Topic: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

Hi all, totally new to this forum. Joined to share my problem and to hopefully get some feedback!

I've been using RME products since around 2000 with zero problems, absolutely no problems ever, at all.
For the last couple of days though, things have become a little funky.
I have a Fireface 400 - bought in 2007, used everyday flawlessly - attached to a Macbook. Most of the time, out of laziness more than anything else, I use bus powering. Right now though, I've had it plugged to a wall outlet.

Today, I've worked on a project in Logic 9.1.1. I've taken a couple of breaks and when I get back to Logic, it's dead silent. Not only Logic but the whole Mac is silent - no audio is coming out of the FF. It displays connection though. It also showing activity on the meters in the Fireface Mixer. When I unplug the FF and plug it back again, sound is back. It is obviously working and everything looks fine.. but this situation, where it seems to fall asleep all the time, is impossible to work with.

My setup is: Macbook core2duo 2ghz (2006), Fireface 400 (original FW cable). OS X Leopard 10.5.8 and the latest RME drivers.
Haven't changed anything on the system recently but.. I did attach a Apple Cinema Display last week. And I did buspower the FF from its FW bus. This didn't really work well so I plugged back to the Macbook as usual. Problems actually started to appear around this moment.

What could have gone wrong? Any ideas?

Thanks!

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

If the Apple Cinema Display has a FW connection to the computer, this is known to interrupt the FW bus and cause dropouts or disconnects.

Regards,
Jeff Petersen
Synthax Inc.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

Thanks for the feedback Jeff. I realized this pretty much right away and haven't had the Cinema Display connected to the FW port since then. Problems have become more frequent after that though.. I guess I'm worried that something got damaged due to FW issues that might have arised when I connected it via the display.

4 (edited by StefanBF 2010-07-22 14:51:22)

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

Anyone else?

The behaviour is inconsistent. My FF works most of the time but dies from time to time. This could pass as acceptable if it happened only once every three months or so.. but it happens a couple of times a day! I have no weird glitches, no weird sounds, nothing.. except lost audio even though the meters show activity both in Logic and in the Fireface Mixer. A restart and everything's fine again for a while, then all of a sudden it's silent again.

EDIT:

Note that at this point, I am NOT connecting the Fireface via the Cinema Display. The Fireface is plugged to the Macbook's FW port. Other than the FF, there is nothing else on the FW chain.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

I have pretty much the same issue. FF400 macbook pro duo 2.4 4gb ram os 10.5.8 ff400 connected via firewire 800 to 400 cable.

I'm using Ableton live. Sometimes audio will either cut out all the way or audio will just turn to a high pitched squeal from the ff400 but Ableton Live seems to keep working (meters still active, transport works, etc.). I have airport/wifi off and a lean system configured for audio. I'm running a 7200rpm system drive and playing some samples from a USB 2 external drive.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

the same effekt with my hp hdx 18 and ableton. and win7 64
but also with internal idt audio and external usb dac from aqvox.
no answer from ableton support since one week. i guess its easy to say " its because of the fireface"
but my other dacs do the same...
with foobar or vlc player, traktor, i have no dropouts at all.
latency is between 160 and 450 when ableton is running. the effekt is also there when i am playing only one audio track without any plug in.
cpu is at 5%
the ableton controll light for the harddisk is on, when this happens. its in the right upper corner. the "D"
symbol.
after a while 30 sek - 1 minute,the sound comes back.
any known tweak on this computer is arranged. may be i dont know all.
last festival i had 3 drops in 5 hours. what a shame.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

On another thread a couple of folks have solved this issue by cleaning the fan(s) and heatsink on their laptops. Evidently the CPU is heating up too much from buildup of dust on the fan. I'm going to try this and see if it is a fix for me, too.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

If it is a fan issue then it is a stability/heat issue. Monitor your temperatures via iStat and try running a small project that doesn't load the CPU too much, does it still happen without much load? Try a different cable, too.

9 (edited by MikeGraybill 2010-08-06 08:31:05)

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

I'm having frequent dropout issue all of a sudden with my FF400 too, its been working flawlessly for almost a year now.

Using Win7 64, I built a super cooled i7 on an Asus P6T Deluxe v2 mobo, with lots of raptor drives and the fastest ddr3 corsair ram at the time 12gb @1866mhz, each component at or close to top of its game, 1000w corsair power supply, asus 285gtx video card (except the raptors obviously, but solid state drives were still way too pricey and limited on space) all from the best of the manufacturers and again, very well cooled.  Since my machines are kept in a separate room from where I work, I needed an extension cable for the Fireface and per these forums got a LINDY FireWire Active Extension cable, and like I said its been working great (do these wear out over time?)  The firewire chipset is the VIA VT6308 controller.

Symptoms are simple: any program using the fireface will eventually go silent, and for the most part not recover without closing the application and restarting it (the app, not the machine).  The only exception to this seems to be media player classic, which -sometimes- does recover after 10-20seconds of silence.  Cubase 5.5 requires a restart if the problem occurs during work, and as I mentioned before I am loading what used to be on several pc's worth of samples into my work template projects, so re-opening a project file takes 5-10 minutes even spread across 10k drives.  The last couple days it has gotten out of hand - I can't even watch a youtube video without having to close and restart firefox to re-initialize the sound halfway through, same goes for any other program and it is increasing in frequency.  I see no errors on the FF when this occurrs, the sound quits and the FF Mixer channels simply reflect no levels.

This really did just start happening within the last week - can any one offer advice?  I expect I will have to look into tech support, just got frustrated tonight watching something (trying to anyway) and gave up on it, deciding I'd better start searching threads..

10 (edited by bounce 2010-08-06 08:56:29)

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

bounce wrote:

On another thread a couple of folks have solved this issue by cleaning the fan(s) and heatsink on their laptops. Evidently the CPU is heating up too much from buildup of dust on the fan. I'm going to try this and see if it is a fix for me, too.

Bummer. I had my macbook pro professionally cleaned at the Apple shop (fans). It worked great for 2 rehearsals, then tonight in the middle of recording 2 tracks of audio- BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! Ableton Live didn't actually crash, just audio crapped out on the FF400 with the nonstop buffer beeeeep. I actually removed the firewire cable without closing Live, placed it back in, and was able to continue. This all started happening a year after buying/using the ff400. Any help RME would be waaaay appreciated. I can't gig with this issue. Hope we can all figure it out.

I'm on a macbook pro 17" duo 2.4 ghz 4 gb ram os 10.5.8. Firewire 800 to 400 cable running on adapter power (same happens on bus power). 7200 rpm internal seagate drive. Sometimes use an external usb 2.0 drive. Wifi is off.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

my expirience:
HP hdx18 notebook superoptimized as possible. quad core 4 gig.
tested with different ff cables
rme fireface with Ableton : unforced dropouts for up to one minute. sound comes back after a while. single 16bit stereo track
rme fireface with Cubase : unforced dropouts for up to one minute. sound comes back after a while. single 16bit stereo track
rme fireface with Traktor : everything fine up to 4 24 bit stereo tracks
rme fireface with foobar  : everything fine

aqvox DAC  with Ableton : unforced dropouts for up to one minute. sound comes back after a while. single 16bit stereo track
aqvox DAC   with Cubase : unforced dropouts for up to one minute. sound comes back after a while. single 16bit stereo track
aqvox DAC  with Traktor : everything fine up to 4 24 bit stereo tracks
aqvox DAC  with foobar  : everything fine
doesnt matter wether connected via usb or spdif. same results

native instr. kontrol one usb.  everything is working fine.

(all this programms and hardware is working nice on my netbook packard bell with celeron , 2gig, win7 64. except rme because no firewire. its all working without any spezial optimation.)

the grapgic card is nvidia 130. changing to standart vga makes the things better. but still there.
on the last festival i was playing with my wifes netbook and the livingroom high end DAC from aqvox. because the kontrol one sounds too cheap for me.
i am working since 6 month now , on this problem. i ve tried everything. no solution in sight.
its defently no heat problem. the notebook is new. and gets no heat problems when i work on hd video.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

P.S My mbp has the TI firewire chipset

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

Well figured I'd update to confirm what's probably obvious to the seasoned users here, seems as though over heating was the problem after all, despite the well-cooled case (Antec 1200 fyi).  Turns out I hadn't cleaned the washable air intake filters (3 of them, one for each front intake fan on the case) and because they had been running for 9 months without any cleaning... I underestimated the maintenance, should have known better.  Happy to find the filters are doing there job tho, no dust to speak of on any heatsinks or fan blades, just horribly reduced intake.

The FF400 has not skipped a bit since, very relieved and back to being totally happy with the interface!

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

My issue is back. I've been trying everything I can think of: different firewire cables, monitoring the system using Activity Monitor and removing a bluetooth component, removing any Digidesign software/drivers, verifying that nothing else is running or installed at startup, not using any external drives, using firewire 800 to 400 cable then 400 to 400, removing extra plug ins, cleaning the fans and heatsink, bus power and external power, same issue on two different system drives. This has been a MAJOR drag for a very long time now. I'm hoping to do some gigs soon but so far no confidence. Any help from RME? I've researched this issue and have tried all the things mentioned by other users having this problem to no avail except for a firewire PCM card or firewire repeater. Is this what I have to do? I'm trying not to chase the problem with more money if it is a software or FF400 issue.

Specs above in earlier post.

macbook pro 2.4ghz
4gb ram
OS 10.5.8
FF400
FF driver 2.73
firmware 1.69

Ableton Live 8.1.4

15 (edited by Timur 2010-08-28 02:08:09)

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

Does it happen if you disable all Midi I/O?

Did you try to delete the Preferences.CFG?

Does setting the Plugin (!) Buffer Size to a fixed size maybe help (by default it's set to be the same as the audio buffer size, which can cause problems with some plugins).

Does it happen when you don't use any plugins?

Does it happen with other audio software (if you don't have any you can download Reaper or something to try). Having only Ableton Live in the equation is a bit of a problem. Did you try the current 8.1.6 Beta 3 or at least the current release version 8.1.5?

What happens when the internal speakers are being used as output device?

Is the FF set to *not* play back system sounds in OS X?

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

Timur, thanks for the interest in my plight and the questions. My answers are below in BOLD for separation.

Timur wrote:

Does it happen if you disable all Midi I/O?

I have not tried this yet. I did just update the FF400 to driver version 2.74 and deleted several plugs I don't use. I did run a session with audio and midi instruments playing for 4 hours straight. I will be testing again tomorrow. I also upgraded to Live 8.1.5 but this issue has been happening with the FF400 for over a year now on various 7.x and 8.x version of Live.

Did you try to delete the Preferences.CFG?

If you mean for each Live session, no. This happened on most any session I open eventually. There are no other .CFG files on my mac than the ones in each Live Set's project folder.

Does setting the Plugin (!) Buffer Size to a fixed size maybe help (by default it's set to be the same as the audio buffer size, which can cause problems with some plugins).

Sorry, I do not see an option for setting a Plug-in buffer differently from the Live audio buffer. My set up worked fine for a year with the same buffer settings I use now so maybe it is related to plug-ins, a combo of FF400 firmware/driver and Live version, etc.

Does it happen when you don't use any plugins?

I'll try this if my recent modifications prove not to be the solution.

Does it happen with other audio software (if you don't have any you can download Reaper or something to try). Having only Ableton Live in the equation is a bit of a problem. Did you try the current 8.1.6 Beta 3 or at least the current release version 8.1.5?

I've set up this particular laptop for my live performance rig and only use Live on it. I use other systems in my studio but do not want to use them for my live gigs. I just installed Live 8.1.5 and am testing it with the newer RME driver.

What happens when the internal speakers are being used as output device?

No issues in my short amount of testing.

Is the FF set to *not* play back system sounds in OS X?

The FF400 was set to handle system alerts as well. I have changed this. THANKS FOR THE TIPS! I will test and get back here :-)

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

bounce wrote:

If you mean for each Live session, no. This happened on most any session I open eventually. There are no other .CFG files on my mac than the ones in each Live Set's project folder.

Preferences.cfg is Live's central file for saving its preferences. It can get get messed up. By deleting it you reset all settings.

http://www.ableton.com/pages/faq/instal … aq_12_link

Sorry, I do not see an option for setting a Plug-in buffer differently from the Live audio buffer.

Preferences -> CPU wink

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

Timur wrote:
bounce wrote:

If you mean for each Live session, no. This happened on most any session I open eventually. There are no other .CFG files on my mac than the ones in each Live Set's project folder.

Preferences.cfg is Live's central file for saving its preferences. It can get get messed up. By deleting it you reset all settings.

http://www.ableton.com/pages/faq/instal … aq_12_link

Sorry, I do not see an option for setting a Plug-in buffer differently from the Live audio buffer.

Preferences -> CPU wink

Timur, thanks for turning my brain on :-)

I installed Live 8.1.5 which so far seems to be working but I haven't tried inputting lots of MIDI data yet. I will test today at a rehearsal.

It seems the plug in buffer in Live 8.1.5 does not default to the audio buffer size. I looked (in the proper spot!) and it is set to 128 whereas my audio buffer is 157 samples.

More testing today. Looks promising after the driver update, specific plug in removal, and system files I changed/removed yesterday!

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

The plugin buffer thing baffles me. The default really is to have it set to the same as Audio Buffer size (which means your effective latencies double as soon as you use external plugins).

So either you must have changed it at some point in the past or your Preferences.CFG got messed up. You could try yourself and delete/rename the Preferences.CFG. It should return to defaults then.

Re: Fireface 400 has started to drop audio - Solved

sorry to bring this whole thing up again, but i have the same issues, but with Live 7.
crackling noise in every single project, while any other playback works perfect.
to solve the noise temporarily i changed my physical output on my fireface 400 from 1/2 to 3/4 and set ableton's master accordingly.
but whenever i shut down my notebook/power off the rme and restart everything again, i have the same problem, which can be solved as shown above, just vice versa(3/4 to 1/2)
anything else to do?