[ubuntu-studio-users] Questions about production

Mike Holstein mikeh789 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 28 15:02:15 UTC 2014

On Sun, Jul 27, 2014 at 3:37 AM, Shubham Mishra <mishrashubham2007 at gmail.com
> wrote:

> Hello People. After a long time I finally got around to try and record
> something. I have a fresh install of Ubuntu Studio 14.04 up and running and
> I have fiddled around with some of the programs and tried to do some stuff
> but I'm running into some problems. Note I am not only new to linux audio
> but new to audio recording in general so please bear with me if some of the
> questions sound stupid. At the moment I'm using my midi keyboard which is
> hooked up with a USB cable and I'm only going to do midi stuff right now
> although I'm planning to get a microphone later for vocals. So here we go
> 1. I seem to be running into xruns a lot (one every 2-3 minutes) and the
> settings which I have to bring jack so I don't get any dropouts at all
> brings the latency up to 40ms which is too high. I'm running this on my
> relatively old laptop using the built in sound card, which has a first gen
> i3 and 3 GB RAM. Now I have absolutely no idea about what kind of hardware
> is recommended for audio recording, so is this much enough? Because if it
> is, then I'm probably doing something wrong. I do have a desktop with a
> much better processor which I may have to use then, but no dedicated sound
> card.

you could be running into more issues with the hardware you have not
supporting linux, or not supporting the work flow you are doing. on *any*
internal audio device, if i can get 40ms latency, im comfortable with that.
internal audio devices like that are not intended for audio production.
regardless of the machine you end up using, even just adding a simple USB
audio device that is under $80us can drastically improve your setup, in
latency, and functionality, such as adding a mic preamp, or a proper line
in for instruments.

> I have Realtime enabled in JACK and enabled memlock in Ubuntu Studio
> controls. What else can I do reduce the latency? I have left the priority
> setting in qjackctl at default. Should I change that to something?
> 2. Is it ok to use rakarrack effects while recording or should I monitor
> just a clean signal and then apply effects later? I mean, does the extra
> processing add significant load to the CPU or are we talking on completely
> different scales here? Same with zynaddsubfx; should I use that while
> recording? I read somewhere that apparently it is not real time safe.

on older hardware, i dont do the effects in realtime like that on the way
in. if i have 40ms latency, i dont even monitor with the software like
that.. if i dont need to monitor in realtime, i dont. if i, for example, am
recording a guitar, i'll have the amp or acoustic instrument in the room,
live.. i'll put a mic on the amp or the instrument, and record. monitoring
basically live with my actual ears, not the computer. in this case, the
latency of the hardware literally doesnt matter. if i want effects, i'll
add them in externally in this scenario, still, not using the machine to
monitor. if i want to "overdub", there are things in place in ardour that
are supposed to adjust for the latency.. i will play the recorded track,
and listen while tracking a new track, monitoring the already recorded
track from the machine, and the live instrument im recording now with the
analog source instead of after the software. in both of those scenarios,
there is no benefit to monitoring after the software so i dont. if i wanted
to, i would get hardware that supports lower latency. this does not
necessarily mean faster CPU. i used to get sub 2ms with firewire on a
pentium4 with a gig of ram. the firewire device was capable and supported
linux well..

> 3.  For monitoring while recording, is it better to route the midi signal
> through qtractor to the synth or to connect the keyboard directly to the
> synth?

in this scenario, where the machine is the sound source, or the software
synth, you will need lower latency for that to "feel" like an actual
instrument.. for me, i want under 12ms latency for this.. ideally, 5 to 8..
i personally dont want to incite an argument about latency and what is
needed, or usable, or adequate, but rather, encourage you to, as i did, set
the scenario up, and decide for yourself what latency is acceptable to you
for live software synth instruments. if i had an internal audio device
only, i would go ahead and assume the latency i will have will be
unacceptable for this purpose.. a work around would be, connect the midi
unit to the machine, and record the midi data, but, if the midi keyboard is
more than a controller and has *any* internal sounds, use the internal
sounds on the actual keyboard to monitor while tracking the midi data into
the computer.. this will get you the same end result, with the compromise
of not hearing exactly what you want while recording, but, hearing an
instrument played in realtime.. after tracking the midi data into the
machine, you can then process the midi data however you like... routing the
midi data to whatever software instruments, and to whatever audio effects..

> 4. On an unrelated note, how do sfz files work? Are they sort of like sf2
> files, which I can just load up on Qsynth or something?
> 5. For the microphone, is it ok get a USB microphone? I heard that it's
> messy handling multiple sound cards with jack. If yes, then what is the
> best way to connect a microphone?
> Thanks
> Mish
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