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DIY Waves Soundgrid Server - 2020 Edition
Old 20th May 2020
  #1
DIY Waves Soundgrid Server - 2020 Edition

Hey everyone,

I've been actively trying to build a custom soundgrid server, based on the open source files provided by Waves. I've previously documented all of my progress on GroupDIY https://groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=71385.0
However I've got quite a couple of mails recently. As the GroupDIY thread has become quite complex and because several people reported issues joining the conversation, I've decided to set up a new topic here on GS.

Please read the following carefully, before posting:
- do not post any download links for original Waves soundgrid server images or for files, that are not included in the open source code provided by Waves
- reverse engineering any proprietary software from Waves is illegal and against the terms of use

Feel free to share your experience with your custom soundgrid system or post any issues you might run into.
Old 20th May 2020
  #2
Where can I find the source code from Waves?
You can download it here https://www.waves.com/legal/soundgri...en-source-code
Those files however are only relevant for Soundgrid OS up to v9.

What's up with that source code "in executable form" that I can get from Waves for $10?
Don't bother! It's just the stuff from the website bundled together (been there, done that).

Can I build a custom soundgrid server just with the source code?
No. You still need some files from an actual soundgrid server.

What Do I get from compiling all the source code?
You get a bootable linux system that does nothing.

So what's the best way to flash my own server?
If you're on Windows:
- install the free SoundGrid Studio (or another Soundgrid application of your choice) https://www.waves.com/mixers-racks/s...undgrid-studio
- Download Rufus https://rufus.ie/
- insert an empty USB stick
- open Rufus and toggle "Show advanced drive properties" (below the "Partition scheme"-Dropdown). You don't need to click anything here, instead click on the "Boot selection"-Dropdown
- select "Syslinux 6.04" from the "Boot selection"-Dropdown
- hit START. You'll get some warning dialogs, as well as some dialogs where you need to allow Rufus to download syslinux.
- download and install 7-Zip https://7-zip.org/
- navigate to C:\ProgramData\Waves Audio\SoundGrid Firmware\SGS
- open the .wfi file with 7-zip
- extract the content to your USB stick
- eject the USB stick and put it in your server

If you're on macOS the files are in /Library/⁨Application Support/Waves⁩ /SoundGrid Firmware⁩/⁨SGS⁩ and you can try keka instead of 7-zip. However I don't know what's the easiest way to create a syslinux drive on macOS.

I did all of that but now my server's stuck in a loop?
Make sure your server has an ethernet connection to your host computer.

Which motherboard should I get?
The motherboard Waves are using in their current servers (mid 2020) is the Gigabyte B360N GSM:
https://www.gigabyte.com/us/Motherbo...-GSM-rev-10#kf
Outside the US this mainboard is sold as B360N WiFi:
https://www.gigabyte.com/de/Motherbo...WIFI-rev-10#kf
The motherboard has two network interfaces. Make sure only one of them is enabled in the BIOS, it doesn't matter which one.

What about other motherboards?
Even with the identical chipsets & network interfaces it's pretty much like tossing a coin. If you have (un)successfully tested Soundgrid OS on another system, you're welcome to report back. Please give the following information: Motherboard manufacturer & model, CPU, Soundgrid OS release, successful/unsuccessful, additional comments like specific BIOS settings etc.

What about AMD?
Soundgrid servers have been engineered and developed on Intel systems. As of mid 2020 AMD is completely unsupported. It's certainly possible that a modified version of the OS might technically run on AMD hardware. But even then there's a very high risk of performance & stability issues and each new software update could potentially break compatibility.

How much system memory (RAM) do I really need?
For a soundgrid server 4GB is absolutely fine. You can check the memory usage on your server anytime by activating the console and entering cat /proc/meminfo
The OS itself only uses around 650mb and adding plugins in your host application will only increase memory usage by small amounts. After filling all 128 inserts in Soundgrid Studio, my memory usage had increased only by 200mb!

How many Watts should my PSU have?
Somewhere around 300W is a good choice and will handle any current Intel CPU just fine.

I have an old Soundgrid Server from Waves. Can I upgrade my CPU?
I have no hands-on experience with that, but in theory it should work just fine.
Depending on what motherboard your server has, you can find the CPU compatibility list here:
B360N: https://www.gigabyte.com/us/Motherbo...rt#support-cpu
B150N: https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard...rt#support-cpu
H81N: https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard...rt#support-cpu
If you upgrade your CPU, make sure your cooler can handle the TDP and apply new thermal paste if necessary.
Keep in mind you're working with electronics and at your own risk. Be responsible and stay safe.

Can I use my custom server for live and/or production use?
Sure. But you're completely on your own and at your own risk.
Old 30th May 2020
  #3
Gear Head
 

Hi, I had a plan to build my own server, but I was afraid that the wave company would issue updates and my server wouldn't be able to work.

What do you think and what is your experience?
Have you really tried it with the latest wave updates?
Old 31st May 2020
  #4
It's absolutely possible that Waves could add additional security measures to their soundgrid hardware. But from my point of view, they currently have no incentive to do so. The amount of users who are running DIY servers for personal work, is probably very small. This is just my guess of course and I could be completely wrong.

At the end of the day, your DIY server is still just a computer. Just add a hard drive, install Windows or Linux and use it for something else.
Old 31st May 2020
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ehabmxd View Post
Hi, I had a plan to build my own server...
AudioGridder is my next computer build project:
[ https://github.com/apohl79/audiogridder ]
Old 1st June 2020
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krabbencutter View Post
It's absolutely possible that Waves could add additional security measures to their soundgrid hardware. But from my point of view, they currently have no incentive to do so. The amount of users who are running DIY servers for personal work, is probably very small. This is just my guess of course and I could be completely wrong.

At the end of the day, your DIY server is still just a computer. Just add a hard drive, install Windows or Linux and use it for something else.
Does this DIY server yet work on the latest versions of plug-ins?
And the latest version of Studiorack, soundgrid

If yes, I will start creating my own server immediately because I wanted to buy it Before

Quote:
AudioGridder is my next computer build project:
[ https://github.com/apohl79/audiogridder ]
there is no windows version ?
Old 1st June 2020
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ehabmxd View Post
Does this DIY server yet work on the latest versions of plug-ins?
And the latest version of Studiorack, soundgrid

If yes, I will start creating my own server immediately because I wanted to buy it Before



there is no windows version ?
I just ordered a Gigabyte B360N-WiFi, 4GB RAM and an Intel Celeron G4930. If all goes well, I'll be able to report back on v11 compatibility next weekend.
Old 10th July 2020
  #8
Here for the gear
Custom Soundgrid Server

So Ive been trying to get onto DIY Forums to get ahold of you but wont let me join.

We are also trying to build a server and compiled a linux s3 tools from scratch. Not understanding this is a boot up deal.

Having access to several hardware platforms and virtual machines , we are trying both.

We have compiled several ISO for our "soundgrid" but none connect to Superrack or Soundgrid. We have found the SGS files for v11, but are now stuck.

I would share with you our ISO if you can get me the bootable stick files. Id be happy to help, we added some drivers for 10Gb SFP+ cards, and hopefully got hypervisors to work, so far so good. chris.neab @ gmail . com
Old 10th July 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
I would love to think that I could upgrade the processor in my Impact server C and it would just work ??? But I suspect that cannot work right??
Old 12th July 2020
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ehabmxd View Post
Does this DIY server yet work on the latest versions of plug-ins?
And the latest version of Studiorack, soundgrid

If yes, I will start creating my own server immediately because I wanted to buy it Before



there is no windows version ?
There is a windows version now. I just set up a 2011 Mac mini that I no longer use as an everyday computer with audiogridder yesterday and it works great!But I did see that windows releases are available.
Old 13th July 2020
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by krabbencutter View Post
I just ordered a Gigabyte B360N-WiFi, 4GB RAM and an Intel Celeron G4930. If all goes well, I'll be able to report back on v11 compatibility next weekend.
Alright, it took quite a bit longer than planned, but my build was a success

The important thing to know about the Gigabyte B360N-WiFi is, that you need to disable one of the two LAN controllers in the BIOS. It doesn't matter which one. When running the Soundgrid OS, you also need to connect a network cable at boot, or the system might get stuck in a loop until you have a network connection.

For 35€ I didn't expect much from the Celeron and yet it fairs surprisingly well (see attachment). But to be clear: I don't recommend you go for such a low specced CPU.

4GB of memory on the other hand is completely sufficient. I've already mentioned it elsewhere, but unless you're mixing huge live shows you'll not benefit from more than 4GB at all. I checked the memory usage of my server by entering cat /proc/meminfo in the console.
The OS itself only uses around 650mb and after filling up all 128 inserts in SGS my memory usage had increased only by 200mb.
Attached Thumbnails
DIY Waves Soundgrid Server - 2020 Edition-soundgrid_g4930.jpg  
Old 13th July 2020
  #12
And now for the really good news:

Here's a simple set of instructions how to create a Soundgrid Server V11 USB stick on Windows in about 5 minutes

- install Soundgrid Studio (or another Soundgrid application of your choice) on your System
- Download Rufus https://rufus.ie/
- insert an empty USB stick
- open Rufus and toggle "Show advanced drive properties" (below the "Partition scheme"-Dropdown). You don't need to click anything here, instead click on the "Boot selection"-Dropdown
- select "Syslinux 6.04" from the "Boot selection"-Dropdown
- hit START. You'll get some warning dialogs, as well as some dialogs where you need to allow Rufus to download syslinux.
- download and install 7-Zip https://7-zip.org/
- navigate to C:\ProgramData\Waves Audio\SoundGrid Firmware\SGS
- open the .wfi file with 7-zip
- extract the content to your USB stick
- eject the USB stick and put it in your server
Old 13th July 2020
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattrixx View Post
I would love to think that I could upgrade the processor in my Impact server C and it would just work ??? But I suspect that cannot work right??
If it's supported by the mainboard & BIOS it should work. If it's a Gigabyte B150 model, you'll find the compatibility chart here:
https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard...rt#support-cpu
Make sure you also upgrade your CPU cooler if neccessary!
Old 15th July 2020
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Thanks, krabbencutter, this is very interesting!
This might be a stupid question but am I limited to that specific motherboard and Intel CPUs supported by the chipset? With the current state of AMD I would much rather spend my money on a better bang-for-buck CPU.
Old 16th July 2020
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agiltohr View Post
Thanks, krabbencutter, this is very interesting!
This might be a stupid question but am I limited to that specific motherboard and Intel CPUs supported by the chipset? With the current state of AMD I would much rather spend my money on a better bang-for-buck CPU.
I feel you and that question has actually come up quite a couple of times, so I'll add it to the FAQ.

It's near impossible to predict which motherboards & network interfaces will work. If you buy a motherboard specifically for Soundgrid, the Gigabyte B360N GSM/WiFi is your best bet for now.
Maybe we can put together a list of systems that people have tested, I'll add some instructions at the top

Soundgrid servers have been engineered and developed with Intel systems in mind and there is no official support for AMD whatsoever. I've tried the V11 release on my Ryzen desktop just for fun, but I had no success. And like I just said, AMD is completely unsupported, so I personally won't invest any time in it.

If you want to tinker around, have fun But if you plan to use your custom server in a live- or production-environment, every deviation from the official specs makes your system less predictable and increases your risk of performance & stability issues.
Old 16th July 2020
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krabbencutter View Post
Soundgrid servers have been engineered and developed with Intel systems in mind and there is no official support for AMD whatsoever. I've tried the V11 release on my Ryzen desktop just for fun, but I had no success. And like I just said, AMD is completely unsupported, so I personally won't invest any time in it.
That's sad. Thank you very much for sharing this or I would have wasted an afternoon trying

A bit off-topic but I am actually surprised no-one has tried to use a real-time linux kernel to build a commercial or open-source mixing software. Seems like it would work on basically all machines and achieve very low-latency (isn't DiGiCo Linux-based?).
Old 22nd July 2020
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for making this, been following the old thread, as well as a popular thread on reddit since lockdown. Been planning to make this server so that i can introduce waves to my workflow when i return to work (F U Covid!) KJedwards over on reddit suggested to me to find an old Elitedesk g1 which has the correct network card, managed to find one with an I7 4770 for £200 so ill be giving this a go soon! thanks for the guide. Ill post my findings or any issues ive had getting it to work haha! just quickly, is a network switch required just to test it works? can i connect direct to my host pc?
Old 22nd July 2020
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agiltohr View Post
That's sad. Thank you very much for sharing this or I would have wasted an afternoon trying

A bit off-topic but I am actually surprised no-one has tried to use a real-time linux kernel to build a commercial or open-source mixing software. Seems like it would work on basically all machines and achieve very low-latency (isn't DiGiCo Linux-based?).
The digico sd9 I use is running windows xp under the hood, which surprised me, but it works, so no complaints. I thought I did hear that the newer ones were running Linux, but I can’t say for sure.
Old 23rd July 2020
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by alex marsh View Post
Thanks for making this, been following the old thread, as well as a popular thread on reddit since lockdown. Been planning to make this server so that i can introduce waves to my workflow when i return to work (F U Covid!) KJedwards over on reddit suggested to me to find an old Elitedesk g1 which has the correct network card, managed to find one with an I7 4770 for £200 so ill be giving this a go soon! thanks for the guide. Ill post my findings or any issues ive had getting it to work haha! just quickly, is a network switch required just to test it works? can i connect direct to my host pc?
Have fun A network switch is optional, you can connect straight to the host.
Old 24th July 2020
  #20
Here for the gear
 

I got this running on an old desktop, works quite well with even a slow processor. I have had one issue though. When I run waves tune real time, the server repeatedly disconnects and reconnects every few seconds until that plugin is removed. All the other plugins I've used work fine. Anyone had that issue? I have re-flashed the firmware directly from SG studio.
Old 25th July 2020
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrufino1 View Post
The digico sd9 I use is running windows xp under the hood, which surprised me, but it works, so no complaints. I thought I did hear that the newer ones were running Linux, but I can’t say for sure.
DigiCo SD (and the D series before) are the most unreliable consoles in Live Sound.
When I had a console crash 85% of the times it was a DigiCo.

Not to say they're bad consoles, they are good consoles but unreliable.
And Windows has something to do with it, the other is Overheating
Old 25th July 2020
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krabbencutter View Post
I just ordered a Gigabyte B360N-WiFi, 4GB RAM and an Intel Celeron G4930. If all goes well, I'll be able to report back on v11 compatibility next weekend.
The EXTREME server has or had these specs:

EXTREME
CPU: Intel® Skylake i7
RAM: 8 GB
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-B150N-GSM
LAN Card: Intel on-Board

As for hardware you can use any i5 or i7 processor,
the ethernet/network card has to be a Gigabit intel card.

The specs and more info were posted here:

https://groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=71385.0


The server image is on the Waves soundgrid installation software, you don't need to use the source code and compile it.
No need for it.

If anyone needs the server image please pm me
Old 25th July 2020
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Hey all!
My test server arrived today! I found an Elitedesk 800 G1 SFF on ebay with an I7-4790 for £200 which is a steal considering its condition is like brand new. This board uses the 217 Intel NIC. Im happy to report that it was quick and painless to get it running.
I plugged in the USB drive and it booted straight to it. Plugged it direct into my Laptop running LV1 to test and it found it straight away and did a quick FW update.
I used Jackrouter to route from a DAW into LV1 and out of my headphones to see what the performance was like, and i was quite impressed. It performs surprisingly well with barely any CPU usage. Unless you try to use CPU heavy plugs like H-Reverb/DBX160/TG12345/J37 then the peak meter starts to climb, i don't think you could bottleneck an I7 easily though with the more efficient plugins.

I did a quick rough 16ch mix with a few of my fav plugins and some others i wanted to try out and the cpu was sitting around 20% usage and temps were sitting around 75c with the stock cooler.

I did wonder if there is a way to use the HDD and boot from that rather than a usb hanging out the back of the server? Maybe OP has some insight?

Pics attached below. I found that using the command "sensors" will bring up the CPU temps at that moment and the command "top" will bring up realtime cpu usage. (Hit Q to quit that screen)

https://aly-marsh.imgbb.com/albums
Old 26th July 2020
  #24
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alex marsh View Post
It performs surprisingly well with barely any CPU usage. Unless you try to use CPU heavy plugs like H-Reverb/DBX160/TG12345/J37 then the peak meter starts to climb, i don't think you could bottleneck an I7 easily though with the more efficient plugins.

I did a quick rough 16ch mix with a few of my fav plugins and some others i wanted to try out and the cpu was sitting around 20% usage and temps were sitting around 75c with the stock cooler.
I ran it on an old Core 2 Quad (benchmarks show about 3.5x slower than the CPU you're using), and had about 80 plugins going at 70% CPU, including 4 or 5 reverbs.

You can get a motherboard USB header adapter to plug in the stick on the inside of the case for $5-10.

Have you tried waves tune real time, or had any plugins that cause the server to disconnect?
Old 26th July 2020
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alex marsh View Post
Hey all!
I did wonder if there is a way to use the HDD and boot from that rather than a usb hanging out the back of the server? Maybe OP has some insight?
Yes for sure, you just have to install the image on the HDD or SSD
Old 26th July 2020
  #26
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iLCacciLLo View Post
Yes for sure, you just have to install the image on the HDD or SSD
Quote:
Originally Posted by iLCacciLLo View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by alex marsh View Post
Hey all!
I did wonder if there is a way to use the HDD and boot from that rather than a usb hanging out the back of the server? Maybe OP has some insight?
Yes for sure, you just have to install the image on the HDD or SSD
Heya! Thanks for the help. Is there a way to copy the image to the HDD within the console or do I need to do it from Windows? Also how would I direct it to boot from that image?
Old 26th July 2020
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alex marsh View Post
Heya! Thanks for the help. Is there a way to copy the image to the HDD within the console or do I need to do it from Windows? Also how would I direct it to boot from that image?
I think you need to do 2 partitions, but I dont remember the specifics now.

Anyway the image is pretty small and a flash drive will be faster than an HDD.
Mountint the USB stick inside the case might be a good option.

Waves uses a 4GB flash drive

DIY Waves Soundgrid Server - 2020 Edition-screen-shot-2019-02-06-02.23.32.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
DIY Waves Soundgrid Server - 2020 Edition-screen-shot-2019-02-06-02.23.32.jpg  
Old 26th July 2020
  #28
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob274 View Post
I ran it on an old Core 2 Quad (benchmarks show about 3.5x slower than the CPU you're using), and had about 80 plugins going at 70% CPU, including 4 or 5 reverbs.

You can get a motherboard USB header adapter to plug in the stick on the inside of the case for $5-10.

Have you tried waves tune real time, or had any plugins that cause the server to disconnect?
Hey, just tested it and so far that is working as normal for me. Nothing ive used so far has crashed it.
Old 26th July 2020
  #29
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alex marsh View Post
Hey, just tested it and so far that is working as normal for me. Nothing ive used so far has crashed it.
Strange! I've had a few plugins do it. Thanks for trying it out. There are a few plugins that have "extra data" copied to the server, so I suspect there may be some issue with the file system where it can't get copied over properly.

For those talking about flash vs hard drive speed, it does not matter. The whole OS is a few MB and is loaded into memory. So maybe it'll boot one second slower...
Old 26th July 2020
  #30
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob274 View Post
Strange! I've had a few plugins do it. Thanks for trying it out. There are a few plugins that have "extra data" copied to the server, so I suspect there may be some issue with the file system where it can't get copied over properly.

For those talking about flash vs hard drive speed, it does not matter. The whole OS is a few MB and is loaded into memory. So maybe it'll boot one second slower...
Hmm strange, So far i've had zero issues. I did a bigger mix today with like 24 channels, some were stereo, a few groups, reverbs and 2bus processing. Never broke 40%. Running LV1 in Latency Optimised too, if i put it into DSP optimised then the CPU% goes down by about ~15%. Using a 32gb stick with only 4gb ram.

The reverbs really kill the "peak" usage though the IRlive didnt affect my avg usage much. Can't wait to get back to my console and try it out now

I added more snaps to the album to show plugins & CPU usage.
Pictures
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