Full-featured mixers

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Full-featured mixers

Tim-2
Hi list. Just continuing a thread I probably should have
  started here instead of on Jack lists.

I was trying to say I was disappointed that apparently
  a user had trouble with some hardware volumes.
So I lamented the lack of hardware controls in general
  mixers these days. They used to show all ALSA controls.

I found a tip for KMix to show ALSA *not* Pulse controls:
   "export KMIX_PULSEAUDIO_DISABLE=1 && kmix"
But unfortunately it's either Pulse or ALSA, not both at the
  same time in KMix. To me that's a bad thing.

So I want to give a big shout out for QasMixer
  https://sourceforge.net/projects/qastools/
  and ask what general mixers you might use and what
  you think of QasMixer and QasHctl. They're pretty cool.
They show all my ice1712 controls.

I think a desktop mixer icon should eventually bring you
  to something like that instead of only Pulse.
What do you think?

Tim.
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Re: Full-featured mixers

Len Ovens
On Sun, 31 Mar 2019, Tim wrote:

> I found a tip for KMix to show ALSA *not* Pulse controls:
>   "export KMIX_PULSEAUDIO_DISABLE=1 && kmix"
> But unfortunately it's either Pulse or ALSA, not both at the
>  same time in KMix. To me that's a bad thing.

Pulse and alsa are effectively two different audio "devices".

Pulse does weird things with the alsa controls for most alsa mixers,
Thankfully, the ice1712 is one of the ones it does not touch :)
However, if you watch the alsa controls for input levels on an HDA card (I
know, the input on these is not worth using for anything beyond phone
work) The boost and level controls bounce all over the place such that a
lower level may have more boost (and more noise) than a higher level. It
also means that after setting the alsa level exactly how you want it,
pulse comes along and messes it up.

> So I want to give a big shout out for QasMixer
>  https://sourceforge.net/projects/qastools/
>  and ask what general mixers you might use and what
>  you think of QasMixer and QasHctl. They're pretty cool.
> They show all my ice1712 controls.

I like qasmixer except it does not allow one to edit the layout. On my
ice1712 it does show all the controls including duplicate ADC and DAC
controls. I would like to be able to not show duplicates (or is this just
a Delta 44/66 problem).

In the end, I tell pulse not to look at any alsa devices and to use jack
as it's only device. In this case it only does sw levels (-inf to +11db).

> I think a desktop mixer icon should eventually bring you
>  to something like that instead of only Pulse.
> What do you think?

<rant>
One word "convergence"... All computers must be the same to operate as a
phone. After all nobody does real work on a computer, they just browse and
use one or two other apps at most. Most phone users just want one level
control... The reality is that PCs are not made for audio creation, they
are entertainment boxes. "Low latency" is 30ms by design, if you got less
it is because they made a mistake and "should" have used cheaper parts. If
they make an audio computer with super low latency (10-15ms) it will be at
musician prices (think brand new Gibson Les Paul).
</rant>

Anyway, yes I agree. On the other hand, when I use a browser to watch YT
stuff, the Pulse single level control is just perfect and because of the
way I use my Delta66, my alsa level controls are pretty much set and forget
anyway. They are line level and so I have a cr1604 in front of it for
mic/line preamps and speaker level controls. I do not use the internal
monitor mixer because I have the external one that has faders and eq and
sends and all that so I don't need to. Mixers are cheap, even digital ones
with 32 ADC/DAC built in that can also act as DAW controlers. (stay away
from new A&H SQ series which 96K only and is not stable when used with
Linux and maybe other OS as a digital interface)

--
Len Ovens
www.ovenwerks.net
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Re: Full-featured mixers

Tim-2


On 3/31/19 5:02 PM, Len Ovens wrote:
> On Sun, 31 Mar 2019, Tim wrote:
>
>> I found a tip for KMix to show ALSA *not* Pulse controls:
>>   "export KMIX_PULSEAUDIO_DISABLE=1 && kmix"
>> But unfortunately it's either Pulse or ALSA, not both at the
>>  same time in KMix. To me that's a bad thing.
>
> Pulse and alsa are effectively two different audio "devices".

I don't know a lot about Pulse, but I thought I read the other day
  that Pulse talks to ALSA via an ALSA driver. Is that correct?
Or Pulse bypasses ALSA somewhat or totally (as I first thought)?

> Pulse does weird things with the alsa controls for most alsa mixers,
> Thankfully, the ice1712 is one of the ones it does not touch :)

I remember trying Pulse while helping with mudita24 mixer.
Maybe I was mistaken but I remarked that at one point Pulse seemed
  to take control of the hardware - even my ice1712 - I was puzzled
  how the hardware registers were being changed. I thought it was kind
  of 'smart', low level. But maybe it was just an ALSA driver working.

> However, if you watch the alsa controls for input levels on an HDA card
> (I know, the input on these is not worth using for anything beyond phone
> work) The boost and level controls bounce all over the place such that a
> lower level may have more boost (and more noise) than a higher level. It
> also means that after setting the alsa level exactly how you want it,
> pulse comes along and messes it up.

Hm yeah weird. Maybe just Pulse talking to ALSA talking
  to the registers. I'd have thought it would be the other way around,
  that Pulse might first read what's in ALSA and start from there.
But who knows, maybe ALSA defaults or user settings aren't
  necessarily correct for how Pulse needs to work. After all,
  I guess Pulse sits on top of ALSA somewhat, so ALSA is just
  obeying its master. Again not a Pulse expert here.

>> So I want to give a big shout out for QasMixer
>>  https://sourceforge.net/projects/qastools/
>>  and ask what general mixers you might use and what
>>  you think of QasMixer and QasHctl. They're pretty cool.
>> They show all my ice1712 controls.
>
> I like qasmixer except it does not allow one to edit the layout. On my
> ice1712 it does show all the controls including duplicate ADC and DAC
> controls. I would like to be able to not show duplicates (or is this
> just a Delta 44/66 problem).

Hm, didn't notice any duplicates here. Yeah sure looks like a lot of
  controls in qasmixer and qashctl but amazingly I don't think I
  caught anything duplicated. I'll keep an eye out.

> In the end, I tell pulse not to look at any alsa devices and to use jack
> as it's only device. In this case it only does sw levels (-inf to +11db).

I see. Yes I know that I can select a Jack device from pav.

>> I think a desktop mixer icon should eventually bring you
>>  to something like that instead of only Pulse.
>> What do you think?
>
> <rant>
> One word "convergence"... All computers must be the same to operate as a
> phone. After all nobody does real work on a computer, they just browse
> and use one or two other apps at most. Most phone users just want one
> level control... The reality is that PCs are not made for audio
> creation, they are entertainment boxes. "Low latency" is 30ms by design,
> if you got less it is because they made a mistake and "should" have used
> cheaper parts. If they make an audio computer with super low latency
> (10-15ms) it will be at musician prices (think brand new Gibson Les Paul).

I've had my eye on the Fender Custom Shop for while now.
The Gary Moore red Stratocaster (from his strat days) would be so nice.

Aren't there still places that build Linux audio computers?

> </rant>

> Anyway, yes I agree. On the other hand, when I use a browser to watch YT
> stuff, the Pulse single level control is just perfect and because of the
> way I use my Delta66, my alsa level controls are pretty much set and
> forget anyway.

Yes I have to admit I mostly set and forget my delta1010 - but that's
  'cause I already know about envy24 and mudita24.
I guess I was concerned about people not getting the full picture
  from their mixers and being disappointed.

> They are line level and so I have a cr1604 in front of it
> for mic/line preamps and speaker level controls. I do not use the
> internal monitor mixer because I have the external one that has faders
> and eq and sends and all that so I don't need to. Mixers are cheap, even
> digital ones with 32 ADC/DAC built in that can also act as DAW
> controlers.

I have an analog mixer but it sits in a box. Just a desktop
  composer here, so the card does everything I need.
Except yeah, I really should put an analog compressor/limiter in
  front of it, the one thing a digital card can't watch out for.
But I'm so used to playing/recording without a compressor/limiter.
I just watch my peaks, that's all.

Speaking of which...
I mentioned on Jack ml that QasMixer didn't seem to have any meters.
I seemed to recall that envy24/mudita24 meters were ALSA components
  and wondered whether this could be added to Qas.
But another user remarked something about his Focusrite Scarlett where
  ALSA don't do the meters in a good way (splitting them into channels?).

Another user pointed out that ALSA may not be the answer for all
  cards and may even get some things incorrect whereas a dedicated
  mixer might not. And said "usually class compliant USB devices don't
  have alsamixer volume controls".

> (stay away from new A&H SQ series which 96K only and is not
> stable when used with Linux and maybe other OS as a digital interface)

OK! I... guess?
Cheers.
Tim.

>
> --
> Len Ovens
> www.ovenwerks.net
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Re: Full-featured mixers

Len Ovens
On Mon, 1 Apr 2019, Tim wrote:

> On 3/31/19 5:02 PM, Len Ovens wrote:
>> On Sun, 31 Mar 2019, Tim wrote:
>>
>>> I found a tip for KMix to show ALSA *not* Pulse controls:
>>>   "export KMIX_PULSEAUDIO_DISABLE=1 && kmix"
>>> But unfortunately it's either Pulse or ALSA, not both at the
>>>  same time in KMix. To me that's a bad thing.
>>
>> Pulse and alsa are effectively two different audio "devices".
>
> I don't know a lot about Pulse, but I thought I read the other day
>  that Pulse talks to ALSA via an ALSA driver. Is that correct?
> Or Pulse bypasses ALSA somewhat or totally (as I first thought)?
Pulse rides on top of alsa, but also shows itself as the default alsa
device (pseudo device amybe?).

>> Pulse does weird things with the alsa controls for most alsa mixers,
>> Thankfully, the ice1712 is one of the ones it does not touch :)
>
> I remember trying Pulse while helping with mudita24 mixer.
> Maybe I was mistaken but I remarked that at one point Pulse seemed
>  to take control of the hardware - even my ice1712 - I was puzzled
>  how the hardware registers were being changed. I thought it was kind
>  of 'smart', low level. But maybe it was just an ALSA driver working.

Yikes. Maybe someone put the time into a pulse profile for the ice1712. I
have had pulse's alsa module unloaded for years now.

>> However, if you watch the alsa controls for input levels on an HDA card
>> (I know, the input on these is not worth using for anything beyond phone
>> work) The boost and level controls bounce all over the place such that a
>> lower level may have more boost (and more noise) than a higher level. It
>> also means that after setting the alsa level exactly how you want it,
>> pulse comes along and messes it up.
>
> Hm yeah weird. Maybe just Pulse talking to ALSA talking
>  to the registers. I'd have thought it would be the other way around,
>  that Pulse might first read what's in ALSA and start from there.
the boost for HDA is 0, 10, 20, 30 and the way the steps are on the level
control means that more range is available with tighter steps by switching
boost levels as well as input level. Just looking at mine here, boost is 0
to 40 in 10 db steps, capture level is 0 to 22.5 in steps of 1.5 for a
total of 0 to 62.5. Normally this would mean in 1.5 db steps... and,
normally this would go from 9 to 10.5. However, level 0 with boost 10
fills in a step in between. Again with 10.5 to 12. boost 10 with level 1.5
adds 11.5. Once you get to the point where three boost levels are
available we can 19.5, 20, 20.5, 21. That is .5 db steps with boost going
0, 10, 20, 0. Sounds cool, but the boost levels (at least on my machine)
all have distinct noise floors such that the noise level and frequency
audiably changes with each of those steps. I found that with boost at 30db
there was actually less noise (or at least a less noticable noise) than
with boost at 20db. So I would try to set my levels using a boost with
least noise. Now use something like skype or a recording program and
change the input level... chances are it chooses the boost level with the
most noise.

>> I like qasmixer except it does not allow one to edit the layout. On my
>> ice1712 it does show all the controls including duplicate ADC and DAC
>> controls. I would like to be able to not show duplicates (or is this
>> just a Delta 44/66 problem).
>
> Hm, didn't notice any duplicates here. Yeah sure looks like a lot of
>  controls in qasmixer and qashctl but amazingly I don't think I
>  caught anything duplicated. I'll keep an eye out.

Just ADC/DAC controls, each one shows up as both an input and an output
(enable both input and output). moving either the input or the output
moves the other control as well (with gui delay of course). I am sure that
this is the way that the ice1712 driver (or device?) shows it's controls
to alsa. So I would like to remove ADC "output" controls and DAC "input"
controls.

>> <rant>
...
>> creation, they are entertainment boxes. "Low latency" is 30ms by design,
>> if you got less it is because they made a mistake and "should" have used
>> cheaper parts. If they make an audio computer with super low latency
>> (10-15ms) it will be at musician prices (think brand new Gibson Les Paul).
>
> I've had my eye on the Fender Custom Shop for while now.
> The Gary Moore red Stratocaster (from his strat days) would be so nice.
>
> Aren't there still places that build Linux audio computers?

Notice that the latency I gave for the "audio computer" was still not as
good as a tweaked machine with an ice1712 can get, .7ms with 48k here if I
turn off cron (well 1.7ms including the 1ms going through the ice1712
itself, jack set to 16/2). My rants tend towards sarcasm. However, I have
seen the 30ms audio latency refered to as low latency in Intel
documentation in the past.

> Yes I have to admit I mostly set and forget my delta1010 - but that's
>  'cause I already know about envy24 and mudita24.
> I guess I was concerned about people not getting the full picture
>  from their mixers and being disappointed.

That is a DE choice. Anyone serious about audio is going to have to go
deeper than that (probably on other OS too). The number of people who feel
they should be able to monitor on their computer speakers while using a
USB mic for input leaves me questioning if a more complex mixer is really
a good thing. HDA already has 3 output controls (4 maybe?) Master,
speakers, headphones, PCM any of which will change the same output
signal... jack (not jackd) pins can be automatically change use, etc. For
desktop use, pulse's single control is probably better.

> Speaking of which...
> I mentioned on Jack ml that QasMixer didn't seem to have any meters.
> I seemed to recall that envy24/mudita24 meters were ALSA components
>  and wondered whether this could be added to Qas.
> But another user remarked something about his Focusrite Scarlett where
>  ALSA don't do the meters in a good way (splitting them into channels?).

QasHctl does show the meters and the level does show but they only show
one capture. It seems to me they are not labeled in a way that I would
expect. It would eat more CPU, but I am sure it could be done... just the
same as my duplicate controls could be removed, with a dedicated profile
for the device.

> Another user pointed out that ALSA may not be the answer for all
>  cards and may even get some things incorrect whereas a dedicated
>  mixer might not. And said "usually class compliant USB devices don't
>  have alsamixer volume controls".

They can, but in general, if the USB device has physical controls, then it
has no need for alsa controls (there are no computer controlable controls
in any OS). Many USB audio chipsets (or maybe I should say cheap chipsets)
just do the audio with no controls. I think there is a complient way of
doing controls, but that may not deal with more complex routing. It seems
the thing these days is to make the audio interface double as a digital
mixer to help it actually sell for the higher price asked. I don't think
USB2.0 covers such a use.


--
Len Ovens
www.ovenwerks.net

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Re: Full-featured mixers

Joe Hartley
In reply to this post by Tim-2
On Mon, 1 Apr 2019 00:07:41 -0400
Tim <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I mentioned on Jack ml that QasMixer didn't seem to have any meters.
>                    [ snip ]
> Another user pointed out that ALSA may not be the answer for all
>   cards and may even get some things incorrect whereas a dedicated
>   mixer might not. And said "usually class compliant USB devices don't
>   have alsamixer volume controls".

I recently got an RME Babyface Pro and use it in its USB CC mode.  I
fired up QasMixer only to find a completely blank window, so this seems
to be correct.

I pulled the Delta 1010 out of my primary mixing/overdubbing computer
in favor of the RME, and it's a bit odd not to have the full control of
the routing - I'm still trying to route the USB and 1/4" ins to the
headphone outs simultaneously (without resorting to finding a Windows
laptop to run TotalMix on).  That's my only complaint, though.

I don't miss the rack next to my desk with the 1010s and patchbay, and
the RME sounds at least as good to my ears on inputs other than mics, and
better on mics since the preamps are better than any I've had before.

The lack of ALSA routing doesn't affect me much, as all the big projects
use Jack and all the ports are available to be routed.  It's only if I
want to play guitar along with YouTube AND want to hear it in the headphones
that I remember I don't have all the flexibility available to me.

--
======================================================================
       Joe Hartley - UNIX/network Consultant - [hidden email]
 Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa
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Re: Full-featured mixers

Tim-2
In reply to this post by Len Ovens


On 4/1/19 3:41 AM, Ralf Mardorf wrote:

> On Sun, 31 Mar 2019 23:58:13 -0700 (PDT), Len Ovens wrote:
>> On Mon, 1 Apr 2019, Tim wrote:
>>> Another user pointed out that ALSA may not be the answer for all
>>>   cards and may even get some things incorrect whereas a dedicated
>>>   mixer might not. And said "usually class compliant USB devices don't
>>>   have alsamixer volume controls".
>>
>> They can, but in general, if the USB device has physical controls,
>> then it has no need for alsa controls (there are no computer
>> controlable controls in any OS). Many USB audio chipsets (or maybe I
>> should say cheap chipsets) just do the audio with no controls. I think
>> there is a complient way of doing controls, but that may not deal with
>> more complex routing. It seems the thing these days is to make the
>> audio interface double as a digital mixer to help it actually sell for
>> the higher price asked. I don't think USB2.0 covers such a use.
>
> Hi,
>
> sorry for writing off-list, but the D* who runs this list banned me
> for absolutely no reason, see [1].
>
> I already replied off-list to Tim [2], since he quoted what I've
> written at the jack mailing list.

No problem.
Your points brought me "back down to earth".

For some reason I thought ALSA could handle every card.
And that therefore every distro should have some great
  ALSA mixer like Qas. All problems solved.

But it's more complicated than that, as you say.

Again, I guess I just feel sad if some user goes away
  disappointed. I (and all of us) always try to help people,
  even newbies, have a good experience with Linux audio.

With MusE we try to make it friendly but with power behind it.
I want everyone to have a good experience and have fun.


>
> Actually the 18i20 provides potentiometers for the 8 analog input
> channels and for 2 of them additionally "pad" switches, but it only
> provides output potentiometers for the two headphone outputs and for 2
> channels aimed as monitor output, which is quite useless without access
> to the hardware IO routing.
>
> The ADAT device I'm using provides input level potentiometers, but no
> ouput level control.
>
> The RME HDSPE has got no input level control at all and some
> microphones, e.g. the Brauner VM1 have their own output "pad" switch.
>
> Nobody who has got a halfway professional workflow needs a level control
> at all stages.
>
> I'm anyway using the Behringer replica of the mixing console Len does
> use. Btw. a friend owns an old revision of the Mackie. I didn't compare
> the audio quality directly, but at least I can say two thing. The
> Mackie is way noisier than the Behringer, but the Mackie provides more
> space between the potentiometers, so it's more pleasant to handle and
> easier to clean. I do understand that people wish to get rid of a
> mixing console. A friend likes to lend me a huge mixer, better than the
> small Mackie, Behringer and Co. mixing consoles, but I don't have the
> room for a huge mixer.

Yes, I was saying that I have a mixer sitting in a box,
  but my relatively simpler needs are such that my ten-channel
  delta1010 card pretty much does all of that for me.
I should put an analog compressor/limiter ahead of the card,
  but I'm so used to playing/recording without it.

T.

>
> Regards,
> Ralf
>
> [1]
> https://lists.linuxaudio.org/archives/linux-audio-user/2019-February/111637.html
> https://lists.linuxaudio.org/archives/linux-audio-user/2019-February/111642.html
> https://lists.linuxaudio.org/archives/linux-audio-user/2019-February/111662.html
> https://lists.linuxaudio.org/archives/linux-audio-user/2019-February/111663.html
> The complete thread is available by
> https://lists.linuxaudio.org/archives/linux-audio-user/2019-February/
>
> [2]
> Begin forwarded message:
>
> Date: Mon, 1 Apr 2019 07:06:26 +0200
> From: Ralf Mardorf <[hidden email]>
> To: Tim <[hidden email]>
> Subject: Re: [LAU] Full-featured mixers
>
>
> On Mon, 1 Apr 2019 00:07:41 -0400, Tim wrote:
>> And said "usually class compliant USB devices don't have alsamixer
>> volume controls".
>
> Hi,
>
> for some audio devices even the revision could make a difference.
>
> The claims regarding the Scarlett 18i20, see
> https://lists.linuxaudio.org/archives/linux-audio-user/2019-March/111865.html
> are incorrect for the 2nd generation. IOW the 18i20 that is actually
> sold and works up to 192kHz isn't supported as described. It might work
> for second-hand 18i20 of the 1st generation that supports up to 96kHz.
>
> Regards,
> Ralf
>
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