Weird interference at a performance

Hi everyone,

This will be my first post, but up until now I’ve been reading a lot of post here wich helped me setting up cantabile for my live performances.
I have a strange problem I can’t find a solution/answer for:

Last weekend I had a small gig at a local festival near my place. After we set up the stage and started the soundcheck a really weird interference popped up at my keyboard. At first I tought it was a buffer or processing error at my laptop since it sounded a bit like that, but but after a couple of minutes of fiddling around (and sweating nerviously) I found out the problem also accured on the sounds I use direcly from the keyboard. It sounds like a processor fully clogged up with a vst instrument, and after a couple of seconds the sound droppes completely and than restores normally.
I changed the usb cables, restarted both the keyboard and my laptop and replaced all jack cables (luckily the sound guy had spare), but nothing would fix it.
Eventually we decided too do the gig with it, since it accured every 2 minutes or so and went away within a couple of seconds (and we only had an hour window).
When I came home I put up my setup and fired it up and… no error. Even after letting everything run for a couple of hours, nothing…

Does anyone know what could have caused this error? I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with cantabile, thats why I put this post in uncategorized, but maybe someone knows whats up.

I’ve uploaded a short video of the performance where the interference is really noticable:

It starts after a couple of seconds.

In this setup I used a lenovo gaming 3 i7 laptop. I use cantabile to map the global midi and to run keyscape for the piano and wurly samples and also use my Yamaha MODX6 keyboard (that i also use as a audio interface for the plugins). At the clip i use a vst piano, but as said it also occured on the modx itself.

I really hope someone recognizes this and knows what I can do to fix/prevent it in the future.

Musical greetings,

Hi Joost and Welcome to the forum!

From your post it sounds like it is a buffer thing and since it uses the MOD6X as the audio interface there is a chance the PC is affecting your internal sounds when it goes wrong. My first instinct is that you were at a different location than home so I always think of wireless network things going on in the area that are attempting connections with your laptop and security kicks up and scans which can cause slowdowns. It’s just a guess because I’m not certain how you set the wireless up when on location gigs. I disable mine at gigs. Anyway I hope you get it figured out.



The problem never occured before, but its a good tip to look into. I can easily recreate this at home.
However maybe its good to mention I had the task manager open after the first glitch and the processor level never went over 40% so I really doubt this is the answer.
All virus scans are disabled btw but the wifi could be possible, since i did not disable it. I will test this tomorrow, thanks!

Indeed it is strange that after a few seconds clean sound restores for 2 minutes. But I would look into cpu temperature and thermal throttling.

Interesting, but a bit scary…

One suggestion would be to use a separate audio interface for your Cantabile audio output, so you can better identify if there’s an issue within the MODX or with your PC setup - or if it’s with both worlds colliding… I don’t know how robust the Yamaha audio drivers are, and how using the keyboard as an audio interface can affect its internal sound generation, so separating the workloads could be a good idea for more stability. There are a number of gig-proven audio interfaces that you could use for Cantabile (RME, Zoom, …)

Thermal issues are always a potential at outdoor gigs - was there direct sunlight on your MODX? Usually, keyboards are pretty robust even in the summer heat, but it might be different when also using them as an audio interface. It’s not yet that time of the year when things get really hot, though - I’ve had gigs with temperatures in the high 30s where I was really worried about my keyboards, but weather is still pretty nice and civilized these days…

BTW: that’s also a reason for separating keys and Cantabile - my Cantabile setup (PC and interface) usually finds a nice and shady place at the back of the stage, even when I and my keyboards are sitting out in the sun. I just have a remote touch display sitting next to my keyboard.

I get that it’s super-convenient to have your keyboard do double-duty as an audio interface, but it also makes it a single point of failure, so maybe separating both could be worth a try…



Thank you for the reply’s!

It stays a weird problem, because it doesn’t show up anymore. I use this setup in the current form for a couple of months now, and before that it was the same only with Studio one as the VST host. It never gave any problems until last weekend.

I just tried to replicate the situation with the wifi searching for networks. To add a little workload I did a full virusscan to test how it would affect cantabile. But even with spikes at 100%CPU (Which I haven’t seen at the time of the gig) there was no noticable glitch even at the plugin side alone.
It’s really frustrating because the processor would seem to be the most likely suspect.

As for temperature I can not rule it out completely of course, but I think it is not likely:
the temperatures were ~20*c and I was standing at the back of the podium in a shady place. Also the laptop was just running for a few minutes at the time of the first glich.
I will install a monitoring app though, just to check it during or after the next rehealsals and gigs.

My own theory is that there was either a big grounding failure or the power generator was faulty (also since there were multiple power drop-outs during the whole weekend). A clockradio depends its timing on the power frequency so I can imagine that a cpu/chip also uses this frequency for timing. But I have no idea if that is even possible…

@Torsten I think you’re right about the extra audio interface. I’m normally all for dedicated devices for each task, but this keeps me from moving my whole household to every gig,
I am going to do either this, or cut out the plugins completely and rely on the internal sounds of the MODX alone. It’s really dissapointing though because the internal audio interface was one of the main reasons to go for the MODX.

Edit: I am really curious of your wiring BTW. It is interesting that you can place your computer so far away, doesn’t this add the risk of interference on your cables?

A lot of things to monitor in the next couple of days :wink:

I would look into a power issue. i have had that exact same thing happen to me when i was doing a Karaoke show / DJ show at a private party where i had to run off of a generator. I use a laptop for everything and an EV 18 sub and (2) 12in powered speakers. once i found a power outlet the problem went away.

Not really - this setup makes for relatively short audio connections (from my back-stage Cantabile rack to the mixer / stage box), and the connection to my keyboard setup is a single CAT 6 network cable that runs all USB connections plus the HDMI signal to my touchscreen. I have a “KVM Extender” that does that bridging - works super-solid in my rehearsal room setup; I expect it to do the same on-stage.

This is the “magic box” - here’s the relevant thread around this topic:

"Festival" Cantabile setup - experience-share

The network cable is sufficiently shielded that interference is not an issue. And of course I carry a backup - in my case a long USB cable and hub and another long HDMI cable, in case this construct should somehow break down. I might have to move the Cantabile rack a bit closer to my setup if this happens, but at least I’ll be functional.



My low level gremlins were solved when I disabled mobile data and location on my phone. I already have WiFI disabled when I play. The Nembrini noise gate wouldn’t touch it. Now I have quiet.

At home, your phone doesn’t have to search for a network. Maybe try disabling your home WiFi and see if the noise comes back.

I had trouble with my Lenovo Thinkpad causing audio dropouts and distortion when its preinstalled Lenovo Vantage software tried to do some tasks. Before live performances, I kill its services once which seems to trigger an eventual restart and after the second killing, it seems to stay down for the duration. I would remove Lenovo Vantage, but I am wanting to keep the software current, so I have opted for this two step manual approach. The dropouts can seem kind of random based on when it tries to do something and what it tries to do.

@Sstyxx01 Thanks! My feeling is that is in this corner. Good to know something simular has happened to others. (Only thing is, how to fix it if there is only one generator…).

@Torsten Of course! The KVM extender! I’ve used this in a video setup at my work, but completely forgot about it. That is quite a smart setup! I might copy that idea if I ever decide to redesign my setup.

@Shall This is what I tested at home yesterday. I deleted the home network and let the laptop search for networks. Unfortunately it did not recreate the bug. My laptop doesn’t have mobile data and bluetooth is disabled. I really don’t think it is in this corner (although I’m going to make it a habit to disable wifi at location).

@rstaudt Thanks, I will look into this. I think this app is also running on my laptop.

Yes, I don’t have WiFI on my laptop either. It was my Samsung S22 phone that was picked up, especially through the guitar pickup.

Any smartphone in close proximity (such as charging via USB) can haunt your set. Even my Presonus BT hub picked it up.

If you suspect generator power (square waves or reflections from bad connections), a decent inverter could sort it out within a few minutes testing.

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I had the same problem a couple of years ago. Luckily I still had some analogue gear at home and it was not too far to the venue. So I raced home, got my gear and everything went well. At home no such errors…
As it turned out there was a power substation about 200 meters away and it must have been its interferences that corrupted everything digital.

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Ah sorry, I didn’t realise you meant external interference. You could be right, I don’t suspect it to be my phone since at rehearsals it is normally on my keyboard or laptop, but I was standing next to an wireless in-ear rack. 5 antennas within 2 meters, so that may give some interference indeed. I might test this next time I’m near a rack…

Wow I hope you’re not right. That would mean I’m kind of helpless if I am near a substation next time…
I have nothing analog anymore…

I don’t think your wireless rack would be a problem. By nature (and good engineering) a wireless system would respect a musical environment.

Additionally, it wouldn’t ‘check in’ periodically, ensuring location and/or connection.

I would suspect a borrowed receptacle plugin charging ‘someones’ smartphone, because the nature of your interference is exactly similar to cellular type protocol.

But such interference decreases by square with distance (2x = 1/4 interference), so any charging strip should be at least 10’ away on an extension cord.

A music stand might also make a test shield to determine direction of RFI. If it had a ground, even better.

My phone is beyond WiFi, so it searches and I get audible noise and it’s periodic.5 feet is adequate, but I simply turn off mobile data and location and the noise stops.

Your phone likely stays connected so there’s no reason to search.

However, a wireless PA repeater might keep tabs every couple minutes, or a wireless sprinkler system tranceiver.

I made an N-G receptacle for my generator, but so far it’s never been necessary to use it.

Typically generators shouldn’t be susceptible to reflection interference, unless someone added a balast type load, and such a load wouldn’t repeat the noise periodically.