Richmond Sound
		Design Ltd.

Frequently Asked Questions

about

Bugs, MIDI, SCSI, Software, Sound, Computers, Show Control, the AudioBox™

Etc.

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Contents:

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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It is impossible to support or fix bugs in software or firmware that is no longer current, and updating will probably fix the problem anyway!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:

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:

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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Windows 2000/XP Alternatives

Q: Will ShowMan run on Windows 98 or ME?

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

You may certainly use Win95/98/ME to check out the demo version to see if you like it but you should use Windows 2000 to actually run shows since it has superior multitasking, more precise timing and different file handling characteristics.

Q: Will ABEdit work on Windows 95/98/ME?

A: No, ABEdit will absolutely not work correctly with Windows 95, 98, and ME.

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Windows XP Optimisation

Q: How do I optimise Windows XP for audio/show control use?

A: The following web page provides very useful information and instructions on how to do this:

http://musicxp.net/tuning_tips.php

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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:

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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AudioBox Show Control Capabilities

Q: How do the show control features of the AudioBox compare with ShowMan?

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

The biggest difference, though, is that ShowMan runs on a PC and you can watch the cues go by on the monitor as well as immediately edit and change the show without delay.
The AudioBox does not have a built-in monitor and its shows must be edited offline on a PC then uploaded while the show is not running before the changes can take place. You can monitor AudioBox shows via ABEdit software running on a PC connected to the AudioBox or on the CMLabs MotorMix, connected to the AudioBox.
ShowMan and the AudioBox work well together because ShowMan shows can easily control both live and show control functions of the AudioBox plus ShowMan shows will soon be downloadable to the AudioBox.
That means you can create shows using ShowMan then upload the show to the AudioBox and take your PC back to the studio....

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AudioBox AB64 Networking

Q: Why don't my computers see my AB64s even though they are connected to the same network?

A: There is probably a firewall or firewall software isolating them.

Make sure there is no router or firewall between computers and AB64s in your network. Also, make sure there is no firewall or antivirus (such as AVG) software running on your computers (including the built-in firewall that now comes with Windows XP.) 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 AB64 communicates with up to four devices on the network (including multiple computers running ABEdit) automatically.

If you must run the Windows XP SP2 firewall, then go to Control Panel/Windows Firewall/Exceptions/Add Program and click AB64FirmwareLoader. Click 'Change Scope' and select "My network (subnet) only" then click OK. Repeat, choosing ABEdit.

The AudioBox AB64 works with 10Mb/S or 100Mb/S Ethernet but the latter is preferred. Connect the control network to the AB64's Ethernet Network RJ45 connector. It is recommended that your network use a router that assigns IP addresses via DHCP and that each AB64 on the network be set to obtain IP addresses via DHCP.

If you must set a static IP address on the AB64 (if there is no DHCP server available, for example) you must make sure the AB64's IP address is 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 the AB has to match the first 3 fields of the IP address shown. In this case (for example) that means that the AB64's IP address must start with 192.168.0.something. If settings are not correct, ABEdit will generate an error message if the IP address of the box is not in the proper range that will work on the local network. This message specifies the IP address, the AB64 S/N and that it can't work on the network.

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AudioBox Sample Rate

Q: Why does the AudioBox 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 the AudioBox is a professional audio device. ABEdit automatically resamples files recorded at any other sample rate while the file is being sent to the AudioBox using the freeware resampling program called Sox, which is the best program known for doing this.

The primary compromise involved if the AudioBox were to accommodate multiple sample rates internally is the use of on-the-fly sample rate conversion (SRC) which is known to create serious audible distortion as well as:

- Introduce a small amount of playback latency depending on the file's original sample rate

- Cause image smearing because of

- Loss of sample specific synchronization between files that play at different sample rates

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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 2000/XP compatible joystick or game controller which is properly installed.

You must use a real joystick (or game controller) which has a Windows 2000/XP 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 the AudioBox

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

A: A high performance machine is necessary for the AudioBox AB64.

The free software utilities included with the AudioBox require a high speed Pentium PC, which can also be used as an audio workstation to make 48k .WAV files for the AudioBox. Use a sound card or mainboard with proven Windows 2000/XP sound and MIDI drivers and CoolEdit or equivalent software (available from TuCows ) to record and play 48k .WAV files. The Creative Sound Blaster PCI 16 card is acceptable.

RSD does not include digital audio workstation (DAW) software with the AudioBox, but a large number of these programs are available. Check with your computer supplier for any additional hardware requirements DAW software may have.

The AudioBox utilities are:

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

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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.

At one time, any SCSI interface could talk to any SCSI device but now there are two basic types of SCSI interfaces: high performance and utility - and they can't be categorized on the basis of cost. Low cost high performance adapters have fewer features while higher cost interfaces can be utility devices with lots of features.

High performance interfaces are designed primarily for very high speed data transfer between the computer and very large hard disk drive arrays, whereas utility interfaces are designed primarily for medium speed communication between computers and SCSI Processor Devices such as scanners, CD-R and CD-RW drives. The AudioBox uses SCSI in a similar fashion since extremely large amounts of data do not need to be transferred at high speed.

Since the CD-RW market is currently quite large, there are a number of very low cost SCSI host adapters on the market which are intended specifically for these units. We have taken advantage of this availability by making our SCSI interface compatible with most of them.

Many high performance SCSI interfaces, especially ones built in to some motherboards, are not designed to be compatible with SCSI processor devices and it is quite possible that the one you are using is one of those. If you are having trouble with such an interface, please try one of the recommended units listed in the section Recommended PC Hardware for the AudioBox

RSD cannot provide support for hardware which we have not supplied nor can we provide computer hardware support for such setups unless we are contracted to provide a working notebook or notebook system.

The CompuCable USB-XFormer 2.0 WILL NOT WORK. The Adaptec USBXchange and USB2Xchange WILL NOT WORK.

SCSI installations are extremely sensitive to cable length and quality plus termination characteristics. You must use the highest quality (double shielded) cable and shortest cable length reasonable and choose an active or passive terminator, depending on the type of host SCSI adapter being used. SCSI bus errors will occur if a mismatch exists and when these errors happen, the symptom is usually that the computer just 'hangs' forever, with no error message evident. If this is the problem, try another cable, a shorter cable or a different terminator. If there are other devices in the SCSI chain, try disconnecting them and connect the SCSI host adapter to the AudioBox alone.

When you replace a SCSI interface you MUST uninstall the old one using the Windows Device Manager and install the new one correctly with the LATEST drivers obtained from the manufacturer's web site if necessary.

'Wide' SCSI (68 pin connector) adapters are not compatible with the AudioBox although some Wide SCSI interfaces also have a 50 pin connector which can be used with or instead of the 68 pin connector. Use the 50 pin connector only.

The computer and AudioBox should have their SCSI connections established before either is powered on. Both should be powered on simultaneously to properly initialize the SCSI connection.

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AudioBox Hard Drives

Q: How do I choose Hard Drives for my AudioBox?

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

For models 1616HD & AB1616: please consult the Disk List Page to calculate your size requirements.

For the model AB64 we currently 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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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:

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Upgrading ShowMan to the Latest Version

Q: How do I get the latest licensed version of ShowMan?

A: ShowMan Licensees should run ShowManSetup.exe and put your license file (RSD_Reg_****.smr) in the same folder as the executable file (ShowMan II.exe).

We advise you always to use the latest posted version of ShowMan.

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MIDI and Notebook Computers

Q: Can I use my notebook computer with a MIDI interface?

A: Most notebook computers have built-in sound but don't provide a connector for MIDI IN and OUT. You can add a PCMCIA MIDI interface, USB MIDI interface or Firewire MIDI interface but some notebooks have compatibility issues.

Also, some notebook computers are not specified for Windows 2000/XP. Before deciding to use a notebook, get a guarantee from the dealers and manufacturers of both the computer and the adapter that you will be able to use them together to send and receive MIDI under Windows 2000/XP specifically. Find out how to set them up and get the commitment from the dealer that they will get them working or your money will be refunded.

RSD cannot provide support for hardware which we have not supplied nor can we provide computer hardware support for such setups unless we are contracted to provide a working notebook or notebook system.

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MIDI and Sound Cards

Q: Can I use any PC Sound Card as a MIDI interface?

A: Most Sound Cards provide a connector for MIDI IN and OUT.

We have discovered that some are better than others, though. If you seem to be getting MIDI data errors, try using a different sound card. Use a sound card or mainboard with proven Windows 2000/XP sound and MIDI drivers which are fully 48kHz sample rate compatible. The Creative Sound Blaster PCI 16 card is acceptable.
We have found specific problems with the following sound cards:
AOpen (Acer) FX-3D
Sound Blaster SBLive!
We cannot recommend these cards at this time.

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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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PERFORMANCE FOR THE LONG RUN

Contact Richmond Sound Design Ltd. for more information

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AudioBox, AUTO-PAN, ShowMan, E-Show and MIDIShowCD are Trademarks of Richmond Sound Design Ltd.
All other trademarks are acknowledged.
Subject to change without notice.
Copyright ©2005 Richmond Sound Design Ltd.
Last modified: 2005-12-16

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