Rack Performer FAQs

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For a non exhaustive list of scenarios, setups and configurations involving Rack Performer with or without external equipment, we invite you to read this page.

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Ergonomy and stability are our two main focus points, meaning we take fault resistance and tolerance very seriously and do our best to make our products glitch-free, even (and especially) when asking the most out of them.

Of course, other components in the system might fail instead (OS, drivers, sound card) but the current PC and operating systems generation has seen a dramatic increase in overall stability, and dedicated hardware is not immune to failure either.

The definition of "mission critical" doesn't apply to live music performance (even if it's critical for a musician to be able to play) but rather to situations where operator or human safety are involved.

While our products can be used in pro-audio situations as signal processors in dedicated rack-mount computers, they should not be used in mission critical situations where redundant systems should be used instead (ex: public address)

For an illustrated guide on how to to install Rack Performer, please follow this link:

QuickStart: Rack Performer installation.
You can install Rack Performer on as many computers as you want, provided you have the administrative rights to install software on these machines.

The demo version does not need to be activated, but the full version requires a valid license and its associated key-file to be activated. One key-file can be used to activate up to 5 installations. If you need to activate more than 5 installations, you will need either additional key-files or get a "site" license instead (and discounted price) You may also uninstall the software from your no longer used computers to "reclaim" their activation, and activate a new computer instead.

Note: one installation is defined as the combination of one (physical) computer, its associated operating system and the user account for which the software is to be made available. Multiple operating systems and/or multiple user accounts using the same software count as multiple installations.
The demo version is for evaluation purposes only, but there is no limitation on the number of instances (machines) that can be used concurrently.

One valid user license allows to use the full version of Rack Performer on up to 2 machines at the same time (concurrently) If you need to run the software on more machines, contact us as we have better solutions in this case.
If your license key-file stays on your desktop and the application keeps asking you for it, it means you renamed the file when you saved it. Please make sure the file is named exactly as stated in the mail you received after your order, because this is what the application is looking for precisely.

If the key-file is removed from the desktop but the application stays blank, it means the binary content of your key-file has been altered in some way or another (the most likely reason being how your mail client detected the file encoding) Please make sure when you "save the file as..." that your mail client downloads and saves it in "binary" mode and not in "text/ascii" mode.

If you don't succeed please contact technical support by mail as soon as possible.
By default our products automatically check if new versions are available online when they are started. This behaviour can be disabled in the "automatic updates" configuration, in which case you can manually check for new updates by selecting the "Help > Check for updates..." menu item.

When a new version is available, the application will show a notification and ask you if you want to apply the update now. You may delay the update if you have unsaved work, otherwise answer yes and the application will shutdown while the Abeem Updater is launched.

The updating is fully automatic and when complete a log containing the recent changes will be displayed, then the application will restart.

The automatic updating process requires an internet connection to work. If for some reason the Abeem Updater fails to download or install the update(s) properly, you will have to overwrite your installation with a fresh one. To do this, don't uninstall the previous version (or you'll lose your configuration) but just run the latest version installer, downloaded from this site.
One valid personal user license gives free access to all minor version updates. For example, a 1.x license allows to update up to the 1.99 version.

Upgrades, that is updates from one major version number to the next (ex: 1.x to 2.x) will usually not be free.
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No, there is no native MacOSX version of our products at the moment. But our products can be used with BootCamp Windows on Mac/Intel machines.
Yes, our products will be ported to MacOSX in the future.
The officially supported platforms are:

  • Microsoft Windows XP (all versions)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista (all versions)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 (all versions)
  • Microsoft Windows 8 (all versions)

All other Windows versions are not supported, although the application might work more or less properly. Use at your own risk, but no support.
Provided your virtualization engine also virtualizes hardware resources like your soundcard and your MIDI ports, the application should work.

Note however that by design, this kind of solution is going to be less efficient than a non virtualized operating system. You might not be able to achieve the same level of real-time efficiency and latencies are likely to be higher.

Moreover there's no warranty that the virtualization engine will not alter the audio streams, performing resampling and conversions under the hood in order to multiplex hardware access etc.
Our products run on all audio devices, internal or external, and your computer is most likely to have at least a small embedded sound card which can be used too. No other extra hardware is required, their use is completely optional.

On the other hand, we strongly recommend involved musicians to get access to a high quality sound card in order to get a stable and reliable low-latency system.

We recommend the following brands: RME, MOTU, Lynx Studio Tech, Edirol.
Rack Performer supports up to 32 audio input channels and up to 32 audio output channels, full-duplex.

Any number of audio output channels can be assigned to the dedicated monitoring function.
The short answer is "no", unless you own high-end professional hardware.

The multiple devices mode is designed for multi-channel sound cards exposing multiple stereo-pair drivers to the OS. It allows to open only the required I/O channels and offers a somewhat better flexibility, but this is mostly a backward compatibility feature.

If you try to open multiple driver/devices belonging to different physical hardware sound cards, there is going to be a mid to long-term drift and some channels will be stuttering/glitching. The only way for this to work is to use word-clock synchronized sound cards (or a similar synchronization link, like running all digital with a shared clock signal)

However in this mode all devices are seen as stereo pairs only, meaning all sound cards must expose multiple drivers, in addition to the clock link. Note that this kind of connection scheme is deprecated, as modern high-end hardware usually provide a mean to "stack" additional I/O boxes and merge them directly into the single ASIO driver presented to the application (or the legacy DirectSound driver, in single device operation mode)

Please read this Sound on Sound article for more info: Using Multiple Audio Interfaces Together.
Up to 8 MIDI input devices and up to 8 MIDI output devices are supported, for a maximum of 128 input channels and 128 output channels (each MIDI device holds 16 channels)
All MIDI controllers are supported, including advanced mapping types like 14bit CC and NRPN. Mapping is really easy using the Quick MIDI map feature.

You can also use your computer keyboard as a powerful controller thanks to the Keyboard Mapper and create multi-level control maps with the Keyboard Submaps.
The minimal resolution required to run the application is 800 x 600 (pixels)
Selecting or assembling a PC for live musical performance is still a complex task even todays, simply because there are too many possibilities and hardware combinations.

We plan to publish some articles and tips about PC parts selection and global system optimization for stage usage in the future, stay tuned!
Although we recommend using a sound card with dedicated ASIO drivers, it's sometimes not possible, especially with low-cost and/or embedded hardware.

Our products work with Asio4all, Asio2KS and similar generic driver wrappers without any problem provided the input and output devices selected both come from the same physical soundcard. Device mixing and combining will be subject to long term drift and is not officially supported (although it might work sufficiently well enough for you)

Please note however that even if the latency will be better than with original non-ASIO drivers, stability and minimum latency won't be as good as with a dedicated native ASIO driver (Asio4all is not magical and it will not transform your cheap integrated sound card into a pro-audio device, this is not going to happen!)
We successfully tested our products in many configurations using virtual audio cable drivers like VAC and it works pretty well for short operation times.

However, due to the very design of these special drivers, and given the fact that unless a hard synchronization like wordclock is used, two clock sources will always drift given enough time (ex: no two wrist watches can stay in sync for very long) we don't officially support these use scenarios.

Please note however that for many tasks the drift will be hardly noticeable, and in some cases, if there is less than 1 ms drift per hour it could be deemed good enough for the job.

Alternatively, you could try using JACK as it provides a better architecture with a centralized server and supports more advanced connection schemes. The setup is more involved though, please refer to the documentation.
Yes you can use virtual MIDI patching utilities and drivers like MIDI Yoke, LoopBe or loopMIDI to route MIDI to or from any 3rd-party application and our products.
Multi-screens support is enabled by default and should work out of the box with no configuration at all. Up to 4 physical monitors are supported, and each monitor can hold up to 8 virtual screens with their dedicated screen switcher.

When the application is started, all available monitors are probed and those that meet the criterias are used and the others discarded.

Currently the only criteria is a minimum width of 800 and minimum height of 600. Rotated screens should be supported too (provided they meet this criteria)

This limitation is imposed by the fact our "rack" aspect ratio is 788 pixels wide and the largest GUI wrapper (7U knobs rack) can fit up to 588 pixels vertically.
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Yes, provided they all have their own control device(s) many musicians can play on the same machine running a single instance of the application.

Using a multi-channel sound card, musicians can even run completely distinct and parallel patches, each using their own inputs and outputs (for instance the first musician can use a patch using input 1&2 and output 1&2, the second musician can use input 3 to 6 and output 3 to 8, and so on...)

Also up to 4 monitors are supported, each one containing its own set of up to 8 virtual screens and each with its own mappable control port. This way each musician can switch the virtual screens on its monitor using for instance a MIDI controller, allowing visual feedback to help the performance.
You should always try to use the native bitdepth of your soundcard: if your card has for example 24 bit converters, select a bitdepth of 24 bit for the audio format. Note: when using ASIO the best bitdepth is automatically selected by the driver and you don't have anything to configure.

The sampling rate to use depends on the kind of project and on your preferences. High rates offer a better overall quality, more spectral headroom, reduce audible aliasing, improve the performance and fidelity of filters and waveshapers, etc. Past a certain point the gains are debatable, and the processing power required becomes considerably higher.

Some soundcards, mostly integrated or legacy ones, have a native sampling rate and perform rate conversion when presented with streams of a different format. In this case you must select the native sampling rate for the audio format otherwise performance and quality won't be optimal.
Just right-click any GUI control (button, pot, fader, etc) to display the context menu and select "Quick MIDI map..."

A dialog will popup with mapping options. Just move your controller and the auto-learn mode will do the job. Default settings work for most situations and mapping types are automatically detected.
First go to the MIDI configuration page and make sure the correct channel is selected in the "MIDI Keyboard" box.

By default your MIDI keyboard will follow the control focus. When any module that can receive MIDI input get the control focus (indicated by a green frame around its GUI) MIDI keyboard input will automatically be redirected to its input.

You can lock the MIDI keyboard to any module by right clicking on the module GUI to display its context menu, and selecting "Lock MIDI keyboard".

Note: if the "Lock MIDI keyboard" option is disabled, it means the module can't receive MIDI or your MIDI setup is incorrect.
Right-click on a module GUI to display its context menu (for VST modules you need to click on the RP part of the GUI) and select "Receive MIDI".

You can chose to route any single MIDI input channel or route the complete MIDI interface (all 16 channels, omni mode)

Omni mode allows to control multi timbral instruments.
No you can't, our applications are designed for live performance. Besides, there are many other tools available that do the job perfectly.
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Currently our products support:

- VST1 to VST2.4 effects
- VST1 to VST2.4 instruments
- VST1 to VST2.4 MIDI effects (incl. sequencers)
- Our own plug-in format (internal and external)
You must tell the application where your plug-ins are located on your hard drive.

In the application, open the configuration menu and display the VST tab. Then select the correct directories by clicking on the appropriate buttons.

When you are done, click "Apply" to save the new settings, then click the "Scan VST plug-ins" button to initiate a manual scan.

Once the scan is complete, you can start using your VST plug-ins right away.

If only some particular plug-ins are missing, it is quite possible that they were black-listed by the application. If this is the case and if these particular plug-in(s) work in other host applications, please contact our technical support by mail (support at livefactory dot com) and include the problematic plug-in(s) name(s) in your message.

We do our best to support as many plug-ins as possible, but there might be some rare "unsolvable cases" and we are sorry for that. Please browse our technical support forums to see if there is any issue with the plug-ins you wish to use.
While we try our best to be compatible with all plug-ins, some can make the application crash whatever the amount of protection we put in place.

Just relaunch the application (as many times as needed until the scan is complete) and scan will restart from the point it left.

Faulty plug-ins are automatically black-listed and are excluded from future scans and listings. The first VST plug-ins scan can take a rather long time, but thanks to caching and black-listing, following scans are very fast.
There can be different reasons why these messages can popup, but most likely it means that there are plugins in your search path that are not properly installed.

These messages are displayed when a redistributable software component called the "C runtime" is not found on the machine when the application tries to load a plugin .dll into memory while scanning. Reinstalling the plugin(s) should solve the problem.

Please note also that this can happen when there are non-plugin .dll files in the search path. In all cases the application should automatically black-list the problematic files and the message(s) will not be displayed again when you restart it.
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This is surely the most common problem for beginners but unfortunately it can have very different roots.

But most probably, either your latency is too low for your sound card, or you are asking too much out of your CPU.

In both cases, increasing the audio buffer size is more than likely to solve the problem. To do this, open the "wave engines" configuration tab, locate the engine in use (its name should be in bold) and click the associated "config" button.

A second dialog will popup, allowing to set the audio buffer size, and for multi-buffered and polling engines, you can also change the buffer count. For ASIO engines, you can't set the buffer size directly, you must instead click the "ASIO control panel" button and change the buffer size there.

If this doesn't solve your problem, please browse our technical support forums and read especially this post. If you can't find your answer, ask your question over there. Properly setting up a PC for live performance is not trivial, so don't be afraid to ask.
If you have DPC latency issues, it means one (or more) of your device drivers introduces delays that interfere with real-time audio. Some drivers are faulty, others are just poorly coded, whatever the cause you must detect the problematic ones.

There is an excellent free 3rd-party tool called "DPC Latency Checker" and an explanation of the problem available on this page. Read the page, download the tool and execute it while the audio is running.

If your system is subject to this problem (indicated by yellow or red stripes when using the latency checker tool), first make sure you got the latest version of all your drivers (video, audio, network, usb controllers, any peripheral, etc) If the problem persists, you'll probably have to disable the faulty devices, at least when performing music.

To determine which devices are faulty without blind guessing you'll need a second free tool called "LatencyMon" and available here. Run the tool alongside the audio application and mark all drivers which have a value superior to 1 in the "highest execution (ms)" column.
If moving or displaying windows, opening menus or moving the mouse make the audio output glitch or skip, you likely have a bad interaction between your video card and your audio card.

In the past this was very frequent when using PCI cards, but some AGP or PCI-E systems can exhibit the same kind of problems.

First make sure you have the latest driver for your video card. Refer to your vendor manual and/or web site for update instructions. Search online forums to see if there are any known issues with your particular video card.

You could also try to lower the graphics acceleration settings in your Windows video control panel, and eventually turn off all visual effects and Aero (under Vista / Seven)

Check that your video and your audio card (or the USB host controller for USB cards) don't share the same IRQ, as it could be the cause too.

If this doesn't work and if you use a PCI soundcard, you might have to configure the PCI latency in the BIOS and the busmastering option of your video card, but beware those are very advanced settings so you should be very cautious if you change them.
The patcher is an OpenGL accelerated surface and it requires that your video card driver supports OpenGL 1.2 at least to work properly.

If you experience any slowdown, slow redrawing, or slow responsivity on the window (when no other window is covering it) please make sure you have the lastest video card driver version installed.

If using Windows generic driver for your video card, manually download and install the one from your video card chipset vendor website instead.
There are known conflicts with some OpenGL driver versions (ie the drivers that come with your video card) and thus far, all reported problems were solved by updating the video card driver.

Please refer to your video card chipset vendor website (nvidia or ATI) for information about the update procedure and links to the latest driver versions.
Our applications use fonts that are optimized for anti-aliased display, meaning you need to enable anti-aliasing in your operating system for them to show as expected.

Under WindowsXP, the anti-aliasing technology is called "ClearType" and is not enabled by default, meaning you need to do it yourself by following these simple steps: HOW TO: Use ClearType to Enhance Screen Fonts in Windows XP.

Under Windows Vista, Seven and Windows 8, ClearType is enabled by default. You might still want to customize its settings to get optimal results with your particular monitor.
This is a well-known Asio4all issue, please refer to the Asio4all documentation.

You must either stop using the MIDI output device (remove it from the device list in MIDI configuration tab) or enable device sharing in the audio devices manager (in Windows control panel)

If this doesn't solve your problem, sometimes enabling the "always resample to 48k" option in Asio4all control panel can do the trick. Otherwise you must completely disable the Microsoft GM Synth by muting its output in the system mixer and also make sure it isn't used or listed anywhere.
Under certain configuration settings, Asio4all requires exclusive access to the device.

If the application seems to work (power on succeeded, vumeters and GUI powered) but no sound can be heard, the problem is very likely to be an other application using the same device (ex: winamp, wmplayer or your browser)

Close all applications that could be using the audio device and try to power on the application again.
When the application starts it will automatically scan all audio drivers and try to open them to probe their capabilities (as some sounds card can expose a different number of audio channels depending on their control panel settings)

Some audio drivers can not be opened by multiple clients at once, meaning that when the application scan them and another application is already using the driver, it will fail. In this case the device will not be listed in the application configuration.

To solve the problem, just go to the "audio devices" configuration tab, make sure all applications using the audio driver are closed (including your web browser sometimes!) and click the "rescan devices" button. Your missing device(s) should be listed properly then.
Please refer to the M-Audio knowledge base, your driver is not installed properly, surely because an update didn't remove the previous version.

You must completely remove any trace of the previous driver installation from your system, and this might include having to edit the registry by hand to remove zombie keys.

Also don't connect your external hardware before installing the drivers. Install the drivers first then connect the hardware.
Please refer to the VAC documentation section about multi channel audio.

You might have to use Asio4All in hybrid/composite mode to succeed, merging either the inputs of VAC with the outputs of your regular driver or the output of VAC with the inputs of your regular driver. Please check Asio4All documentation.

For DirectSound and MME modes you have to set the default audio format for the VAC devices in the Windows audio control panel (by default they are stereo regardless of the configuration in VAC control panel)

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