request Ableton/Alpha Lexicon recording help, please
October 3, 2009 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I have Ableton and a Lexicon Alpha interface but I can't really make music because of TWO problems I cannot solve: (1) horrible screeching feedback; (2) I can make midi tracks and hear them playback but I cannot hear my voice when I play it back.

so here are the problems:

(1) I have altered the settings for buffers, latency, all that stuff, and I can't get it to not make horrible screeching feedback noise

(2) I can play midi tracks and play them back ok. When I switch to Audio, however, I can record myself singing through a mike that is plugged into my interface (which is plugged into my computer's USB port) but I cannot HEAR myself singing via playback. I can SEE the volume go up and down, and I can SEE the graphic evidence on the screen that I have actually recorded my voice, but obviously I am not using the correct drivers for audio (I think). This happens regardless of what drivers I use -- the ones that are built into my computer's sound card or even switching to ASIO4all or whatever that's called.

Any help greatly appreciated. thank you.
posted by DMelanogaster to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
I have altered the settings for buffers, latency, all that stuff, and I can't get it to not make horrible screeching feedback noise

Maybe I'm not clear on the problem exactly (I can't see how these problems aren't mutually exclusive) but the normal source of feedback, rather than settings on the computer, is position of mics relative to monitors. Have you tried repositioning your mic/monitors and adjusting levels so that your mic isn't picking up sound from them?
posted by advil at 1:09 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: So...right. It's not feedback. It's a horrible distortion noise. I think, according to the manual and the lessons included in the software, it has to do with buffering, but I can't fix it by changing the settings no matter what I do.

And then there is the other problem, which I agree is unrelated to the first problem (that is, what drivers to use).
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:49 PM on October 3, 2009

It's a horrible distortion noise.

Ah alright. That may well be configuration-related, and is probably a specific problem to that particular interface, so I won't be able to help (I don't know anything about that one). If no one else jumps in you might try asking on some audio-production forums (e.g. KVRAudio, the ableton live forums, bigbluelounge, etc), where you are likely to find someone who has that device.

One variable to eliminate is whether it is about the interaction of ableton and the alpha, or just the interface. You could test this by seeing if you can get it to work normally with other software (e.g. the demo mode of Reaper).

About the second problem I'm a little puzzled because audio/midi output (I assume you mean a midi track playing a software synth of some kind?) are identical in terms of the way they interact with the driver -- they both produce audio which is summed inside Live and sent to the audio interface as one signal. When you play back just a clip with audio, does the master volume meter move? When you try to play audio and a midi clip at the same time (put them in the same row ("scene") in session mode and click the scene's play button) what happens? Does live's test tone work normally?
posted by advil at 6:44 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: I think my problems are magically solved! (??)

DUH -- I turned the volume way way down on my computer and the noise diminished greatly. I now only have as many clicks and pops as many other Ableton users have! (it seems to be quite complicated to get a "pure" sound, when one is not knowledgable enough to work with sound cards. etc.)

And I now can also record both audio and midi and they play back at the same time! And I don't know why I couldn't before. I don't think I'm doing anything differently. Bizarre.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:49 AM on October 4, 2009

Well, glad to hear it...I don't know that you should have any clicks and pops though.

One possibility for the second problem, if you are new to ableton, is that you accidentally had a midi track soloed. This will produce movement in the meters of other playing tracks without audio.
posted by advil at 10:21 AM on October 4, 2009

Response by poster: I'm back!

First of all (1) I realize that one thing that happens is, I do fine for awhile, and then everything STOPS. The sound just stops. I go back to seeing the volume meters moving and all other signs of my recording, but no sound. And when I go to my regular old speaker icon in the task bar of the computer, the volume control is grayed out. Then what I do is: I reboot, and voila, I get more time where things "work" -- and THEN

(2) so I was able to record an audio track (with my Lexicon alpha interface plus Ableton) and a midi track together, and it was a miracle. THEN I introduced a second midi track, to see what would happen. And --- before I even got to record anything with it, just playing the metronome for a minute, the audio tracked CHANGED spontaneously. Now it hesitates and has echos (and really is unlistenable). SO I rebooted the computer again, hoping it would revert to its original state. BUT no. It has somehow been corrupted just from introducing that metronome (I didn't even record it, I just played it) for a second! (and then, to pour salt on my wound, the sound crapped out again).

(3) I should definitely say that, after things stopped working again, I downloaded ASIO4ALL and started to use ASIO as my driver (this got things working very nicely for about five minutes) -- BUT the reason I still get clicks and pops is because, when I was resetting everything under Preferences-- Audio, the instruction was to increase the sampling rate and the buffer until the clicks and pops stopped, BUT I went to the very highest number of samples - 2048 - that ASIO "allows" and that is simply not a high enough number for the clicks and pops to stop.

(4) I"m really starting to miss the days of recording with my Tascam Porta-One and tape!

This is all much more complicated than I'd anticipated. Thanks for listening.
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:53 PM on October 4, 2009

Sounds like a mess...sorry I can't help more. One more thing to check -- is your USB port alright? Have you tried swapping ports, and if you are using a hub, plugging it in directly? I do think you'll get a lot more responses if you post on a music-oriented forum, I feel like I've seen many threads with problems along these lines on e.g. the ableton forum. Also, you could add the "stumped" tag here.
posted by advil at 12:51 PM on October 7, 2009

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