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Topic: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

  1. #1

    Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    For some time now I\'ve been running GSa on my main machine, but I just made the jump to GSt96 and will be purchasing a dedicated machine just as the sampler box. My goal for this box is just a reliable box with full polyphony (96 voices), and other priorities are that it be modestly quiet and as cool running as possible.

    Beyond that, I won\'t play games on it, and it doesn\'t need to be the latest technology rocket. My main DAW is a SCSI + IDE system, but this one will be IDE only, and I\'ll put 256 or 512M of RAM in it.

    I\'m considering the drive configuration. I\'ll probably go with an IBM 60GXP or two, one 60 gigs or 1 or 2 40 gigs. If I went with one drive could I get full polyphony? Is it useful to turn off the swapfile (win98se)?

    The mobo will probably be an asus cusl2, and I\'ll put the cdrom on 1 IDE controller. If I put 2 drives on the 2nd controller, am I likely to get full polyphony from a slaved drive? Is it better to get another IDE controller for 2 drives, like the Promise?

    Thanks for the tips folks.

    ps Since folks are likely to ask, I\'m gonna stick with the 815 chipset, since I may put VIA sensitive cards in the box in the future. I\'ve had good experinces with Asus and IBM in the past, so I\'m sticking with these. The sound card will be a Frontier or RME, I dunno yet. I have a few Frontier cards already, and like the solid drivers, midi, and audio patchbays. As for RME, I like the OS support, but it sounded like the GSIF drivers weren\'t fully baked yet and I\'d miss the midi and patchbay.

  2. #2

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    I think if you\'re going to the plunge for a separate machine you should get a separate drive for Giga. I think you can get away with one drive for digital audio recording but Giga is more sensitive in my experience. All you need is a tiny disk for your system drive & swap file (buy a second-hand 2GB ATA33 or 66 or 100 IDE drive) and get a good 30-40GB drive for Giga (I use the IBM Deskstar 40GB which is 8.5ms avg seek).

    You probably could get away with a single drive (Nemesys claims the Toshiba Tecra 8200 laptop with one 4200rpm drive was getting 140-150 voices reliably); but I like to have the overhead so I\'m not pushing anything. I kind of wish I got the GS160 though, I run out of voices with big piano pieces!

  3. #3

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    I wonder if it\'s actually necessary though for full poly (especially with the 96 voice)? I\'m just not aware with my main DAW box that it hits the \'system\' drive for anything while the box is being used for nothing but a sampler. With 256 megs it doesn\'t swap, and the modern drives are pretty durn fast too. If I could spare myself the additional noise and heat and IRQ(and $$ though that\'s minor here) I\'d do it. Remember this box isn\'t really going to be running multiple apps.

    Anybody got modern system single drive performance numbers to post?

    Thanks for all replies!

  4. #4

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    > Nemesys claims the Toshiba Tecra 8200 laptop with one
    > 4200rpm drive was getting 140-150 voices reliably

    Whoa, I missed that line on first read. That\'s awesome and has to bode well for me. In my experience laptop drives are way slower than desktop ones. Perhaps unlike you I don\'t need substantial extra throughput on this box, since it won\'t be streaming out other applications or recording.

    thanks again Carl

  5. #5

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    Hmmm hate to be the prophet of gloom here but I\'ve got a csul-2 and 2 ibm deskstars and can currently only get 120 max polyphony apart from two days when I could suddenly get full 160 without pops and clicks... but they whent past very quickly.

    Gigasampler splurts and chokes if you overdo the polyphony. Unlike my old 64 voice sampler which I didn\'t really notice much note stealing goind on Giga just shouts and screams when you try and push it.

    My current measure of happiness revolves around a composition I have made which involves two hands of 4 fingered chords on the piano with the sustain pedal held down. It is a rather beautiful and resonant piece which currently lasts all of 7 bars before GigaStudio cracks up and blurts out a tonne of crap noises and notes. One day, when I suddenly obtained 160 voices, I managed to play it through to the end of bar 8 and was really rather chuffed. I should have recorded the song that day. Unfortunately I didn\'t and two days later, and ever since, my GigaStudio was back to breaking point at bar 7. One day I\'ll get this song down.

    In the meantime I\'d recommend that you forget 96 polyphony, it\'ll sound awfully like 32 polyphony when you get it going. Go for 160.
    Remember 1 stereo note counts for 2 voices of polyphony. So if everything is in stereo then your actual note count will be 48.

    Here\'s hoping tascam produce a TRULY optimised DSP-type GSIF sound card. Then all our problems will be over.

  6. #6

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    Have a cusl2c system with IBM 40GXP drive, and quantum fireball AS.

    One drive is connected (single) to a mobo IDE (the other mobo IDE goes to CDROM), the other drive goes singly thru a Promise Ultra66. The big trick is to put the Promise card on the so-called \"priority\" PCI slot, and not to use master/slave configurations at all.

    I can get full 160 polyphony from either the one drive, or the other.

    Gigadiga, if you are using a plug-in IDE controller, try moving it to your mobo\'s priority PCI slot, otherwise try moving your soundcard to the priority slot on this board (make sure priority PCI is turned on in the BIOS) - this should allow the soundcard to service its interrupts much faster.

  7. #7

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    GD - Sorry to hear you don\'t get full poly. Let me know if cc\'s trick helps. I\'m sure 96 voices will be fine for me because of the way I track. I\'ve already upgraded to 96, 160 was too much $$ for what I needed. Actually I don\'t really need GSt\'s features since I\'ve got good outboard FX and sequencers and mixer and all. I\'m mostly upgrading to get the stupid choke groups for cymbals working, and it will be nice to have faster gig loading. (Like some others here, I hope future GS development focuses more on making a better instrument, and less on the environment.)

    I wonder what the deal is with note stealing? The way it works on some of my gear is to never steal the lowest note from a patch, and beyond that it seems to be a heuristic balancing oldest notes with low envelope amplitudes, which can work pretty well. My nord modular can steal voices very non-intrusively, since the oscs are free-running and the env\'s just retrigger from their old amplitude without zeroing. Can\'t really do the same thing with samples tho.

    cc, thanks for the tips. I\'ll let y\'all know how it goes when the box comes together.

  8. #8

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    Have you tried running hard-drive benchmark utils such as dskbench.exe (at prorec.com) or HDTach to see what MB/sec and seek times you are getting? I did and discovered that for some reason my on-board IDE for disk 1 was very slow.

    I went to BestBuy and picked up a $40 PCI Card for ATA100 (disable MB) and my hard drives scream now and polyphony is great (no problems at 96, I only have GS96). I am also using IBM Deskstar drives.

    Also (as an experiment) try to turn your video acceleration off, and USB ports if you don\'t need them.

  9. #9

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    Many of todays drives comes with some \'acoustical\' feature to make the drive more silent. Unfortunately it also makes it slower at seeking. Some drives ships with this option set to QUIET (slowest), and when I changed this to the fastest instead, I actually noticed that notes that dropped out earlier now are playing fine. So if you have a newer Maxtor or IBM drive you might want to check that out and find a utility on the vendors homepage to be able to change the settings...

  10. #10

    Re: Full polyphony from 1 drive?

    I was getting full polyphony with only a single IBM Deskstar 75GXP. But with some intermittent clicks and pops, which I thought might be hard drive related.

    So, I added a second drive on a second IDE channel (the ASUS A7V I have supports 4 ATA100 devices, before activating the onboard Promise stuff). No difference in performance, that I can tell.

    I think the occassional clicks and pops are related to the immature GSIF driver for my Hammerfall 9652, or perhaps my PCI slot choice (which I just changed recently). But then again, I\'m outputting 24 tracks of audio all at once....

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