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A query for Smartmusic users

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
Having looked around the web and not found an answer may I ask Smartmusic users here if my experience is typical? I subscribed to Smartmusic yesterday and started using it for the first time this morning. I have been doing some of the easy sight reading exercises. These contain just crotchets and minims at a slow pace with no difficult fingerings. Taxing they are not.

What has surprised me is that according to the assessments my ability to play in time appears to be dreadful. I'm not sure if the distance between the note you should play and the red note the program thinks you've played is to scale; but if it is, then it thinks I'm a whole beat or more adrift. I simply couldn't believe I was playing so badly out of time, so I got my accomplished musician wife to act as adjudicator while I played an exercise. Her comment was "If I were an examiner and you played like that I'd probably give you close to full marks". Smartmusic scored that performance at 14%; it thought my rendition was full of timing errors.

So my query is - do other users find Smartmusic's timing tolerance to be ridiculously critical or wrong? If this happened on just one exercise I'd put it down to a quirk, but it seems to be true for all the sight reading tests I've done so far. Is it just me?
 

Pyrografix

Senile Member
Messages
1,026
Hi Paul,
I haven't had any problems like that with Smartmusic. I use the built-in mic on my laptop (which isn't ideal, but it works!) and play sitting directly in front of it. Have you used the 'Settings' option on the homepage to set up whichever mic you're using? Maybe something there is misaligned? Sorry I can't be of more help!

Cheers,

Amanda
 

Tjaart

md90065
Messages
11
Hi, it is a latency issue, there are some suggestions about latency on the smartmusic website.
I use an m-audio USB mic and a soundblaster audigy sound card without these issues. If I use my normal mic, shure sm57, I get latency issues.

Sent from my HTC Incredible S using Tapatalk 2
 
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PaulM

Member
Messages
143
Thanks for the replies folks. I did some system tests last night and it is definitely a latency problem. The longer a piece goes on the worse the discrepancy between what's on the screen and what I'm playing. That's a dead giveaway. I tried Smartmusic's suggested settings, but they didn't improve matters.

I've had audio latency issues in the past on different PCs and solved them by using ASIO drivers, but there aren't any for the chipset on my current PC. I will probably treat myself to a new soundcard; at least they are relatively inexpensive these days. My experience goes to show that having a PC that easily exceeds the software's system spec and with a far superior windows rating is no guarantee that things will run in a timely manner.

By the way I'm surprised your USB mic is best as that hasn't been my experience. It must have a faster A to D converter in it than the one in your PC's soundcard and certainly better than the ones I've used in the past.

Thanks again, Paul
 

Saxade

Senior Member
Messages
287
I have never had any latency issues.... but I am sure if you contacted them they will put you on the right track.
I am using a mac book pro ... using its inbuilt mic .. no problems

Ade
 

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
I've had audio latency issues in the past on different PCs and solved them by using ASIO drivers, but there aren't any for the chipset on my current PC.
Have you tried ASIO4ALL? (http://www.asio4all.com/)

It's worked on every PC I've ever owned (and there's a lot of them).

Nowadays I use a Line 6 USB audio interface which comes with its own ASIO drivers.

Someone said that Windows 7 has a more sensible audio I/O system, and thus no longer needs separate ASIO drivers, but have not verified it for above reason. Macs have had low-latency audio I/O since forever.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Is there no way to adjust a latency setting in the Smartmusic software, as there is with audacity, for example? That would definitely put me off subscribing to it.
 

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
Hello Jrintaha, Yes I've tried Asio4all and no joy so far, which is a bit of a disappointment because like you I've had plenty of success with asio drivers in the past. I probably have some software settings issue that I haven't tracked down yet. My OS is Windows 7 64bit running on a pretty powerful PC, but my experience suggests that's no guarantee of low latency. If all else fails I can get myself another soundcard; they are pretty cheap these days. What OS are you using that USB soundcard on? Macs may be wonderful, but I routinely use software here that simply doesn't have a Mac equivalent and I have a bit of a problem with Mac prices.

BigMartin, If there's a way of adjusting latency in Smartmusic, then I've not managed to find it even after a fair bit of digging. Clearly plenty of people run the program with no problems, so the issue is my PC rather than their code. I've tried all the Smartmusic suggested solutions, but none have worked yet. I will get there, it's just a tad frustrating at the moment.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
BigMartin, If there's a way of adjusting latency in Smartmusic, then I've not managed to find it even after a fair bit of digging. Clearly plenty of people run the program with no problems, so the issue is my PC rather than their code. I've tried all the Smartmusic suggested solutions, but none have worked yet. I will get there, it's just a tad frustrating at the moment.
Thanks for the info. It sounds like it's an issue with both your PC and their code. If the delay is consistent, there ought to be a way to compensate for it. You can do it with Audacity, and I presume with other recording software.
 

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
Well, I've finally cracked the problem. I thought I'd post the solution that worked for my system in case others have a similar issue.

This has been a bit of a runaround. After running a shed load of diagnostic tools I eventually discovered the cause was a motherboard utility that monitored system usage and amongst other things varied the CPU clock frequency when it wasn't being used much to save energy and minimise heat. All that was needed was to tell the utility to leave the CPU alone and bingo. The fix was easy, finding it however, was a right royal pain.
 

Tjaart

md90065
Messages
11
I'm glad you got it fixed, don't know if you ever used Smartmusic or what play level you are but Smartmusic really helped me advance quicker. It also has some real cool solo and band tunes with accompaniment, including some great chord and scale exercises. I have been using it for 4 yrs now.
 

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
I'm glad you got it fixed, don't know if you ever used Smartmusic or what play level you are but Smartmusic really helped me advance quicker. It also has some real cool solo and band tunes with accompaniment, including some great chord and scale exercises. I have been using it for 4 yrs now.
I only bought a subscription last Sunday, so I've not had much of a chance to investigate many of the features, but I look forward to having some fun now that it's working as it should. It's nice to see all the notes turn green when you've played them at the correct pitch and correct time. As an aside; what I found strange prior to finding the reason for the latency was that when I played back a Smartmusic recording of one of the tests it all sounded as it should. If I played exactly in time with the beat then the recording was bang-on with the click track. If I played slightly ahead of the beat then you could hear my note before the click of the beat on the recording. In both these instances the assessment would show I was way too late. Anyway, that's history now.


I primarily want to use it as a tool to improve my rhythm reading as I can wander within bars. I'm almost always bang-on at the first beat, but what happens in between that and the next bar can be a bit random at times. The irritating thing is that I can be blissfully unaware that I'm doing anything wrong "because it sounds fine to me". It often takes my teacher or my wife to tell me I'm not playing the music as it's written. Heaven knows how the self taught get over that.
 

Tjaart

md90065
Messages
11
The quickest way to get over that is to go play in a band (community band e.g. wind ensemble), you'll very soon find your timing improve.
Good luck.
Btw in the beginning I used the cursor in smartmusic, you can set it to follow the beat or the note, I used it to follow the note. Now it just confuses me because I have learnt to read ahead.

Sent from my HTC Incredible S using Tapatalk 2
 
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Saxade

Senior Member
Messages
287
The quickest way to get over that is to go play in a band (community band e.g. wind ensemble), you'll very soon find your timing improve.
Good luck.
Btw in the beginning I used the cursor in smartmusic, you can set it to follow the beat or the note, I used it to follow the note. Now it just confuses me because I have learnt to read ahead.
Absolutley agree :thumb:
 

saxyman

Member
Messages
267
I use SmartMusic and I personally think its a very good learning tool to use in conjunction with either a tutor or playing with others.
I have just of recent started getting assignments from an online tutor and they push you as you have deadlines to meet.
To a beginner like me it helps me recognise not so much what i am doing right, but more so what I am doing wrong, particularly busking, when I should be playing the music as its written.
I like it. May not be the only way to learn but it has a lot of good points.
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Paul, give me a couple of bars of Giant Steps....




Yeah, you're definitely coming in late mate ;}
 

saxyman

Member
Messages
267
If anyone near to Medway Kent would like to try Smart Music, just pm me. I have it setup on an IMac and happy to let anyone have a try.
 
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