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Liquid Saffire 56 - Connection problems and audio dropouts on a PC laptop running Windows Vista

Resources on a laptop are tight. This problem can be magnified when using Windows Vista which is more resource-hungry than its predecessor Windows XP due to the enhanced graphical features and added services. Whilst the laptop may be able to handle processes and services running within the Vista environment, the addition of an external high speed audio device may put a strain on the CPU and computer resources to the point where certain services need to be streamlined or disabled. In this article we will cover these issues and also other potential causes of dropouts when using your Liquid Saffire 56 interface on a Vista laptop.

The first step to try raising your ASIO buffer size. To change your firewire buffer size click the 'Settings...' box in Saffire MixControl then select 'ASIO Buffer Size' from the drop-down menu. This in turn will bring up another drop-down menu with the various buffer sizes available (128, 256, 512, 1024 & 2048).



Try setting the ASIO buffer at 1024 and see if this makes any difference. If not, try increasing the FireWire Driver Latency as this offers increasing levels of output buffer size and may help stop any audio dropouts you are experiencing.



Note that a larger buffer size will result in greater latency so you may need to spend some time experimenting to find the optimum setting for your system, i.e. a happy medium between low latency and solid stability.

- The next step to take is to run through the Vista Optimisation Article to make sure your operating system is streamlined appropriately for high speed, low latency audio.

LAPTOP FIREWIRE CONNECTIVITY



Some of the built-in 4-pin firewire ports on a PC laptop, especially the budget range, can be unreliable so make sure the firewire cable is connected properly and the audio dropouts are not linked to physically knocking or moving the cable or laptop.

Other things to try when troubleshooting connection problems:

Try using the supplied power cable.

Try using the other FireWire port found on the back of your Saffire product, and also try different ports (if you have more than one) on your computer.

If you have any other FireWire devices connected, try disconnecting them, as they may be restricting the FireWire bandwidth too much if connected on the same bus.

Try turning off any additional services you may have running such as Wireless, Anti-Virus, Google Toolbar, etc, as they may be causing data interruptions or drawing too much on the laptop resources.


Try disabling your graphics card from the Windows Device Manager. The graphics may turn rather blocky during your test but this is a necessary step in ruling out the graphics card as being a cause of the dropouts.


FIREWIRE CARDS



If you have been through all the above steps and are still experiencing dropouts/connection problems with your Saffire regardless of buffer size or what software you have running then the problem may be down to the Firewire controller or port on your laptop. If the FW ACTIVE and/or LOCKED LEDs on the front of the unit keep flashing this is another sign that there may be an incompatibility with the firewire card.

At this stage, it is worth considering the purchase of a Firewire Express card (or PCMCIA). We recommend Firewire 400 only cards from a known brand dealer such as Belkin, LaCie or SIIG. Avoid Firewire 400/800 and Firewire/USB combo cards and try to ensure that your card has a VIA or Texas Instruments chipset.



If you are still having problems, or if you have any further questions, please contact Technical Support who will be happy to advise.