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noise with SSL Alphalink AX
Old 25th September 2012
  #1
Gear Addict
 

noise with SSL Alphalink AX

I'm using the SSL Alphalink AX and a madiextreme card in an i7 340 second gen machine with 8 gig of ocz ram in an ASUS P8P67LE mobo, and a Uad2 quad lots of different sata drives including a ss for audio files. Still have the RME FF800 hooked via FW. Using Nuendo 5 (just tried the 32 bit version so far) and Win7 pro 64
My first recording test with the SSL , just a vocal and accoustic guitar, recorded at 96, gave me considerable pops and some crackle. I tried increasing buffers but still got noise. I'm not sure what else to try to get clean tracks. Perhaps someone could give me some tips. Never had to deal with this before and I'm not to swift on most of this new fangled stuff anyway :-). The RME worked well and was clean with as many tracks as I could record at any time, at 48 and 96. Take care, Logan
Old 25th September 2012
  #2
It is probably a mismatch of settings between the AlphaLink and MadiXtreme.
*Download the current drivers. I assume you have used these for installation, and not the drivers on the driver disc.
*In the driver folder, there is a file called track.exe. Start it
*Doubleclick on the MadiXtreme entry. If it does not have the latest firmware, you are now asked to update. Do so, after it finished turn the system off for 10 seconds.
*If it just pops up a dialog instead (or after the reboot starting Track.exe again), set on the left the card to "master". This means that if there is more then one card present, it is the clock master.
*On the right, set the clock to wordclock or MADI input, whatever you connected
*At the bottom, the Madixtreme is set to 56 channels by default, so is the Alpha Link. In case this is switched on one unit, it must be switched on the other as well. This can cause high pitched distirtion if not set correctly.
*Switch off legacy smux
*Start the mixer app and set it to clock from madi or wordclock
*set it to 96k frame, and 56 channels
*now download the alpha link manual if you haven't got it already
*check the diagnostic mode options.
*check how to set it to 56 channels (default), there is a setting for 2Fs mode which is most likely missing here. Read the manual carefully, it explains these settings on a page after the various switch settings.
Old 26th September 2012
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Thanks for the response. I have downloaded the newest driver, there are no windows drivers on the installation CD at all. I have updated the firmware. I think I have the Alphalink set to 56 channels, as recommended in the blurb on changing the switches, in the alphalink AX

When I bring up the track exe program, as I only have one card, I see Clock, which I have set to master and internal is selected. Sample rate is set to 96000 hz. Under format neither Madi standard Smux or Madi 56 channel is selected, this is what the setup info I printed off the SSL site recommends. Are you saying I should have Madi 56 channel checked? I've tried that though and it makes no difference to the crackling I hear. The Test mode selection is Normal. Status is Madi A locked. Madi B is greyed out.

I'm not sure what you mean by the mixer app.?

I also have no clue about 2Fs mode , is this because I don't use wordclock?
My system is set up with the Madiextreme being the clock and the Alpha link set to ext.

I have no AES inputs or outputs, I just use 24 analogue in (from out board pres) and 24 analogue out to a D&R console. The unit will record and play back 44.1 and 48 with no noise. Take care, Logan
Old 26th September 2012
  #4
Yes, both units need to have the same channel count set, either 56 or 64.

Also I advise to set the Alpha Link as clock master, since the clock is better and it is preffered to not externally clock a converter if possible.

Now set the track.exe dialog to smux. I am not sitting at a MADI setup right now so I can't verify. Important is that both the track.exe dialog and the Alpha Link are locked to 96k. If you still have pops & crackles, the issues lies somewhere else.

What buffer size do you use? Pop & crackle usually is a performance issue. Pops only are usually a clocking issue. High pitched distortion a MADI setup mismatch.

Sorry, my mixer app claim is MX4 only, I forgot you use the MadiXtreme.
Old 26th September 2012
  #5
Gear Addict
 

Well as I said I have the alphalink AX set to 56 and I've tried recording with the 56 box unchecked in the Track exe, which is what the setup guide from SSL recommends, and with it checked, no difference. I also tried changing to the alphalink to master and the madiextreme to slave, no difference. I've tried buffers from 256 to 4096, no difference.

I still have and used to use a FF 800 which would record flawlessly at 96khz.

I'm just having morning coffee now and will go up to the studio soon and retry every thing again just to double check I'm not doing something ass backwards, a totally possible scenario ;-). I've also tried just about everything else like unchecking various options to do with releasing drivers and cancelling direct monitering and unchecking multi processing, basically anything that can be altered I've tried it both ways. still no luck. Take care Logan
Old 26th September 2012
  #6
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

"pops and clicks" sounds like a clocking issue. Are you picking up the clock from the MADI connection or from WC?
Old 26th September 2012
  #7
Gear Addict
 

I'm getting my clock from the madi connection. I have tried making the getting the clock from the madiextreme and the alphalink I think. I only have one madi card in the box. I don't know squat about madi but I have tried to faithfully follow the installation instructions I printed from the SSL site, then i tried everything else two hundred times , just doesn't work in any mode that I try. Take care, Logan
Old 26th September 2012
  #8
Gear Addict
 

I have been talking into a pair of senn 441 mics for several days now while I change every setting on the converters and my Daw and Nuendo a gizillion times, and the virtually everything else in my system as well. On every recording I had this crackling that made me think I had clock problems and only did I recently figure out that this is level dependent.
Some how the converters are being over driven at 96khz. Just by chance I whispered into the mic on a recording virtually no crackling, I moved across the room and spoke on the next recording, no crackling. I switched to 48khz and spoke into the mic, no crackling, yelled into the mic no crackling. Went back to 96 khz, spoke into the mic, the recording crackled.
What would cause this? I'm not even registering on the meters of the alphalink so it's not an outrageous level, certainly no where near a mic up against an amp grill, just normal speaking level. Tried several mics just to eliminate the possibility of a bad mic, Tried several pres just to make sure nothing was amiss there. The converter breaks up at 96khz with almost no level being fed into it. Is this unit defective, or am I just an idiot? The latter is distinctly possible, but screaming into a 58 through a GRNV ported to the RME FF at 96khz doesn't breakup. Jim any ideas? Take care, Logan
Old 1st October 2012
  #9
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

Completely out of ideas. That's weird. I'll ask the boffins...
Old 15th October 2012
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Still no luck. I've exchanged the alphalink and card and the new units are acting the same. There is distortion at the 96 khz setting that is level dependant.
.
Just to recap. I'm trying to record at 96khz and I get distortion, I get no distortion at 48kz. The distortion is level dependant but the levels are not excessive the meter on the Alphalink is only in the green and no clipping is shown. The meters on the input in Nuendo are below what I'd normally record at.

The TRack software that comes with the SSL products says the clock is locked. SSL recomends in their set up that the Madi card be the clock and the Alphlink be set to EXT and receive the clock from the card, I've trried that, no luck, I've made the Alphalink the clock and slaved the Madi card to it no luck, I've tried buffers from 128 to into the high thousands.o luck.

I've changed cables and mic pres just to make sure my gear is not a factor, no luck.

I'm using Hosa Dsub to female XLR snakes to get the signal from my mic pres tothe Alphalink AX and it occurs to me that possibly they are the wrong standard for the SSLs which I think use the TASCAM standard , but if that's the case wouldn't they be problematic at 48khz as well?

I've tried the tests in Nuendo, Cubase and Reaper all with the same result on an i7 340 second gen machine with 32 gig of Corsair DDR3 ram in an ASUS P8P67LE mobo, and a Uad2 quad lots of different sata drives including a ss for audio files. I'm running an updated W7 64 bit OS.

The Alphalink will play back projects recorded at 96khz, using a RME FF 800, with no distortion, but if you try to record a track using the Alphalink in that project the track is distorted, this seems to suggest that the converters are being distorted on the way in.

I've tried to Attach a wav file so you can hear the distortion , but I'm not sure that worked. Any ideas are appreciated, I'm getting kinda desperate here. Take care, Logan

Well I see no attchment so I guess I don't have that sussed, how can I upload a wav file to this post? Logan
Old 15th October 2012
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Well I have solved the problem, he said somewhat sheepishly. It was a windows setting in the audio devices area. Under the recording tab there is a setting for DSP capture, don't even know what the hell that is, but the SSL Soundscape was listed there and the meter was going crazy with no programs that use the Alphalink or the Madiextreme even open. I brought the level down to 0 and then opened a project and recorded a clean track at 96khz. I guess that setting was adding level to the inputs of the Alphalink. Man I spent a ton of time trying to figure this out and to find it was something so simple makes me feel pretty stupid. But it's working and I'm gona look into that whole area to see if I can just disable the SSL stuff there without turning it off every where. Hopefully my stupidity helps someone else avoid frustration. Take care, Logan
Old 17th October 2012
  #12
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

Odd - never heard of that!

Thanks for the update, glad you are up and running.
Old 14th December 2012
  #13
Gear Addict
 

It's Back distortion at 96khz. Can't seem to find the same solution as before.
I reinstalled windows because I went to a SSD for my operating system, so I took the opprtunity to reinstall everything on the DAW. Now I have the distortion on the 9khz setting of every recording program I use Nuendo, Cubase and Reaper). Before I went to the speaker icon and clicked on Recording devices and the meter beside DSP Capture was peaking. Bringing down that volume solved the distortion I was getting ay 96khz, I never had any distortion at 44.1 or 48 khz.
Now that meter shows no activity and even when it's level is muted I still get the distortion, can't find anything else amiss. Can anyone shed any light on this or explain what this DSP capture setting is. Under the DSP capture is listed SSL Soundscape WDM/KS device. Before there was a volume fader beside the meter, now there does not seem to be but I have turned down the levels in the properties and even disabled it and nothing cleans up the distortion. I'm at my wits end anybody have advice? Take care, Logan
Old 14th December 2012
  #14
Go into the BIOS of the motherboard and disable all C-State functions. Fix?
Old 14th December 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
 

you had mentioned something about WDM did you switch to ASio?
Old 15th December 2012
  #16
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcschild View Post
you had mentioned something about WDM did you switch to ASio?
Well I didn't even know what WDM/kS was until I just did a search. Still not sure what's what but this is at the heart of the problem.

In my device manager the SSL stuff is listed on it's own and under it as:
SSLSoundscape device and under that it says Madixtreme. The driver version for it is listed as 6.2.0.0. As well under Sound and video game controllers are listed Realtek Hidh Definition Audio and Soundscape WDM/KS Device with a driver version of 6.1.0.1. Is that all normal?
When using Nuendo or Cubase or Reaper or Wavelab, under VST Audio System, I use the SSL Soundscape ASIO driver.

The last time I had this problem I solved it by clicking on the speaker icon on the toolbar and going to recording seection where the DSP capture section listed the SSL Soundscape WKM/KS Device with a meter beside it that was peaking, I turned that level down to zero and the distortion stopped in the input of the Alphalink. It only ever distorted at 96KHZ.

This time the distortion is there but the meter is showing no activity I also have the Realtek High Definition Audio listed under Stereo Mix in the recoding section. ATM I have both of these disabled but I still have the distortion at 96khz.

Under playback There are 4 listings one speakers lists Realtek High Def Audio that is disabled another speakers lists the SSL Soundscape WDM/KS Device and that is disabled, there are no speakers plugged into the DAW. It Also lists Realtek Digital output as the default device and Realtek Digital Output(optical) which is disabled.

Pardon all this stuff but I'm not sure what's important here. This drivers and all these playback and recording devices seem to be where the problem lies. If there's any other info that would help let me know. Thanks for your response. Take care, Logan
Old 15th December 2012
  #17
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Go into the BIOS of the motherboard and disable all C-State functions. Fix?
I'm not sure what C-state functions are or where to find them. Ilooked in the bios and nothing jumped out, can you elaborate? Take care Logan
Old 17th December 2012
  #18
In the advanced menu, click on CPU configuration (at the top).
Disable the following:
CPU C1E
CPU C3 Report
CPU C6 Report

C1E will probaly do the job.

Also, set the RAM speed fixed to 1333:
AI Tweaker menu/Memory frequency. Set it to DDR-1333.
This will probbaly give your system a performance jump if it was set to automatic.
Old 17th December 2012
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
In the advanced menu, click on CPU configuration (at the top).
Disable the following:
CPU C1E
CPU C3 Report
CPU C6 Report

C1E will probaly do the job.

Also, set the RAM speed fixed to 1333:
AI Tweaker menu/Memory frequency. Set it to DDR-1333.
This will probbaly give your system a performance jump if it was set to automatic.
Thanks I'll check that out as soon as I get to the studio. Take care, Logan
Old 17th December 2012
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Well Sir DAW plus you nailed it! Disabled those Cstate settings and set the Ram setting to 1333 from Auto and something there dealt with the problem.
Actually also tried increasing the buffers from 512 where they were set and that made the distortion worse so I kept lowering them until I was at 64 and each time the distortion diminished but there was still some distortion at 64, then I did your reccomended tweaks and one of them took away the final little bit of distortion. I did all three Cstate things and changed the Ram setting at the same time so I'm unsure if it was a combination or if one setting change did the trick, but I'm leaving everything the way it is now. I may weld the case shut and never check the Bios again. I owe you a wack of beer man, you've done me a huge service. Thanks very much. Take care, Logan
Old 17th December 2012
  #21
Glad I could help.
Usually the so called C-States are not an issue on these motherboards, but in some occasions they tend to cause such weird issues.
The RAM setting did not fix this, but should improve your system performance a lot (up to 30%), which seems typical for those ASUS boards.

If I ever appear in Elm Tree, I will certainly mention that wack of beer... heh
Old 17th December 2012
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
.

If I ever appear in Elm Tree, I will certainly mention that wack of beer... heh
Absolutely, chased with some single malt. Thanks again. Take care, Logan
Old 20th December 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
clivek's Avatar
Hi Logan,

Glad you sorted your problem. Hey can you do me favour, i'm trying to change my sample rate/ bit rate in the advanced tab for the dsp capture. It won't let me change the value of 44.1 32bit?. For the speaker I can change it with the drop down menu.

This dosen't happen for me for the dsp capture part? Can you select different freq/bit rates your end?? ta

I'm on w7 32 bit
Old 26th December 2012
  #24
Gear Addict
 

hey Clive
I didn't see this until now, sorry I've been trouble shooting other aspects of the studio, remind me to never change everything at the same time again.
My area that sets the sample rate is greyed out for the DSP capture, I'm not in the studio ATM and can't remember exactly what it is set to but I think it's something about 8 parts, I'll check when I'm in on thursday. I haven't really used the WDM stuff yet other than to check out that it exists. There is a thread about WDM on the SSL stuff somewhere in this section and it has some info that is probably relevant to this question. I think it was started by George. I am on W7 64 bit, so I'm unsure how that translates. Take care, Logan
Old 26th December 2012
  #25
Lives for gear
 
clivek's Avatar
Yeah that's right, mine is grayed out and set to 44.1khz 32bit !! and can't be changed for some reason!

All I want to do is record all the audio back in when i'm recording with screen capture software. At 44.1 32bit the recorded audio is distorting and has crackles. I'm sure it would be fine at 24 bit !!

The Asio drivers aren't picked up the screen capture software unfortunately !

Cheers
Old 14th March 2016
  #26
Lives for gear
In case other lerk here for the Alpha link.

Setting up the Alpha link requires the reference manual and setting a bunch of switches using the front panel. The way the unit is designed, The MADI card in the computer is in charge/soundscape is the clock master so that many sample rates of material can be worked on ITB. As a result, the clock inside the Alpha link is not the best as it is designed to be the slave (Most converters are designed to be the maser). In my case, I slave both an MX4 card and Alpha link to a Black Lion MK3. The black lion word clock make this unit sound wonderful.

The low level performance of the inputs is fantastic, no need to run into the converters hot. Black lion no longer does this, but a while back, I had them upgrade the inputs to +28
Old 15th March 2016
  #27
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
The way the unit is designed, The MADI card in the computer is in charge/soundscape is the clock master so that many sample rates of material can be worked on ITB. As a result, the clock inside the Alpha link is not the best as it is designed to be the slave (Most converters are designed to be the maser).

Sorry, not true.

While I'll admit that the setup section of the manual is not entirely the most friendly thing to deal with, everything else you post sounds like it has come from someone who persuaded you to buy their magic master clock.

Clock in Alpha Link is not "designed to be the slave". This is just a silly statement.
Sorry.
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