Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

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Hedon
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Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Hedon » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:01 pm

Hello all,

Former Windows/Cubase user here, looking to make the move to Linux. It's been many years since I've been "active" with music, but I'm finally at the age & stage where kids have moved out, I've downsized, and I've finally got the $$$ and time to pick up my music hobbies again! And I've been using Linux desktop for years (Lubuntu), but just now getting around to setting up a Linux-based rig for home recording.

My former Windows setup included Windows XP (not connected to the internet, but still...YIKES!), Cubase LE, and a Lexicon Omega interface. Worked wonderfully, and I REALLY dig the Omega. Plus, research indicated it is Linux friendly!

So I setup a dedicated desktop with Lubuntu 16.04, added the KXStudio repos and installed KX Studio (can't remember if it was minimal, or full-blown). Mainly interested in most up-to-date Ardour, and whatever tools come with that. Learned how to use Cadence to switch over to the Omega as sound device, and was able to achieve 5.8ms latency with 44100 sample rate, 256 samples, and 2 periods/buffer. Better than it ever was in Windows! Recorded some test tracks and was quite pleased with the latency results!

Unfortunately, the Omega has an annoying electrical hum/crackle that I cannot resolve by swapping out cables or changing electrical outlets. It's IN the device itself. Took it apart, blew out dust (not much), and no change. This device is over 10 years old and I guess it's just failing. And apparently they don't make them anymore. So after a ton of research for Linux-compatible class-compliant USB devices, I'm quite impressed with the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6. Rave reviews for sound and durability, and plug-n-play compatible with Linux....sign me up! Ordered the device and anxiously awaited its arrival.

Once it showed up, still impressed...quite the little tank! Then the problems began...

Not sure if I have a "bad device", or I'm doing something wrong...but I've spent COUNTLESS hours troubleshooting on forums ever since, as other folks indicate theirs worked just fine out-of-the-box. Here's what I've done, to date:

- disconnected working Omega and hooked up Scarlett to USB2 (reports indicate NOT USB3 compatible). lsbusb command indicates Scarlett device as: Bus 002 Device 002: ID 1235:8203 Focusrite-Novation and it shows in Cadence as hw: USB,0 [USB audio]
- chose USB,0 as input and output sources, (same as I did in Omega), leaving all other settings the same
- attempts to "start jack" fail; "switch master" is greyed out; the only action I can take is to "force restart", which appears to succeed, but still can't "start jack"
- Cadence appears to "hang" until I switch back to the onboard sound card

I have since learned that the "internal mapping" of the Scarlett 6i6 may need to be changed to "Direct Routing", which can only be done with Focusrite Control Software, which is only for Windows. Bought a cheap laptop for the SOLE PURPOSE of installing/using Focusrite Control software. Selected "Direct Routing", but no sound from headphones nor monitor. I tinkered with different FC settings and I believe it was "2-channel analogue" that finally provided sounds to both headphone (front) and monitor (rear) jacks. Sound was a drum machine input to the left-most TRS jack on front panel. With everything seeming fine in FC, disconnected the Scarlett from the Windows machine and re-connected to the Lubuntu/KXStudio machine, but with same results as above.

At this time, I KNOW others have successfully configured their Scarlett 6i6 to work in Linux/KXStudio. I also know that I have/had a working configuration with a Lexicon Omega, so I believe my baseline settings and KXStudio is working correctly. I can only conclude that I don't have something configured correctly, or the Scarlett is a faulty device (but since it sounds fine within the FC software, I believe this is unlikely). So I'm now looking squarely at myself...what have I missed?

Anyone have any thoughts as to what I'm doing wrong, or what I've mis-configured? My brain is jello from everything I've googled and tried, so I'm just fried now. If anyone can help me troubleshoot to figure this out, I'd be most appreciative. Thanks in advance for any assistance that can be provided...I just wanna record some music again!

Hedon
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Hedon » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:33 pm

Solved the problem with Cadence hanging/freezing on card switchover. Looking at Cadence logs showed the following error entries:

Code: Select all

Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: ERROR: ALSA: cannot set channel count to 2 for capture
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: ERROR: ALSA: cannot configure capture channel
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackDriver::Close
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackConnectionManager::DirectDisconnect last: ref1 = 0 ref2 = 0
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackGraphManager::DisconnectRefNum cur_index = 0 ref1 = 0 ref2 = 0
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackEngine::ClientInternalClose ref = 0
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackEngine::ClientCloseAux ref = 0
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackGraphManager::RemoveAllPorts ref = 0
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Released audio card Audio3
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: ~JackDriver
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: ERROR: Cannot initialize driver
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: no message buffer overruns
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackPosixThread::Stop
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: Jack: JackPosixThread::ThreadHandler : exit
Tue Nov 27 14:04:40 2018: ERROR: JackServer::Open failed with -1


Tinkering with Cadence configuration, I was able to set the input channels to 6, and the output channels to 6, and the freezing has stopped. I'm able to switch between the onboard sound card and the Scarlett without incidence, so I think that portion is solved.

However, still getting no sound. Wondering if the internal routing/mapping is now the issue? Those of you who have the 6i6 working, what do you have the internal routing set as within the Focusrite Control Center?

finotti
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby finotti » Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:57 pm

Hedon wrote:However, still getting no sound. Wondering if the internal routing/mapping is now the issue? Those of you who have the 6i6 working, what do you have the internal routing set as within the Focusrite Control Center?


Did you check the levels in alsamixer?

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wjl
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby wjl » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:32 pm

Hello Hedon,

nothing much to set up in that Focusrite Software - I've set mine to line on one, and mike on the other, like this:

Image

and this:

Image

The hint with Alsamixer is valid - not necessary on my Debian box at home, but it is on my Ubuntu box at work, where I have to set levels each time (it forgets these settings, saving them doesn't work).

Hope that helps,
Wolfgang
more about me on my blog

Hedon
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Hedon » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:55 pm

finotti wrote:
Hedon wrote:However, still getting no sound. Wondering if the internal routing/mapping is now the issue? Those of you who have the 6i6 working, what do you have the internal routing set as within the Focusrite Control Center?


Did you check the levels in alsamixer?


What am I checking for? alsamixergui looks like this:
https://imgur.com/a/d161zBO

from the terminal:
https://imgur.com/uTXuU57

choosing F6 and selecting the Scarlett as sound card:
https://imgur.com/3twC1YM

So I'm guessing your alsamixer hunch is a correct one, but what to do to fix it? Thanks in advance!

EDIT: inserted images not displaying. I'm guessing a new member can't post images until a minimum number of posts are reached. image tags removed so URL link to image displays.

Hedon
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Hedon » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:56 pm

Update,

I think I got it working, but the problem may have been me. WJL...thank you for the FC screenshots! With your internal mapping confirmed (I believe you are the "Recording-2 analogue input" pre-set), I was able to match my settings to yours.

However, at first, it appeared to have no effect whatsoever (and probably didn't). So back to googling again, and I found a thread that indicates the 6i6 works as a "front end" to Ardour, but no "output" sound from computer. So in an effort to be thorough, I fired up Ardour, armed 2 tracks and there was the sound I've been trying to find! Created another track or 2 and recorded alongside to check latency, and everything sounds excellent! The only "quirk" is that when recording an additional track, I can see the levels in the mixer, but no sound. But when I arm the track, hit record, and roll the transport, there's the sound again...so it seems to be working, just not the way I'm used to with the Omega.

So now that I've got the 6i6 working, and multi-track recording, I can only conclude that my problems are user-related. My ONLY recording experience is with the Omega and Cubase. Ardour is close enough (at least visually) to Cubase for me to feel like its kinda-sorta familiar. But this 6i6 certainly doesn't behave like the familiar old Omega...and I assumed it wasn't working because it wasn't acting like the Omega acted, with the same settings. Once I adjust my frame of reference, I think I'll be good to go!

My only question now revolves around the lack of sound for an additional track, until the transport rolls. This doesn't seem right to me, as it makes it difficult to set the input level relative to existing tracks. Perhaps a different preset (direct routing?) in the 6i6 will behave as I expect it to? i.e. providing an audible sound signal that I can adjust relative to existing tracks, but BEFORE I roll the transport for an armed track? Or is this normal behavior for the 6i6?

If that's the case, i guess i can work with that, but I'll have to record a "test track" to set the audio levels, then delete the "test audio" before recording the new audio for the track. Is this "normal" behavior for the 6i6, or is something still not quite right?

Just trying to establish a baseline for what is "normal" with the 6i6 and Ardour. Other than that, I'm actually quite impressed and very pleased with the sound quality being throughput the 6i6! Once I establish a new workflow for the 6i6, I think I'll be okay!

I just need to remember to open Cadence and swap back to the onboard sound card when I'm done with my recording session! Thanks for the help fellas! And any other info/tips about the 6i6... 8)

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wjl
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby wjl » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:02 pm

Hello Hedon,

first, I'm glad that now you got some sound in and out of your interface. And yes, it's quite a good one, I'm really happy with mine.

Check the following. In Cadence, you have to set up all channels for Jack:

Image

It might have another number for the USB port on your machine, but that's ok - important are the 6in 6out channels. You also see the properties I use here, they're ok for most things.

Setting it to 6 channels and then activating the bridges to Alsa and Pulseaudio gives you a view of 6 "speakers" in Gnome (if you use that), even if you only have 2 speakers like me. This is how it looks on my machine:

Image

If the Pulseaudio bridge is working, you should hear sound from a browser like Youtube in Firefox or such. Without the Pulseaudio bridge that won't work.

But you asked about Ardour. Well I rarely use more than 2 inputs, and even these not simultaneously (as I don't sing and play bass, my microphone was bought for voice overs (video), not music). So to give you an example about my bass input (that was channel 2 as I showed in my previous screenshots), Ardour looks like this:

Image

You see a channel with a song template which I downloaded from Wikiloops, and another one for my bass. On the left is that bass channel, and the top of it shows you that it's configured for input 2 (of my interface). It's set to "Disk" right now, which means playback - during recording this is armed with the red button, and with selecting "In" instead of "Disk". And yes, if I make another channel or copy this one to overdub, it will use the same input if I don't select another one. This way you can play multiple bass lines on top of each other.

Just in case you're interested in the outcome of that piece of music, it's at https://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-151834.php together with my bass. Love the singer and her great work in this...

If you have more questions, feel free to ask. If that helped to get everything working, a bit of feedback would be nice as well.

Good luck, and enjoy your new interface. And welcome again to LinuxMusicians!

Cheers,
Wolfgang
more about me on my blog

Hedon
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Hedon » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:16 pm

Many thanks Wolfgang!

I hope to have some free time this weekend to finish troubleshooting and/or familiarize myself. I'll let ya know if I have other questions!

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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Pablo » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:21 pm

My only question now revolves around the lack of sound for an additional track, until the transport rolls. This doesn't seem right to me, as it makes it difficult to set the input level relative to existing tracks. Perhaps a different preset (direct routing?) in the 6i6 will behave as I expect it to? i.e. providing an audible sound signal that I can adjust relative to existing tracks, but BEFORE I roll the transport for an armed track? Or is this normal behavior for the 6i6?


I don't think it has anything to do with the 6i6 but with ardour's monitoring options. Take a look at:

http://manual.ardour.org/recording/moni ... in-ardour/

I think that, if you disable "Auto Input" in the main menu, Transport tab, ardour will behave as you expect it to.

Hedon
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Hedon » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:21 am

Wolfgang - I enjoyed your musical snippet! Not my style of music, but can still appreciate the musicianship of other genres. I dig your bass tone also!

Pablo - Thank you for that tip! That does indeed sound like my issue. With no "baseline" to draw from, my range of trouble-shooting is so broad. Ardour is similar, but different, to Cubase. And the Scarlett 6i6 is similar, but yet so very different from the 10+ year old Lexicon Omega. A sincerely appreciate the tip that this issue is likely software-related.

I like the Scarlett 6i6, but it's more complicated than I'm used to. Better quality too...sounds GREAT. In the meantime, I've grown impatient and ordered a Behringer Uphoria UMC202HD, which is very similar in function to the Omega that I'm familiar with. I've been recording with the Behringer, as it was pretty much plug'n'play right out of the box! With the hardware problem parked to the side for the time being, I'm trying to get familiar with the quirks and idiosyncracies of Ardour. So far, so good!

I'm certainly no audiophile, nor recording engineer, but I'm impressed with Ardour so far. Maybe it's me, maybe its confirmation bias, but I think it sounds better than the much more expensive Steinberg Cubase software. That's not a knock on Cubase, as I liked it; it's just that Ardour is THAT GOOD! I feel vindicated that it was a good decision to setup a dedicated DAW computer with open source software!

Once I feel more competent and accomplished with Ardour, and more familiar with Ardour conventions, I plan on switching back to the Scarlett. It's got more simultaneous inputs, more options, obviously better-quality components, and sounds slightly more "pristine" than the Behringer. So I'm going to want to "upgrade" back to the Scarlett at some point, but for now the Behringer is doing it for me, and I'm okay with the Behringer.

Thanks to both of you for your help! Much appreciated!

xtrchessreal
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby xtrchessreal » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:23 am

Hedon:

I hope you can still use the 6i6.

I don't mean to jump in here and detract or hijack your thread.

The simple fact is I also have a 6i6 2nd gen and am using Ardour as my DAW. I have monitoring issues just as you described. Ubuntu 16.04.5 lowlatency kernel. I would like tips on proper setup if possible. This Ardour/Jack learning curve is steep.

Meanwhile I'll study what is here for help. I would really appreciate any pointers if not some steps to setup. 8)

Thank you very much
X

Hedon
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Re: Scarlett 6i6 & Linux/Ardour

Postby Hedon » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:18 pm

xtrchessreal wrote:Hedon:

I hope you can still use the 6i6.

I don't mean to jump in here and detract or hijack your thread.

The simple fact is I also have a 6i6 2nd gen and am using Ardour as my DAW. I have monitoring issues just as you described. Ubuntu 16.04.5 lowlatency kernel. I would like tips on proper setup if possible. This Ardour/Jack learning curve is steep.

Meanwhile I'll study what is here for help. I would really appreciate any pointers if not some steps to setup. 8)

Thank you very much
X


@xtrchessreal, oh wow...just now seeing your post. So sorry, I don't get on here much, except for troubleshooting, didn't see your post until today. Sorry if I left you hanging. If you're still looking for guidance, I'll tell you what I remember, but you need to understand that even though I got the 6i6 working, I quickly switched to the Behringer UMC202HD, and have now upgraded to the UMC404HD.

As I recall, I had to get access to a Windows machine to install Focusrite Control software, which allowed me to reconfigure the 6i6 internal routing; there was a preset called "Direct Routing" or something similar, which re-configured the 6i6 internals to a 6 input/6 output "passthrough" arrangement. Keep in mind, only 4 of those inputs are true inputs, the other 2 were midi; same with output. So as far as I was concerned, the 6i6 was a 4 channel device with MIDI capability (which i don't use and know nothing about). The internal routing changes are persistent, so once I switched the 6i6 to "direct routing" it remains in that config unless/until I change it to something else. With the routing changed, I plugged back into my linux machine.

My linux machine is nearly identical to yours, except I'm on Lubuntu 16.04.5 with lowlatency kernel. Also, I chose to install audio software from KXStudio repos, rather than pre-configured Ubuntu Studio. I don't think that matters much, except that Ardour is a much newer version in KXStudio repos, while Ardour in Ubuntu is stuck on version 3.* something.

Once plugged into the Linux machine, open up Cadence (in the sound & video category) and "stop" the Jack server (assuming it starts automatically) in the top right quadrant of the Cadence window. Then choose "configure", which will open a 2nd window. From the driver tab, you want to change your input & output devices in the middle of the tab. Select your Focusrite device for BOTH input & output (it should be labeled and easily identified as Focusrite or Scarlett or 6i6...can't remember). With both selections made, change your input channels to 6 and output channels to 6...very important!

In the bottom half of screen, choose your sample rate. I'd stick with 44100 or 48000 for audio recording. Not sure it matters, as long as you're consistent. If you choose 48000 for today's session, then open that session tomorrow at a 44100 setting, the speed/tempo will be WRONG, as well as pitch, latency, etc... Just pick one and stick with it, IMO. I choose 44100 because that's a standard CD sample rate, so exporting finished Ardour sessions are pretty straightforward when I choose "CD format" for export settings. JMO...

Next, you choose your buffer size and periods per buffer. I'd start with 512 buffer size and 2 periods per buffer, and let your latency get calculated. Start Jack and check for xruns (in the top right quadrant of first window of Cadece). If you get no xruns, tweak the buffer size down, restart Jack, and watch for xruns again. Repeat until you have the lowest latency setting AND zero xruns. I have my settings at 256 buffer and 2 periods per buffer, which generates a 5.8ms latency. I'm thrilled with that, but anything less than probably 50ms is probably unnoticeable.

Lastly, at the bottom of the Cadence window is a pulldown/tab for Pulseaudio. Make sure pulseaudio bridge to jack is started. That's it...

You should be able to open Ardour, create new tracks/busses, and select input 1-4 (actually 1-6, but no midi for me) and have that Focusrite input "mapped" to the input signal of the Ardour track, as selected. For instance, input #1 on 6-6 provides signal as input #1 in Ardour track/bus, etc...

It sounds like a lot of details, but once you do it a few times, you realize how easy it is. That's the best I can remember. I hope this is helpful, and good luck!


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