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MOTU sound cards keep dying

Connecting Hauptwerk to MIDI organs, sequencers, ...
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mnailor

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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostTue Sep 21, 2021 1:53 pm

The DigifaceUSB I mentioned earlier is an example of an audio interface that converts USB to and from ADAT, 4 in and 4 out this case. (Each ADAT handles 8 channels of 48k audio.) This one doesn't have other types of ports besides USB and ADAT and is cheap for RME.

There are several such boxes, larger and smaller, most of which also have analog and microphone ports, which raises the price or lowers the quality somewhat.
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mnailor

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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostTue Sep 21, 2021 2:15 pm

Does Reaper recognize more than one apparent ASIO device, or are you relying on MOTU's ASIO driver to present all 3 of your 828s as one device for Reaper? That would affect what kind of audio interfaces you could replace them with -- I don't think most products combine in their driver to appear as one device, so you'd have to check that.
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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostTue Sep 21, 2021 3:32 pm

Thanks – converting direct from USB to ADAT is a totally new concept to me; I’ll need a day or so to get my head around it. I thought I had to go from USB to audio, then from audio to ADAT, because that’s the only way I knew to get there.

I’m sure I’ll have further questions, but I need to clarify in my mind exactly what those questions are!

MOTU’s ASIO driver enables up to five 828s to be daisy chained VIA FIREWIRE – it can’t be done over USB. I won’t say more for now, as I might confuse you, myself, or both of us.
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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostTue Sep 21, 2021 4:06 pm

organsRgreat wrote:Is there are fuse inside that I could try replacing? Are the power supplies in these units known to be fragile? That they die completely suggests a power supply problem.


Have you checked with MOTU support? They offer support as well for out of warantty 'roducts,but you need tovcreate an account.

Customer Service handles inquiries regarding registration, online account access, software upgrades, and other requests unrepeated to technical support. Need to register your product?

https://motu.com/en-us/accounts/login/#signu

Online and phone support for all MOTU products is available to registered users.

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostTue Sep 21, 2021 4:40 pm

Sorry this strays from your original question, but which 3 samplesets are you running on 3 copies of Hauptwerk to combine into one? Thanks.
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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostWed Sep 22, 2021 10:43 am

Ed: I’ve commented on your post at the end this missive.

mnailor:
My 3 sample sets are:

(1) Neil Jensen’s 3/35 theatre organ. This has the advantage of unusually even voicing, so that I can play a solo on, say, the Orchestral Oboe, without adjacent notes having a different tonality. Being an older sample set, this relies on software tremulants. These don’t sound as realistic as ranks sampled with trems, but have the advantage that the speed and depth of the wobble can be adjusted using Hauptwerk’s controls. The Orchestral Oboe is a good example – by reducing the speed and depth of the tremulant it becomes a useful solo voice.

(2) Paramount 341. Being more recent this has sampled trems, which sound more realistic; however it seems that it’s not possible technically to synchronise the wobble – it starts when the note starts, so within a chord the tremulant will often be at a different part of it’s phase for each note. For home use this is not necessarily a disadvantage. Some of the reeds in this set are only useable in chords, or combined with other stops as “colour reeds”; it would not be possible to play a melody on such stops, as the sound varies too much from note to note. Most theatre organists use at least four stops on a melody line; then any unevenness in the voicing doesn’t notice.

This is a problem for me, as I’m strongly influenced by such theatre organists as George Wright in America, and particularly Reginald Porter-Brown in the UK (1910-82), whom I knew; we often discussed registration and related matters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwOc07U7vhA

These organists used stops more individually, which to my ears gives more clarity and colour. I have a recording of Reg playing Elgar’s “Salut d’Amour” at the famous Granada Tooting Wurlitzer (4/14). I’m 99 percent certain that in the first statement of the theme he’s using only the 8ft Harmonic Tuba – and that’s all it needs.

Some of Wurlitzer’s reed voicing was superb, provided one understands how it fits into the overall tonal scheme. Reg often used an English Horn rank on it’s own – this can be heard in several places on the above youtube video (though that organ is by Compton).

I’ve often found theatre organs lacking in brightness. Two I’ve heard live are the Blackpool Tower Wurlitzer, and nearer home the 4/22 dual-purpose Compton in Bournemouth Pavilion. This lack of brightness is also noticeable on Hope-Jones’ church organs, e.g.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_nlkoKIt48

Hauptwerk sample sets capture the sound faithfully; it’s more notiecable on the Paramount series, which are recorded further from the pipes than Neil Jensen’s set, which he told me was recorded very close – if I understood him correctly, just a few inches from the pipes. This preserves as much as possible of whatever brightness was there in the first place.
However most church organs do have the brightness I’m looking for, and the 1966 Schantz is a perfect complement to the two theatre organs. Being an American Classic design it tends towards brightness anyway. The Swell and Great both have complete reed choruses – 16-8-4, both brightly voiced, and both with Mixtures available if required. The Swell reed chorus sounds terrific on my system; it helps that I have two electrostatic speakers (Quad ESL57s), with an exceptionally clear top end. They supply the reverb, and also carry a mixdown of the dry signal, which helps to maintain brightness. There’s also a superb Chamade Trumpet, which absolutely sparkles. As you will realise, I love Schantz’s reed voicing! The 1966 Schantz is no longer available from Evensong, though they still offer a slightly smaller Schantz at a very reasonable price.

I’ve only produced one recording of the complete system – using all three sample sets. It’s on my Google Drive, and I’d be happy to send you a link as a pm. I don’t want to post it on the public section of this forum, as a couple of notes are wrong – I need to re-edit the MIDI file; and I incorporated a steam train whistle I found in a youtube video – I would need to ask the original poster’s permission before making this recording generally available. As it happens most of the sounds come from the Schantz, though there are also a few sections played on the Jensen and Paramount organs. Just as I was looking forward to making further recordings my desktop PC failed (wouldn’t boot out of BIOS into Windows) – eventually it had to go back to the makers, who discovered that the Windows operating system was corrupted. It had to be replaced, so I’m now reinstalling all my software; then one of the 828s died – “it never rains but it pours”!
There’s a photograph of an earlier version of my set-up here:

http://www.eocs.org.uk/picture-gallery.html

It’s the sixth picture – the only organ on that page with four manuals, so quite easy to identify. I dispensed with the two Behringer analogue mixers when I discovered how to bring everything into the PC digitally, and do the mixing in Reaper.

I think I now understand the concept of going direct from USB to ADAT. Here’s an example:

Laptop 2 hosts the Paramount 341. It’s connected via USB to a Cymatic LP16, which produces 16 analogue outputs. These feed the analogue inputs of two Behringer ADAT units, whose outputs are connected to the ADAT inputs of an 828. If I’ve understood correctly, there’s a simpler method. Connect the laptop via USB to a DigifaceUSB; and connect two of the Digiface’s ADAT outs to the ADAT ins on an 828. Is that correct?

So far as I can see the DigifaceUSB is not compatible with any of RME’s rackmount adaptors:

https://www.rme-audio.de/rackmounts.html

That would be a minor nuisance, as I have no practical skills whatever, so making up something in wood or metal is not an option. However I might be able to use a 19 inch rack tray, and tie one or two DigifaceUSBs onto it with twist ties or similar.

I’ve just tried to get inside a dead 828; three cross-head screws in the top panel unscrewed alright, but I can see that the rack ears will also have to come off before that top panel can be removed. The rack ears are secured with a strange sort of bolt that has a “circular” depression in the centre; it’s possible that this is hexagonal or octagonal and might fit an Allen key. Or should it be unscrewed by gripping the knurled outer part?

Ed: Does it make a difference that I’m in England? I believe MOTU equipment is made in America? In any case I don’t see how they could help with a unit that’s totally dead, and as you can see above I can’t at present get inside the case to see whether a fuse has blown.

UK servicing is handled by Musictrack, and when I sent them a dead 828 a while ago they simply replaced it with a new unit. That suggests to me that there was a fault so serious that it rendered the unit uneconomic to repair.
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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostWed Sep 22, 2021 11:22 am

Wow! I do understand wanting to combine the two TOs, and haven't seen any larger TO sampleset that could give similar capabilities in just one. You might be able to separately reload the Shantz on the Reaper computer at times and cut out one laptop, but even two machines pushes the audio interface cost up when you look at not relying on Firewire daisy chaining in the future -- it's joining the dodo...

Here's a thought: Offer to pay someone to combine your organs in a CODM custom organ and include the XML so you can make edits, or do one yourself. Then it's one computer, one HW license upgrade, one audio interface like the 24Ao would do the whole job, and you don't have so much almost-obsolete stuff to worry about. And you have redundant gear left over in case of failures!

Your understanding of the DigifaceUSB example is correct. And yes, it's not wide enough for a 19" rack mount. My rack has removable shelves so I didn't think about that.

Here's where the ADAT idea gets me stuck since I've had more time to look: Two laptops USB to ADAT means the central computer has to have an audio interface big enough for 4 ADATs in, 6 analog in from CM100, and is it 3 ADATs out to your DACs for 20 output channels?

I can't find even one audio interface that has 5 ADATs in and out, or 4 ADATs plus 6 analog in, unless it's MADI and a bunch of new converters. Expensive gear.

Daisy chaining on Firewire is going away slowly -- MOTU lists that stuff under Legacy now though they are still at online stores. Next comes Ebay... So daisy chaining audio interfaces will eventually require AVB/Dante networking, not inexpensive but not as bad as MADI as far as I can tell.
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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostWed Sep 22, 2021 1:03 pm

organsRgreat wrote:Does it make a difference that I’m in England? I believe MOTU equipment is made in America? In any case I don’t see how they could help with a unit that’s totally dead, and as you can see above I can’t at present get inside the case to see whether a fuse has blown.

UK servicing is handled by Musictrack, and when I sent them a dead 828 a while ago they simply replaced it with a new unit. That suggests to me that there was a fault so serious that it rendered the unit uneconomic to repair.


From many years of experience. I can guarantee that any case can be opened. It takes know how and just maybe a certain tool. For instance, you may look at a cell phone and think it can't be opened. Not so. Yes it does take special tools like a spudger for instance. The repair kit of tools cost is $6.00 USD (eBay). It's also available in the UK. And there are YouTube videos showing exactly what to. I have upgraded internal parts on several cell phones with no problems.

Regarding the MOTU 828's:

Consider since you say the units are already broke (dead), nothing you do is going to "break them" because they are already "broken".

Here is a video showing how to open the case of a MOTU 828.And there is a fuse visible on the right side of the circuit board. If it is blown, it would be necessary to find out why. It's possible your units may have the same problem as is shown in the video.

https://youtu.be/TqsezYDgndY?t=52

As far as replacing a defective unit with a new one, what's done many times these days due to the high cost of labor not because the unit can't be fixed. The term is uneconomical to repair - "right now". It's all about profit as in $$ or ££. Plus there's turn around time. If a repair shop is very busy, they may indeed ship a unit they have in stock and repair the one you sent at a later time when they are less busy. Then use "your" repaired unit to send to another customer. If the repair shop didn't keep you waiting for several weeks or more (which is average shipping time from the US) you very likely didn't receive a new from the factory unit but rather "another" probably repaired/refurbished unit. I know this "practice" first hand because I was the manager of a special product line repair shop for many years. And we did this all the time. We had happy customers because we could do a fast turn around.

Up to you of course, but I've found MOTU tech staff to be very savvy, knowledgeable and willing to help. The technician I've called and emailed with questions' name is Travis. At least it's worth a try.

Of course it's important to use caution when dealing with any voltage. Before opening any case be sure it's unplugged from the mains.

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: MOTU sound cards keep dying

PostThu Sep 23, 2021 6:51 am

Hello mnailor and Ed:

After this post I shall need to take a short break from this forum. I belong to the UK-based Electronic Organ Construcors’ Society, and our Chairman has asked if I could provide some material for the London meeting on 16th October. I’ve suggested that what I could most usefully do is make an audio recording of all the organs in my system, comparing the way different stops sound, even though they have the same name. For instance each theatre organ has a Diaphonic Diapason, Open Diapason, Horn Diapason, and Horn Diapason Celeste. The Schantz has an 8ft Principal on the Great, and the Viscount CM-100 has a choice of nineteen 8ft Diapasons. If I do that for each family of stops – Diapasons, Flutes, Strings and Reeds - it should provide a real insight into different styles of voicing.

In order to do that I need to get my three samplesets working, if only in stereo, which means reconfiguring things as I now have only two functional 828s. This sort of job always takes longer than one expects. So please understand if I disappear for a week or two. I will come back and let you know how I’m getting on – that’s least I can do after receiving so much help.

mnailor: Jake, of custom Hauptwerk organs, has already “expanded” the Schantz organ for me, in two stages. The first expansion was modest; I asked him to add a Fifteenth to the Great, as rather strangely it has only a 2ft flute to top the Diapason chorus, and that doesn’t sound right. I also asked him to provide a fourth manual, so that I could play the Great Cornet and Chamade Trumpet independently. He also made a tremulant for the Great – useful when combining with theatre organs.

Later he did a bigger job, expanding the fourth maunual, so that all the 8ft reeds are available up there, and adding stops from the Hereford Cathedral set, which I already owned. He added the Salicional and Celeste (quite different from those on the Schantz and the theatre organs), the Great 2nd Diapason (which works well with the Schantz upperwork), and the Tromba. Plus three pedal stops, as I find them more effective than those on the theatre organs. Speaking from memory, that cost £400.

To combine two samplesets, the obvious choice would be to put the Schantz together with Neil Jensen’s 3/35 and run them on the desktop. Even if Jake would do it, that would cost at least £1,000, and there’s a snag. The Schantz set doesn’t need a dongle licence, but Hereford does. It’s in the dongle attached to Laptop 1, whereas the licence for the Jensen 3/35 is in the dongle for the desktop computer! Hauptwerk will only “see” one dongle at a time (I know because I’ve tried it) and head office will no longer move licences around between dongles; so I’d need to upgrade both those computers to Hauptwerk 6; total cost £400.

The 341 display is already crowded, and adding around 50 more stops from the Schantz could make it difficult to see them clearly. There’s not much space around my console; the display screen on the right is already the biggest I can fit in.
So whilst combining two samplesets certainly has great practical advantages, it would cost at least £1,400, probably more like £2,000; then there’s the cost of new hardware . . . suddenly we’re getting into big expenses.

If I connect my two laptops to one DigifaceUSB each, I would have a total of 8 ADAT outputs, but would only need 4 of the 8 to provide a total of 32 channels. Remember I have two 828s daisy-chained via firewire; each of them has two ADAT ins. So the only new equipment I’d need to buy would be two DigifaceUSB units. Current UK price is £340, so £680 total. The 828s would continue to handle MIDI traffic too.

Yes, I’d be tied in to technologies that are going out of date, but how far ahead is it it sensible to plan? On current statistics I might be around for another 5 years, but even if I exceed that I can’t guarantee to still be playing the organ. I could add new hardware later – no need to do it all at one go. After 8 years putting it all together I’m longing to PLAY this organ, make some recordings to share with friends, maybe post them on youtube or contrebombarde.

Ed: All very helpful – thanks. Your explanation of sending out new units while repairing faulty ones makes perfect sense, though it hadn’t occurred to me that a servicing facility could operate in that way.

Interesting that a faulty capacitor could bring a Mark 2 828 to a halt. That’s EXACTLY what happened with some Echo Audiofire 12s; Francois told me which component would need replacing. I can understand that if an electrolytic shorts it would blow the power supply fuse. I was happy enough with electronics when we mounted components on Veroboard with holes spaced at 1/10th inch, but modern circuit boards with tiny components densely packed really frighten me. I’d rather pay a skilled technician £100 and know the job was done properly. What that youtube video doesn’t show is him removing and replacing the capacitor, which is what I’d most want to watch. It makes sense for me to get the case open and see whether a fuse has blown – either visually or by checking with a meter. But if the repair involves replacing a component I’d rather pay a professional – I don’t want to damage £600 worth of equipment by doing something silly – like overheating a nearby component.
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