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MPC X Audio streaming from user SSD

Hey Akai, can you confirm if the hardware / software architecture will support this for later development / release ? Audio streaming would be useful for standalone live performance. Thanks
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    Hi, we'd also like to make use of this feature in the future. Streaming on a per key
    basis would allow bigger sample programs with more realistic/longer release times
    for pianos and strings. Audio streaming of SSD on per track basis could enhance
    the usability a lot, like adding vocal tracks or atmospheric soundtracks in the back.

    THANKS!
    PSOUND
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  • They have already confirmed streaming, or at least looking into it.

    The question it comes down to is, to what extent can and will it be used. Perhaps only for the 8 audio tracks, for 8 tracks (or more) and clips, etc.

    Just like there is limited RAM in the MPCX/Live, there is limited CPU and of course the storage have limitations too. So there will likely be a compromise of some sort.

    But only the dev team would have such information and it's highly unlikely that we will have such information before something is actually delivered to our devices.
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  • Hi, I am not aware they have confirmed hardware / software capability for this. Can link to that please ?

    Yes agree there will be limitations, but anything to move larger audio files out of RAM would be a very positive step. Even if they stuck to the 8 stereo track limitation (or even 4 stereo) would be great to me.
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  • Hi, yes.. anything that'll stream would be good. To what extend it'd be MPC CPU
    intensive, is known by the DEVs. At least the sticker on the MPC Live and X says:
    "MCS - Multicore System" ..for the ones/us who don't know much about CPU tech.

    If "Multicore" is meant to be "Multithreading", Wikipedia delivers the following info:
    "In a multithreaded application, the processes and threads share the resources of
    a single or multiple cores.. to execute multiple processes or threads concurrently,
    supported by the operating system."

    Anyway, "load-while-play" (..legacy Ensoniq EPS/ASR tech jargon) is available on
    the MPC standalone, so "stream-while-play" might/could/should be possible too.
    (Ensoniq ASR samplers in '98, did stream two track audio files of the hard drive).

    PSOUND
    • The cost associated with streaming from disk is heavily dependent on the system architecture. Various buses are designed such that the CPU requires varying levels of interaction with the hardware to access data. Correspondingly those buses have latency and bandwidth limits. Additionally the media being read from also has seek latency and bandwidth limits.

      Putting all that aside, there is also a cost associated with reading data on disk as a stream. Specifically, depending on the format of the media, there are varying costs associated with decoding and processing to an in memory format suitable for the media subsystem of the device.

      How "multicore" fits into this is a different question. Parallel processing in computers takes many forms with varying degrees of overlap/resource sharing between concurrent units. Clusters have separate machines (with CPUs and all other hardware) that talk over a network; multi socket machines have multiple CPUs that talk over a system plane; multi core CPUs have multiple copies of core compute units in a single package with separate contexts; multi threaded cores have multiple threads of execution in a shared context, and this is all from the hardware perspective. Depending on the system design, and in particular where the bottlenecks lie, having multiple cores may or may not improve potential disk streaming performance.

      A typical solution to a problem like this would be, rather than specifying what to stream or not, simply to allow the device to overcommit to loading sample content as you attempt to load. The device would then manage the local sample memory as a cache keeping the frequently used short samples in cache (more expensive per second of audio to load) and others with only chunks prefetched (streaming more on demand, like buffering a streaming video). This is comparatively complicated but flexible to many use cases. My feeling is that this would require a significant code change to implement and so seems unlikely.

      A more likely approach would be to limit streaming to the audio tracks from files in specific formats. There will likely also be limits as to how many streams can run at once (e.g. all 8 audio tracks streaming seems unlikely). I would assume they will not constrain this directly, but, depending on the system load and the speed and latency of the media you are trying to stream from, you will either get audio drop outs, or an error message if it can't keep up.
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  • Hey everybody,

    Thanks for posting!

    This feature has been touched upon by development and I would love to see it too! As you know, announcements about updates and new releases will not be published here on the community forum. If you are interested in hearing about new information from the company as soon as it's released, here are a few ways that you can stay ahead of the curve:

    • Follow the company on Facebook.

    • Follow the company on Twitter.

    • Sign up for the company newsletter.

    • Check the website homepage or product pages.

    Until information exists in one or all of these places, there will not be any official announcements or discussions about future releases here on the community forum.

    With all of that being said, we appreciate your interest in our company and will continue to strive to improve on our products and customer experience. As always, I am happy to continue forwarding all interest, reviews and new ideas over to our team for consideration :)

    Thanks! Let me know if you have any additional questions!
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  • A question (sorry I am new to the MPC X), can I stream audio in 'computer" mode ?
    • Hey Michael,

      When you've connected your MPC to your computer via USB and it is in Controller Mode, you are using the computer's resources not the MPC's. Audio that you play will be transferred to and from the software via the MPC if you've selected it as your audio I/O device but your computer is doing all the work when it comes to processing audio. I hope that helps!
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  • 1
    Personally, I think streaming should be optional.

    I also think that it would be an awesome option if sample files could be loaded into RAM in their original file format and converted in real-time while playing. I cannot speak about the feasibility of this, in terms of the MPCX.

    In general, I would guess this likely to "free" up quite a bit of RAM. Rather than 'expanding' a 16-bit file to the standard 32-bit project format, it would effectively double the amount of sample RAM, and even a 24-bit file would "release" 25%. The CPU drain for doing this may be the reason Akai is reformatting the material when loading into projects.
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  • I'm using my MPC Live for its first live outing at the end of this month.

    I'm essentially using it as a streamer, but can only hold 3 stereo streams in memory for a project (6 or 7 minute track/song) - Kick, Bass and everything else.

    Ideally, there's much more I'd like to separate out - which I could feasibly do, if the unit would stream from SSD.

    I really hope that Akai are still working on this feature.
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    • Also worth mentioning that the synth lines I use with my musical partner, tend to have a lot of non-repetitive LFO modulation over long periods. I don't use MPC to produce tracks either, I use Cubase or Ableton.
    • Getting more into Linux streaming would be easy to program. Unfortunately. I am hoping this is not going to be abandoned. Anyone who plays live and uses modern samplers know that’s standard issue now there are a lot of independent companies doing that now.
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  • 1
    1010 Blackbox can stream. It is a simpler sample box and is very well made. It has 64MB of ram and can stream many 4GB files instantly from a memory card. Akai......ummmmm.....
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  • From an engineering pov I see a few issues with disk streaming on this box (Linux Embedded). As mentioned before, bandwidth on the buses becomes a thing and most of the storage devices that are accessible by the end-user are connected to the additional IO card that uses some form of USB transfer (? not sure) internally. That might be a major bottleneck.

    If one were to stream audio with good performance, it would have to happen from the internal MicroSD card, but the default card is 16GB and almost full out-of-the-box.

    Also, all of the audio in the processing memory is 32-bit float and I'm not sure if there is a realtime resampler built-in to the core. If there isn't, one would have to rewrite parts of the core and potentially break other things in the process. But this is of course just speculation.

    Even basic play/stop disk streaming would be awesome and would free up a lot of memory for other things. I could even port my remix stuff on the MPC Live then, as I could run all vocal stems from the disk and wouldn't have to clog up the memory.
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    • This may be true, but streaming uncompressed audio requires very little bandwidth. The limiting factor is almost always the media and not the bus in these situations and SSD is more than capable. 192khz 24bit stereo audio is only 192000*3*2/(1024*1024) = 1.1 mb per second of throughput. This is less than USB 1.0. Streaming has nothing to do with interruption but rather if there is enough average bandwidth to keep a playback buffer full. On a device with a couple of gigabytes of RAM a 32mb buffer is almost negligible allowing for 30s of audio buffer. If disk streaming were only for audio tracks of which there are 8, you are still talking under 9mb/s meaning under 20% of a USB 2.0 bus. Even with traditional spindle based disks you have plenty of time for seeks and transfer and with SSD you have orders of magnitude faster seek meaning it could likely handle on the order of 100s of parallel audio streams.

      What I'm driving at is, there is more than enough capability on device to do this but the question is how they wish to handle it and how pervasively. Should streaming work for drum programs? What about clip programs? Should recording stream to storage? Will this be a special feature you enable or always working? Will it stream compressed formats? To me the cleanest implementation would not allow the user to select. It would simply manage the sample pool like a cache; it would try to ensure that whatever you try and play is ready at any point (in RAM). This has the added benefit of abstracting the sample pool from the software perspective from the backing storage including adding different fetch strategies for different backing storage (e.g splice).

      It would be pretty simple to add a special disk stream mode supporting only uncompressed audio formats that don't need sample rate/bit depth conversion on audio tracks. If they want to "do it right" and eliminate concerns about available sampling memory for good, it needs a far deeper change. I can understand the desire to build this (and better midi and CV handling) into the system at a more fundamental level, so targeting a 3.0 release (a rewrite rather than incremental improvement) makes sense. I really hope they can deliver something like I described.
    • There is realtime sampling involved, at least on the software side (I use a Studio, haven't moved up to the Live yet). I looked into it a couple weeks ago when I was deciding whether to upsample my whole library to 48k (I work at 24/48 in Logic mainly). Most of my MPC tracks were just done in the default 44.1k. Ive been working on a new track the last week or so, which was started at 44.1k and all of the new loops Ive added to it in the lsat week are 48k. My interface is now switched to 48k and the track plays back perfectly at either 44.1 or 48k with a bunch of mixed samples too.
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  • Is there an ETA on this or has it been implemented?
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  • If I were Akai...I would just tell everyone..."Its A Wrap For Disk Streaming with the Current Hardware Architecture". That would put everyone on ice. Then in 2020...Drop a New Model with Disk Streaming and Midi Multitimbural Support. Sometimes, you gotta just tell the Truth. Because Beating a Dead Horse is not gonna get it done lol
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  • 1
    At tis point I don't think they really care about us all. They received our money and that's that.
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  • I think they care. Its probably challenging to implement everything because of the Hardware Limitations. When Software companies keep updating their firmware, they have the freedom of the Customer's Computer Hardware limitations. Faster CPU's, Heavy RAM, etc.

    Akai was actually successful in creating a Standalone Hardware that was a lil advanced. But now they have to update the software based on the Hardware Limitations of the current models.

    Only Solution.....Come out with New Hardware to handle the software requests.
    Akai's problem.....POOR COMMUNICATION!
    If they Hired me, I would tell Everyone the Truth. Cuss words and all. They don't wanna offend potential customers.

    Patience Is A Virtue!!!!
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  • Managing clients expectations is key. As a software developer implementing streaming with Linux is not challenging they are focusing on the plugin architecture which will make them money. My old iPhone can do streaming. Never the less saying we won’t implement this or it will take us years here is our progress would be the best way of communicating. Honestly this should be priority because they also did not word their workable RAM correctly or maybe it was their intent.
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    Dan, the MPC Product Manager already dropped the info about this elsewhere. Disk Streaming isn't happening until 3.0, it requires too much work right now because of the way the tracks were designed.

    2.6 is moving to a 1:1 track layout, which means if you put a drum program on track 1, it stays on track 1. There won't be anymore 'drum program on track 1 in sequence 1, key program on track 1 sequence 2' stuff allowed. Its all going to be linear and then they can implement disk streaming.

    People should understand the 'tech support' team doesn't get information to be handed out like this. All they do is SUPPORT. Ive done their job for years, you should try sitting in their shoes for a day and see how you feel afterwards. The guys that DO know what's going on are guess what, doing their job! Dan gets to come out once in a blue moon on Gearslutz and Muffiwiggler and lets us know what's going on. He doesn't spend his entire day on a forum yapping, he's got work to do.
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  • With the RAM/ROM Chips currently on the Boards they have now, It would require them to Dissolve some of the other features that require accessible memory, to Handle Disk Streaming. Sounds easy. But I doubt it is. If People are crying Crocodile Tears now, imagine what kind of Puddles would be around if they got rid of certain features so they could implement Disk Streaming lol
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    Thats what happened with JJOS for the MPC1000s.. Granted you gain some AWESOME features Akai never even dreamed of, but he had to cut some things out just to make room for any additions. Everybody seems to love it though, but yeah its a different type of person thats using the older MPCs..

    Man, poor Eliza and Nick if they did something like that haha. They would never hear the end of it. They should make the complainers spend a week with an old Korg workstation sequencer and see how good even the 'half working' MPC is hah.
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