Ultralite AVB

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Musinux
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Ultralite AVB

Postby Musinux » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:58 pm

Hi there,

since I spent so much time finding a cool usb-interface for linux, I hope I can help somebody else with this.

I'm using a Ultralite AVB with ALSA and/or JACK 1 with some problems.

Jack1 latency is down to 2.9ms@44100Hz (64/3) without any xruns. Jack2 has some xruns no matter what the latency is...

To keep this short, here's a pro/con list:

pro:
- Low Latency
- 24in/24out with alsa running smooth
- nice ethernet based web interface (no need for drivers!)
- has json-api --> script based volume/mute/route/whateveryouwant !
- nice sounding dac / dsp mixes without any noise/coloring even with strange values (like 1% volume in kodi and the mixers routed with multiple +12dB to the speakers)


cons:
- "random" bit-crusher like playback errors when using processing with jack or high load, with and without xruns (probably due to incorrect delay settings or other problems with the alsa kernel driver)
- display is always on (will mod hw, trim-poti or switch...)
- unmutable cracks when input-rate changes (I don't care, my speakers are active and protected...)
- switching sample rate (i.e. with jack) will not work at first attempt, starting jack like 3 times makes it switch
- sample rate after power-on is not reliable set at what you want
- hw-controls not usable for much (json+python could fix this...i.e. reading main-vol and writing to json-something)
- has to be started by pressing the power button several seconds (nogo for rack usage)
- json interface does no or only little sanity checking (1000000% volume possible - neighbors hating you - tweeters gone)
- startup time is about 30sec
- partially loses configuration when the interface crashes or the power cable gets unplugged accidently (backup your setup)



Note that most of these problems exist for windows and especially macOS users as well (see http://www.motunation.com/forum/ for many unsolved pita problems with nearly all MOTU products).

Right now (18/06), I'm using the Ultralite just as a mixer with web interface.
It's powered up all the time and I do things like setting sample rate before my tv/speakers get powered on.
I'm still somehow happy with it, mainly because I don't really "do" anything with it but changing volume...

This interface would ROCK given just a few bugfixes from MOTU :cry: .
Last edited by Musinux on Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

dsreyes1014
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Re: Ultralight AVB

Postby dsreyes1014 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:16 am

+1 for this interface. By far the best interface I've used on linux. They just released a touch friendly tab in the web interface and it works petty good. It's in beta state now so it should get better with the next firmware release.

finotti
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Re: Ultralight AVB

Postby finotti » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:08 pm

Looks quite interesting! It's out of my price range for the near future, but it's good to know it works on Linux!

And for the sake of those searching for this interface, it is MOTU's UltraLite AVB. (Not UltraLight. Again, not being picky, simply trying to help those who might search for it.)

Ulrich
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Ulrich » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:38 pm

Hey Musinux,

I just posted on the 828ES thread, but I have the same issue as you :

- switching sample rate (i.e. with jack) will not work at first attempt, starting jack like 3 times makes it switch
- sample rate after power-on is not reliable set at what you want


As I wrote, ALSA makes it weird... If you don't want to relaunch JACK several times, you can wait for ALSA to mess up you sample rate, apply the sound card configuration through the web interface, wait for the sound card to apply it then launch JACK. Less frustrating imo.

But still I would like to resolve this annoying behavior. Any luck ? Beside this, it is a pretty wonderful card for Linux !

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Be.
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Be. » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:27 am

I have been using one of these for a few months now and have the same annoying issues with the sample rate and having to start JACK multiple times. Can anyone explain what is going on there? Is the issue the Ultralite AVB's hardware, firmware, or is it ALSA? Or is it an unfortunate quirk of how those all interact? Are there similar issues with macOS or Windows?

Compounding the quirks with having to start JACK multiple times, I cannot get the Ultralite AVB to work with PulseAudio directly. I have to use JACK all the time with the PA-to-JACK bridge.

I made a feature request through MOTU's support system to be able to turn off the display and they said they would pass it on the product development team. I don't know if that will happen on the Ultralite AVB, but hopefully for future devices. As a workaround I block the display with a business card at night.

Aside from that, there is one really serious issue that I am wondering if anyone else has encountered. Occasionally when there are xruns, instead of hearing a normal momentary pop, I hear a horrible crackling noise that sounds somewhat like a bitcrusher effect mixed with the music. The original signal is still intelligible underneath the crackling. It spontaneously resolves after a few seconds or a minute or two. Unfortunately this makes the Ultralite AVB unusable for performing for me. I have opened a support ticket with MOTU and they suggested updating to the latest firmware. I just did that a few days ago and haven't had any issues since, but I haven't tested it very much yet.

Ulrich
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Ulrich » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:32 am

Aside from that, there is one really serious issue that I am wondering if anyone else has encountered. Occasionally when there are xruns, instead of hearing a normal momentary pop, I hear a horrible crackling noise that sounds somewhat like a bitcrusher effect mixed with the music. The original signal is still intelligible underneath the crackling. It spontaneously resolves after a few seconds or a minute or two. Unfortunately this makes the Ultralite AVB unusable for performing for me.


I had the issue once or twice. It looks like the card goes out of sync. Do you have ADAT/Wordclock /SPDIF plugged in ? You can stop the noise by powering on something that sync with the card.

I have been using one of these for a few months now and have the same annoying issues with the sample rate and having to start JACK multiple times.


You actually don't have to start JACK multiple times. You have to recall your preset with the right samplerate and block size through your browser before starting JACK. At least that's what I do, and it's way more fluid.

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Be.
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Be. » Mon Feb 05, 2018 4:22 pm

Ulrich wrote:
Aside from that, there is one really serious issue that I am wondering if anyone else has encountered. Occasionally when there are xruns, instead of hearing a normal momentary pop, I hear a horrible crackling noise that sounds somewhat like a bitcrusher effect mixed with the music. The original signal is still intelligible underneath the crackling. It spontaneously resolves after a few seconds or a minute or two. Unfortunately this makes the Ultralite AVB unusable for performing for me.


I had the issue once or twice. It looks like the card goes out of sync. Do you have ADAT/Wordclock /SPDIF plugged in ? You can stop the noise by powering on something that sync with the card.


No, I have the Ultralite AVB set to use its internal clock. I am guessing this problem has to do with the clocking and may be related to the quirks that cause the issues starting up JACK sometimes.

Thank you for confirming this happens with other Ultralite AVBs and not just my device. I will let MOTU know about this. I have found a report of an issue with macOS that seems like the same issue from the verbal description, so I doubt Linux is the problem here. I think there's a problem with the firmware and/or hardware.

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Be.
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Be. » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:19 pm

I recently got a new laptop that only has one USB-A port and no Ethernet port, so I got a USB hub with a built in NIC to access the web app on my Ultralite AVB by plugging in both its USB and Ethernet connections to the hub. I had to change the "IPv4 Method" in GNOME's network settings from "Automatic (DHCP)" to "Link-Local Only" to get the network connection to work. Unfortunately the screen on my Ultralite AVB just broke carrying it in my backpack (probably got hit by my heavy laptop stand :( ), so I ran "nmap -sn 169.254.104.220/16" to find the IP address of the Ultralite AVB.

The crackling sound still happens with the latest firmware (1.3.4+558).

Musinux
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Musinux » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:24 pm

@be
I can't explain why it reacts so buggy when switching the sample rate, but I'd be curious to know how this, and the other issues, are in windows or macOS using USB or AVB(devices).

That said, if your interfaces IP is 192.168.1.10 and your desired sample rate is 44100, using

Code: Select all

curl  --data 'json={"value":"44100"}' 192.168.1.10/datastore/avb/<yourinterfaceid>/cfg/0/current_sampling_rate

will change the sample rate before you start jackd or use alsa but takes a few seconds (like starting jackd 3 times).

Something which saves you a "crack" if your interface already has the right sample rate (should work as shell script i.e. in qjackctl, in autostart or in a cronjob like daemon):

Code: Select all

if [ $(curl -s 192.168.1.10/datastore/ext/configuredRate| jq '.value') != 44100 ]; then curl  --data 'json={"value":"44100"}' 192.168.1.10/datastore/avb/<yourinterfaceid>/cfg/0/current_sampling_rate && sleep 3; fi<Paste>

- Backup Datastore settings, look for "current_sampling_rate" to get <yourinterfaceid>:

Code: Select all

curl -s 192.168.1.10/datastore -o backup.txt

- Replace 192.168.1.10 with your ultralite avb IP/hostname and 44100 with your sample rate.

I've been experimenting with the json interface a little bit and have to warn you that there is little to no error checking when setting the values.
Imagine 2 Monitors with a max. SPL of 106dB getting a signal not with mixer set at "1 = 0dB" or "4 = +12dB", but something like "49023484234.23494.2342341 = omg, am I deaf? are my speakers gone? reset waf to 0".

It affects the inputs as well. You can go waaay beyound what the webinterface offers you.
Even 1 bit of the 32bit mixer's input amplified by something like above is too much, lesser values might be useful.



I'm using the toslink-in as my main sound source (htpc). Internal/optical clock mode setting doesn't make a difference regarding the cracking sound.
Even using the "send low volume noise" option in kodi doesn't do what I would whish for (hint: no crackle when stopping or starting a song/movie because it always outputs something).


I was so happy to find out that my device also includes the good old bitcrusher effect, it really nails NIN ballads imo.
If we all ask nicely, maybe they'll include a json parameter which let's you adjust randomness AND intensity from "remind me once a week I bought this piece of sh--" to "back to onboard sound" in the next alpha firmware (go MOTU!).

While rebooting often in a row (testing kernels) last week, with monitors attached to the ultralite AVB, I thought to myself that I'm gonna keep this thing for a few years and sell it on ebay as "Ultralite AVB Aphex Twin Edition" or "Mr. Oizo Edition".

It's a nice interface for me even with those bugs (seriously!), but how can this be sold to professional musicians in a store?

This got a bit longer than I thought, maybe I'll merge the observations from this whole thread in the first post.

Musinux
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Musinux » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:13 am

Bad news for lovers of ultracrack avb:

Thanks to https://github.com/x42/ltc-tools it's possible to use LTC as clocksource.

You'll need libtc installed to get this working.

Just use

Code: Select all

git clone https://github.com/x42/ltc-tools
to get the tools and

Code: Select all

cd ltc-tools && make
to compile it.

Then you can use

Code: Select all

./jltcgen -f 25 -l system:playback_20
to give out an LTC signal on jackport system:playback_20 (change if you need to) with 25fps.
Point the LTC Setup in the device section of the ultralite to that port (fps should be detected).

Using this method, I don't experience cracking sound when the source (spdif) stops/starts playing..

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Be.
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Be. » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:59 am

Musinux wrote:I'm using the toslink-in as my main sound source (htpc). Internal/optical clock mode setting doesn't make a difference regarding the cracking sound.


To be clear, you have the optical input routed directly to the Ultralite AVB's output without processing the optical input in your computer first? Are you using a SPDIF or ADAT optical input? And it still crackles even without outputting from your computer? If that's the case, the problem is definitely in the device, not Linux. I'm puzzled how few reports there are about this online and how MOTU didn't catch this in development.

Musinux wrote:I was so happy to find out that my device also includes the good old bitcrusher effect, it really nails NIN ballads imo.
If we all ask nicely, maybe they'll include a json parameter which let's you adjust randomness AND intensity from "remind me once a week I bought this piece of sh--" to "back to onboard sound" in the next alpha firmware (go MOTU!).


Yeah, such a serious issue is really unacceptable for a device that costs this much. I can't perform with it, and now I can't return it or sell it for much because the screen broke because there is no case for it. And the screen doesn't turn off, so I just have a useless, annoying blue glow from it now. I hope the crackling issue is fixable with a firmware update and it isn't a flaw of the hardware.

I've setup the LTC timecode as you suggested. Let me know if you hear any crackles using LTC...
Last edited by Be. on Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Be.
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Be. » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:00 am

Here is a recording of the crackling distortion. Musinux, can you listen to that and confirm that we are talking about the same issue?

Musinux
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Musinux » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:11 pm

Be. wrote:Musinux, can you listen to that and confirm that we are talking about the same issue?


Positive. This is the issue I can live with, since it happens rarely. My biggest issue with this problem was that I thought it has to do with processing the signal (and I kept playing around with my process settings! :oops: ), but it doesnt. Even using i.e. the "audio interface" setting has this "feature".
I don't have to mention that this happend after thorough testing the interface without processing involved.
I didn't experience it since I'm using the LTC-Clock as of today.

To clarify my use case:

PC (onboard soundcard) spdif (i.e. kodi) -> spdif in@ultraliteAVB -> ultraliteAVB USB in (route) -> PC (jack/calf etc.) -> ultraliteAVB USB out (route) -> active speakers/subwoofer/headphone

The other issue which bothers me more is the single crack sound when changing sample rate (or setting it again to what it should be) or when powering on/off the device. This seems to be fixed using LTC-clock, but it prevents the usage as an stand-alone device. Since my setup is weird, I'm thinking about using an rpi as an ltc-source and 24/7 watchdog for the ultraliteavb. I know this is sad, but nowadays working devices are for losers (winners if you produce them).

Another issue I've experienced:

I accidently plugged the power cable of the UltraliteAVB while it was powered on. I had to factory reset it like 3 times to make it work again. My settings were gone (I exported my settings by now...) and it didn't come up on the network until I directly plugged it into my PC (no switch).

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Be.
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Be. » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:51 am

Musinux wrote:To clarify my use case:

PC (onboard soundcard) spdif (i.e. kodi) -> spdif in@ultraliteAVB -> ultraliteAVB USB in (route) -> PC (jack/calf etc.) -> ultraliteAVB USB out (route) -> active speakers/subwoofer/headphone


If you route the SPDIF input directly to the Ultralite AVB's output without going through Linux and without using the LTC clock, does the issue still happen?

Musinux
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Re: Ultralite AVB

Postby Musinux » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:53 am

Be. wrote:If you route the SPDIF input directly to the Ultralite AVB's output without going through Linux and without using the LTC clock, does the issue still happen?


Without LTC I'll get both issues (single crack and bitcrushing). With LTC until now, the bitcrushing seems gone (didn't notice) and the single crack sound seems gone too.

I almost forgot something else:

I bought it used, and I had massive distortion / bitcrushing because the USB-Cable i got with it was bad. Saying that, if the issue(s) happen more often to you, check your USB-Cable (as silly as this may sound) !


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