TrueRTA help

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  • Brian Bunge
    Super Senior Member
    • Nov 2001
    • 1389

    TrueRTA help

    I recently purchased a laptop along with the full blown version of TrueRTA. The laptop does not have true audio in and out; only a mic in and headphone out. I'm assuming the sound card is full duplex because I can play a test tone through the laptop's speakers and the mic picks it up and I can see it on the RTA display.

    Anyway, when I do the loopback to calibrate the soundcard and then run the quick sweep I do not get a completely flat line as the directions state that I should. Also, I cannot get the laptop to output a test tone through the headphone jack connected to a pair of RCA cables that are then connected into my receivers front panel AUX inputs. I have my PC at home hooked up the same way so that I can use some decent speakers while on the computer, so I'm assuming there's something specific with the laptop that isn't right.

    AFAIK, I have all the play and record audio sliders set correctly per the instructions. If anyone has TrueRTA and a laptop that has only mic and headphone jacks can get things to work correctly please let me know.

    I've sent an email to TrueAudio's support staff, but thought I'd get some input here as well.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Brian
  • JonMarsh
    Mad Max Moderator
    • Aug 2000
    • 15270

    #2
    What laptop are you using and what sound chip set does it use? Unfortunately, most laptops do have pretty limited audio performance. My Sony Viao Athlon is sort of OK with True RTA, but works best on batteries, not with the AC adapter (noise).

    However, your complains sound weird- if you can hear anything on headphones connected to your headphone output, you should be able to get a signal through your receiver. Otherwise, double check your cables and connection at the reciever. Also, there are usually "mute" check boxes on the mixer control panel of your laptop sound control- be sure one of them isn't checked on headphone output. If you mute your speakers, it usually mutes the headphone output., too. Plugging in the headphone connector will also mute the speaker out ( normal). Check for a good headphone output first.

    One of the best bets with laptops is to use a small outboard USB audio card- the SL Extigy is an example, but it's got some limitations- I'd recommend looking at the M-Audio Sonica, which streets at around $69. It provides a very high quality line out, as well as USB to SPDIF conversion. If you need a solution with a better mic input (which may be the case), then you may have to go with the Extigy, which isn't a true 24/96 box.




    Other than that, maybe if you provide some more info about your laptop and the results you're getting, we can help out a bit. How about a screen capture of the plot you get when trying to do a calibration?

    Regards,

    Jon




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    Comment

    • Brian Bunge
      Super Senior Member
      • Nov 2001
      • 1389

      #3
      Jon,

      The laptop is a Compaq Armada E500. I think the soundcard is an ESS Maestro or something like that. I don't have any headphones with me at the moment but I'll double check when I get home to make sure they work.

      Also, while playing around last night, all of a sudden I get feedback if I have the master volume up at all. This started happening after I did the soundcard calibration. I went back and turned the sliders back down that I had to turn up (master volume and Wave for play and line for record). But if I've got the SPL meter plugged in and turned on I get huge amounts of feedback. And now I'm even getting feedback with nothing plugged into the laptop. I'm beginning to wonder if I have damaged the soundcard or if it was already.

      Brian

      Comment

      • Brian Bunge
        Super Senior Member
        • Nov 2001
        • 1389

        #4
        Jon,

        I just wanted to let you know that I did get the headphone out to work going into the AUX inputs on my receiver tonight. I don't know why it didn't work the previous 3 times I tried. I did notice that it was a bit noisy though. Maybe I should have the master volume and Wave volume maxed out?

        I haven't figured out the sound card calibration problem yet but I'll keep on it.

        Let me know if you have any other ideas.

        Brian

        Comment

        • Bruce
          Senior Member
          • Aug 2000
          • 156

          #5
          Brian,

          A couple of things:

          1) The RCA out on the RS SPL meter is a line-out signal, not a microphone signal.

          2) In your PC's sound slider controls, do you see a slider for Line-in?
          If you do, then mute the slider for the microphone (mic) and plug the RCA cable from the SPL meter into the input on the PC labeled mic and use it as a Line-in instead of as a microphone.

          This should straighten things out.




          Bruce
          ____________________________________________
          Bruce

          Comment

          • JonMarsh
            Mad Max Moderator
            • Aug 2000
            • 15270

            #6
            Bruce,

            Brian's laptop is like a lot of "simplified" laptop audio solutions (like my old Compaq at work, and even the configuration of my current sony) in that it doesn't have line inputs per se; the only input connection is a mic input, and there's a headphone output. This seems to be not so much a matter of budget, as it is the perception that the corporate warriors for whom these were directed at didn't really give a rat's patouty about sound capabilities. Depending on configuration, the E500's sold for up to the mid $3K range.

            Brian,

            One other thought that came to mind- not knowing if your ESS sound chip is full duplex or not- If you're getting feedback squeals, this would indicate that the line out channel (to headphones or speakers) has the mic channel live. Now, there should be two sets of controls- one for playback (speaker out, and directly feeding any inputs to it) and one for recording. (which is the input side of the duplex transmission equation.) You want to have the mic/line input enabled on the recording side, but not on the playback side. If your controls doen't give you this level of flexibility, it may be due to limitations of the notebook audio chip set, in which case you may have no other resort that to go to an external USB solution such as the Extigy with both line/mic input and outputs, and full duplex controls.

            Is their an on line link that you're aware of to more complete info on the E500? In a brief search I wasn't able to come up with anything.

            Best regards,

            Jon




            Earth First!
            _______________________________
            We'll screw up the other planets later....
            the AudioWorx
            Natalie P
            M8ta
            Modula Neo DCC
            Modula MT XE
            Modula Xtreme
            Isiris
            Wavecor Ardent

            SMJ
            Minerva Monitor
            Calliope
            Ardent D

            In Development...
            Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
            Obi-Wan
            Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
            Modula PWB
            Calliope CC Supreme
            Natalie P Ultra
            Natalie P Supreme
            Janus BP1 Sub


            Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
            Just ask Mr. Ohm....

            Comment

            • Brian Bunge
              Super Senior Member
              • Nov 2001
              • 1389

              #7
              Bruce and Jon,

              Thanks for the input. I've fixed the feedback problem by muting all the other sliders and am getting a signal out going into by receiver's AUX inputs. The only problem I'm still having is that I cannot get a flat response curve when I do the loopback for the soundcard calibration.

              The curve also varies from one quick sweep to another. Sometimes I do get a nearly flat line with tiny little peaks along the entire frequency spectrum and then a few slightly higher peaks from roughly 15KHz-22KHz. Then the next time I run it I may get HUGE peaks and valleys on the order of 10dB difference from one another. Do you think this is a problem with the soundcard, the I/O jacks or the cable itself? Or could it be something else?

              A friend of mine sent me a link to the owners manual for the E500, but it was around 200 or so pages long. If I still have the link I'll post it here.

              Brian

              Comment

              • Dennis H
                Ultra Senior Member
                • Aug 2002
                • 3791

                #8
                FWIW, I've never owned a computer whose 1/8" jacks I'd trust for measurements. I can get all kinds of noise out of the speakers just by jiggling the cables. Maybe I've just been unlucky. :?

                Comment

                • Bruce
                  Senior Member
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 156

                  #9
                  One other thing to check is that your 1/8" mini-plug being plugged into the PC's mic-in port is a mono-plug and not a stereo plug.




                  Bruce
                  ____________________________________________
                  Bruce

                  Comment

                  • Brian Bunge
                    Super Senior Member
                    • Nov 2001
                    • 1389

                    #10
                    Bruce,

                    Why would it matter if the cable is stereo or mono? I do have a stereo plug because I figured the line out was stereo. Should I use a cable with mono plugs on both ends?

                    Brian

                    Comment

                    • Lex
                      Moderator Emeritus
                      • Apr 2001
                      • 27461

                      #11
                      As Bruce said, Mic in definitely would require mono Brian. It would also matter at the output end of your device your connecting to the Mic In equally as much. Mono to mono.

                      So, in other words if you had a step down female 1/4" to 1/8" female adapter to adapt a 1/4" phono down to 1/8", that too needs to be Mono. Everything in the chain.

                      Lex
                      Doug
                      "I'm out there Jerry, and I'm loving every minute of it!" - Kramer

                      Comment

                      • Brian Bunge
                        Super Senior Member
                        • Nov 2001
                        • 1389

                        #12
                        Lex,

                        I do have a mono cable with a 1/8" connector on one end and an RCA on the other. I also have a stereo RCA to stereo 1/8" adaptor. Maybe I can use the adaptor with only the mono cable connected? If not, I'll just get a mono RCA to mono 1/8" adaptor. Or just buy a mono 1/8" to 1/8" cable.

                        Thanks,

                        Brian

                        Comment

                        • ThomasW
                          Moderator Emeritus
                          • Aug 2000
                          • 10934

                          #13
                          You need to clarity if the mic input is stereo, most are on newer PC's. If it is stereo and you're using a mono plug then the channels will be shorted and the loop-back test will fail

                          Try downloading the demo version of ETF 5.0 . It has a test procedure for duplex vs non-duplex soundcards. That should get you the info you need.

                          Also, ETF 5.0 has tollfree tech support number that includes support for the demo program. If you get the demo version of ETF running, TrueRTA will run as well




                          theAudioWorx
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                          Comment

                          • Brian Bunge
                            Super Senior Member
                            • Nov 2001
                            • 1389

                            #14
                            I thought I'd let you guys know that it appears I've got things working fairly well now. I disabled a bunch of applets that were running in the background and boosted the signal level a bit. I'm still not getting a totally flat signal, but it's flat enough for bass response measurements, which is what I'd mostly be doing with it.

                            Also, I may still look into using the M Audio product that Jon mentioned if it'll work better in the long run. Now I just need to find out if I can use the serial out connection on my laptop to use operate the MIDI software for the BFD.

                            Comment

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