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johnchowseymour

Pop and Crackle with new ASIO interface, latency apparently not the problem?

Question

     Recently bought a TASCAM US-HD 4x4, and using the custom ASIO drivers it comes with, it can't record or play back without pops/crackles/dropouts.  I've read all the other threads about optimizing latency and system settings to reduce this, nothing works.

More Details:

     For years I've used a TASCAM US-122; it's too old to support ASIO but it ran well with ASIO4ALL.  I could record on its L and R inputs flawlessly, and I had no trouble with playback even with 20+ tracks of multiple VSTi synths.

     But, I wanted to record on three channels at once (vocals + stereo hardware synth), so I 'upgraded' to the US-HD 4x4, which has its own custom ASIO driver.  I keep hearing that a good interface with a custom ASIO driver is the best solution... but in this case, even with just a single, mono audio track, the playback through the US-HD4x4 has lots of little pops and crackles.  And while the system recognizes all four inputs, I can't record on even one at a time without the same pops and crackles ending up in the recording.

     I have tried all the usual performance-optimization things that get suggested: tried a variety of buffer sizes in the 4x4's custom panel, from 128 to 2048 (the largest possible setting).  I did all the Windows system performance optimization stuff in the system control panel ("Visual Effects" and so on).  Turned off WLAN and Bluetooth.  Basically, everything in the TASCAM manual's "troubleshooting" page AND everything I could find in other threads on the Cakewalk support forums.  None of this helps; it's still unable to handle even a single mono audio track without crackle.

     I honestly don't think system resources are the issue.  I have a Win10 64-bit Dell, with a 3.40GHz i7 and 16GB RAM, with about 120GB free on the main SDD.  The CPU usage monitor in Cakewalk never gets above 28% (in my single mono audio track tests).

     Instead of system resources, I feel like there must be something to configure that I haven't configured properly.  I'm at my wit's end trying to figure out what I missed, though.  

Some other things I tried:

     If I restart the system and go back to the older US-122 and ASIO4ALL it runs well again (so, it's not the mic or mic cable!), but of course I'd be limited to two channels again.

     I'm using the USB cable that came with it (type A on the computer end, type C on the TASCAM end), and I made sure it's in one of the "SS" USB 3.0 slots.  The AC power for the TASCAM is also plugged in.

     The TASCAM ships with a download code for Cubase LE, so I tried that, just to make sure Cakewalk wasn't the problem.  Nope, same popping/crackling issues in Cubase, on both record and playback. 

     If anyone has any further suggestions, that'd be great.  Otherwise, I guess I give up and return it.  Is my computer (stats listed above) really not good enough to run an audio interface with a dedicated ASIO driver?  Maybe I'll have to go the route of a 4-channel mixer into a single stereo audio-in.  Shame not to have the tracks separate in the DAW though.

     Thanks in advance. I'm hoping there's some obvious thing to try that I just didn't think of.  Let me know if there's any additional info that would be useful to provide.

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agreed, if this is doing it on two different systems and cables, you probably have a defective IO unit. may use another device or borrow one to test that it goes away. perhaps even the internal audio device might be enough to complete the assessment.

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1 hour ago, Glenn Stanton said:

agreed, if this is doing it on two different systems and cables, you probably have a defective IO unit. may use another device or borrow one to test that it goes away. perhaps even the internal audio device might be enough to complete the assessment.

Yes, I still have my Steinberg that I was replacing with the 4 in - 4 out new Tascam device. I have no issues with that other than needing the added inputs/outputs.

BUT now I have found that, similar to the OP's situation while trouble shooting, when using ASIO4ALL or another ASIO "container" that came with my Magix software (which looks for all the world exactly like ASIO4ALL)   I do NOT have the popping issue !!!

So this puts me in quite the bind! In my bones I want to be using the included driver from Tascam but it has this annoying issue in all scenarios, on two separate machines, and ASIO4ALL just works without any tweaking. Of course I can't use the Tascam settings panel which has loopback (which I don't use anyway) and switches for the inputs (that I would like to use), and I can't therefor turn down the buffer to 4 samples (which I couldn't do successfully anyway, but it's cool).  AND it just rubs me the wrong way to have to use ASIO4ALL. I  had just gotten rid of it on both my machines after having read so much against its being used (I'm thinking of you @John Vere and others) and I tend to agree with this.  I would only reluctantly rely on it when mobile at times and having only my onboard Windows 7 audio.

So now what?? If the device can work without issue with ASIO4ALL but not its own dedicated driver?!  This seems to indicate that it's not a problem with the device itself. And I've been on the phone with Tascam tech support who tell me all the things that I've already done are what there is to do.

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Looks like the op either resolved their issues or lost interest in recording 🙄

@winkpain  fair enough. But I would say the issue would be the laptops system doesn’t like ASIO. Tascam for sure is highly regarded for quality of build and drivers. I own a Tascam interface and will probably buy another someday. 
You say you use ASIO4ALL Without issues but you probably missed my thread in Tutorials where I test driver modes with 4   different interfaces and 4 computers. 
Glenn also contributed by testing asio4all because I could not get it to work on my computers. 
Glenns test shows asio4all behaves just like all other non ASIO modes and loop back test come back late. 
Therefore there is no advantage to asio4all over WASAPI modes. Or even WDM for that matter. It is A wrapped WDM driver. 
But generally we are talking about on board audio when we talk about non ASIO drivers.
It must be one in a million people that cannot use ASIO with a proper name brand interface  There are certainly people on this forum using Tascam interfaces with the ASIO drivers I’m one of them. 
 I’ve use mine since Windows xp and on dozens of systems 

 

 

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1 hour ago, John Vere said:

Looks like the op either resolved their issues or lost interest in recording 🙄

@winkpain  fair enough. But I would say the issue would be the laptops system doesn’t like ASIO. Tascam for sure is highly regarded for quality of build and drivers. I own a Tascam interface and will probably buy another someday. 
You say you use ASIO4ALL Without issues but you probably missed my thread in Tutorials where I test driver modes with 4   different interfaces and 4 computers. 
Glenn also contributed by testing asio4all because I could not get it to work on my computers. 
Glenns test shows asio4all behaves just like all other non ASIO modes and loop back test come back late. 
Therefore there is no advantage to asio4all over WASAPI modes. Or even WDM for that matter. It is A wrapped WDM driver. 
But generally we are talking about on board audio when we talk about non ASIO drivers.
It must be one in a million people that cannot use ASIO with a proper name brand interface  There are certainly people on this forum using Tascam interfaces with the ASIO drivers I’m one of them. 
 I’ve use mine since Windows xp and on dozens of systems 

 

 

I understand all these points, and indeed I have read all those posts you mention and agree with all the outcomes and opinions. I only mentioned you specifically, John, because I value your opinions and knowledge in the matter and happen to agree with you. I was not countering what you have said. I have no love for and do not want to use ASIO4ALL on this brand new device! It is precisely this that has me so befuddled.

The issue is certainly not the laptop's not liking ASIO drivers. I have a laptop built by PCAudio Labs that is my professional audio workstation that I have been using for years with dedicated ASIO drivers on the various audio interfaces that I have used with it without issue. I have only used ASIO drivers on it. As I say, my previous Steinberg device works fine with it. A Focusrite worked fine with it. Each with their own ASIO drivers.  I am not wanting to disparage Tascam in general at all. I have trusted them as well, and that is why I chose to buy the US4X4-HR.

Nevertheless, I am having this very bizarre issue, and only with the Tascam driver as it happens. I don't want it to be the case that ASIO4ALL is the driver that "works", but it so happens that seems to be the case. Something must be causing the issue with the Tascam drivers and I would very much like to find out what.

The only thing that is impossible for me to check, and what worked for @johnchowseymour with his original problem, is to connect the Tascam through a USB 2 only port. Neither can I try a different Tascam ASIO driver, as this is a brand new unit with only one driver version available for it so far. I spent the day on the phone with Tascam support and confirmed all this.

I am at a loss with it and this is why I turn to your wiser technological minds for ideas.

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Sorry if I came across  wrong I am100% on your side and I do believe we are both on the same level of experience with this crazy stuff.  
this just might be one of those oddball situations where 2 pieces of gear just don’t play together.  
A long shot thought. Wonder what happens if you use a USB 2 hub?  
it would seem at this point using trouble shooting 101 process of eliminations that testing different ports and cable is in order. Sorry if you already tried this 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, John Vere said:

Sorry if I came across  wrong I am100% on your side and I do believe we are both on the same level of experience with this crazy stuff.  
this just might be one of those oddball situations where 2 pieces of gear just don’t play together.  
A long shot thought. Wonder what happens if you use a USB 2 hub?  
it would seem at this point using trouble shooting 101 process of eliminations that testing different ports and cable is in order. Sorry if you already tried this 

No sorries, man! You are right, and I am with you. I continue to value all your input wherever it is on this forum. I think you are right on our shared level of experience, but alas I feel you have a slightly deeper level of understanding than I. And you bet I tried the USB 2 hub (which would also rub me the wrong way if I had to use that to connect the Tascam!)  BUT, it did not work. Still had the pops when accessing the audio engine. So far, only using ASIO4ALL or the Magix driver (which I think is A4A in a slightly different coat) allows me to work with no pops, I am sorry to say!

Interestingly, when working in Ableton, it doesn't pop as much (with the Tascam driver - not at all with A4A). Toggling the audio engine on and off will do it for example, but this is not part of my usual workflow, so no biggie there. But toggling record enable, or loading VST instruments, or rendering clips will not cause the popping in Ableton. Any of these actions, as I say, do cause the annoying popping in Cakewalk.  I guess the two DAWs have different ways of grabbing and letting go of the audio engine. Or at least this is how I've come to think of it. (And yes, I have turned off "exclusive mode" for the driver on the Windows audio properties in case this has an effect.) 

I wonder what exactly is the protocol of accessing the audio engine and how it differs (or if it differs) between applications. I feel that somewhere therein lies the rub of my wound, so to speak. Not that I would know exactly what to do with that information if I had it.

I love the Tascam box, tho! The nice angle of the dangle and it's ins and outs and it's screaming buffer size possibilities (the "loopback" function I don't really understand, seems to be a podcast-y, zoom-meeting-y kinda thing, and I don't come across those needs in the music studio). I am on the edge of being able to return it (for the Behringer, I guess), or just settle for ASIO4ALL (no!), or live with the pops. I would so love to figure it out, tho....

Edited by winkpain

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Posted (edited)

My 3 picks were the Tascam 4x4, The Motu M4 and Scarlet 4i4.  The next jump was to the Focusrite 8i6. 

I do like the Motu now I fixed the playback issue by installing a PCIe USB 3 card. I would have rather it came with a power supply like the Tascam. I like the front panel meters and it certainly has a little lower RTL than my older interfaces but RTL doesn't really matter in my world. I don't use Guitar sims. Compared to my Scarlett 6i6 the motu is missing a lot of features. No SPDIF, only 1 headphone, no software mixer with optional routing. And worst of all the rear inputs 3/4 are almost useless.. There should have been a line/Instrument toggle and they seem to need a very hot signal from my mixer. Forget plugging a guitar into them. 

The 4i4 was just too much of a step backwards from a 6i6. And of all of them had the fewest features, 

The Tascam 4x4 was 3rd on my list was missing a lot of stuff compared to the Motu but it did have a power supply. . I really should have spent the extra cash and gotten the 8i6 but I sort of wanted to see if Motu brand actually are better. I say no. It's very Mac oriented. They don't even mention Cakewalk. And the freebies sucked compared to what Focusrite gives you.  I will keep it as it's not hard to switch back to the 6i6 if I need the proper features. 

The internal loop back is a new one for me too. It's very straight forward. The Loopbacks show as inputs in Cakewalk. So anything coming out of your speakers can be sent to a track and recorded.  Therefore easy to use for capturing direct from the internet etc. No use to me as I've always used a screen capture for that because I might also want the video portion too. . Cakewalk already has lots of options for routing so I don't see an advantage there.  

It does the popping your talking about when ever I change focus come to think of it. Not super loud but my Scarlett and Tascams have never done that. It's the same sound you get when you  change sample rates. Now I think of it this might be your issue??? The drivers are fighting for sample rates between changing focus?? 

 

Edited by John Vere

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, John Vere said:

It does the popping your talking about when ever I change windows come to think of it. Not super loud but my Scarlett and Tascams have never done that. It seems to want to change sample rate. Now I think of it this might be your issue??? The drivers are fighting for sample rates between changing focus?? 

Yes I thought of this. It is precisely like the pop/crackle when changing the sample rate on the audio card. However, I have made sure the bit and sample rates in the Windows "Sound" properties (all other audio is disabled) matches my desired settings (24b/48k) in my audio software in order to keep those in line. BUT, sometimes when opening the Tascam ASIO settings panel it will nevertheless show 44k as sample rate readout (it is not a setting there, just a readout) even though all the software, Windows included, is specifying 48k. And sometimes it shows the proper 48k. It is always actually at 48k within the DAW, 'tho, so go figure.

Another clue to strangeness is that whenever accessing said settings panel, whether from the Start Menu or from within the DAW, its window opens up saying "Device not connected" and takes a second or two to then "connect", and this even though the audio engine is running within the DAW and even if I've just had the panel open and closed it and then opened it again.

The popping also happens whenever changing tabs in my browser when online or when pausing and starting a video, for example! It is all very strange, as if the Tascam is being connected and disconnected with almost every action that might require its services. I don't know if this makes computer programming theory sense, but this is how it seems.  Not what I expected from it. I guess I'm sending it back. I don't think I can live with it.

And I can't deal with A4A. I ran my own hardware loopback latency tests with it just for shits and giggles and had different results  with the same buffer settings almost every time I hit record!

Ach! what a mess! This is why I hate make changes with this stuff.

Edited by winkpain

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I just tested my Motu and at this point I can't get it to do what I swear it was doing before? I think the USB 3 card  and driver re install # 4 has totally solved all the weirdness I first experienced. Sorry that's not exactly your solution as your using a wall wart. I guess you could try driver re install # 4 :) 

My thoughts at this point is if it were me--  I'd send it back and exchange it for a Focusrite 8i6 or the Motu M4.     

Behringer? I guess they've come a long ways but I've never kept anything Behringer over time. I still have all my Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Yorkville, Mackie and yes Tascam gear.  On my shiit list is Behringer and Soundcraft right now. 

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13 hours ago, John Vere said:

I just tested my Motu and at this point I can't get it to do what I swear it was doing before? I think the USB 3 card  and driver re install # 4 has totally solved all the weirdness I first experienced. Sorry that's not exactly your solution as your using a wall wart. I guess you could try driver re install # 4 :) 

My thoughts at this point is if it were me--  I'd send it back and exchange it for a Focusrite 8i6 or the Motu M4.     

Behringer? I guess they've come a long ways but I've never kept anything Behringer over time. I still have all my Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Yorkville, Mackie and yes Tascam gear.  On my shiit list is Behringer and Soundcraft right now. 

Yeah, I mentioned Behringer as kind of a joke. I think of them the same as ASIO4ALL. In fact the driver that "comes with" a lot of their interfaces is the ASIO4ALL driver! There are several folks here who laud the new Behringers, but anyway...

I have an exchange on order now just in case the problem is somehow in the box. I doubt it, it seems so very much like a driver problem, but it's worth trying. If the replacement doesn't work I'll look into the Focusrite or MOTU (although your issues and the lack of power supply are a drawback). Perhaps I should just stick to Steinberg, since I have been using my UR22 for years without issue , and just upgrade to the larger version.

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Nothing wrong with Steinberg stuff. They are with Yamaha my #1 pick for gear if I can afford it.   Our band bought a Yamaha mixer with USB stereo output and I still have the Steinberg driver on my laptop. Worked every time. Not so with the next band we bought a Soundcraft and its driver says Harman.  It broke after 1 year I think it's the connector.  

And why not use older interfaces if they still are supported. 

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On 3/6/2021 at 10:25 AM, winkpain said:

Yeah, I mentioned Behringer as kind of a joke. I think of them the same as ASIO4ALL. In fact the driver that "comes with" a lot of their interfaces is the ASIO4ALL driver! There are several folks here who laud the new Behringers, but anyway...

actually the higher end UMC units have a decent ASIO driver - i can often run my UMC1820 down to 16 samples for raw recording audio.

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So, after working with this some more over the past weeks, I can add:

I now think there's something wrong the one particular USB slot on my tower that I had first plugged the TASCAM into.  When I moved it from that USB 3 to a USB 2 slot, the problem went away, as I reported earlier.  But, I have since tried it in other USB 3 slots with no issue - so, I don't believe the USB 2.0/3.0 difference is the problem.  I think I just have a bad slot on my Dell tower and didn't notice until I plugged the TASCAM in there,  

So since the solution was still "try a different USB port" I'll leave that as the selected answer, but I no longer think the USB 2 vs 3 issue has anything to do with it. 

As for winkpain's issue - it's not that I've lost interest, but I simply haven't uncovered anything that would help.  My setup isn't popping at the same times theirs is. (I tried specifically to reproduce that issue, but couldn't get my setup to pop when switching programs, etc.  Even on the bad USB slot it only ever popped during recording.)

Just to cover all the bases, are you hearing these pops in the line-outs (on the back of the TASCAM)?  I haven't used those at all so far; I only ever use the headphone jack (on the front).  It really shouldn't pop in either case, but if it does pop at one output but not another, it's at least a point of data in the troubleshooting.

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My issue was insurmountable. Weeks of troubleshooting with two separate Tascam units and popping problems all over the place. I am convinced there is something wrong with the driver. I outlined it all here as well.

The Tascams are returned and out of my life for good, I'm sorry to say (for Tascam), and now I'm the happy owner of a new Focusrite 8i6 which plugged in, loaded up, and worked like a charm within the first minutes and on!  It is such a pleasure to just buy something and have it just work!

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The 8i6 is top of my list if I give up on the Motu. My Scarlett never had issues with crackles and pops. My system pops every time I change focus between apps. And I’m having to be careful of how many plug ins I’m using at 256 setting. Scarlett is just fine so it’s definitely a crappie driver for the Motu. 

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