Firebox on Dual-Core Intel, Windows

Finally got my 2.0 Ghz Macbook, and one of the first things I did is install Windows on it. It is pretty stupid, but I need Cubase, and SX3 via Rosetta just won’t cut it.

After installing the drivers for my Firebox, I started noticing constant clicks and dropouts in audio, in both Cubase and iTunes. The problem clearly affected all audio playback, but it was however absent when playing through the onboard audio chip, so it became pretty apparent that there was an issue with the Firebox.

Here is how to fix it.

After emailing the Firebox support team at 3 AM on a Sunday, I started roaming the net around, and a few google search pages through, I found a list of suggestions to make it work. The problem, apparently, affects a lot of dual-core laptops, and not just the Macbooks (it’s the same hardware as in PC laptops anyway; same widely available firewire controllers and Intel motherboard chipsets, so I was quite sure this isn’t a Macbook only problem to begin with).

Here is a quote from the Notebook.Com review topic which lists a few things you should try. After going through the list, all of the drop-out problems disappeared. Hooray.

Q: I have a PC computer and am getting clicks/pops/drop outs in playback. What can I do?

A: These issues are often common at first. There are a few settings to adjust to smooth out the audio performance.

  1. Right click on your FireBox icon in your system tray just to the left of the time. Set the CPU setting to HIGH. If HIGH setting does not improve performance, try LOW
  2. Right click on your My Computer icon and select Properties. Click the Advanced tab, click the Settings button under Performance, click Advanced tab, then set to Background Services under Processor Scheduling.
  3. Click Start menu, Control Panel and double click into Network Connections. If you have a Wireless Network Connection, right click and ‘disable’ this while you are running the FireBox.
  4. Within Cubase, click Devices menu, select Device Setup, and select VST MULTITRACK. There you have “number of disk buffers”, set this to 12. “disk buffer size”, set this to 128 or 256. Click “APPLY”. Also make sure you are set to the Presonus ASIO FireBox driver. Then click the ‘Expert’ button and set “audio priority” to VERY HIGH and uncheck “multi processing” if applicable. You may also want to increase any related settings within other recording software.
  5. If you have Service Pack 2 installed:
    a. Click Start menu > Control Panel > Windows Firewall. Click the Advanced tab and deselect the 1394 Connection. Click OK.
    b. Visit this link, then download & install the recommended patch:
  6. Lastly, right click on My Computer icon, select Properties, click Hardware tab, and then click the Device Manager button. In here, extend the IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers. Double click on the Primary and Secondary IDE Channels and click Advanced Settings tab. Here you will see Device 0 and Device 1. You’ll see “Transfer Mode” (which is usually set to DMA if available) and you will see “Current Transfer Mode”. Current Transfer needs to be set to UDMA (Ultra DMA) mode. If either Device on the Primary or Secondary Channels are set to PIO mode, this could be your problem. PIO mode is an older legacy and slower transfer mode for older drives. If either is set to PIO mode, first make sure the “Transfer Mode” is set to “DMA if available”.
  7. You can change PIO modes by either entering BIOS and setting the IDE Controllers to’Auto’, the Current Transfer Mode should change. If not, in the Device Manager, as long as the “Transfer Mode” is set to DMA if available, you can right click on the Primary/Secondary IDE Channel listed and ‘uninstall’ it. Once ‘uninstalled’, reboot your computer and it will refresh. NOTE: Entering your computer’s BIOS is specific to your computer. Check your computer’s manuals and documentation on how to do so. If you have a device set to “PIO mode” and you are uncomfortable with changing these settings, find someone who is or contact Technical Support so that they may assist you.

EDIT: I’ve received an email from the Presonus support the next day on Monday at 8:13 AM with the same instructions as I’ve found on the NotebookReview message board. While I do the bulk of audio work on weekends, it’s still nice that they replied ASAP. In any case, there is Intermat for those of us with problems outside of the support department working hours (the majority, I would guess).


5 Responses to “Firebox on Dual-Core Intel, Windows”

  1. 1 Chris F November 27, 2006 at 4:30 am

    Hi there. I have tried all these things and still I have drop outs. Any other info on this subject?

  2. 2 earpick November 27, 2006 at 4:40 am

    Do you get drop outs in your sequencer as well as in other audio software? All under windows, but fine under OS X?

    What about the buffer/latency settings? What happens if you change them around?

  3. 3 earpick February 15, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    What did it for me was built-in Atheros-based wireless.

    The interesting thing is, when I’m downloading something, ie. there is internet traffic going through, the clicks and pop disappear. As soon as the download stops, the clickorama begins to take place.

    What I did as a workaround for now is to plug one of my old 802.11b dongles (Netgear MA111 in this case) into one of the USB ports. Or I just don’t use Internet at all – makes me surprisingly productive.

  4. 4 UV October 29, 2008 at 12:18 am

    I am not so sure about setting audio priority to very high.
    AFAIR this is not a recommended setting for SX3.
    (working on the SX3 audio engine @ steinberg in 2003/2004)
    This might interfere with disk I/O of the system.

    On my setup I simply disable the network adapters if I want to record or bounce a more complex piece in SX3 (high CPU load)
    as network activity sits deep in the OS on high priorities and will keep on making clicks when the CPU load gets high

    I find it funny to disable the multiprocessing in the audio engine
    but if you don’t use CPU but more disk IO this might be valid.
    However, this is definitely not necessary if you disable the network adaptor.

    there are a lot of things that people tried and which worked for them. with my deeper insight into the SX3 system I only do a few of them as the others don’t seem to make sense to me.
    However, this does not mean that there are system configurations
    where they do improve the situation. The firewire audio historically had loads of problems…..
    In the end the only way to sort this out properly is to have a repeatable test case and record all the results of all possible permutations of system settings……. quite a mission.

  1. 1 con foto perros zoofilia Trackback on April 29, 2007 at 5:02 am

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