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  • Weird attitude...

    From the current Blackbox User Guide:

    Processor Management Tips

    If you have experienced drop outs or crackling sounds with blackbox, you have probably pushed the processor to its limits. Blackbox does not limit what you can do based on anticipated processor load. We have tried to balance the design of the system to optimize what you can do without overdriving the processor while still giving you room to make creative choices. That being said, here are some tips you can use to reduce your processor load and the corresponding chance of encountering sound artifacts:

    • Configure your pads to run monophonic whenever possible. On most percussion sounds, you won't hear the difference and this is an easy win.
    • Disable the reverb by making sure no pads have FX2 applied on the FX screen. This is an expensive algorithm that can also be done off board. Keep in mind that the reverb will continue to run for 60 seconds after you disable it, so you won't get the benefit for a short while.
    • Use mono samples instead of stereo where appropriate. Stereo samples are twice the work to load and play.
    • Use 48kHz samples when possible—especially for stuff played at unity pitch. This gives the CPU less work to do.
    • Use the pad level filters sparingly.
    • Reduce the number of grains used for pads in granular mode.
    • For sample, multi-sample and granular pads, use Normal mode (at top of ADSR screen). The High Q mode uses more processor cycles.

    If you like crackly sounds, by all means do the opposite of what each of the tips above suggest. Have fun!


    I am imagining a car company saying "If you go over 65MPH in our car the brakes won't work, so, unless you like crashing, don't go more than 65MPH! Have fun!" 65MPH is a perfectly reasonable speed in a world where some stretches of freeway have an 80MPH speed limit.

    This section of your user guide would be fine if what you were describing were best practices people weren't following. What you are actually describing though are simply limitations of your product. The "crackly sounds" are the direct result of those limitations. I completely understand that every CPU has limits, but, if you've added features that compromise the sonic integrity of the unit why place the burden on the end user to not use those features? Shouldn't the product just be better?

    I like the Blackbox. I see that you try to be responsive on this forum. I can't help but recognize though that as more users come into contact with it the more 1010music is on the defensive about what it doesn't do.
    Last edited by Fred Johnsen; 04-18-2020, 08:55 PM. Reason: user guide

  • #2
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I like your car analogy. There are plenty of ways to get into trouble with a car that no manual could adequately address. Consider this section the "your mileage may vary" message. Our intent is to simply offer ways to reduce the processor load--if needed. Of course, some of these options may be completely unacceptable based on your usage. That's why it is a list of several different ideas.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Aaron View Post
      Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I like your car analogy. There are plenty of ways to get into trouble with a car that no manual could adequately address. Consider this section the "your mileage may vary" message. Our intent is to simply offer ways to reduce the processor load--if needed. Of course, some of these options may be completely unacceptable based on your usage. That's why it is a list of several different ideas.
      Very diplomatic.


      • #4
        I don't see a problem with this section (or phrasing/attitude) at all.

        In system design, qualities like flexibility and performance must often be traded off against qualities like consistency and reliability. Which qualities you choose to prioritize is a design decision.

        Something like the Novation Circuit prioritizes consistency more, and so puts specific restrictions in place (two 6-polyphony synth tracks + two 2-part drum tracks + limited set of built-in effects) to ensure that you never exceed it's processing power. Very often, the Circuit's processor could probably handle a third or fourth synth track if you're not maxing out the polyphony or complexity of your other tracks, but that's not possible because Novation decided to prioritize consistency at the expense of flexibility.

        Computer-based DAWs typically prioritize flexibility and performance much more highly. In Ableton you can easily create songs that your computer can't actually play by just adding too many tracks (flexibility) or too many high-end effects (performance). If you reach that point, there are a list of steps you can take (similar to the ones described in the Blackbox manual) to reduce the computational burden of your project to hopefully bring it back within the abilities of your machine.

        This section is basically the Blackbox creators saying they decided not to impose restrictions to ensure consistency at the expense of flexibility and performance. Therefore you can create things that won't work, so they give advice on how to resolve that.

        This kind of tradeoff absolutely happens in cars (and pretty much any other kind of complex system) too. Consumer-grade cars prioritize reliability more than performance, so you can't blow out your engine by just stomping down as hard as you can on the gas pedal. The performance is restricted to be within a range that the manufacturer can ensure some level of safety/consistency. Race cars prioritize performance much more highly, however, making it possible to blow out your engine by pushing it too hard; so race car drivers have to take measures to ensure they don't do that.
        Last edited by walkie; 04-19-2020, 06:15 PM. Reason: Typo fix.


        • #5
          Another workaround I've found is similar to DAWs...bounce it down/resample to print the effects on the track.


          • #6
            To be honest, the inclusion of this section in the user guide can be perceived by some as an admittance of some shortcoming. I can totally see that. This is evident from the OP's reaction.

            However, I've had my Blackbox now going on 8 months, and not once have I had any "crackling sounds", or "drop outs". The only issue I've had so far (crossing my fingers) occurred when I switched out the stock usb cable for a longer third party cable. The cable didn't provide enough power, and BB was resetting itself. I've since found a suitable cable, and this has never happened again.

            With that being said, I don't at all think that this section in the guide is to notify us of some deficiency, because I've not once seen said deficiencies occur. From what I can tell, 1010Music's MO has been to be open, and honest with it's customers, and this section was just another attempt to be as helpful, and transparent as possible.
            Last edited by jdg179; 04-20-2020, 06:45 AM.


            • #7
              Hello -

              So, it looks like all the apologists have weighed in. Thanks for that.

              Again, I like Blackbox. I haven't really experienced audio crackle either. I have experienced running 13-16 simultaneous samples which basically cripples playback.

              Saying a car's user manual can't prevent, say, someone from dying because they are driving their car drunk or on the wrong side of the road is true. You are missing my analogy. The car's brakes, by law, have to work regardless if the driver is an idiot or not...

              Luckily, Blackbox performance isn't a life / death issue. It is still an extremely weird attitude for any company to push limitations of its products on to the end users by making snarky commentary in the user guide. That's not transparency. It's just a passive-aggressive mode of acknowledging bad design. You can't even pretend it's technically useful information:

              - what if someone can hear the difference between mono & stereo sounds. how do you know what samples they are using?
              - why does Blackbox even allow use of reverb if it's too "expensive"? Shouldn't the OS prevent its use if other Blackbox features have eaten up the cycles the effects need?
              - what does using the filters "sparingly" mean?!?!?!
              - what is the maximum for grains? How can you reduce something on which you don't give target guidance?
              - why is there a High Q mode if you aren't supposed to use it?!!??!?!


              • #8
                You're right. The brakes have to work. And there are a number of factors that impact the stopping distance, like speed, road surface, the tires, condition of the brake pads, incline, etc.

                The same is true with blackbox. We offer a range of features that can be used to crash your art into a brick wall--or create beautiful music. The power is in your hands.

                I appreciate that you don't like the tone of this section of the manual. Thanks for letting us know. We will reconsider using humor or a similar approach when we create the next major update.


                • #9
                  I honestly think you're still missing the point that the fact that performance issues can arise is the result of *not* enforcing limitations on the Blackbox. The Blackbox could be a more restricted/limited device and then you wouldn't have these issues. What you're calling "bad design" is a conscious design decision to not restrict it in this way, as they explain at the beginning of this section (in a very straightforward, non snarky way).


                  • Fred Johnsen
                    Fred Johnsen commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The contortions exhibited here to apologize for the product are kind of hilarious. I am not trolling. I am honestly amazed. How am I missing the point when the Blackbox has "features" the designers of the product say NOT TO USE? What you seem to be talking about are features the Blackbox does NOT have, like, a toaster, or a bidet. Yes, it makes sense to limit a product to its essentials. Completely agree. That is not at all what I am talking about. I am talking about features 1010music has ADDED that can't be practically used.

                  • walkie
                    walkie commented
                    Editing a comment
                    "Yes, it makes sense to limit a product to its essentials. Completely agree." That is not at all my point, confirming that you don't get it.

                • #10
                  I truly think this is the most pointless and tedious expression of passive / aggressive hostility I’ve read in the 1010 forums. It’s getting irksome. You made your point, were answered civilly and honestly from the designer, and other users. END IT! Don’t put reverb up to 10 on all 16 sample slots, ok? It’ll sound like Shit anyway, if you do. And another set of incongruous parallels won’t get anyone to suddenly agree.


                  • #11
                    Fred, did you really not read the manual before buying the gear that you bought? (See what I did there?)

                    You should have spent more time on Reddit researching the BB before buying like I did.

                    I’d be happy to give you some lessons on how to use your BlackBox properly, shout out if you want to take me up on my offer. It will be fun and educational for you. Enjoy!


                    • Fred Johnsen
                      Fred Johnsen commented
                      Editing a comment
                      No, I don't really see what you did there. How do you think I knew THE SECTION OF THE MANUAL I QUOTED EXISTED without reading it? I'm not sure that I need lessons. I have a sampler with 16 pads on it (which I like.) You can only practically use 75% of them. If you don't think that is bad design I think you may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

                  • #12
                    Fred, I think you're completely missing the point of this section. The Blackbox simply allows you to push it to its limits, I personally really appreciate that. That's not a shortcoming, it's a design choice. They even tell you how to push it to its limits! It can do what was advertised at launch and a lot more. It just can't do every CPU heavy task at the same time, just like pretty much any other piece of equipment. The manual is entirely clear on this, so if you had read it before buying, it shouldn't come as a surprise.

                    To me it's always been clear that this is a relatively basic sampler, not your "do everything" groovebox with tons of menu diving. That's the exact reason why I never had a sampler before, but did buy the Blackbox. Yeah, some people come here complaining that it can't do something, but that's usually something that was never advertised. So they're either hoping it will get implemented in the future (fair, that's one of the goals of this forum), or they just didn't read the manual before buying it and had unrealistic expectations.


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by Fred Johnsen View Post
                      Hello -

                      So, it looks like all the apologists have weighed in. Thanks for that.

                      Hello Fred. Maybe take a breath. As an objective observer it seems you are the one being passive aggressive, or just plain aggressive. Also, using analogies is not a effective tactic to making a persuasive argument, nor is being disrespectful. If you are interesting in learning more about being persuasive, here's a nice wright up.
                      Last edited by KnobTwister; 04-24-2020, 01:43 PM.


                      • #14
                        In the interest of trying to reach a conclusion, let's agree to disagree. I am closing this topic. Thank you all for contributing.