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TOPIC: Couple of stupid questions perhaps?

Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17635

Hi guys,

I have been using S-Gear for quite some time, but just noticed a few weird things, so would like to know your thoughts.

First question: How do you use the FX loop in your amp???
Yesterday I watched a youtube video of Rob Chapman trying out the Amplifire into his own amp, with the owner/founder of Amplifire connecting it. He just plugged the guitar into the Amplifire Input, and then the Amplifire Output into Rob's Return jack in his amp's FX Loop... I thought you always had to connect both the send and return, in other words, I was connecting the Send into the input in my Interface, and the output of my interface into the Return, and thought it sounded awful. For that reason, I preferred to connect S-Gear in front of the amp, and compensate the EQ with a graphic EQ before reaching the amp.

Result: By connecting the GTR into the interface's Input, and then the output of my interface into the Return (as per Chapman's video), I got a much clearer and true sound, BUT with very low volume. The Interface had its volume at maximum, and the amp's master was pretty high (almost full for a 30W tube amp). The controls on the amp's channels did not affect the sound at all, and the only thing affecting it was the Master volume, but at full volume was starting to distort and sound bad.

I also tried to use an active DI before, to help boosting the volume from the interface, but only helped a bit, not enough for a gig. I tried the FX loop both in serial and parallel mode, and changed the volume on both, but it did not help. The amp is working fine, and I tried connecting the GTR into the input, as always, and it WAS LOUDD!!!! So no problem with the amp, and the FX loop when using with normal effects was behaving as expected.

So, how do you use it??? I liked the way it sounded by just using the Return, but how can I get more volume out of it?

Second question: How do you check your latency?
I have my Dell Inspiron 1545 setup for maximum audio performance (as per support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/...r-audio-on-Windows-7 ), no wifi, and from the standalone mode, I clicked on
File->Audio Driver Configuration->Audio Device

and the Input Latency shows 15.1 ms and the Output Latency is 21.2 ms, with a sample rate of 44100, but the Buffer Length on ASIO Config is set at 6ms. I don't have any other software running through it, and it's a 4GB RAM, 64bit Dual Core CPU 2.2GHz.

What can be wrong here?

Thanks for any feedback!
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Last edit: 9 months 1 week ago by asintoras.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17637

Does the fx loop (return) of the amp have a pot or volume control? Which would be a return level. When using the return ,you bypass all the preamp section , master levels also. and are using just the power section of the amp only. I use the return only of a Line 6 DT50 (with pot adjustment at half) with the AtomicAmplifier 12, there is plenty of volume, also, best live sound I have experienced. Sorry haven’t tried with SGear.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17655

Thanks! I just figured out the FX Loop problem: the Input in the amp needs to be connected!
I used a DI box with two outputs: one to the interface and another to the amp and the volume issue it's gone :)

Now, how to really check the real latency? Would a SSD drive really help? In other words is it justifiable (a bit of £) to improve latency?
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Last edit: 9 months 1 week ago by asintoras.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17658

This really depends on the design on the amp in question. Power amps need to be driven at a higher signal level than your effects (or line level equipment) will output. Some amps support an effects loop which includes a make-up gain stage to boost the signal back to a suitable level to drive the power amp. Some amps provide a true pre-amp out / power-amp in and effects pedals will struggle to drive the power amp sufficiently. Some amps offer both. What are you using?

Regarding the latency issue, you mentioned that you have configured the audio interface to a sample rate of 44100 and 6 msec buffer (which would equate to approximately 256 samples). This should get you a round-trip latency of below 20 msec - even with a fairly poor audio interface, possibly a much lower latency with a high quality audio interface. What figures are reported by the S-GEAR setup page?

Cheers,
Mike
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17659

Hi Mike,

The volume problem with the Fx loop is now solved!

The latency in S-gear's audio configuration was 15.1 ms (Input Latency) and the Output Latency was 21.2 ms. My interface is a Focusrite 2i2, first generation.

So my question is what would be the best approach to reduce latency? Invest in a better interface or a SSD drive? I don't think the processor or RAM are the problem?
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Last edit: 9 months 1 week ago by asintoras.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17663

If you are sure you aren't using the ASIO MME driver instead of the ASIO driver, it could be either the Dell USB2 ports aren't of the newer faster variety, or the old 212 unit is just too slow for realtime FX monitoring. Those are things to look into.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17665

Those figures for input an output latency are very poor. With a 256 buffer at 44100 I would expect to see a roundtrip latency of approximately 20 msec on an entry level device. 10 - 15 msec roundtrip on a high end device (like an RME). As GCKelloch suggested, make sure you are using the ASIO driver - S-GEAR standalone will only work with the ASIO driver.

I would be inclined to check with focusrite as to what you can expect performance-wise, and what other things might impact the input and output latency.

I'm not convinced that replacing your hard drive will have a significant impact on ASIO latency. The faster drive may help the computer therefore allowing you to reduce the audio processing buffer size slightly. If your main handicap is very poor driver performance then you biggest improvement will come from getting a better audio interface/driver - or working out why your current setup is under performing.
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Last edit: 9 months 1 week ago by mike.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17668

asintoras wrote:

Hi Mike,
So my question is what would be the best approach to reduce latency? Invest in a better interface or a SSD drive? I don't think the processor or RAM are the problem?

For an amp simulator plugin like S-Gear, hard disk speed is in most cases practically neglegible (unless you're doing some other stuff in the background that accesses your HD. Investing in an SSD is only relevant when using sample instruments that need to load libraries into RAM (reducing loading times) or stream them from disk (speeding up disk access). For a plugin like S-Gear that doesn't need to load anything from disk, faster access to your disk doesn't help with latency (unless, as Mike mentioned, your system is strained by disk access from other activities.

The keys to reducing end-to-end latency are
  1. first and foremost audio interface and drivers. Leading on round trip latency are RME interfaces (e.g. Babyface) and (at a lower budget) the Zoom offerings. I've used first-gen Focusrite interfaces; their low-latency performance isn't really up to live guitar amping, IMO. Working with buffer sizes of 64 to 96 samples is doable with RME interfaces, and their drivers are very efficient (with some other interfaces, drivers still add latency beyond the buffer size you can influence, so reducing the buffer to 64 samples will possibly not get you near RME performance with these interfaces). I use my RME Babyface at 128 samples, and it's workable for me; other guitarists may find this latency too sluggish and will go down to 96 or 64.

  2. if your machine struggles with very small buffer sizes like 64 or 96 (i.e. you're getting clicks, pops and dropouts), the next stage of investment is a faster machine (higher-spec processor, higher clock speed). Essentially, these clicks and pops mean that your machine isn't keeping up with the task of processing the input signal in time for the next buffer to be filled. Not sure about S-Gear's multi-core architecture (@mike?); some plugins (e.g. u-he DIVA) can utilize multiple processor cores to spread the processing load. For these, a quad-core i7 processor will beat a dual-core i5 or an entry-level dual-core i7. But if you are only using S-Gear, you should be fine with any decent current i5 processor. I use S-Gear in complex setups with a number of other plugins, so I'll grab any bit of processor power I can get, so it's all quad-core for me...

So, TL;DR: best bang-for-the buck in terms of improving your round-trip-latency: get a Zoom UAC-2 and see how low you can set the buffer without getting into problems.

Cheers,

Torsten
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17670

Thank you all for the replies!

I did the following: reduced the buffer size on the Focusrite ASIO driver, but less than the original settings of this post, I was getting pops or gaps.
I tried using ASIO4ALL instead of the Focusrite ASIO driver and was able to reduce latency to about 7.3ms on both Input and Output (15ms in total). It is a slight improvement nonetheless...

Unfortunately I cannot afford a Babyface RME or a similar high end unit, but will look into getting a new interface (still on a budget) as all Focusrite interfaces have a bad reputation regarding latency. That Zoom UAC-2 looks interesting... I could buy a slot card to make my laptop able to read USB3.0, but according to Focusrite, making the switch to USB 3.0 does not make sense in terms of performance:
support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/...9-USB-2-0-vs-USB-3-0
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17672

ToH2002 wrote:

Not sure about S-Gear's multi-core architecture (@mike?)

Multi-core processing pays if you have some processing to do in parallel, also when processing long impulse responses with partitioned convolution. S-GEAR audio processing is mostly serial so it needs to run on one core. Like all plug-ins, the GUI processing and audio processing are handled in separate threads.

Some of the budget machines can have poor core performance - this was especially the case 5 years or so back with low end dual and quad cores. I agree that any current i5 or i7 processor will have plenty of core performance, S-GEAR should be a breeze.

An RME audio interface is expensive - even second hand, but the significantly better driver performance means you still get great round trip latency without needing to run a very small (CPU zapping) buffer. The Apogee Elements Thunderbolt interfaces for MAC are also expensive but have stellar latency performance. The Zoom device looks interesting and the price is good.
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Last edit: 9 months 1 week ago by mike.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17674

Another possibility is to just "steal" my wife's Macbook Pro (2012) which has a Thunderbolt and Firewire connector and get a second hand Apogee Duet, Edirol FA-66 or a Zoom TAC-2 (Thunderbolt and/or Firewire)?

Any of you have had any experience with these units?
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17675

Make sure to upgrade that 2012 MB Pro to a Sandisk SSD. You will not be sorry
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17684

The V2 Scarlett drivers apparently work with the V1 212 and 214 for much lower latency. Make sure you properly uninstall the old drivers first. Hope this helps.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17685

What do you mean with "apparently"? Do the 2nd gen. drivers recognize the 1st gen hardware and work well?

Inquiring minds would like to know.
Last edit: 9 months 1 week ago by LtKojak.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 1 week ago #17686

Yes, I did install the 2nd generation driver and it works, but the problem persists. This time I did it on my desktop computer (Intel i7, 3.4GHz, 8GB RAM) and the best setting without pops and hiccups was at 256 samples, with 15ms on Input and 15ms Output.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 6 days ago #17688

asintoras wrote:

Yes, I did install the 2nd generation driver and it works, but the problem persists. This time I did it on my desktop computer (Intel i7, 3.4GHz, 8GB RAM) and the best setting without pops and hiccups was at 256 samples, with 15ms on Input and 15ms Output.
Well, I've been using mi 1st gen Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 @ 64 samples with no pops, hiccups or anything on a 10-year old laptop using an Intel 2.1 Mhz. 2-core, 8 GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, win 10.

So, there must be something wrong with your computer. Did you perform DAW-optimization of the OS?
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 6 days ago #17690

I forgot to turn off Wi-Fi. Now it was better, at 6.7 input and 6.7 output, with a buffer on 64 and sample rate at 44.1 kHz.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 6 days ago #17692

asintoras wrote:

I forgot to turn off Wi-Fi. Now it was better, at 6.7 input and 6.7 output, with a buffer on 64 and sample rate at 44.1 kHz.
That's better, but still not good enough, if you ask me.

From this ten-year-old desktop (2.6Mhz Quadcore, 8GB RAM, win 10 Pro) I'm writing from at this very moment, with a M-Audio M-Track interface @ 128, 44100 Hz sample rate I'm getting 5.2ms each way with S-Gear.

With yours, with 64 samples and 44100 Hz sample rate, you shouldn't be getting more than 3.2ms each way, as that's what I get with my 2.5, i7 laptop and a Behringer UMC 404HD interface.

Just saying...
Last edit: 9 months 6 days ago by LtKojak.
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 9 months 3 days ago #17701

I know... I am looking into a Behringer interface atm... Thanks for all your comments!
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Couple of stupid questions perhaps? 8 months 1 day ago #17887

Just as an update on the interface. Yesterday I tried the same Focusrite 2i2 on my wife's MacBook Pro from 2012, and the latency was already 6.3ms for both input/output, without changing anything (plug and play).

Perhaps the interface itself was not so much the issue, but some of the programs I have installed in my PC computers (both the desktop and the laptop) are conflicting and making the performance so poor, regardless of being optimized for audio and performance...

I would have to spend some time looking at the possible causes or programs that are affecting this, but apart from Microsoft Office, I have Photoshop and some Autodesk stuff (I am an architect). Not much I can think off as a cause for this. I am using Total AV as the antivirus, but turn it off when using S-Gear or recording - as well as the wi-fi-, and have Malwarebytes (which I forget to turn off).
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