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Need help with keyboard/computer/interface connection

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Jenna

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« on: June 04, 2018, 01:23:57 PM »
Hi all. I've got a serious static problem that I noticed happens when playing keyboard chords in these fancy new software synths. The more complex the sound and the more keys I depress, the worse the static gets. So what I'm hoping I can do is run the keyboard through the interface in the hopes of reducing the processing load on the computer. So I have a few questions for the pros here.

Will this work?

If so, I need help finding a way to connect the two. The keyboard uses a USB A male to USB B male. The interface has midi in/out. Would I need a USB hub to accomplish the conversion?

Will this introduce a noticeable latency? If so, how do I compensate for that in the settings?

On edit: I've already narrowed the static problem to an internal computer/software issue. Between those two, I'm unsure which it is, but the static is most definitely getting recorded along with the music. I've not yet been able to export a copy that can be played as an .mp3. They come out blank on export.

« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 01:28:05 PM by Jenna »

Jenna

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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 10:50:31 AM »
I've been asking this question everywhere experienced users hangout and can't seem to get any answers, so I put in a call to the company where I purchased the items. They have amazing customer service. Unfortunately, the call came as I was leaving the house. Our short conversation led to the conclusion that it's definitely the computer processor. I was hoping to avoid an upgrade. We'll see. He has suggestions on settings and other fixes before moving onto something that drastic.

Boydie

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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 02:39:51 PM »
First of all stop and take a breath!!

You are describing a number of issues that may have different causes and solutions

Static / Crackling
I think the "static" is being caused by your computer (usually processor) working too hard

The first thing to check is that your DAW is set to use the audio interface for audio processing and not any "on board" sound chips - which will struggle

Assuming your external interface is set up you will next need to find where the "audio buffer" setting is

Here is a useful description I got from t'internet:

Quote
When recording audio into your computer, your sound card needs some time to process the incoming information. The amount of time allotted for processing is called the Buffer Size. Often times a smaller Buffer Size is desirable, however, not one that is too small. Here's why:


If you have a very large Buffer Size, you will notice a lag between when you speak in to the Mic, and when the sound of your voice comes out of your speakers. While this can be very annoying, a large Buffer Size also makes recording audio less demanding on your computer.

If you have a very small Buffer Size, you will notice little to no lag at all between speaking into the Mic and the audio coming out of the speakers. This makes recording and hearing your own singing much easier, however this can also place more strain on your computer, as it has very little time to process the audio.

You can fix this by increasing your Buffer Size to something slightly larger. After some experimentation, you will find the right balance.

Additionally, in most cases where you are not recording any audio (such as while mixing), you will want to set the audio buffer to the highest possible setting, to ensure the best performance of your CPU.

Most DAWs and other hosts will have an audio hardware setup of some kind where you can locate the buffer size. Please see your DAW documentation for more information on setting up audio hardware with your specific software.

I typically set a buffer size of around 192 (or lower) for recording and then move it right up to 1024 for mixing and mastering

If you post what audio interface and keyboard you are using we can guide you to where the right settings are

Attaching Keyboard

If your keyboard has a MIDI OUT socket (round socket with lots of holes) then I think the easiest connection would be to connect this to your MIDI IN on your audio interface

If your keyboard only has a USB socket then you can connect this directly to your computer and make sure you set the MIDI input in your DAW to the USB output from the keyboard

This will enable you to use your MIDI keyboard to trigger the sound of your soft synth

MP3 Export

I would suggest not attempting to "troubleshoot" this issue until we get the other issues resolved - I would only worry about exporting when you can make consistently clean recordings and you are happy with your set up

Good luck and hang in there - we will get you up and running!!!!!
To check out my music please visit:

http://soundcloud.com/boydiemusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BoydieMusic

Jenna

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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 06:06:39 PM »
Wow. Boydie, thank you so much for the detailed info. Does it sound like I'm hyperventilating or something? lol  I posted after running through a series of tests to isolate the issue.

Yes, the keyboard only has a USB out, but it's a USB B connection out rather than a USB A. I do have it connected to the computer and set to trigger sound with the onboard instruments. It's an old Oxygen 49 3rd gen that I ended up getting for free from Ebay, because it didn't work until I cleaned all of the contacts inside with alcohol. It was kind of a mess inside. I was hoping that routing it through the Presonus Audiobox USB interface would reduce the load on the computer processor. The M-audio tech I spoke with tells me that the midi data coming from the keyboard is minimal, so rerouting it isn't likely to fix the issue. Going that route will run another $40 or so because I'd need both the USB/midi cable and a USB-A/USB-A female adapter between the keyboard cable and USB-midi cable. It's a bit much to spend on an experiment no guarantee that it would help.

For settings, that is some very helpful advice. If sample block size and buffering are the same thing, I have it set at 128 and can go even lower down to 16. There is an option to set the processing on 32 bit instead of 64 bit. So I've lowered that to 32, just in case it might help. These settings work for everything I've tried except the most musically complex synths running 4 to 9 instruments. So to use those, would I just lower the block size again until it works? I can live with that.

Boydie

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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2018, 07:52:28 PM »
Great - now we are getting there...

We now know you have a keyboard controller - somyou simply need to hook this up directly to your computer with a USB cable

This one for £3.99 will do the trick:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/AmazonBasics-USB-2-0-Cable-Male/dp/B00NH11KIK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1528486417&sr=8-3&keywords=USB+b+cable

The keyboard does not need to connect to your audio box at all

The audio box connects to another USB socket on your pc (or if you run out of USB sockets you can get a cheap hub - in theory it is best to connect your audio interface directly to the pc but I run mine off of a hub and it is fine)

I don't think the 32 v 64 bit will help much with this bit

The buffer size is the key bit - which is what Presonus are calling "block size"

Quote
These settings work for everything I've tried except the most musically complex synths running 4 to 9 instruments. So to use those, would I just lower the block size again until it works? I can live with that

No - you would need to INCREASE the block size as your system starts to struggle

The lower the number the less latency (the time between pressing a note and hearing a sound) - but the lower the number the more strain you put on the pc processor so you can get crackles, pops, (static) drop outs and even the system not playing audio as you place more strain on it (i.e. By opening lots of soft synths

If you raise the buffer size you take the strain off of the pc so it should play better BUT you will increase the latency and start hearing a delay between pressing a key on the keyboard and hearing a sound

You therefore need to find a balance that suits you where your system plays without "static" but you don't hear so much of a delay that you can play along

A good trick to use if your system is struggling is to RECORD with minimal effects and plugins and have a low buffer/block setting (256 or 512  may be low enough)

When you have recorded everything you can raise the buffer level (e.g. 1024 or higher) and start adding different softsynths (e.g. Swap some out for more resource hungry versions) and your system will cope better

Even more modern systems could struggle with 9 complex soft synths and a really low buffer setting
To check out my music please visit:

http://soundcloud.com/boydiemusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BoydieMusic

Jenna

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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2018, 08:14:27 PM »
Excellent. Thanks for clearing that up. Higher sample block size, easier to process, but increases latency. Opposites like this make me question my grip on reality.

Record first, then add effects.

I can connect both the interface and keyboard to the computer now, so no new cables needed for that.

Jenna

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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 01:52:13 AM »
It turns out that I was having too many issues getting set up than could be solved piece by piece through forum posts, so I got in touch with a local who trains Presonus users over YouTube and Skype. I subscribed to his channel and plan to go for a visit to sit down with the guy for a training session or two But now that I got the sound issues resolved and have a couple of cables coming that will fix the problem, I'm hoping that I can at least make some music. It's taken me all week to get to the bottom of this. I was having such a hot run before all of the problems cropped up as a roadblock. Hopefully, this coming week goes a little better.