View Full Version : Third Party Audio Card support

James Moore
04-24-2003, 03:44 PM
It sure would be nice if TEd could support 3rd party audio cards.

I was just watched part of the interview with A. Cross on toastersupport.com and Faraz asked him about support for other audio cards. Dr. Cross turned it back on him asking why would you want another audio card? Well, a few answers spring to mind.

1. Often (i.e. for a movie trailer) one will output a master with separate audio for Narration, SFX, Music, and Dialogue on the 2 analogue and 2 digital tracks of a BetaSp (you could also lay out the tracks for layback to a multi channel device for post audio - DA88 being a very common format)

2. Better Sound Quality than is currently available on the toaster card

3. Mulitple balanced inputs from camera's mixers etc.

Dr. Cross also seemed concerned about sync, which he should be. It did seem though that he seemed 'burned' by the previous sync problems with external cards, SR, and VT1. Well, he should be a bit gun shy, but since the problem is solved, Newtek could always fall back on the disclaimer, 'you want sync guaranteed then capture using the toaster hardware'. The sync problem can also be addressed by linking the toaster card to the sound cards clock physically, as done with the LynxOne card. This problem solving need not fall on Newtek's shoulders other than to note which pins on the Toaster card carry the clock signal.

In short Allowing the toaster to use whatever sound device is specified in Sounds/Multimedia would be a good thing!

04-25-2003, 02:05 PM
I would like to echo James' points...

I've also done multichannel bilingual masters. E.g., English on Ch1, Spanish on Ch2....I use the 4 channels of audio tracks on my BVW75 at work all the time. Often a client will send us four track masters so that we can keep the SFX and Stereo music intact, but change the voiceover. Very, very common in the professional world.

VT[3] may provide us with a multipass workaround with frame accurate insert edit print to tape funtionality. Not too elegant, but it shouldn't be too painful for short projects. E.g., we could print stereo music (Ch3&4) on one pass with the video, then another insert edit pass with the dialogue/SFX each going mono to Ch1 and Ch2.

Someone could ask, "Why would you want separate audio tracks?" So that you can isolate the sources during a multi-mic recording session and improve the quality of your mixdowns. That is why professional audio recording, more often than not, involves the use of multitrack audio recording devices (such as the DA88 that James mentions).

"Why balanced audio connectors?" They are more robust, and allow for longer cable runs. Also, they are less susceptible to RF interference from dimmers, flourescent lighting, CB radio, AM/FM radio transmissions, etc.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Toaster card was originally designed for multichannel I/O, so it probably won't happen. 2nd party support is always pretty "iffy" as well. What NewTek can address, I believe, is the possibility of SMPTE slaving the VT[3] to professional audio devices (or vice versa), such as the DA88 or other DAWs. This way we could avoid the subpar Toaster audio codec and have access to professional multitrack options.

The number one audio priorty should be to improve the audio codec, at least to the level of virtually any other audio/video software product on the market. so that it doesn't thin out the lows and low mids so dramatically as it does now.

Pristeen D1 uncompressed video without professional grade audio is like a new ferrari with really ugly, rusted, dented hubcaps.

"Can you hear me now?"

James Moore
04-25-2003, 02:23 PM
Hi Taiji,

Thanks for your support!

You mention the audio codec. The way I understand the toaster is that it uses the codecs installed on your machine. So, the standard codec for audio should be the uncompressed wav codec which shouldn't cause any degradation in an of itself. I'm not sure what chip they are using on the toaster card to do the AD/DA conversion but that could be a source of audio degradation. If you are using a compressed audio codec to do the recording that would adversely affect the sound quality as well.

An interesting test would be to capture a wav file with something like the LynxOne and play it back throught the LynxOne(also A/B the input/output to see if you can hear a difference). Then take that same wav file and play it back using the toaster hardware. I tried this awhile back and I noticed a very subtle difference between the two cards with the LynxOne being slightly, very slightly, 'warmer'.

04-25-2003, 03:11 PM

Andrew and team did a considerable amount of work on the audio codec a few builds ago. Reportedly it was no easy task. Prior to that, it sounded pretty close to the quality of an 12kHz/8bit mp3 to me, even though it has always been touted as "uncompressed 48kHz." Do not believe that any codec doesn't not alter sound quality. Codec, by nature, means encode-decode. Also, do not be misled into thinking that 48kHz automatically means better than 44.1kHz. All codecs are not created equal. (BTW, I do not know what the bit rate of the NewTek codec is. )

The codec does sound better than it did before, but it still thins out the audio noticeably. The fact that NewTek was able to tweak it once and improve it, leads me to believe that further improvements to it can be made to get it up to a professional grade level.

The Lynx card is a true professional audio card. A comparison test with it is fine to do, but you don't need to go that far. A simple A-B comparison test between your recording source and Toaster playback through the same high quality monitors is sufficient to demonstrate the problem, most dramatically noticeable with sources rich in lows and low mids.

That the Lynx card produces a "warmer" sound is no surprise. This indicates that you have noticed the same thing as I have, though I would not choose the word "slightly" to describe it. The problem is that when you record a music track into T[3], and strip the lows and low mids, then you record SFX and VO, also stripping away the same frequencies, you end up with the inability to output a mix with any "meat" to it at all (i.e. it becomes a cumalitive loss of frequency dynamics, etc.). That's not good if you're trying to produce audio that can make an impact on a viewer.

I don't see any reason for VT[x] users to settle for audio that is below par from apps/hardware that cost a tenth of the amount for the "Studio in a Box." (E.g. the audio I get with my multitrack M-Audio Delta card and n-track studio DAW is vastly superior to anything I could hope to get out of the T[3] card right now). I believe that we should strive for a product that meets the highest of professional standards. I believe that this is the aim of the NewTek staff as well. It is a luxury for me to type away, whining for improvements!

Frankly, it surprises me that more people haven't taken notice of this issue, but that is probably a reflection of the user base more than anything else. Unfortunately, quality audio is an afterthought for a lot of people. Note the rise of CD and low-resolution mp3 audio in the marketplace.

James Moore
04-25-2003, 03:38 PM
I had a similar discussion as this about a year ago in a beta forum. I do hear a difference A/B it, but I would still characterize the difference as slight. I have a fairly decent monitoring setup on my T2 with some Tannoy monitors, but it is not as good as in my audio suite. The other guy I had this discussion with was a pro audio guy and he ended up having a bad toaster card. He was complaining, like you, of it sounding mp3 ish. I really do think the difference is slight, and you may want to get your card checked out if you really are getting the kind of sound you seem to be describing.

Yes, Newtek did improve the audio a few builds back, but I think it primarily increased the head room, and wasn't an adjustment in the codec per se, rather an adjustment that is initiated by the core update. I could be wrong of course. Maybe a Newtekian will chime in here and illuminate the issue for us.

04-25-2003, 03:59 PM
I have to agree with James, if the your Toaster is degrading your audio as badly as you say I would have it checked out. Mine sounds pretty good.

There is no audio codec per say as the audio should be being saved as a 16 bit, 48kHz linear file with no compression. Any degradation of the sound at this point is probably taking place in the analog part of the card, but I would expect any artifacts caused by the filters etc. to effect the high end not low to mid bass. If the sound out of the Toaster sounds weak in bass I would investigate the phase of your cabling in and out. You could have a cable wired wrong causing phase cancellation thus the thin sound.

If you are convinced your cables are correct I'd hike the thing back to my dealer and have the card swapped out to see if that helps.

04-25-2003, 04:49 PM
"Pin-out" diagrams notwithstanding, this is destined to become a humorous dialogue using words to describe subjective audio experiences! At worst, it could degrade into a "Theory vs. opinion" dialogue.

While I wouldn't use the term "slight," that does not mean I would use the term "drastic" either. It is a fact that the team worked on the software to improve the audio, and as a result, it's much improved, more in the direction of "slight thinning" than the "drastic thinning" of the source audio that used to occur. Regardless, the difference between source and T[3] output is still noticeable, but it's not on the level of a phase cancellation, or as bad as it used to be. My fave term to describe T[3] audio is "thin," but "less warm" would suffice as well, and I will continue to lobby for improvement.

Maybe it's a bass player vs. guitar player thing.

James Moore
04-25-2003, 08:37 PM
Describing audio can be tough, to say the least. I really can't hear the difference between 44.1 16 bit and 48k, in most situations. If slight is slight as in this difference (or close anyway) then I would say there is no real problem with your card. I can get pretty meaty mixes with the audio I'm getting with the toaster, and I find it to be quite 'transparent'. I bring the audio in off of a UVW 1800 which has lesser specs than a BVW75 but I find the difference to be imperceptable. Multi generational stuff is a different story. Now, if I were mixing for a theatrical release, the whole 16 bit world may not suffice.

Back to your complaints. If you can hear a 'substantial' loss. Try another card and see. Like I said, that other pro guy was complaining like you and in the end he was right...but a new card fixed it.

I'm a bass player by the way, and I still want to use 3rd party cards with the toaster. If for no other reason than I use DIGITAL I/O for my transfers from the audio suite!!!! or from DAT!!! and I'll be damned if I can find a SPIDIF or AES/EBU port on my SX8. What an oversight that was!

04-26-2003, 09:17 AM
This is kinda funny, but I'm also a bass player! Again I concur with James, my Toaster audio is good enough not to complain about. So if yours is not, it would be worth taking a listen to a second card to rule out a problem. Or maybe all us bass players stood too close to the cymbals as children:)