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Hardware Inserts on a PT10 Native/Firewire Rig - Am I wasting my time?
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libertine
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28th December 2012
Old 28th December 2012
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Hardware Inserts on a PT10 Native/Firewire Rig - Am I wasting my time?

Hey Guys -

I've been searching the web for the last few days trying to get a grasp on what seems to be a really dark corner of the Native PT users' knowledge base: Hardware Inserts. From what I'm reading, the situation is seeming a bit bleak. However, I wanted to ask the questions myself, hoping to get a little more definitive information for or against the idea.

My situation is that I've recently started acquiring a few nice pieces of outboard to compliment my ITB, native PT mix rig. Kush Audio Fatso, a few EQs on the way as well. I'm resolved that the best way for me to integrate these pieces is to do hardware inserts on the channels within PT. No problem there, I have plenty of I/O on my SSL Alphalink (which I feed into PT via an M-Audio Lightbridge ADAT interface).

The problem came when I started digging into my round-trip latency, taking measurements trying to configure my I/O delay settings. As I'm sure most of you know, PT Native will only compensate down to a tenth of a millisecond (as opposed to samples). As close as I can get, it's not close enough upon playback. Parallel processing is completely out of the question, etc.

SO! I find myself trying to figure out the best way to accomplish the goal of inserting my new hardware pieces into my mixes without having to insert the outboard post-PT fader via a summing box of some kind. Here are the initial options that pop into my head:

1. Get an HD rig. Don't want to do this. I've got plenty of DSP power. Tracking goes beautifully. It's way too expensive for a few workflow improvements. I'm happy with Native.

2. Switch to Logic 9 for mixing. I used to be a Logic head, still hate editing audio in it, but it has a cool "ping" feature for measuring round-trip latency and compensating by samples. I could see myself mixing in Logic if it solved the problem. Not excited about the idea of splitting my work between two DAWs, especially since I'm extremely fast with PT, but I'll do it if I have to.

3. Try a PCIe ADAT interface instead of the Firewire Lightbridge I'm using at the moment. I've seen a few mentions of firewire interfaces being "a moving target" as far as latency goes. I'm not sure if I'm reading that correctly, but it seems to be an issue others are having.

Anyhow, I'm hoping we can get a discussion going here about the various latency issues Native, non-HD mixers may be facing when trying to integrate outboard into our workflows.

Bottom line, I'm a PT10 native mixer, want to start inserting hardware, but need virtually sample-accurate delay compensation to work as it should.

Thoughts? Thanks folks!
libertine
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29th December 2012
Old 29th December 2012
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Just to update, ahead of hopefully some great insight from you guys, I played with Logic's I/O plugin for an hour or two earlier to see what kind of results I'd get from it's "Ping" compensation tool.

Long story short, It's a sad day over here. The whole "firewire is always a moving target" latency law has proven true in my experiment. When you press the "Ping" button in Logic's I/O plug, it's designed to do a quick white noise round trip test and auto compensate based on samples. It them displays and allows for manual tweaking to the number of samples it offsets the track. Throughout a song, I pinged the plug in several times, with varying results. And not by a sample or two. By a few hundred at a time.

So, I'm shopping for something PCIe I suppose. I wonder if it's possible to use the built in optical I/O on my Mac Pro as the interface for my insert DA? Anyone tried that?
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29th December 2012
Old 29th December 2012
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How about a good old analog patch bay with some outputs coming from your SSL analog outputs.. You can interface your new hardware in the patch bay and bring it back into the PT mixer with the buffer WAY DOWN and Low latency monitoring engaged.. The down side is a bit of latency..

Once you've dialed in your outboard settings print them into PT and shift them back a few samples if necessary..

I am using the Logic I/O plug and am happy with the way it works.. It is not a perfect solution.. An SSL Matrix is the perfect solution paired with a few SSL I/O's.
libertine
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30th December 2012
Old 30th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyfrequencies View Post
How about a good old analog patch bay with some outputs coming from your SSL analog outputs.. You can interface your new hardware in the patch bay and bring it back into the PT mixer with the buffer WAY DOWN and Low latency monitoring engaged.. The down side is a bit of latency..

Once you've dialed in your outboard settings print them into PT and shift them back a few samples if necessary..

I am using the Logic I/O plug and am happy with the way it works.. It is not a perfect solution.. An SSL Matrix is the perfect solution paired with a few SSL I/O's.
That's basically what I did on today's mix. Wasn't the headache I was anticipating. Fatso sounded great, too!
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30th December 2012
Old 30th December 2012
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I got almost the same setup and the same problems.

I use a Alphalink madi with a madixtreme with pt10 and still with ADC activeted it shifts... so parrelel compr... out of question.
SO I have be going the OTB route with a patchbay and a GET Sum:mation and it does work wonderfull well now for a month.
The sum:mation have analog volume controlled by digital automation by your DAW with a plugin. So in short signalflow path terms. Alphalink -> outboard -> sum:mation -> analog volume controle -> L/R summed out to DSD or back in to Alphalink.
So no more funky compression behaviour of the volume automation BEFORE compression and spot on parrelel compression. Very nice stereo image summing and even it's cleaned designed, the sum:mation adds a sort of "shine" to the summing signals.

Totale cost less then 2700dollars (sum:mation and a patchbay).
libertine
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30th December 2012
Old 30th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMauce View Post
I got almost the same setup and the same problems.

I use a Alphalink madi with a madixtreme with pt10 and still with ADC activeted it shifts... so parrelel compr... out of question.
SO I have be going the OTB route with a patchbay and a GET Sum:mation and it does work wonderfull well now for a month.
The sum:mation have analog volume controlled by digital automation by your DAW with a plugin. So in short signalflow path terms. Alphalink -> outboard -> sum:mation -> analog volume controle -> L/R summed out to DSD or back in to Alphalink.
So no more funky compression behaviour of the volume automation BEFORE compression and spot on parrelel compression. Very nice stereo image summing and even it's cleaned designed, the sum:mation adds a sort of "shine" to the summing signals.

Totale cost less then 2700dollars (sum:mation and a patchbay).
Ah, nice. I hadn't seen the Sum:Mation's volume control setup. Very cool! That's been my biggest reason for not moving to an analog summing system, the lack of post insert volume control. Every other box I'd seen that allows for signal level control at the summing point has been way out of the price range, e.g. Neve 8816, etc. I'll definitely look into a setup like this once the bank account recovers from the purchase of my Fatso.

Also interesting, I had the MADI Xtreme 64 when I originally purchased the Alphalinks but ended up exchanging it for the Firewire ADAT box for pro tools compatibility. Not an issue with PT10 now. I am, however, surprised that you've got the same "moving target" latency issue with that card. I figured anything PCIe would alleviate this issue. Makes me wonder if going to a card like the RME Raydat would leave me in the same boat.

Guess the best option is to wait and save for the summing system!

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Anyone else want to weigh in on whether or not something like the RME PCIe cards experience the same issues?
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31st December 2012
Old 31st December 2012
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Even with the RME you will have the shiften latency problem. It's not the cards. I got with the Madi64 a rock stable system. latency of 0.7ms on AD/DA. IT is protools ADC engine that can not "SAMPLE" accurate the latency. It will and always shift so long we can't enter sample latency and only in Msec' in the protools ADC setup. A plugin CAN created a 1/3 of MS of latency... you CAN't enter that and ADC will NOT good compensated for that. And it shift even when you change buffersize from 32 to 512 for example...

I already spoken with Scott Greiner about this and he also has this problem. Heck, it one of the reason that he design sum:mation.
The only way to have rock stable latency compensation is with HD(X)/Native cards and Digidesign Interface (or 3rd party compatible mimic 192 AD/DA's) for paralel signal threatment.
libertine
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31st December 2012
Old 31st December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMauce View Post
I already spoken with Scott Greiner about this and he also has this problem. Heck, it one of the reason that he design sum:mation.
The only way to have rock stable latency compensation is with HD(X)/Native cards and Digidesign Interface (or 3rd party compatible mimic 192 AD/DA's) for paralel signal threatment.
Cool, thanks again for the feedback. Helps me realize what needs to happen next: HD Native.

I love the idea of summing my main mix stems in the analog domain from a sonic benefit sense, but I want to be able to do inserts in the PT mixer, including parallel drum smashing, etc. For that reason, looks like HDX/HDN and a new box of converters is the only option.

Let the saving begin.
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