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jeo49

[Solved for now] Help with Focusrite 18i8

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Posted (edited)

Hello folks.  I am thinking of getting a new internal sound card for my music recording and production.  I want the new device to be fully compatible with Cakewalk by Bandlab (CBL).   I currently use two external usb audio interfaces.   Mostly I use a first generation Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 and sometimes use a Zoom R24 interface.   Both of these are quite old and from time to time I have issues using them with CBL.  I won't go into all the details but basically I have concluded that perhaps the best way forward to make music instead of dealing constantly with technical support, is to retire my USB devices and just buy a really good internal sound card that has been tested to work well with my system.  I contacted Dell and they recommended the Sound Blaster Z (PCie).   My own internet research confirmed that this card was a very good choice. 

I would like to know what you folks think about this card, and how it works with Cakewalk by Bandlab or if you have other recommendation.  

Edited by jeo49
Problem solved.

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I don't remember Sound Blasters being recommended for an audio machine for a long time.  

What is your budget and how many inputs and outputs do you need? 

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I would not consider anything Sound Blaster if you are serious about audio recording and production.  Like Karhide asked, if you want some other suggestions your needs and budget are the real considerations.

Kind regards,

tecknot

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Sound Blaster Z is a gaming sound card. Not engineered for pro audio production. And it's not that budget friendly either.

Since you are looking at that SB card, I would assume that you only need 1 line in?

For about the same money, you could get a Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB, and for a little bit more you  could get a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB.

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Ok good to know.  Thanks for your reply.  Budget is around $500.  But let me explain a little more.

The Scarlet 18i8 that I now use has all the inputs that I need for most recording production (4 XLR/ 1/4 in combo) plus 2 x 1/4" line in.    It has low latency and works really well with my system.   If I need more inputs and portability I use the Zoom R24.    If these things worked consistently well with CBL then I would need nothing further.

The problem is I get drop outs with CBL but not Ableton Live 10 lite which I sometimes use and not with Melodyne studio 4.2 when I record directly into it.  After long testing and conversations with Focusrite I concluded that there is nothing wrong with the Scarlet interface.  It just doesn't like to work with CBL.  I have so much invested with the old Sonar Platinum both in terms of $ already spent and time spent learning it that I am very reluctant to leave CBL.  But I just can't get it working reliably.  I spend more time troubleshooting than recording. 

So I thought maybe some new hardware would do the trick. 


What are your thoughts on internal sound card versus USB 2 ?  

 

Ted

 

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+1 to the above. Additionally, are you recording audio? That is really the kicker...

For a desktop, the onboard Realtek would already provide everything a SB card would for playback only (probably more, since I believe most Realtek chips are surround capable these days). I assume you have a Realtek chip on your motherboard... so the SB is probably moot.

Shifting gears to your underlying issue... I switch between my Realtek and Focusrite Saffire frequently... one issue with the Focusrite may be that you need to have it online (and seen by the system), then explicitly set the onboard Realtek as the default Windows playback device. This is done under "Sound" in the Control Panel. *IF* the Realtek is already the default device, set it to the 18i8, then set it back to the Realtek (again, the "default" assignment must be done by the user, not Windows). Once that is done, Windows will see it but not use it... only programs you explicitly ask to use it will gain access to it. This may be the issue you are seeing with your 18i8. If not done, Windows will let any application use the Focusrite (and lock the bit-depth/sample rate), which can then lock out the Focusrite from DAW usage.

Disclaimer... using both the Realtek and Focusrite as mentioned above will require two sets of monitors (one for each sound system).

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, jeo49 said:

What are your thoughts on internal sound card versus USB 2 ? 

Here is a list of internal cards available at Sweetwater Sound (1 page; $$$-$$$$):

https://www.sweetwater.com/c703--PCI_Audio_Interfaces

vs.

USB interfaces available at Sweetwater Sound (5 pages; $$-$$$):

https://www.sweetwater.com/c695--USB_Audio_Interfaces

 

 

Edited by abacab

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Posted (edited)

Why in God's name would you downgrade a Focusrite to a SoundBlaster? 

 

That would be like those idiots who take an $80K Mercedes S Class to the home, home, home of the $1 install to have some bootleg, BS  car stereo scotchlocked in when the dang car COMES FROM THE FACTORY  with a $2600 surround sound system that is custom designed for it.

 

FWIW, I  have no problems whatsoever with my 18i20.

 

If you gave some information as to the nature of your issues,  someone here might be able to help.  Could be something as simple as a flaky USB cable.

Edited by Byron Dickens
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6 minutes ago, Byron Dickens said:

Why in God's name would you downgrade a Focusrite to a SoundBlaster? 

 

That would be like those idiots who take an $80K Mercedes S Class to the home, home, home of the $1 install to have some bootleg, BS  car stereo scotchlocked in when the dang car COMES FROM THE FACTORY  with a $2600 surround sound system that is custom designed for it.

 

FWIW, I  have no problems whatsoever with my 18i20.

 

If you gave some information as to the nature of your issues,  someone here might be able to help.  Could be something as simple as a flaky USB cable.

I have to agree with Byron here.

I've got a 18i20, a 6i6 and a 2i2 - all 1st gen, and all working with CbL (on different PC's) with a latency of 1.5ms. I hardly get any dropouts, and if I do I just up the ASIO buffer size.

So, a few somewhat retorical questions...

1. Are you using ASIO, and if so what is your buffer size (drop-outs would indicate it's too small and needs increasing). If you're not using ASIO, you should be - it's gives by far the best performance and the lowest latency.

2. Are you connected via a USB hub? If so, make sure it's connected directly to it's own port - you don't want your audio interface to be sharing a USB port with anything.

3. Are all your motherboard drivers (esp. USB drivers) up to date?

4. Are you connected to a USB-3 port? If so, try connecting to a USB-2 port instead.

 

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17 minutes ago, Byron Dickens said:

Why in God's name would you downgrade a Focusrite to a SoundBlaster? 

 

That would be like those idiots who take an $80K Mercedes S Class to the home, home, home of the $1 install to have some bootleg, BS  car stereo scotchlocked in when the dang car COMES FROM THE FACTORY  with a $2600 surround sound system that is custom designed for it.

 

FWIW, I  have no problems whatsoever with my 18i20.

 

If you gave some information as to the nature of your issues,  someone here might be able to help.  Could be something as simple as a flaky USB cable.

LOL.  Thanks for your response.  I have spent hours with Cakewalk Technical Support and Focusrite technical support and have gone through all of the steps they recommend including running a bunch of 3rd party utilities to test the system.  I did get better performance but still these glitches will show up sometimes.   As I said in my original post I was thinking that  perhaps new (different) hardware would help.  So I contacted Dell to ask them what they would recommend.  They recommended the Sound Blaster Z.  I guess they are more experienced with gamers although I clearly explained it was audio production that I wanted.  So I have learned quickly here not to switch to SoundBlaster.  Got it. 

 

 

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I would not use a SB in the box, I would not use one to record a fox.

Quote

 

 

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37 minutes ago, mettelus said:

+1 to the above. Additionally, are you recording audio? That is really the kicker...

For a desktop, the onboard Realtek would already provide everything a SB card would for playback only (probably more, since I believe most Realtek chips are surround capable these days). I assume you have a Realtek chip on your motherboard... so the SB is probably moot.

Shifting gears to your underlying issue... I switch between my Realtek and Focusrite Saffire frequently... one issue with the Focusrite may be that you need to have it online (and seen by the system), then explicitly set the onboard Realtek as the default Windows playback device. This is done under "Sound" in the Control Panel. *IF* the Realtek is already the default device, set it to the 18i8, then set it back to the Realtek (again, the "default" assignment must be done by the user, not Windows). Once that is done, Windows will see it but not use it... only programs you explicitly ask to use it will gain access to it. This may be the issue you are seeing with your 18i8. If not done, Windows will let any application use the Focusrite (and lock the bit-depth/sample rate), which can then lock out the Focusrite from DAW usage.

Disclaimer... using both the Realtek and Focusrite as mentioned above will require two sets of monitors (one for each sound system).

Yes I am recording audio.  Yes I have a Realtex chip onboard and I use it with no issue.  I quickly learned here that SB is moot (LOL thanks).  Yes I am aware of the need to switch the default devices on the Sound Control Panel.   I have managed all of that for some time and often things work just fine.  And I do have two sets of powered monitors as well.  I am wondering if there is some issue somewhere with the Windows 10 sound settings and perhaps their last update has screwed something up.   As mentioned before I just want something that will work reliably.  

Thanks for all the suggestions, folk . I really appreciate the help.

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1 minute ago, jeo49 said:

  So I contacted Dell to ask them what they would recommend.  They recommended the Sound Blaster Z.  I guess they are more experienced with gamers although I clearly explained it was audio production that I wanted.  So I have learned quickly here not to switch to SoundBlaster.  Got it.

Give Sweetwater a call and speak to a sales engineer there regarding your needs and issues. See what they recommend for you, as they surely know more about pro audio than Dell does.

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3 minutes ago, jeo49 said:

LOL.  Thanks for your response.  I have spent hours with Cakewalk Technical Support and Focusrite technical support and have gone through all of the steps they recommend including running a bunch of 3rd party utilities to test the system.  I did get better performance but still these glitches will show up sometimes.   As I said in my original post I was thinking that  perhaps new (different) hardware would help.  So I contacted Dell to ask them what they would recommend.  They recommended the Sound Blaster Z.  I guess they are more experienced with gamers although I clearly explained it was audio production that I wanted.  So I have learned quickly here not to switch to SoundBlaster.  Got it. 

One thing you *could* try is upgrading your 18i8 to the latest beta drivers.

A big warning though - this is a one-way process! Once you've upgraded, you're stuck with the latest version, and there's no way of reverting.

I've upgraded all 3 of my Scarletts, without issue, but the risk is still there.

The latest beta version is Scarlett MixControl 1.10b3 (it should be top of the page here: http://beta.focusrite.com/

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, msmcleod said:

One thing you *could* try is upgrading your 18i8 to the latest beta drivers.

A big warning though - this is a one-way process! Once you've upgraded, you're stuck with the latest version, and there's no way of reverting.

I've upgraded all 3 of my Scarletts, without issue, but the risk is still there.

The latest beta version is Scarlett MixControl 1.10b3 (it should be top of the page here: http://beta.focusrite.com/

That is best suggestion so far.  I will give it a try. I currently have Scarlett MixControl 1.8.128.0   and  Driver 2.5.1 API 3.  This is a first gen 18i8  Thanks

Edited by jeo49

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, jeo49 said:

That is best suggestion so far.  I will give it a try.

Before you do that... just in case this works, try deleting AUD.INI from %APPDATA%\Cakewalk\Cakewalk Core

I found after changing settings, or re-installing drivers, this can get corrupted. 

CbB will recreate it the next time you launch.

Oh - and if you do upgrade your firmware/mix control to the beta version, you'll still want to delete AUD.INI, so that CbB can generate it with the new driver settings.

Edited by msmcleod
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51 minutes ago, Byron Dickens said:

Why in God's name would you downgrade a Focusrite to a SoundBlaster?

I have to agree with these sentiments. I use a Focusrite 18i8 and it has been rock solid through Sonar and Bandlab (using Melodyne as well but there has been an issue with Melodyne 4.2 so im using a previous version).

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Here's one more thing for everyone to add to their drop-out troubleshooting checklist... 

A few years ago when I started switching over to SSDs, I installed a third-party disk cache manager (inadvertently) called Crucial Storage Executive. After DAYS of trying to find the cause of sporadic drop-outs and glitches during playback and recording, LatencyMon hinted at a process related to that cache program. Once I disabled and removed it, my drop-out problem was gone forever.

Just something else to check for... 

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Posted (edited)

Yes, thanks I have used Latency Monitor extensively in discussions with Focusrite Tech Support.  They looked at the files I sent them and everything checked out ok.  After performing all the checks they suggested the issues seemed resolved.  They did say there were beta drivers I could try but since things appeared then to be working I did not try the beta drivers.  Something happened in the past few months.  

I just upgraded Scarlett 18i8 to the beta drivers and updated Scarlett mix control.   Lets see if that helps.

By the way, thanks to everyone for the great suggestions and help.  I really appreciate it.

Edited by jeo49
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