[linux-audio-user] FA-66, slackware, freebob, thinkpad R40 - cracks on recordings

mea belgeler at seznam.cz
Tue Jan 30 23:52:10 EST 2007

Pieter Palmers wrote:
> mea wrote:
>> Hello from Prague,
>> I bought the firewire soundcard Edirol FA-66. Yesterday morning I 
>> compiled freebob, recompiled jack and within half an hour I already 
>> saw all 6 inputs and outputs in qjackctl. What? Recording on linux is 
>> hard? Pha! I thought but unfortunately my moment of victory didn't 
>> last long. On all recordings there is a strange cracking sound, not 
>> all the time, but every couple of seconds. No xruns though. Before I 
>> bought this device I used to record through the internal soundcard of 
>> my thinkpad R40, running all programs as root and this 'sort of' 
>> worked. So I thought I should first of all make sure all my apps can 
>> run as user. After a lot of reading (I spent all day on this 
>> yesterday before I decided to consult this list) I figured the best 
>> approach for me would be to use set_rlimits, because slackware 
>> doesn't have PAM, and I never patched a kernel before. As I 
>> understand these are the 3 possibilities for programs to run in 
>> realtime right? Well, in short I can now run qjackctl, jack and 
>> ardour as user without xruns, but this weird cracking is still on the 
>> recordings. To make sure it was not an ardour issue I tried 
>> sooperlooper, and the noise is still there. I suspect the trouble is 
>> probably freebob, because I didn't have this issue before and maybe I 
>> should have written on their list, but I am not completely sure and I 
>> found very useful information here before, so here I am, asking for 
>> any advice, because I don't know what to do anymore. Here is some 
>> more information about my setup>
> The crackles you hear are due to libfreebob not being able to process 
> the firewire packets fast enough. This means lost packets and hence 
> lost audio data. You would expect xruns when this happens, but 
> freebob-1.0 doesn't report dropped packets as xruns, this could be 
> called a bug. We'll fix this in the next version.
> In order to use FreeBoB, it is really recommended to use a realtime 
> patched kernel. We are doing in userspace what is normally done in 
> kernel space, and hence we need to meet very strict deadlines to be 
> able to. When using a realtime patched kernel that is configured 
> correctly (see 
> http://freebob.sourceforge.net/index.php/System_Configuration_Hints), 
> no packets are dropped and this problem does not occur.
> Having said this, you can probably improve things on a standard kernel 
> if you allow user processes to request SCHED_FIFO scheduling (realtime 
> scheduling). As a test you can run jackd+freebob as root and see if 
> the problem persists. Remember to start jackd in realtime mode:
> e.g.
> jackd -R -p60 -d freebob -p512
>> Thinkpad R40, Pentium4, 512MbRAM
> You should check the brand of the firewire controller that you are 
> using. (some) Thinkpads have a Ricoh firewire controller built in, and 
> that is a very buggy piece of hardware. It will never work properly 
> with freebob because it fails on isochronous traffic. (check this 
> using lspci -v)
> The solution for that is to use a cardbus firewire controller. 
> Chipsets from Via, Texas Instruments and Nec are working fine for me.
>> Slackware 10.2
>> uname -r    2.6.13
> Should it be possible, maybe consider switching to a more audio 
> friendly distro...
> Greets,
> Pieter Palmers
> FreeBoB developer
Thank you for the quick and informative answer. I start qjackctl first, 
with server "set_rlimits jackd -R". I also tried just "set_rlimits jackd 
-R -d freebob etc. from a terminal, no difference.

/etc/set_rlimits.conf looks like this:

   @audio  /usr/local/bin/jackd  nice=-1  rtprio=85 memlock=59000
   @audio  /usr/local/bin/qjackctl  nice=-1  rtprio=84 memlock=59000
   @audio /usr/bin/ardour  nice=-1 rtprio=83 memlock=25000

lspci -v :
2:07.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments TSB43AB21 IEEE-1394a-2000 
Controller (PHY/Link) (prog-if 10 [OHCI])
Lucky there!

cat /proc/interrupts
  0:   11707467          XT-PIC  timer
  1:         48          XT-PIC  i8042
  2:          0          XT-PIC  cascade
  8:          1          XT-PIC  rtc
  9:      32729          XT-PIC  acpi
 11:   16353479          XT-PIC  yenta, eth0, ohci1394, Intel 
82801DB-ICH4, ehci_hcd:usb1, uhci_hcd:usb2, uhci_hcd:usb3, 
uhci_hcd:usb4, radeon at pci:0000:01:00.0
 12:         33          XT-PIC  i8042
 14:      82318          XT-PIC  ide0
 15:     271529          XT-PIC  ide1
I will have to patch the kernel to be able to use rcirq right?
Distro switching on this computer doesn't come in question,  but I will 
buy a desktop computer very soon and there I could use something more 
audio friendly. Freebob webpage suggests Fedora+CCRMA, is that still 
Once again many thanks for the answers and mainly for the work you do 
with freebob!

Martin Alacam
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