Control Headphone and Speaker Volume Independently on a MOTU [solved]

I have successfully extended the life of my MOTU 896 audio interface. This solution required buying a new product, but I am so happy with the result that I wanted to post about it anyway.

I had two problems with the MOTU. One was that the volume knob is on the unit which I had to keep nearby my seat at all times, which even with a custom rack makes my room layout cluttered and makes me reach awkwardly for it to adjust the volume. The pot was also dirty and created scratching noise when I turned the knob.

The other problem was that if I wanted to record microphone audio with headphones, the volume knob would control both the headphone levels and the active monitors, and I would have to turn off my speakers in order to set the levels in the headphones to prevent track bleeding and feedback. This was a major pain.

I found a solution by getting the TC Electronic Level Pilot. At $80 it’s fairly pricey but it’s much cheaper than getting a new audio interface or outboard mixer, and I’m quite happy with it. It’s a high-resolution analog volume control with two XLR inputs and two XLR outputs.

The speakers are still going through MAIN OUT, but the signal runs through this new volume knob first. I switched the rocker switch next to the volume knob from “Main Out & Phones” to “Phones Only”. This causes you to have no volume control through your speakers and a line level signal blaring through them, but now with the Level Pilot I can set the level on the phones with one volume knob and the speaker levels with the pilot.

The knob sits happily next to my keyboard for easy control, and I’ve rearranged my whole studio now that the MOTU rack doesn’t have to sit right next to me. I’m very happy with the Level Pilot. It feels very durable and I have a much finer control of audio levels. My only complaint is that sometimes the base pivots on some surfaces making it harder to control. Placing it on a wood surface or putting some double stick tape underneath it solves this problem.

Override USB or Firewire Volume Level in OS X with Soundflowerbed [solved]

Update2: Lion has this functionality built-in. hurray!

Edit: While the sound controls work, I’ve been having major issues with soundflower, from audio disappearing to getting stuck and looping on a sample. Looks like soundflower still needs a bit of development. :(

This has been driving me nuts for years.

I have an external firewire audio interface, a MOTU 896, that has served me well for 7 years. It powers my studio monitors, has multi inputs and delivers superior sound compared to my internal computer speakers.

The only problem with it is that OS X’s volume controls don’t work with it. The volume keys don’t work on the keyboard, the apple remote volume doesn’t work, and you can’t control the volume with AirMouse on the iPhone. In system preferences, you get the message “The selected device has no output controls”, and you get an annoying disabled speaker when you try and use the volume controls.

Thanks to this post and the wonderful folks at Cycling 74, there is a free solution. You can install soundflower, which allows you to route all of your audio to a soundflower device. Once you’ve installed soundflower, you can run Soundflowerbed from your applications menu, which makes a finder menu appear that allows you to choose which device to route audio to. Choose your external device, and you’re done!

Finally, you can leave the volume knob on your external device in one setting, and control the volume from across the room with a remote! Glorious!

Soundflower is also a great app for interapplication multichannel audio routing, similar to rewire or jack.

How to bypass Pandora’s vague search function [solved]

For a couple weeks now I’ve been wanting to create a Pandora station specifically for Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4 in C Major. I want to find more classical music that sounds like this. Now that Pandora supports classical music, I would try typing in “Bartok” into the search function, but I would get Bartok’s symphonies. I tried typing in “String Quartet bartok” but got no results because that is neither just a name of a song nor just an artist. “String Quartet No” got me intresting results, but the autosuggest listings did not give me Bartok.
Finally I figured it out: While listening to the Bartók station, I clicked on “about this artist” to go to Bartók’s page. From there I could navigate to the specific album and track I wanted, and then do “Create a Station” based on that track. Now I’m finding all sorts of cool string quartets.

Try it, it’s awesome.

Delete iTunes Duplicates For Real with iDupe on OS X [solved]

This weekend I freed up 30 GB of mp3 duplicates using a handy program called iDupe. I’d tried several programs before, including an early version of Corral all Duplicates without much luck, but iDupe was able to process songs via ID3 tags, file size, date modified, and some fuzzy logic I don’t totally understand. I don’t know how it works, but it did.

iDupe is $8 and has a simple 3 step process – selecting, analyzing and deleting. It will optionally remove items from your library and delete them, letting you review them first. Warning – it is only for OS X and windows users who accidentally buy it will not be refunded. My only complaint would be that it can only handle a maximum of 2000 files at a time, meaning even when I subselected iTunes’ ‘show duplicates’ view, I still had to manually process chunks of my library at a time. It would be nice if it selected 2000 songs for you at a time, or even automated the processing in 2000 song chunks. But I trust the decisions it made and it worked great. Oh, and it removed all my dead tracks too.

For competition’s sake, Doug’s Scripts has evolved Corral All Duplicates into Dupin, but I haven’t tried it.

Make an origami paper CD case [solved]

Great for when you don’t have any CD cases but have access to a recycle bin.

Turn off contacts sign on and sign off audio notification in Trillian Basic [solved]

So you’re like me and love Trillian Basic and all the goofy noises it makes. All of them except for the singing on and signing off noises that it makes for all of your contacts. I have all of my coworkers on chat and I’m hearing those noises constantly. When I’m on the phone, my friends ask, “Is that a doorbell?” No…
If you look in Trillian preferences, the only options you have are to turn off sound effects all together or to mute notifications when you’re away. Neither of those are what I’m looking for. I’d turn everything off but I like to have an audio notification when my boss IM’s me.
Well, I found the .wav files of those two notification sounds and just replaced them with silence. You can back yours up and then replace the old ones with these in your program files\trillian\stixe\plugins\Tonal-Sounds\ folder:
After you’ve replaced the files, restart Trillian. No more annoying doorbell.

Major HDTV lag with Guitar Hero, Donkey Konga and DVDs [unsolved]

I went over to my friend’s house to play our first guitar hero 3 battle for wii, mode only to start sucking immediately even though I play on expert and my friend plays on medium. “WTF?” I said. My friend was like “well I think you were sucking is all” but I thought I was going crazy. Was my wiimote malfunctioning?

Then I noticed the notes were coming down later than the music and started playing early and got a little better, but the lag was horrible. I asked him if he’d ever calibrated the game and he said no, so I calibrated it and the delay changed from 0 ms to a whopping 115 ms. Then I was able to play perfectly if I payed more attention to the music than the screen, but my friend had gotten used to playing before the notes hit so it messed him up to play on the beat. He tried calibrating again, but he hit the notes before the downbeat like he was used to playing, so the game recalibrated to 0 ms. We kept trying to recalibrate, but guitar hero must quantize the delay to either to 0 or to 115 because that’s what we kept getting. We compromised and set the calibration manually to 75 ms, which was manageable for both of us, but I had to play a little earlier than I was used to.

My friend has an LG HTDV. I’m not sure what model it is. I have an infocus SP5000 projector. When I play at home, there is 0 latency, though fast moving notes motion blur a little. His LG though has a very noticeable delay.

I had brought over donkey konga as well to show him the game, and plugged it in, but it was unplayable. I could compensate on the easy (monkey) songs if I played an eighth note ahead of the beat, but on the harder (gorilla) songs it was impossible. Unfortunately, donkey konga is an older game and there was no option to calibrate. My friend said it was fun and played it like he played guitar hero, but I feel bad for him, because he can’t play any of his music games on the beat with his TV. He says he thinks of it like conducting, where you make the motion ahead of the music, but as a drummer it makes me insane trying to play ahead of the notes.

After we were done playing games, we watched a movie, and I noticed that the movie sync was off with the sound as well. I didn’t bother mentioning it to him – he probably has never noticed and I didn’t want him to feel any worse about his expensive equipment.

I did find a website here about HTDV Lag – although after his tests, the author actually recommends a LG model. It must be a different one than my friend had.

Anyway, buyer beware, an HTDV may look great but you may not notice until after your warranty has expired that the display can have a huge lag. You’re not going crazy and that might be the reason you suck at guitar hero.

Leaving this as unsolved unless someone can tell me how to fix my friend’s LG HDTV.

Too bad you’re here probably because you’ve already bought a laggy HDTV and are searching for a solution.

I did find more info on AVS forum about the problem, which suggests to try to send signal to the HDTV that is in its native resolution so that it doesn’t have to rescale. I will ask my friend if he’s using the wii component cables and 480p which might help a little, but wii owners may be particularly out of luck as the wii does not produce full HD signal.

The article also suggests this device that will solve the problem, but at $2000 you’re better off selling your TV and buying a new one, unless your crazy TV cost way more than that.

Label a mix before import on Itunes [solved]

So your friend makes you a CD mix, and it’s great, but when you want to import the CD it’s a pain in the ass because the mix doesn’t exist in the CDDB database, so Itunes can’t automatically label your songs.

I try and make people make me data MP3 mixes or at least CD mixes with CD text for this reason.

Nonetheless, you probablly still have CD mixes that don’t have the artist, album or song data on them that you want to import.

As far as I know there’s still no automatic way to do track-by-track detection on MP3s.

Here’s a tip though – before you import, click on the CD, select all, get info, and fill out the mix name in the album field. Then hit save and then import. Now at least you can group those tracks by album in your library, and you have half a chance of finding that track later and asking your friend what the heck it is. Better than a million TRACK 01 TRACK 02 files in your library that you don’t know where they came from.

I thought you wouldn’t be able to label the tracks since CDs are read only and won’t save an ID3 tag on the CD, but here’s where Itunes’ use of its library XML file comes in handy. If you know the artist and album info for some of the tracks, go for it, it is possible to label the artist, title, and other fields of the tracks before you import them.

label album before import cd mix

Easily control system volume in windows XP [solved]

Switching to a PC for my new job, I miss the volume keys on the mac for when I’m listening to music with headphones. “I bet I can find a utility that assigns a shortcut key to the plus and minus keys on the number pad,” I thought. I tried one utility, but the beep it made was deafening, and editing the wav file that came with the application didn’t help. Time to do more googling.

Enter Volumouse. Holy crap, this thing’s better than a shortcut key. You control the volume with a modifyer key (or click) and the scroll wheel. I have it (default) assigned to control the system volume when I hold down alt and scroll or hold down left click and scroll. This thing is awesome!
via Lifehacker (which is also awesome).

No Flash Sound in OS X [solved]

Reinstalling Flash twice didn’t help…How am I going to watch my dailymotion, youtube and milkandcookies videos??

This person had the answer:

Some app is switching the audio Khz to 96, which flash just doesn’t even attempt to play. I think it might be Audacity that does it. Change it back to 44 Khz.

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