After reading the thread entitled “Alto Flute Solo static pops” I thought it was time to write something on the subject of pops and clicks. The subject is not as clearly defined as some might assume. In fact, the occurrence of pops and clicks is distressingly unpredictable from system to system. Some users experience very specific clicks and pops at certain loop points and others experience problems with solo instruments set to the default polyphony of “1.” Let me talk about these two types from my experience over the last year.
The first one is concerned with clicks and pops at loop points. I periodically receive (or see posted) reports of note-specific loop problems. I have probably examined many, many pages of such reports. I never let one go unchecked. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten I find nothing when I examine these reports. That’s right: Not the slightest little glitch. And, of course, if I can’t hear it, I can’t fix it. NDEE’s report of the glitch on the low “E” of the flute is a case in point. There is no such glitch when I check that note on my system. Some people hear lots of clicks in various instruments and some people encounter none. One of our main beta testers from the beginning has never once heard a pop or click with the library and he has used it more than most. I have experienced pops and clicks on occasion which brings me to the subject of the second type of glitch.
Last week I took the time to do extensive testing on the solo instruments set to a polyphony setting of “1.” I hoped to nail down the conditions that caused the clicking behavior. My tests showed these characteristics (on my system):
1. The clicks occurred in the right channel, never the left.
2. They occurred almost entirely when the polyphony is set to "1."
3. On my system there is a direct, repeatable correlation between the
volume knob setting and severity of the clicking in the right channel.
4. The phenomenon varies with "left" panning values. Different pan
settings modify the relationship between the volume knob settings and the occurrence of pops and clicks in the right channel.
5. The severity of the clicks and pops varies from non-existent to
extreme based on the settings of the knobs.
I charted each increment of the volume control over the range of -20db to +12db for an arbitrary panning value of L36 and sent the results to Native Instruments for examination. They tried to duplicate my test results and found nothing. Not a click or pop in sight with any of their systems yet on my system the results were consistent and repeatable in all host software.
So, what do we have here? Most likely we have varying performance with different hardware, drivers, and configurations. When someone sends me a list of notes that are clicking I have no doubt that they are accurately reporting what is happening on their systems but these anomalies may or may not happen on mine or someone else’s.
Solutions and workarounds: We and Native Instruments will continue to investigate this and try to find some pattern that can be addressed at the programming level while users can continue to send us reports. More information helps. For solo instruments that are clicking in the right channel here are some things that work on my system:
1. As mentioned by DPDan in the other thread the polyphony setting can be increase to greater than “1.” This has one huge drawback: You lose the tongue/slur function of the sustain pedal which requires a polyphony setting of “1” to function properly. But if all else fails this is an option.
2. You can try to take advantage of the apparent relationship between the panning knob and the volume knob in the player. When you encounter an instrument that clicks at the transition to a new note move the volume knob in the tiniest possible increments and check the performance with each change of setting. On my system I can always find a setting that eliminates the clicking. Alternatively, you can try instead changing the panning knob setting in small increments. As an example, I could get the Alto flute to stop clicking by changing the panning setting from L20 to L15 on my system. Conversely, some of the settings will make the clicking much worse.
These workarounds may help some users until we get a better idea of exactly what makes the difference between a system that has no clicks and pops and one that does. Wish I could tell you more.