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A story about new hardware and a happy organist

A discussion forum for anything even marginally Hauptwerk-related.

A story about new hardware and a happy organist

Postby Purator » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:17 am

I want to tell you a story about brand new hardware, CPU spikes and a frustrated but at the and very happy user...

I have been using Hauptwerk now since 2012, on a then rather new PC with an AMD Phenom 1090T and 16GB RAM. I built my own organ console with 4 manuals, but never had the time and the money to add a way to control the stops. I either used a pc keyboard with labels for the stops or just the mouse and clicked the stops. The whole setup worked fine and I played the PAB Professional in all its glory (although only in 16bit) with a reasonable latency.

Before christmas I mady myself an early christmas gift and bought a Surface Book 2. In tablet mode, I can put it onto the music stand above the manuals and finally I am able to add oder remove stops while playing.

So I installed Hauptwerk and Asio4All, installed the PAB, chose the Audio Output in Asio4All, started playing and was shocked. Even with a buffer of 1024 samples there were artifacts and cracks and the CPU meter was spiking. As the Surface has "only" 16 GB RAM I loaded St. Annes, but I got the same problem. Artefacts the moment the CPU spiked. And no matter which organ I loaded, I could not reduce the latency because then I had _only_ cracks and halting tones. What a dissapointment! Of course I had in mind that the now 8 year old PC was able to perform just fine - and various websites show the Surface being used in professional audio setups so I kinda started to question myself and my choice of hardware. To make matters worse I had to solve this problem before christmas...

I spent about a week to work through the various guides recommended here in the forum but without success. No matter what I tried, I neither could remove the CPU spikes nor the artefacts. And of course, I could never choose less than 1024 samples as cache without having Artefacts all the time. However, I could not really understand the audio devices Asio4All shows - and that is an interesting part. Because there are shown actually two different devices - one with 2 channels, offering 44,1kHz to 48kHz and another on with 6 channels, offering up to 192kHz. As I was only using 2 channels and samples in 48kHz I chose the first one.

And that, at the end, was the solution. As some sort of last ressort I decided to give the other sound device a try. Suddenly there were no artifacts. I tried to lower the latency and I got it down to 384 samples. Halleluja! The CPU spikes are still there, but they do not cause any problems, so I do not care about them anymore. I played a whole concert without any problems!
(Actually one of the concerts I will never forget. The organ is currently being renovated and originally everything should have been finished by November. Then the organ builder found out it might be a bit more expensive than planned so everything was stopped. Which meant that the organ would not be in the church for my traditional christmas concert on the last Sunday before christmas eve. So I decided to use my organ from home and the community should organise the sound system. Two days before the concert the person from my community responsible for speakers and such told me rather shorthanded that he plans on setting up the sound system an hour before the concert should start. And no, it would not be possible to do this earlier. So I had to bring my own audio system with me and suddenly had to buy new speakers as the ones I use at home were not loud enough for the church. But I invited the salesman to the concert and he actually attended the concert. Thats the kind of story that only happens during the christmas season :-D )

So long story short: Be careful which audio device you choose!

But there is more! Be careful when disabling the "Runtime Broker"! (as written in viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4013&p=127366&hilit=store#p127366) This will break the Task Scheduler on your system. You will not be able to open the Task Scheduler anymore and Apps that require it will give out error messages. The service "Security-SSP" spammed the system logs with the message that it could not schedule a task. This should be somewhere noted as it might trouble some people when looking for errors.

Another thing that still bothers me is, that in my opinion, the latency is still a bit too high. In the settings dialogue it says "8ms" (for 48kHz) when I choose 384 samples, but the floating window when the PAB is loaded tells me 12ms. Both of them are just an idea too long for me which really messes with my brain that is only used to mechanical organs where there is like no latency at all. And I believe (I can't check anymore because of a system crash some time ago) I had a lower latency on my old PC. Can anybody tell me why there is that little difference?

Regards,
Rico
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Re: A story about new hardware and a happy organist

Postby telemanr » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:40 pm

The latency from key press to me hearing the sound in our church with the pipes about 25 to 30 feet away is over 17ms. It’s certainly possible to get used to this as I’d imagine most organists with consoles away from the pipes have to cope and obviously do. I know it doesn’t bother me or our regular organist.
You must be used to sitting beside or right under the pipes.
Rob Enns
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Re: A story about new hardware and a happy organist

Postby Purator » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:43 pm

Hello Rob, it is exactly like you say. All organs I have played had their console right below the pipes - maybe two or three meters from the case but not more. Also, all organs (with the exception of one) I regularly play have mechanic key action, so there is no delay. The only organ with pneumatic key action is a 1911 Eule organ, but albeit being in a rather poor state before its currently ongoing renovation there was also no noticable delay which in my opinion shows how good Eule worked back then.

Of course you are right, organists always had to cope with the delay and for someone who is used to it it is no problem. But as someone who is not used to it at all it is a bit difficult to adapt - especially since all other organs I use do not have this problem. However, this might be a problem one could be happy to have :-)
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Re: A story about new hardware and a happy organist

Postby jkinkennon » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:58 pm

The key to low latency audio is a quality external audio interface. An ASIO interface, not ASIO4All, will help a great deal. There have been recent reports or good results with Windows 10 and internal sound cards, at least for small sample sets, but so far the only sure solution to latency and audio glitches is ASIO if you are running a PC. Check the audio portion of the forum to find this advice repeated over and over.
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Re: A story about new hardware and a happy organist

Postby RichardW » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:17 pm

As a rule of thumb, sound travels at about a foot a millisecond. Latencies of 8ms would therefore require all pipes to be within 8' of the listener.
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