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Audio Dropout with SONAR and Daisy-Chained FirePods
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dwhitejazz
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Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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I have been using my FirePod successfully for years on my Windows 7 64-bit system without problems. I am using the latest ASIO drivers, version 5.13.

Recently I bought a used FirePod in order to daisy chain the two units and increase my input channels to 16,

Now I have the problem of audio dropouts and I can't figure out what is causing it. I am using SONAR X2 Producer for my DAW. Even if SONAR is sitting idle doing "nothing" eventually a dialog box will pop up and state, "The audio engine has been stopped unexpectedly."

When either FirePod is running by itself (i.e. the other unit is not connected and powered off) I have no problems with dropouts. I've tried switching which unit is the master unit and that makes no difference.

I've tried all the obvious things listed below and nothing resolves the mysterious dropouts:

1) Increased latency in Firepod control panel.
2) Increased buffers in SONAR from 256 to 512.
3) Disabled background Virus Scanner and services. Note that my CPU is hardly being used when a dropout occurs.

Sample rate is 44.1kHz. Clock Source is "Internal" (no other setting in the dropdown). Didn't make any difference regarding the Latency setting which is currently 4.0ms.

My Firewire interface is Texas Instruments 1394 OHCI.

One difference I see when I list the devices from control panel is the following:

61883 Device Class
PreSonus FirePod (my unit)
PreSonus FP 10 (new used unit)

The new used unit is a "FirePod" so I don't know why it shows up as an "FP 10".

My dedicated audio hard drives are also on Firewire using the same hardware card.

Again, the dropout will occur if SONAR is just sitting idle doing nothing. I don't see any background services interfering and the dropout only occurs when both units are daisy chained - not when each unit is running by itself.

This appears to be a Firewire syncing problem. I have not tried replacing the Firewire cable joining the two units - that cable however is brand new.

Any ideas are appreciated. I am out of things to try. Thanks...

Dave White
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dwhitejazz
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Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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I ran the OHCI tool and I think my Firewire drivers and card are ok:

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1 [6.1.7601]
Number of CPUs: 2
Installed RAM: 4094 MB

Microsoft 1394ohci.sys [6.1.7601.17514]
Microsoft ohci1394.sys [6.1.7600.16385] (legacy)
Microsoft 1394bus.sys [6.1.7600.16385] (legacy)

Looking for OHCI 1394 Host Controllers...

1:
Vendor : (104C) Texas Instruments
Chipset: (8024) TSB43AB23
Revision: 00
Details:
Subsysten VendorId: 1421
Subsystem DeviceId: 0001
Max # isoch Rx contexts: 4
Max # isoch Tx contexts: 8
Max 1394 Speed Capability: S400
Support: Compatible, no known issues.

Done.
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dwhitejazz
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Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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May have found the answer but I'm still testing. There are issues with the newer OHCI driver on Windows 7 64-bit that are revealed by daisy chaining the FirePods. These issues are resolved by switching to the "Legacy" OHCI driver. I followed the instructions to do this. On my first use of SONAR I got the scary "blue screen of death" due to an interrupt exception. I'm beginning to think something was not completely installed because after the reboot SONAR has been behaving well and I haven't gotten an audio dropout yet.

I'm wondering if there is a newer hardware card I should purchase for Windows 7 64-bit compatibility. Hope everything continues to remain stable.
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cristofe
Presonificator
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Joined: 12/03/2012 21:10:44
Messages: 3628
Location: Skaneateles, NY USA
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61883 Device Class
PreSonus FirePod (my unit)
PreSonus FP 10 (new used unit)


That is your problem right there. While these units are the same physically, there are differences in the firmware
of the the Firepod and FP10. You need to use two Firepods or two FP10's for them to play nice. Fortunately,
the firmware of your Firepod can be re-flashed to upgrade it to FP10 status. If you're inexperienced with such
procedures I would suggest you find someone to do it for you.....a failed or improper firmware flash can brick
your unit. Also this procedure MUST be performed on a Windows XP machine. Instructions and the necesarry
files can be found here:

http://www.coopersloan.com/index.php?id=8&mode=s&len=2

PC'S: HP XW6000 Dual 3.2GHz Intel Xeon Processors, 8GB RAM WinXP SP2
HP 6005 Pro AMD Athalon X2 B24 3.0Ghz Processor, 4GB RAM Win8 Pro
HP Compaq NC6320 Laptop Intel Core2Duo 2.0Ghz Processor 3GB RAM Win7 Ult
Dell Latitude E4310 Laptop Intel i5 2.67Ghz Processor 4GB RAM Win7 Pro x32

Audio Interfaces: Terratec EWS88MT PCI (2), Audiobox 1818VSL USB & FP10 Firewire, Steinberg MI4 USB, Line 6 Toneport GX & PodXT, Roland GS-10, NI Rig Kontrol 3

Monitors: Yamaha HS50M's

DAWS/VST Hosts: S1 Professional, Plogue Bidule, Xlutop Chainer, Sieb VSTHost & Savihost

Hardware Synthesizers: Roland SH-32 & XV-3080 RedSound Darkstar XP2, Novation X-Station, Yamaha AN200, M-Audio Venom

Hardware Controllers: JL Cooper CS-10 Control Surface, Yamaha EZ-EG, Dillion Les Paul style acoustic electric guitar with Roland GK-3 pickup and GI-20 converter.

The Rest: Guitars, Amps, Stompboxes, Mics, Outboard Gear, VST plugins...too much to list!
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dwhitejazz
Prenoob

Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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Thought I had this solved with the legacy OHCI driver but now I'm getting the blue screen of death - sometimes it takes hours for it to happen. The dump file says this:

I spoke too soon. Everything seemed to be running fine tonight - then I got the blue screen of death - twice! Windows saved a memory dump. Analysis tool I downloaded states the following:

On Tue 8/27/2013 1:01:28 AM GMT your computer crashed
crash dump file: C:\Windows\Minidump\082613-60528-01.dmp
This was probably caused by the following module: ohci1394.sys (0xFFFFF88003F1598
Bugcheck code: 0xD1 (0x0, 0x2, 0x0, 0xFFFFF88003F1598
Error: DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
file path: C:\Windows\system32\drivers\ohci1394.sys
product: Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
company: Microsoft Corporation
description: 1394 OpenHCI Port Driver
Bug check description: This indicates that a kernel-mode driver attempted to access pageable memory at a process IRQL that was too high.
This appears to be a typical software driver bug and is not likely to be caused by a hardware problem.
The crash took place in a standard Microsoft module. Your system configuration may be incorrect. Possibly this problem is caused by another driver on your system that cannot be identified at this time.

PreSonus told me that the OHCI driver with Windows 7 service pack 1 should work and that I should not need the legacy driver. Is that true? Should I use the legacy driver or the newer driver?

I'm still confused about the firmware status. The two units do sync and seem to work together, but is the crash due to one unit not truly having it's firmware updated? The dump seems to indicate an OHCI driver problem.

I can try updating the firmware but I'll need to find an XP machine, which won't be easy.
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dwhitejazz
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Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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I'm still looking into updating the firmware. PreSonus tech support though tells me that the firmware difference should not matter. They lean toward a Windows ACPI interrupt sharing problem. The 1394 card, the graphics card, and a USB controller are all sharing IRQ 16. I've never had problems with ACPI before. They recommend moving the 1394 card to another slot in order to have Windows (hopefully) re-assign the card to another IRQ.

I tried using another FireWire port instead of daisy-chaining the FirePods and that made no difference.
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cristofe
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Joined: 12/03/2012 21:10:44
Messages: 3628
Location: Skaneateles, NY USA
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PreSonus tech support though tells me that the firmware difference should not matter.


Hrmn...that's interesting. I was told the opposite. I haven't had the chance to put it to the test tho
as I have just one FP10. It was a Firepod and I successfully upgraded it to FP10 status because
as an FP10 it can be used as a standalone 8 channel pre and this feature was not implemented
in the original Firepod firmware. But I agree, moving the card to another slot to avoid IRQ conflict
sounds like good advice.

PC'S: HP XW6000 Dual 3.2GHz Intel Xeon Processors, 8GB RAM WinXP SP2
HP 6005 Pro AMD Athalon X2 B24 3.0Ghz Processor, 4GB RAM Win8 Pro
HP Compaq NC6320 Laptop Intel Core2Duo 2.0Ghz Processor 3GB RAM Win7 Ult
Dell Latitude E4310 Laptop Intel i5 2.67Ghz Processor 4GB RAM Win7 Pro x32

Audio Interfaces: Terratec EWS88MT PCI (2), Audiobox 1818VSL USB & FP10 Firewire, Steinberg MI4 USB, Line 6 Toneport GX & PodXT, Roland GS-10, NI Rig Kontrol 3

Monitors: Yamaha HS50M's

DAWS/VST Hosts: S1 Professional, Plogue Bidule, Xlutop Chainer, Sieb VSTHost & Savihost

Hardware Synthesizers: Roland SH-32 & XV-3080 RedSound Darkstar XP2, Novation X-Station, Yamaha AN200, M-Audio Venom

Hardware Controllers: JL Cooper CS-10 Control Surface, Yamaha EZ-EG, Dillion Les Paul style acoustic electric guitar with Roland GK-3 pickup and GI-20 converter.

The Rest: Guitars, Amps, Stompboxes, Mics, Outboard Gear, VST plugins...too much to list!
[WWW]
dwhitejazz
Prenoob

Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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I was successfully able to upgrade the firmware of my FirePod to an FP-10. This did not help to resolve "The audio engine has stopped unexpectedly" problem. I've just about exhausted all ideas. The only thing left is the ACPI interrupt sharing. Unfortunately, my motherboard has a single PCI slot so I can't move the 1394 FireWire card to another slot.

Sharing IRQ 16:
Intel(R) 4 Series Chipset PCI Express Root Port - 2E21
Intel(R) ICH10 Family USB Universal Host Controller - 3A37
Texas Instruments 1394 OHCI Compliant Host Controller
NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS

Windows seems to have a bunch of higher level interrupts but I don't think you can force Windows to assign a device to a particular interrupt with ACPI. Perhaps there is a way I can test in "safe mode" and see what triggers the audio dropouts.

What I don't understand is that if the interrupt is truly the issue, then why does each FirePod unit work standalone with SONAR? If this were an interrupt issue wouldn't a single FirePod also have problems?
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dwhitejazz
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Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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My motherboard has an internal Intel graphics chipset/driver and therefore I was able to remove the NVIDIA card. Now, only the USB controller shares IRQ 16 with the FireWire card.

In spite of removing the sharing with the video card, I still got audio dropouts, but one FirePod by itself works perfectly.

However, I think I know what the problem is. I currently have two FirePods hooked up along with a dedicated hard drive to a PCI FireWire 400 card.

My motherboard has open PCIe "Express" slots which offer greater speed, do not share a bus with other devices since they have dedicated "lanes", and they support bi-directional communication far better than the older PCI technology.

My current theory is that I don't really have any conflicts or problems in my Windows setup - just that I'm trying to send and receive too much bandwidth through an older PCI card.

Therefore, I'm going to try upgrading to a PCIe (express) x1 card with a Texas Instruments chipset and see if that fixes my audio dropout problem.
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dwhitejazz
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Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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Even though I have the PCIe card on order, I may have found the issue. I will have to continue testing for next couple of days.

First, the 1394 OHCI Legacy driver must be used, not the latest Microsoft driver or the Texas Instruments Compliant driver. The latest driver will not cause a BSOD, but it is unusable - audio dropouts. Same with the TI Compliant driver.

Second, when I used the Legacy driver before I got BSODs. However, examination of the dump files revealed two drivers: the legacy 1394 OHCI driver, and, mozy.sys. I use Mozy as a backup service and I thought I had shutdown the Mozy service for my testing. However, mozy.sys is still used by a process called mozystat.exe which still runs in the background even if the service is shutdown.

When I killed that process, SONAR has been running fine. I was able to replicate a BSOD by having SONAR and mozystat.exe running at the same time. Case opened with Mozy but I don't expect a miracle - solution may be to ensure Mozy (and any of its hidden processes) is not running when SONAR is.
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dwhitejazz
Prenoob

Joined: 10/08/2013 18:44:54
Messages: 12
Location: Dublin, Ohio
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Last Sunday I was able to record my jazz band with 16 channels, both FirePods, with no audio dropouts and no BSODs. Here is my summary. I hope it will save someone else a lot of time and frustration:

1) The latest Microsoft Texas Instruments 1394 OHCI-Compliant driver will work with a *single* FirePod on Windows 7 64-bit. Daisy-chaining FirePods does not work with that driver. There is probably an incompatibility issue with the PreSonus driver that is not exposed with a single FirePod.

2) If you install the Unibrain 64-bit driver it does not work with the PreSonus driver at all (i.e. devices are not even recognized).

3) The "Legacy" Microsoft 1394 OHCI-Compliant driver does work and it is the one to use if you are daisy-chaining FirePods. However, this driver does not work well with other third-party drivers (e.g. my Mozy backup system) and you will get BSODs or system lockups if these third-party drivers try to access a FireWire drive using the legacy driver.

4) Obviously I need a stable system - so this is how I solved the problem: I purchased an additional Texas-Instruments chipset compliant FireWire card. For the FirePods I kept them connected to card #1 which is now using the "Legacy" driver. For the dedicated FireWire audio hard drives (which need to be backed up using Mozy) I put them on the card #2 which is using the latest Microsoft Texas-Instruments 1394 OHCI-Compliant driver.

So far this has configuration has been stable. The FirePods work, no audio dropouts, and Mozy can still access the audio drives when I'm not recording to perform a backup without crashing my system.
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cristofe
Presonificator
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Joined: 12/03/2012 21:10:44
Messages: 3628
Location: Skaneateles, NY USA
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Glad to hear you're up and running!

I purchased an additional Texas-Instruments chipset compliant FireWire card.


Yes, many users have reported better performance/stability when using cards over onboard
chipsets.

PC'S: HP XW6000 Dual 3.2GHz Intel Xeon Processors, 8GB RAM WinXP SP2
HP 6005 Pro AMD Athalon X2 B24 3.0Ghz Processor, 4GB RAM Win8 Pro
HP Compaq NC6320 Laptop Intel Core2Duo 2.0Ghz Processor 3GB RAM Win7 Ult
Dell Latitude E4310 Laptop Intel i5 2.67Ghz Processor 4GB RAM Win7 Pro x32

Audio Interfaces: Terratec EWS88MT PCI (2), Audiobox 1818VSL USB & FP10 Firewire, Steinberg MI4 USB, Line 6 Toneport GX & PodXT, Roland GS-10, NI Rig Kontrol 3

Monitors: Yamaha HS50M's

DAWS/VST Hosts: S1 Professional, Plogue Bidule, Xlutop Chainer, Sieb VSTHost & Savihost

Hardware Synthesizers: Roland SH-32 & XV-3080 RedSound Darkstar XP2, Novation X-Station, Yamaha AN200, M-Audio Venom

Hardware Controllers: JL Cooper CS-10 Control Surface, Yamaha EZ-EG, Dillion Les Paul style acoustic electric guitar with Roland GK-3 pickup and GI-20 converter.

The Rest: Guitars, Amps, Stompboxes, Mics, Outboard Gear, VST plugins...too much to list!
[WWW]
 
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