Difference between revisions of "Envy24control"

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A mono signal can be panned by setting the stereo faders or mute controls accordingly. For example, to pan hard left, mute the right channel. To pan soft right, set the right fader higher than the left. To preserve a stereo signal coming into 2 hardware inputs -- "H/W In 1/2", for example -- mute the right fader on "H/W In 1", and mute the left fader on "H/W In 2."
 
A mono signal can be panned by setting the stereo faders or mute controls accordingly. For example, to pan hard left, mute the right channel. To pan soft right, set the right fader higher than the left. To preserve a stereo signal coming into 2 hardware inputs -- "H/W In 1/2", for example -- mute the right fader on "H/W In 1", and mute the left fader on "H/W In 2."
  
The highest level setting on the faders is 0dB, or ''Unity Gain.'' And since there is no gain, clipping is impossible on the outgoing signal. If the incoming audio signal levels are ideal -- say, -12dB to -3dB (in the orange) -- it is perfectly safe to set the faders to 0dB (the highest level setting.)  
+
The highest level setting on the faders is 0dB, or ''Unity Gain'', which is an easy way of indicating a gain of factor 1 (equivalent to 0dB) where both input and output are at the same voltage level and impedance. Since there is no amplification available, clipping is impossible on the outgoing signal. If the incoming audio signal levels are ideal -- say, -12dB to -3dB (in the orange) -- it is perfectly safe to set the faders to 0dB (the highest level setting.)  
  
 
The overall audio signal level of the on-board digital mixer's "pre-out" is indicated by the large meters on the far left, labeled "Digital Mixer." This meter is visible on all pages in the application's UI and displays the same information regardless of which page is active.
 
The overall audio signal level of the on-board digital mixer's "pre-out" is indicated by the large meters on the far left, labeled "Digital Mixer." This meter is visible on all pages in the application's UI and displays the same information regardless of which page is active.

Revision as of 12:10, 26 June 2012

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Reason: Some sections are blank and need to be filled in with relevant content. (Discuss in Talk:Envy24control#)

envy24control is an application included in the alsa-tools package. It enables controlling the digital mixer, channel gains, and other hardware settings for sound cards based on the VIA Ice1712 chipset (A.K.A. Envy24).

envy24control's user interface is loosely based on the Delta Control Panel software included with the purchase of M-Audio Delta series audio cards -- most of the tabs, controls, and capabilities are similar in the two applications. However, because they are two separate applications, the user manual for Delta Control Panel software is only marginally useful for envy24control users. This article aims to provide usage guidance for those using ice1712-based cards and envy24control with Arch Linux.

Installation

envy24control is included with the alsa-tools package in the community repository:

# pacman -S alsa-tools
Note: mudita24 is an alternative to envy24control available in the AUR. It is identical to envy24control, except that it has some clearer UI labels, peak meter indicators, and a few other bells and whistles.

Supported cards

envy24control is designed to control ice1712-based cards, including, but not limited to:

  • M-Audio Delta 1010
  • M-Audio Delta 1010LT
  • M-Audio Delta DiO 2496
  • M-Audio Delta 66
  • M-Audio Delta 44
  • M-Audio Delta 410
  • M-Audio Audiophile 2496
  • Terratec EWS 88MT
  • EWS 88D
  • EWX 24/96
  • DMX 6Fire
  • Phase 88
  • Hoontech Soundtrack DSP 24
  • Soundtrack DSP 24 Value
  • Soundtrack DSP 24 Media 7.1
  • Event Electronics EZ8
  • Digigram VX442
  • Lionstracs
  • Mediastation
  • Terrasoniq TS 88
  • Roland/Edirol DA-2496

Understanding your sound card

If you have one of the cards in the list above, know that it has a hardware digital audio mixer built into it (the Ice1712 chip). This mixer accepts digital audio streams from hardware inputs and outgoing streams from software audio devices (such as those provided by JACK), mixes them internally, and then sends the mixed output to the card's hardware outputs. envy24control controls this mixer.

Read your sound card manual

It is vital that you understand your sound card's features and capabilities. If you do not, envy24control will not make working with the card any clearer or easier. It is more likely to do just the opposite. Save yourself some frustration: read the manual.

Application overview

Monitor Inputs

The Monitor Inputs page is effectively a mixer for your card's hardware inputs. It enables you to meter the "post-gain" incoming audio signals and adjust their volumes in the card's on-board "monitor" mixer. For each physical card input, there is a pair of volume faders, mute buttons, and pre-fader level meters. On the far left, there is a meter indicating the overall signal level being routed to the on-board mixer's "pre out." The output of this digital mixer may be assigned to any of your card's hardware outputs on the Patchbay /Router page, by selecting "Digital Mix L/R." (Typically, you would do this for the hardware outputs that your monitor speakers are connected to, e.g. "H/W OUT 1/2.")

Meters

Each mixer input channel has its own level meter that indicates the "pre-fader" levels of the incoming audio signal and are therefore not affected by the fader settings. Each input's meters are color-coded into three sections: green, orange, and red. The green section is a safe zone; most incoming audio signals should fill at least this section of the meter when recording. The orange section represents a hotter zone; it is both safe and recommended to adjust the incoming signal to meter mostly in this zone when recording. The red zone represents danger; when the signal hits 0dB, overload and audio clipping may occur. Adjust the output level of your audio source along with the appropriate "ADC" faders on the "Analog Volume" page so that the incoming audio levels do not peak in the red very often or for too long. Let your ears be the judge. See #Analog Volume.

Faders

The faders control the signal level in the card's digital mix. They do not control the level of the incoming audio signals -- they are "post-meter." There is no gain control; the faders can only attenuate (reduce) the signal levels. A pair of faders can be "ganged", so that both channels can be controlled as a stereo pair. The mute buttons do exactly what you would expect: they mute the outgoing channel.

A mono signal can be panned by setting the stereo faders or mute controls accordingly. For example, to pan hard left, mute the right channel. To pan soft right, set the right fader higher than the left. To preserve a stereo signal coming into 2 hardware inputs -- "H/W In 1/2", for example -- mute the right fader on "H/W In 1", and mute the left fader on "H/W In 2."

The highest level setting on the faders is 0dB, or Unity Gain, which is an easy way of indicating a gain of factor 1 (equivalent to 0dB) where both input and output are at the same voltage level and impedance. Since there is no amplification available, clipping is impossible on the outgoing signal. If the incoming audio signal levels are ideal -- say, -12dB to -3dB (in the orange) -- it is perfectly safe to set the faders to 0dB (the highest level setting.)

The overall audio signal level of the on-board digital mixer's "pre-out" is indicated by the large meters on the far left, labeled "Digital Mixer." This meter is visible on all pages in the application's UI and displays the same information regardless of which page is active.

Tips and tricks

  • The input meters display the audio signal levels being sent to the digital mixer on your card -- they are "pre-fader."
  • To control the incoming audio signal level, adjust the the appropriate "ADC" fader(s) on the "Analog Volume" page in conjunction with the output level of your source. E.g., your outboard mixer, your mic pre-amp, etc.
Tip: As a rule of thumb, set the appropriate "ADC" fader(s) to 127. This is unity gain (0dB) and will pass the audio source's output signal through as-is to the digital mixer (with no amplification or attenuation). See #Analog Volume.
  • The incoming audio signal levels and input meters are not affected by adjustments to the faders or mute buttons on the "Monitor Inputs" page.
  • The volume controls (faders and mute buttons) determine the audio signal level in the card's on-board digital mixer.

Monitor PCMs

Tip: For the inquisitive: PCM is an acronym for Pulse Code Modulation.

The Monitor PCMs page is effectively a monitor mixer for your card's software inputs. Software inputs are the digital audio streams sent by your software applications. Typically, on a Linux-based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), this means JACK. The power of this functionality is most apparent when "Digital Mix" is connected to a pair of audio outputs in the Patchbay / Router tab, and you are mixing multiple sources from both hardware and software inputs See #Usage examples.

The faders, meters, and mute buttons operate identically to those on the Monitor Inputs page.

Tips and tricks

  • The available software inputs are displayed as "playback_X", where X is a sequential number, in JACK's Connections dialog (in the "Writable Clients / Input Ports" box.) The number of available inputs will vary depending on your specific card.
  • "PCM Out 1/2" are typically used by applications like Ardour for their main outs. This is so common, the default signal routed to your card's physical outputs come from "PCM Out 1/2." Therefore, when using your card for monitoring rather than Ardour's, use "PCM Out 3" or higher to monitor the signal you are actively recording to maintain mixing flexibility. See #Usage Examples.
  • When connecting the "capture_1/2" output port to input ports in JACK's Connections dialog, be sure to mute the "H/W In 1/2" on the Monitor Inputs page. For example, if you use JACK to connect "capture_1/2" to "playback_3/4", not muting "H/W In 1/2" on the Monitor Inputs page will result in a combination of the direct input hardware signal with a software version of the same signal in the mixer (remember your card is a mixer!), and this usually produces signal phase problems or worse. Depending on the situation, you could even produce a signal loop.

Patchbay / Router

This page allows you to connect each of the card's hardware outputs to specific audio sources within the card's board.

The two leftmost vertical columns, "H/W Out 1/2 (L/R)", connects these outputs to one of these signal sources:

  1. The default setting, "PCM Out 1/2", is your music software outputs. For example, Ardour's main outs connected to "playback_1/2" via JACK's Connections dialog.
  2. "Digital Mix" is the output of the card's mixer.This handy option allows you to mix hardware and software audio sources directly in your card's mixer with near-zero latency.
  3. "S/PDIF In L/R" is a direct connection to the card's S/PDIF inputs.
  4. "H/W In 1/2" is a direct connection to the card's analog audio inputs.

The two rightmost columns, "S/PDIF Out 1/2 (L/R)", function identically as the above, but the first option is labeled differently (and a bit confusingly):

  1. The "S/PDIF Out 1/2 (L/R)" option connects these outputs to your music software outputs. Again, for example, Ardour's main outs connected via JACK.

Tips and tricks

  • Typically, you would select the same option for both the L and R of a stereo output pair. (In fact, the Delta Control Panel software that ships with M-Audio sound cards forces this behavior: there is no separate L and R channel on this page. The envy24control developers provided additional flexibility in this regard.)
  • Depending on your card, the number of "playback_X" channels available in JACK's Connections dialog will vary. Usually, the two highest-numbered channels are "S/PDIF Out 1/2 (L/R)." This may or may not be the case with your configuration; take a few minutes to experiment and make a note.
  • Learn to use the "Digital Mix" option. It is an extremely powerful feature that allows you to take some of the audio processing load off your recording software by handling the monitor mix with your card's hardware instead. This also provides the added benefit of near-zero latency while monitoring. See #Usage examples.
  • It should be fairly clear by now that the on-board mixer and patchbay / router in your sound card is highly versatile. You may want to re-read this page and make some practice adjustments to become proficient in routing and mixing with envy24control. If in the process you end up confused, you can set the card back to its default configuration by selecting the topmost option in all of the columns on the "Patchbay / Router" page.

Hardware Settings

Master Clock

This section allows you to select the source and codec sample rate of the card's master clock. Int indicates a selection that will rely on the card's internal crystal for the clock. S/PDIF In is an advanced capability most often used when synchronizing two or more Ice1712-based cards. To achieve this, one card is set to an Int rate -- it will serve as the master clock. The "S/PDIF Outs" of the master clock card are connected to the "S/PDIF Ins" of the second card, and that card's clock is set to S/PDIF In, effectively "chaining" them together.

When using an Int option, Int 44100 (44.1 kHz) and higher are recommended for digital recording.

Rate State

When Reset is selected, the codec sample rate selected in the "Master Clock" section is regarded as the "idle" sample rate. This means that when your card is in use by a software application such as JACK, the rate is set by that application. The card will then switch (if necessary) to the selected sample rate whenever it's not in use by an application. Think of the complete name for this tickbox as Reset Rate When Idle.

The codec sample rate can be locked to a specific rate by selecting Locked. When you do this, the card will disallow applications from setting the sample rate differently. If an application attempts to do so, you will most likely experience errors and/or XRUNS.

Tip: It's a common misconception that the selected clock rate and the rate of your software applications must match, or you'll get oodles of XRUNS. In practice, as long as Locked is not selected, this should not be the case (and the author has never experienced this being a problem). Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your setup. To be sure, setting all applications' clock rates consistently eliminates one more possible source of XRUNS.
Settings combinations and their behaviors
Locked Reset Behavior
- X Software applications can set codec sample rate; card returns to selected rate when not in use (default and recommended)
- - Software applications can set codec sample rate; card leaves rate at last rate specified when not in use
X - Codec sample rate is locked to selected rate; applications may not specify other rates (beware XRUNS!)

Actual Rate

This displays the current codec sample rate of the card. Depending on your settings, this may vary as it's controlled by applications such as JACK or Ardour and/or by envy24control itself. See #Master Clock and #Rate State for details.

Analog Volume

The faders on the "Analog Volume" page control the signal levels of the digital-to-analog (DAC) and analog-to-digital (ADC) converters of your card.

DAC faders

These faders are attenuators for the level of the outgoing analog audio signal after it's been converted from digital audio and sent to the hardware outputs. These are the "post-outs" of your card; think of them like the "main outs" or "main mix" faders on a hardware mixer. A value of 127 (maximum volume) is 0dB, or unity gain.

ADC faders

The ADC faders control attenuation or amplification of incoming analog audio signals being converted from your card's hardware inputs. They are effectively "gain" controls. A value of 127 is 0dB, or unity gain. Setting a fader all the way up provides +18dB of gain. Setting the fader all the way down attenuates the signal by -63dB, effectively muting the audio signal.

Tips and tricks

  • One of the most common solutions when you can't hear your incoming audio signal is to check the ADC faders for the hardware inputs into which your source is plugged. Until you adjust the ADC faders for the appropriate channels, the signal is effectively muted.
  • Setting the "ADC" faders to 127 (0dB) is the recommended starting value when adjusting incoming audio signal levels. This way, clipping is impossible in the card's digital mixer, and you only need to use your audio source's output level controls for adjustments.
  • If your audio source's maximum output levels are too low and do not meter in the orange on the "Monitor Inputs" page when the ADC fader is set to 127, slide the ADC fader up in small increments to amplify the signal until the desired levels are reached.
Note: Using the ADC's amplifier is typically not ideal because you're likely amplifying a weak signal -- noise and all. The ideal solution is to find an external way to boost your audio source's signal. For example, use a mic preamp, route your guitar through a direct box, etc.
  • The numbering of the faders is zero-based. So, "DAC 0" corresponds to "H/W Out 1 (L)", "DAC 1" corresponds to "H/W Out 2 (R)", and so on. This is also true for the "ADC" faders.

Profiles

TODO

Usage examples

Recording a single track in Ardour (Ardour does monitoring)

This example assumes you have a mono audio source plugged into your card's analog input "H/W In 1." For example, a microphone through a pre-amp.

envy24control settings

  • All channels on the "Monitor Inputs" and "Monitor PCMs" pages muted and faders down. (This seems counter-intuitive at first, but remember that you are not using the mixer, so none of these controls matter in this example.)
  • On the "Patchbay / Router" page, select "PCM Out 1/2" in the "H/W Out 1/2 (L/R)" columns. This is where Ardour is sending its master outs.
  • On the "Analog Volume" page, set the appropriate faders (e.g., "DAC 0/1") to 127 (full volume), and set the "ADC 0" fader to 127 (unity gain or 0dB.)
  • On the "Monitor Inputs" page, watch the "H/W In 1" meter and adjust the output volume on your audio source until most peaks fall in the "orange" zone. This is about -12dB through -3dB.
  • Once the JACK connections are made as described below, you will also be able to meter Ardour's master out signal on "PCM Out 1/2" in the "Monitor PCMs" page.

Ardour settings

  • Create a normal mono track. For this example, it will be called "Audio 1."
  • Under Options > Monitoring, ensure that Ardour does monitoring is selected. VERY IMPORTANT!
  • Ensure "Auto Input" is enabled; you can find the button in the upper right-hand corner. This will cause the signal for your track to toggle between the recorded track and the input signal, depending on whether or not the track is "armed" for recording.
  • After making the JACK connections as described below, arm "Audio 1" for recording and make any level adjustments in Ardour, using the "Audio 1" meter.

JACK connections

+-----------------------+                   +-------------------+
|       OUTPUTS         |                   |      INPUTS       |
|-----------------------|                   |-------------------|
| Ardour                |                   | Ardour            |
|  Audio 1/out 1        +---+   +-----------+  Audio 1/in 1     |
|  Audio 1/out 2        +-+ +---|-----------+  master/in 1      |
|  ...                  | +-----|-----------+  master/in 2      |
|  ...                  |       |           |                   |
|  master/out 1         +-------|-----+     | System            |
|  master/out 2         +-------|---+ +-----+   playback_1      |
|                       |       |   +-------+   playback_2      |
| System                |       |           |   ...             |
|   capture_1           +-------+           |                   |
|   capture_2           |                   |                   |
|   ...                 |                   |                   |
+-----------------------+                   +-------------------+

Recording a single track in Ardour (Audio Hardware does monitoring)

As with the first example, this example also assumes you have a mono audio source plugged into your card's analog input "H/W In 1." For example, a microphone through a pre-amp.

envy24control settings

  • Mute all channels on the "Monitor Inputs" page. Watch the "H/W In 1" meter and adjust the output volume on your audio source until most peaks fall in the "orange" zone. This is about -12dB through -3dB.
  • On the "Patchbay / Router" page, select "Digital Mix" in the "H/W Out 1/2 (L/R)" columns.
  • On the "Analog Volume" page, set the appropriate faders (e.g., "DAC 0/1") to 127 (full volume), and set the "ADC 0" fader to 127 (unity gain or 0dB.)
  • On the "Monitor PCMs" page, unmute the L channel of "PCM Out 1" and set the fader to 20. Unmute the R channel of "PCM Out 2" and set the fader to 20. This will preserve the stereo field of Ardour's master outs.
  • Also on the "Monitor PCMs" page, unmute both the L and R channels of "PCM Out 3" and set the faders to 20. This is where [[JACK][] will be routing your incoming audio source's signal for monitoring.
  • After making the JACK connections as described below, use the faders on the "Monitor PCMs" page to adjust levels in your monitor mix. (This will make more sense once you have recorded a track: the playback will be routed to "PCM Out 1/2" because these are Ardour's master outs.)

Ardour settings

  • Create a normal mono track. For this example, it will be called "Audio 1."
  • Under Options > Monitoring, ensure that Audio Hardware does monitoring is selected. VERY IMPORTANT!
  • Ensure "Auto Input" is disabled; you can find the button in the upper right-hand corner. (This is optional, but helps to avoid confusion.)
  • After making the JACK connections as described below, arm "Audio 1" for recording and make any level adjustments in Ardour, using the "Audio 1" meter.

JACK connections

+-----------------------+                   +-------------------+
|       OUTPUTS         |                   |      INPUTS       |
|-----------------------|                   |-------------------|
| Ardour                |                   | Ardour            |
|  Audio 1/out 1        +---+   +-----------+  Audio 1/in 1     |
|  Audio 1/out 2        +-+ +---|-----------+  master/in 1      |
|  ...                  | +-----|-----------+  master/in 2      |
|  ...                  |       |           |                   |
|  master/out 1         +-------|-----+     | System            |
|  master/out 2         +-------|---+ +-----+   playback_1      |
|                       |       |   +-------+   playback_2      |
| System                |       |       +---+   playback_3      |
|   capture_1           +-------+-------+   |   ...             |
|   capture_2           |                   |                   |
|   ...                 |                   |                   |
+-----------------------+                   +-------------------+
Note: "capture_1" is connected to both "Ardour:Audio 1/in 1" and "System:playback_3."

See also

envy24control is loosely based on the UI and functionality provided by the Windows/Mac Delta Control Panel software that ships with M-Audio Delta series hardware. The documentation in the cards' user manual loosely applies; be prepared to spend some time experimenting and getting familiar with your card's capabilities and the software. Some manuals for popular Delta series cards: