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Mac OS X 10.11.3 doesn't fix Helix USB issues


amsdenj
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There's still some problems with Helix USB audio with Mac OS X. 10.11.3 came out today, but made no change. Using Helix as an audio interface with both input and output into apps like Logic Pro X or S-Gear standalone (probably the new BIAS FX Standalone too) works fine for a few minutes, but degrades quickly into digital distortion hell.

 

Hopefully this will be addressed in the next Helix firmware update. Its not usable as it is. Windows 10 is better, but still gets clicks and pops on pretty high buffer size/latency settings. I don't get these with other interfaces.

 

 

 

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We're taking this issue into our own hands. Not waiting on Apple any longer. Stay tuned...

Thanks DI. I am really looking forward to a fix for this. I know you guys are super busy with NAMM now but any idea when this nit be solved?

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I suspect this issue results from jitter in the USB cable that causes the clock to drift when processing both input and output.  Helix may be able to address the jitter in software, but it may also be a hardware issue.

If it does turn out to be a hardware issue Line 6 has a nasty recall situation on their hands.

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I have just updated my Helix to firmware 1.06 and I  am seeing intermittent disconnection between the Helix software and Helix on Mac OS X 10.11.3. This also occurred with Helix firmware 1.04.03 too. Pretty annoying!

I just went to update to 1.06 on El Capitan... A MacMini that I just installed El Capitan on from ground up... Helix App can't find the Helix though it is showing up in Audio and MIDI devices window. My MacBook with Yosemite sees it fine. Disappointing...

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This is interesting - another manufacturer dealing with a similar issue. The news on 10.11.4 so far looks promising: http://dj.rane.com/support/knowledge-base/el-capitan-update/

 

They describe that in their USB 2.0 audio class compliant devices (of which the Helix is also one), they're using a specific clocking technique which had been recommended by Apple several years ago: generating its own clock asynchronously (i.e. independent of the OS) to serve as the master, and using the "implicit feedback meethod" which I'm not familiar with in detail, but it sounds like one of several ways to implement this.

 

Pops, crackles, and other glitches along those lines are nearly always clock issues, and so it seems reasonable to assume that the Helix is probably using the same technique since it has the same issue (under the same circumstances, OSX 10.11.0-10.11.3).

 

It sounds like the developers at Rane are also seeing an improvement in El Capitan 10.11.4... So if that means the Helix's audio is also fixed, maybe Line 6 won't bother writing a custom driver (or whatever it is they've been working on) after all.

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I hope they do continue with a driver, but I am having the same issue with 10.8.5.  Everything seems locked to 48k.  Is anyone else experiencing this with OSX 10.8.5?  I can't open my non 48 Pro Tools 10 sessions with HELIX as the interface through USB. Pops and clicks on regular iTunes, finder, youtube/web playback.  

 

Everything works fine with my HD500 as the interface.

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I've read most of the forums discussing this issue.  I get the impression that most manufacturers are blaming Apple with the El Capitan issues.  I'm not a techie, but I would like to know what Line 6's official stance and timeline on providing a customer solution on this is.  It would not seem logical for Apple to sit back and have all it's music users jump ship back to Windows based on hardware compatibility issues that it isn't addressing with El Capitan.  It would also seem unlikely for Line 6 to sit back and have it's flagship processor be a brick when it comes to the latest Apple OS.  But I have seen no official response from either, but I could be wrong.  I still haven't been able to back up my patches so I can do an upgrade, to which I've had to sit through at least 2 and counting waiting.  I'm sure I'm being over cautious, but I've spent way to many hours tweaking my patches. Haven't even had a chance to get to the recording issues you guys are talking about.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Are other USB devices having issues with El Capitan? I'm not seeing any issues on either of my MacBooks but then I don't have a Helix... Yet.

 

Furthermore, if it's mostly the Helix that's having issues, how can this possibly be an "Apple problem"?

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Roland writes custom Mac drivers to bypass Apple shenanigans. We're doing the same.

 

Hi, Digital_Igloo. First of all, thanks for your effort in supporting Helix.

My Roland can be used full featured with its driver, or as more simple class compliant unit. I am using as a class compliant.

I am also using a Behringer usb interface, class compliant without any driver, in another mac with El Capitan without any problem.

 

I think that the bug comes when a program try to send and receive simultaously audio data to Helix, because I've can listen the Helix through USB connection, and starts to corrupt audio when I try to record monitoring the input. 

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Hi, Digital_Igloo. First of all, thanks for your effort in supporting Helix.

My Roland can be used full featured with its driver, or as more simple class compliant unit. I am using as a class compliant.

I am also using a Behringer usb interface, class compliant without any driver, in another mac with El Capitan without any problem.

 

I think that the bug comes when a program try to send and receive simultaously audio data to Helix, because I've can listen the Helix through USB connection, and starts to corrupt audio when I try to record monitoring the input. 

 

Hi Megapixel,

 

I'm not Digital_Igloo, but I may be able to explain what you're seeing. I'm not an audio hardware or driver developer, but I do know that there's much, much more complexity inside how a class compliant USB audio interface works than what appears to you or me on the surface. If you check out the link my comment above, http://line6.com/support/topic/17903-mac-os-x-10113-doesnt-fix-helix-usb-issues/?do=findComment&comment=134464there's a partial explanation for this.

 

Basically, there are about a million (well, several dozen) subtly different ways that a particular audio interface might negotiate its communication with a computer. Different audio interfaces use different techniques. Somewhere in a huge PDF or Web knowledgebase is a list of all the available techniques that are considered Class Compliant, and OS programmers and interface manufacturers agree to implement those techniques -- but they each do it very slightly differently.

 

Those protocols and options are so numerous that some unpredictability is inevitable. In the case of OSX 10.11, Apple made some small tweak compared to 10.10, which interferes horribly with the very specific combination of protocols used by the Helix (and a few other devices) ---- but doesn't have any effect on the (different) combinations that many/most other audio devices use.

 

I hope that makes sense, and if there's anyone here who actually designs interfaces, programs audio device drivers, or otherwise knows CoreAudio internals very well, they might be able to shed some more light on this.

 

Thanks,

 

Matt

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Thanks Matt. Your explanation is clear. Certainly, a external driver isolates the problem to Line 6 programmers, because all negotiation is between driver and unit, both from Line6. But I would prefer a firmware modification to compatibility with OS, because it will be compatible forever (... or until Apple modify MacOS again  :)) Companies usually left drivers without support in few years, and I expect to use this unit many, many years  ;)

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I did the update of the helix in 1.06.5 release.
That damn Helix is still unusable as a USB audio interface  :-(

 

 

That update doesn't contain drivers or anything that would change this behavior. As Digital_Igloo mentioned above, the fix is going to be audio drivers that you install on your Mac.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I have a MBP 17' with three USB slots, I need one for ILok to run Protools, 1 for Helix, and I need multiple ext HD's as I have Libraries and recording drives. If I use the 3rd slot for a USB hub and connect the Helix and ILok directly, is there a recommended USB hub for the ext HD's? I am looking at http://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-4-Port-Individual-Switches-HB-UM43/dp/B00JX1ZS5O/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1460560699&sr=8-4&keywords=USB+hub+with+external+power

 

Thanks

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