block of data is as remote as Arnie becoming president of the USA - the data is spread all over the disk - so backup all the songs/tracks/loops whatever that you do not use on a daily basis to a CD - then delete the files you have backed up and then de-frag the drive -

this will put all the remaining tracks in one continious block of data so the drive head does not have to search all over the disk to find the next bit of your tracks - when the head does not have to search, disk access is faster -

Dr J

This also may be obvious to you. I have a similar system and when I get up to that many tracks and effects, etc. I encounter similar issues. However, if I don’t display the master mixer I’m able to proceed without issue. Doesn’t seem like it should make that much of a difference, but I think it’s due to the built in video card sharing the main processor and memory…

I’m getting this problem too, and have eliminated everything I can think of but it still persists after a certain number of tracks are recorded. I can see via task manager that neither the cpu or memory is getting taxed too hard, so I’m guessing it’s a disk access issue.

DMA is enabled. But I’m using a laptop with just one HD in it. It is a high-spec laptop (inspiron 9400). It turn off ALL unnec processes while I’m tracking.

So, I’m considering getting an external HD. Since my firewire port is being used by the MOTU, I need to use one of the USB2 ports for the external drive. Before laying down the $, I’m wondering if people here think that is likely to work at all (a lot of stuff going in and out via firewire and USB simultaneously) and if it is likely to solve my problem.

Any advice greatly appreciated.

Quote (kymarcus @ Feb. 12 2007,16:34)
I'm getting this problem too, and have eliminated everything I can think of but it still persists after a certain number of tracks are recorded. I can see via task manager that neither the cpu or memory is getting taxed too hard, so I'm guessing it's a disk access issue.

DMA is enabled. But I'm using a laptop with just one HD in it. It is a high-spec laptop (inspiron 9400). It turn off ALL unnec processes while I'm tracking.

So, I'm considering getting an external HD. Since my firewire port is being used by the MOTU, I need to use one of the USB2 ports for the external drive. Before laying down the $, I'm wondering if people here think that is likely to work at all (a lot of stuff going in and out via firewire and USB simultaneously) and if it is likely to solve my problem.

Any advice greatly appreciated.

When I used to track/mix on "lesser" machines (ie PII 450) I used to be able to watch the disk light on the front of my PC to tell what was going on. When I was really hammering the machine I would notice a correlation between the disk light and audio drop outs. Usually that meant I would need to up the buffers, but obviously that is not the case here.

Anyway I just thought that this might trigger a few ideas.

It is really interesting … I used to be able to do much more than this on a system with far lower specs (and still only a single HD). I can also confirm that it is nothing to do with n, because I get identical issues using the bog-standard install of Cubase LE that came with the Hercules.

The only other possibility I can come up with at this point would be the video … which is not onboard, but a separate AGP card - a 256MB ATI job. Again the drivers have been updated.

I will check the DMA setting … forgot about that one … but could the fact that the HD is SATA make a difference?

Quote (DaveC @ Feb. 13 2007,11:41)
I will check the DMA setting ... forgot about that one ... but could the fact that the HD is SATA make a difference?

SATA drives here Dave and no problems.

I also got a new PC, 1GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive, 2.8GHz Dual Core CPU, XP Pro. Clicks and pops you would not believe. CPU usage is the key. The best way to have smooth sailing is to play as many effect free tracks as you can. That means either mixdowns with the effect and reload into a new sng or use the freeze function.

If you have backing vocals that use the same effect, use the effect sends instead of individual effects on each track. Saves CPU usage.

Also when recording and playing tracks, make sure the entire song is on the display so that Ntrack will not have to switch screens. That screen switching makes pops and clicks too.

Be sure not to switch between screens, add or remove effects while recording. Sometimes those pops get recorded!

I’ve found with my laptop that speed step must be turned off (if you have a speed-step cpu).

Here’s a link to the speed step doc that I used to turn the speed step function off (causes it to run it at max hz - like most non-power saving cpus). http://www.intel.com/cd/channel/reseller/asmo-na/eng/203838.htm

-Tim