General list of things to check to get a problem-free operation with Cubase Audio on the Atari Falcon - made by Claes Holmerup.

Problems with Cubase Audio for Falcon?

* The CPU clock has to be modified because the clock pulses aren't clean enough and Cubase Audio is very sensitive to flaws in the hardware (any small error and the program won't work properly, it seems). Three different modifications are provided but regretfully there is no way of telling which one to do - if the first one doesn't work, the other one will (or the third). Always start with modification number one. The Falcon machines that are delivered at present have been modified at the factory. These clock modifications are necessary if you get crackling or pops in your audio files (even if the HD is newly defragmented) or if Cubase Audio bombs very often - or just about any SCSI-related problems.

* When using HDX/AHDI a maximum of 256MB partitions is allowed on the hard disk or it won't work as it should. When using Uwe Seimet's HDDriver or Hard&Soft's SCSI-tools it also works fine with partitions up to 512MB. When partitioning in HDDriver, you must check the "use minimum sector size" box and in SCSI-tools the Sector size has to be adjusted to a maximum of 8192 bytes, which means a maximum of 512MB. In HDX these partitioning parameters can't be adjusted - partitions of more than 256MB automatically get a Sector size of 16384 bytes, which doesn't work at all with Cubase Audio - the program simply says that it's impossible to record on the drive. I can also tell you that with a Conner 1GB, I get a transfer of 1.3MB/s with AHDI and 1.8MB/s with HDDriver or SCSItools (these drivers give a transfer rate with some EIDE hard disks of about 3 MB/s !!!). For some strange reason, Atari have limited the SCSI-II port to 2 MB/s, but it's enough to be able to make audio recordings, so don't worry.

* A fast hard drive is essential, as well as a NON CALIBRATING drive. If the drive calibrates during playback or recording everything stops, since Cubase can't access the drive fast enough to maintain the data flow, so it's impossible to work with a calibrating hard drive. To run 8 tracks from the hard drive it seems that a seek rate of around 12ms is a maximum (most 1 GB drives manage this). It's possible to use slower drives as well, if the recordings are located on different drives (different PHYSICAL hard drives, not only different partitions). Another possibility is to use the RAM-tracks to get some load off the drive - that is, if enough RAM is available (I recommend 16 MB RAM). Oh! I almost forgot - Cubase Audio can only handle SCSI-HD's and not IDE.

* DEFRAGMENT!!! If the hard drive is fragmented (which it will become if you erase, clip and record over again), the playback / recording gets slower, since the drive heads have to seek over larger areas to get the recordings together - compared to what it is like when the recordings lie in a nice, long unbroken file. If recordings have been made to a fragmented drive and clicks have occured because of this, there is only one way of getting it right - make a new recording. I strongly advice everyone to buy Diamond Edge from HiSoft - it's the best defragmentation program that I know of and the one I use. To be true, there actually is another way too. SoundPool have recently released a wave editor, called "WaveMaster", and it can edit the waveforms of your Cubase Audio files down to one sample level and you can erase or draw new waveforms in the editor (MUCH better than Cubase's built-in audio editor). It runs both as an accessory under Cubase Audio and as a stand-alone program. The user-interface isn't as friendly as Cubase's, but when you've gotten used to it, it works very well. However, you always need to defragment the disk too - or you won't be able to do these waveform edits and keep a good sound quality.

* Update the program (the last version is 2.06). Cubase Audio has been updated several times, with some small improvements and some bug fixes. With a program as advanced as Cubase Audio, it's always best to have the latest version.

* In most cases it's best to disable all software hard disk caches, since Cubase handles the reading/writing in it's own way and extra caches may interfere with the main program. The clock modification should be made by an experienced technician (DON'T try it if you aren't very experienced with a soldering pen and surface mounted components - I've seen terrible examples of soldering and if you're not 200% certain that you can do it, DON'T). The schematics can be found on this page and downloaded if necessary.

SCSI drives I have tested successfully myself are: Conner CFP1060S (1.06 GB), Conner CFP1080S (1.08 GB), Conner CFP2107S (2.1 GB), Conner CFP2105S (2.1 GB), Seagate ST31200 (1GB), Quantum Atlas 1GB, Quantum Atlas 2.1GB, Iomega Zip (100MB exchangable), Iomega Jaz (1GB exchangable).
A word of notice about some of the hard disks: Conner has been bought by Seagate, but many of their models are still manufactured under the Seagate brand (new model numbers though). Most new Quantum HD's are the kind that require "bus arbitration", which means you can't use AHDI and you can't auto-boot from them (you need to boot from another HD or a floppy). Iomega Zip can handle 6 audio tracks when replaying in 48kHz.
More compatible harddisks can be found on my homepage

Best regards,