Is this a PC power supply issue?

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williamsongs
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Is this a PC power supply issue?

Post by williamsongs » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:53 am

OK, help... I'm probably out of my league technically, but anyway:

PC based DAW system using Cubase and a MOTU 828mk2. The issue is that during recording and playback, with complete randomness, there are futzy glitch tone bursts of about 5ms. When recording, they are not noticed realtime, because of using "Direct Monitoring" in Cubase to monitor pre-PC. But they are in there ruining the tracks. In playback, they can occur as well but stop, rewind, replay and they aren't recorded there. This is not all the time, and not following any seeming pattern. They aren't buffer-sized dropouts, if recording 2 tracks, it's in both. If recording 4 tracks, it's in all 4. Etc.

OK - I am using no VST instruments, plugins or anything. Using the DAW only as a tape machine surrogate. Recording two to four tracks at a time. There is a nearly zero-load on the Cubase CPU and VST meter. I have run the buffer sizes up down and sideways with zero effect on this problem. I have run the DPC latency checker and there are no spikes or anything with this setup, which is well into the green zone of workability. I am not taxing this system at all and it still happens. Did the entire "optimize your PC for audio" trip already.

I am pretty convinced this is a hardware not software or latency issue.
Cheap shit Dell E520 computer with 4gb RAM, no networking, internet, wireless, or antivirus. I have stripped every non DAW related anything from this computer.

The PCI/FW card is on it's own IRQ without conflict.
The video card is on it's own IRQ and not taxing anything. My video settings are all minimal usage/resource drain.

I have two guesses, one that the mouse is a USB mouse and somehow that is fucking things up. Two, the power supply is shitty and somehow that is causing these intermittent failures in audio card recording correctly.

It's not all the time, but at least once per 4-hour session a record take, or a playback glitches this way. When it's on playback, no problem - but when it's during a recording, we don't hear it due to Direct Monitoring, and only hear it on playback when it has glitched up the take.

The hard drives are all 7200rpm Seagate Barracuda SATA drives, non-RAID and all are defragged and only 30-50% full. Audio all on separate drives, of course.

It really seems like a system interruption of some type, but I can't figure out what the hell it could be. and I can't recreate the problem deliberately to figure it out. I am getting convinced that it is really just some cheap shit component like the power supply. Windows XPsp2 is what I am using and almost all services are shut off. I have diligently tried to nip this in the bud for an embarrassingly long time now.... anybody have a theory or can confirm that a shitty power supply would do this?

I hate computers with a seething passion.
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RodC
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Post by RodC » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:50 am

That don't sound like a PS issue to me.

Does it ruin all tracks?

Does it sound like digital crap?

Have you watched your task list while recording to see if something pops to the top and sucks up some resources for a bit?

Have you tried recording to a different HD?

Have you tried different DAW software to eliminate that? (Try Audicity, or Reaper you can download them pretty quick)

What Firewire card are you using? I have read other horror stories with some chip sets and MOTU.

Have you posted a question over at MOTUNation.com?
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Post by williamsongs » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:26 am

Thanks man, so yeah... been trying a lot of stuff over the last year or so.
Here's what I know of what you suggested to try:

It does ruin all tracks when it happens.

Sounds like digital crap, for sure "dzzt"

Task manager doesn't show any changes that I can see, but it's hard to tell, because we only get to hear it after tracking and when playing back, not when it actually occurs, due to monitoring pre-PC.

Two different HD's - same problem occurs.

Tried different DAW (Sony Vegas) same thing happens.

I do know that the FW card is merely an "OHCI compliant" and may not be a TI chip as recommended. Not sure about that one...

MOTUnation is pretty useless in my experience, but yeah, tried there too.

One other thing I haven't done is shut off "System Restore" on the audio drives. Could this be what is interrupting? An intermittent Windows restore point setting?

I appreciate the help, I really hate when shit don't work like it's s'posed to.
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Post by kslight » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:40 am

Can you recreate the same problem using a different interface/firewire card on this system?

Does the problem move to a different system if you bring the interface/firewire card over to it?


I'm not thinking power supply for this, I would be inclined to assume the firewire card and/or interface. Its true that the power supply is a weak link for most off the shelf systems and is a relatively inexpensive thing to try if you feel like it, but it doesn't sound like a power supply issue.

Has this problem always existed on this system with this configuration or did it start when you changed something?

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:13 pm

I had a problem that sounded just like what you describe. I tracked it down to a clocking issue. But I was interfacing 2 digital devices. I don't know how you'd resolve that between the motu and the comp. I guess a chipset problem in the firewire connection could do basically the same thing. Have you tried a different firewire card yet?
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Post by williamsongs » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:15 pm

Hmm, those are good questions. Some of the diagnosing has been inhibited by not taking everything offline to move cards around and such, and by not having a second system to try things with - but here's what I can answer:

This problem has always existed with this system. Unfortunately the whole thing was all purchased together, and it has always been this way, no hardware changes have ever been made thus far.

I never considered just getting a different FW card.

Come to think of it, the MOTU interface shit the bed within a few months of purchase and was repaired by them under warrantee. It was a power supply issue within the 828 interface. It seems to be fully functional to me ever since though. (Unless this problem is within the interface, which then I guess it sure ain't fully functional!)

I do have a MOTU traveler interface as well, that I could try with this system to at least rule out whether it is the 828 hardware interface causing the problem.

I am less inclined to tear down and take the PC apart to diagnose FW card problems, just because it's such a pain, but if I have to, I will.

Again, thanks for thinking about my digital glitches with me.
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Post by williamsongs » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:23 pm

Carl, I didn't see your post before I replied.
I initially thought the sound was a clocking glitch too. How did you resolve your problem?

To be clear, I am using 2 more devices than the MOTU.
I have a Presonus Digimax for more in/out connected via lightpipe.
I have an ART Digital MPA for DI use connected via SPDIF.

The MOTU 828 is the clock master, and both devices receive their wordclock from it.

Is there potential for the damn gremlins to be coming from this? Sometimes I don't use the Presonus and the ART, only using the MOTU and the glitches still happen.

I fantasize about spending a day trap shooting with and when someone yells "pull" they throw up my computer and I blast away at it with a 12 gauge.
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Post by E-money » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:27 pm

Is there a cheap built-in audio interface you can test with? A lot of motherboards have cheap 16 bit interfaces with 1/4" line and mic inputs. I would try recording with that for a while if it is available. I have a strong suspicion that your current interface is the issue.
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Post by kslight » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:32 pm

williamsongs wrote:Carl, I didn't see your post before I replied.
I initially thought the sound was a clocking glitch too. How did you resolve your problem?

To be clear, I am using 2 more devices than the MOTU.
I have a Presonus Digimax for more in/out connected via lightpipe.
I have an ART Digital MPA for DI use connected via SPDIF.

The MOTU 828 is the clock master, and both devices receive their wordclock from it.

Is there potential for the damn gremlins to be coming from this? Sometimes I don't use the Presonus and the ART, only using the MOTU and the glitches still happen.

I fantasize about spending a day trap shooting with and when someone yells "pull" they throw up my computer and I blast away at it with a 12 gauge.

I think it would be prudent to disconnect any unnecessary devices for troubleshooting purposes.

You don't by chance have any other firewire devices connected simultaneously besides the MOTU such as a hard drive? If you do I'd remove that as well.

I would also definitely try connecting the Traveler and disconnecting the 828 and see if the problem goes away/changes.

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Post by williamsongs » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:13 pm

I want to thank you guys for spending some quality Sunday time with me pulling teeth. I'm beginning to suspect, via this thread, that the 828 interface is bad.

Not sure if it's relevant, but when tracking and the glitch happens, the DAW actually draws a waveform of the glitch on each track. As if the MOTU is feeding noise into the DAW instead of good audio. i don;t know...

I have no other FW devices connected, and have operated without the other audio devices connected, same deal...

Will try the Traveler next, but I am beginning to believe the MOTU 828 is inducing this crap, and in general, is a piece of crap. The Traveler also has it's own stupidity (the SPDIF can't be used on it for example).

The computer actually does all kinds of video crunching and editing with Sony Vegas and has no issues with that whatsoever, so it seems that the PC is really not the issue maybe.

For how cheaply made and unreliable they are, maybe MOTU hardware is just a little bit over priced?
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:26 pm

I solved my problem by trying different master/slave combos until I found something that didn't glitch. I was kinda bummed, because now I have to boot my computer to use my digital mixer, which slows me down and kills my creative flow sometimes. Maybe your motu would prefer to be clocked off of something else? Also, make sure your clocking is locked in to the same setting everywhere and nothing is set to "auto." Y'know what I mean? The whole point of clocking is that everyone is on the same page. Could there be some intermittent source of emf pulses anywhere near your clocking cable or clocks or gear? Like a fridge that turns on, or heat pump, or other electric motor or transformer or light or something?
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Post by williamsongs » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:50 am

Update for anyone interested:

1. If I lived in Portland, I'd be delivering beer to Carl, for the win.

2. Not a PC problem at all. MOTU hardware and drivers basically suck for PC.

Suspicious of a clocking glitch as Carl suggested, I first tried clocking to a Digidesign sync unit I have laying here, and in trying that first, encountered the MOTU had lost it's MIDI port to the PC. Red flag #1.

Then the LED's on the MOTU interface all started freaking out and it's red flag #2. This was the last thing I remember before having to send the thing in to MOTU a few years ago for repair. Nothing so dramatic this time, as that shit stopped with a power cycle off/on.

So I figured it worth a shot to uninstall, reinstall the hardware and drivers. Not as easy as it should be, as it involves poking through the Windows registry to remove about 50 iterations of MOTU related shit. Unless it's ALL removed, the reinstall won't work. That took some time and hair pulling.

Fortunately, after that operation the reinstall worked and I had all my MIDI ports and functionality back. And could get back to trying to evaluate the original problem, the seeming clocking glitches.

Shortcut to the end of the story for now, having the MOTU slaved to a Presonus Digimax via wordclock has been effective and thus far, none of the digital crap has appeared in over 4 hours of dumping four-track tapes into Cubase via MOTU analog inputs.

So far so good, but what a load of unnecessary computer related horseshit. The great juxtaposition is that I'm here pulling cassette four track tapes out of a wine box that is 25 years old. They all work fine with no problems, and even sound good. "Dead medium" my ass....
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:00 am

Glad I could help. Sorry I had to. I wish I could slave my Motu off my mixing board. I think it might sound better (if it worked) and it would be so much better for my workflow. Your story almost tempts me to try reinstalling the drivers. Almost.
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Post by Cyan421 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:59 pm

What version of windows are you using? There is a reason that motherboard manufactures are not putting firewire on new boards intended for use with windows 7. I'm not sure what the deal is, but all of the audio interface manufactures recommend usb or pci pci-x for windows 7 work.
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Post by williamsongs » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:07 am

Hey there, I'm still on XP sp2. Although I spoke WAY too soon about all this working now. The situation is baffling to me, and seems now more likely to be a Windows problem.... one I haven't a solution to at hand. Any help would be great.

I can restore full functionality to this rig now by reinstalling the MOTU drivers and the 828mk2 hardware every single time the PC is turned off. Like Windows "loses" or "forgets" the driver when it is shut down and restarted. You can see it is still in there in system/drivers, but isn't recognized by any software after a restart, including Windows. (i.e. doesn't even show up in dxdiag either)

The truly silly part is that it's only the MOTU MIDI port that disappears. I have this rig working like a charm for strictly audio, without the originally mentioned glitches, which were eradicated by clocking from the Digimax instead of the 828. If you don't need the MIDI port, you'd never know there was this problem.

But when the PC is restarted, the MOTU MIDI port is no longer there, which is what receives MIDI time code for sync purposes. Only way to get it back is a full driver and hardware reinstall. Crazy. Using the FW driver 3.6.7.4 (anything more recent is an immediate fail in XPsp2 for me).

Reinstalling drivers and hardware every morning seems like NOT the ideal way to proceed, but it's all I got for now... once setup everything works as it should. I'd really love to solve this stupidity and move on... WITHOUT buying anything else, like a mac or some other hardware. Not interested in that.
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