Note dropouts, cracks

I’m running Ivory II Italian Grand as a VST in Cubase 6. I (daily) encounter note dropouts, note compression, cracks when playing/recording/exporting files (even in realtime exporting). Here are my (failed) attempts to solve this: expanded buffer size on all ASIO drivers, reduced the layers of piano samples down from 18 to 10/ cut out all piano noise samples (so it’s as dry as can be), no other apps are running, WIFI is off, defragmented, registry cleaned, expanded virtual memory to 8GB. My computer is as clean as (I think it) can be. My only thought (after doing more adjustments than posted) is that my computer is not awesome enough to even do the basics of audio recording.
I have a Sony VAIO VGN-FW465j - intel core 2 duo 2.56ghz 8200/ 4GB Ram (pushed virtual to 8) and an extra 150GB of free space. I’ve got it on “High Performance” too. Any productive thoughts to resolve this? Is my laptop too weak for one VST and Cubase? I should mention Ivory does cracks/dropouts too just in standalone too. I love Cubase (got it two weeks ago). Is it “format:c” time? New computer? Or is there a, hopefully, cleaper solution? Thanks in advance.

Hi there,

ever tried a different ASIO-driver?


Best
wishes

JC

Yes, the ASIO4ALL, ASIO Full Duplex, a generic one and my M-Audio ASIO driver (Fast Track Pro). Unfortunately with no different results. Thanks though.

This is indeed bad news! The fact that it causes the same problems in stand-alone mode makes it even worse.

Besides the driver I was thinking about a hard disk that might respond to slowly.
Have you ever tried to load the piano samples from an external hard disk drive?

What sort of audio card are you using: onboard/external?


JC

Have you switched any speed stepping off in the bios if possible?

Thanks for responding guys,
Sound card…I use the M-Audio Fast Track Pro for sound/MIDI interface.
External drive…I thought of that, but a friend of mine said that it really wouldn’t help. My best connection on my laptop is USB 2.0. I was thinking SSD, but he nixed that idea.
Speed Stepping??? Never heard of it!:slight_smile:
The more I think about it, I’m just considering a complete wipe of my laptop and starting fresh.

Something to consider is that your CPU may be getting hot and throttling to prevent an overheat. This is usually an issue with laptops. Especially those technologies that are 4 or 5 years old now. There are some utilities available that may allow you to look at your CPU temp and see if it is hitting the throttling temperature. But the easiest thing to do is probably prop it up an inch or two off the table with some feet (I use stacks of post it notes!) and set a fan up to blow underneath it. If that seems to help, then you may have found the culprit.
HTH
J.L.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpeedStep

Ah, simple solutions. I will try propping it up and checking core temp stuff as well as explore the speedstepping idea. Thanks guys. FYI, I reformatted my computer and reinstalled the OS (Win 7) and only music applications (i.e Cubase 6, Grand 3 and Ivory II). When playing last night for the first time in two days I still had the same issues of clipping and note dropouts - even at a buffer size of 1024 and polyphony dropped down to 100. Ugh, but at least I got to purge old garbage! Sometimes I wish my piano music wasn’t so complicated so I could get away with basic polyphony…:slight_smile: (not really!)

Here’s a simple idea: Is your fan running, even on full speed, while you run Cubase on your laptop?

If so, this probably means, that your CPU speed is throttled due to the laptop otherwise overheating.

Causes me trouble on my Macbook. However, i just put an ice-cold steel plate under it and it runs well then (not for more than like 15 mins, though…)

It is probably recommended not to work on a laptop, if i may say that.

Hope that helps.

I have had similar problems in the past. Google Throttlestop for a utility that allows you to monitor whether CPU throttling is actually the problem and then, if it is, the same utility can be used to prevent the throttling. I use a laptop with Cubase and it works well - with Throttlestop running.

Dave

Throttlestop…I will look that up. Thanks. I am trying something else: I just bought an expresscard adapter for 3.0 and bought a WestDig TB external drive to load my samples from. We’ll see how that works as I have learned that my 72rom HD isn’t ideal for my samples. Add throttlestop and speedstepping to the mix and I think I’ll be on fire…I’ll report back in a few days to (hopefully) give some closure on this issue. Cheers to all your help and thanks.

Dave,
I was just wondering about Throttle stop preventing the throttling. Couldn’t this result in frying the CPU or at least getting a BSOD? Maybe I am not understanding how it does this?
SIncerely,
J.L.

Throttlestop allows you to monitor the temperatures, confirm whether throttling is indeed happening and block it. It allows you still to set an “Alrm” limit whereby the throttling will be allowed to take effect. It also allows you to reduce the CPU voltage.
My, Acer, laptop was overzealous in it’s throttling, cutting the effective CPU speed well before temperatures rose to anywhere near causing harm. By a combination of reducing the CPU voltage and using throttlestop I now have a reliable laptop for cubase (and I also stress tested it using ORTHOS without any BSOD). My CPU temperatures are lower than they were before :slight_smile: I have never seen it reach its “alarm” limit.

The notebookreview forums have a guide written by the author of the utility that explains it’s workings far better than I can. As a user - I am very happy with the results.

One other comment for anyone experiencing these issues - make sure your laptop vents are clear . Some have a very fine mesh which can get blocked with fluff and dust, - I reduced temperatures on mine just by cleaning them out - but still needed throttlestop to run cubase reliably.

Update and question: I had a tech friend do some more tests on my laptop. Even when I play 20 notes per second (for the test) my cpu and RAM work effortlessly. Using VST’s are no sweat for these two elements. He said the bottleneck (new term to me!) was both my internal hard drive and even the new external one. Spindle-related drives weren’t cutting it and I was peaking after just 20 notes. I was relieved to find the source of the problem - with certainty - but now the question is: has anyone heard any incompatibility/issues/downside to using an express card 3/4 (that ahs two usb 3.0 ports) with a solid state drive in conjunction with Cubase/The Grand/Ivory? This is my last attempt at piecing together a solution before I go balls out and buy a new computer. I’d like to load all three software programs onto it. Have you heard examples of people doing it this way (successfully)? WHat do you think? FYI: outside of usb 2.0 I only have firewire 400 and the expresscard slot.
Thanks.

Well, hard drive wise, of course the slower seek times of a HDD can cause problems with extreme playing and in that case a SSD or two in a RAID might help you.
And it’s wise to note that it’s the seek time, not the bandwidth of neither the drive itself or the USB 2 standard, that’s limiting. A 44.1 kHz/24 bit audio stream uses ca. 258 kB/s, with the 57 MB/s of USB 2 that would theoretically allow 220 simultaneous streams. The disk-to-buffer bw of a normal HDD today is safely above that.

But I would not think that this is the issue, I haven’t tried The Grand but I’d guess that there are settings for how the streaming is done, how much should be pre-loaded into your RAM and how much is read directly from disk. Ideally you want as much as possible loaded into the RAM, I don’t know how large a piano program is in TG but running in standalone I think you should be ok even with your ≈3 GB (which is the practical useable amount of RAM you can expect of your 4 GB, given you are running a 32 bit system)

The one thing you should try before everything else however, is to switch on the “Steinberg audio power scheme” under device settings, this does what has been discussed earlier in the thread. It disables the speed stepping of your processor making it run on the maximum multiplier. The speed stepping has a large impact on ASIO performance and it will not show up as CPU load, it will only affect the ASIO-meter in cubase (on my system it’s jumping nervously) and can cause cracks and dropouts even with readings safely below 100%.
This will make your CPU run hot, but all modern processors have thermal protection, either by throttling down (you’ll notice this by a significant decrease in performance) or switching off the computer. If this happens, you can always take to more advanced programs and disable speed stepping and limiting the processor to run on a fixed lower mulitplier. Rightmark CPU Clock Utility is an advanced but powerful tool for this, throttlestop witch has been mentioned is probably similar.

(note that the steinberg audio power scheme is only active with cubase started, but if your system hangs with cubase open, the scheme can stick and you will have to switch it back to a “cooler” one manually)

/A

Thanks TwinOak. It’s sobering to know how little I know about computers but a relief to also know that there are people out there like you who do know how all the pieces fall together. Thanks for the info. I love to learn.

Success! Buying and installing my piano samples onto the external Iomega ssd did the trick. No clipping, cracks or dropouts. I turned all samples on and cranked the polyphony too! I even had to connect it via usb 2! My Renesas Superspeed usb 3 expresscard adapter isn’t compatible with my win 7 64bit OS as they only have drivers for the 32bit version!!! My laptop keeps kicking it out or just not recognizing any of my external drives. No matter I guess, usb 2 does the trick. Unbelievable. Perhaps one day I’ll find a ‘hotfix’ for it - or pay someone to do it for me:). I don’t even know what a ‘hotfix’ is! My friend just mentioned it before he flew back home. I’d like that security of more transfer/bandwidth? I have reinstalled Cubase 6 onto my laptop’s hd and will turn on the power thingie as TwinOak suggested. Hopefully with the software separated from the VST libraries, recording will happen with little to no further blockage. Thanks to all of you for your help and suggestions. For my first experience using forums, this was a great one. Cheers to all of you and Steinberg!