[LAD] ALSA MIDI latency test results are far away from reality

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To: Linux-Audio-Dev <linux-audio-dev@...>, 64studio-devel <64studio-devel@...>, qtractor-devel <qtractor-devel@...>, 64studio-users <64studio-users@...>
Date: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 1:23 pm

Hi :)

my PCI MIDI devices passed the alsa-midi-latency-test always with < 1.01
ms, on several Linux, with several kernels and graphic drivers. It's
audible that this can't be true. I was sceptic, when my USB MIDI passed
with around 2 ms, because recordings did show that there is much more
latency for the USB MIDI, when using Linux, just Windows is able to do
such less jitter on my machine, see the archives. I won't install
Windows again to compare the PCI MIDI. This computer can do better, but
MIDI fails for Linux. This comparison is just for testing the abilities
of the hardware.

Please test yourself what I did today and you'll be able to here it too.
It isn't just audible for gifted musicians, you'll really here that the
FluidSynth DSSI Kick and the Kick played by an external MIDI drum module
will be played one after another, but in unison. Note that I tested,
that this drum module still is 100% ok.

Please read the test and do the same as I did.

I decided to do the audio MIDI jitter test with 64 Studio 3.3 alpha. I
kept the proprietary 'nvidia' driver, even if the 'nv' driver, used by
64 Studio 3.0 beta, seems to cause x*10 ┬Ám less jitter.

First I checked the package 'rt-irq'. It's version 20090810-0ubuntu1
(karmic) and regarding to diff, I didn't over installed the current
version before. On Rui's download page http://www.rncbc.org/jack/ the
current version is 20090920.

I installed a dummy package rtirq-init_20090920_all.deb and updated both
rtirq files.

For /etc/default/rtirq I edited

line 30 from
RTIRQ_NAME_LIST="rtc snd usb i8042"
to
RTIRQ_NAME_LIST="rtc snd i8042"

line 33 from
RTIRQ_PRIO_HIGH=90
to
RTIRQ_PRIO_HIGH=98

I fixed the MIDI adaptor cable by screws to the 16:0 device and used the
audio IOs of the same card. It's the card with IRQ 20. Envy24 Control
automatically chose this card.
After shutdown and startup I did perform the ALSA MIDI latency test.

$ su -c "poff dsl-provider"
$ su -c "cpufreq-selector -g performance"
^C
$ cd /etc/init.d
$ ./rtirq status

PID CLS RTPRIO NI PRI %CPU STAT COMMAND
386 FF 95 - 135 0.0 S< irq/8-rtc0
1140 FF 90 - 130 0.0 S< irq/21-ICE1712
1137 FF 89 - 129 0.0 S< irq/20-ICE1712
379 FF 85 - 125 0.0 S< irq/1-i8042
378 FF 84 - 124 0.1 S< irq/12-i8042
102 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/9-acpi
565 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/14-ide0
570 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/16-ohci_hcd
587 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/22-ahci
597 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/19-ehci_hcd
598 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/22-ohci1394
601 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/17-ohci_hcd
603 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/18-ohci_hcd
606 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/17-ohci_hcd
609 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/18-ohci_hcd
932 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/7-parport0
1634 FF 50 - 90 0.3 S< irq/18-nvidia
1946 FF 50 - 90 0.0 S< irq/26-eth0
4 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-high/0
5 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-timer/0
6 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-net-tx/0
7 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-net-rx/0
8 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-block/0
9 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-tasklet/0
10 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-sched/0
11 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-hrtimer/0
12 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-rcu/0
18 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-high/1
19 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-timer/1
20 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-net-tx/1
21 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-net-rx/1
22 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-block/1
23 FF 49 - 89 0.3 S< sirq-tasklet/1
24 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-sched/1
25 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-hrtimer/1
26 FF 49 - 89 0.0 S< sirq-rcu/1

$ su -c "chgrp audio /dev/hpet"
$ su -c "sysctl -w dev.hpet.max-user-freq=64"
$ su -c "modprobe snd-hrtimer"
$ alsa-midi-latency-test -l
Port Client name Port name
14:0 Midi Through Midi Through Port-0
16:0 TerraTec EWX24/96 TerraTec EWX24/96 MIDI
20:0 TerraTec EWX24/96 TerraTec EWX24/96 MIDI
$ alsa-midi-latency-test -Rrw=5 -i16:0 -o16:0

sample; latency_ms; latency_ms_worst
0; 1.07; 1.07
9999; 1.00; 1.07
1.0 - 1.1 ms: 9994
##################################################
1.1 - 1.2 ms: 6 #
best latency was 0.99 ms
worst latency was 1.07 ms, which is great.

$ alsa-midi-latency-test -Rrw=5 -i16:0 -o16:0

sample; latency_ms; latency_ms_worst
0; 1.06; 1.06
timeout: there seems to be no connection between ports 16:0 and 16:0

I didn't check any connections, but run the test again. I've got no idea
what's wrong, when I get those timeouts. The adaptor cable with
opto-coupler is a brand new non self made one and the timeout can happen
for both cards, my old card S/N 00xxxxx with an Envy24 chip not by
Terratec and the new second hand card from Ebay S/N 04xxxxx with an
Envy24 chip by Terratec.
I didn't compare all the other chips, but the board's layouts don't
differ.
When doing the audio MIDI test the MIDInterface did work without missing
data.

$ alsa-midi-latency-test -Rrw=5 -i16:0 -o16:0

sample; latency_ms; latency_ms_worst
0; 1.06; 1.06
5727; 1.06; 1.06
9999; 1.01; 1.06
1.0 - 1.1 ms: 9992
##################################################
1.1 - 1.2 ms: 8 #
best latency was 0.99 ms
worst latency was 1.06 ms, which is great.

Compared to the test done with the old setup
http://lists.64studio.com/pipermail/64studio-users/2010-July/004537.html
nothing did change.

$ jackd -Rch -dalsa -dhw:0 -r96000 -p1024 -n2
jackdmp 1.9.5

no message buffer overruns
no message buffer overruns
JACK server starting in realtime mode with priority 10
creating alsa driver ... hw:0|hw:0|1024|2|96000|0|0|nomon|swmeter|-|
32bit
Using ALSA driver ICE1712 running on card 0 - TerraTec EWX24/96 at
0xcf00, irq 20
configuring for 96000Hz, period = 1024 frames (10.7 ms), buffer = 2
periods
ALSA: final selected sample format for capture: 32bit integer
little-endian
ALSA: use 2 periods for capture
ALSA: final selected sample format for playback: 32bit integer
little-endian
ALSA: use 2 periods for playback

$ qtractor
Version: 0.4.6
Build: Jun 3 2010 15:26:56
JACK Session support disabled.

A Yamaha DX7 was directly connected to hw MIDI in and an Alesis D4 was
directly connected to hw MIDI out. The analog audio IOs from the sound
card and the main outs from the Alesis D4 were connected to a Behringer
UB2442FX-Pro. So, valid home recording equipment, without any critical
stuff. Excepted to the limit for the sound quality, there shouldn't be
any issues caused by this setup.

For the MIDI audio test's LXDE session I'm running GNOME terminal tab 1
JACK2, tab 2 Qtractor. Evolution offline + this Email opened for writing
to the lists. Envy24 Control and nothing else.

For Qtractor I switched from queue timer (resolution) 'system timer
(1000 Hz)' to 'HR timer (1000000000 Hz)' and restarted Qtractor.

1.

I disconnected all audio connections for JACK and connected hw MIDI in
to hw MIDI out. Live I played forefinger left hand kick, thumb left hand
snare and forefinger right hand ride.

To get an impression for the latency I connected the DX7 MIDI out
directly to the D4 MIDI in and then I reconnected to the PCI card.

The difference is alarming :(.

Yamaha DX7 --> Alesis D4 results in a 100% musical groove.
Yamaha DX7 --> PC --> Alesis D4 results in extreme latency, it's hardly
possible to keep on grooving. This never ever is a latency of just 1 ms,
I'm sure the ALSA MIDI latency test is mistaken. Even a MIDI thru chain
by several MIDI devices won't cause such bad latency.

2.

I disconnected all ALSA MIDI connections. I disconnected the DX7 from
the hw interface.
Qtractor was connected to hw MIDI out, while hw MIDI out still was
connected to the D4.

3.

After adding a MIDI track I added a MIDI clip (from bar 2 to bar 4, 4/4,
120BPM) with those notes:

Time_____Note_____V._Duration
2.01.000 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
2.02.000 (37) C#1 64 0.00.240
2.02.480 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
2.03.480 (37) C#1 64 0.00.240
2.04.000 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
2.04.480 (37) C#1 64 0.00.240
2.04.720 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
3.01.000 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
3.01.480 (37) C#1 64 0.00.240
3.02.480 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
3.03.240 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
3.03.480 (37) C#1 64 0.00.240
3.04.000 (36) C 1 64 0.00.240
3.04.480 (37) C#1 64 0.00.240

Loop play for hw MIDI by Qtractor is a disaster, hence I copied and
paste repeated it 39 times, pasted with the grid set to beat. The
'rhythm' then was from bar 2 to bar 82.

4.

After adding a second MIDI track, I copied all clips from the first to
the new track.
The second track isn't for hw MIDI, but FluidSynth DSSI.
I connected Qtractor audio out to system playback.

Before I could play with the hw MIDI track muted, Qtractor crashed.

I opened a third tab for the GNOME terminal and tried to kill Qtractor
without success.

$ su
# pidof qtractor
4173
# kill 4173
# killall qtractor
# killall -9 -w qtractor
^C
# killall -9 qtractor

I stopped JACK.

[...]
JackAudioDriver::ProcessAsync Process error
JackEngine::XRun: client = Qtractor was not run: state = 1
JackAudioDriver::ProcessAsync Process error
JackEngine::XRun: client = Qtractor was not run: state = 1
JackAudioDriver::ProcessAsync Process error
JackEngine::XRun: client = Qtractor was not run: state = 1
JackAudioDriver::ProcessAsync Process error
JackEngine::XRun: client = Qtractor was not run: state = 1
JackAudioDriver::ProcessAsync Process error
JackAudioDriver::ProcessAsync Process error
^Cjack main caught signal 2
Unknown error...
FATAL: exception not rethrown
Aborted

But ...

# killall -9 qtractor

didn't work.

FWIW the Alesis D4 was set up to

NOTE: 036 C1
Kik/43: Slammin'
PITCH: +1.00
VOL: 99
PAN: <>
OUTPUT: MAIN
MODE: MULTI

NOTE: 037 C#1
Snr/92: Big Stik
PITCH: +1.00
VOL: 85
PAN: <>
OUTPUT: MAIN
MODE: MULTI

CHANNEL: 01

As usual for 64 Studio 3.3 alpha several restarts resulted with issues.
I had to turn the computer off and on.

1.

Started GNOME terminal tab 1.

su -c "poff dsl-provider"

2.

Started Evolution in offline mode and opened this Email.

3.

GNOME terminal tab 1

$ su -c "cpufreq-selector -g performance"
Password:
^Cspinymouse@64studio:~su -c "chgrp audio /dev/hpet"

I wonder why Ctrl + C is needed after running cpufreq-selector.
For Lucid it's the same.

$ su -c "sysctl -w dev.hpet.max-user-freq=64"
$ su -c "modprobe snd-hrtimer"
$ jackd -Rch -dalsa -dhw:0 -r96000 -p1024 -n2

4.

Opened a second tab for GNOME terminal.

$ qtractor /mnt/music/all-in-one_supplier/PCI_MIDI_test.qtr

HR timer still is selected.
The hw MIDI track is muted.
The FluidSynth DSSI MIDI track is ready to play.
FluidSynth is using 808Set.sf2.

Qtractor audio out was connected to system playback and system capture
was auto-connected to Qtractor audio in. I now disabled auto connect,
but kept this audio connections, resp. I had to manually restore them,
perhaps disabling auto connect, did disconnect them.

I had to disconnect and manually restore Qtractor MIDI out, because it
didn't connect to the 16:0 EWX 24/96 as stored, but to the 20:0 EWX
24/96.

5.

I launched Envy24 Control.

6.

I pushed play for Qtractor transport.
I stopped it.
Set up gain for FluidSynth from the default -14 dB to 0 dB.
Played again.
Unmuted the hw MIDI track.

The notes played by the soundfont and by the D4 are fluctuating between
completely being out of sync and between being played unison.

I stopped playing.

RESULT

THE PCI MIDI INTERFACE WITH AN ALSA-MIDI-TEST-LATENCY RESULT OF < 1.1 ms
IS COMPLETELY USELESS TO MAKE MUSIC, BUT 'GREAT'.

AND IT'S AUDIBLE THAT THERE IS MUCH MORE JITTER BUT 1.1 ms.

Any hints how to solve this are welcome.

What information is needed?

Cheers!

Ralf

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Messages in current thread:
[LAD] ALSA MIDI latency test results are far away from reality, Ralf Mardorf, (Wed Jul 14, 1:23 pm)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Clemens Ladisch, (Thu Jul 15, 6:26 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Arnout Engelen, (Thu Jul 15, 9:48 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Ralf Mardorf, (Thu Jul 15, 10:18 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Clemens Ladisch, (Thu Jul 15, 10:55 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Ralf Mardorf, (Thu Jul 15, 11:08 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Robin Gareus, (Thu Jul 15, 11:45 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Clemens Ladisch, (Thu Jul 15, 2:31 pm)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Ralf Mardorf, (Thu Jul 15, 12:45 pm)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Ralf Mardorf, (Thu Jul 15, 10:49 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Robin Gareus, (Fri Jul 16, 11:26 am)
Re: [LAD] Tests directly routing pc's midi-in to midi-out, Ralf Mardorf, (Fri Jul 16, 11:30 am)