Symphony I/O Mk II: Troubleshooting

Mac Audio Optimization Guide

When streaming audio through an interface connected to your Mac, there are many factors that can cause performance problem:

  • audio artifacts such as pops or clicks, stutters, or dropouts as you play or record
  • erroneous firmware messages, performance issues, or other strange behavior.

Use this guide to optimize your Mac computer to reduce the chances of this from happening, or as a starter if you have any issues.

Please keep in mind these steps are not required to use our product, but have solved problems for customers in the past. It is best to test these known fixes first and see if they relate to your issue.

Turn off Automatic Sleep Mode

In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Energy Saver set Computer Sleep to Never.
Make sure “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” is NOT checked.
(These settings may vary on different Mac Models)

This will mean that Sleep Mode does not come on automatically, but you can still put your computer to Sleep when you like, by going to Apple Menu > Sleep.

This is one of the most important steps to prevent problem behavior with an audio device because Sleep Mode works by suspending drivers in a hibernate state, rather than unloading them fully. When waking up the computer does not “enumerate” the drivers fresh as with a newly connected device, but just attempts to proceed as if nothing changed.

However your Audio Device will think it has been disconnected during Sleep, as the driver was no longer available. During Sleep the unit may shut off or go into a standalone mode depending on it’s model/design/features. When the computer wakes from Sleep the Audio Device doesn’t receive a good connection because the driver is not reloaded fresh as with a true unplug/replug, called “driver enumeration.”

Automatic Sleep can lead to situations where you get up for a quick break during your session and come back to glitchy audio, artifacts, no audio, a full disconnect, and other performance issues. Very short Sleep Mode settings, such as every 1 minute, can even create situations where you turn to do something in the studio like adjust your outboard mixer and before you are done the whole unit has been disconnected, or an erroneous firmware message has popped up.

If you must use Sleep Mode, then for best performance first turn off/unplug your interface and then choose Sleep from the Apple Menu. When you come back to work you can Wake the computer and then plug in/power the interface and get a freshly loaded driver.

Remove or Disable Unused Network Adapters

In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Network and make sure to remove any Network Adapters you are not currently using for a LAN or Internet Connection.

For example remove “Bluetooth PAN” “Thunderbolt Bridge” “Firewire” et al.

Having a port that shares a USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt Bus with your Audio Hardware here can limit its bandwidth.

When a certain Port Type, for example “BlueTooth PAN” is listed here, but not in use the computer will constantly “ping” that Port, looking for a connection to appear. This can create a lot of Network Traffic where it isn’t needed, such as on your USB Bus, since BlueTooth is an internally connected USB Device. This can lead to those constant pings knocking your audio device off the USB Bus, disconnecting it.

Turn off your Firewall

In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall make sure Firewall is Off.

Networkingis one of the most common sources of audio problems on all computers, Mac and PC. This could be Network Activity on the computer, but also Firewalls for specific programs or computer blocking connections. In general it is best to disable the Firewall on any Audio Production computer.

If you do have important Firewall tasks that need to be done, like opening a Port Forward for your Video Games, it is best to do this on your Router instead, as that device is better equipped. It won’t cause so many audio interactions when done on a different device.

Remove Startup Items

In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Admin Account > Login Items: remove any Startup items.

Startup Items can be control panels for other audio gear, like Digidesign loader, or programs like Spotify that go online and can interrupt other audio programs. Also things like Adobe Creative Cloud, or even Anti Virus Software will run in the background and slow down your computer.

In this screenshot you can see the computers has iTunes, Flux a color temperature program, and Dropbox all starting up when the computer loads. As iTunes and Dropbox can go online in the background, and Flux may affect graphics performance, these could all potentially affect audio or CPU performance negatively. It is best to remove them if having audio troubles.

There are no Startup Items by default on the Mac so you can remove all of them with no issue.  If you are worried about removing some items, then take a screenshot of them so you can restore them at a later time: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201361

Repair Disk Permissions

In Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility: select Macintosh HD and click First Aid (Repair Disk Permissions on older Macs). Repeat this for any other Hard Drives you have connected.

Choose your best USB or Thunderbolt Port and cable

If you are using a USB Audio Interface (such as Duet), try all the USB ports on your computer. One may work better than another due to how the internal ports are hubbed.

Be sure you have tried another USB, Thunderbolt or Firewire Cable.

Turn off Analytics and Location Services

In System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy Tab > Analytics (could say Diagnostics and Usage), un-check the boxes for Share Mac Analytics, Share with App Developers, and Share iCloud Analytics.

You may also want to disable Locations services found in this same Privacy Tab to further reduce background network traffic.

Turn off Sound Notifications for Apps

Turn off sound notifications for all your apps: In System Preferences > Notifications, select an app then un-check the box for “play sound for notifications. Repeat this for all apps in the left side-bar.

After these steps please RESTART the Computer

While you are Recording

  • Check that any Virus Scanners or Backup software (i.e. Hightail or Carbonite) that run in the background are disabled.  High background activity especially over the Network can cause glitches.
  • Close any unnecessary applications while recording (i.e. Skype or Browsers you are not actively using.)

HDX or HD Native is not showing up in Pro Tools HD Playback Engine

If you have an Apogee Symphony I/O or Symphony I/O MkII (or a Rosetta/16x with X-HD card) and you’re using it in Pro Tools HD mode with an HDX card, HD Native card, or HD Native Thunderbolt and you’re not able to see HDX/HD Native as a possible selection in the Pro Tools Playback Engine, there are a few things to check:

 

  • If you’re using a Symphony I/O (mkI or mkII), confirm it is properly connected to the HD card/box and that the unit is in ‘Pro Tools HD’ mode.
  • Confirm that you have installed the ‘HD Driver’ for the version of Pro Tools you’re using (this is a separate install from the Pro Tools software). The installer is included in a separate folder in the Pro Tools installer package.
  • If you are using a current (12.6 and above) version or Pro Tools HD, you will need a ‘Digilink IO’ license to use 3rd-party hardware with your system. Click here for more information.

Do Apogee Thunderbolt products (Element, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII, Thunderbridge) work with the latest 12″ MacBook?

Question:

Do Apogee’s Thunderbolt products (Element 24, Element 46, Element 88, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII Thunderbolt, and Symphony 64 Thunderbridge) work with the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook?

 

Answer:

No. The 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, shown here, do not include a Thunderbolt port. They only have a USB-C port. The Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters will not work with these MacBooks, despite using the same-size connectors. Apogee Thunderbolt devices will work with the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, as discussed in this post. It should be noted that Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly like USB-C ports and their cables also look similar. This can get a little confusing, so here are a few basic rules to help clear up any questions about connectivity:

  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 have the same-size port and the same-size connector for their cables. Since USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly the same, you will need to make sure your Mac has Thunderbolt 3 capabilities before using it with an Apogee Thunderbolt device and an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with Thunderbolt 3 ports, such as the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, can use it’s Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect to any Thunderbolt 3 device, USB-C device, and Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1 device if you use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with only USB-C ports, such as the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, can NOT connect to any Thunderbolt device, even when using adapters. It can connect to USB-C devices and other types of USB devices, using the proper adapters.

 

Click here for more information on the differences between USB-C ports and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

 

 

 

 

Signal not showing up where it’s supposed to and routing incorrect in Pro Tools

If your signal isn’t showing up correctly in Pro Tools, coming out of Pro Tools to the desired outputs, or if the routing isn’t showing up as expected, there are a few things to check. Look below for the section that applies to the Apogee product you’re using:

 

JAM, JAM 96k, MiC, MiC 96k, Groove

  • Confirm that the device you’re using is selected as the ‘Playback Engine’ in Pro Tools by going to the the ‘Setup’ dropdown menu in Pro Tools and selecting ‘Playback Engine’. Make sure your Apogee device is selected in the ‘Playback Engine’ dropdown menu at the top of the window. If you are using JAM or MiC, you will first need to create a ‘Pro Tools Aggregate I/O’ and then you will select ‘Pro Tools Aggregate I/O’ as your ‘Playback Engine’. Click here for setting up JAM for Pro Tools.  Click here for setting up MiC for Pro Tools.
  • You may need to reset the I/O paths in Pro Tools. This is a very common thing. Click on the ‘Setup’ menu in Pro Tools and select ‘I/O’. Once the I/O Setup opens, select all of the channels in the left-hand column and hit ‘Delete’ on your keyboard.  After you’ve deleted them, click the ‘Default’ button in the lower part of the screen. Follow the same steps for each tab in I/O Setup. Once you have gone through these steps in each tab, click the ‘OK’ button to confirm changes and exit.

 

ONE (every model), GiO, Duet (every model), Quartet, Ensemble (every model)

  • Confirm that you are using the correct inputs/outputs on your device. Click here for instructions on how to setup ONE.  Click here for instructions on how to setup Duet.  Click here for instructions on how to setup Quartet.
  • Confirm that the device you’re using is selected as the ‘Playback Engine’ in Pro Tools by going to the the ‘Setup’ dropdown menu in Pro Tools and selecting ‘Playback Engine’. Make sure your Apogee device is selected in the ‘Playback Engine’ dropdown menu at the top of the window.
  • Launch ‘Apogee Maestro’ and click the ‘Reset Routing’ button in both the ‘Input Routing’ and ‘Output Routing’ tabs. If you’re using an Avid Duet or Avid Quartet, you will use ‘Pro Tools I/O Control’ app instead of Maestro. Click here if you need to download the Pro Tools I/O Control app for Avid Duet or Quartet.
  • You may need to reset the I/O paths in Pro Tools. This is a very common thing. Click on the ‘Setup’ menu in Pro Tools and select ‘I/O’. Once the I/O Setup opens, select all of the channels in the left-hand column and hit ‘Delete’ on your keyboard.  After you’ve deleted them, click the ‘Default’ button in the lower part of the screen. Follow the same steps for each tab in I/O Setup. Once you have gone through these steps in each tab, click the ‘OK’ button to confirm changes and exit.

Symphony I/O, Symphony I/O MkII, AD16x, DA16x, Rosetta 200, Rosetta 800

 

 

Not getting audio input/output in DAW with Symphony I/O MkII

If you’re not able to get any audio input/output in your DAW with Symphony I/O MkII, there are a couple things to check:

 

  • Confirm that the connection icon on the Symphony’s front-panel touchscreen is blue (the connection icon is located in the upper right-side corner of the touchscreen).  If the icon is orange, try unplugging/replugging the Thunderbolt cable from your Mac to your Symphony.  If the icon is still orange after reconnecting the Thunderbolt cable, confirm that you have the current Symphony I/O software installed on your Mac.
  • Do you have the Symphony I/O MkII selected as your default i/o in your DAW and ‘Audio MIDI Setup’ (Applications > Utilities> ‘Audio MIDI Setup’) ?
  • Launch ‘Apogee Maestro’ from your Applications folder and go to the ‘Input Routing’ tab. Click the ‘Reset Routing’ button. Do the same thing in the ‘Output Routing’ tab.
  • Unless you have the Mic-Pre module installed in your Symphony I/O MkII, you can not connect microphones directly to the analog inputs of the i/o modules, as the inputs do not have mic-pres and are Line-Level only.
  • Confirm that your Monitor settings are properly set by going to the ‘Monitor’ page on the Symphony’s touchscreen (tap the speaker icon at the bottom of  the screen to navigate to the Monitor page). Once you’re on the ‘Monitor’ page, check that the outputs aren’t muted or turned down too low.  If you’re using Speaker Sets on the main outputs, check that the correct speaker set it selected.

How to reset the Symphony I/O MkII

To reset while powering on unit:

Press and hold on the ‘Control’ knob while powering on the Symphony I/O MkII. Continue to hold down the ‘Control’ knob until the startup screen finishes.

 

To reset while unit is already powered on:

Go to the ‘Setup’ page on the touchscreen by tapping on the icon that looks like a gear at the bottom right-hand corner of the touchscreen.  Once you’re on the ‘Setup’ page, tap on the ‘Configuration’ tab.  Tap the ‘Reset Unit’ button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.  Tap ‘Yes’ in the dialog that asks if you’re sure you want to reset.

How does the routing for the Symphony I/O 2×6 I/O module show up in Pro Tools HD?

When using a 2×6 i/o module in a Symphony I/O (MkI or MkII), the 2×6 i/o module shows up as a 16ch Avid HD I/O in Pro Tools HD. Here is how the I/O corresponds with the ProTools I/O (Note that PT inputs 3 through 6 are nothing. This is so all the input and output channel numbers line up with each other when using hardware inserts):

 

Pro Tools Inputs 1-2             Line Inputs 1-2
Pro Tools Inputs 3-4             N.A.
Pro Tools Inputs 5-6             N.A.
Pro Tools Inputs 7-8             AES Inputs 1-2
Pro Tools Inputs 9-16           Optical Inputs 1-8

Pro Tools Outputs 1-6          Line Outputs 1-6
Pro Tools Outputs 7-8          AES Outputs 1-2
Pro Tools Outputs 9-16        Optical Outputs 1-8

 

 

 

The routing is incorrect/no audio in Pro Tools HD Native with Symphony I/O

There is a known issue when using Symphony I/O or Symphony I/O MkII in Pro Tools HD mode with a Pro Tools HD Native card or HD Native Thunderbolt. The routing will be incorrect and/or audio will not show up where expected when you connect 2 Symphony I/Os (MkI or MkII) and the 1st unit only has one I/O module installed. This only occurs with HD Native– not with HDX or the older Core/Accel/Process HD cards.

 

Solution:

Make sure the 1st unit connected to the HD Native card or HD Native Thunderbolt on Port 1 has 2 I/O modules installed if you have 2 units connected.

Input routing incorrect in ProTools HD when 2×6 module installed in primary slot

There is a known issue with the input routing in ProTools HD if you install a 2×6 module in the primary slot of a Symphony I/O MkII and any other I/O module in the secondary slot and use it in ProTools HD mode.

 

Solution:

If you are using a 2×6 module in combination with another I/O module in a Symphony I/O MkII in ProTools HD mode, make sure you install the 2×6 module in the secondary slot and the other module in the primary slot.

 

Supported 2×6 configurations for Symphony I/O MkII in ProTools HD mode:

Primary: 2×6
Secondary: none

Primary: 8×8 (any old or MkII 8×8)
Secondary: 2×6

Primary: 16×16 Analog In/Out (original or MkII)
Secondary: 2×6

 

2×6 configurations not supported for Symphony I/O MkII in ProTools HD mode:

Primary: 2×6
Secondary: 2×6

Primary: 2×6
Secondary: 8×8 (any old or MkII 8×8)

Primary: 2×6
Secondary: 16×16 Analog In/Out (original or MkII)

Note: the older 16 Analog In/Digital Out and 16 Digital In/Analog Out modules are not supported in Symphony I/O MkII regardless of what mode you’re using the unit in.