Get your USB storage working with Win10

With Windows 10 sometimes USB storage units such as Bluray or DVDs are not detected properly even though they are plug and play compatible. This is the case with my external Asus BD/DVD.

So here’s a possible solution and it doesn’t even need a reboot:

Open up the Device Manager and check for Initio Combo Device and under that the Initio Default Controller and select Properties. Select the Driver tab and Update Driver.
You then choose Select from the computer – and then usually again Select from list on the computer.
There you will find the Initio and USB Mass storage driver. Select the USB Mass Storage driver and that should do it for plug and play devices.


Hyper-V, Booting and Ghosting/Imageing computer

Virtual Machines can be a joy to play with but sometimes a real hassle to set up, especially if you use your “good ol” ghosting program for several computers (for example in a lab setup) and perhaps have chosen to boot from a virtual machine.

First problem:
After ghosting, boot record can not be found.

Something like “missing MBR” (master boot record that is), “operating system not found” and similar heart stabbing messages can sometimes be fixed with this procedure.

Boot from installation disk and get into “Repair”
Go to the prompt and type
Bcdboot “c:\windows”

and that’s it. (Your windows installation on c: needs to be ok of course.)

Second problem:
Hyper-V is available but you cannot start your virtual machines.

Well, the the above code added the basic booting “code” but removed the booting “code” for activating Hyper-V.
So open the command prompt and type
bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto

and off you go.

A couple of things good to know as well:
Sometimes the virtual machines wont start because the files are read-only.
HAL detection is sometimes also present in  the boot “code” and removed on bcdboot command. To add this go to the command prompt and type: bcdedit /set detecthal yes


Booting Hyper-V

You can boot directly from a virtual machine with Hyper-V (server 2012).

Go to (for example):
Server Manager -> Tools -> Computer Management
Storage -> Right Click Disk Management -> Attach VHD and choose the vhd you want to use.

After attaching a vhd, start the command prompt as administrator and type:

Bcdboot <driveletter for vhd-disk>:\windows
(makes the vhd available for booting, example: bcdboot h:\windows )

Bcdedit /set {default} Description <name for booting the vhd>
(makes the vhd boot as default and adds a description, example: bcdedit /set {default} Description VirtualServer2012Data)

If you want to remove the boot option type:
Bcdedit /delete {default}

Some good links to bcdboot and bcdedit:

Testing of USB3 repeater cable and hub

I did some simplified testing of an USB3.0 repeater cable and also USB3.0 hub in various configuration.

The following equipment was used and tested:
WD MyPassport 1TB external USB3 harddrive
Sunsway/STLab 4P USB3 powered hub
eMagic USB3 active repeater cable 5m (not powered)

Some of you might notice right away that the repeater cable is 5m while the maximum length for USB 3.0 is 3m.

The test was simply to copy about 20 large files, approximately 300MB each, from the external harddrive to the computer. Here are the testresults.

USB3 drive connected directly to the computer (reference):
To computer: 65 MB/sec – 75 MB/sec
From computer:  44 MB/sec – 46 MB/sec

Drive connected via USB3 hub.
To computer:  ca 68 MB/sec – 72 MB/sec
From computer:  ca 41 MB/sec – 45 MB/sec

Drive connected to USB3 repeater cable

Drive connected to USB3 hub which in turn is connected via the repeater cable.
To computer:  ca 36 MB/sec – 36 MB/sec
From computer:  ca 28 MB/sec – 32 MB/sec
note: Computer reports that it has downgraded the connection to a USB2 connection

Drive connected to a USB2 hub (Plexgear 7P, powered) and the hub is connected to the computer via a normal USB cable.
To computer:  ca 18 MB/sec – 20 MB/sec
From computer:  ca 14 MB/sec – 20 MB/sec

As reference, maximum theoretical speeds:
LowSpeed USB:            0,19 MB/s (1,5 Mbit/s)
FullSpeed (USB1.1):      1,5  MB/s (12 Mbit/s)
HighSpeed (USB2.0):     60,0  MB/s (480 Mbit/s)
Super Speed (USB3.0):  625,0  MB/s (5 Gbit/s)
MIDI:  0,0039 MB/s
24 bit 44,1 kHz stereo:  0,26 MB/s

So that’s how that all played out.

Disassemble a Sony Vaio for cleaning (and back again)

The cpu/gpu fan on my two year old laptop, a Sony Vaio F13, Intel i7, was starting to speed up ever so often. And even though the computer itself has been superb, it was starting to annoy me.
So to see if it could remedy the problem, it was cleaning time!

First shut it down and remove the battery. After that check markings to see which order to remove stuff. Middle compartment (for memory) has one dot so we start there.

At the first dot, the memory hatch.
The second dots mark the harddrive.
And the third dots are for fastening the DVD/Blu-ray drive.
Make sure to store the screws in a way so that you can easily remember where they belong. On a white, marked up paper for example.

We remove the harddrive by first removing the two screws to the left and then gently pulling the drive away from the connector, on the right, in a straight line.

The same goes for the DVD/Blu-ray drive.

Beneath the drive there are three small screws that needs to be removed.

Now make sure all other screws are removed on the backside cover. There are some really small ones where the battery sits.

After removing all those screws and storing them in an orderly and safe amnner you remove the bottom cover.
You may have to jiggle a little and do it carefully bit by bit to check that no more screws are fastening it.

The cover or lid has to be removed in a certain direction and angle. Check how it connects around all the peripherals to figure it out. You’ll have to jiggle a bit there as well.

If you use a small vacuum to clean the surface make sure nothing is left loose on the board.

Now even if it looks like there are no real amount of dirt you may have to check closer. At the fan of course and where the air is flowing. I used a small cue-tip with just a tiny amount of water to clean the fan blades carefully. It does get dirty no matter what.

And then the assembly.
Now it wasn’t that dirty really so did it help any? It actually did, quite a lot.

until next time  .c

Noise infecting audio cables, part 3 of 3 (for now)

So here’s the latest story (it’s a pretty long one).

This summer I decided to do some refurnishing in the studio. And with that came the opportunity, well it was pretty much a must, to change how the cables where running.

I dissconnected almost every cable and made sure audiocables, usb-cables and power cables were separated from eachother. In fact even midi-cables were somewhat separated.
None of these types ran alongside eachother anymore.

And even though all the gear was connected to only one grounded outlet I made sure they where all connected to only one single output on the “clean power surge protector”-thingy.

This did help with some of the hum. But let’s see what happened and what was the problem.

I had two problems. First I had a problem with to loud hum, a 50 or 60 Hz signal usually caused by a ground loop. Then I had a problem with a higher sound, a squeal or squeak for no better explanation, that was definitely disturbing some of the equipment.

I isolated the ground to one of the affected synthesizers and the squeaky sound disappeared. This sound was present in some synthesizers when powered off and in some only when the synthesizer was powered on.

And isolating ground is not a good thing (even illegal here).

The changes I did (described previously) did help with lowering the hum and also the squeak but did not solve the latter to a satisfactory degree. I had to search on.

I did connect and disconnect all equipment one by one, a 150+ cables, and it was a pain.

Finally I tracked the squek down! It was one of the powered USB.hubs (I know I know, I did write this before) running a USB-cable into my motif es rack and from there distributing the squeal via ground to all other equipment.
Remember I use optical ADAT connections from my studio into my computer so I wouldn’t have deal with this kind of things. But much is connected by USB today for easier integration with the DAW.

So I wiggled the USB-hub a bit and noticed the sound changed. Strange. When I disconnected it’s own power the squeal went away! So some circuit in there was spreading this pollution into my system. I have another identical hub that doesn’t have this problem.

So now the noise pollution is finally down to acceptable semi-pro levels. You cannot hear it at a normal studio listening level. And since all digitally connected eqipment isn’t affected by it, it is now solved.

So there, now you have a couple of things to check.
A short list:

  • Faulty cables, these are hard to detect and most often the culprit
  • Connectors not inserted correctly or all the way.
  • Power cables not connected correctly or at different outlets
  • Power cables and audio cables running alongside.
  • Through USB-cables or circuits in the USB hubs

VAMT – Volume Activation Management Tool

This is basically a reminder to myself:
When working with Microsoft MAK (Multiple Activation Keys) and VAMT, remember that your system needs to be an english locale to check the numbers of activations available. If not english locale then the number of activations will show as <not available>.

Noise infecting audio cables, part 2 (of 3)

When testing the computer for my “Kosmoskatten” (“Cosmic Cat”) project I was hit by another noise infection. The groundloop was overwhelmingly infecting the output of the SB Live card.

The Kosmoskatten-computer along with my studio computer is connected to one electrical outlet (and so is a lot of other stuff in the lounge like routers and TVs etc) and my mixer and gear along with the computer screens to another.

The studio computer and the Kosmoskatten computer is connected via MIDI. And if I remove this midi connection the noise disappears!
But if I put all computers and gear on the same outlet, well then the noise is only about half as strong but when disconnecting MIDI it increases instead. Very weird. It also seems to have something to do with the computer screens because various means to unplug those decreases the noise. But I still cannot see the connection here and the ground loop noise is far too loud.

At least I have my 16 channels of AD/DA connected through fiber so at least I can work safely with those.
Still, the annoying quest continues …


Sample Libraries, RME TotalMix and a SoundBlaster Digital Output

In my upcoming project, “Kosmoskattens rymdljudsmodul” freely translated as “Cosmic Cat’s Space Sound Module”, I have some soundfonts made by Ian Wilson that I just seem to be able to part with. I’ll post about it later but in short it’s a computer with a SB Live card that is controlled remotely to play these very specific soundfonts built around the EMU circuit.

One problem with these old SB Live cards is that while they do have a digital output (SPDIF), it is fixed at 48 kHz due to the construction of the chip and the poor conversion.
The RME card has no problem with that but I did research my sample libraries and it seems almost all are 44.1 kHz and 16 or 24 bit. All of the NI Battery kits I checked was.
To avoid any degrading conversions (that I may or may not know about) I want to keep my musical projects at 44.1 kHz/24 bit.
Now RME Totalmix does mix different sample rates but when listening I hear a clear degradation when project is 44.1 kHz and the SB Live outputs 48 kHz. So that is a no go.
It seems I’ll have to output an analog signal and route it back into my A/D setup for the best result.
Too bad but it’ll have to do.


MIDIYoke and Windows 7

So MIDIYoke is a nice MIDI port patcher made back in the olden days. You might have trouble installing it on Windows 7. This is due to the new security features in Windows 7, the so called UAC.
So what you need to do is turn off UAC when installing MIDI Yoke. It goes something like this:
Go to the Control Panel -> System and Security -> Action Center -> and to the left you find the settings for the User Account Control. Set it to minimum and reboot. Install MIDI Yoke. Reboot again and reset the UAC to whatever tickles your fancy. It might be a good idea to have an administrator account while doing this.
Good luck.