Theatre Sound Design, Show Control & Virtual Sound System Core Audio Engine Software

Frequently Asked Questions


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Frequently Asked Questions
The Job of a Sound Designer
How to Report Bugs Effectively
MIDI Cable Length
Fragmentation of Hard Drives
Recommended PC Hardware for SoundMan-Server
Setting up Windows 7/8 Computers for SoundMan-Server
Recommended PC Hardware for SoundMan-Designer
Running ABShowMaker & SoundMan on the same Macintosh
SoundMan-Assistant Show Control Capabilities
SoundMan Networking
SoundMan-Assistant Sample Rate
Remote GO buttons using Joysticks in Windows
Recommended PC Hardware for ShowMan & E-Show™
Loss of DVI out on server
MIDI OUT ERROR!
Windows Alternatives
Stage Manager®3000/ShowMan™ Alternatives
Recommended PC Hardware for older AudioBoxes
SCSI and the AudioBox 1616HD and AB1616
AudioBox AB64, AB1616 & 1616HD Hard Drives
Why doesn't XYZ work?
The Question We Didn't Think Of

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Job of a Sound Designer

Q: What the heck does a Sound Designer do anyway?

A: This is the most eloquent answer I have yet seen, posted extemporaneously on the stagecraft mailing list by Chris Babbie on April 3, 2008:

"The job of the sound designer in theatre is to wrest control over every sound heard by the audience, and to ensure that it is appropriate, and adequate.

Should the director choose to use a cap gun in his little play, and wish that it sound like a handgun, my job is clear. Should he wish to use the local children as actors, before they're adequately trained to hit the last row of the balcony, my job is equally clear. Should he wish to pair a doddering old fool with the local opera diva, and wish that the fool's voice match hers in volume, if not quality, I also go to work. I rarely get to address casting.

The job of the Sound Designer is to transport and transpose. You should feel the time of day, the year, the location, and the emotion. I train the very air molecules to do my bidding, and to caress the tranducers of your brain, to delude them into thinking that it is possible, for just an hour or two, that faeries do exist; that there is a large sea-going vessel center-center; or that there is a door, and it leads to a dark, damp dungeon; or sometimes, if I'm not very lucky, that there is a loo just upstage of that wall.

From nothing but electrons I quell disbelief, and form my own reality. The very ether is my canvas. I create not on the stage, but in your imagination."

On a more serious note, here [pdf format] is the job description of a sound designer which Charlie Richmond generated for the Associate Designers of Canada in the early 90s when they were adding this category to their membership.

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How to Report Bugs Effectively

Q: I found a software bug. What do I do now?

A: This is the best page we have found on this subject: How to Report Bugs Effectively

But we have additional request we ask of everyone: PLEASE UPDATE THE SOFTWARE AND FIRMWARE TO THE LATEST VERSION YOU CAN.

It is impossible to support or fix bugs in software or firmware that is no longer current, and updating will probably fix the problem anyway! Besides, you might as well do it because we'll just ask you to as soon as you ask us for help....

That said, if the problem persists, please follow the suggestions in the article above, noting everything you can and provide that information to us, preferably in an email. If you call and we don't know an immediate solution, we will ask you to email us full information.

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MIDI Cable Length

Q: I know the MIDI specification says there is a maximum cable length of 50 feet (15m) but how far will it really go?

A: The only perfectly correct answer to this is to try it with the specific equipment and cable you want to use dressed where you want it to be and see if it works.

Here are the facts:

  • Most MIDI equipment manufacturers have copied the examples (which are pretty good designs) from the original MIDI specification provided by the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) for their MIDI IN and OUT circuits. There is no guarantee they have designed these circuits as well as they can, but most designs are good if not better than the MMA example circuits.
  • The MIDI specification (especially if implemented using the example circuits and even more so if designed as well as possible) is inherently well conceived for transmission over long distances using typical cabling.

    The reasons for this are:

    • The receiver is differential and optically isolated. It also has a back-EMF diode (if the equipment truly obeys the specification)

    • The transmitter is fully balanced as long as it has been correctly designed. Early circuits used TTL logic with an open collector driver which does not work as well as current glue logic technology but that technology has essentially been obsolete for 15 years.

    • Low voltages (5V maximum) and reasonably slow bit rates (31.25kHz) are used

    • Digital data is transmitted via a current loop transfer function (rather than voltage level detection) and this is an inherently more robust protocol since noise sources are extremely unlikely to induce enough current (especially considering the very low impedance nature of the receiver circuit) to create errors

The process of MIDI transmission is very similar (despite significant differences) to the transmission process that modems employ - a process which normally works quite well over many kilometres of small gauge unshielded telephone line pairs.

A major difference between the two lies in the fact that modems use very powerful error detection and correction algorithms which normally prevent incorrect data from being received.
MIDI does not have any such error detection capabilities.

Some MIDI standards (such as Two-Phase Commit Show Control commands and File Transfer Protocols) have fail-safe error detection/correction built in but this is not generally true.
If any device could become dangerous if incorrect data were received, then a robust MIDI link must be used.

The most robust MIDI link we know of is our NetMIDI E-Show device which carries MIDI over a network.

Most other devices we have investigated which purport to be a 'long distance MIDI transmission link' actually use a variation of the EIA RS-422 standard which has a very long but definitely finite range.
We are also not aware of any such device which includes error detection/correction capabilities.
Because of this and since RS-422 uses voltage level detection and it is technically more susceptible to induced noise errors than the current loop design of MIDI itself, we do not recommend such units.

In fact, we know of nothing which is in fact more robust than simply using well designed MIDI equipment and interconnect cabling which follows standard procedures for data transmission integrity.
For those more familiar with audio than data, follow the procedures you would use with audio lines.

Specifically:

  • Keep total loop impedances to a minimum within practical cost limits. The inherent impedance of a MIDI receiver is minimum 200 ohms so the total loop impedance should not exceed 20% of this value or 40 ohms
  • Keep cables away from power lines or other wiring carrying high voltages, currents or especially noisy transmission cables
  • Use twisted pair instead of untwisted pair and shielded rather than unshielded cable for maximum noise rejection - although these are definitely not essential and many installations use basic telephone wiring quite successfully over long distances
  • Use good quality locking connectors in non-corrosive and non- condensing environments

Adhering to the above guidelines will result in the most reliable connection and the longer the run, the more important they become.
We have seen many installations in which some or all of the above have not been followed and MIDI was flawlessly transmitted, so designing a successful installation involves many intangibles which may or may not affect the ultimate result.

Which is how we get back to the original and only genuine answer:

Try it with the specific equipment and cable you want to use dressed where you want it to be and see if it works.

One final caveat: if you want to use a 'MIDI powered' device such as the type made by MIDI Solutions, you will have to use a third conductor to carry ground/earth from pin 2 of the MIDI OUT or THRU jack to the device even though ground/earth is not required according to the official MIDI specification. If you only utilize a signal pair to carry MIDI in your installation, then you may have to add a MIDI Solutions Power Adapter at the receiving end of your connection to provide local power for 'MIDI powered' devices, but this is a very good solution to this problem.

The MIDI Solutions Power Adapter will probably extend the distance MIDI can be carried over standard cables. Connect one to the MIDI OUT of the sending unit and another one to the MIDI IN of the receiving unit. If this does not extend the distance far enough, connect more at evenly spaced intervals through the length of the run.

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Fragmentation of Hard Drives

Q: When should I defragment my hard drive?

A: It now depends on what type of hard drive you have.

When any kind of hard disk (mechanical or solid state) starts filling up there is the possibility of file fragmentation. As the disk gets fuller it starts getting harder for the OS to find places to put the new data, and it can start getting scattered about, especially if there has been a lot of file activity before, adding and removing and replacing files.

If the data gets scattered around (or "fragmented") then instead of just reading down the disk to get the next buffer of data, the OS might have to read a little bit here, seek someplace else, read some there, and and on a bad day maybe skip around and do that once or twice more. All that skipping around takes time, which will show up as increased disk usage. Under some really bad (and pretty unlikely) conditions, this might result in having a permanent glitch at some point in the playback in SoundMan-Server.

If the data is all in one strip on the disk, you just pick it up one byte after another. If it is scattered all over the disk, then you either have to go seeking all over the disk on a mechanical hard drive or you have to keep constantly reading in page translations tables on an SSD. Both of those are a heck of a lot slower than just reading data in a stripe. On some SSD type things loading the page translation tables can be so slow that they guarantee you a glitch even playing back a standard stereo wave file.

We recommend building your show and getting everything you need on the disk. Then if there was any sign of the disk usage getting up to 10% or 20% or so (and certainly if it goes higher, except for momentary bursts, based on the disk usage, buffer busy and processor usage meters in SoundMan-Server) we recommend dumping all the audio data back off to another disk and remove it all from the subject disk, then defragment what was left on the drive. This should pretty much leave one large space for all the data. Then copy the data back in, and with any luck it will lay out fairly linearly, and there won't be a lot of thrashing around to get to the data. By doing this you should be able to use an almost completely full disk.

IMPORTANT: We do NOT recommend defragmenting Solid State Hard Drives because that has the potential to seriously reduce their life and MLC drives should NEVER be defragmented.

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Recommended PC Hardware for SoundMan-Server

Q: What PC do I need to make the most of SoundMan-Server?

A: A high performance machine is recommended for SoundMan-Server.

SoundMan-Server requires a PC with a processor that has MMX and SSE2 instruction sets. Use a sound card or mainboard with proven Windows XP, 7 or 8 sound and MIDI drivers that are certified to work with ASIO sound cards. ASIO drivers for almost any sound card can be obtained from ASIO4ALL

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: A zipped driver file archive must be unzipped into a directory of its own and we recommend you keep all the files there for future reference! DO NOT attempt to install drivers from within the .zip archive display that WinZip and other utilities provide.

SoundMan-Server runs in demo mode when no license dongle is plugged in and only requires two ASIO inputs and two ASIO outputs in that configuration.

Your computer supplier will need to know that the recommended PC for these is:

  • 3GHz Dual or Quad core processor with 2GB RAM and 100GB free HD space minimum. The free/demo version requires a 1GHz processor of any type that has MMX and SSE2 instruction sets with 512MB RAM for best results. Almost any modern PC will work but the higher spec PC you have, the more you will e able to do. A lot of EQ (5 bands or more on every input or output) mandates a quad core processor.
  • Windows 2000, 2003 Server, 2005 Server, XP, 7 or 8 in 32 or 64 bit form
  • 100Mb/Sec ethernet port
  • USB 1.1 or 2.0 port for the license dongle
  • Direct internet web access to obtain software updates
  • ASIO sound card or mainboard with proven Windows XP, 7 or 8 sound and MIDI drivers
  • MIDI Adapter, properly installed and configured
  • Video monitor, keyboard & mouse are only required for initial setup and can be removed after

We have tested SoundMan-Server with many of the following audio interfaces and have measured the latency of the drivers in some cases:

  • MOTU PCI-424 and PCI-324 with 24I/O, HD192, 2408 and/or 1224 interface(s) and 1.6.6.11 driver - 16 samples minimum
  • MOTU 828 & 896 firewire versions - 96 samples
  • MOTU Ultralite - 96 samples
  • M-Audio Delta 1010, FW410, FastTrack Pro, Audiophile 192 - 64 samples
  • M-Audio Delta Ultra 8R - MediaMation reports that this is the only reliable currently available USB or Firewire audio interface that has given them no trouble at all
  • Echo Audio Gina & Layla - 1024 to 2048 samples
  • Echo Audio Gina24 - 64 samples
  • Digigram Ethersound PCI cards - variable latencies
  • LiveWire Ethernet PCI cards - variable latencies
  • Axia Ethernet PCI cards - variable latencies
  • RME MADI PCI cards - variable latencies with up to 8 cards per computer for a maximum of 512 channels total per server
  • Yamaha mLAN interface using ASIO driver
  • Presonus Firepod & Firebox
  • Lynx Studio AES16 Card
  • Maya 7.1 (not recommended)
  • AudioTrak Inca 66 and Inca 88 - 48 samples (not recommended)
  • Crystal 6-channel audio cards - 64 samples (not recommended)

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want all analog outputs grouped together as the first set of inputs and outputs on interfaces that have both analog and digital I/O (such as MOTU interfaces), use the ANALOGFIRST option of the CONFIG SET INTERFACE command.

RME CONFIGURATION NOTES:

  • When using RME audio cards, their TotalMix mixer is started by default. On smaller configurations and on Windows XP this is usually not a problem. On larger configurations, especially on Windows 7 and beyond, having TotalMix running can result in occasional audio clicks.
  • If you are running RME hardware and have clicks, we recommend that you turn off TotalMix.

MOTU CONFIGURATION NOTES:

  • The software and drivers that might come with the MOTU 424 may be designed primarily for Windows Vista and are not recommended by us for use with Windows XP, 7 or 8. This software runs an 'online' configuration program that actively interferes with the operation of the unit when it is connected to SoundMan-Server. We recommend installing the Version 1.6.6.11 drivers which can be downloaded here and using the offline configuration utility that comes with that driver.
  • The interfaces have built-in monitoring capabiliity. Make sure monitoring is not set up or make sure the monitoring outputs go someplace you don't care about, if it seems you can't completely turn off monitoring.
  • The CueMix Console can set up all kinds of monitoring which can survive turning it off so you need to bring it up and make sure you have all the sliders set to zero and possibly no output channels selected.
  • Any configuration setting for 'monitor output' should be set to blank and 'enable multi channel wave synchronization (recommended)' should be selected
  • We haven't had any problems with the MOTU 424 cards and interfaces on W2K or XP.
  • There are two programs that come with the setup: Cuemix and the setup program. You *must* use the setup program to correctly configure the interface for things like routing and default sample rate and buffer size.
  • We have not tried using Cuemix and SoundMan-Server at the same time; Cuemix can be processor hungry, at least in some versions. We do not recommend running it with SoundMan-Server. But it is completely optional.
  • Do not run the configuration program while SoundMan-Server is running or vice versa. But configuration is pretty much a "do once" sort of thing.
  • Note that the 424 is a newer version of the 324. The drivers are different, but they are pretty much equivalent devices except for max channel capacity and max sample rate.
  • We run the MOTU 324 with 64 samples all the time with 2408 Mk II units, and it will probably work that way with a 2408 Mk 0 unit or the newer Mk III units. We have one machine that can't run more than about 12 channels off the 324 card without getting dropouts. This is the fault of the Nvidia motherboard chipset, not a problem with the 324. The 324 works fine in other machines. Finally, when you use the 324 control panel to change the unit configuration the system will go into a solid processor loop for up to a minute or two as it reconfigures the card. It seems to always eventually come out of this.
  • One thing with *ALL* MOTU units -- NEVER install the drivers that come on the CD with the unit. *Always* go to the web site and get the latest versions when you do the install. Some of the old drivers were not wonderful.

ECHO AUDIO CONFIGURATION NOTES:

  • Note that there are the original Layla and Gina which were 16 bit cards, and the Layla24 and Gina24 that are 24 bit cards. There are even newer versions.
  • Remove the options in the Layla's control panel that have to do with monitoring and other voodoo and make sure the GSIF buffer size in the control panel is the same as the buffer size set in the driver and SoundMan-Server.

DIGIDESIGN CONFIGURATION NOTES:

  • Digidesign ASIO driver for native firewire ports on 32 bit Windows XP - make sure you have only a single firewire device connected to any and all firewire ports on your computer since more than one firewire device confuses this driver and makes it inoperable

AUDIOSCIENCE CONFIGURATION NOTES:

  • AudioScience ASI6416 & ASI5416 16-channel (8 pair) Cobranet cards - up to 4 can be used at once, giving 64 channels total, however at this time the samples are not guaranteed to all be simultaneous across all of the cards, so audio should be divided into groups and assigned to individual cards if the audio is supposed to be simultaneous channels - 512 samples
  • AudioScience ASI6316 & ASI5316 16-channel (8 pair) Cobranet cards - up to 8 can be used at once with a 16 bit interface setting only, giving 128 channels total, however at this time the samples are not guaranteed to all be simultaneous across all of the cards, so audio should be divided into groups and assigned to individual cards if the audio is supposed to be simultaneous channels - 512 samples
  • AudioScience ASI5416, ASI5316, ASI6416 and ASI6316 Cobranet card configuration
    • First double-click on the ASIControl icon to bring up the ASI control panel. Make sure that all of the cards appear listed in the top window of ASIControl and none are listed as having errors. You can close the ASIControl window or leave it open for the next steps.
    • If SoundMan-Server is not running, you can go to Start-> All Programs-> Audioscience-> ASIO Control Panel to bring up the ASI ASIO Control Panel. If SM-S is already running and has the ASI driver open you can click on the Control button in SM-S to bring up the same control panel.
    • The window that will come up has two tabs. The tab that is showing has the available cards listed on the left, and the sample type on the right. You will want to adjust both of these settings.
    • On the left are the cards. By default only the top card will be selected (checkmark). Select all of the cards.
    • On the right is the sample format. By default it is 16 bits. You will get better audio quality by selecting either "32 bit signed integer" or '32 bit floating point". SM-S is slightly more efficient if you select floating point, but either will do.
    • The buffer size defaults to 2048 samples, which is a latency of about 43ms at 48K sample rate. This is normally not noticeable for most uses. You can switch to the other tab of the ASIO Control Panel and select other buffer sizes if you want to. We recommend leaving this at the default unless latency is a problem. This will usually only be the case if you are routing live audio with SM-S; if you are just using SM-S for playback it should not be a problem.
    • Close the ASI ASIO Control Panel by selecting OK.
    • VERY IMPORTANT: If you made these selections from the Control button in SM-S, you MUST now select Disconnect and then Connect to the driver again! If you do not do this SM-S will not use the updated driver settings.

ASIO4ALL CONFIGURATION NOTES:

  • ASIO4ALL has a few options for which sound card inputs and outputs to use. On the left side of the ASIO4ALL control panel check that all of the outputs for all of the cards are enabled.
  • Also follow these steps especially when using multiple Windows driver based cards:
    1. Check that ASIO4ALL can see all of the cards. If not, there is a card or driver problem.
    2. Check that ASIO4ALL has all of the outputs enabled on all of the cards.
    3. Check any sound control panel that might exist for the card itself, and make sure it is set up to allow access to all of the outputs. It might be set up as a stereo output card, in which case everything would go to the first two outputs only.
    4. Check the Windows "speaker configuration" setup. Windows might be forcing everytthing to 4 or 6 outputs only.
    5. Some sound cards have one or more jacks that can either be line inputs or line outputs. Sometimes the control panel controls this, sometimes it is jumpers on the card. Make sure that everything is set to be outputs.
    6. Try swapping the cards in the machine and see if the problem moves, or if it stays in the same slot. If it moves, you probably have a bad card.

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Setting up Windows 7 or 8 Computers for SoundMan-Server

Q: How do I optimise Windows 7 or 8 for SoundMan?

A: Please Follow these step-by-step instructions:

  • Hardware
    • Install internal USB slot for dongle
    • Plug in dongle and power up, checking that the green dongle light lights up instead of the dongle getting very hot. If the dongle gets hot instead, reverse the cable to the USB slot and try again
    • Download from the audio card vendor's site the latest driver to Downloads
    • Plug in the interfaces and configure them with the MOTU control panel before an ASIO device will show up that can be set in the SM-A control panel
    • Otherwise that will have to wait until the interfaces are connected
  • BIOS
    • Set to always boot up when power is applied (always power on)
    • Disable auto-run from CDs and the like
    • Disable boot from USB
    • Set "high performance settings" as a start
    • Disable boot from network if an option
    • Disable "assign interrupt to VGA" or the like
    • Set time/date correctly
    • Make sure fast DMA is enabled for disks and CD/DVD drives
    • Make sure all USB controllers are enabled
    • Make sure serial ports (if installed) are enabled
    • Make sure parallel port (if installed) is enabled and the high performance mode
    • Make sure onboard audio is enabled if installed
  • Windows
    • Direct Windows sounds to onboard audio if possible Otherwise set sound scheme to "none" and make sure it is pointed at first of a multiple-card installation
    • Set video resolution to something reasonable, 1280x1024 at least
    • Or set video to match a supplied flatscreen if one is supplied
    • Turn off all of the "fancy video" stuff like mouse tails, fading, shadows, fade in/out, etc.
    • Turn off Fast User Switching
    • Also, you either need to go in and tweak a security option to allow a login without a password remotely, or you need to have a password on the logon that is normally used. A UC with a password is better.
    • Make a UC/PW that has a non-blank password (RSD/rsd is our usual) Make it administrator.
    • Set up to auto-logon with that uc/pw
    • Enable remote desktop access in Control Panel
    • Install SM-S/SM-M/SM-A or whatever needs to be installed under the RSD usercode rather than Administrator
    • Update to latest service packs and patches
    • Do NOT install any of the NET packages unless something specifically requires it
    • Make sure a big enough page file is set up (if paging is enabled)
    • Make sure System/Advanced/Performance is set for "Programs" for both processor and memory usage
    • Set up a reasonable Computer Name
    • Disable Automatic Updates
    • Take a restore point when all is set up including the apps
    • Start everything out of its startup folder. The Administrator account is there without a password, but it isn't used normally, and you can't log in remotely over it
    • Set it back to classic single-user mode in Windows.
    • Solid Dark Blue Desktop Background
    • Sort by Type and Auto-arrange Desktop Icons
    • Unpin Programs from Menu Bar
    • Small Icons in Control Panel
    • Folder Options - Show Extensions and Hidden Files/Folders
    • Always Show Icons in Tray
    • Control Panel/Power Options/Never Sleep
    • Hide/Show Start Menu Folders (Including Run)
    • Defragment Schedule Off
    • Small Start Menu Icons
    • Clean Up Start Menu
    • Activate Windows
  • Applications
    • Open a command prompt

      CD \
      MKDIR SoundMan_Shows
      MKDIR Downloads

    • Or do the above using Explorer:

      Make a folder called C:\Downloads
      Make a folder called C:\SoundMan_Shows

    • Download into the Downloads directory from the RSD site:

      Latest SoundMan-Server
      Latest SoundMan-Assistant
      Latest SoundMan-Monitor

    • Unzip SM-A, SM-S, and SM-M from the Downloads directory and place all three in C:\Program Files\RSD\SoundMan
    • Right-click on SoundMan Assistant and create a shortcut on the desktop
      Open the Startup folder
      Drag the SM-A shortcut from the desktop into the Startup folder
    • Reboot
    • Make sure that SM-A/SM-S/SM-M are all started and showing tray icons
    • Click the SM-A tray icon to show the SM-A window
    • Click the Configuration button
    • Observe that a Dongle Id shows up in the upper left of the window -
      If not, find the problem with the dongle installation
    • If the Unit Name field is blank, enter SoundMan-Server
    • Click on the Set button next to the Root Path
      Navigate to C:\Soundman_Shows
      Click OK
      Observe that the window shows C:\SoundMan_Shows
    • Select the installed ASIO interface from the droplist on the upper right
      If no interface shows up, do the necessary sound card installation/configuration
    • Leave the 4 MIDI entries set to None
    • Click OK on the Configuration dialog

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Recommended PC Hardware for SoundMan-Designer

Q: What PC do I need to make the most of SoundMan-Designer on an XP computer when networked with SoundMan-Assistant and SoundMan-Server on a separate Windows 7 or 8 computer?

A: A high performance machine is recommended for SoundMan-Designer.

  • Audio workstation software to make 48k .WAV files. Use a sound card or mainboard set to 48K sample rate with proven Windows XP sound and MIDI drivers that are certified to work with an ASIO sound card for best results.
    RSD does not include digital audio workstation (DAW) software with SoundMan-Designer, but a large number of these programs are available. Check with your computer supplier for any additional hardware requirements DAW software may have. We recommend SAWStudio.
  • Your computer supplier will need to know that the recommended PC for SoundMan-Designer is:
    • 3GHz Pentium IV class with 1GB RAM and 40GB free HD space. Almost any modern PC will work but the higher spec PC you have, the more you will be able to do.

    • Video card with 128MB RAM minimum - multiple head montitoring is supported

    • Windows XP (Windows 95/98/ME/2000/Vista/7 is not supported)

    • Colour video monitor(s) - 1280 x 1024 resolution recommended minimum

    • 100Mb/Sec ethernet port

    • Direct internet web access to obtain software updates

    • ASIO sound card or mainboard set to 48K sample rate with proven Windows XP sound and MIDI drivers

    • MIDI Adapter, properly installed and configured

NOTE: Installation must be done by an administrator but any user can run the program.

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Running ABShowMaker & SoundMan on the same Macintosh

Q: Can I run ABShowMaker & SoundMan simultaneously on the same computer?

A: Yes, this has been done using Parallels 4 on an iMac.

Here's how it's done: on the iMac install XP Home Edition, running in Parallels 4. Use ipconfig/all in a command window to get the IP address for the windows VM, then plug that number into the fixed address box for ABSM.

Download SM-S, SM-A & SM-M and install ASIO4All if you don't have any USB audio interfaces since Parallels still doesn't address Firewire connections.

Install SM-S, SM-A & SM-M, configure a root drive for audio, and open ABSM on the Mac side of the same machine. ABSM doesn't find SM-A automagically so you have to run the "Connect to AB64 at Fixed IP" and it will connect happily to SM-A.

So, with a sufficiently beefy Mac, we think you can run everything on one computer. Audio Interface being the biggest hold-back with an iMac since you are restricted to USB interfaces or ASIO4All using Firewire.

The iMac which was used is:

  • Model Name: iMac
  • Model Identifier: iMac7,1
  • Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz
  • Number Of Processors: 1
  • Total Number Of Cores: 2
  • L2 Cache: 4 MB
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Bus Speed: 800 MHz
  • Boot ROM Version: IM71.007A.B03
  • SMC Version (system): 1.21f4
We had 1GB locked to the virtual machine so that Windows thinks it's running on a 1GB machine.

Thanks to Dave Tosti-Lane for doing this testing!

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SoundMan-Assistant Show Control Capabilities

Q: How do the show control features of SoundMan-Assistant compare with ShowMan?

A: SoundMan-Assistant is designed to run cues from a maximum of eight cue lists simultaneously whereas ShowMan has up to 128 cue lists.

ShowMan and SoundMan-Assistant work well together because ShowMan shows can easily control both live and show control functions of SoundMan-Assistant.

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SoundMan Networking

Q: How do I set up all versions of SoundMan and ABShowmaker in the same network?

A: Set up a Windows 'Home Network' on all computers then make sure there is no firewall or firewall software isolating them plus:

NOTE: SoundMan-Designer MUST be run on its own separate computer because it uses Windows XP ONLY.

ABShowMaker, SoundMan-Designer, SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server works with 10Mb/S, 100Mb/S or 1Gb/S Ethernet but the latter is preferred. Connect the control network to the ABShowMaker, SoundMan-Designer, SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server computer's Ethernet Network RJ45 connector. It is recommended that your network use a router that assigns IP addresses via DHCP and that each ABShowMaker, SoundMan-Designer, SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server server on the network be set to obtain IP addresses via DHCP. Each ABShowMaker, SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server computer communicates with multiple devices on the network (including multiple computers running ABShowMaker & SoundMan-Designer separately) automatically by opening as many ports as necessary.

If you must set a static IP address on the ABShowMaker, SoundMan-Designer, SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server servers (if there is no DHCP server available, for example) you must make sure the ABShowMaker, SoundMan-Designer, SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server servers' IP addresses are different from all other devices on the network and the IP address is within the submask range of your computer's IP configuration. You can see the IP configuration by opening a command prompt window, and typing ipconfig then pressing return. It will show something like this:

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection 5:
Connection-specific DNS Suffix . : vc.shawcable.net
IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.3
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.1

The subnet mask is usually 255.255.255.0 which means in this case that the IP address of SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server has to match the first 3 fields of the IP address shown. In this case (for example) that means that the ABShowMaker, SoundMan-Designer, SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server servers' IP addresses must start with 192.168.0.something.

If settings are not correct, ABShowMaker & SoundMan-Designer will generate an error message if the IP address of SoundMan-Assistant, SoundMan-Server is not in the proper range that will work on the local network. This message specifies the IP address and that it can't work on the network. Do not use 127.0.0.x as an external address for any computer in the group since that is the "local loopback" address and is synonymous with 'localhost' which is what should be used when programs are talking to each other through internal IP communications.

For more details, please refer to the instructions included with your SoundMan-Assistant & SoundMan-Server software. Current information is always available on our web site.

Make sure there is no router or firewall between computers and SoundMan in your network. Also, make sure there is no firewall or antivirus (such as AVG) software running on your computers (including the built-in Windows firewall) We do not recommend having your show control network connected directly to the internet. Use a firewall/router to isolate your network from the internet. Each instance of SoundMan-Server or SoundMan-Assistant communicates with multiple control applications on the network (including multiple computers running SoundMan-Designer & ABShowMaker) automatically.

If you must run the Windows firewall, then go to Control Panel/Windows Firewall/Exceptions/Add Program and click SoundMan-Server, SoundMan-Assistant and/or SoundMan-Designer. Click 'Change Scope' and select "My network (subnet) only" then click OK. Repeat, choosing SoundMan-Server, SoundMan-Assistant and/or SoundMan-Designer.

If a standalone, non-networked computer is used to run all programs concurrently, use the Microsoft virtual network adapter: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc708341%28WS.10%29.aspx We recommend configuring the net adapter with a 10.10.1.2 address (static) and a sub mask as 255.0.0.0 and default gateway as 10.10.1.1 Installation instructions are here: http://tinyurl.com/4cqt8 Thanks to Carleton Underwood for testing this configuration!

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SoundMan-Assistant Sample Rate

Q: Why does SoundMan-Assistant use a 48K sample rate only?

A: The short answer is: that's the AES standard.

The detailed reason, though, is that there are serious compromises involved in supporting multiple sample rates simultaneously. We must accommodate 48K because it is the standard and SoundMan-Assistant is a professional audio application. SoundMan-Designer automatically resamples files recorded at any other sample rate while the file is being sent to SoundMan-Assistant using the freeware resampling program called Sox, which is the best program we know for doing this.

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Remote GO buttons for ShowMan - Joysticks in Windows

Q: How do I set up a remote GO button for ShowMan?

A: The cheapest way is to use a Windows XP or 7 compatible joystick or game controller which is properly installed.

You must use a real joystick (or game controller) which has a Windows XP or 7 driver and you must properly install it all while the joystick is actually attached to the joystick port on the computer.
The joystick driver will not install correctly if the joystick is not connected.
When a joystick is installed, ShowMan will indicate the joystick fire button is available to be used as the remote GO button when you look at the System Configuration window.

To use a switch other than the one on the joystick itself as the GO button, you will have to disassemble the joystick to the extent that you can wire the contacts of the switch you want to use to the contacts of the joystick's fire button.
You cannot simply connect a switch to two contacts of the joystick port of the computer since this will not fulfill the requirements of a Windows compatible joystick.
If you are using a typical 15 pin PC game port, Matt McKenzie reports "it is possible to connect switches to the port IF you fool the Windows driver that a joystick is attached by putting 100K resistors across the appropriate pins:"

Pin # Function
1 +5v
2 SW1 (connect to ground to operate)
3 100K to +5V
4 GND
5 GND
6 100K to +5V
7 SW2 (connect to ground to operate)
8 +5v
9 +5v
10 SW3 (connect to ground to operate)
11 100K to +5V
12 MIDI TXD
13 100K to +5V
14 SW4 (connect to ground to operate)
15 MIDI RXD

We have checked this configuration with a Sound Blaster joystick port.

The universal way to set up a remote GO button - and one which allows multiple buttons - is to use one or more MIDISolutions Footswitch controllers and just program them to send MSC GO messages (or any other kind of message) per your needs.
Contact us for further information on show control applications for MIDI Solutions products.

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Recommended PC Hardware for ShowMan & E-Show

Q: What PC do I need to run ShowMan & E-Show?

A: A high end machine is not necessary for ShowMan & E-Show.

Your computer supplier will need to know that the recommended minimum PC is:

  • 233MHz Pentium class with 256MB RAM and 200MB free HD space.
  • Video card with 4MB RAM minimum
  • 64 bit Windows 7 or 8
  • Sound card or mainboard with proven 64 bit Windows 7 or 8 sound and MIDI drivers.
  • MIDI Adapter, properly installed and configured
  • Colour video monitor - 1280 x 1024 resolution recommended minimum
  • Direct internet web access to obtain software updates
  • Minimum 100Mb/Sec ethernet card if an E-Show Network is to be connected
  • Adequate number of PCI/ISA slots to accommodate I/O cards required - this information will be supplied by RSD for each installation

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Loss of DVI out on server

Q: Why does my server have no DVI output?

A: This happens when the unit is booted without the DVI connected.

The fix is to connect a regular VGA style monitor to the VGA connector. In Windows XP, 7 or 8, the Intel driver should have hot keys enabled. Then boot the SoundMan-Server normally and wait until it seems to be booted up and no more disk activity is evident.
When the unit is probably booted to the Windows desktop, press CTRL, ALT & F1 simultaneously. This will default to the VGA output.
If this doesn't work, then the procedure is to boot into Windows Safe mode by pressing F8 when the unit first starts to boot up. Once it is in safe mode then uninstall the display dirvers and reinstall them.

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MIDI OUT ERROR!

Q: Why does this error window (which usually contains the following message: "A device ID has been used that is out of range for your system") appear?

A: This error window comes up when you have a Yamaha USB-MIDI interface device driver installed.

We have discovered that the Yamaha USB-MIDI interface device driver which is used by Yamaha to provide MIDI communication services between a Windows computer and various Yamaha digital audio consoles creates illegal MIDI device numbers in Windows which causes this error when MIDI software attempts to discover MIDI ports.
This is not usually a fatal error but if you wish to stop the error from occurring you must completely uninstall the Yamaha USB-MIDI interface device driver and stop using that service. You will usually have to reboot the computer after uninstalling that device.
If you are willing to simply ignore this error, RSD software should continue to operate without difficulty after the error window is closed.

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Windows Alternatives

Q: Will ShowMan or SoundMan-Server run on Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 or Vista?

A: Probably, but we don't guarantee that it will work as well.

You may certainly use Win95/98/ME/2K to check out the demo version to see if you like it but you should use Windows XP or 7 to actually run shows since it has superior multitasking, more precise timing and different file handling characteristics.

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Stage Manager 3000/ShowMan Alternatives

Q: Which is better - ShowMan or Stage Manager 3000?

A: ShowMan now has a huge number of features that Stage Manager never had.

Q: I am used to Stage Manager - is it obsolete?

A: Yes! It is no longer being supported and we are now recommending replacement of all Stage Manager systems with ShowMan!

Every show that is written for Stage Manager 3000 can be easily imported into ShowMan128 so you can keep using Stage Manager as long as you want and move your shows to ShowMan painlessly at any time.

Q: Is ShowMan the successor to Stage Manager?

A: Yes. Currently, ShowMan128 will import any Stage Manager 3000 Show.

ShowMan and E-Show combined comprise the most powerful live Show Control solution available.

Q: How do I transfer Stage Manager shows to ShowMan?

A: Here are the detailed instructions from the ShowMan user manual:

3.3.7. IMPORT SHOW

Click 'Next' in the Import Existing Show window and a window titled 'Open' appears in which "ShowDefs" is already in the File name field. Select the temporary folder into which an exported show has been exported and confirm that the ShowDefs file is in the chosen folder.

Click Open and the 'Imported Show Setup' window appears in which the temporary folder appears as both the Show Name and the Show Directory. Both names may be changed as desired and the directory should be changed to avoid confusion.

Click Next and the Show Import Summary window appears with the configuration and directory tree of the ShowMan show which will be created. Confirm that this information is as desired then click Finish and the show will be created and opened.

You can also choose "Import Show" in the Show menu to import a Stage Manager®3000 show. This is a special procedure and may require some preparation of the Stage Manager show before transferring to disk or network.

An instruction window titled 'Import Existing Show' appears with detailed instructions for importing a show. If an Amiga computer is not networked with the ShowMan computer, the transfer will be more easily accomplished via floppy disk.

To put the Stage Manager show on a disk, it must be prepared as a single show drawer and zipped into a single transfer file with an MSDOS-compatible name. The Amiga utility 'Zip' can be obtained from RSD or any www.Aminet.web site. Put both the Zip utility and the show drawer in a temporary location, open the Shell and make that temporary directory the current one by typing its full path name after the prompt.

Type the following Shell (CLI) command (suitably altered) to pack the entire show drawer into a .zip file:

zip -r show.zip "directory"

where:

  • zip is the utility in the current directory
  • -r recurses into directories
  • show.zip is the name of the transfer file
  • directory is the name of the show directory contained in the current directory - this must be in quotes but the quotes cannot be part of the directory's name

Mount the PC0: or PC1: device by opening the Storage/DOS Drivers drawer in the Workbench and double clicking PC0 or PC1. If these devices are in the Workbench:Devs/DOS Drivers drawer, then they are already mounted.

Place an unformatted 720K floppy diskette into the appropriate floppy drive and click once on the disk icon for PC0 or PC1 when i appears. In the icons menu of the Workbench, select 'Format Disk' and confirm that it is a 720K PC disk that will be created.

After the disk is formatted, drag the show.zip file onto the disk icon. After the file has copied, place the disk in the ShowMan computer and open the floppy disk drive. Unzip the file into a temporary Windows folder on the hard disk. The entire contents of the Stage Manager show drawer will be created and recursed fully into the temporary folder.

Click Next in the Import Existing Show window and a window titled 'Open' appears in which "ShowDefs" is already in the File name field. Select the temporary folder into which the show has been unzipped and confirm that the ShowDefs file is in the chosen folder.

Click Open and the 'Imported Show Setup' window appears in which the temporary folder appears as both the Show Name and the Show Directory. Both names may be changed as desired and the directory should be changed to avoid confusion.

Click Next and the Show Import Summary window appears with the configuration and directory tree of the ShowMan show which will be created. Confirm that this information is as desired then click Finish and the show will be created and opened.

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Recommended PC Hardware for older AudioBoxes

Q: What PC do I need to make the most of my old AudioBox?

A: Users of the AB64, 1616HD and AB1616 units should upgrade to SoundMan-Assistant with SoundMan-Designer or ABShowMaker and SoundMan-Server.

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SCSI and the AudioBox 1616HD and AB1616

Q: Why am I having trouble using my computer's SCSI interface?

A: SCSI compatibility isn't what it used to be.

Users of 1616HD and AB1616 units should upgrade to SoundMan-Assistant with SoundMan-Designer and SoundMan-Server to avoid problems with SCSI which are being caused by the lack of support for SCSI processor devices by Microsoft operating systems.

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AudioBox AB64, AB1616 & 1616HD Hard Drives

Q: How do I choose Hard Drives for my AudioBox AB64, AB1616 & 1616HD?

A: For Model AB64: please consult the AB64 User Manual to calculate your size requirements and installation instructions.

Users of 1616HD and AB1616 units should upgrade to SoundMan-Assistant to avoid problems with SCSI which are being caused by the lack of support for SCSI processor devices by Microsoft operating systems.

For the model AB64 we recommend the Samsung SpinPoint models PL40 SP0411N (40 GB), P80 SP0612N (60GB), P80 SP0802N (80 GB), P80 SP0812N (80GB), P80 SP1203N (120GB), P80 SP1213N (120GB), P80 SP1604N (160GB) and P80 SP1614N (160GB). These drives are extremely quiet, have a very good warranty and include mounting hardware.

All drives must be jumpered for Cable Select and the Master drive connected to the black connector (on the end of the cable).

If Samsung drives are not available, similar models MAY be acceptable HOWEVER the maximum drive current the AB64 can supply is 5A at 12V so your disk drives must NOT draw more than 2.4A maximum peak startup current if you install two hard drives in an AB64.

For models 1616HD and AB1616 we currently recommend the Seagate ST336607LW (36GB) and ST373307LW (73GB) drives. Units manufactured before May 2002 may require a very minor power supply modification and a 68 to 50 pin SCSI adapter.

Jumpers should be placed in position TP1 on J2 of Seagate SCSI drives for proper operation in the AudioBox 1616HD and AB1616.

Please contact us for further details if necessary.

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Why Doesn't XYZ work?

Q: What's wrong with this thing?

A: The almost universal answers to this question which can be asked about virtually anything in the world at one time or another are:
"Is it plugged in?"
"Is it connected properly?"
"Is it switched on?"
"Are the DIP switches set correctly?"
Truthfully, without being facetious or trying to insult your intelligence, 90% of the problems we solve are done by double checking the simple stuff.
Just take a moment to make sure everything is actually connected to the right connectors on the right units and then try new cables if anything is suspect.
The greatest possibilities of failure exist where connections are made so pursuing the mythical 'good connection' will probably make things come back to life.
Cables wear out more often than you might imagine so it's always a good idea to have a box of new spares on hand.
DIP switches also are connections of sorts and have been known to become intermittant. Just switching them back and forth a few times and possibly putting a little contact cleaner in them may make them more reliable.

Still doesn't work? Give us a call or email and we'll try to help!

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The Question We Didn't Think Of

If you have any questions you want answered, just email or phone us and ask us to post it here so everyone can get the answer! We'll credit you for being the first to ask (no prizes yet... ;-) if we feel it's of general enough interest. (we reserve the sole right to make such determination)

Thanks for your interest!

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2014-04-13

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