[linux-audio-user] M-Audio Quattro, SoundBlaster Live Xruns, and interface questions.

From: Steve Wahl <steve@email-addr-hidden-ns.net>
Date: Sat Mar 04 2006 - 06:42:00 EET

Hello, all,

I'm a new subscriber to this list, but I've been a long time linux
user, even using audio for quite some time. I want to move up to "the
next level", and am having problems. I tried to gather information
from the list archives, but I didn't get too far, thought I'd just

I have 3 basic questions for now. I'll follow them with additional
background information that you might need to answer the questions.

1. M-Audio Quattro, can it be made to work? I now know nobody seems
to have a very high opinion of it.

I am having problems using it (surprise). I'm running Fedora
Core 3, with some stuff installed from CCRMA. Kernel is
2.6.11-0.3.rdt.rhfc3.ccrma, /proc/asound/version gives:

        Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version 1.0.9rc1.

I used the sample Quattro asoundrc file from alsa-project.org (in a
message from Patrick Shirkey from 2002), and the example arecord
command lines given (like arecord -r 44100 -c 4 -f s16_le -D q4 -d 5
/home/xxx/q4.wav). I seem to still have endian problems -- playback
sounds like a bunch of loud white noise unless I reduce the input
level to something very low -- which I assume means I get most samples
to fit in the least significant byte with zeroes elsewhere. I've read
about some patches, but it seemed like they should have been already

Is there at least one person out there that has this interface work
(well?) for them? If so, I'd be very interested in exchanging email
with you.

2. Is a 700 MHz athlon a reasonable system for a few tracks of audio
with Jackd and Ardour?

I gave up on the Quattro for a while, and installed a SoundBlaster
Live Value. I got it to work quite well. But I'm getting xruns all
quite often from jackd (version 0.99.36) with ardour. Asside from
installing the planet CCRMA kernel, I haven't begun to really try and
optimize settings yet. But I'd like to know what I can reasonably
expect from this older system. (As I mention below, it has "only"
192M of RAM, maybe that's a factor.)

3. Can ALSA use a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 to get 24 bit audio? Can it
do four channels in and four out simultaneously?

I don't have the money to spend on a better supported Pro level audio
interface right now (assuming I have to give up on the Quattro). But
I think I want something a bit (few bits?) better than the SB Live,
so I won't be disappointed down the road at the audio work I do
today. But I saw an old message that said the 24 bit converters were
different than the 16 bit converters, and that they weren't supported
yet. Did they become supported at some time?

Thanks in advance for any replies!

Here's some DETAILS that may fill in the blanks:

I've been running linux for a long time; I have some Slackware 96
disks, that may have been my first linux load at home. Actually ran
Novel Unixware at home before that, and have run various versions of
Red Hat (4 through 9) and now Fedora.

My main linux machine is much faster, but does some server things for
the rest of the house (mail service, file service, DNS, etc.) that I
don't think I want on the same system I'm using for audio work. I've
now started to believe I should migrate all that low-priority stuff
off to a lesser machine, but don't have a whole lot of spare time on
my hands to make such a change...

The 700MHz athalon system has only 192M ram, which might contribute to
my xrun problems. It dual boots with Win98. I intend to make it my
dedicated audio system. (If this proves too slow, I've been thinking
of putting together a new machine to be a MythTV box, and I could
probably make that a dual purpose machine, sometimes running mythtv,
sometimes running audio.)

As far as what to record into it, besides my son who's starting to
play guitar: I have a couple of synths (Ensoniq VFX and Roland
JV-1080), a few mics (best ones are two shure sm58s), a Mackie MS-1202
mixer (original, not newer VLZ), and a Behringer DDX3216 digital mixer
with ADAT interface card, that I picked up when it went on blowout
pricing, just after I purchased the Quattro. An audio interface that
worked with linux and had an ADAT interface would be REALLY SWEET with
this setup. But I don't think I can afford the RME stuff. (If
there's any place I can help apply pressure to get Emu to release the
details of the 1212M card, sign me up!)

I also have my turntable and cassette deck hooked up so I can make CDs
and MP3s of my old albums. And I have a MiniDisc recorder that I've
done some "bootleg" style recordings of musicians at my church, that I
then run into the computer and make CDs from as well.

Up till now, for most of my recording to computer I've used a program
I wrote myself (by the dates on the files, goes back to 1997!) when I
couldn't find anything linux based with VU meters for recording. It
is a simple, console and OSS based application, strictly 16-bit 44.1k
stereo, and it is far surpassed by the stuff that's out there now.
But I am used to it... I have a small script that follows recording
the wav file with two passes of sox to calculate the scale value and
then normalize the file -- if no scaling needs to be done, I usually
assume I clipped somewhere and go back and re-record.

That worked on a 100MHz pentium, so I expect I should be able to do
similar things with a 700MHz athalon and current software, but I might
be wrong which is why I ask.

My needs right now really don't reach much past what one could do with
a cassette porta-studio, or the current digital equivalents. I just
have this stuff I've accumulated, and want to make it useful!

My wish to go to 24 bits is based on this: my target is 16 bit CDs,
and I want a few extra bits resolution so I can record low enough to
not worry about clipping, and still have (pretty much) full 16 bits
resolution after normalizing. So even 20 bits is probably enough, and
I figure an SB Audigy 2 might not have the greatest noise floor but
would probably still meet those needs. If anyone's read this far, let
me know if that sounds spot-on, or misguided.

I bought the Quattro after checking the Alsa soundcard matrix. But I
didn't do a google search until after I had problems getting it to
work. I'm thinking maybe the matrix should be edited and have that
entry marked as not having the greatest success rate!

Again, thanks to all of you for your time in reading this, and for any
help you provide!

--> Steve

Steve Wahl    steve@email-addr-hidden-ns.net
Fools ignore complexity.  Pragmatists suffer it.
Some can avoid it.  Geniuses remove it.
-- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept.  1982
Received on Sat Mar 4 08:15:06 2006

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