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Old 10-14-2013, 09:57 AM
dan0082 dan0082 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 4
Default PT10 Sound goes fuzzy / distorted randomly; also get hard freezes

I have PT10.3.7, also have EZdrummer and Melodyne plugins, along with an MBox 3.

First, I do get hard freezes, in general... About 20% of the time, the PC will "recover" after a 20+sec freeze, and I can resume work. The other 80% of the time, it will just straight up freeze (screen still displays; just frozen with no response from anything), and the only way out is the reset button.

I can deal with the issue, above, but just mentioned it in case it helps. The primarily reason for this post is because of a [potentially] separate issue I'm having, where I will be working in a session, and the sound will suddenly start coming out of my speakers in an incredibly distorted/fuzzy manner. Note that this is not a subtle "audiophile"-type complaint... it is VERY noticeably distorted/fuzzy. The only way I can get it to stop is to close PT down, unplug the MBox 3, plug it back in, and restart PT (though, I believe sometimes I've needed to restart my PC entirely to get the issue to go away). Keep in mind that most of the time PT works just fine without this fuzzy sound issue, so I'm guessing it's nothing hardware related.

As far as I can remember, there was only one time when this happened that I actually got an error pop-up in PT along with it. Unfortunately, I was pressing a key when it popped up, so it disappeared before I could read it, but it said something about "buffer."

I know nothing about buffer settings, etc, so it could simply be that I have some less-than-optimal settings along those lines, but I was hoping someone might have an idea of whether it's that or something else entirely that is leading to this distortion issue?

Secondarily, any ideas on what might be causing the [separate?] hard freezes I'm getting would be greatly appreciated. I read through some other posts on the freeze issue, but couldn't find anything that matched my case (especially w/ the distortion/fuzzy sound issue along with it).

Note my specs on my profile: I do have PT10 installed on my OS-installed SSD, while I save session files to an internal HDD. I'm guessing this isn't an atypical setup (i.e. worthy of causing systematic issues), but just wanted to point it out.

Thank you,
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Old 10-14-2013, 12:43 PM
albee1952's Avatar
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Norwich, CT
Posts: 39,381
Default Re: PT10 Sound goes fuzzy / distorted randomly; also get hard freezes

More computer details may help. Check this thread:
Help us Help You - READ THIS Before Posting!
Meanwhile, how MANY Melodyne plugins are in your session? Melodyne is a cpu hog so I try not to use too many, and always switch to the 1024 buffer setting. Once I finish tuning a track, I print the audio and remove the plugin(or at least make it inactive).

Using an SSD for OS and Pro Tools is a "usual" way to configure a computer. Sessions need to be on their own drive(which I believe you are doing) but that recording drive needs to meet certain requirements(7200 rpm being the #1 for a spinner). A very general rule to follow with the buffer is-use the lowest you can while tracking(recording) and keep plugins to a minimum. Once you finish tracking, bump the buffer to 1024 and pile on the plugins you want(the higher buffer eases the strain on the cpu by giving it more time to process everything).

If you are still having troubles, post a Sandra report as described in the link above
HP Z4 workstation, Mbox Studio

The better I drink, the more I mix

BTW, my name is Dave, but most people call me.........................Dave
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Old 10-19-2013, 12:37 PM
dan0082 dan0082 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 4
Default Re: PT10 Sound goes fuzzy / distorted randomly; also get hard freezes

Thanks a lot for that great response, Dave - very much appreciated!

First, I found that changing my buffer to a higher value (to 1024 from 512, e.g.) did help the fuzzy/distorted sound issue, so thanks for that guidance. And I will keep in mind your rule of thumb about decreasing this value only to record, and then increasing it again when I'm just working on tracks/mixing, after the recording is done.

Second, I had a follow up question, if you don't mind (or anyone else who might be kind enough to offer help)...

The fuzzy sound issue (and, hence, having to increase my buffer values) does seem to be somewhat related, as I'm sure you know, to the aforementioned issue of my PC freezing, and I'm guessing that the overarching issue is that I'm putting a pretty good load on my CPU (the buffer setting, and playing around with how many cores and what % of CPU I use seems to have helped w/ the freezing up, so far, but I'm just trying to dig into a more root-cause issue that might be present, due to my naïveté). However, while my CPU is certainly not at supercomputing levels, it is pretty solid (Phenom II X6 1100T 3.3GHz), so I'm thinking there are a couple of things potentially going on here: either, A) I'm not setting things up in the right / most efficient way within ProTools, such that I'm putting much more load on my CPU than I need to be, or am just not handling that load properly, so to speak (obviously, your buffer setting advice helped, and was at least a good first step in this realm), B) ProTools, and perhaps more importantly, some of the ProTools plugins I use (often in large numbers), are just much bigger CPU hogs in general than I'd imagined - even when sitting idle - so even my decent CPU is no match, or C) some combo of both "A" and "B".

Here's a bit more detail, in addition to the Sandra report pasted below... First, to address your prior post, I do indeed save my PT files to a separate (non-OS) hard drive: my OS is on an SSD, and my PT files are saved to a 7200rpm HDD. Anyway, I'm trying to generally have a good template file set up that I can just go to quickly (I often like to leave PT open in the background to the template file, so I can quickly begin work on music when I get home from my day job; PT takes quite a while to start up) - and I don't mean a technical "template" as ProTools provides, but just a default/blank ptx file that works in a similar way (I've avoided the actual PT "template" approach simply because I found it frustrating to manage the folder structure it was creating for those. Hopefully you get what I mean there - if not I can explain better). Also, within this template, I would ideally have a good number of the tracks I'll likely need all set up, with the plugins I will almost always be using already on and adjusted to the settings I tend to use. I'm guessing this is creating the big CPU load, as I end up having about 25 tracks, including my reverb, short delay, and long delay tracks that I pipe most other tracks to. By the way, I tend to use about 90% virtual instruments, so I end up having EZ Drummer, a few MiniGrand tracks, and several Xpand tracks with various virtual instruments set up and ready to go (and many of these have some kind of EQ on each of them and/or a peak limiter and/or SansAmp with the settings I tend to use). Also, to answer your question, I tend to need a few vocal tracks for every song (layering, harmony, etc), so this template file I'm referring to has three vocal tracks set up with Melodyne on each of them.

Sorry, I know that was a lot, and I'm guessing everything I described is probably a lot for my computer, too... But my issue is this: why is it that my CPU needs to be constantly revved up to ~90% load (I use 5 of 6 of my cores for PT) even when PT is just sitting there, "inactive", but open, in the background on my PC with this template file open?? I get that when I actually start using it, especially with all of these tracks & plugins, it would need a large amount of CPU, but is there something I can do to "optimize" this setup, or just something I'm doing wrong in general or thinking about incorrectly via this "template file" approach that is making things much, much worse on my CPU than it needs to be? For example, I tried CTRL-clicking the plugins I like to have pre-set up on each track to BYPASS/"disable" them, but this seems to have absolutely no impact on CPU load. Also, I tried just not having the Melodyne plugin(s) actually inserted (I don't mean BYPASSed, but actually not inserted at all), since it's easy enough to just wait until I actually record vocals to open that up, but that didn't seem to have any noticeable impact on CPU load either; note that I'm comparing it to the blank template case, where that file is just sitting there open and no vocals have yet been recorded/"printed" to the melodyne-enabled tracks, so maybe that's why there's no difference- but I guess it's moot for my issue, anyway. Namely, why can't my ptx template file be open in the background, before I'm even utilizing it in any way, and not run at ~90% CPU load? Is the fact that I'm running most of these tracks through the single delay / reverb sends causing most of this, or something else? I thought that my using single delay / reverb tracks and using sends (i.e. instead of putting multiple delay and reverb on separate tracks, independently) was the much more efficient way to do things.

Bottom line, I'm wondering if there are some things I should/could be doing differently that would still accomplish my goal of having a template file already set up and ready to go with most of the tracks I'll be wanting and the plugins ready (even if disabled, etc), but not hogging CPU to the huge extent that it is, such that I could pretty safely leave it open in the background for when I need it, and not be walking on thin ice with respect to my computer freezing up or glitching on me? I'm guessing I'm not the only person who likes to go the template route (even if not currently using a technical "PT template" format), so people must be pulling this off somehow...?

Anyway, sorry for the wordiness, but wanted to make sure to give any potentially relevant info. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
And, thanks again, Dave, for your prior help! (Sandra Report below)


SiSoftware Sandra

Model : GigaByte GA-990XA-UD3
Chassis : GigaByte Desktop
Mainboard : GigaByte GA-990XA-UD3
BIOS : Award (OEM) F3 05/19/2011
Total Memory : 16GB DIMM DDR3

Processor : AMD Phenom(tm) II X6 1100T Processor (6C 3.72GHz, 2GHz IMC, 6x 512kB L2, 6x 6MB L3)
Socket/Slot : AM2r2/AM3

Memory Controller : AMD F10 Athlon 64/Opteron/Sempron HT Hub 2x 2GHz (4GHz), 16GB DIMM DDR3 1.61GHz 64-bit

Memory Module(s)
Memory Module : G.Skill F3-1600C9-8GXM 8GB DIMM DDR3 PC3-12800U DDR3-1600 (9-9-9-25 4-34-10-5)
Memory Module : G.Skill F3-1600C9-8GXM 8GB DIMM DDR3 PC3-12800U DDR3-1600 (9-9-9-25 4-34-10-5)

Video System
Monitor/Panel : Toshiba TSB-TV
(1920x1080, 37.9")
Video Adapter : ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series (8CU 320SP SM4.1 750MHz, 1GB DDR3 1.6GHz 128-bit, PCIe 2.00 x16)

Graphics Processor
OpenCL GP Processor : ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series (640SP 8C 750MHz, 512MB DDR3 1.6GHz 128-bit)

Storage Devices
Crucial C300-CTFDDAC128MAG (128GB, SATA600, 2.5", SSD) : 119GB (C:)
Seagate ST32000641AS (2TB, SATA600, 3.5", 7200rpm) : 2TB (H:)
WDC WD20EADS-14R6B0 (2TB, SATA300, 3.5", 5400rpm, 32MB Cache) : 2TB (D:)
WDC WD20EARS-00MVWB0 (2TB, SATA300, 3.5") : 2TB (E:)
ATAPI iHAS124 Y (SATA150, DVD+-RW, CD-RW, 2MB Cache) : N/A (F:)
ATAPI iHOS104 (SATA150, BD-R, DVD+-R, CD-R, 2MB Cache) : N/A (G:)

Logical Storage Devices
Main (C:) : 119GB (NTFS) @ Crucial C300-CTFDDAC128MAG (128GB, SATA600, 2.5", SSD)
Extra (H:) : 2TB (NTFS) @ Seagate ST32000641AS (2TB, SATA600, 3.5", 7200rpm)
Media (D:) : 2TB (NTFS) @ WDC WD20EADS-14R6B0 (2TB, SATA300, 3.5", 5400rpm, 32MB Cache)
Storage (E:) : 2TB (NTFS) @ WDC WD20EARS-00MVWB0 (2TB, SATA300, 3.5")
Optical Drive (F:) : N/A @ ATAPI iHAS124 Y (SATA150, DVD+-RW, CD-RW, 2MB Cache)
Optical Drive (G:) : N/A @ ATAPI iHOS104 (SATA150, BD-R, DVD+-R, CD-R, 2MB Cache)

LPC Hub Controller 1 : ATI (AMD) IXP SB600/700/800 SMBUS Controller
LPC Hub Controller 2 : ATI (AMD) SB700/800 LPC host controller
LPC Legacy Controller 1 : ITE IT8720F
Audio Device : Gigabyte IXP SB600 High Definition Audio Controller
Audio Codec : Realtek Semi High Definition Audio
Audio Device : PC Partner R700 Audio Device [Radeon HD 4000 Series]
Audio Codec : ATI (AMD) HDMI Audio
Serial Port(s) : 1
Disk Controller : Gigabyte SB700/800 SATA Controller [IDE mode]
Disk Controller : Gigabyte SB700/800 IDE
USB Controller 1 : Gigabyte SB700/800 USB OHCI0 Controller
USB Controller 2 : Gigabyte SB700/800 USB EHCI Controller
USB Controller 3 : Gigabyte SB700/800 USB OHCI0 Controller
USB Controller 4 : Gigabyte SB700/800 USB EHCI Controller
USB Controller 5 : Gigabyte SB700/800 USB OHCI2 Controller
USB Controller 6 : Gigabyte SB700/800 USB OHCI0 Controller
USB Controller 7 : Gigabyte SB700/800 USB EHCI Controller
USB Controller 8 : Gigabyte Etron USB 3.0 Extensible Host Controller
FireWire/1394 Controller 1 : Gigabyte VIA VT6308 1394 OHCI Controller
SMBus/i2c Controller 1 : ATI SB800 SMBus

Printers and Faxes
Printer : Send To Microsoft OneNote 2010 Driver (1200x1200, Colour)
Printer : Microsoft XPS Document Writer (600x600, Colour)
Fax : Microsoft Shared Fax Driver (200x200)
Printer : CutePDF Writer (4000x4000, Colour)
Printer : Canon MG6100 series Printer XPS (USB, Colour)
Printer : Canon MG6100 series Printer (USB, Colour)

Network Services
Network Adapter : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (Ethernet, 1Gbps)

Operating System
Windows System : Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 6.01.7601 (Service Pack 1)
Platform Compliance : x64

Windows Experience Index
Current System : 6.7
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