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Problems Recording LPs with M-Audio Audiophile 2496
howardg
post Apr 12 2009, 00:24
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My first post! Up to now I had been using a Soundblaster Audigy card and Cool Edit 2000 to convert my vinyl LPs to wav files. It worked fine, even for 24/96 recording. I thought I would upgrade to the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 (AP2496). So far it's a downgrade. I have a Pioneer PL-400 direct-drive turntable connected to a NAD 3120. Following advice received from a moderator on the M-Audio website forum, I connected the amp's "tape-rec" line output to the RCA line inputs of the AP2496 and I connected the AP2496's RCA line outputs to the "tape-play" input on the amp. The results are terrible! There is a sporadic high-pitched sizzling sound on the signal that emerges from the AP2496. I never had this problem with the Soundblaster card. I have tried it with two different amps (the NAD and a cheap Radio Shack amp) and the outcome is exactly the same. I have taken out all the other PCI cards from the computer with no improvement. I have switched the AP2496 to a different PCI slot, also to no avail. I am using the latest drivers downloaded from the M-Audio site for WinXP-SP3 (my setup). I also recorded the signal using Cool Edit 2000 as well as Audacity and tried both 24 bit/96 kHz and 16 bit/48kHz. No improvement. The sizzling buzzing sound is only present if I feed the signal from the amp into the AP2496. If I enable the on-board sound card in the motherboard BIOS and feed the signal into that that, the signal is clear and noise free. Can anyone provide any advice? Thanks.

Howard
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ech3
post Apr 12 2009, 01:00
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I've converted a whole bunch of LPs (probably 90 to 100) using the M-Audio 2496. I've owned that card for several years and love it. I'm done converting all my old LPs so I haven't done it in a few years.

I had the turntable plugged into a Radio Shack Phono-to-Line level amp, then from that to the RCA inputs on the 2496. The RCA outs from the card go to my computer amp/speakers. (I also have the digital output going through the wall to my home theater receiver and my MIDI keyboard connected to the MIDI-in.)

Then I record using software. I've used Cool Edit, but the last few times I used Audacity. Both work fine.

Pretty simple. No "sizzling", no noise, no problems.
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krabapple
post Apr 12 2009, 05:00
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QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 11 2009, 19:24) *
My first post! Up to now I had been using a Soundblaster Audigy card and Cool Edit 2000 to convert my vinyl LPs to wav files. It worked fine, even for 24/96 recording. I thought I would upgrade to the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 (AP2496). So far it's a downgrade. I have a Pioneer PL-400 direct-drive turntable connected to a NAD 3120. Following advice received from a moderator on the M-Audio website forum, I connected the amp's "tape-rec" line output to the RCA line inputs of the AP2496 and I connected the AP2496's RCA line outputs to the "tape-play" input on the amp. The results are terrible! There is a sporadic high-pitched sizzling sound on the signal that emerges from the AP2496. I never had this problem with the Soundblaster card. I have tried it with two different amps (the NAD and a cheap Radio Shack amp) and the outcome is exactly the same. I have taken out all the other PCI cards from the computer with no improvement. I have switched the AP2496 to a different PCI slot, also to no avail. I am using the latest drivers downloaded from the M-Audio site for WinXP-SP3 (my setup). I also recorded the signal using Cool Edit 2000 as well as Audacity and tried both 24 bit/96 kHz and 16 bit/48kHz. No improvement. The sizzling buzzing sound is only present if I feed the signal from the amp into the AP2496. If I enable the on-board sound card in the motherboard BIOS and feed the signal into that that, the signal is clear and noise free. Can anyone provide any advice? Thanks.

Howard



It sounds like you're overloading the AP2496's input, which is easy to do and I'm amazed they didn't tell you this on the website because it's a fairly common mistake with AP2496 first-timers. You'll also SEE it pinning in the red on the M-AUdio Monitor Mixer graphical interface. You need a preamp stage inline where you can bring down the level BEFORE it gets to the AP2496, so that peaks don't exceed the card's peak analog input signal limit (which is +2dBV).

If your receiver has preamp out jack, that's the jack you should use. Then you can attenuate the level with the 'volume' knob of the receiver. Otherwise use something like a Behringer 'DJ' mixer (can be got cheap) that has a phono jack in and RCA outs. I've used that and it works fine. Find the loudest part of your LP, then set the output level such that the loudest part doesn't go 'red' on the MM meter. That's it, you're OK to go.

Here;s a little more 'authoritah' on this --

http://ixbtlabs.com/articles/maudioaudiophile/

QUOTE
The level of the input signal is +2 dBV and can't be changed. It is obvious that for recording from the line-in it's necessary to use audio equipment with a standard line-out or a recording level controller of the external device (for example, faders of the audio mixer). H/W 1/2 In in the Monitor Mixer means that we can monitor a signal and adjust volume of the playback level, but it doesn't affect a recording level.


This post has been edited by krabapple: Apr 12 2009, 05:24
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AndyH-ha
post Apr 12 2009, 10:14
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First, unplug the soundcard outputs from the tape input and just record from an LP. What is the recording like? Is it clipping? What does playback sound like? (When you play the recording, with nothing else going on.)

If the result is the same, that particular hardware may be defective.
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howardg
post Apr 12 2009, 17:13
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Thanks krabapple and AndyH-ha for your advice.
QUOTE
It sounds like you're overloading the AP2496's input

I don't think I am doing this. The 1/2 In meter never goes below 10 and I am not seeing any red pinning. Here is a pic of Audacity and the AP2496 mixer while recording:

QUOTE
If your receiver has preamp out jack, that's the jack you should use.

Here is a pic of the back of my NAD 3120 amp.

It does have a "pre-amp out" jack but is has a funny U-shaped wire in it. I removed the U-shaped wire and plugged the cable into it, but there was no signal.

QUOTE
First, unplug the soundcard outputs from the tape input and just record from an LP. What is the recording like?

I did this and there is no improvement at all -- the "sizzling" sound remains.

I really appreciate your help. I made a little video of the two windows that also has sound so you can hear the distortion I am talking about. It is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/howardgriffin/3434203183/. What should I try next?
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cliveb
post Apr 13 2009, 12:21
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QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 12 2009, 17:13) *
Thanks krabapple and AndyH-ha for your advice.
QUOTE
It sounds like you're overloading the AP2496's input

I don't think I am doing this. The 1/2 In meter never goes below 10 and I am not seeing any red pinning. Here is a pic of Audacity and the AP2496 mixer while recording

It's difficult to tell exactly what's going on, but I think you quite possibly *are* overloading the AP2496's analogue inputs. Your picture of the Delta Control Panel shows that you have the 1/2 input levels pulled right down. But that happens in the digital mixer AFTER the signal goes through the A/D converters.

What I'd try next is Set the 1/2 input faders back to maximum, and you may then see that you're getting clipping. The only way to deal wth that would be to attenuate the analogue signal before it gets to the AP2496.

QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 12 2009, 17:13) *
It does have a "pre-amp out" jack but is has a funny U-shaped wire in it. I removed the U-shaped wire and plugged the cable into it, but there was no signal.

That U-shaped link simply connects the preamp to the power amp. Removing them just splits the two into separate components.
Are you sure you plugged into the preamp out sockets (and not the main in sockets)? If you did, and got no signal, it could simply be because the NAD's volume control was too low.
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howardg
post Apr 13 2009, 17:00
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I will try these things when I get home this evening. Looking back at the advice I got from M-Audio tech support, they said exactly this:

QUOTE
You just need to connect a line output from the amp to the RCA line inputs of the Audiophile. You can then connect the RCA line outputs to an available line input on the amp. There is no input level controls for the Audiophile.


So it looks like I need to connect a line level output to the AP2496. I guess "TAPE/REC" is not line level. I will try again connecting the Pre-Amp Out jacks on the amp to the AP2496 and turning up the amp's volume control. I have also gone ahead and ordered a TCC TC-750LC Phono Preamp from here: www.phonopreamps.com/tc750lcpp.html (I really would like to get this to work, but if the preamp doesn't help I think I'll be done throwing money at it blink.gif )
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qristus
post Apr 13 2009, 19:33
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I have the same problem as you, and I'm afraid a separate preamp might not solve it. I have one from Cambridge Audio, and it is much too hot for the Audiophile's inputs. For my next round of LP conversions (if I'll ever have the time!) I'm considering something like the Terratec USB Phono preamp, just to make things as easy as possible.
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uart
post Apr 13 2009, 19:47
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QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 13 2009, 09:00) *
I will try these things when I get home this evening. Looking back at the advice I got from M-Audio tech support, they said exactly this:

QUOTE
You just need to connect a line output from the amp to the RCA line inputs of the Audiophile. You can then connect the RCA line outputs to an available line input on the amp. There is no input level controls for the Audiophile.


So it looks like I need to connect a line level output to the AP2496. I guess "TAPE/REC" is not line level. I will try again connecting the Pre-Amp Out jacks on the amp to the AP2496 and turning up the amp's volume control. I have also gone ahead and ordered a TCC TC-750LC Phono Preamp from here: www.phonopreamps.com/tc750lcpp.html (I really would like to get this to work, but if the preamp doesn't help I think I'll be done throwing money at it blink.gif )


First try using the preamp out as clive suggests. If it's still too hot then just get (or make) an attenuator.

This post has been edited by uart: Apr 13 2009, 19:47
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caligae
post Apr 13 2009, 20:20
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If the problem is too hot input, maybe adjusting the signal level would help. It can be found in the M-Audio control panel in the hardware settings tab.
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krabapple
post Apr 13 2009, 21:20
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QUOTE (caligae @ Apr 13 2009, 15:20) *
If the problem is too hot input, maybe adjusting the signal level would help. It can be found in the M-Audio control panel in the hardware settings tab.


Nope, that's not what it does. It adjusts the signal AFTER it's come in to the card -- if it's overloading at input, there's nothing the Monitor Mixer board can do for you.

Again, read what the technical review said, it's correct:

QUOTE
The level of the input signal is +2 dBV and can't be changed. It is obvious that for recording from the line-in it's necessary to use audio equipment with a standard line-out or a recording level controller of the external device (for example, faders of the audio mixer). H/W 1/2 In in the Monitor Mixer means that we can monitor a signal and adjust volume of the playback level, but it doesn't affect a recording level.


I don;t know why the OP's chain didn't work after he used the pre-outs of his amp, but having the sliders on the MM board all the way down at bottom, won't show you if the signal is clipping.

(your AP2496's GUI is nicer looking than the one that came with my 2496, btw ...)
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krabapple
post Apr 13 2009, 21:23
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[accidental dupe post]

This post has been edited by krabapple: Apr 13 2009, 21:23
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howardg
post Apr 14 2009, 02:13
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QUOTE
I don;t know why the OP's chain didn't work after he used the pre-outs of his amp, but having the sliders on the MM board all the way down at bottom, won't show you if the signal is clipping.

(your AP2496's GUI is nicer looking than the one that came with my 2496, btw ...)


I tried the pre-amp out again and the signal came through this time (maybe used the wrong jacks the first time or had the volume control turned down), but all the distortions are still present just as before. Using the pre-amp outs I can now adjust the level using the NAD volume control and can adjust the signal from zero (no sound and no meter activity) all the way up to constant clipping in the red area on the meters. But the "sizzling" sound is still there as before -- it just gets louder or softer when I adjust the volume control. Would it help if I posted a sample of the distortion I am talking about? How would I do that?

As for the nicer looking GUI, I think it's because I'm using the latest drivers I downloaded from the M-Audio web site instead of the ones that came on the CD.

Thanks for the help.
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uart
post Apr 14 2009, 03:12
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QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 13 2009, 18:13) *
Would it help if I posted a sample of the distortion I am talking about? How would I do that?



Yes that would definitely increase the chance that someone here might diagnose the problem.

Go uploads section here http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....amp;s=&f=35

When you post in the uploads section you are able to add an attachment. Record a smallish passage which contains the distortion (or noise) and upload it, preferably in a compressed format to save bandwidth. People here often use flac for sample uploads but it's also fine to use a good quality mp3, especially where the problem is none too subtle.
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howardg
post Apr 14 2009, 03:26
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OK -- I posted the sample under the following heading: "re: Problems Recording LPs with M-Audio Audiophile 2496". It's an mp3 but the problem should be obvious. Thanks.
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pawelq
post Apr 14 2009, 03:42
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QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 13 2009, 22:26) *
OK -- I posted the sample under the following heading: "re: Problems Recording LPs with M-Audio Audiophile 2496". It's an mp3 but the problem should be obvious. Thanks.

Interesting, it does not sound or look like overloading at all.


--------------------
Ceterum censeo, there should be an "%is_stop_after_current%".
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caligae
post Apr 14 2009, 07:09
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 13 2009, 21:20) *
QUOTE (caligae @ Apr 13 2009, 15:20) *
If the problem is too hot input, maybe adjusting the signal level would help. It can be found in the M-Audio control panel in the hardware settings tab.


Nope, that's not what it does. It adjusts the signal AFTER it's come in to the card -- if it's overloading at input, there's nothing the Monitor Mixer board can do for you.


You're right, the input levels for the 2496 can't be adjusted at all. (My image search for the control panel came up with a different M-Audio card where this is possible.)

I agree with pawelq, it doesn't sound like overloading. But can't really tell what it is...
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Axon
post Apr 14 2009, 07:29
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It sounds a lot like a driver issue.

Are you sure this doesn't happen with other audio input sources? Like even an ipod or something like that?

And analog playback is fine on the receiver?
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cliveb
post Apr 14 2009, 08:46
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QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 14 2009, 03:26) *
OK -- I posted the sample under the following heading: "re: Problems Recording LPs with M-Audio Audiophile 2496". It's an mp3 but the problem should be obvious. Thanks.

I've checked your sample recording and it's definitely not a clipping problem.

After converting the MP3 back to WAV and examining it in close detail, what you've got are intermittent bursts of outliers every 118 samples. These outliers are obvious spikes about 3 or 4 samples wide, but I suspect that this width has been introduced by the MP3 encoding, and it's likely that they are single-sample spikes in the original uncompressed recording.

Given that these spikes are regularly spaced, I can't see how it can be an analogue issue: it must be something to do with the timing on the digital side. Apart from buggy drivers, or some sort of incompatibility with the PCI susbsystem, I can think of one possible configuration cause: perhaps you have the AP2496's clock set to external. If you're recording an analogue signal, the clock must be set to the internal crystal. That said, I'd have expected much worse problems than you're having if the clock is set to external. But it's worth checking all the same.
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rpp3po
post Apr 14 2009, 10:10
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Just try a different (battery powered) source as an iPod. If the hiss is still there the by far highest probability is a broken AP2496. Broken drivers at worst prevent access to or silently enable features, mess up volume levels, but usually don't add funky noise.
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krabapple
post Apr 14 2009, 15:27
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QUOTE (rpp3po @ Apr 14 2009, 05:10) *
Just try a different (battery powered) source as an iPod. If the hiss is still there the by far highest probability is a broken AP2496. Broken drivers at worst prevent access to or silently enable features, mess up volume levels, but usually don't add funky noise.


still, the OP said he replaced the supplied driver with a new one downloaded from M-audio...is it possible the newer one is wrong/incompatible with his system?

A check would be to reinstall he original driver and see if the noise goes away.

The only noise problem I ever had with my AP2496 was due to IRQ sharing in Windows XP. The soundcard was being assigned to the same IRQ as my wireless card, and it didn't like that; there was 'skipping' during recording. The solution for me, when I record on the M-audio, is to disable wireless access temporarily in Windows -- easy peasy.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Apr 14 2009, 15:27
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rpp3po
post Apr 14 2009, 17:10
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 14 2009, 16:27) *
A check would be to reinstall he original driver and see if the noise goes away.


To rule out a driver issue completely also install the most recent drivers from your mainboard's chipset manufacturer.
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howardg
post Apr 15 2009, 05:55
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 14 2009, 02:29) *
Are you sure this doesn't happen with other audio input sources? Like even an ipod or something like that?

And analog playback is fine on the receiver?


I have only tried so far to record from the turntable. I am not sure how I would hook up an ipod to play through the AP2496 since the ipod has a USB connection.


QUOTE (cliveb @ Apr 14 2009, 03:46) *
I can think of one possible configuration cause: perhaps you have the AP2496's clock set to external. If you're recording an analogue signal, the clock must be set to the internal crystal. That said, I'd have expected much worse problems than you're having if the clock is set to external. But it's worth checking all the same.


I will check that, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I will get back to you.


QUOTE (rpp3po @ Apr 14 2009, 05:10) *
Just try a different (battery powered) source as an iPod.


How would I "try" an ipod? (I do have an ipod so I could do it.)

QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 14 2009, 10:27) *
A check would be to reinstall he original driver and see if the noise goes away


I will try that tomorrow.

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Axon
post Apr 15 2009, 06:38
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QUOTE (howardg @ Apr 14 2009, 23:55) *
QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 14 2009, 02:29) *
Are you sure this doesn't happen with other audio input sources? Like even an ipod or something like that?

And analog playback is fine on the receiver?


I have only tried so far to record from the turntable. I am not sure how I would hook up an ipod to play through the AP2496 since the ipod has a USB connection.
Headphone out. 1/8" stereo to dual RCA cable.
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howardg
post Apr 16 2009, 00:11
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 14 2009, 02:29) *
Are you sure this doesn't happen with other audio input sources? Like even an ipod or something like that?
And analog playback is fine on the receiver?


I plugged an ipod directly into the AP2496 and it sounded fine -- the noise was not present. I recorded from the ipod and that was fine also. I then plugged an old cassette tape deck (Nakamichi DR-3) directly into the AP2496's inputs and recorded from that. The noise IS present for the tape deck.


QUOTE (cliveb @ Apr 14 2009, 03:46) *
perhaps you have the AP2496's clock set to external. If you're recording an analogue signal, the clock must be set to the internal crystal. That said, I'd have expected much worse problems than you're having if the clock is set to external. But it's worth checking all the same.


Master Clock is set to "Internal Xtal"


QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 14 2009, 10:27) *
A check would be to reinstall he original driver and see if the noise goes away.


I removed the latest driver and installed the driver that came on the installation CD. The problem remains, though perhaps the level of the noise may be slightly lower.
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