One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

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Moderato Maestoso

One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Moderato Maestoso » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:57 am

...but nonetheless, I will ask! :)

Assuming a system: Core2Quad Q9650 (3.00 GHz) / 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM / XP Pro SP3 with 3GB switch, am I likely to be able to handle 16 live inputs with a couple of VST effects (mainly channel strips) as inserts, and 4 or 5 VST instruments (nothing particulary heavy - Pro53, Possibly Korg M1, and Kontakt 3.5, but with no huge samples) mixing down to 6 stereo buses?

I *know* it's almost impossible to predict systems, but can someone just give me a general idea?

Many thanks,

Martin

fab
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Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby fab » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:53 am

if those channel strips are not CPU heavy, i would guess that my coreduo 1.8 would be up to the task.

so: yes.

Volker Grosch
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Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Volker Grosch » Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:40 pm

I agree to fab,

it`s not exactly the same, but I also use a quad (q6600) with 15 plugs partely heavy loaded and some effects. The cpu use is about 20% in maximum. Soundcard-buffersize is 128 samples (estimated MIDI Latency: 4,72ms). So I don`t see any problems in your case. 8)

regards, Volker
hosts: Forte 4, AuxBusFaders, Cubase 8, Cantabile 2, Live9, jBridge
VSTis: u-he, Spectrasonics, NI, GSi, Synthogy, East West, TAL, Adam Szabo, Steinberg...
VSTs: u-he, Voxengo, Fabfilter, Lexicon, TB, PSP, NI, UVI, Waves,...

Dirk Offringa
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Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Dirk Offringa » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:54 pm

I do, as I mentioned before, exactly half of that : 8 ins/8outs, NI Guitar Rig, EnergyXT, Mobius, 8 instances of a channelstrip (Waves AudioTrack), 2 instances of Pristine Space (convolution reverb), Waves Trueverb, Hypersonic, Some other stuff (Pro53, B4....) and many instances of AuxBusses in various flavors, and all that with an average load of 45% on a Pentium IV 2.8 Ghz with 1GB Ram. Not ONE single click or dropout during the whole summer tour, even in very hot conditions (like August afternoons 40° C in the shade, outside gigs in direct sunlight. We couldn't read the screen but the PC didn't complain.).

So, yes, I guess it will do the job.

Dirk
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

Moderato Maestoso

Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Moderato Maestoso » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:35 pm

Ok thanks guys.

I think what I plan on doing - not because the system can't handle it, but for redundancy - is to get another license of forte and use that on a PC purely for mixing.

This will give me:
- Forte Box 1 (Keyboards)
- Forte Box 2 (Drums)
- Show Control / SFX and Click Track System

All feeding (along with Hardware Keyboard, LX guitar, Acoustic guitar, Banjo mic, and vocal monitor mix) into:
- Forte Box 3

which handles the DSP, mixing and monitoring to outputs (FOH + 3 Monitor Mixes + Spot Speakers)

THis will give me the flexibility I need, whilst also allowing for system failure not to spoil the *whole* show. It may well seem like overkill, but I can't afford any mess ups to stop the show...

Thanks for all your advice guys!

Dirk Offringa
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Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Dirk Offringa » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:46 pm

You're adding up a lot of latency feeding one forte box into another. Did you think of that? You'll run with a minimum of 6 buffers, as well as (probably) an extra DA/AD conversion.
Also I think that by adding up stages like that, instead of reducing the risks, you're introducing a higher probability of failure.

Dirk
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

Moderato Maestoso

Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Moderato Maestoso » Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:27 pm

Sorry for the slow reply. I've spent the day mulling over the various options open to me. Dirk - as ever you are right, but I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do. I'd be interested to find out what the latency on a mid range Yamaha or Soundcraft digital desk is (01V / O2R / LS9 etc.) to compare it to a 'computer' system.

One option is to use a sequencer machine (Sonar for example) as a 'mixer', but that gives the same problems - machine into machine, which introduces more latency.

All inputs to the system (whether real or VSTis) need to be at least level controllable (and ideally pan and FX sends as well), and need to be able to have processing which is automatable on them.

ALSO - I need an x64 sequencer machine running anyway as a second VST host controlled by EHco, running Kontakt x64, so I can load various large piano and orchestral sample libraries (I'm not quite ready to use forte x64 beta on a show just yet :wink: ).

After much mulling, this is what I have come up with:



The Show Control / click track playback machine passes program changes, control changes, and sysex to control both the forte machine and the Sonar machine. (incidentally, the reason I am using the show control machine as the track playback machine is because of the advanced features on it like vamping).

As you so rightly mentioned Dirk, the 'elephant in the room' is latency, but I really see no way around that at the moment.

The machines are:
forte - Q6600 / 4GB DDR2-800
Sonar - Q9650 / 8GB DDR3-1333
Show Control - Pentium D 930 / 4GB DDR2-800 (more than enough to run SCS)

I'm going to carry on thinking about this..... :?

Martin

Volker Grosch
Posts: 195
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Location: Germany

Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Volker Grosch » Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:32 pm

hosts: Forte 4, AuxBusFaders, Cubase 8, Cantabile 2, Live9, jBridge
VSTis: u-he, Spectrasonics, NI, GSi, Synthogy, East West, TAL, Adam Szabo, Steinberg...
VSTs: u-he, Voxengo, Fabfilter, Lexicon, TB, PSP, NI, UVI, Waves,...

Moderato Maestoso

Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Moderato Maestoso » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:48 pm

Hi Volker,

Thanks for the reply. You are right - redundancy is not the *top* priority - MIDI control over all the levels is. I've rejigged it again, and in this case, if one machine goes down, the others will still pass audio to the mixer.

What I didn't mention (and is not on the diagram) is that the lower MIDI controller also has a piano sound on board which will be connected to 2 channels on the mixer (which are muted under normal operation), so worst case there is at least a piano sound to 'get through' to the end of the show if needed.



M

Volker Grosch
Posts: 195
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 11:29 am
Location: Germany

Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Volker Grosch » Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:22 am

Ah, o.k. I see. Reminds me of a setup I used (before completely trusting in PC sound machines): here I also had 2 MIDI-Expanders in the back that could be activated by a MIDITEMP in the worst. And btw: here you have the redundance you expect.

Nevertheless: always interesting how other users users realize their setups. :D

Kind regards, Volker
hosts: Forte 4, AuxBusFaders, Cubase 8, Cantabile 2, Live9, jBridge
VSTis: u-he, Spectrasonics, NI, GSi, Synthogy, East West, TAL, Adam Szabo, Steinberg...
VSTs: u-he, Voxengo, Fabfilter, Lexicon, TB, PSP, NI, UVI, Waves,...

Dirk Offringa
Posts: 3508
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 3:44 am
Location: Sainte Anastasie, France
Contact:

Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Dirk Offringa » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:00 pm

To answer your question about hardware latency: a digital desk, as well as about ANY digital equipment INCLUDING digitally processed speaker systems adds between 2.2 and 2.8 ms latency: as a live sound engineer this has been of course one of my main concerns when building systems using multiple chained digital deviced so I always query the manual or tech support for this spec: everything adds up, and there are multiple unneccessary AD/DA conversions with oversampling and other fancy stuff that might introduce artifacts (especially using low cost electronics).

One must chain as few of these devices as possible, and preferably use digital connections rather than analog connections, or even better networked appliances. You can, using your own diagram, figure out yourself the total minum latency and the LATENCY COMPENSATION you need you introduce at various stages in order to avoid phase problems.

Depending on what speaker system you'll use, if it's amplified and processed, you could end up with as much as 30ms maybe more for the whole chain.

Dirk.
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

Moderato Maestoso

Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Moderato Maestoso » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:32 am

Thanks Dirk. I'm rethinking the whole setup at the moment in any case - there are a couple of other problems with it too (the Show Control software doesn't trigger 'immediately' on the GO cue - there is a very small but for click tracks very noticable gap between the GO and the cue firing!)

Dirk Offringa
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Location: Sainte Anastasie, France
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Re: One of those awful 'how long is a piece of string' questions

Postby Dirk Offringa » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:28 pm

Yes, IMHO you should re-think your set-up. I feel it's unnecessarily complicated, and, once again, I think that multiplying the stages multiplies the probability of failure: you should seek real redundancy.
I have had more Behringer hardware "spontaneous" failures (several of them) than software failures during the show (never). The one and only failures, as far as the computer part of my rig is concerned, I ever have encountered were due to loose connectors, especially the SATA ones which are really not designed for transport. A dot of silicone glue and you're OK.

For the record (You know all this of course, but well, maybe interesting for other users looking into building a PC based touring system):

-Use 1 system hosted by a mature OS running on premium hardware
- make sure everyting inside the case is well fixed, but don't tie all the wires together: 1 that'll make a heavy load that will ultimately be supported by ONE connector that'll take all the strain especially during the transport; 2 you'll loose time if ever and intervention is needed
-use a redundant power supply
-use branded SSD drives in RAID 1 configuration
-don't have unnecessary hardware sucking up power from the powersupply like superduper video cards or super high performance memory sticks: you don't need those.
-don't use super heavy ultra sophisticated CPU cooling devices that weigh a ton: think transport shocks: your motherboard will appreciate!
-if you need to use a USB hub, use one that has an external powersupply
-in general, carry spare powersupplies for everything, and a spare set of memory sticks.
-never ever power up a PC if it's not on an UPS
-open up the cases frequently, check connectors and blow out the dust

etc etc.

If you can afford to have two identical systems running in parrallel, you're super safe.

Dirk
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.


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