Sonar and Yamaha AC-XG Chip

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Chandra Swami

Sonar and Yamaha AC-XG Chip

Post by Chandra Swami » Fri Sep 26, 2003 5:30 am

Original Post:

I have a Toshiba Satellite 5105-S501 laptop which uses a Yamaha AC-XG audio chip. The claim (by Yamaha) is that this chip is WDM. Cakewalk also prefers WDM for lower latency. However my audio files will not play unless I check the use MME even when WDM drivers are available box. Therefore I get higher latency. Is there some kind of workaround for this situation? Why doesn't Cakewalk recognize the AC-XG chip's WDM possibility? What's the deal here?

Many Like Replies:

>From: "Carl" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: ac-xg soundcard and Sonar
>Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 17:48:53 +0100
>did you have any luck with the ac-xg soundcard and Sonar??
>I'm having the same trouble here
>Please help

Dear Carl,

I am getting a great number of these same kinds of replies to my posting on the Cakewalk Sonar Site. It is my own fault. I should be running these entries through the Cakewalk Sonar BB itself, and then everyone would see it and benefit. So I plan to answer you and later post this reply there as well. Better late than never.
I am new at this whole business of computer-based recording, but I have a background in engineering so many of the technical terms and ideas sort themselves out for me rapidly. But still sometimes you wonder what is really going on out there (in there??).
As near as I can make out, these motherboard chip sound cards are by their very nature inferior. At least one of the Techs from Sonar seemed to indicate that. Whatever specs they have, they can't hold a candle to these external dedicated sound card for the disk-recording market. Laptop (and for that matter Desktop) manufacturers have not really made a priority of sound chip design for their machines, maybe they never really will. Of course everybody is on the surround-sound TV home entertainment bandwagon, but that is not really the same thing as hard-disk recording. Maybe we never will be enough of a market share to merit the real interest it would take to make serious on-board sound chips a priority for manufactures.
I have received at least 20 replies just like yours and not a single one with some advice or strategy to get the WDM system in Sonar to talk to the so-called WDM system on our cute little motherboards. Probably it is impossible for some highly technical reason. At least no one at Sonar seems to know anything or care about the problem. And no one in Tech-Guru-WebLand seems to reply either.
Here is what I do. First of all, w/Sonar you have to check the box for "use MME drivers even when WDM drivers are available", otherwise you won't get any sound at all except from your MIDI devices. If you are running Sonar 2.2 or higher, it is a drop down box: choose MME(32bit). Options>Audio>Advanced Tab. Now there is sound.
MANAGING LATENCY IN MIDI I do a lot of MIDI recording. To manage the latency, I use a sound module. Mine is a vintage Korg Wavestation SR. My 3octave keyboard plugs into the Wavestation's MIDI IN and the MIDI THRU (NOT!! MIDI OUT) goes into the computer via your set up for the computer to receive MIDI (I use a MOTU Fastlane USB). Be sure to turn off your Sonar MIDI ECHO. Do that by Options>ProjectOptions>MIDI-Input-Tab>Echo-none. I then run the audio stereo out into to stereo line-in in the computer. This way you will hear the module real-time. You can turn the fader in the track view down so that you will not hear the computer generated version of your MIDI input. You will hear only the module and any tracks that you have not muted, but if you have enabled the recording and set everything up in Sonar, your MIDI keystrokes will be recorded by Sonar. One poor man's solution.
MANAGING LATENCY IN AUDIO For recording audio, you have to have a audio mixer. Be sure to turn Input Monitoring off: Options>AudioOptions>InputMonitoringTab>be sure nothing is highlighted. Your mixer has to have at least 2 busses. Run your Computer's headphone out into your mixer buss A stereo input. That way you can hear you the instruments in Sonar that you want to play in time to. Run your Instument/Vocal/Keyboard/WhatHaveYou into the mixer Main buss. Set the headphone output to hear both busses and run only the main buss back to the Computer line in. Caution, if you run buss A as well into the Computer, you will set up a feedback loop. Now you hear your recording track real-time and Sonar's playback tracks real-time.
When you do recordings you will find that still there are time shifts between the tracks. The remedy is to look at piano roll view and line the track up at the downbeat use the Process>Slide feature. Or use your ear. A few ticks left or right. Note that if you don't leave an empty measure or two at the beginning, Sonar will not move your track left. There is nowhere for it to go. I have 3 different onboard synthesizers and I find that they have different latencies so if I use a piano sound from one and I decide to switch to the piano sound of the other, I have to do the tick-shift boogie each time.
Actually I am saving up my pennies to buy some kind of external sound card. Maybe something w/firewire (USB1 is too slow for multiple tracks simultaneously) or PCMCIA. Still for us Laptop folks, there is not too much to pick from. And it is still big-bucks-bolero. USB2 looks promising, but nobody is using yet hardly. My Toshiba only has USB1 anyway, but I have firewire.
If anyone out there in WebLand reads this and has some suggestions or corrections, please drop me a line. If, Carl, you run onto some kind of info on this deep-voodoo part of the disk-recording scene, let me know.
Hare Krishna, and have a good one.


Chandra Shekhara Swami


Re: Sonar and Yamaha AC-XG Chip

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Post by andychap » Fri Sep 26, 2003 10:44 am

Hi Chandra,

As far as I am aware WDM drivers were originally produced to compete with the ASIO standard. They were at the time far superior to the standard VXD drivers that came with many soundcards. I believe VXD drivers eat up resources and also cause a lot of conflicts with some of the features that microsoft were trying to install in there windows OS.

Because Microsoft then used WDM as the main driver supported in XP in order to reduce the amount of VXD drivers produced, many manufacturers had to create WDM drivers for there products or they would not be approved by Microsoft. These drivers are generally no better than the VXD ones and in somecases worse.

To give an example of this. The SB live card, WDM drivers were never officially produced for this card but are available unsigned on the net. When the MME box is checked there is no noticable difference in the latency settings but without the box checked the recording sounds rubbish. With the MME box checked you get 1 stereo out without the box checked you get three stereo outs ie front speakers, rear speaker, and SPDIF digital.

So what are the benefits. Have the box checked when recording and staying within the digital domain ie burning to CD. However once you have finished recording your tracks individually you might want to output them to an external device through a mixer. Unchecking the box would efectively give you 4 mono analogue outs and one stereo digital out.

The sound chip that you have in your computer is on board the motherboard and unfortunely is a low end user card so the WDM driver are just for compliance with Microsoft. If you go up the scale to the high end user cards you will find that much more effort is put into the creation of the WDM drivers and they will give much improved performance and features.

Cakewalk is recognising you sound chips WDM drivers it's just that they are not that good. You can check the MME box and then adjust the drivers buffer settings on the last page of the audio options. Keep lowering the figures in the boxes until you get the balance between latency and quality as best you can.

All the above is what I understand to be the case. I would like to hear if anyone knows any different.


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