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Topic: Several Questions...patience please :)

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  1. #1

    Several Questions...patience please :)

    Hullo! Long, frustrated post ahead, any help would be great.

    First, I hope this is the right place, since I didn't see a dedicated forum for Instant Orchestra.

    Garritan Instant Orchestra caught my eye, as I've long been interested in scoring my movies. Unfortunately, I've been struggling with getting the technical side of it all working correctly.

    I own Finale 2010 (which is where I got introduced to the fine Garritan libraries, of course) but have realized/found out that it is not the end-all solution, especially for giving a virtual performance. So! I've been looking at DAWs and don't quite know which route to go. I've tried out Reaper in the past, but today I downloaded the trial for Cakewalk Sonar X1 since that was the software used in Randy Bowser's "Blast off with IO" videos, (though an older version). I liked the look and feel of it but ran into some terrible issues which I hope people can help with.

    Question 1:
    I have a laptop, a Dell XPS 15. It is most certainly not optimal for audio production, but it is all that I have at the moment. Additionally, as I am in college, I've been avoiding building/buying a desktop because of the hassle of space.

    So, the onboard Realtek sound card really is crap. Or something. Because even with ASIO4All I keep having problems of weird dropouts - today, testing Sonar X1 with my keyboard was an exercise in frustration as it would be working beautifully - no latency, sounds coming through perfectly, excellent all around - then suddenly the output from Sonar would just die and not come back. The weird part is that it would work fine with a new project, but going back to a saved older project wouldn't work. I don't know if it's something I did or just a problem with my audio set up.

    As a side note...I could not get the metronome working AT ALL - audio, MIDI, nothing.

    Question 2:
    I was unable to figure out how to record multiple instruments using only one instance of Aria - never have been in the past either, I've always had to use multiple instances. I feel like I'm just doing something stupid...but I don't know.

    Also, the Ambience effect in the Aria player didn't work in Sonar. I had to use the separate plugin included with Finale to get the effect to work.

    Question 3:
    Currently I have a CASIO PX130 keyboard that connects via USB. I'm not sure if that could be any cause of the problems or what, but I have been considering selling that and buying a smaller MIDI controller as a replacement. Any suggestions for good buys?

    Would buying an external soundcard with ASIO support relieve some of my stress? Suggestions there would be great too.

    Sigh. So much for the Instant part of GIO

    Thank you,
    Kristofor

  2. #2

    Re: Several Questions...patience please :)

    Hello again, Kristofor - I just posted a reply to the thread where you piggbacked some questions. Keep your replies to this thread now, even if you respond to things I said on the other one.

    It's difficult when there's a whole bag of questions - I'll answer some. The basic problem is that everything is new to you and there's a fairly steep learning curve involved in several areas.

    Quote Originally Posted by aflocka View Post
    ...

    Question 1:
    I have a laptop, a Dell XPS 15. It is most certainly not optimal for audio production, but it is all that I have at the moment. Additionally, as I am in college, I've been avoiding building/buying a desktop because of the hassle of space.

    So, the onboard Realtek sound card really is crap...
    Some people have somehow managed to squeeze some recording work out of built in Realtek cards, but I'll tell you frankly, I've never succeeded at that. I remember when I first got GPO (Garritan Personal Orchestra)--It was my first soft synth. I tried and tried for a couple of weeks to get it to work in Sonar, but all I could manage were little tiny clips - the card would give up, and I'd have to start another recording. I ended up with a project made up hundreds of tiny clips under a measure long each. And that was because the motherboard card wasn't made for the kind of heavy sound work called for in home recording.

    Yes, you need to get an actual audio interface that uses ASIO drivers. As soon as I bought my first one - what a relief--I could finally make things work the way they're meant to work. You can still buy perfectly good interfaces for around $150, so you need to save up for that.
    Quote Originally Posted by aflocka View Post
    ...
    Question 2:
    I was unable to figure out how to record multiple instruments using only one instance of Aria - never have been in the past either, I've always had to use multiple instances. I feel like I'm just doing something stupid...but I don't know.
    Now that you have Sonar X1 you have to stop trying to do anymore before you go through the tutorials that come with it. The one you need immediately explains how to use soft synths. I could stay in this thread and write a novel explaining the whole process, but it would take me at least an hour, and it'd be silly, because all the info is in the Sonar tutes and Help files. You just need to dig into the learning curve.

    Also, the Ambience effect in the Aria player didn't work in Sonar. I had to use the separate plugin included with Finale to get the effect to work.
    Quote Originally Posted by aflocka View Post
    ...
    Question 3:
    Currently I have a CASIO PX130 keyboard that connects via USB. I'm not sure if that could be any cause of the problems or what, but I have been considering selling that and buying a smaller MIDI controller as a replacement. Any suggestions for good buys?

    Would buying an external soundcard with ASIO support relieve some of my stress? Suggestions there would be great too.

    Sigh. So much for the Instant part of GIO

    Thank you,
    Kristofor
    Well, it's not an Instant Orchestra problem. Using any multi-timbral soft synth would give you the same set of problems - you're trying to do intensive recording work on a laptop, and with the built in card--that's not going to work. So yes, you need an interface, as I said. The keyboard you have is probably fine for now. Save your money for the interface first.

    As I said in reply to your other post, try to let me know specifically what differences between Sonar 8.5 and X1 are confusing you. I was hoping X1 users, and users of any DAW, for that matter, could adapt what I show in the tutes to their programs - and actually that is possible, but the user needs to know how to operate his program in order to make that translation.

    Randy

  3. #3

    Re: Several Questions...patience please :)

    Thank you for the kind response, Randy.

    It's amazing what a fresh day can do - after sitting down and closely watching your video again, along with some messing around and searching of the help, I managed to figure out almost all the interface differences between the two versions of Sonar - I was successful in figuring out how to use just one instance of ARIA to produce multiple sounds.

    I think what was (and still is) throwing me is the seemingly random dying of audio from Sonar. I just can't tell if it's something I'm accidentally doing that is somehow muting everything, or if its driver/soundcard related.

    When it works, everything works great...no latency, can handle recording multiple tracks with lots of samples just fine (playing around with some of the preset ensembles). I can't get the metronome to work despite trying everything I can find/think of, which makes recording a bit of a pain, but at least it works.

    Any recommendations for an audio interface? Maybe I'm not searching for the correct terms or something, but the ones I'm finding in take in instrument or XLR input, not USB input (for a controller/keyboard). Or am I way off-base on what I should be looking for?

    Thanks so much,
    Kristofor

  4. #4

    Re: Several Questions...patience please :)

    Quote Originally Posted by aflocka View Post
    Thank you for the kind response, Randy.

    It's amazing what a fresh day can do - after sitting down and closely watching your video again, along with some messing around and searching of the help, I managed to figure out almost all the interface differences between the two versions of Sonar - I was successful in figuring out how to use just one instance of ARIA to produce multiple sounds.

    I think what was (and still is) throwing me is the seemingly random dying of audio from Sonar. I just can't tell if it's something I'm accidentally doing that is somehow muting everything, or if its driver/soundcard related.

    When it works, everything works great...no latency, can handle recording multiple tracks with lots of samples just fine (playing around with some of the preset ensembles). I can't get the metronome to work despite trying everything I can find/think of, which makes recording a bit of a pain, but at least it works.

    Any recommendations for an audio interface? Maybe I'm not searching for the correct terms or something, but the ones I'm finding in take in instrument or XLR input, not USB input (for a controller/keyboard). Or am I way off-base on what I should be looking for?

    Thanks so much,
    Kristofor
    Hello again, Kristofor - Big congrats on the new successes you've had since yesterday!

    It's still possible that the "random dying of audio" is due to the under-equipped Realtek card. As I said earlier, when I was still trying to use a computer's built-in card, I could only record short bits at a time because of that exact problem of the sound just stopping. Consumer grade motherboard cards are fine for just playing MP3s, but aren't made for the heavy work of home audio production.

    But do make sure that you have the "Zero Controllers" setting turned off in Sonar. I guess it was in the other thread where I explained that you have to have that Project setting un-checked, or your CC1 volume control of Garritan instruments will keep re-setting to zero, off, every time you stop playback of a project.

    Metronome in Sonar - Yes, you do need to get that working. You should hear it if you choose the Audio metronome. Since you can't, it's possible it's another sound card related issue.

    Sound interfaces - You can't beat Sweetwater for all your recording needs. I buy everything from them now. They have great prices and free shipping on everything. Here's their page of interfaces:

    AUDIO INTERFACES AT SWEETWATER

    On the right, the Alesis i|o 4 is the new version of the interface I use. It's $150 - an unbeatable price for an interface that has everything you need.

    What you'll find with that interface, and the others, is that they connect via USB to your computer. They have inputs for XLR mikes- and you want that even if you're not currently recording anything with a mike. XLR is the kind of connectors professional microphones use. You also want lines in, even if you're not currently connecting analog audio sources. You'll immediately get use out of the headphone jack and volume controls. You hook the audio out of an interface to whatever you're using for audio playback - a home stereo receiver works just fine. Speakers are hooked up to the receiver. You don't want to use those tiny tinny computer speakers - That may be extra stuff for later on when your budget can take it.

    So you wont' be plugging a USB keyboard into an interface - that still goes directly into the computer. If one has a regular MIDI keyboard that doesn't have a USB connection, then its MIDI cord would plug into the interface.

    Using my set up as an example - I have a Roland A-800 Pro keyboard plugged directly into my computer via USB. Then I have an Alesis interface also plugged into the computer, and in Sonar, it's designated as my audio device, bypassing the computer's built-in card. In fact, in the computer's device manager, I have the motherboard card completely disabled. The interface replaces the need for that - I think you get that.

    SO - There's new info for you. There's a lot to get together at first, including trial and error with manuals at the ready. Come back and let us know about your progress.

    Randy

  5. #5

    Re: Several Questions...patience please :)

    Just to clarify before I make any purchases - an audio interface replaces all the functionality of a soundcard? e.g. do you know if other audio-using software such as Skype or video editing programs would use the interface or would they need to use the on-board card? You said you disabled the internal card completely; was there a particular reason for that or could I use the on-board card for "usual" sound uses (movies, games, Internet, system sounds, etc) and reserve the interface for recording purposes in Sonar or whatever DAW I end up with.

    Additionally, have you had any experience in using a USB hub (powered) with music production equipment? I'm out of USB ports and might have to consider that option, but I've been told in the past that using USB hubs with music equipment is a bad idea.

    I apologize for all the questioning...I just want to make sure I don't break other things while trying to fix one thing

  6. #6

    Re: Several Questions...patience please :)

    Quote Originally Posted by aflocka View Post
    Just to clarify before I make any purchases - an audio interface replaces all the functionality of a soundcard? e.g. do you know if other audio-using software such as Skype or video editing programs would use the interface or would they need to use the on-board card? You said you disabled the internal card completely; was there a particular reason for that or could I use the on-board card for "usual" sound uses (movies, games, Internet, system sounds, etc) and reserve the interface for recording purposes in Sonar or whatever DAW I end up with.

    Additionally, have you had any experience in using a USB hub (powered) with music production equipment? I'm out of USB ports and might have to consider that option, but I've been told in the past that using USB hubs with music equipment is a bad idea.

    I apologize for all the questioning...I just want to make sure I don't break other things while trying to fix one thing
    Hi, Kristofor - No apologies needed! That's one of the main reasons this Forum exists - for us to help each other out when we can.

    Yes, an audio interface can replace your motherboard sound card - It actually Is a "sound card," meaning it's the device a computer uses for carrying sound.

    Some people keep their on-board card active along with their interfaces, but others feel there's no point in doing that and can present possible conflicts. I'm of that latter camp - Everything is played through my interface - You Tube videos, MP3s, movies etc. You need to picture something about using an interface which makes it so convenient:

    --You have that interface box sitting right there close to your computer keyboard. It has a volume knob for instant adjustment, - as opposed to needing to grab your mouse and twiddle with a little volume slider on screen, the way you have to do with a built in card.

    My interface has its audio outs going into a stereo receiver/amp. Speakers are hooked up to that receiver. If you don't have a receiver, then you'd be doing all your listening on headphones via the interface's head jack.

    I tried using a USB hub when I briefly recorded my projects on a laptop, and it did bottle things up a bit, as in, things worked more slowly than without the hub. But laptops have fewer USB ports than towers, so I understand the issue. I guess you would need to just get the best one possible, probably a powered unit. Scrutinize specs to see that the hub is as good as possible. I probably got one that was too cheap. You can probably make that work OK for now.

    Randy

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