Symphony I/O: 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.

Symphony64 Thunderbridge not showing up correctly after updating to macOS 10.12 Sierra

There is a known issue where the Symphony64 Thunderbridge would show up with the generic ‘Device’ label and wouldn’t work correctly after updating to macOS 10.12 Sierra.

This issue has been fixed in the latest Sierra-compatible Symphony software installer.

If you are updating to macOS 10.12 Sierra and use Symphony64 Thunderbridge, make sure to run the most current Symphony installer that is compatible with Sierra.

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

 

 

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.

The input and output channels from my 2nd Symphony I/O module don’t show up

If you have installed a 2nd i/o module in your Symphony I/O and the input and output channels are not showing up in Apogee Maestro or in your DAW, there are a few things to check:

1. First, launch “Apogee Maestro 2” from your Applications folder. Go to the “Input Routing” and “Output Routing” tabs. Click the “Reset Routing” button in each of these tabs. Do the channels for the 2nd module show up now? If so, the issue is now resolved and you can ignore the rest of this post. If not, proceed to the next steps.

2. With your Symphony I/O connected to your Mac via USB, launch the “Symphony I/O Firmware Updater” app from Applications> Utilities. Check to see that all the versions are current. If it gives you the option to update, then update by following the instructions in this link: Updating firmware. If it only gives the options to “force-update” or “quit”, then confirm that the version for the “secondary i/o module” actually shows up and does NOT show “N.A.” or “0”. If it is showing the firmware version properly, quit the updater. If it shows “N.A.” or “0”, then quit the updater and proceed to the next step. Do not force-update.

3. You may need to confirm that the 2nd i/o module is connected properly to the Main board. If you feel confident opening up the unit, proceed with the instructions. If not, you will need to have an Apogee dealer do this or send it in for a repair.

Instructions for checking ribbon cable

Unplug power from SymI/O

Remove screws and lid from SymI/O chassis

Gently pull up a little with your thumbs on each side of the ribbon cable connecting the i/o module to the Main board until you’re able to pull the ribbon cable out. Do this to both ends of the ribbon cable and remove it from the connector.

Please note whether the ribbon cable is gray or black. If it is black, you will need to contact our Tech Support and request a gray ribbon cable.

If the ribbon cable is gray, carefully set the ribbon cable back into place, making sure to line up with the pins in the connector. Gently push on each end until the ribbon cable is FIRMLY in place… if it’s not pushed down all the way, the boards won’t power up correctly.

Put lid back on chassis and plug power back into unit.

Once the unit is powered up, launch “Apogee Maestro 2” from your Applications folder and click “Reset Routing” in both the “Input Routing” and “Output Routing” tabs.

The Symphony Source setting keeps getting set to the wrong Port selection

The port selection switching back to the wrong setting (port 1 if you’re trying to use 2 ports or ports 1-2 if you’re trying to use 1 port) is caused by a preference file getting corrupted. This can happen from using System Preferences Sound to make your audio selections. We recommend only using Audio MIDI Setup (Applications> Utilities> Audio MIDI Setup) from now on.

To fix this issue, please follow these steps in the exact order:

– Go to the following location:

MacHD> Library> Preferences> Audio

– Once you’re in the ‘Audio’ folder, there should be 2 files in there:

com.apple.audio.DeviceSettings.plist
com.apple.audio.SystemSettings.plist

– Trash both of these files and empty the trash.

– If you still have the Symphony Release Installer package on your desktop or downloads folder, open it. If not, download it from our website and open it.

– Launch the Symphony Uninstaller and run it. Restart your Mac after the uninstall has completed.

– Open the Symphony Release Installer package and run the Symphony Software Installer. Restart your Mac after the install has completed.

– It’s a good idea to connect your Symphony I/O(s) to your Mac via USB and launch the ‘Symphony I/O Firmware Updater’ (Applications> Utilities> Symphony I/O Firmware Updater) just to double-check that your firmware is all on the current versions. If it’s not, update it. If it is, move to the next step.

– Launch Audio MIDI Setup (Applications> Utilities> Audio MIDI Setup). We recommend using Audio MIDI Setup instead of System Preferences Sound.
Make sure that ‘Symphony64′ (PCIe or Thunderbridge) is selected in the left-side column. In the ‘Source’ menu on the right, choose the appropriate port selection depending on how many Symphony I/Os you have. If you have 1 unit, choose ‘Port 1: 32ch’if you have 2 units, choose ‘Ports 1-2: 64Chs’. Quit Audio MIDI Setup and restart the computer.  Wait until the unit/units sync and stop clicking before launching Maestro. This can take a couple minutes if you’re using 2 Symphony I/Os.

 

 

 

 

Why are the input and output level/volume popup indicators not showing up?

Several Apogee products have pop-up level indicator graphics that will appear on the desktop of your Mac when the input and output levels are adjusted from the device or from the Mac’s keyboard volume buttons.

 

If the pop-ups aren’t appearing, there are a few things to check:

Launch ‘Apogee Maestro 2’ from your Applications folder, click on the ‘Apogee Maestro 2’ drop-down desktop menu and select ‘Preferences’. Confirm that the ‘Display pop-ups’ checkbox is checked. If you don’t see this option, then pop-ups aren’t available for the product you’re using.

 

If you’ve confirmed that the ‘Display pop-ups’ checkbox is checked and you’re still not getting the pop-ups, try the following:

 

– Unplug/replug your Apogee device

– Restart your Mac

– Launch ‘Activity Monitor’ (Applications> Utilities> ‘Activity Monitor’), click the ‘View’ drop-down desktop menu and select ‘All Processes’. Type ‘apogeepopup’ in the searchbar in the upper right-side corner of Activity Monitor. Once you see ‘ApogeePopup’ displayed in the list, highlight it and force-quit the process by clicking the ‘X’ button in the upper left-side corner of Activity Monitor. Wait a few seconds and you should see the popups again after adjusting input/output level.

 

*Note for Duet Firewire and Ensemble Firewire customers*

There was a known issue with pop-ups not working for Duet Firewire and Ensemble Firewire when using any version of Mac OS 10.8. It is recommended that you use either a version of Mac OS earlier than 10.8 or later than 10.9.

 

 

Connecting 2 Symphony I/Os to a Symphony 64 Thunderbridge or PCIe card

Before going through the setup steps, be sure to confirm that you have the matching software and firmware installed. Both units need to be on the firmware from the same installer release for them to sync properly. Connect both units to your Mac via USB (use a powered hub if your Mac has USB 3.0 ports), launch the Symphony I/O Firmware Updater from your Utilities folder and confirm that the firmware is up to date for each unit. Select ‘Symphony I/O 1‘ in the drop-down menu of the firmware updater app to check the 1st unit’s firmware versions. After confirming the firmware is up to date for the 1st unit, select ‘Symphony I/O 2‘ from the drop-down menu and confirm the firmware is up to date for the 2nd unit as well. When you’re finished, quit the firmware updater and follow the steps below.

 

To connect 2 Symphony I/Os to a Symphony64 Thunderbridge or PCIe card, follow the steps below in the exact order:

 

 

– Connect the Main Port of Unit A  to Port 1 (chs 1-32) of the Thunderbridge, using a PC-32 Symphony cable.

 

– Connect the Main Port of Unit B to Port 2 (chs 33-64) of the Thunderbridge, using a PC-32 Symphony cable.

 

– Use 2 BNC cables to connect the Loop Sync output of Unit A to the Loop Sync input of Unit B and the Loop Sync output of Unit B to the Loop Sync input of Unit A. Make sure you’re using the LOOP SYNC jacks and not the Word Clock jacks.

 

– On Unit A, press in and hold on the front-panel right-side encoder knob until you come to the Audio Mode menu. Scroll until it says ‘Symphony‘ and then push in on the encoder knob again to restart the unit in Symphony mode. Do this to Unit B as well.

 

– Launch Apogee Maestro2 from your Applications folder, go to the ‘System Setup‘ tab and make sure the  “USE LOOP SYNC” check-box is CHECKED. Quit Maestro.

 

– On your Mac, launch ‘Audio MIDI Setup’ (Applications> Utilities> ‘Audio MIDI Setup’). Make sure ‘Symphony64’ is highlighted on the left-side device column. On the right-side, set the ‘Source‘ to ‘Ports 1-2: Chs 1-64‘. Quit Audio MIDI Setup and restart the Mac.

 

– Once the Mac restarts, you need to wait until the units have finished configuring before launching Maestro or ANY other software. This can take a couple minutes. You’ll hear relays clicking back and forth and you’ll see the “!” icon on the front-panels appear and disappear. When this stops after a minute or so and both units are configured, Unit A should say ‘INT‘ and Unit B should say ‘LOOP‘.

 

– As soon as both units appear to be configured and Unit A says ‘INT‘ and Unit B says ‘LOOP‘, launch Maestro and confirm that both units show up as expected.