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Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

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Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby job » Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:15 pm

The type of click i'm referring to is a type of impulse sounding click. It only does it on the initial transient when i press play, but if the region is looped it doesn't do it on subsequent passes.

I have had it when combining a transient designer or EQ with a compressor, but it's predominantly with a designer and an EQ. Removing either one removes the click. I thought it was the plugins i was using so i've basically been trying every designer and EQ i can get my hands on but it doesn't seem to make any difference. Tried upsampling the plugins but no joy with that. One thing i haven't tried thinking about it is a different DAW. It also doesn't do it on every sound when using a designer and EQ, only on some sounds, but they're all drum/percussion sounds so they all have a relatively fast transient.

If i shift the event forward by 4-10 ticks it goes away, but i don't actually like doing this as i'm making samples and even though this isn't many ticks i'd prefer it to be on the money as it were.

Thoughts anyone?
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:50 pm

Hi job!

It could simply be due to a signal being there from the first moment your audio interface set to audio playback - some DAWs (inlcuding Reaper, that I personally use) provide options to perform a tiny fade in or out when starting or stopping audio playback, to ensure that such clicks don't get heard.

Here for instance is the preferences dialog for Reaper showing the relevant tickboxes:

clickImage1.jpg



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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby CS70 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:23 pm

Every time there's an abrupt level change between two adjacent samples, larger than a few fractions of db, you get a click (I guess the hardware simply can't cope with what is asked of it, and distorts). The same you get of course if you exceed 0dbFS in the digital domain. The Transient Designer plugin in particular is known for increasing gain in a very abrupt way, so if you original waveform does not start exactly with silence, it could be simply that the TD (or another plugin) attempts to raise the level very steeply in the first samples, so much that the two adjacent samples end up exceeding the hardware capabilities to go from silence to some positive level (that's btw why I use the hardware version of the TS, which is much smoother and simpler to use). Of course it could also be bad coding :)
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby job » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:44 pm

I see. Thank you.

Martin Walker wrote:Here for instance is the preferences dialog for Reaper showing the relevant tickboxes:

Yeah, Sonar's got a similar thing which allows fade in by x milliseconds at a time, although i've actually been using the nudge feature instead up till now. Maybe the fade in is a better approach thinking about it. I was hoping to be able to just get rid to be honest, but i guess it's just the nature of the beast. Cheers.
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:30 am

CS70 does make a very good point about transient designers plug-ins as a breed, since it's certainly easy to push your audio into digital clipping if you're not VERY careful when enhancing the attack portions.

However, since you only hear your clicks on the first pass, and not once the sample has looped round, I suspect that playback fade-in would sort out your problem. I know it can still be frustrating if you're creating drum/percussion sample loops, since if the loop starts immediately with a sudden attack and you activate your DAW playback fade-in you may only hear this properly after the first pass.

In my own sound design projects I always top and tail audio material to remove extraneous silence, but often edit in a tiny fade-in on the sample itself of perhaps three or four samples to ensure that it always starts with a zero value, or even paste in an extra 4 samples of silence at the beginning of the loop if you're concerned about losing any of your precious transient.

Even at 44.1kHz, a 4-sample fade-in has a duration of just 0.1mS, which I doubt even the golden-eared rhythm nut would notice as a groove shift in the grand scheme of things ;)


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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby job » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:25 pm

I went back into the audio to ensure everything started on zero and it does. I also created a longer fade in of several samples to test but it still clicks if the event is not pushed forward by a few ticks.

Thinking about it some more the click always happens in the right channel only, so i rendered the sample pushed forward by a few ticks and also when not pushed forward and then opened both in a sample editor to have a look. The waveform for each channel is considerably different when not pushed forward (image below). There's also 2 areas with straight lines which are often indicative of a click i find, which i've highlighted. The only difference between these 2 renders is that the event which triggers the sample on the right was nudged forward by 4 ticks, whereas the one on the left wasn't. This doesn't happen if i take either process off (EQ or transient designer), irrespective of where the event is. I'm certain sure i'm not doing any mid-side processing.

Direct link to image: https://i.imgur.com/nz904bo.jpg

Image
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby job » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:07 pm

Actually motivated to try other stuff rather than just different plugins since posting. Why didn't i do that before they ask... :beamup:

If i lower the buffer to 49 (shouldn't that be 32...), the effect is lowered quite a lot although it's still there. Increasing the buffer to 1k+ the effect becomes rather loud. If i loop the region and start the playhead at the end of the region it sounds normal no matter the buffer setting.

Nudging/fading it is :thumbup:

What's the reason for not starting at 0 on the timeline? It appears to be somewhat common.
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:20 pm

job wrote:I went back into the audio to ensure everything started on zero

Hm, a straight line is just that - a single sustained frequency. Makes sense that it's perceived as a click as it's very seldom that you have that in nature.

What's your source? Is it a synth or a sampled sound?

The few times I've run synths run by midi (typically to put down a minimal drum base in the sequencer, for a demo or playing over) I've encountered many times odd problems at the start, like losing the first note, and sometimes even the occasional click, if memory serves well. Almost like the DAW sound engine doesn't manage to be fast enough at start to deal with the note and has to catch up.
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby Folderol » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:37 pm

Hmmm.
Ever since tape days I've had the habit of having a short run-in before actually recording anything - gives everything time to settle, and I carried that on when I went inside the machine, only now I'm more precise and let the system run in record mode for exactly one bar before any activity (sometimes with timing clicks). Solves all the potential problems and actually makes it easier to find loop start / end points, and nudge them a bit if needed. No clicks nor bad first notes.
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby Wonks » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:24 am

Folderol wrote:Hmmm.
Ever since tape days I've had the habit of having a short run-in before actually recording anything - gives everything time to settle, and I carried that on when I went inside the machine, only now I'm more precise and let the system run in record mode for exactly one bar before any activity (sometimes with timing clicks). Solves all the potential problems and actually makes it easier to find loop start / end points, and nudge them a bit if needed. No clicks nor bad first notes.

But this is for a looped sample. A nice quiet run-in just isn't going to work here. :headbang:
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby Folderol » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:03 am

Hmmm. Re-reading the title, makes me think I was comparing apples to bananas :(
Plugin chains ... so left hand doesn't have a clue what right hand is doing. I'm used to systems where the lot is fully integrated into a single program.
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby job » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:18 am

CS70 wrote:What's your source? Is it a synth or a sampled sound?

They're sampled sounds/recordings. I gave a slight fade in to the front and back of each sound and exported it. I then created a patch for each sample in Iris2 to shape its envelope. I'm now opening each patch in turn and processing it to be exported as the final samples.

By plugin chain i basically mean EQ and transient designer, but maybe that's not the right description.
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Re: Why do certain plugin chains cause a click on initial play?

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:18 pm

Hi again job!

Hmm.. just been studying those screenshots and since the discontinuities are only in the right hand channel I'm beginning to wonder if it's a bug in one of the plug-ins you're using.

Can you try a different Eq/Transient designer to see if they cure the problem? Even a freeware one would do, to help narrow down the cause.

I've reviewed plug-ins in the past that work perfectly with mono audio, but which don't take into account both channels of the stereo signal when processing - this once again might explain why your left hand channel seems click-free.

So, another thing to try might be to reduce one of your samples to a mono file, and run that through your current plug-in chain to see if this removes the clicks if it does, one of these plug-ins isn't handling the stereo files properly (and to my mind the most likely candidate by far would be the transient designer rather than an EQ).

Hope this helps!


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