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Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
#2930657 01/05/20 08:13 PM
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Using Kawai VPC1 (still working perfectly and I can't complain!) + Pianoteq STAGE v6.5.2 (I still like the sounds, hasn't grown old on me yet)

So here's the story:

some time ago I picked up $40 speakers from a thrift shop thinking if they're bad, I wouldn't be losing too much (tested them in the shop, they were playing). I hooked them up and what do you know, they were pretty solid! However, there was a pretty vague volume level (still pretty quiet) at which the speakers started to pop, so I usually used headphones and eventually I moved speakers away from the VPC and used them for gaming (much better bass than the built-in monitor speakers).

However! Recently I exported some mp3 from my Pianoteq recordings and played them on the speakers and I couldn't believe it...but I could increase the volume even beyond a bearable threshold and there is ZERO popping. So it's not the speakers to blame, it's Pianoteq! My question is: has anyone bumped into the same problem and what did they do to mitigate/eliminate it? Thanks.

My ideas: it's not actually Pianoteq, per se, but the way it mixes individual sounds into the blend that we hear - maybe it's the polyphony that hurts the speakers, which gets lost as it's exported to mp3. I think this is true because it usually wouldn't pop with single notes, but rather larger, louder chords in some registers (this might be related to the resonant frequencies of the speakers). So I was thinking about some funny solution, like Pianoteq "baking" the sound into something mp3-like as it's being played...? I'm just sad I can't unleash the full potential of the speakers, not with Pianoteq while I'm playing, but they can certainly take a beating when I play back the mp3.

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Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2930662 01/05/20 08:23 PM
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Your buffer is set too low, causing your pc to be unable to create the sound fast enough for playing live. That creates terrible popping, and the faster/more notes you play the worse it gets as your pc is taxed more and more. Increase the buffer size, and make sure you use asio drivers.

Last edited by sleutelbos; 01/05/20 08:24 PM.
Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
sleutelbos #2930669 01/05/20 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by sleutelbos
Your buffer is set too low, causing your pc to be unable to create the sound fast enough for playing live. That creates terrible popping, and the faster/more notes you play the worse it gets as your pc is taxed more and more. Increase the buffer size, and make sure you use asio drivers.


Many thanks!.

My driver is Windows Audio (exclusive mode). When I switch to ASIO both my speakers and headphones disappear from the output options, so I don't think that's available to me (what's ASIO anyways?).

My current sample rate is 44100Hz and the buffer size is 480 samples (10.0 ms).

Some tests: increased buffer to 1024 samples, no popping, but either I'm imagining things, but I get some slight delay in a sense that what I physically play on keys comes out of the speakers a tiny bit later. If I set the buffer to 768 samples, there is no conceivable delay, but I can't raise the volume to the grand-piano-in-a-small-room level, because it gets a little overblown (the sound is not clear, there isn't popping either, but it's kinda distorted). I guess this is THE limitation of the speakers, so I can keep it somewhere around 768, have louder sound, but not overdo it, because it will get distorted.

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2930673 01/05/20 09:05 PM
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As sleutelbos said, it's not the speakers. It's your buffer size.

If you want to use virtual instruments on a PC you must have an ASIO driver. Native "Windows Audio" won't perform adequately.
Buffer size of 64 is ideal, 128 is quite good, 256 is tolerable, 512 is annoying.

You say you're running at 768? That's a lot of latency. If that's the lowest buffer setting you can use without getting clicks and pops then you need a better audio interface.
I presume you're using the interface built into the PC? You might need something better.

But wait ... you said you tried ASIO and could not get it to work? Where did you configure ASIO?

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
MacMacMac #2930675 01/05/20 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
As sleutelbos said, it's not the speakers. It's your buffer size.

If you want to use virtual instruments on a PC you must have an ASIO driver. Native "Windows Audio" won't perform adequately.
Buffer size of 64 is ideal, 128 is quite good, 256 is tolerable, 512 is annoying.

You say you're running at 768? That's a lot of latency. If that's the lowest buffer setting you can use without getting clicks and pops then you need a better audio interface.
I presume you're using the interface built into the PC? You might need something better.

But wait ... you said you tried ASIO and could not get it to work? Where did you configure ASIO?


I'm using 3.5 mm jack straight to the mobo. The speakers came with the cable by default. The headphones have the same jack, plugged in the front panel of my desktop and there's no popping (but headphones are probably driven with much less power than speakers).

Well all I tried was to select ASIO in Pianoteq settings. I don't even know what it is, I'll try google...

EDIT: if by "something better" you mean dedicated sound card, I'm not sure I have enough space for that. I have one more PCI-e slot (I assume sound card would slide into PCI-e?) but it's next to a pretty large GPU and WIFI card.

Last edited by Chopin Acolyte; 01/05/20 09:19 PM.
Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2930677 01/05/20 09:20 PM
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Decent upright bassist; aspiring decent pianist
Present: Roland DP-603, Roland FP-30, Casio CDP-130
Past: Casio PX-830, Casio PX-160
Etc.: Yamaha MX61, PianoTeq Stage 6 (Bechstein, Bluethner, U4, Vibes, Xylo), Roland KC-80
Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2930678 01/05/20 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
As sleutelbos said, it's not the speakers. It's your buffer size.

If you want to use virtual instruments on a PC you must have an ASIO driver. Native "Windows Audio" won't perform adequately.
Buffer size of 64 is ideal, 128 is quite good, 256 is tolerable, 512 is annoying.

You say you're running at 768? That's a lot of latency. If that's the lowest buffer setting you can use without getting clicks and pops then you need a better audio interface.
I presume you're using the interface built into the PC? You might need something better.

But wait ... you said you tried ASIO and could not get it to work? Where did you configure ASIO?


I'm using 3.5 mm jack straight to the mobo. The speakers came with the cable by default. The headphones have the same jack, plugged in the front panel of my desktop and there's no popping (but headphones are probably driven with much less power than speakers).

Well all I tried was to select ASIO in Pianoteq settings. I don't even know what it is, I'll try google...

EDIT: if by "something better" you mean dedicated sound card, I'm not sure I have enough space for that. I have one more PCI-e slot (I assume sound card would slide into PCI-e?) but it's next to a pretty large GPU and WIFI card.

You say you are on Windows and only tried to select ASIO in Pianoteq? Did you ever install an ASIO driver or an external audio interface? How do you know you even have an ASIO driver on your computer? Maybe none have been install?


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Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2930679 01/05/20 09:33 PM
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Okay, I see it's already installed (forgot about that), so just I updated it to the latest version... I also see the control panel of ASIO4ALL, where I can again select the device etc. Since it's getting late I'll try how loud I can go with ASIO drivers tomorrow. Thank you very much!

EDIT: it produces sound with ASIO selected after I updated it so I know it works, I just have to see tomorrow if it helps with distortions and latency.

Last edited by Chopin Acolyte; 01/05/20 09:34 PM.
Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2930732 01/06/20 02:09 AM
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FWIW --

Watch the Pianoteq "Performance" window, as you play. You can set it up to indicate when buffer-overflow (= "CPU Overload") happens.

. . . File --> Audio/MIDI Setup --> Perf --> click on "CPU Overload detection"

and start playing something fast, with lots of pedal.

It will give you a "performance index" for your CPU, which might be useful.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq
Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967003 04/14/20 07:53 PM
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Hey! I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to give an update on this thing...

So recently (a few weeks ago) I built a new gaming rig and along with it came a better CPU (i7 4790K -> Ryzen 5 3600). I noticed that now I can crank up the buffer size to 1024 samples at no perceivable latency (even with Windows Audio) and now I can REALLY crank up the volume of the speakers up high, so that I actually have to be VERY careful not to bang the piano (I always have a hard time transitioning from electric to acoustic, since to get some boomy sound from Pianoteq I tend to bang the keys but acoustic pianos don't need banging, they can be loud on their own)!

Kinda makes me regret I didn't shoot for a yet higher-tier CPU, but I pretty much paired it budged-wise with the GPU (2070 super).

Question: is this buffer size-latency relationship more about multithreadedness, or single-core performance? I know that the 4790K actually had trouble to work in multithreaded apps, and everything (games and such) tends to move towards utilizing more threads rather than requiring crazy single-core performance...I'm surprised that CPU only shows ~5-10% more utilization when I make pianoteq output bunch of notes with pressed pedal...I also tweaked "maximum polyphony" and with this CPU it never bottoms out (with 4790K when I started dragging the mouse all over the keyboard with pressed pedal at some point everything went quiet if I set polyphony to 256). The "Multicore rendering" is also checked, so I guess it IS about number of threads the CPU has (this one has 12).

So I guess the lesson for me is: CPU power does matter with virtual instruments smile

Do you think VSL would work seamlessly as well? I'm even more intrigued to try it now...

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967045 04/14/20 10:13 PM
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That Ryzen 5 is just over a year old. It should work fine.

I think there is other factors at play here and not the CPU is at fault.


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Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967088 04/15/20 01:12 AM
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What’s your sample rate? If 44.1kHz or 48kHz there will be audible latency with buffer size of 1024 because the buffer determines a hard time delay:

latency = buffer size / sample rate = 1024 / 44100 = 23ms.

Your goal should be to lower the buffer size, not increase it.


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Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
CyberGene #2967178 04/15/20 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
What’s your sample rate? If 44.1kHz or 48kHz there will be audible latency with buffer size of 1024 because the buffer determines a hard time delay:

latency = buffer size / sample rate = 1024 / 44100 = 23ms.

Your goal should be to lower the buffer size, not increase it.

If I decrease it, my speakers start to pop at higher volumes. When I increase it, they don't. There's less latency compared to how it sounded on my old computer...

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967216 04/15/20 07:04 AM
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Basically you should decrease the buffer size it as much as possible without having popping sound. On my old computer I can easily use buffer size of 128. Your settings of 1024 is way too much for a fast computer IMO. Also, you should use Asio, not WindowsAudio. But I haven't followed Windows recently, maybe they have finally implemented native low latency drivers?


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Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967282 04/15/20 10:09 AM
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CyberGene is right. You want to set the buffer size as small as possible, consistent with clean, pop-free sound. Mine is set to 64, and I get no pops.

But that's dependent on having a fast computer. If you get pops at 64, try 128. The latency will be a bit higher, but it's still quite satisfactory.
That's what I used for around six years before I replaced my old desktop with a new, faster one.

Also, the sample rate should stay at 44.1 kHz, not the higher values.

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967363 04/15/20 12:28 PM
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Have you downloaded the ASIO4All drivers?

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967396 04/15/20 01:25 PM
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Interesting how you guys can set it to such low numbers, the minimum displayed for me available to select is 192...

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967400 04/15/20 01:33 PM
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I think the reason is you are on Windows Audio. I'm not a Windows guy as I said, so maybe there have been some improvements recently, but anyway I think people prefer using the ASIO driver-model for low-latency. There is the free ASIO4ALL driver you can download. Then it will allow low buffer sizes and very low latency.


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Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
Chopin Acolyte #2967469 04/15/20 03:46 PM
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Displayed where?
Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Interesting how you guys can set it to such low numbers, the minimum displayed for me available to select is 192...

Re: Pianoteq: speakers popping (only in Pianoteq!)
MacMacMac #2967488 04/15/20 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Displayed where?
Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Interesting how you guys can set it to such low numbers, the minimum displayed for me available to select is 192...

In Pianoteq settings. But CyberGene was right, when I installed Asio4All drivers, the lowest number I can choose now is 64.

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