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FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!

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Grant Higginson
FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!
on Nov 17, 2011 at 3:38:30 am

Hi Guys, this RANDOM problem has got me stumped. I'm in the middle of editing a project at the moment and unless I playback the sequence from the very first frame, I can't get any audio to playback. If I skip through the timeline I can't get any audio when I hit play, no levels or anything. When I open the audio file there are waveforms and everything, just no playback. Same deal with the files if I open them direct from the bin. Both camera files as well as aif audio files.

I restart my computer then it would playback but would switch between left or right channels each time I hit play.

I'm editing footage from a Sony NX5 which I have logged and transferred to Apple ProRes 422 with AC3 audio set to matrix stereo. I have had other audio problems when editing my DSLR Footage. This problem caused the audio to playback at a slow motion speed and sounded really morphed. Even the exported quicktime videos would do the same. i got around that problem by creating a new project and copying the files into new sequences in the new project (That won't work with this problem).

i have tried deleting preferences and render files, I have changed where my media is stored and still no fix.

I've been using Final Cut Pro for years now and never came across this problem. I can't think of what I have changed on my computer to cause it. I did install FCPX but I THINK it was happening before this. I noticed that I'm only running version 7.0.2 so I tried upgrading to 7.0.3 but nothing happened, i'm guessing this is because I have FCPX installed which has caused Final Cut Studio to go into it's own foldr and not in the applications root directory.

Any help with this problem would be greatly appreciated. I run a full time production company and it has seriously brought me to a standstill so it's costing me money.

I'm about to use FCS remover and re-install Final Cut Studio 3 to see if that works, but i'd rather not if anyone knows of another solution?


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hadaska Schlussel
Re: FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!
on Nov 17, 2011 at 7:46:14 am

Hi Grant,

I have some suggestions to what might have go wrong.
I'm not yet familiar with the FCPX so I can't tell if this is what causing the problem.
What I Think you should do is to check your sequence settings for the audio, and your clips audio properties. From my experience working with DSLR Footage, sometimes the audio can be recorded at 24bit and don't mach the sequence settings. This can cause this kind of problems.
In this case just change your sequence settings so it will fit, and export as you wish afterwords.

Once I got some footage from a JVC Z7 that has some weird setting for the audio bit rate, it was something called flow point, I think, and FCP didn't work with that at all. Then I exported again some clips and rendered one by one some others. Very exhausting, but I didn't find another way.

I hope some of this will help you.


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Grant Higginson
Re: FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!
on Nov 21, 2011 at 4:29:59 am

Thanks for the response,
After hours of trying to fix it, it just randomly started working again. Was fine for a few days but then today I was faced with the same problem. This time it was before I had even added and footage to the timeline. I just added the voiceover for the TV commercial and it was playing back in slow motion. My Activity Monitor says I still have over half of my RAM free so it's not a lagging issue with playback.

The file was a wav file so I opened it with QT and exported it as an aiff with all the correct settings but even that had the same playback issues. I finally decided to upgrade to 7.0.3 (not sure why it took me this long) and I was hoping that would fix it but NOPE!

This is driving me CRAZY! I HATE unexplainable problems!


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hadaska Schlussel
Re: FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!
on Nov 21, 2011 at 7:20:49 am

Sorry, might look like a silly question, but
what about your hardware?

What footage format are you using? On what type of hard disk?
Maybe thats Where it's going wrong?
have you tried working with your rushes on a different hard disk?

If you're using the activity monitor try monitoring CPU activity when your footage is playing.

Another option, we're in the Voodoo phase, I had once a playback problem, it got just a little bit out of sync, started every clip in slow motion, and then continued in the right pace but out of sync.
Anyway, my solution was to erase my FCP personal settings, and restart and it worked for a while.

But I have to admit this is not a long term solution, the problem comes and goes. To solve it I need a faster hard disk.

Sorry I can't do more.


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Grant Higginson
Re: FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!
on Jan 31, 2012 at 12:36:30 am

Hi Hadaska,
Sorry for the ridiculously late reply. I'm starting to think it could be hardware based. It's only happening on one machine - myh newest machine. It doesn't happen on any projects on my MBP or on my older 24 inch iMac. I thought I had fixed the problem by creating a new user account. This worked fine for about 2 months then it randomly started happening again. So I created another user account and it worked fine but only for about 3 days then the problem happened again!. I am using a 2TB lacie hard drive with firewire 800 as my scratch disk for the vision but the audio files are on the actual computer hard disk. (I'll try putting them onto the same drive as the vision and see if that helps but I think I might have tried that when I was experiencing the problem in the past.

I have no idea how audio hardware works but I'm guessing it could be a problem with the sound card in the newer iMac. I'm guessing it's not in all of the iMacs of this model as I haven;t heard of anyone else having the same problem.


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Michael Gissing
Re: FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!
on Nov 21, 2011 at 4:56:56 am

So all you audio is 16 or 24 bit 48khz uncompressed (wav or aif)? And your sequence is 48khz?

Personally after hearing of problems with OS upgrades and installing FCPX on the same partition as FCS3, I would never upgrade past SL 10.6.7 and definately follow David Roth Weisse's advice about partitioning and keeping FCPX install away from a locked off working FCS3 partition.

Because FCS3 is legacy, you are best to freeze everything else to keep a solid working edit system. On the FCPX partition you are free to update and experiment.


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Grant Higginson
Re: FCP 7 weird audio playback problem - desperate for a solution!
on Nov 21, 2011 at 5:16:55 am

Yeah mate, it's all 24 bit 48khz. It'd definitely happened since running a software update and installing FCPX. I am now running SL 10.6.8.

Do you know what the best way of getting back to my old setup is? Do i need to completely wipe my hard drive and start from scratch? I don't even want FCPX on my machine as I don't use it at all. I just need to get back to that previous version of Snow Leopard. Is that even possible?


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