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Topic: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

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  1. #1

    On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    After reading the thread entitled “Alto Flute Solo static pops” I thought it was time to write something on the subject of pops and clicks. The subject is not as clearly defined as some might assume. In fact, the occurrence of pops and clicks is distressingly unpredictable from system to system. Some users experience very specific clicks and pops at certain loop points and others experience problems with solo instruments set to the default polyphony of “1.” Let me talk about these two types from my experience over the last year.

    The first one is concerned with clicks and pops at loop points. I periodically receive (or see posted) reports of note-specific loop problems. I have probably examined many, many pages of such reports. I never let one go unchecked. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten I find nothing when I examine these reports. That’s right: Not the slightest little glitch. And, of course, if I can’t hear it, I can’t fix it. NDEE’s report of the glitch on the low “E” of the flute is a case in point. There is no such glitch when I check that note on my system. Some people hear lots of clicks in various instruments and some people encounter none. One of our main beta testers from the beginning has never once heard a pop or click with the library and he has used it more than most. I have experienced pops and clicks on occasion which brings me to the subject of the second type of glitch.

    Last week I took the time to do extensive testing on the solo instruments set to a polyphony setting of “1.” I hoped to nail down the conditions that caused the clicking behavior. My tests showed these characteristics (on my system):

    1. The clicks occurred in the right channel, never the left.
    2. They occurred almost entirely when the polyphony is set to "1."
    3. On my system there is a direct, repeatable correlation between the
    volume knob setting and severity of the clicking in the right channel.
    4. The phenomenon varies with "left" panning values. Different pan
    settings modify the relationship between the volume knob settings and the occurrence of pops and clicks in the right channel.
    5. The severity of the clicks and pops varies from non-existent to
    extreme based on the settings of the knobs.

    I charted each increment of the volume control over the range of -20db to +12db for an arbitrary panning value of L36 and sent the results to Native Instruments for examination. They tried to duplicate my test results and found nothing. Not a click or pop in sight with any of their systems yet on my system the results were consistent and repeatable in all host software.

    So, what do we have here? Most likely we have varying performance with different hardware, drivers, and configurations. When someone sends me a list of notes that are clicking I have no doubt that they are accurately reporting what is happening on their systems but these anomalies may or may not happen on mine or someone else’s.

    Solutions and workarounds: We and Native Instruments will continue to investigate this and try to find some pattern that can be addressed at the programming level while users can continue to send us reports. More information helps. For solo instruments that are clicking in the right channel here are some things that work on my system:

    1. As mentioned by DPDan in the other thread the polyphony setting can be increase to greater than “1.” This has one huge drawback: You lose the tongue/slur function of the sustain pedal which requires a polyphony setting of “1” to function properly. But if all else fails this is an option.

    2. You can try to take advantage of the apparent relationship between the panning knob and the volume knob in the player. When you encounter an instrument that clicks at the transition to a new note move the volume knob in the tiniest possible increments and check the performance with each change of setting. On my system I can always find a setting that eliminates the clicking. Alternatively, you can try instead changing the panning knob setting in small increments. As an example, I could get the Alto flute to stop clicking by changing the panning setting from L20 to L15 on my system. Conversely, some of the settings will make the clicking much worse.

    These workarounds may help some users until we get a better idea of exactly what makes the difference between a system that has no clicks and pops and one that does. Wish I could tell you more.

    Tom

  2. #2
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    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    Hi Tom,

    I've been dinking around a little, and for what it's worth this is what I found for my particular rig, listening via Sony monitor headphones through an M-Audio Omni Studio box:

    1) Increasing the polyphony indeed solves the clicking on the alto flute solo, although it will still click when the polyphony has been matched. In other words, if I set poly to 4, I can play 3 notes, but a 4th tone running together clicks. This, of course, is not a problem; it is, after all, a solo instrument.

    2) My clicking occurs on the left, but not between about 93 to 100% left! From there, it begings to click until I pan to about 14 or 15% on the right, at which point the tone is pristine again. Since you said that the noise is always on the right, I wondered if I inverted stereo plugs, etc., but it's nothing like that. It's just how it works on my current set-up.

    3) I can't swear that I've visited every single voice in the Library, as I've been more like a kid in a candy store than a research scientist in the 5 or so days since I've had GPO, but I'm pretty sure that the alto is absolutely the only voice that displays any problems at all, however minor.

    And take this input with a grain, as I am brand new to this soft synth stuff. If my ASIO drivers were drunk or something, I probably wouldn't know. Just klutzing about trying to learn.

    BTW, I just love this product, and the whole array of musical possibilities it opens up. It's rocked my little world.

    Michael (Quasar)

  3. #3

    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    I know I've been one of the squeakier wheels on this subject, but you may have noticed I've been much quieter of late. The reason is that I've given all the information I can find, and have also found a workaround for myself.

    Changing number of voices is not an option, as I need legato (not to mention cpu). Changing panning is only slightly better... I would prefer to be able to pan as the piece requires.

    The very best solution is to lower the MIDI volume level to a very low setting, then to use mod wheel and instance volume to get things where I want them. I have eliminated 99% of my clicks that way, and the remaining 1% is nearly inaudible.

    I also wonder if there is another correlation. I am a Sonar user, and noticed that many of the others with the problem also use Sonar. I have a theory that people who have encountered this in Sonar have all set GPO prefs to use MIDI volume and pan messages instead of the knobs, and had the Sonar track volume set high. The default setting in sonar for track volume is 100, which I always assumed was a good starting point level, and would set higher or lower by hand to get where I wanted it.

    However, this is a sure-fire way to get a bunch of clicks. I now start with a volume setting of around 40-45 on legato winds, and things are working well. This also has the advantage of allowing me to use more of the mod wheel's upper range, with a new result of a larger expression range.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  4. #4
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    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    I have never had problems with pops and clicks in Sonar. I do not use CC7/10 but set the levels and pan positions either in the player or in Kontakt.

    The 0 db level in Kontakt (and the player) is approx. 82 for CC7. Which means 100 is probably close to 6 db. Obviously this will cause distortion. Another thing to keep in mind is that each sound adds to the level. So if you set one instrument to 82 and add another at the same level, you are over 0 db at this point which will add clipping. To avoid clipping in Sonar, watch what the levels are in the master output.

    Each time you add another instance another audio track is created (or more depending on your settings). Each of these audio should never hit 0 db. You will notice that as you add each audio track that the master output will be higher. It is recommended in Craig Anderton's Mixing and Mastering in Sonar book that you should never let the master level go over -0.1 db. This leaves some safety margin.

    Sonar has very good metering options so you can spot issues in your signal path. Get to know Sonar's metering system and you will never have issues with clipping within it. Digital clipping will cause clicks and pops.

  5. #5

    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    The clicks may or may not be clipping (they don't appear to be when examining the waveform), but in any case, do not anywhere in Sonar appear to be approaching the 0db level. It's definitely tied to the midi volume setting, but does not appear to be overloading anything in the signal path.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  6. #6

    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    I am curious on how you change the polyphony settings. Where?

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by kitekrazy
    I am curious on how you change the polyphony settings. Where?
    In the Kontakt Player (the keyboard display) next to the MIDI channel display & under the CPU usage number (and % sign) display, you'll see 2 music notes and 2 numbers, double click on the right number and enter your polyphony value.

    NDEE

  8. #8

    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    Ah! Thanks!

  9. #9

    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    Hmmmmmmm? OK, I've been having a problem with the audio seriously distorting from time to time and I have assumed that I was overloading my processor. Now I'm starting to think the MIDI volume might have something to do with it. Anyone else have this problem?

  10. #10
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    Re: On the subject of pops and clicks. . .

    Andrew,

    Try doing a piece without changing the MIDI volume (CC7) levels. Just do all level changes with CC1 (modulation). If you still get distortion, then it may be something else. The volume levels have been balanced between most of the instruments in the library and shouldn't need much tweaking. If you need to bring up an instrument, then make the change on the player. If you're using the player as a VST in most sequencers, it will remember the settings when you save your song. I find that the sustain+short double bass sound is a little quiet and I usually set this one at almost 0 db on the player. The clarinet I usually pull back by a couple db.

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