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Is my SSL Alpha MADI-AX broken? [solved] Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 29th December 2010
  #1
Exclamation Is my SSL Alpha MADI-AX broken? [solved]

Hey guys, I bought a used SSL Alpha MADI-AX and a used RME hdspMADI card last year. I've just NOW gotten to where I can hook it up with everything running and it's acting weird. Last year, I tried this setup with a Linux system and it did just about the same thing, however, I assumed it was the linux drivers for the RME and my Firmware.

I put windows 7 on my computer and got all of my recording software installed and situated. I downloaded the latest drivers for the RME card and successfully updated the firmware to the latest version. Here's how I've got it set up.

The RME is the master clock running at 88.2.

The Alpha is hooked with a coax cable to the RME and is correctly terminated ect.

I've got my fiber connected and I assume is working. ( I can shine a flashlight through them and see it on the other side)

I loaded up 24 tracks in Nuendo and put music on ALL tracks so that I could monitor the Alpha's output.

Press play and.....nothing. No indicator lights or sound. I changed just about every parameter of both devices to the best of my knowledge with little luck. While playing the tracks and having the Alpha as the master clock, I was able to get it to give me some digital noises that sounded pretty terrible when actively switching the sample rates on the front of the box. When I played an 88.2 recording and changed the clock to 44.1, channels 1, 2, 3, and 4 don't light up, while ALL of the rest of the channels light up. I hooked some headphones into the unit and heard nothing but digital weirdness.

Is this thing broken?

I can only assume these things:

A. The Alpha is broken.

B. My word clock cable sucks. ( I did make it)

C. My fiber cable may be dirty on the lenses.

Any thoughts, input, or advice?

Thanks,

Ben
Old 29th December 2010
  #2
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clivek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PepsiFX357 View Post
I hooked some headphones into the unit and heard nothing but digital weirdness.
LOL

If the marker in your sequencer dosen't move, then it could be your bnc cable ( Word clock cable)!

I think you have to assign all your outputs to 23/24 to hear audio thru the headphone socket on the alphalink !!
Old 29th December 2010
  #3
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True North's Avatar
 

What happens in Nuendo when you press Play

I have the identical setup and you don't need a seperate Word Clock cable
Old 29th December 2010
  #4
When I press play in Nuendo, it does what it is supposed to do. I checked the output of Nuendo and there is sound. I checked the output of the RME mixer and there is LOTS of sound, but it just get screwed up when it gets to the Alpha. When I had the Alpha as the master clock, I changed the sample rate on the unit to 44.1 and Nuendo stopped, Allowed me to resample and I started playing it again. Thats when the Alpha finally put out sound. Well, kinda. Just digital mess.
Old 29th December 2010
  #5
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True North's Avatar
 

have you tried to set it up without the word clock cable?
Old 29th December 2010
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by True North View Post
have you tried to set it up without the word clock cable?
Not really. I've unhooked the cable, but I want the RME clock to control the ALpha.
Old 29th December 2010
  #7
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True North's Avatar
 

Lose the word clock cable. My RME is set as Master Clock and i don't use a master clock cable, it synchs through the Optical cable

What settings do you have set up in your Hammerfall DSP Settings box?

Do you have 'Master' checked off under the 'Clock Mode' settings in the Hammerfall DSP Settings box?
Old 29th December 2010
  #8
Ok, I've set up the sample rate through the MADI cable and the RME is controlling the clock. So we're good there. But when I open Nuendo back up and hit play I still get nothing on the Alpha.

I'm about to go to bed, so I'll check back tomorrow.
Old 29th December 2010
  #9
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True North's Avatar
 

I would also check really basic stuff like which driver you have Nuendo set to (Device Set up).

ALSO

Do you have the original wav files that you used in the Nuendo session you created BEFORE you resampled. If so, create a new session without changing the sample rates OR find new files that werer originally recorded at 44.1

In the 'Sync Check' Section of the 'Hammerfall DSP Settings' box, is MADI showing 'Sync'

ALSO

On your MADI the input should be set so that the top lights are on (ADAT and ANA)

Output should be set so that the bottom red light is on (MADI)

Sample Rate should match sample rate of the session

Clock should be set to the bottom red light (EXT)

Meters, you can try a few things here but try setting it so that the top red light is on (AD)

Good Luck
Old 29th December 2010
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by True North View Post
On your MADI the input should be set so that the top lights are on (ADAT and ANA)

Output should be set so that the bottom red light is on (MADI)
I'm not sure what you mean by this part. Are you talking about the input output matrix on the front. If so, I've got this set to (MADI - ANA)

Edit: Wait a minute, you can set the matrix for input and output? Like Input (ANA - MADI) and Ouput (MADI - ANA)?? Maybe my manual reading skills suck, but I didn't know that. That might be my problem.

EDIt 2: Sorry I'm at work and I'm trying to work this one out by memory. I remember that you can set the input to ADAT and ANA at the same time with the two red lights. So it should look like this?
|* ADAT |
|* Ana |
| EXP |
| MADI * |


Edit 3: Ok, I just set the Alpha up to the specs that you have stated. When the "Meters" are set to AD there is nothing. When the meters are on DA, channels 5, 6, 7, and 8 are solid green while everything else has no lights. I notice in Nuendo that the outputs have audio, and the inputs (1-12) look as if they have feedback. The reason I say this, is that when I stop the song, the inputs are still pulsing. Even after a few minutes the input channels in Nuendo are still pulsing. I'm thoroughly confused. I've used Digidesign products, MOTU hd192s, Apogees and other high end converters. This one has me baffled.


Here are some pictures of the important parts.















Old 30th December 2010
  #11
Old 30th December 2010
  #12
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True North's Avatar
 

One thing i noticed is that i don't have DDS activated (On the second tab of the Hammerfall DSP Settings page). Try deactivating it.

On the VST Connections - Outputs screen you didn't explode out each of the outputs so I don't know if you have them properly assigned. I know its really simple stuff and you may have already checked this but in case you haven't, make sure you have the correct outputs assigned to each of the output channels.

What are you using as a monitor controller and how are you connected to it or your monitors?

The Alpha Link is set up the same as mine, so that should be fine

The HDSP Mixer is strange. I remember having a similar problem that had to do with settings in the HDSP Mixer. Did you make changes to the routing on your RME card? If you want to ensure you get back to the defauot settings of Preset 1 in your HDSP Mixer in the RME Mixer hold down the CRTL key while clicking on Preset 1. This action loads the factory defaults for Preset 1.

ALSO

have you tried going to the RME Forum to discuss? It seems like there is something funky going on because ch 1-12 shouldn't be eternally emitting signal.


Good Luck
Old 30th December 2010
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by True North View Post
The HDSP Mixer is strange. I remember having a similar problem that had to do with settings in the HDSP Mixer. Did you make changes to the routing on your RME card? If you want to ensure you get back to the defauot settings of Preset 1 in your HDSP Mixer in the RME Mixer hold down the CRTL key while clicking on Preset 1. This action loads the factory defaults for Preset 1.

ALSO

have you tried going to the RME Forum to discuss? It seems like there is something funky going on because ch 1-12 shouldn't be eternally emitting signal.


Good Luck
Here what I noticed when changed some settings on the Alpha routing matrix. When I set it up, like you see in the picture, the input of the RME is getting feedback. When I change to the different inputs and outputs the feedback changes channels and when set to MADI-MADI the feedback goes away. Although in any case I never get any audio. Really weird. I might try to check out RME and see if they can help me out.
Old 30th December 2010
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by PepsiFX357 View Post
Here what I noticed when changed some settings on the Alpha routing matrix. When I set it up, like you see in the picture, the input of the RME is getting feedback. When I change to the different inputs and outputs the feedback changes channels and when set to MADI-MADI the feedback goes away. Although in any case I never get any audio. Really weird. I might try to check out RME and see if they can help me out.
have you routed MADI to Analog on your alphalink?
Old 30th December 2010
  #15
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True North's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PepsiFX357 View Post
Here what I noticed when changed some settings on the Alpha routing matrix. When I set it up, like you see in the picture, the input of the RME is getting feedback. When I change to the different inputs and outputs the feedback changes channels and when set to MADI-MADI the feedback goes away. Although in any case I never get any audio. Really weird. I might try to check out RME and see if they can help me out.
That is odd.

Try resetting your HDSP Mixer back to default settings. Hold down Ctrl while pressing Mixer preset 1.

Definitely go to the RME Forum. I have never had to use SSL customer support but I have heard it is pretty good.
Old 30th December 2010
  #16
I called a guy in Ohio who seems to be an RME expert. Without me having to be at the studio, the guy said that it sounds like a firmware problem with the Alpha. Which makes sense, because I probably have an older version.
Old 30th December 2010
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
have you routed MADI to Analog on your alphalink?
I usually have it set to this because it made more sense, but it still doesn't work. What you see in the picture, as far as the Meter LEDs is the most I've gotten it to do. There are 24 tracks in Nuendo firing out to the Alpha. Only 4 are showing up.
Old 30th December 2010
  #18
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MonoBrow's Avatar
 

Try to set the madi out to 64.I have read a few times that these settings matter.Cant remember the thread.
Edit: after doing that the ssl maybe needs to be reset-restarted.
Old 30th December 2010
  #19
pan
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Is the Alpha set to the same MADI-mode as the RME? (56/64)
Old 30th December 2010
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fluxpod View Post
Try to set the madi out to 64.I have read a few times that these settings matter.Cant remember the thread.
Edit: after doing that the ssl maybe needs to be reset-restarted.
I think I read the same thing. I'll check back probably after 5:00pm est. After I've gotten home from work.
Old 30th December 2010
  #21
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MonoBrow's Avatar
 

Yes.They need to match.Pretty sure thats it.thumbsup
Old 30th December 2010
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by pan View Post
Is the Alpha set to the same MADI-mode as the RME? (56/64)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fluxpod View Post
Yes.They need to match.Pretty sure thats it.thumbsup
This will be the first thing I'll try when I go home.
Old 30th December 2010
  #23
First off, I would like to say that my firmware is version 2.4 on the Alpha unit. Can anyone vouch for this firmware as being outdated?

Serial Number: SN00336

I tried to switch them both to 64 and both to 56 and I still get the same thing.

I've done all I can do. I've read and understood the complete manual for the RME HDSP MADI and I don't believe it to be at fault. The only was to be sure, was if I had another MADI converter to hook up to it and test it. The Alpha Just doesn't want to spit out audio. I'll have to wait t'ill monday to talk to SSL and see what they think.
Old 31st December 2010
  #24
I just found something new.

I hooked up the headphones to the headphone jack in the back of the RME to see what it was sounding like and guess what I heard? Digital Weirdness. I went to the dsp settings of the RME and changed a few things and found out that the buffer size was affecting the output for some reason. The buffer size was 512. I changed it down from that to 256 and to 128 and to 64 then finally 32. 32 samples opened up the audio and I could actually hear the song instead of the digital mess I was hearing. Now that I can hear it out of the RME, maybe I can make some headway with the Alpha in the settings. I'm going to keep trying. I don't understand why the buffer would be directly affecting it like that. I would think that the lower the buffer, depending on the processor, would give diminished audio. But the sound I heard wasn't the same as overbuffering. Usually you hear pops clicks and distortions, this was more of a musical rhythmic digital noise. Almost like sample rate conversion pluigins. Where you have a 96K track and you convert it, with a plugin, to 8K. That's kinda what it sounded like, except you wouldn't be able to tell what song it was. Really wierd.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #25
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True North's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PepsiFX357 View Post
First off, I would like to say that my firmware is version 2.4 on the Alpha unit. Can anyone vouch for this firmware as being outdated?

Serial Number: SN00336

I tried to switch them both to 64 and both to 56 and I still get the same thing.

I've done all I can do. I've read and understood the complete manual for the RME HDSP MADI and I don't believe it to be at fault. The only was to be sure, was if I had another MADI converter to hook up to it and test it. The Alpha Just doesn't want to spit out audio. I'll have to wait t'ill monday to talk to SSL and see what they think.
look at it this way, next time I have a problem with my RME, I am coming to you because by now you must be the reigning king expert on their MADI card heh

Very odd that it starts to work at 32 samples of latency, that really doesen't make any sense.

Have you tried going on the RME forum yet?

RME User Forum
Old 4th January 2011
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by True North View Post
look at it this way, next time I have a problem with my RME, I am coming to you because by now you must be the reigning king expert on their MADI card heh

Very odd that it starts to work at 32 samples of latency, that really doesen't make any sense.

Have you tried going on the RME forum yet?

RME User Forum

Well, It must have been a fluke or a corrupt Nuendo session, because I loaded up Amplitube and FL Studio and they had no trouble outputting sound at higher buffers. Hell, I should know everything there is to know about MADI now. lol

Does anyone know how late SSL technical support stays open?
Old 4th January 2011
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by PepsiFX357 View Post
Well, It must have been a fluke or a corrupt Nuendo session, because I loaded up Amplitube and FL Studio and they had no trouble outputting sound at higher buffers. Hell, I should know everything there is to know about MADI now. lol

Does anyone know how late SSL technical support stays open?
they have US representatives..
Old 4th January 2011
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
they have US representatives..
Reason I ask, is that I work from 8am till 4pm est. and I don't get home till 5pm.
Old 5th January 2011
  #29
possible solutions... hopefully

hey there. i was asked to check this thread out and chime in. i'm glad a couple of slutz mentioned the 56/64 frame above (you restarted everything after making those adjustments, right?). on other MADI systems, that adjustment can make or break an entire system.

another thing to check is the SSL's firmware version, also mentioned already. there are a bunch of Aphalink threads on gs - you should be able to find out the current version in under 5 mins and without contacting SSL. you know that's the first thing they'll ask anyway!

while you're at it, make sure you've got the latest drivers from RME. RME is one of the best at making drivers and keeping them current, but you do have to check in occasionally to get them.

another thing to check is if you have any software / driver conflicts. it's strange other programs (Amplitude, etc.) would work but not Nuendo. leads me to believe there's something wrong in your Nuendo config. so check that over thoroughly. also, disable WDM drivers if you're using the MADI card with ASIO. find the RME card in sounds & audio devices within the control panel. i've had to do this with several other audio devices to prevent the windows system sounds from playing through my interface, as well as causing conflicts.

above all, keep up the faith. you'll get it all worked out, then find this thread months down the road and have a laugh about it thumbsup

cheers,
-c
Old 7th January 2011
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlienyc View Post
hey there. i was asked to check this thread out and chime in. i'm glad a couple of slutz mentioned the 56/64 frame above (you restarted everything after making those adjustments, right?). on other MADI systems, that adjustment can make or break an entire system.

another thing to check is the SSL's firmware version, also mentioned already. there are a bunch of Aphalink threads on gs - you should be able to find out the current version in under 5 mins and without contacting SSL. you know that's the first thing they'll ask anyway!

while you're at it, make sure you've got the latest drivers from RME. RME is one of the best at making drivers and keeping them current, but you do have to check in occasionally to get them.

another thing to check is if you have any software / driver conflicts. it's strange other programs (Amplitude, etc.) would work but not Nuendo. leads me to believe there's something wrong in your Nuendo config. so check that over thoroughly. also, disable WDM drivers if you're using the MADI card with ASIO. find the RME card in sounds & audio devices within the control panel. i've had to do this with several other audio devices to prevent the windows system sounds from playing through my interface, as well as causing conflicts.

above all, keep up the faith. you'll get it all worked out, then find this thread months down the road and have a laugh about it thumbsup

cheers,
-c
Thanks Charlie, and whoever sent you. I'll be sure to check those things out. I'm usually the kinda guy, that when something goes wrong, I always think it's something complex instead of the simple things. Like I said it's 2.4 from how the manual tells me to read it. It's not the newest, but I don't think its a bad version either. I haven't really had the chance to contact SSL yet, mainly because of my work. However, I did talk to RME right after I started this thread.

I do have another, on-board, sound card active. Another culprit.

I just can't imagine, between RME and SSL, that their hardware would be at fault, because they make such good stuff. However, I have seen some strange things in the world of computers.

Hopeully it's just another case of user error and I'll laugh at myself later. heh

Just a quick question, I haven't really found the answer to this. What is the difference between 56/64? I'm running this all out to a 24 channel inline console if that makes a difference.
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