My quest to get MIDI working on the Avid S3L

During large productions, my team uses QLab to play various sound effects, and to trigger snapshots changes on our Avid D-Show mixing console. I’d like to make use of the same triggers on the Avid S3L we use for our video mix, but unlike the D-Show it doesn’t have built-in MIDI.

According to the Avid Knowledge Base, the Roland UM-One MK 2 is officially supported, but that other class-compliant USB MIDI interfaces should also work. I don’t have the Roland, so over time I’ll try out various interfaces that I come across to see what I can get working.

If you know of a MIDI interface that works with the S3L-X, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

Device Works? Tested Notes
MOTU 828mk3 No 2018-11-18
MOTU Stage-B16 No 2018-11-18
MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid No 2018-11-18 USB mode requires external power.

McDSP VENUE 6.4.0.15+ plug-ins don’t work on Avid S3L-X

I tried installing the latest versions of the McDSP VENUE plug-ins on my Avid S3L-X today, but they don’t work. The announcement says they are for the S6L, but all past versions have also worked on the S3L, so I’d hoped they would continue working. Alas, they don’t. Stick with the older 6.3.0.11 release.

The specific behaviour I see is that the plug-ins install successfully, as I’d expect, but when I open a show file using one of the plug-ins, they appear with the yellow/red triangle and are listed as “not available”. Plug-ins that I don’t have loaded in the current show file don’t even appear in the tree of available plug-ins, although they are listed on the plug-ins install page.

To get back to working plugins, I downgraded my plug-ins to the previously working version of the VENUE 6.3.0.11 bundle installer. Unfortunately, this means I can’t use the newer EC300 or NR800 plug-ins I was so looking forward to using.


[Update: 2018-10-16] I fixed the link to the VENUE 6.3.0.11 bundle installer. I had incorrectly pointed to a nonexistent 6.4.0.11 version.

[Update: 2018-09-06] McDSP released a new 6.5.0.3 plug-in version for Windows that supports iLok Cloud. I tried this version (via manual install), and it also does not work.

[Update: 2018-09-04] I noticed today that the term “S3L” was removed from the VENUE installer on the McDSP Downloads page, and only the S6L is listed as supported for the 6.4.0.15 release. I’m guessing they have unofficially dropped support for the S3L, although I can’t find any other confirmation to that effect.

[Update: 2018-09-01] I tried manually downloading and installing the 6.4.0.14 version of the EC300 and NR800 plug-ins on a separate Windows machine, copied the installed plug-ins to a USB stick, and installed them on my S3L-X. This also did not work. (I’ve successfully used this method in the past to install the SA-2 Dialog Processor before it was included in the VENUE bundle installer, so I know it works.)

My Audioquest DragonFly Red works on macOS High Sierra again!

I don’t know what Apple is doing with audio timing in macOS High Sierra, but they have serious quality control issues in this area. See my post on Avid S3L-X, AVB, and macOS High Sierra for other troubles I’m having.

When Apple released 10.13.2, my Audioquest DragonFly Red started having strange issues. Similar to the clicking issue with AVB, I was having strange timing issues that sounded like phasing, almost like the individual waveform samples were being triggered at a different clock rate than the audio device. It wasn’t constant, but frequent and annoying enough that I gave up using the device. I wasn’t the only one having the issue.

In any case, 10.13.4 fixed my Dragonfly issues, so I’m again happy.

Avid VENUE S3L-X, AVB, and macOS High Sierra

Long story short, if you need use an Avid S3L-X with macOS and playback via AVB, do not install macOS High Sierra. macOS Sierra works fine, and preliminary testing of macOS Mojave gives positive results, but High Sierra has clocking issues that manifest as constant clicking during playback, rendering the audio unusable.

If all you need to do is record via AVB, macOS High Sierra works.

References

Note, all versions of macOS High Sierra through 10.13.6 are affected.

[Update 2018-09-29] Preliminary testing with macOS Mojave (10.14.0) and 64-channel recording and playback indicates that the AVB problems have been fixed.
[Update 2018-07-28]
Increased affected versions to 10.13.6.
[Update 2018-06-05]
Increased affected versions to 10.13.5.
[Update 2018-03-31]
Increased affected versions to 10.13.4.

Booting an Avid S3L-X remotely with Wake-on-LAN

E3 Engine

The E3 engine can be remotely powered on and started using the Wake-on-LAN protocol.

To remotely wake the E3 engine, you need three things:

  1. A computer that is connected to the same Ethernet network as the E3 engine.
  2. The MAC address of the engine. You can get the MAC address by going to the Options > Devices tab and right-clicking on the E3 engine image.
  3. The IP subnet address of the network. (Optional, depending on the software used.)

To shut the E3 engine down, use the VENUE Options > System > Shutdown button.

Software to wake the E3 engine

There are several software packages available to send the special Wake-on-LAN Magic Packet.

Mac

  • Wake On Lan by Depicus (Mac App Store, $1.99)
  • Remote Desktop (Apple, $79.99) – Also useful for controlling the S3L-X remotely.

Windows

  • MagicPacket by DecaTec (Microsoft Store, Free)
  • Wake On Lan by Sepiro Ltd (Microsoft Store, Free)

Command-line

For those comfortable with the command-line, a short Python script will also do the job. Save this script somewhere as wakeonlan.py and make it executable with chmod +x.

#!/usr/bin/env python
# https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/95246/wake-other-computers-from-mac-osx

import socket
import sys

if len(sys.argv) < 3:
 print "Usage: wakeonlan.py <ADR> <MAC> (example: 192.168.1.255 00:11:22:33:44:55)"
 sys.exit(1)

mac = sys.argv[2]
data = ''.join(['FF' * 6, mac.replace(':', '') * 16])
sock = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_DGRAM)
sock.setsockopt(socket.SOL_SOCKET, socket.SO_BROADCAST, 1)
sock.sendto(data.decode("hex"), (sys.argv[1], 9))

Myself, I keep a copy of the script in my ~/usr/bin directory. To wake my system, I call the command like this, where 172.16.0.255 is the subnet of my network, and 00:90:fb:4a:13:9e the MAC address of my E3 engine.

$ ~/usr/bin/wakeonlan.py 172.16.0.255 00:90:fb:4a:13:9e

Stage 16 Box

The Stage 16 Box cannot be remotely power cycled without additional equipment. Some suggestions include:

  • Furman CN-1800S + Furman BB-RS232 giving control via Ethernet.
  • Furman M-8S (US) or the Furman PS-8RE III (Europe) connected to the GPIO connection from the E3 engine, along with an event (saved in the default show) to latch a GPIO when the system is started. Attempt only if you feel comfortable with electronics. If you would like me to build this setup and demonstrate it, send me an email.