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Audio Problems IBM T60

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November 4, 2011 2:05:41 PM

I have had this problem for ages and after speaking to Focusrite support for weeks they could not resolve the issue.

I have a Focusrite Pro 40 firewire interface which i am connecting to my T60 Lenovo Laptop through a Texas Instruments PCMAIA Card made by Belkin..

The problem is that when I move the mouse around on screen it effects the audio performance, this mainly happens in Cubase but also in other programs. It does not happen when using the built in sound card but just the firewire one.
What is really strange is when I disable Windows Aero (Win 7) the problem gets worse and instead of just being a distortion it cuts the sound out completely, the video below is with windows Aero disabled:

I video's the problem here:
http://youtu.be/rbH418BmXY0

It seems there is some kind of conflict when using the PCMCIA firewire card.

I have used the Focusrite in my desktop without this problem.

I really hope someone can help me as this is my proffessional recording rig and needs to be rock solid!

Thank you

More about : audio problems ibm t60

a c 200 D Laptop
November 4, 2011 3:42:21 PM

The issue (likely) is that your laptop is having trouble processing the various "translations" taking place. You are going from the Focusrite through the firewire adapter through the PCMCIA interface (not very efficient, BTW) back into your system. That is a lot of processing to handle at once. Keep in mind that firewire is not compressed and the data flow is quite high. You might be able to lower your sample rate.

Are you using an external mouse or the touchpad? Do both devices have the same issue?
a b D Laptop
November 4, 2011 3:49:58 PM

I'd imagine its because the PCMCIA interface is using the same lanes as other devices (isn't PCMCIA controlled via PCI? I don't remember). Do you have other devices attached to the machine? Disconnect them. If the problem continues, you're likely going to have to get a new notebook that's a little more modern; PCMCIA is archaic now.
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a c 200 D Laptop
November 4, 2011 4:04:10 PM

Yep, PCMCIA does use the same lanes as the PCI bus. This is probably a 32-bit CardBus device, but it still has the same issue.
November 7, 2011 7:44:02 AM

COLGeek said:
The issue (likely) is that your laptop is having trouble processing the various "translations" taking place. You are going from the Focusrite through the firewire adapter through the PCMCIA interface (not very efficient, BTW) back into your system. That is a lot of processing to handle at once. Keep in mind that firewire is not compressed and the data flow is quite high. You might be able to lower your sample rate.

Are you using an external mouse or the touchpad? Do both devices have the same issue?



Hi my desktop does not have this issue. I am using a usb mouse at the same time but thats it, my track pad is broken.

November 7, 2011 7:46:07 AM

frozenlead said:
I'd imagine its because the PCMCIA interface is using the same lanes as other devices (isn't PCMCIA controlled via PCI? I don't remember). Do you have other devices attached to the machine? Disconnect them. If the problem continues, you're likely going to have to get a new notebook that's a little more modern; PCMCIA is archaic now.



Yeah i though as much perhaps I need a laptop with the firewire built in to it? Thing is everyone recommends TI chipset on the firewire input but its hard to determine which laptops have this, and my budget is tight!
November 7, 2011 7:56:14 AM

frozenlead said:
I'd imagine its because the PCMCIA interface is using the same lanes as other devices (isn't PCMCIA controlled via PCI? I don't remember). Do you have other devices attached to the machine? Disconnect them. If the problem continues, you're likely going to have to get a new notebook that's a little more modern; PCMCIA is archaic now.



Yeah i though as much perhaps I need a laptop with the firewire built in to it? Thing is everyone recommends TI chipset on the firewire input but its hard to determine which laptops have this, and my budget is tight!

Thanks for the suggestions.
I thought it might be fixable with irq timings or something?
a c 200 D Laptop
November 7, 2011 1:59:38 PM

There are many laptops/notebooks with native firewire support, depending on your budget, you have many options.

There really isn't much you can do to overcome the various hardware interfaces you are dealing with on your current setup. You are still going to place too large a burden on the CPU/PCI lanes regardless of any tweaking.

Good luck!
November 7, 2011 3:14:41 PM

Thank You its just that with firewire audio interfaces the manufacturer always recommends Texas Instruments chipset. Thats why I went to so much trouble finding the T60 which has TI chipset on the PCMCIA card slot..
a c 200 D Laptop
November 7, 2011 3:42:47 PM

The TI chipset for the PCMCIA slot is a bit of a red herring. You are really looking for native 1394 support on the motherboard. That is where the TI chip comes into play.
a b D Laptop
November 7, 2011 4:16:54 PM

I've built several audio recording workstations before, and I would also recommend the TI chipset, but I've dealt without it. Getting to know what brand controller is on your notebook is next to impossible to find from the manufacturer.

Then again, Firewire is getting rare on notebooks today, so you won't have too many choices. Do you really need a notebook? Creating a rackmount desktop on wheels isn't that difficult and will give you much more flexibility. It looks like your interface is already rackmount anyway.

In terms of the notebook you have now, you may be able to free up some PCI lanes by playing with IRQs and disabling devices, but generally notebook BIOSes don't allow that sort of control. Honestly, I doubt it will have great effects.
November 7, 2011 4:43:41 PM

frozenlead said:
I've built several audio recording workstations before, and I would also recommend the TI chipset, but I've dealt without it. Getting to know what brand controller is on your notebook is next to impossible to find from the manufacturer.

Then again, Firewire is getting rare on notebooks today, so you won't have too many choices. Do you really need a notebook? Creating a rackmount desktop on wheels isn't that difficult and will give you much more flexibility. It looks like your interface is already rackmount anyway.

In terms of the notebook you have now, you may be able to free up some PCI lanes by playing with IRQs and disabling devices, but generally notebook BIOSes don't allow that sort of control. Honestly, I doubt it will have great effects.



cool thats great of you to share your experience..

I am looking at an Acer TravelMate 5740 as they are known to run the TI chipset..
Its a bummer that I am having these problems I spent so long researching an appropriate laptop.
Oh and a rackmount desktop is out of the question I have no transport and use the laptop for jams and other smaller sessions..

Have you any experience with the TravelMate series?
a b D Laptop
November 7, 2011 6:25:47 PM

Not specifically, but Acer isn't exactly known for quality. Don't get me wrong, some people are very happy with their Acers, but I'd say the chance of getting a dud is higher. In addition, their cases are usually more plastic than metal, so treat it nicely and it should last you.

November 8, 2011 11:23:32 AM

frozenlead said:
I've built several audio recording workstations before, and I would also recommend the TI chipset, but I've dealt without it. Getting to know what brand controller is on your notebook is next to impossible to find from the manufacturer.

Then again, Firewire is getting rare on notebooks today, so you won't have too many choices. Do you really need a notebook? Creating a rackmount desktop on wheels isn't that difficult and will give you much more flexibility. It looks like your interface is already rackmount anyway.

In terms of the notebook you have now, you may be able to free up some PCI lanes by playing with IRQs and disabling devices, but generally notebook BIOSes don't allow that sort of control. Honestly, I doubt it will have great effects.


As for tweeking the irq's I am not sur of the best way to approach this, I know in the BIOS it has channels and they are all set to "auto"..
It seems that its the graphics and the audio that are interfering with eachother.

Also, do you know why it is recommended to have dedicated graphics for an audio laptop over integrated?

Thanks..
Dom
a b D Laptop
November 8, 2011 1:30:47 PM

You have a choice for graphics? Generally notebooks don't.

If you want to view what is on what IRQ, you can open up the system information tool under accessories>system tools>system information.
a c 200 D Laptop
November 8, 2011 1:43:56 PM

The issue on a laptop (due to its lack of configurability) will be that the OP will only be able to disable devices in Windows (I would suggest disabling all comm and parallel ports if enabled as well as the on-board audio if not being used).

Freeing up those resources are going to yield some system gains, but not enough to make a difference required to support the string of physical interfaces involved here.
a b D Laptop
November 8, 2011 1:45:36 PM

I honestly don't think disabling them will make a difference, but there's no harm in trying, I suppose.

Really though, the board is the limiting factor, and it simply can't do more. There comes a time where every machine just gets too old to be useful.
a c 200 D Laptop
November 8, 2011 2:03:34 PM

frozenlead said:
I honestly don't think disabling them will make a difference, but there's no harm in trying, I suppose.

Really though, the board is the limiting factor, and it simply can't do more. There comes a time where every machine just gets too old to be useful.

Agreed on both points. You just can't overcome the timing/resource issues of that many physical interfaces with this config. Time for a new rig with native 1394 support. Many available in all price ranges.
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