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Mac Audio Optimization Guide

When streaming audio through an interface connected to your Mac, there are many factors that can cause the audio to have artifacts such as pops or clicks, stutters, or dropouts as you play or record. Use this guide to optimize your Mac computer to reduce the chances of this from happening.
  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Energy Saver set Computer Sleep to Never. Make sure “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” is NOT checked.

  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Network and make sure to remove any unused Network Adapters.  For example remove “Bluetooth PAN” “Thunderbolt Bridge” “Firewire” et al.  Having a port that shares a Bus with your Audio Hardware here can limit its bandwidth.

  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall make sure Firewall is Off.

  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Admin Account > Login Items and remove any Startup items.

  • In Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility select Macintosh HD and click Repair Disk Permissions. Repeat this for any other Hard Drives you have connected.

  • If you are using a USB Audio Interface, such as Duet, try all the USB ports as one may work better than another due to how the internal ports are hubbed.

  • Be sure you have tried another USB, Thunderbolt or Firewire Cable.

  • In System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy Tab > Analytics (could say Diagnostics and Usage), un-check the boxes for Share Mac Analytics, Share with App Developers, and Share iCloud Analytics. You may also want to disable Locations services found in this same Privacy Tab to further reduce background network traffic.
After these steps please RESTART the Computer.

While you are recording:

  • Check that any Virus Scanners or Backup software (i.e. Hightail or Carbonite) that run in the background are disabled.  High background activity especially over the Network can cause glitches.

  • Close any unnecessary applications while recording (i.e. Skype or Browsers you are not actively using.)

  • Be sure that you record to a separate Hard Drive from your System/OS drive.

Volume and Gain are changing by themselves – Auto Gain Control

If your Apogee’s Input Gain or Output Volume are changing on their own, this may be caused by a 3rd-party program like Skype, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, and others.

How is this possible? All modern Apogee interfaces have input gain and output volume that are digitally controlled rather than an analog potentiometer that must be physically turned. The advantages of digital control are many:

  • Improved Sound Quality (turning the gain doesn’t cause a “scratchy” sound, and enables the advantages of our Step-Gain preamp technology)
  • Settings can be saved to presets that can be recalled later.
  • You can also control these settings directly from recording applications like Logic or Garageband’s Device Control feature instead of having to open a separate app.

Unfortunately, other applications are also able to take over these controls in an undesirable way. Most often the culprit are Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) applications like Skype or GoToMeeting, or video conferencing apps like Google Hangouts, as well as Video Podcast features like Facebook Live.

These apps want to optimize the sound as much as possible for phone & video calls or recordings. This feature is usually called “Auto-Gain Control” and is actually pretty great when the computer’s built-in microphone and speakers are being used. However it’s very disruptive when you want to manually set the levels of your own interface and have them stay there.

Sadly, many of these applications do not provide you with the ability to turn off this Auto-Gain Control feature.

There are many applications out there, but there are a few that are most popular that we’ll briefly cover:

SKYPE: Can disable auto-gain 👍

The more recent versions of this app provide the ability to turn off AutoGain Control. The example below shows the Mac version. The iOS app is restricted to only using the built-in iPad/iPhone mic and can’t use external sound cards.

Google Hangouts: Cannot turn off auto-gain 👎

On a Mac, Hangouts typically needs a Chrome or Safari browser extension installed. None of the settings menus provide an option to turn off auto-gain. Even worse: even if you are not in a hangouts session but your web browser is open, the hangouts plugin will still be active and can adjust the gain on you. If you are in a DAW or recording program at the time, this is obviously bad. Turn off or disable the extension to avoid this:

Safari Browser:
 

 

Chrome Browser:
 

 

Facebook Live: Cannot turn off auto-gain 👎

The Facebook Live interface only allows you to select your interface, there are no audio options beyond that so if it is adjusting your Apogee’s levels there is no way to turn it off.

Are there any alternatives?

Yes. At least on a Mac or PC there are 3rd-party programs that stream through Facebook Live, or Twitch, or YouTube, and has extensive audio features. Apogee does our Facebook Live streams using an open source broadcaster software called OBS. There are many other such programs out there so look around to find one that serves your needs.

On an iPad or iPhone, you are limited by the capabilities of the iOS operating system and the app you are using, so there are usually even fewer options to get around the auto-gain problem.

The ability to disable Auto-Gain should be added to these apps by the developer. Please contact the maker of the program or iOS app you use and ask them to add this feature in a future update. Getting many requests from customers is the only way developers will know there is a demand for this.

 

*If you know of a better way around this problem, please contact our Support Team and let us know!

SoundGrid FAQ for Symphony I/O Mk II when equipped with Waves SoundGrid option card

Q: Which Symphony I/O Modules may be installed in the Symphony I/O MkII SoundGrid?
A: The 8×8 MkII, 16×16 MkII, and 8 Mic Pre IO Modules may be installed. The 2x6SE, as well as previously released MkI IO Modules, are not currently compatible with Symphony I/O MkII SoundGrid.

Q: Can the Pro Tools HD Option card or Thunderbolt card be installed in a Symphony I/O MkII SoundGrid?
A: No. Because the Symphony I/O Mk II Soundgrid requires different internal firmware to communicate with Waves software and drivers, the Symphony I/O MkII SoundGrid only works with the Waves SoundGrid option card. The Pro Tools HD and Thunderbolt cards aren’t supported.

Q: What Ethernet cables are required when connecting SoundGrid system elements like Symphony I/O MkII SoundGrid?
A: You must use Cat 5e  ( not 5 ) STP,  6 STP , or 7 STP Ethernet cables.
https://www.waves.com/support/ethernet-cables-for-soundgrid-systems

Q: What is the maximum length between the various SoundGrid system elements and a network switch?

A: 

Q: What ethernet switches can I use for a multiple unit, server, or computer configuration?
A: There are 3 Waves-approved ethernet switches:
– Netgear JGS516 V2 16-port switch
– Netgear GS108 V4 8-port Switch
– DiGiGrid S
An updated list of switches is maintained at:
https://www.waves.com/hardware/soundgrid-switches#sort:path~type~order=.default-order~number~asc|views:view=grid-view|paging:currentPage=0|paging:number=20

Q: What is the maximum number of channels supported in a SoundGrid system?
A: The SoundGrid host computer (the main computer that SoundGrid Studio is running on) is capable of sending and receiving up to 128 channels of audio at any supported sample rate. When routing audio between devices, up to 512 channels are supported on a 1 Gb network. For example,  it’s possible to route 128 channels of your DAW out to 4 destinations simultaneously – for example, 128 audio interface channels, a backup recording, a broadcast truck and a second control room.

Q: What sample rates are supported by the SoundGrid system?
A: Supported sample rates are 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96kHz. Varispeed sample rates are not supported.

Q: How do I sync transport between DAWs in a SoundGrid system?
A: Please consult the following document to learn about network sync using OS X Core MIDI.
https://www.waves.com/1lib/pdf/soundgrid/sync-transport-in-soundgrid-network.pdf
If you’re using a Windows computer, we suggest using rtpMIDI, an application that’s freely available online and closely duplicates OS X Core MIDI Network functionality.

Q: Can I use an Apple USB C to USB A adapter to connect an Apple USB A Ethernet adapter to a new MacBook Touchbar ?
A: From our experience the USB A adapters cause multiple units to periodically go off line, we suggest just using a USB C Ethernet adapter or a USB C to Thunderbolt, to Ethernet configuration.

Q: After installing the Symphony I/O Waves driver and restarting the unit shows up red / offline in SoundGrid Studio even after rescanning.
A: Reset the Symphony from its front panel in the configuration page and restart the computer

Q: The Symphony I/O is not showing up in SoundGrid studio
A: Check that all Ethernet cables are clicked into their sockets, Ensure the Ethernet cables are Cat 5e STP or 6 or 7  standard cables. , Cat 5 is not supported just 5e. Reset the Symphony from its front panel in the configuration page and restart the computer

Q: Where can the Users Guide / Manual be found after installation?
A:  On the Mac it is installed at :  Applications / Waves / SoundGrid / Documents ,   on the PC it is at :  C Drive / Program Files ( X86) /  Waves  / SoundGrid /  Documents
it can also be found online on the Apogee Support page

Q: If using a Waves server , in what order should I power on the system ?
A: Power on the server and wait a few seconds, verify Blue front LED, then power on the Symphony I/O and let it boot to the main screen, then finally power up the Computer

Q: The Waves server does not show up in the Inventory
A: Try rescanning, or connecting manually via a drop down in the Server Inventory slots. If that fails try restarting the Computer and launching Studio again.

How to begin using the AMBEO® Smart Headset

1. Getting Started

– Before putting on the AMBEO® SmartHeadset, take a look at the inside of each ear-hook to identify the right and left sides.
– With the headset securely in your ears, connect the headset to your iPhone or iPad.
– Download the free Sennheiser AMBEO® SmartHeadset app from the iOS App Store. The app allows you to customize many aspects of the SmartHeadset.

Sennheiser AMBEO® SmartHeadset

– Once you’ve downloaded the app, make sure to update the firmware if you are prompted.
– Next, open your favorite music player and play a song. You should now hear music.
– Use the volume buttons ( + and – ) to change the listening level and the transport button that’s located in between the volume buttons to play and pause the music.
– In the SmartHeadset app, you’ll find a graphic EQ to shape the playback sound to your preference.

2. Recording 3D Audio

The SmartHeadset includes 2 high-quality microphones that let you capture and record 3D audio by using binaural recording. While wearing the SmartHeadset and recording, the microphones are hearing exactly what your ears would be hearing. The result is 3D audio recorded into a stereo track.

To experience 3D audio, open the Apple Camera app, put it into the video mode,and press record. Capture a scene with interesting sounds moving in every direction like a parade or a party. When you play back your video, you’ll hear an amazing recreating of those sounds as they move around you. Now when you listen to this recording on any pair of headphones, you will hear the same 3D audio.

If you’re recording in an environment that’s especially loud, like a live concert, you may notice the SmartHeadset’s LED flashing brightly. This indicates an input level overload. Push the Smart Slider (the silver slider button at the top of the Control module) once to reduce the recording level.

3. Listening Levels, Noise Cancellation, and Additional Features

The Situational Awareness rocker-switch at the bottom of the device toggles through 3 different settings, allowing you to tailor how much of the sound around you is part of your listening experience.

Transparent Hearing blends the surrounding sound in with your music so you can still hear external sounds when you’re cycling or walking.

The app allows you to choose 1 of 3 Transparent Hearing levels- Reduce Level, Natural Level, and Amplify Level.

The Active Noise Cancellation allows you to tune out of the surroundings. This is especially useful in places with constant noise, such as an airplane.

You can also set the rocker-switch to Off for passive noise reduction.

The Smart Slider at the top of the SmartHeadset’s Control Module can be assigned for a variety of functions. Open the SmartHeadset app to assign the slider to toggle various apps or toggle Interact Mode, which turns down playback level and engages Transparent Hearing so you can communicate with others while listening to music.

An additional built-in microphone lets you take calls and operate voice control on your iOS device. When you make or receive a call, the SmartHeadset automatically switches over to the additional built-in mic.

macOS 10.13 High Sierra – System Extension Blocked alert during software installation

When installing software for your Apogee product on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, you may get an alert message that a System Extension was blocked.

  • Note: This message does not always appear, but you still need to follow the steps below:

This is a new security feature Apple introduced in macOS 10.13 High Sierra that requires a user’s approval before loading third-party kernel extensions.
Click OK to proceed, then go to your Mac System Preferences > Security & Privacy panel to Allow the System Extension so your Apogee product will work properly.

  • Note: Do not open Security & Privacy until the install is complete or the Allow button will not be visible.
If you do not see this Allow button, it is programmed to disappear after 30 minutes. To get it to reappear, uninstall your Apogee software (requires you restart the computer), then reinstall. At the end of the reinstall but before restarting your computer for the 2nd time, check Security & Privacy for this Allow button will reappear.

Updating the Firmware on MiC 96k & JAM 96k for iOS 11 or greater

If your Apogee MiC 96k or JAM 96k has firmware version 3.0.2 (MiC Plus firmware 001.000.011), it needs a firmware update to be completely compatible with iOS 11 and up.

To check the firmware version, connect your MiC or JAM to your iOS device with the Apogee Lightning cable.
Go to the Settings App. Navigate to General > About. Select JAM or MiC which should appear toward the bottom of this list and select it to view the firmware version.

    • If version 3.0.2, this device needs to be updated to 3.0.3.
      • (Mic Plus needs update to 001.000.012)
    • If version is 1.x (like 1.0.5), or 2.x (like 2.02), the device does not need an update and is already fully compatible with iOS 11 or greater.

The update must be performed on a Mac or Windows10 computer. Download the firmware updater below. Instructions are included with the download:

Logic Direct Monitoring

What is Logic Direct Monitoring?

 Hardware – Software Requirements

  1. Element Series + Ensemble Thunderbolt with July 2017 software and firmware updates
  2. Requires Logic Pro 10.3.2 or greater
  3. Direct Monitoring feature enabled only with a single Apogee interface – Direct Monitoring is disabled when multiple Apogee interfaces are connected.

Setting up Logic Pro to use Direct Monitoring

  1. In Logic Pro > Preferences > Audio > General, check Software Monitoring.
  2. In the Logic Pro menu bar, choose Record > Auto Input Monitoring if the setting is unchecked.
  3. Configure Logic Pro for use with an Apogee Element Series or Ensemble Thunderbolt interface
  4. In Logic Pro, choose View > Show Mixer if Mixer isn’t displayed.
  5. In the Mixer pane, choose View > Channel Strip Components, then select Audio Device Control if it is unchecked.
  6. At the top of the Channel Strip, Audio Device and Monitoring controls should now be displayed.

Are Bus Sends active in Direct Monitoring Channel Strips?

Yes, Logic Pro Bus sends operate as expected when the Channel Strip is in Direct Monitoring mode, allowing the user to send the signal to a reverb or other effect. Note that the send is delayed in relation to the Direct Monitoring signal, but this delay is rather inconsequential in the context of a reverb send.

What about plugins?

Plugins appear active but aren’t processing the Direct signal. Plugins DO process the Bus sends (i.e. reverb sends). Also, when audio is played back from tracks through the Channel Strip, plugins process the playback signal.

 Can I engage Direct Monitoring on Multiple Channel Strips and mix them to one stereo output?

Yes, it’s possible to engage Direct Monitoring on as many Channel Strips as there are hardware inputs. For example, an Element 46 has 4 analog and 8 optical inputs – thus, it’s possible to engage Direct Monitoring on up to 12 Channel Strips and mix them to one stereo output.

Can I create create Direct Monitoring mixes for multiple hardware outputs?

Yes, it’s possible to create up to 4 stereo mixes using Ensemble Thunderbolt and 3 stereo mixes using Element Series interfaces. Note that it isn’t currently possible to route a hardware input to two different mixes. Also note that it’s not possible to route a Direct Monitoring mix to Element Series optical outputs.

How does Direct Monitoring interact with Apogee Control low latency mixers

  • Direct Monitoring mixers are in addition to Apogee Control mixers. Users may employ both if they so desire.
  • Apogee Control low latency mixers. This means that, practically, users should employ one approach or the other.

Apogee Control Hardware Remote FAQ’s

Question – What controls are offered by the Apogee Control Hardware Remote?

Answer   – The hardware remote offers a large encoder knob (as found on Symphony I/O), three encoder focus buttons and 8 user-assignable buttons. The three focus buttons and encoder allow quick adjustment of all analog inputs and outputs, while the 8 user-assignable buttons offer a wide variety of controls:

 

  • Mute-Dim-Sum to Mono of any or all outputs
  • Set Reference Speaker Level
  • Toggle Speaker Sets (88 only)
  • Engage Talkback
  • Set Analog input parameters
  • Direct select analog inputs
  • Open Element Control

 

Question – Can the hardware remote control low latency mixers?

Answer   – The initial version doesn’t support low latency mixer control, though this may be added based on user feedback.

 

Question – Will the Apogee Control hardware remote be compatible with other Apogee products?

Answer   – As compatibility of the Element Control Mac application expands to other Apogee Thunderbolt interfaces, compatibility with the hardware remote will be included.

Apogee Control iOS App FAQ’s

Question – Is the iOS app free?

Answer   – Yes. There is a demo mode to try the app with “virtual” Element Series interfaces.

 

Question – How does the iOS app connect to the Mac?

Answer   – Both the Mac and the iOS device must connect to the same WiFi network. It’s possible to connect to a computer-to-computer network created by the Mac.

 

Question – How many iOS devices can be connected?

Answer   – It’s possible to connect as many iOS devices as are available.

 

Question – What iOS versions and iOS devices are supported?

Answer   – iOS version 9 and above are officially supported.

 

Question – Can the iOS app control low latency mixers?

Answer   – The initial version doesn’t support low latency mixer control, though this may be added based on user feedback.

 

Question – How far away can you be and still control an Element?

Answer   – This will vary according to the environment and is limited by the Wi Fi range of the iDevice you are using. Walls and obstacles will obviously be a factor in range. From our testing we were always able to control Element units from another room and outdoors from around 30 yards

 

Question – The iOS app doesn’t find my Element interface – what can I do?

Answer   – First, make sure that the Element interface is correctly detected in the Mac app. Next, make sure on your Mac to accept the invitation to connect the iOS device.

   Apogee Control uses the Apple Bonjour to connect to and control your Element interface over Wi-Fi. If the interface is recognized on the Mac but not by the iOS app,  then most likely the network ports required by Bonjour haven’t been opened by your IT manager. This is quite likely the case in a corporate environment where network security is a priority. See this Apple Support document concerning the open ports required for Bonjour.

 

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202944

To verify Bonjour functionality across your network, download and configure the free Apple Remote for iTunes app, which offers control of your Mac’s iTunes from your iOS device. Apple Remote also uses Bonjour.