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Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

Buying or building computers for Hauptwerk, recommendations, troubleshooting computer hardware issues.
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larason2

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Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostThu Aug 25, 2022 7:33 pm

I just wanted to update you guys on the audio troubles I was having with my M1 Max Mac Studio and Motu 24A0. It turns out the problem appears to have been not having the latest firmware installed on the Motu. I had tried to update it using the Motu discovery software, but the software would time out before the firmware was installed. I contacted Motu tech support, who directed me to update the firmware manually. I updated to 1.4 (was 1.3 before that, I believe). That worked, so now I appear to have glitch free audio once again! The problem was very intermittent, but it did bother me every time it happened. The audio would cut out for about one second, sometimes only once in an hour, then resume. I also wasn't able to access Motu's built in mixer. Now appears to be totally reliable again! It's early days though, so if I run into further trouble I will write back.
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larason2

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSat Sep 03, 2022 4:14 pm

Alas, I just experienced an audio error today. So not all is perfect yet! I will continue the search!
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Roglu

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSat Sep 03, 2022 4:58 pm

As you know, I have the same audio dropouts with MOTU UltraLite AVB. Do you only get the sound dropouts with the stereo sets? Also have the latest firmware on it. This seems to be a "motu problem".
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larason2

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSat Sep 03, 2022 5:18 pm

Thanks Roglu, yes, I remember that now! Yes, they are all on stereo sets, I don't really use other ones.
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mdyde

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSun Sep 04, 2022 4:20 am

Roglu wrote:As you know, I have the same audio dropouts with MOTU UltraLite AVB. Do you only get the sound dropouts with the stereo sets? Also have the latest firmware on it. This seems to be a "motu problem".


Hello Roglu,

Assuming the problem hasn't recurred for you since disabling the dynamic CPU-speed adjusting power-saving options in your PC's BIOS, my understanding is that your problem was simply that the computer was dropping your CPU's speed at times of low CPU load (e.g. when using small sample sets, such as stereo sample sets instead of large surround ones):

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=20524#p153705

evertjan wrote:The reported CPU speed in the PDF is 360 MHz. Base speed of the AMD 3700X is 3.6 GHz
That means that the processor runs on a variable speed.

Disable in the BIOS the AMD Precision Boost (X-Boost) and AMD Cool N Quiet, which mostly can be found in the menu Overclocking' or 'Advanced CPU settings'.

In Windows, press the Windows key + R and type powercfg.cpl
Select High Performance


In that case it wasn't a MOTU problem per-se, or directly relevant to Macs, except for the need in general, and where possible, to disable computer power-saving features that affect CPU speed. Macs don't have user-accessible motherboard BIOSes in the same way that PCs do -- the (albeit few) available user-accessible power-saving options are instead accessed via macOS itself.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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Roglu

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSun Sep 04, 2022 4:44 am

I have not tested enough yet. Since I deactivated the energy-saving function in the bios, the problem only occurs very rarely. However, I think it is a communication thing between HW and Motu, as this problem also occurs with Mac. I will continue to report.
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mdyde

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSun Sep 04, 2022 5:35 am

Thanks, Roglu.

Roglu wrote:However, I think it is a communication thing between HW and Motu, as this problem also occurs with Mac


I don't think it would be safe to assume that, if it's based solely on the fact that you were/are having and problem with audio glitches on your PC with a MOTU interface, and that larason2 also mentioned that he had one audio glitch on a Mac with a MOTU interface. Many people use MOTU interfaces successfully on Macs and PCs with Hauptwerk. Audio glitches on PCs are by far the most common support issues that we get (with many different makes of audio interfaces), since PC components and Windows are made by different companies and aren't usually not designed for, or tested together by their respective makers for, reliable low-latency real-time audio. It's almost always possible to achieve it, but some tweaking, perseverance, and technical expertise is often necessary. If you dig around on this forum, you'll find literally hundreds of topics on troubleshooting audio glitches on PCs.

If you do still occasionally get audio glitches on your PC, even after changing the settings that Evertjan mentioned, then I'd suggest first making absolutely certain that your CPU speed is indeed staying always constant, irrespective of which sample set you're using (and of how intensively you're using it). E.g. press Ctrl+Alt+Del and open Task Manager, then click on its Performance tab, then watch the 'CPU' speed indicator:

CPUSpeedInTaskManager.jpg


If that changes, and especially if it drops to a low value, then you need to do some further tweaking to prevent that happening, otherwise you're likely to get audio glitches. E.g. in Windows Control Panel's Power Options, make sure that the 'High performance' plan is selected, then click on the 'Change plan settings' button for the 'High performance' plan, then click 'Change advanced settings', expand the 'Processor power management' node, and set both the Minimum and Maximum 'Plugged in' settings to the same value:

WinProcessorSpeedSettings.jpg


... then click Apply/OK. (I find that 70% is the highest I can use reliably on my computer, otherwise it will drop the CPU speed anyway due to temperature, but yours may be different.)
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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Romanos

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSun Sep 04, 2022 9:17 am

I don't have the 24ao, but a smaller MOTU interface; regardless, it's performed nothing but flawlessly, so something a typical is going on here. Motu is highly regarded industry-wide, and that wouldn't happen with crappy products.
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Roglu

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSun Sep 04, 2022 11:09 am

I tested it diligently this afternoon. I followed all of Martin's instructions. I also plugged my interface into another USB port. So far there have been no more sound dropouts. I think the problem is solved for everyone. :D
It wasn't MOTU after all, but probably Windows.
Many, many thanks to Martin for the competent and quick assistance.

Best regards Roglu
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mdyde

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSun Sep 04, 2022 11:50 am

Excellent. Thanks, Roglu. Your're very welcome.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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larason2

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostSun Sep 04, 2022 2:23 pm

Thanks Martin and Roglu,

This discussion was very helpful. It helped me to realize that the times where the audio dropout occurs tends to be on not very demanding sets after some time playing them, never when I'm stress testing Hauptwerk. That made me think it's likely also a CPU priority issue - a background process takes precedence over Hauptwerk, and robs it of its CPU time, stalling the audio driver.

On my system, Hauptwerk defaults using one of the two "efficiency" cores, rather than the 8 "performance" cores, and for small sets, it pretty much only uses the efficiency cores. Now, I'm running Mac OS 12.5.1, so there aren't really many options for setting the priority for tasks. I did discover however, that there is a sort of way to adjust priority using the "Terminal app". My apologies if this has been discussed for macs before, I couldn't remember if it has. A disclaimer though, apparently this method may cause operating system problems, so caveat emptor!

So, I found out how to increase the priority of Hauptwerk on my mac. I guess there are different ways to do this, the step I followed was for when the program is already open. The first step is to open Hauptwerk, then figure out what its process ID is. To do this, Open the "Activity monitor" app, search for “Hauptwerk” in the search field in the top right hand corner, click on the process in the monitor app, then click on the icon that has an “i” in a circle. The process ID is the number in brackets after “Process Group” at the top. Then, open the "Terminal" app, and type in:

sudo renice -n -10 "Process ID"

I tried without the "sudo," but it didn't work, it said I didn't have permission. Apparently that's the "superuser" way of doing it. It will ask for your password. Enter that, and it should reassign the priority.

To check if the priority has been reassigned correctly, enter:

ps -fl -C "Process ID"

Under the "N" column, it should say -10 (on my system, Hauptwerk defaulted to 0, then was -10 after I changed it).

Basically, Mac OSX usually defaults most non-mac processes at 0, and other processes a number between -20 and 20, with -20 having the highest priority, and 20 having the lowest priority. I would have tried -20, but the article I read cautioned against that, since it may destabilize your system! I guess this is very much a power user type of fix, but there may not be another way.

After I set the priority to -10, I played a number of smaller sample sets that don't tax the hardware too much, and even after about 30 minutes, I didn't have a dropout. I hope that's it!

I also tried to set a higher priority to the audio driver (without the "sudo,") but it wouldn't let me, and I'm a bit more afraid of destabilizing the system with that one, so hopefully I won't have to try that in the future!

There might be a way to set this permanently, with a particular command when the app is closed, but I didn't try this out. I'm not sure if a process number is assigned dynamically, or if a given app always has the same process number. So for the time being I'm going to open Hauptwerk, find out what the process number is, and assign a new priority as above. If I figure out how to permanently assign a higher priority safely, I'll post about it later. It may be that others already know about this, or know more than me, so hopefully they chime in if they do.

If I get audio errors again as before, I'll report back as before!
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mdyde

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostMon Sep 05, 2022 1:48 pm

Hello larason2,

Hauptwerk sets the priorities of its threads itself, according to types of work that they do. E.g. audio engine threads get a much higher priority than the main thread. You can also see the process and thread priorities via Hauptwerk's log.

You can query a process ID (PID) from the command line e.g. via:

ps -ef

To see just the details of the Hauptwerk process you could type:

ps -ef | grep Hauptwerk

Re. CPUs with non-equal cores (such as the 'performance' and 'efficiency' cores available in 12th-generation Intel CPUs and Apple's M1/M2-series ARM CPUs), Hauptwerk's polyphony management system currently (v7) assigns equal audio engine loads to them, but for a future version we do intend to update it to be able to distribute the load dynamically and unevenly (if applicable) according to their respective relative performances.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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larason2

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostMon Sep 05, 2022 2:56 pm

Thanks Martin, I checked Hauptwerk's Nice (priority), and it was 0. Doesn't that mean that even if the program prioritizes certain threads, a program with a lower nice number would still have preference over Hauptwerk? I understand that Apple puts lower nice numbers on their own processes, and always assigns third party processes a "0" nice by default. I'm also pretty sure this solved the problem, I played for almost an hour today without any audio errors.
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mdyde

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostMon Sep 05, 2022 3:53 pm

I think that's correct, i.e. that on macOS the 'nice' value increments the respective priorities of all of the process's threads. I just checked, and Hauptwerk's log still reports the same priority numbers for the threads even after 'renicing' the process and restarting audio/MIDI (to stop/restart the threads), but maybe the values queried from the OS (and thus reported in the log) don't take the 'nice' increment into account.

I just checked the 'nice' value of Apple's Logic Pro X (which is a professional real-time audio DAW application), and that's zero, so I imagine they only use <0 default nice values for system macOS processes.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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larason2

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Re: Mac Studio and Motu 24A0

PostMon Sep 05, 2022 5:10 pm

Thanks Martin, yes - I meant system processes. I'll keep trying this trick as long as it seems to work. Hopefully in a future version of Hauptwerk it will be unnecessary.
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