New notebook – The last bits

Sorted out the last bits that didn’t work smoothly yet.


WiFi connection was intermittent and slow. lspci had this to say about it:

01:00.0 Network controller: MEDIATEK Corp. MT7922 802.11ax PCI Express Wireless Network Adapter

There are numerous reports about this controller not working, almost all firmware related. The Liquorix kernel I’m running has the latest firmware so that was not the issue. Then I stumbled on a report related to power saving. Disabled that through NetworkManager by adding an extra configuration file in /etc/NetworkManager/conf.d with the following lines in it:

wifi.powersave = 2

WiFi is now stable and fast.



This can be controlled through sysfs or D-Bus but the system thinks there are only three settings: off (0), dimmed (1) or bright (2). But my keyboard thinks there are four settings, the fourth being what I would call “responsive bright”. This setting disables the backlight after a minute of inactivity and responds to key strokes by enabling backlight again to the bright setting. You can toggle this setting on the keyboard itself with Fn+Space but unfortunately the system does not know about this. I’ve worked around this by using a tiny daemon that listens for key strokes and enables the backlight and disabling it again when there’s no activity for a minute. There are several solutions for this, I settled for kbd_backlight_ctrl because it works and it’s just a few lines of C. Can’t set the brightness though but since it’s just a few lines of code I see this as an opportunity to improve my non-existent C skills.

Media keys

The keyboard has four dedicated media keys, play/pause, stop, previous and next. These work perfectly with a media player like VLC but Ardour does not recognize them. By creating supplementary udev hardware database entries I remapped the media keys so they’re now also functioning in Ardour which is quite neat. Only the stop key has no purpose yet as Ardour has no shortcut for what I want to map it to, stopping and going back to the start marker. Maybe I could create something myself through Ardour’s Lua scripting engine.

The hardware database entries look like this:


These went into /etc/udev/hwdb.d/99-media-keys.hwdb. After running systemd-hwdb update && udevadm trigger as root Ardour now sees the play/pause button as space, previous as left and next as right. I used Remapping Keyboard Keys in Ubuntu with udev / evdev as a reference.

Audio devices

There are three audio devices on this machine:

$ lspci | grep -i audio
64:00.1 Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Rembrandt Radeon High Definition Audio Controller
64:00.5 Multimedia controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] ACP/ACP3X/ACP6x Audio Coprocessor (rev 63)
64:00.6 Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 17h/19h HD Audio Controller
$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: Babyface2359686 [Babyface (23596862)], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 10: Generic [HD-Audio Generic], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 10: Generic [HD-Audio Generic], device 7: HDMI 1 [HDMI 1]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 10: Generic [HD-Audio Generic], device 8: HDMI 2 [HDMI 2]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 11: Generic_1 [HD-Audio Generic], device 0: ALC257 Analog [ALC257 Analog]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
$ arecord -l
**** List of CAPTURE Hardware Devices ****
card 0: Babyface2359686 [Babyface (23596862)], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: acp63 [acp63], device 0: DMIC capture dmic-hifi-0 []
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 11: Generic_1 [HD-Audio Generic], device 0: ALC257 Analog [ALC257 Analog]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

So onboard audio, HDMI and a capture device acp63. As you can see I’ve managed to get onboard and HDMI out of the way by indexing them but unfortunately the kernel module for the capture device, snd-soc-ps-mach, does not seem to support indexing. I’d like to index it as card 12 because now that acp63 device claims 0 when my Babyface is not attached. Something for later investigation.

I’ll dedicate a separate post to doing real-time audio on this machine. I need to do some more stress testing but Ardour runs without complaining at 48kHz, 64 frames/period and 3 periods/buffer, so 4ms system latency. No weird things there.

New notebook – The last bits

New notebook – The day after

Everything seems to work, network, audio, external monitor, display brightness. And this is the first notebook I’ve ever come across to that has a touch pad with an actual real middle click! Love it! Keyboard is nice too, backlight works fine and it has a nice array of function keys that are almost all mapped now. Overall feel of this machine is really nice, aluminum housing and the chiclet keyboard feels stable and solid. Startup time is twice as fast as the BTO. Compared to my new notebook the old one feels strangely completely outdated.

Now what is in there? CPU is an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS, an 8-core CPU with SMT. Disabled SMT though, Ardour seems to run slightly better on 8 real cores. 32GB of RAM which should be more than enough, my old notebook had 16GB and never had any issues with that. Storage is a 1TB SK hynix BC901 NVMe drive with more than decent throughput. Almost all USB ports sit on their own bus which is quite nice. The only bus that shares its IRQ with something else (the WiFi module) is bus 001. USB ports that use this bus are both the USB-C and USB Type-A connectors closest to the screen. So better not use those.

The only thing that is a bit flaky is the WiFi connection but came across more mentions about that. The connection sometimes randomly reconnects. Can live with it, when making music I often completely disable WiFi. Did have to use systemd automount instead of an fstab entry to mount my NAS as the WiFi connection apparently takes a bit too long to come up.

Didn’t have to tweak a lot so far. As I already mentioned I did disable SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading) and I’ve prioritized the IRQ of the USB bus my audio interface sits on. Not with rtirq or udev-rtirq (which doesn’t work properly on this machine, the wrong IRQ seems to get prioritized) but with a small script to fetch the IRQ number that seems to change on every boot and feeding the outcome to chrt. Installed a liquorix kernel on it and enabled threaded IRQ’s, disabled mitigations and USB autosuspend. Also allowed my user to set CPU DMA latency.

BTO vs Lenovo

It’s running Debian 12 with XFCE again. Simple, fast and looks good enough to me with the Greybird theme and elementary icons. And no more notebook that takes off into orbit, the new one is way more quiet.

On with making music!

Edit: the script I threw together could be useful for others too with USB audio interfaces connected to a machine that uses MSI (Message-Signaled Interrupts) enabled USB controllers. You can find the snd_dev_id of your interface with aplay -l.


snd_dev_ids=( Babyface2359686 UA25 )

for snd_dev_id in ${snd_dev_ids[@]}; do
  snd_dev_card_number=$(awk '/'$snd_dev_id'/ {print $1}' $proc_path/cards)

  if [ -n "$snd_dev_card_number" ]; then
    snd_dev_pci_bus_ref=$(grep -Eo "usb-[^[:space:],-]+" $proc_path/$snd_dev_card/stream0 | sed "s/usb-\(.*\)/\1/")
    snd_dev_pci_bus_ref_short=$(awk -F ':' '{print $1":"$2}' <<<$snd_dev_pci_bus_ref)
    snd_dev_irq=$(cat $sys_pci_bus_path/$snd_dev_pci_bus_ref_short/device/$snd_dev_pci_bus_ref/irq)
    snd_dev_irq_pid=$(pgrep $snd_dev_irq-xhci)

    chrt -f -p $prio $snd_dev_irq_pid

New notebook – The day after

Downscaling and upgrading

For years I’ve used Focusrite Firewire interfaces, first the Saffire Pro 10 IO and after that its successor, the Saffire Pro 40. Both great devices but recently I decided to make the switch to USB. The reason was twofold:

  • I was barely using more than 2 ins or outs simultaneously
  • Firewire is being phased out and my notebooks don’t have any Express Card slots either, only USB ports
  • The Pro 40 isn’t very portable

So when switching to USB I would need:

  • Same or better quality preamps and AD/DA convertors
  • At least 2 ins and outs
  • Portability
  • Possibility to achieve similar latencies as with the Pro 40
  • Works well with Linux

This narrowed down the choice significantly. I could go for a Focusrite Scarlett but from what I found on the net there were some issues with these devices. I’ve also looked at some Presonus devices but actually I had already set my mind on a different device: the RME Babyface.

RME Babyface

So when I found a webshop that offered the Babyface at a reduced price (almost 15% off) I put my Focusrite up for sale and bought the Babyface. The Focusrite was sold within a week and the Babyface easily met my expectations:

  • When in CC (Class Compliant) mode it works out of the box
  • It’s highly portable, the Babyface is actually specifically made for this purpose as it comes with a nice pouch
  • It has 2 ins and outs and the great thing is that it’s possible to extend the IO via ADAT
  • The preamps and AD/DA converters are simply top notch, they’re so good that I’m considering switching cans and studio monitors as this device is merciless, it simply doesn’t work well with my current setup
  • When connected to an USB3 port (XHCI) the Babyface can run with nominal latencies of 0.5ms (this is with 8 samples), i.e. it beats the other two OS’s mentioned on the RME product page

I can live with not being able to control the device from within Linux, almost all settings can be done on the device itself. Upgrading the firmware can be done with a VM so that’s covered too. The only real drawbacks are that it’s an USB device so it’s a bit more picky with regard to your system setup and it consumes a bit more CPU compared to Firewire. But all in all this is a great sounding device that works well with Linux when in CC mode and it fits my specific user case very well.

Downscaling and upgrading

Nieuwe FFADO versie op komst

Er zit een nieuwe FFADO release aan te komen, FFADO 2.1.0.

De laatste puntjes worden op de i gezet en hopelijk wordt de nieuwe versie begin volgende week gereleased. Naast dat er een sloot aan nieuwe devices ondersteund worden in deze versie zijn er ook een hoop bugs gefixed en is er de nodige aandacht besteed aan ffado-mixer om deze goed werkende te krijgen met bijvoorbeeld de nieuwere Focusrites (de PRO 14, 24 en 40).

Voor mij persoonlijk verandert er niet veel, mijn Focusrite Saffire PRO 40 werkt feilloos onder Ubuntu 12.04. Maar in de toekomst zou ik wel graag een RME Fireface 400 aan willen schaffen en die wordt ondersteund met de aankomende FFADO release. Een bandmaat heeft een tijdlang twee Focusrite Saffire Pro 10’s gehad en deze recentelijk omgeruild met een RME Fireface 800 en volgens hem zijn de A/D D/A convertors gewoon stukken beter dan die van Focusrite.

Nieuwe FFADO versie op komst