Endless problems trying to set up Mac G4 AGP for advanced Digital Audio

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by CGI-GUY, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. CGI-GUY macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2008
    Ok, I have turned to this forum for help in a problem that has been ongoing for about 3 years now. I desperately need help, I am on the verge of giving this Mac away because I just cant get it to do anything.

    MY GOAL: To run Logic Pro 6 and Reason 4 on this machine, with Motu 828 mkii audio interface, and emagic amt8 midi interface.

    MY MAC:
    AGP Graphics
    originally 450mhz, upgraded with Sonnet 1.4ghz processor
    1.5 gigs ram (max for this machine) 2 256 chips, 2 512 chips, all PC100
    Radeon 8500 graphics card.

    I dont know what other details you experts might need, please advise if any.

    Originally I had a scsi drive installed (in addition to a western digital for my main drive) with an adaptec scsi pci card. But the scsi drive kept disappearing off the desktop, and had to be re-initiated with disk utility over and over. So I took it out, at least for now. (I heard adaptec scsi pci cards are not compatible with OS X, dont know if thats true but took it out just in case. It did WORK, just didnt STAY working.)

    Bought a brand new hard drive recently, western digital again. Reinstalled MAC OSPanther (10.3.5 I believe) from the REAL DISKS (originally was installed from copied disks given to me).

    When I put the new hard drive in, I took out all my PCI cards except the graphics card obviously. Just in case any of the PCI cards were causing a problem or one of the problems. So right now, its just the ONE hard drive, the Radeon card, and the RAM.

    RAM is 4 chips.... 2 512mb and 2 256mb, all PC100. In the process now of testing each ram chip indicidually, using "Memtest" (http://www.command-tab.com/2008/01/11/how-to-test-ram-under-mac-os-x/).
    The reason I have 2 and 2 is that the ram only goes to 1.5 gig. So my options are either the above, or 3 512mb chips. Ive been told to run efficiently, all slots need to be full. Ive also been told to run efficiently, all chips must be same MB. These contradict each other though, because I have 4 slots and only 1.5 gigs max ram allowance. I dont know who to listen to.

    After I put in the new hard drive, I was FINALLY able to properly install Logic and Reason and OPEN them at least. But not able to actually get any SOUND out of them. The audio interface (motu 828 mkii) is a firewire device. I suppose my firewire ports could be bad now, but they did work once upon a time. (I originally had an M-Audio audio interface that did yield sound.... but didnt work properly. Come to find out that particular M-Audio midi interface was not compatible with my 3rd party processor upgrade. So I got rid of it and got a new audio interface).

    And my other problem is this.... the driver for my midi interface (emagic amt8) just absolutely will NOT install. I know it SHOULD work, because it WAS installed before I put this new hard drive in. Its like, most of the problems went away, but then this new problem surfaced. I have tried it a zillion times/ways, and the emagic driver simply will NOT install. What happens is.... when I click on the .pkg or whatever it is to install it, and it pops up the list of hard drives, instead of the green down arrow on the hard drive that you normally see when installing something, I get the red X. It tells me I cannot install on this drive (null). I have the drive partitioned into 2, and it gives me the red X on both drive partitions. This is just bizarre to me, because like I said... it WAS installed on the old setup (which didnt work either, but for different reasons).

    My last possible option of why this could be is the RAM. I mean, what else IS there?? So here's what I did next... I ran 4 tests. Took out 3 ram chips, testing each one individually (in the first slot of course)... to see if the midi driver would install. Tried all 4 chips individually, midi driver would not install all 4 times.

    Last but not least this leads me to the RAM test I am running now on each chip. I didnt realize it was going to take 35 freakin hours to test. So Im just somewhere in the 1st of 2 tests for the 1st of 4 chips.

    I know there is SOMETHING wrong with the RAM for the following reason. I was going to try to just wipe the computer again, so I tried to burn a CD of some stuff on the Mac that I wanted to save before wiping it. I tried 3 times to burn a data CD, and 3 times the Mac froze up... giving me the gray box that says "your computer needs to be restarted... blah blah blah blah blah". The burning failed and froze the computer up every time.... UNTIL..... I again took out 3 ram chips, leaving only 1 of the 512 chips in. And NOW the CD burned successfully. So there is definitely SOMETHING going on with the ram, but I dont know that it is whats causing the midi driver to not install. For the record, the computer has always read out to me that there were in fact 1.5 gigs of RAM.

    Yeah, I could go buy new ram, or even try yet another hard drive..... but frankly Ive invested SOOOOO MUCH time and effort into this only to hit dead end after dead end after dead end, that Im ready to just give up and chuck the thing out the window or give it to a friend (after all its virtually worthless dollar-wise). And if I did that, I would go buy a brand new PC... not because I WANT to, but because I cant afford to buy a brand new mac. What I would need Mac-Wise would cost me $3500.... the PC equivalent would run about $900. I just cant afford to get a new Mac. And I DONT want to buy a used G5 off ebay, because I bought this G4 used off ebay and look where its gotten me. So IF Im going to get another computer, it IS going to be a brand new one.

    Ok, thats it. Thats where Im at. If somebody can solve my problem, I will freakin PAY you MONEY. If youve even read this far, I very much appreciate it..... personally if I were YOU, I would have given up on ME 4 or 5 paragraphs ago! I wouldve said "sorry buddy, sounds like youre screwed!" Haha, just kidding, well kind of. :) If someone can fix this problem for me, I will be forever in your debt. Because like I said, Im ready to give up.
    This situation has literally been going on for 3 years now. I have a bunch of gear and used to make music using just gear.... then I wanted to switch to the computer and this is what happened. Meanwhile I sold the big mixing console I had that I used to use all my gear with (to buy the computer stuff).... so now I cant even go back to making music the way I used to! Im stuck in electronic music maker's limbo!!!! So Ive been making music on Reason alone on my crappy PC for the last 3 years!!!! Its sad really, I have an entire recording studio here, and I dont use any of it, just Reason on a crap old PC.

    Thank you a million times over for even reading all of this.

    Yours Truly,
    Rob aka "Desperate for Help"
  2. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    What I would do...

  3. CGI-GUY thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2008
    Thank you very much Alex for your insight.

    Yes, the hard drive size exceeds my capacity. I believe 137gigs is the barrier, the hard drive is actually 160. But according to Western Digital, this shouldnt cause problems (yeah right). There is *something* you can do to break the barrier, maybe that is the bios update you are talking about. Can you point me in the right direction on how to go about doing that? I have no clue.

    Well Ive been told it is bad for digital audio to have your system hard drive coming off a PCI card. Yes/no? Otherwise, I totally wouldve done this already. Can you elaborate on "updating the HD without the HD controller"? I dont get that part really.

    I'll probably just ditch SCSI altogether, and get SATA for the secondary audio drive. Do you think that would be wise? Seems a lot easier. The SCSI drive I have is only 36 gigs anyway. Its fast as hell, 15k rpm u320.... but ridiculously small. And LOUD, the thing sounds like a Harley, lol. I only chose SCSI over SATA because this was 3 years ago, and SATA was a lot more expensive back then. I guess if I'm gonna do this anyway, I could first test the SATA drive out as the system drive and see what happens.

    Ok, my friend also said that the RAM all needs to match precisely. But I dont know how to check it any further than "pc100". How do I find out about the 2/2 2/3 thing? I certainly have no idea how to figure out what year it came from. How do I find out?

    But in the RAM testing, now complete, I did discover that one of the 256 chips was bad. I dont know if you are familiar with the Memtest program, but you start the mac up in "single user" (?) mode (command S on boot) to test it. 2 of the tests said good, 1 said bad... and 1 would not do anything. It would not bring up the command-S screen, it just stayed black. Does this mean that chip is bad too?

    As for the drivers, "junior" helped me solve that problem. Unbelieveable..... he said "drag the installer to your desktop and rename it. And it freakin WORKED!!!! So thats one problem down!

    Oh yeah.... any comments on the firewire ports possibly not working? Is there a way to test them or something? Also I should have mentioned... the audio interface is firewire, but the midi interface is USB.

    Thanks a million for your insight man, I totally appreciate you taking your time to help me!
  4. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2005
    I'm only really here at night.

    Having owned many of the early macs, including Beige G3s, B&W's, Sawtooth's (like yours), Digital Audio's, and Quicksilver's, I will offer the following info, based on my experiences with them:

    #1: IMO, except for speed, SCSI sux, always has, always will :eek:

    Ditch it for SATA & don't look back. Gets you speed, no limit on HD size, and offloads the bus mastering from the CPU to the card, which will allow your CPU to do it's real job that much faster & better.....

    SATA HDD's and cards ARE bootable nottaproblemo......
    I have been doing this for years with all of the above machines :p

    #2: Ram for the older G4's MUST the low density type of PC 100/133, with chips on both sides of the stick , and meet the other specs of 3.3v, 168-pin, NON-ECC, 8ns or faster. Your machine has 4 ram slots, and can take 2GB's (4x 512mb) total......the 1.5GB limit was an OS 9 limitation ONLY. Precise matching/identical pairs/brands etc is NOT necessary either. Please correct (with a firm biotch-slap up side the head) the mis-informed person that told you this non-sense :D

    The latency timings (2-2-2, 3-3-3 etc) was not as important for the older machines as it is for newer ones, because the system would adjust itself to only run as fast as the slowest stick. System profiler did not show these numbers because the memory controller on the motherboard did not report them to the OS.

    If you had a bad stick, that would have definitely caused major issues with audio apps and their respective devices, as well as any other apps that rely heavily on swapping data into & out of ram on a near constant basis....

    If the ram has any labels on it, you can google the part numbers, sometimes that will yield enough info for you to identify the sticks more precisely as to speed, specs and approx date of mfgr.........

    Lastly, I would agree that for your uses, a dual processor upgrade would have been a much better investment than the single one......but whether or not you would want to spend that much mo money on such an old machine is another question ?????

    Good luck, hope this helps !
  5. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    I don't know if this helps, and I'd hate to state the obvious, but maybe it's time for a new machine?
  6. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    Smurf is right on that the money...

    I agree with Smurf on most questions.

    The SATA route would be indeed the best HD option for you, speed wise and stability wise AND you will be able to take the drive into a future system so its not lost money.
    If you are very lucky, you find a WD Raptor 10K drive on sale these days as well as a nice SATA card from seritek or Sonnet. They are cheap and you can use your new 10k raptor drive as the main boot drive!
    This set up works sooo well in my G4 1,42 Dual MDD, very snappy it made a big difference and its almost like a different machine.

    However I must admit; compared to Smurf I was always very happy with a SCSI System in my old PC. I don't know your financial situation... if you don't want to spend a whole lot I would try to find a better SCSI card on ebay and sell the one you have. There have been many different SCSI standards around and it sounds to me that you even have a SCSI mixed bag.

    In you first post you mentioned SCSI 320.. Since your G4 is already a older generation system with in the G4 series I seriously doubt that this is right. At that time on the SCSI side there was only the 68 Ultra and maybe the 160 standard available but not the 320. Since I seriously doubt that you have the super-duper SCSI controller in you system, it looks to me you have a SCSI MIX that doesn't work well. Your drives can 320 but not the SCSI controller - and that is what messes up your system. If you want to give your SCSI System a last chance, find the right SCSI card on ebay (around 35 bucks) and sell the one you have. Before you do that, check the SCSI terminators and try a different address as well....
  7. Firefly2002 macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2008
    As mentioned, I'd recommend getting an SATA PCI card. I don't know of any issues with a HDD running off PCI while running digital audio, but I do know that you're right... Adaptec SCSI cards have issues with OS X (much like you had)

    I don't know how old the software you're trying to run is (I'm not familiar with it), but you might want to (first thing's first) update to 10.3.9. Really though, I'd recommend Tiger 10.4.9 or later. If you're strapped for cash or just don't want to buy something you might not end up using (i.e. Tiger), you might want to check torrents. All in all though, Tiger's a nice upgrade from Panther.

    I've never known hard drives to cause conflicts with other hardware.. I don't think that was really necessary, for future reference. ;)

    Also as mentioned, you can have up to 2 GB of RAM in your Mac, the 1.5 GB limitation was only for OS 9.

    The three slots being full to run efficiently is a bunch of crap.. it would technically be slightly faster if it was the same RAM in fewer slots, since it's a fewer number of slots to access. You'd never notice it, though, and it wouldn't even show up in benchmarks, I don't believe.

    That really only applies to machines with dual-channel/interleaved (or quad-channel....) RAM, like the interleaving in the PowerMac 9600, or the G5s and Mac Pros

    Have you read the manual? I assume you can install it on the same hard drive that holds the system software (never heard of software that couldn't), but maybe not?

    You might try running a program like DiskWarrior (DiskWarrior 3 or later); this can fix myriad problems related to your hard drive on Macs.

    Last but not least this leads me to the RAM test I am running now on each chip. I didnt realize it was going to take 35 freakin hours to test. So Im just somewhere in the 1st of 2 tests for the 1st of 4 chips.

    Doesn't necessarily mean it's bad RAM (could be unrelated, believe it or not), but you might want to get 2 GB anyway, or stick to 1 GB, since that would be enough for what you're trying to do right now.

    If things don't pan out here, I would recommend going to the Apple Discussion Forums, and going to the G4 section. They're not as specific as they could be for the G4 (all G4s prior to the MDD/FW800s), but it's a better bet than here; everyone in there has an older G4.


    You might find someone with a similar problem (or rather, someone who had a similar problem, and fixed it). People there have knowledge specific to G4s... try it out.
  8. CGI-GUY thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2008
    Thanks a lot guys for your help. im getting the ram situation worked on. And its great to kow I can actually go to 2 gigs now. But now the latest problem is that the Mac doesnt read the firewire audio interface. Its not recognizing it at all. Any ideas here? Any way to test my firewire ports?
  9. Firefly2002 macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2008
    TechTool Pro tests all your ports, I'm not sure if it would detect what you're experiencing but it's worth a shot, especially if you already have it.

    I assume you've already tried ZAPping PRAM, reseting NVRAM and holding down the CUDA button? If not, that's something you should definitely do.

    As for the audio device, I really don't have any idea or experience with anything like that. I guess you've tried both ports?

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