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Old February 13th, 2006, 07:00 AM   #1
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the Mother of all audio nightmares...

Saturday night we shot video and recorded music at a small perfomance space in Miami.The venue was a series of 5 different female singer/songwriters (very talented), some solo and some with a backup or two.The performances were beautifull.We used the XL2 and two GL1's and the video was fine.
I brought my new Motu traveller, laptop loaded with Nuendo , and a firewire hard drive.I've been using Nuendo for years, but this was the first time for the lap top and Motu. I set up the room sound and ran mic splitters to get discreet tracks into the laptop.In addition( thank God), I ran two AT 3031's ( thanks to Steve and jay ) set up in front of the stage, directly into my XL2 which was stationery.
After 3.5 hours of set-up we were ready to go.The room sounded great and the levels comming into the Motu were fine.Except...CLICK...CLICK...ClICK. I was ready to pull my hair out, and couldn't figure what the cause was. I left my partner running the recorder, and went out side to make an emergency call to my engineer buddy (who sold me the lap top)."Is it too hot? Is the hard drive too close to the Motu?" I went back inside and saw that a couple more songs had been recorded. In the next break we deceided to listen and see if the clicks were actually recorded. When I tried to play back, the piece of shite crashed. In our state of panic and anxiety, we forgot to do any incremental saves.....So the first few songs were...yeah, that's right...LOST!
During the rest of the evening, the laptop crashed three more times, but we saved every 30 seconds , and mangaed to record about seven songs.
I tried de clicking this morning, with some luck.
Luckilly the ambient stereo mix was pretty good, and some of the audio recorded on the GL1's stock stereo mic(when close up) was excellent.
At least we salvaged the night with the back up audio. The shame of it was that the performances were so good....Would I ever do another live multi track recording with a lap top??? The way I feel this morning is that I'd rather have root canal without novacaine.
Any similar experiences?
Bruce Yarock
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Old February 13th, 2006, 07:43 AM   #2
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I had a concert to record, with 3 different bands as clients. Some 4 hours of audio total is what I should have had... but the breaker kept flipping, and I would lose power to my hard disk recorder, meaning I lost everything that wasn't saved. That the kind of story you looking for?

By the way... were you at National Chick Singer Night at the Hoy Como Ayer? I was there a couple years ago for that. They had some incredible talent, and killer cubano coffee :)
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Old February 13th, 2006, 10:29 AM   #3
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Firewire sometimes gets flakey when you're trying to use two high-speed devices at once - like, say, your MOTU Traveler and the Firewire HD. Did you try recording to the internal HD in the laptop?

How did you like the sound of the AT3031's in that context?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 06:57 AM   #4
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Keith-
Yeah, that's the "kind of story". Misery loves company. No, that wasn't me at that event. We ought to hook up some time though. Email me your phone number. yarock at a o l dot com.
Steve-
I had the external hd connected by usb2. I was advised to use an external, because they're much faster than the internal. I tried to re create the pproblem yesterday at home, running the lap top most of the day. I recorded all kinds of stuff, with no clicks or problems. On one of the power ups,however,the lap top came up with an error message do do with obstructions to the fan. It also gave a Dell error message, and said "to continue, press F1". I took thr lap top off of the Motu,moved it farther away, and it recorded and playe fine.
In think that the lap top had a problem that night, and was in a crash from the beginning. Maybe it was an overheating problem, but who knows.I have a three year warranty with Dell, so I guess my next step is to call them. In retrospect I wish I had bought something new, and I don't know if I can trust this piece of shite at another live gig.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 07:47 AM   #5
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Bruce- If you won't be literally "in the field", and have a reliable power source, check out Korg. I had a 12 channel recorder/mixer, that would record flawlessly... as long as there was power. There is also an optional CD burner, so you can even crank out copies on the spot.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 07:56 AM   #6
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Just a thought, Bruce. Since you couldn't reproduce the audio problem at home, could you have been the victim of cell phone interference. Some phones will give you that nice pop...pop,pop....pop interference. Perhaps an audience member?

I am only throwing out food for thought, no concrete answers. But we've already had at least one thread here with execs being videotaped in a conference meeting and the poor guy was getting his audio trashed by cell phones.

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Old February 14th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #7
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Was your laptop getting AC power or was it running off the battery? If AC, was it grounded?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 01:13 PM   #8
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I'm just repeating what I've heard -

MOTU drivers not that stable with PC. MOTU with MAC OK.

I've kept clear of MOTU and have had very good results with Echo Audio and M-Audio. I had some early experience with Digidesign hardware on the PC that made me very sensitive to the issue of a manufacturer's dedication to the PC platform and the frequency of driver updates in response to new OSs.

But I avoid laptop recording of an event anyways - too dang much stuff to go wrong. Invested in an Alesis HD24, which for concerts takes audio from channel direct outs on the mixing board, although you could do mic splits too with another mixer (no mic preamps in the HD24). It has 24 A-D converters out of the box, unlike Mackie, and will do 24 channels of 24/48. I rented a second HD24 for a larger concert last year, they synced beautifully with a serial cable (sample-level sync). The Alesis firewire adaptor is essential for getting the recordings into the computer.

Click-click-click can also be related to sample-rate mismatches between the hardware output and software recording.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 07:29 AM   #9
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Steve asks-
<Firewire sometimes gets flakey when you're trying to use two high-speed devices at once - like, say, your MOTU Traveler and the Firewire HD. Did you try recording to the internal HD in the laptop?>

Steve- I was advised to not use the internel drive because ut's too slow.

Greg asks
<Just a thought, Bruce. Since you couldn't reproduce the audio problem at home, could you have been the victim of cell phone interference. Some phones will give you that nice pop...pop,pop....pop interference. Perhaps an audience member?>
I don't know, but it's possible.Thanks for the idea, though.

Mark-
<Was your laptop getting AC power or was it running off the battery? If AC, was it grounded>
It was powered.

Seth says-

<MOTU drivers not that stable with PC. MOTU with MAC OK.

I've kept clear of MOTU and have had very good results with Echo Audio and M-Audio. I had some early experience with Digidesign hardware on the PC that made me very sensitive to the issue of a manufacturer's dedication to the PC platform and the frequency of driver updates in response to new OSs.

But I avoid laptop recording of an event anyways - too dang much stuff to go wrong. Invested in an Alesis HD24, which for concerts takes audio from channel direct outs on the mixing board, although you could do mic splits too with another mixer (no mic preamps in the HD24). It has 24 A-D converters out of the box, unlike Mackie, and will do 24 channels of 24/48. I rented a second HD24 for a larger concert last year, they synced beautifully with a serial cable (sample-level sync). The Alesis firewire adaptor is essential for getting the recordings into the computer.

Click-click-click can also be related to sample-rate mismatches between the hardware output and software recording. >

Seth-
In my home studio I've used successfully the event layla and gina. Then I moved to the m audio delta 1010.Currently I have a Steinberg converter with an additional Behringer for more inputs.
You're right about the vulnerable and unprredictable nature of laptops.Unfortunately, I took the advice of my engineer friend who records several large venue concerts. He's been using Motu 828's and travelers, with a laptop.So much for friendly advice.
If I hadn't already spent $850 on the lap top and $900 on the Motu, I would take your advice and go with the Alesis. I might have another job comming up, and I don't know what I'll do...
Thanks guys.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 08:06 AM   #10
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Bruce

Seth's comment on sample rates is worth investigating a little further. I wonder if the MOTU was set to output at, say, 44.1, while Nuendo was set for a project rate of 48, or some other combo? Clicking can occur whenever sending a signal between two digital devices and the sample rate of the receiving device is not properly slaved to either that of the sending device or to the incoming signal. To compound the issue, some audio interfaces will set their sample rate automatically to the lowest rate that's presented to them for playback, that's why Echo recommends completely disabling system sounds in the PC - a system beep during recording could cause the interface to suddenly switch mid-stream into a 22kHz or even 11kHz sample rate. Could one of those gremlins have slipped in unnoticed?
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Old February 16th, 2006, 08:23 AM   #11
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Steve,
I alsways leave Nuendo set to 44.1( unless I need 48 for video). The motu was also set to 44.1.And of course it worked back home. I'm really leaning towards the Dell lap top as the problem.
We recorded for an hour before th gig, and then I put it through it's paces all day (the day after). As I said before, on one boot up it gave me an error message gergarding the fan, but then booted up anyways (and recorded). I'll have to contact Dell,and see what they say.
My dilemma is that no matter how many times it works well at home, I'm not going to feel like I can trust the set up for an important concert. Can you say "ebay"?

Seth- When you record on the Alesis, how do you get the tracks into an editing program? Since I have Nuendo on the laptop, I can just transfer it to my home studio computer's Nuendo. (assuming there's something to transfer..lol..) and start editing.
I wish I had gone your route before spending this $$$.
Bruce yarock
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Old February 16th, 2006, 09:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce S. Yarock
Steve,
I alsways leave Nuendo set to 44.1( unless I need 48 for video). The motu was also set to 44.1.And of course it worked back home. I'm really leaning towards the Dell lap top as the problem.
We recorded for an hour before th gig, and then I put it through it's paces all day (the day after). As I said before, on one boot up it gave me an error message gergarding the fan, but then booted up anyways (and recorded). I'll have to contact Dell,and see what they say.
My dilemma is that no matter how many times it works well at home, I'm not going to feel like I can trust the set up for an important concert. Can you say "ebay"?

Seth- When you record on the Alesis, how do you get the tracks into an editing program? Since I have Nuendo on the laptop, I can just transfer it to my home studio computer's Nuendo. (assuming there's something to transfer..lol..) and start editing.
I wish I had gone your route before spending this $$$.
Bruce yarock
Could it be Nuendo with its security key, etc, is just overtaxing the laptop? I wonder if recording using something like Wavelab might be less demanding on the CPU. You can still record multi-track and transfer to Nuendo on the desktop when you get back home. Just a thought anyway - or maybe time for a new laptop that's running on the bleeding edge of the performance envelope. Or what the hey, spring for the 15 kilobucks or so for a Deva. <grin>
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Old February 16th, 2006, 11:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce S. Yarock
Seth- When you record on the Alesis, how do you get the tracks into an editing program?
There are 3 methods -

I use the FirePort1394 accessory that Alesis sells. At various times it has been promotionally packaged with the HD24, or available with a coupon. Slide the hard drive caddy out of the bay on the HD24, plug the fireport on the back of the caddy, connect via firewire to PC, power it up, boot Alesis' little driver program on the PC, and select songs for transfer. Incredibly fast - everything happens at hard drive speeds. You get up to 24 24/48 .wav files (per song) that are sample-accurate to each other, you know what to do with these in Nuendo (I don't, I use Vegas, they work fine). No bushwa dealing with polyphonic wav files.

If you have a sound card or accessory with ADAT lightpipe, you can bring the recording over digitally in real time in groups of 8 tracks. Not as fast and slick, and you're actually recording on the pc, so one group won't be synced with the next unless you have multiple (say 3) lightpipe spigots. But re-sync wouldn't be hard (in Vegas).

And finally, the HD24 includes an ftp server. Plug it into your network, make some front-panel ip settings with the manual in your hand, and download your recordings, track by track, sample accurate sync. However, this is EXTREMELY slow - the HD24 only has 10Mbps ethernet. I think when I first rented one of these I pulled down 16 tracks of 24/48 about 1 hr. recording and it was many, many hours (10? more?). I only did that once!

BTW, the HD24 not only comes with 24 TRS line-level analog inputs, it also has 24 TRS line-level outputs for record monitoring, playback, or whatever. But you'll need up to 48 channels of TRS-TRS snakes for input and output, which cost some money...
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Old February 16th, 2006, 04:38 PM   #14
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Dell is sending some guy on Friday to come over and replace the malfunctioning parts, probably motherboard, fan, hard drive...The keypad is still probably ok.
Bruce Yarock
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