Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

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dufflespank
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Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby dufflespank » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:01 am

I have been playing with getting my Pro 40 running in Ubuntu using jack. My specific use case is multi-track recording into reaper (I'm sure most people here know this, but there is a native reaper build for linux now). I wanted to contribute a few notes to anyone out there who might be trying to do the same as me (or possibly using a related Saffire interface).

1) Currently, there is a kernel module called snd_dice that comes with the linux kernel, and is integrated into alsa. This module is a driver for the DICE chip in the Saffire series interfaces. Because this driver comes stock with the kernel, it is possible to plug n play the Pro 40 (assuming your kernel version is high enough, mine is currently 4.4.0). HOWEVER snd_dice has limitations. First of all, when using jack with the alsa backend (which uses the snd_dice driver), the interface can only be opened with two specific settings of the buffer size (256/3 and 256/2 in my case). Anything else, and jack won't start. Secondly, the snd_dice driver cannot access the ADAT inputs. It will only provide access to the analog line ins + SPDIF ins.

2) To get around these issues, you need to use the ffado driver instead of snd_dice. I am achieving this by selecting "firewire" as the jack backend, which only works after you do "sudo apt install jackd2-firewire". This allows many other choices of buffer size, and provides access to the ADAT inputs for recording (I haven't tried sending audio to the ADAT outs, but I'm guessing it works). HOWEVER one issue that arises is that the ffado and snd_dice drivers do not play nice with eachother. I could not get jack to start with the "firewire" backend until I blacklisted the snd_dice module. Do this by appending the line "blacklist snd_dice" to the end of the correct file in /lib/modprobe.d (the correct file will be the one corresponding to your kernel, which in turn can be determined by running "uname -r").

3) Lastly, I spent some time chasing down xruns. Adding myself to the "audio" group and running jack in realtime gave fewer xruns than non-realtime mode, but still I would get an xrun once every 20 minutes or so. I then installed a low latency kernel by doing "sudo apt install linux-lowlatency" (and of course updating grub), and now I don't see xruns anymore. FYI my CPU is a 3.2 GHz 6 core Intel Xeon (plenty of CPU).

Hope this helps someone out there

dufflespank
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Re: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby dufflespank » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:28 am

To add one more thing: ffado-mixer is a neat utility that tries to provide the same functionality as the Saffire MixControl software from Focusrite. I found that it sort of works, with the major issue that it doesn't appear to have an option for saving the settings to the flash in the Pro 40. However, it did seem that sometimes the setting would save randomly, but other times not. As a workaround, I am now dual booting windows 10 (yuck) in order to use MixControl. I'm noticing that beyond just being able to save and load to the Pro 40 flash memory, there are definitely more options available to tweak in MixControl than in ffado-mixer.

babag
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Re: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby babag » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:24 am

thanks so much for these tips! i have almost the same situation and this has gotten everything up and running. have yet to test thoroughly but seems fine so far.

thanks again,
BabaG

Frank Carvalho
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Re: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby Frank Carvalho » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:29 am

My friend has a Sapphire Pro 40, so this is useful information. Thanks!
Vox, Selmer, Yamaha and Leslie amplifiers. Rickenbacker, Epiphone, Ibanez, Washburn, Segovia, Yamaha and Fender guitars. Hammond, Moog, Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Crumar, Ensoniq and Mellotron keyboards. Xubuntu+KXStudio recording setup.

Frank Carvalho
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Re: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby Frank Carvalho » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:36 pm

I tested my friends FSP 40 today using the tweaks above. It works prefectly when running at 48kHz. I can use a buffer size of 64 samples, and run with a latency of 1.3 ms for tracking. Playback works perfectly.

However, I have problems getting things to work at 96kHz. I can get jackd to start, buffer size 128, and it presents all the firefire ins and outs as it should. Connecting Ardour appears to work, as it is able to see input and record input, showing waveforms etc. But there is no playback sound. The connections are correct, there are output levels at Ardours master out, and master out is connected to the firewire out channels. But no sound.
I tried playing back a file directly to the firewire output with Audacity, and still nothing.
I have compared the setup to the 48kHz project, and all is identical, except the 48kHz still plays back correctly.
I have tried to increase buffer size in JACK, and still no playback sound.
I also had a look at the settings in the ffado-mixer, and they are identical too, apart from the sample rate.
Then I tried to loop a short piece of sound for a while, and in Ardour I can see that the cursor sometimes stops and moves in short skips, as if the transport doesn't work correctly all the time. When this happens I can hear some chirping fragments of the recorded sound.

Any ideas? It sounds like a syncing problem to me, but I don't know where to look for further cues. The FSP40 is currently set to internal clock. Should I use an external SPDIF from the computers other sound card (a 2496), or what do you suggest?

/Frank
Vox, Selmer, Yamaha and Leslie amplifiers. Rickenbacker, Epiphone, Ibanez, Washburn, Segovia, Yamaha and Fender guitars. Hammond, Moog, Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Crumar, Ensoniq and Mellotron keyboards. Xubuntu+KXStudio recording setup.

basstrombone
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Re: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby basstrombone » Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:57 am

Frank Carvalho wrote:I tested my friends FSP 40 today using the tweaks above. It works prefectly when running at 48kHz. I can use a buffer size of 64 samples, and run with a latency of 1.3 ms for tracking. Playback works perfectly.

However, I have problems getting things to work at 96kHz. I can get jackd to start, buffer size 128, and it presents all the firefire ins and outs as it should. Connecting Ardour appears to work, as it is able to see input and record input, showing waveforms etc. But there is no playback sound. The connections are correct, there are output levels at Ardours master out, and master out is connected to the firewire out channels. But no sound.
I tried playing back a file directly to the firewire output with Audacity, and still nothing.
I have compared the setup to the 48kHz project, and all is identical, except the 48kHz still plays back correctly.
I have tried to increase buffer size in JACK, and still no playback sound.
I also had a look at the settings in the ffado-mixer, and they are identical too, apart from the sample rate.
Then I tried to loop a short piece of sound for a while, and in Ardour I can see that the cursor sometimes stops and moves in short skips, as if the transport doesn't work correctly all the time. When this happens I can hear some chirping fragments of the recorded sound.

Any ideas? It sounds like a syncing problem to me, but I don't know where to look for further cues. The FSP40 is currently set to internal clock. Should I use an external SPDIF from the computers other sound card (a 2496), or what do you suggest?

/Frank




Hi Frank,


I know it's gonna sound kinda crazy and nonsense but have you checked ALSA MIXER for muted outputs?
Some years ago I had an E-MU 1212m soundcard (pcie) for some funky reason (who knows) Either Jack or Alsa (had no Idea) would mute the main Playback. (out 1/2) on ALSA MIXER.

Every time I would switch to higher SR (e.g. 96K) I had to go to AlsaMixer and unmute it ..... It may be worth to check it out.

I hope it helps

Frank Carvalho
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Posts: 362
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:36 pm

Re: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby Frank Carvalho » Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:10 pm

I’ll check, but this is a firewire interface, and I dont think it is reckognized by alsamixer at all. I did check the ffado-mixer and everything looks right. But thanks for the suggestion. I really dont know what to do.
Vox, Selmer, Yamaha and Leslie amplifiers. Rickenbacker, Epiphone, Ibanez, Washburn, Segovia, Yamaha and Fender guitars. Hammond, Moog, Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Crumar, Ensoniq and Mellotron keyboards. Xubuntu+KXStudio recording setup.

ifys
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Tips and tricks

Postby ifys » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:05 pm

Frank Carvalho wrote:I tested my friends FSP 40 today using the tweaks above. It works prefectly when running at 48kHz. I can use a buffer size of 64 samples, and run with a latency of 1.3 ms for tracking. Playback works perfectly.

However, I have problems getting things to work at 96kHz. I can get jackd to start, buffer size 128, and it presents all the firefire ins and outs as it should. Connecting Ardour appears to work, as it is able to see input and record input, showing waveforms etc. But there is no playback sound. The connections are correct, there are output levels at Ardours master out, and master out is connected to the firewire out channels. But no sound.
I tried playing back a file directly to the firewire output with Audacity, and still nothing.
I have compared the setup to the 48kHz project, and all is identical, except the 48kHz still plays back correctly.
I have tried to increase buffer size in JACK, and still no playback sound.
I also had a look at the settings in the ffado-mixer, and they are identical too, apart from the sample rate.
Then I tried to loop a short piece of sound for a while, and in Ardour I can see that the cursor sometimes stops and moves in short skips, as if the transport doesn't work correctly all the time. When this happens I can hear some chirping fragments of the recorded sound.

Any ideas? It sounds like a syncing problem to me, but I don't know where to look for further cues. The FSP40 is currently set to internal clock. Should I use an external SPDIF from the computers other sound card (a 2496), or what do you suggest?

/Frank


Hello,
I am facing same problem as Frank
at 48k it works fine but 96k not able to hear anything
If someone could help all my project in Ardour are in 96k
thanks in advance


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