18 June 2010

PC & Making Music Tips Page 4/5 file:///C%7C/Web%20Sites/%7Bshort%20description%20of%20image%7D

During playback, the song position line leaves streaks or other bizarre patterns on the screen.
This is also caused by the graphics card and it can sometimes be difficult to rectify. First, try the options suggested in question 6. It’s also worth experimenting with colours, screen resolution, and so on. If that has no effect, in the ‘System‘ Control Panel’s Performance section, select the Graphics button and reduce the hardware acceleration. This should take some strain off the system and make your sequencer run smoother.

Select the Device Manager in the System Control Panel, expand the Monitors entry and double-click on the monitor. Click on the Driver tab and install another driver. If the monitor is using a dedicated driver, it may be putting too great a load on the system, so try using a standard Windows driver. If none of these work, you may need another card.

My sequencer becomes unstable and I’m experiencing lots of timing problems.
This can happen for several reasons.

First of all, it’s imperative that you set up the software according to the instructions, use the recommended drivers for your hardware and make sure your PC system is up to speed for whatever you want to do.

A common cause of timing problems is asking the sequencer to do more than the system resources allow. Because sequencers run in real-time, in order to maintain accurate timing they need access to as much of the system’s resources as possible and they should not be interrupted by background processing. Switch off all TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) software such as screen savers, background virus checkers, networking, and so on.

You can see if any applications or accessories are running in the background by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del. The Close Program box will list current applications, which you can select and Shut Down. You need Systray and Explorer, but most, if not all, of the others will be surplus to requirements and can be closed.

You can try reducing graphics acceleration (see above ) and if you only have 32Mb of RAM, increasing it to 64Mb or 128Mb wouldn’t hurt. However, if you have a slowish machine and are trying to do a lot of real-time audio playback and processing, be aware that it may not have enough power to do it.

Timing problems can also occur with some motherboard and BIOS (mostly Award) combinations with the (relatively) new UDMA hard drives, which conspire to steal resources from the ISA bus. UDMA was devised to bypass the CPU, allowing it to get on with other tasks, but it in some cases it can hog the bus, causing timing problems with ISA cards. If you have this combination of equipment and you think it is causing a problem, here’s a fix to try:

Boot up the PC. During booting, hold down the DEL key to enter the BIOS configuration set-up. Select, "PnP and PCI Setup," or, "PnP Configuration." In here you should find a setting which reads, "PCI IDE IRQ Mapped to:" which is usually set to, "PCI Auto." Change this to, "ISA," or, "Legacy ISA." Save the changes, exit, and restart. Standard warning and disclaimer: Be very careful when changing BIOS settings as they can drastically change the way your system operates. Don’t mess with them unless you know what you’re doing.

You could also try switching Virtual Memory (System Control Panel > Performance > Virtual Memory) on or off. Although most applications suggest you leave it on and set to, "Let Windows manage my virtual memory settings," some software recommends switching it off or setting it to a fixed amount. Try both settings, but be aware that leaving it on is generally the best option.

The audio tracks seem to run out of time with the MIDI tracks.
The PC system needs a little time to get audio and MIDI playback sync’ed together. Most software has a setting or two that allows you to compensate for timing differences, and you ought to consult your manual for details. Here’s a couple of examples:

In Cubase VST, out-of-sync problems can be caused by Pre-roll being less than the Latency figure. To set up Pre-roll correctly, select System from the Audio menu and look at the Latency figure, which is below the ASIO Control Panel button. Then, in Synchronisation (Option menu), change the System Pre-roll to equal this figure.
VST also has a MIDI to Audio Delay parameter in the System panel (Audio menu) and setting this to a positive value will delay MIDI playback in relation to the audio.

Some software, including Cakewalk and VST, have options to test the soundcard in order to optimise performance (although this facility can also depend on the drivers you are using). Also, check out your program’s audio settings for parameters such as caches, buffers, latency and so on, which can improve timing.

I’m starting to get audio dropouts during playback, and while recording audio it just stops recording.
The most common cause of this problem is the hard disk, particularly if the problem has just materialised. Before you try the suggestions below, check the system optimization suggestions in the questions above, such as turning off TSR programs and selecting the correct drivers. You could also go to the Control Panel>Control Panel and make sure that no sounds are assigned to any events.

If you have an older PC system, note that most software does not recommend an IDE drive. However, software such as Cakewalk has an option to enable caching, which may improve IDE drive performance.

Make sure there is sufficient space on the hard disk for the audio data. You can check the amount of free space by right clicking on the drive in the Explorer and selecting Properties. If you are recording lots of takes, you can easily fill the hard drive a lot faster than you think. Additionally if you are using virtual memory system degradation can occur with less than aound 100Mb of free space.

You should also defragment the drive regularly. When you save a file it is often fragmented and scattered over the disk and it takes the drive longer to read it. Defragmenting brings the sections together making for faster data retrieval. In the above Properties page, select the Tools tab and the Defragment Now button.Some audio sequencers require you to enter the length of the recording before making an actual recording. Make sure this is long enough for whatever you want to record.



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