How to Set Up Monitoring Saffire Pro 24 for 4 Inputs

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queej
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I'm completely new to audio recording. I have been able to set up a Saffire Pro 24 DSP and record to 4 tracks in Ardour, but I can't figure out how to manipulate the blended sound and then play that back through the outputs. The Saffire box has the ability to route "DAW1" through "DAW8", but those seem to be tied to the line inputs. I'm not sure if the Master track is designed for that purpose, or some other sort of track, or how to direct that to the output monitor on the Saffire (my headphones, or "Monitor 1".

Any help would be appreciated! I'm reading the online manual, but just not getting enough basic information. I've ordered Home Recording for Musicians for Dummies. I'm a software developer, so computer savvy is not a problem -- just understanding audio recording jargon, etc.

Edward Diehl
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Just to be clear about what you want to do: I assume you want to monitor your mix as you are recording it and you are using Ardour 2.8? I will attempt to answer your question with the caveat that I might not know what I'm talking about. One thing that will work is to set Ardour to do the monitoring by selecting Options->Monitoring->Ardour does monitoring (perhaps it is set to "hardware does monitoring" now?).

I believe that you could use the SaffirePro24 to do hardware monitoring. I own a SaffirePro24 myself so you'd think I'd know how to do it, but I am a bit vague on it. I think hardware monitoring means you use the built-in mixer on the hardware to send the inputs to the outputs directly in the SaffirePro24, bypassing the computer entirely and giving you very low latency. I believe the process would be to run the ffado-mixer to configure the SaffirePro24 mixer using the "Matrix" panel which I find highly inscrutable. I think this panel allows you to route inputs to outputs (i.e. mix signals) and you can specify the volume through the DB level). Unfortunately, there is no particular documentation that I know about about the SaffirePro24 ffado-mixer operation other than what I've been able to glean following the ffado-mailing list. I'd advise you to post there if you have detailed questions about how to configure the Saffire with ffado-mixer. Maybe I'll play with the ffado-mixer myself and see if I can figure out how to do hardware monitoring. I think it also might be possible to configure the SaffirePro24 in Windows and then boot to linux. I think the configuration is retained.

mcgruff
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First, a comment about the audio apps you might be using. Pipe everything in to Ardour busses (and disconnect their default jack connections) so you can mix everything in one location. The Ardour mixer is much more powerful than anything else - automation for example.

With that in mind, there's basically three things to think about:

(1) hardware inputs - you'll find these in the list of qjackctl system inputs; sometimes more qjackctl system inputs are listed than actually exist on the interface - just ignore them

(2) hardware outputs - these are *not* qjackctl system outputs

(3) pcm audio streams - the qjackctl system outputs

Think of the Saffire mixer as a "hardware" mixer which lives in the soundcard. It's sole concern is to decide what gets sent to which hardware outputs from the available list of hardware inputs and software audio streams. All the real mixing will be done in Ardour.

[Audio Software eg Ardour] --> jack system outs --> soundcard & mixer --> hardware outs

hardware ins --> soundcard & mixer --> hardware outs

Note that a soundcard *monitor* mixer has no effect on the recording chain:

hardware ins --> jack system ins --> audio software

You can send hardware inputs to hardware outputs (eg to insert an FX unit whose output is then plugged in to another set of hardware inputs) but mainly you'll be trying to set up monitor mixes, and the main monitor mix is simply the left and right Ardour master outs. These should be hooked up to qjacktl system outs 1&2 (but check...).

The next part I'm not 100% sure but I think the Saffire mixer calls the software audio streams (qjacktl system outs) DAW 1, DAW 2, etc. If that's correct, you just need to send the DAW 1 and DAW 2 to whatever outputs you want to listen on.

If a pan control is provided you'll need to pan each channel hard left and right in the soundcard mixer.

The Saffire mixer has a bunch of tabs to set up multiple monitor mixes but just ignore that for now, at least until you get one working.

kelleydv
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By "manipulate the blended sound" are you talking about adding effects, volume, pan, etc. on the individual tracks?

I think the first step before playing around with mixing and stuff is to get your output working. If you successfully recorded, that means Jack is interfacing with your Pro 24. All you have to do is play with the routing in Jack to send Ardour's output to your device's output. I'm not familiar with your hardware, but it sounds like it's got 8 different outputs. Those are probably what you are seeing in qjackctl as "DAW1", etc...

So, I'm on OS X and have never used qjackctl, but it should be very similar to jackosx. Under your "output ports" you should see Ardour, and it's master outs (provided you haven't changed default settings in Ardour). These master outs should be routed to your hardware outputs somewhere under your "input ports". I'm not on linux, but I think it will be with the alsa group under "output ports". That may seem confusing at first if you're brand new to audio, but yes - your hardware outputs are under the "input ports" because they accept a signal. To get started, the only hardware outputs you'll want to connect to Ardour's master out are the ones you've got speakers or headphones connected to... but maybe that's obvious.

That should be good to get you started on hearing playback. I think you can post a screenshot here of your Jack routing, and that might help if you're still stuck.

kelleydv
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BTW

"monitor" means listening to the realtime input on your device. It's different from playback. For example; my guitar amplifier is in another room, mic'd, and sending a signal to the machine I'm working at in this room. I can't hear it too well from here, but I can "monitor" it with headphones while I record to the previously recorded drum track... monitoring can be achieved via hardware or software - as mentioned above - depending on your needs/preferences.

queej
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Thanks to all for your suggestions! I'm going to keep reading these over until I understand them better.

To answer a couple of questions, I am using a Macbook Pro in my setup. I can hear the outputs in the headphones and amps connected to the Saffire outputs if I reference the Saffire DAW1..DAW4, but each output goes separately to one ear/amp. I haven't figured out how to blend the sound of the channels into a Master, and then have that work as my DAW1 output or MIX1 output. I think some of the tips above may help me figure that out. I didn't think of the distinction between monitoring and playback, but I'd like to be able to do both: listen to the current blend of all inputs while recording and after recording.

Couldn't see how to attach messages here, so I put them up on a server. Think you'll have to "view image" to see them full sized.

kelleydv
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Cool, keep on exploring then. I'm mostly interested in screenshots of your jack routing. It seems like that's where you'll find your solutions.

paul
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@queej: the output of jack_lsp -c (run from a Terminal window) will be more useful than the screenshots you posted. you'd need to add links to the full size images for us to be able to "read" them.

kelleydv
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@paul: good to know about that command!

seablade
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@Paul Right Click and select view image on the images to see them full size, drupal is just using height and width attributes to make them appear smaller.

Seablade

froh
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Hmm, I have a saffire pro 24. I was a bit confused at first since you did not say what os you are running. But now i see it's some version of OSX, which i know nothing about :)

But that actually does not matter, you see, your sound card is like router. It can pass the signal from any input to any output. This means that you can pass the signal directly to physical outputs parallel to the signal going in to your firewire port.

If you only want to hear the processed signal from ardour when recording, disconnect the inputs from the outputs in the Saffire mixer, and let ardour do the job.

I have not used this mixer a lot, as i use ffado-mixer under linux (which is not very user friendly). But i remember this being explained in the manual. http://focusrite.com/download/680/User_Guide_Saffire_Pro24_Eng+copy.pdf Check out the monitor section down to the right in the mixer. I think you can just disable it there.

queej
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@Paul: Thanks. Here are the outputs from the command:

system:capture_1
   ardour:Audio 1/in 1
system:capture_2
   ardour:Audio 2/in 1
system:capture_3
   ardour:Audio 3/in 1
system:capture_4
system:capture_5
system:capture_6
system:capture_7
system:capture_8
   ardour:Audio 6/in 1
system:capture_9
   ardour:Audio 6/in 2
system:capture_10
system:capture_11
system:capture_12
system:capture_13
system:capture_14
system:capture_15
system:capture_16
system:playback_1
   ardour:auditioner/out 1
   ardour:master/out 1
   ardour:Audio 6/out 2
   ardour:click/out 1
system:playback_2
   ardour:auditioner/out 2
   ardour:master/out 2
   ardour:click/out 2
system:playback_3
system:playback_4
system:playback_5
system:playback_6
system:playback_7
system:playback_8
   ardour:Audio 6/out 1
ardour:master/in 1
   ardour:Audio 1/out 1
   ardour:Audio 3/out 1
ardour:master/in 2
   ardour:Audio 2/out 1
ardour:master/out 1
   system:playback_1
ardour:master/out 2
   system:playback_2
ardour:auditioner/out 1
   system:playback_1
ardour:auditioner/out 2
   system:playback_2
ardour:Audio 1/in 1
   system:capture_1
ardour:Audio 1/out 1
   ardour:master/in 1
ardour:Audio 2/in 1
   system:capture_2
ardour:Audio 2/out 1
   ardour:master/in 2
ardour:Audio 3/in 1
   system:capture_3
ardour:Audio 3/out 1
   ardour:master/in 1
ardour:Audio 6/in 1
   system:capture_8
ardour:Audio 6/in 2
   system:capture_9
ardour:Audio 6/out 1
   system:playback_8
ardour:Audio 6/out 2
   system:playback_1
ardour:click/out 1
   system:playback_1
ardour:click/out 2
   system:playback_2

EDIT: Added PRE tags as the spacing is important on this, no time to answer it right now myself though, sorry. Seablade

seablade
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Ok got time while I sit in one of my student's techs.

Your routing seems to be very odd here. You have some tracks routed to the master, but direct to Left and Right with no stereo panning at all, some routed direct to outputs again without panning, and some not routed to any output at all.

For the record System:Playback ports correspond to the DAW Outputs in the Focusrite mixer. So if you are routing in Ardour/Jack to System:Playback_1 that sound will show up in the Focusrite mixer as DAW1. Likewise System:Playback_2 as DAW2, etc.

My recomendation to fix your routing for what you are likely trying to do. Unpatch all outputs from tracks. Then make sure you have two outputs on every track, each of these should be routed to master/in_1 and master/in_2 respectively on each track. This will give you a basic stereo panner on each track to pan left and right, which you likely don't currently have on any track other than Track 6. This also routes each track through the Master bus, which in turn you can route that to a pair of System:Playback ports, 1+2 is the standard, which will mean the audio from Ardour will show up as DAW1 and DAW2 in the Focusrite mixer. Then you would route DAW1 and DAW2 in the focusrite mixer to whatever outputs you wish.

Hopefully this makes sense, come back with questions if it does not.

Seablade

queej
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Thanks again to everyone for their help. I was able to do what seablade suggested. There was one final thing missing. There was an "Active" checkbox on the Master that wasn't enabled! That was my major problem all along. :)

seablade
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Oh yea if you deactivate the bus it won't do anything at all;)

Glad you got it working.

Seablade