PRAXIS Soundcard Calibration Pages
Background: The majority of support calls we have received from Praxis customers involve problems experienced while trying to pass the Soundcard Calibration Process (for AudPod Mode). Some of these problems have turned out to be due to software bugs in accessing soundcard mixer settings or with naming conventions used by some soundcards, and we have included fixes for these in recent revisions of Praxis.
But some of the problems have turned out to be related to characteristics of particular soundcards, operating systems, or even soundcard drivers. So we began an effort to download the latest drivers for various soundcards that are installed and then to perform a calibration processes for each, noting any special requirements or settings needed, and getting pictures of the mixer settings for each. A number of possible complications were discovered, but the cards tested were able to be calibrated in each case.
The results of this effort can be found in the Case Histories links below.
Please note that this list is not complete -- it does NOT cover every soundcard (or even most of them) that we have used with PRAXIS -- only those used during these tests.
Operating systems: We were unable to run these tests using Windows98SE because of machine hardware damage and USB port issues (not caused by Praxis or AudPod, but preventing operation). However, the processes for calibration with Windows ME should be similar to those for 98SE.
Drivers: Before each test, the latest drivers were downloaded from the manufacturers, if possible, and installed on the machines.
Please note that if the drivers for your soundcard or of the Windows mixer application are updated at any time, you may need to rerun the calibration for your soundcard! This could happen because of possible differences in the mixer data structures for the drivers. Windows Update, if automatically enabled, could change your soundcard drivers without you noticing!
See Also: Compatibility Issues with PRAXIS
List of Issues Uncovered during these tests: The following is a listing of some problems that could prevent calibration from succeeding. If you are having problems calibrating a soundcard not specifically listed in these tests, you may want to check the case histories listed for suggestions.
- The front panel input jack on most computer cases is a "Mic" input, not a line input. Praxis cannot generally use this input (connect instead to the stereo line input on the back of the computer). The cable that connects to this front input jack on the case is usually a monophonic cable, so it cannot be used even if you connect it to the line input!
- Some soundcards, particularly professional recording cards, need analog adaptor cables to be made to connect to the AudPod (to adapt from 1/4" phone plugs or XLR connectors to stereo mini-phone plugs). See CardDeluxe, U2A/U24, and L22.
- Some driver versions may behave differently than others. For example, in earlier tests with the Soundblaster Extigy, calibration could be run without installing the manufacturer's drivers (using only the Windows built in USB drivers). But with later drivers for the operating systems, this no longer works, and the Extigy drivers need to be installed. The new driver even appears to have done a firmware change to the Extigy itself, resulting in less impressive performance than had been experienced previously.
- Some soundcard devices have external level controls (such as Extigy's volume control) or custom mixer controls (such as the Lynx L22's mixer). These need to be set to compatible states for Praxis use and must be restored to those states whenever Praxis is to be used. Praxis' calibration can account for Windows mixer settings, but not for physical potentiometers or custom software controls.
- Some soundcard mixers or drivers have bugs or are in some ways "special". These may have some finicky behavior such as: non-operation if multiple copies of the mixer are open on the desktop; slider controls which interact with other sliders on the same mixer; mixers for which some text (or the existence of controls) changes with use or after a pause. See L22.
- Excessive output (playback) levels: very high playback output levels (such as +4dBu "professional levels") will overdrive the AudPod during calibration. If your soundcard has a choice of settings (by onboard jumpers or with software settings), select the -10dBu "consumer level" setting. If the output level is fixed at +4dBu, you may need to use a hardware attenuator of between 8dB and 14dB between the soundcard output and the AudPod's "From Soundcard Line Out" jack. See CardDeluxe, L22.
- Excessively sensitive inputs, with inadequate input adjustment range for the soundcard's mixer. If the line input is very sensitive, and the input gain control range of the mixer's "Line Input" slider is small, the Praxis calibration process may not be able to determine the proper settings using the instructions provided. Special procedures are required to handle this.
- Poor isolation within the sound hardware between the audio input and output functions. For the "Crystal WDM" audio device built onto our ME machine's main board, we could not get calibration to succeed if the playback mixer levels were too high during the initial "Record Mixer" calibration process. The playback master gain needed to be muted before the record mixer part of the calibration was begun.
Of course, unremovable hardware monitoring of inputs (playback of all input audio that is being recorded, or recording of all signals that are being played) can also cause calibration to fail. For the Soundblaster Audigy, please see the suggested fix for this:
Compatibility Issues with PRAXIS.
- 3D, "CMSS", or other distortion effects enabled. These forms of distortion and crosstalk prevent successful calibration (and generally sound lousy, too!). Be sure to turn these off! see Extigy.
Soundcard Calibration Case Histories:
Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe. 24/96 soundcard. In Windows 2000.
EGOSYS (ESI) U2A (or U24) , external USB based card.. In Windows 2000, ME and XP.
Lynx Systems L22, 24/192 soundcard. In Windows 2000 and XP.
M-Audio (Midiman) Delta 410 or Audiophile 2496. In Windows 2000 and WindowsXP.
Maya 5.1 (or Maya EX) USB Soundcard. In Windows 2000 and Windows XP.
M-Audio Transit USB in Windows 2000.
Soundblaster Extigy, external USB based card.. In Windows 2000, ME and XP.
Soundblaster Live ("Value"), In Windows 2000. (this has also been previously tested in 98SE with similar settings).
Soundblaster PCI 128, (on-board chip on Gigabyte GA-8IEX motherboard). In Windows XP.
Soundblaster (Ensoniq) PCI, In Windows 2000. Tested in an Athlon 550 Machine
Waveterminal 192X in Windows XP.
How to investigate your soundcard's mixer settings. Check here for some tests to run when it just doesn't seem to work. Note: a script is also provided in Praxis to help in investigating difficult soundcards (use the "RunScripts" menu of the main Praxis form).
General Information About Windows Mixers:
Later versions of PRAXIS provide a menu in the "Levels Form" for opening the Windows mixer.
Record Mixers (also called "Capture" or "Input") usually allow selection of only one input source. So below each source, there will usually be a checkbox labeled "Select". You will want only the one for "line input" to be selected (and the others muted or turned all the way down, except possibly for a master record control). Any inputs named "What You Hear", or referring to "Monitoring" MUST be disabled.
Playback Mixers (also called "Play" or "Output") usually allow selection of multiple sources to be mixed into the output. You will want to mute (and turn down) all sources except for the Wave and possibly for any master volume or "Play Control" sliders.
If you can't open a windows mixer, and there is no "yellow speaker" icon in your Windows tray, go to your Sounds and Media tab of the Windows Control Panel. You should find a checkbox on the "Sounds" tab to "show volume control on the taskbar". Check that, click "Apply" and the icon should appear. Note that some soundcard devices do not have any Windows mixers! These can still be used with Praxis in most cases.
Be sure to investigate the settings of ALL the controls in your mixer, even those that may be hidden-- you select the ones to show by using the checkboxes in the panel at the bottom of the window you see when you select the "Options, Properties" menu of the Mixer window. If you show too many, they may not all fit horizontally onto your screen, so you may need to look at a few at a time.
See also: Praxis and Windows Soundcard Mixers.
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