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SG Connect: How to Offload Plugins to a Server Without a SoundGrid Audio Interface

Dec 10, 2020

Learn how to offload plugin processing to a dedicated SoundGrid server, using a non-SoundGrid audio interface, the ‘SG Connect’ feature in the SoundGrid Studio application, and the StudioRack plugin.

Please note: This setup is intended for mixing purposes only. It is not intended for real-time monitoring and recording through plugins (latency will be introduced if used for recording), or to stream multi-channel audio to and from your DAW in ultra-low latency. For real-time, low-latency capabilities, you will need to add at least one SoundGrid audio interface and a SoundGrid-compatible switch.

Shopping List:

Let’s start with a list of all hardware, software and peripherals you will need to set this up:

  1. A computer running Windows or Mac (see system requirements), with:

    1. The SoundGrid Studio and the StudioRack plugin chainer, installed and licensed on the computer (or on a USB flash drive). (See Installation and license activation instructions.)

      Please note:

      Unlike SoundGrid Studio v9, SoundGrid Studio v11 and up always requires a license (even if you are not using a SoundGrid server). You can register a FREE license for SoundGrid Studio + 8 channels of the eMotion ST mixer. You must then activate your license via Waves Central.

      StudioRack is not supported in SoundGrid mode in Pro Tools HDX, HD or HD Native.

    2. SoundGrid-compatible plugins, installed and licensed on the computer (or on a USB flash drive). (See Installation and license activation instructions.)

    3. If the computer does not have an Ethernet port, an approved Ethernet adapter:

      • OS X users: New Apple computers featuring Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C connectivity should use one of the following qualified adapters:
        1. Sonnet Solo 10G Thunderbolt 3-to-Ethernet Adapter
        2. OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet Adapter

      • Windows Users: Windows computers featuring USB-C connectivity should use the following adapter:
        • Plugable USB Type-C Gigabit Ethernet Adapter USBC-E1000

  2. A non-SoundGrid audio interface (your on-board sound card is also a valid option; on Windows, an ASIO4ALL driver must be installed).

    Your audio interface must have an ASIO (Windows) or Core Audio (Mac) driver supporting multi-client operation and 44.1–96 kHz sample rate. Verify this with the audio interface’s user manual/manufacturer.

    Please note: ASIO / Core Audio Driver buffer sizes larger than 2048 are not supported. Non-standard buffer size intervals are not supported either.

  3. A SoundGrid Sever to process plugins.

  4. One supported Ethernet cable

Setup Instructions

  1. Connect Your SoundGrid Server

    1. Using supported Ethernet cables, connect the SoundGrid server to your computer’s Ethernet port (or adapter).

    2. Make sure the server is powered and turned on.

  2. Configure the SoundGrid Studio Software

    1. The first time you launch SoundGrid Studio, the Auto-Config Wizard will automatically scan the network and configure your system. Here’s what it will do:

      • The Wizard will identify the host computer LAN port. If more than one valid LAN port is present, you will be prompted to choose the correct one. If you can’t identify the correct network port, please refer to this support article.

      • The Wizard will scan the network for devices and assign them to your system inventory. Notice the “Add to SoundGrid Studio?” prompt asking to add the device to the SoundGrid Network on the top right of your screen. In this case you should see just one prompt for your SoundGrid server: click ‘Yes’ to add it.

      • If the server firmware is out of date, the Wizard will automatically update it to match your SoundGrid Studio software version.

    2. Go to the Setup page. Under the I/O device slot labeled ‘SG Connect’, click the arrow and manually assign your non-SoundGrid interface, from the ‘local Devices’ menu. After a short cycle of switching the assignment off and on again, your audio interface will appear with blue text.

    3. Alternatively, you can run the Auto-Config Wizard:

      1. Click ‘Start’ under ‘Auto config.’ In the prompt click ‘Reconfigure’, then ‘Next’ to reconfigure. The Wizard will scan the network for devices and assign them to your system inventory. It will prompt that “No SoundGrid I/O was found on the network. Reconnect a SoundGrid I/O and re-run the Auto Configuration, or select a local Audio driver to use SoundGrid Connect.” In this case:

        1. Click Select I/O.
        2. Select your audio interface driver (or ASIO4ALL).
        3. Click Done.
        4. The assignment will appear in the SG Connect slot in blue text.

    If SoundGrid Studio encounters problems with its configuration or requires your attention, prompts will guide you to the appropriate solutions.

    Note: Do not manually set the SoundGrid Driver’s ‘Network Driver Buffer’ to 104, as this will result in clicks and pops. Other values are fine.

  3. Configure Your DAW

    1. Launch your DAW and access its Settings dialog.

    2. Select the same audio interface driver (or ASIO4ALL) as the above ASIO (Windows) or Core Audio (Mac) driver, for input and output where applicable.

  4. Configure StudioRack to Offload Your Plugin Processing

    1. Load the StudioRack plugin (from your DAW’s insert point > ‘Effects’ category) on all relevant tracks.

    2. If SoundGrid Studio has been configured properly – StudioRack should display that it is in ‘SG’ Mode (vs. ‘Native’), and the ‘SG’ icon will be green. If the ‘SG’ icon is red, something is not configured properly – click it and the application will indicate what to address.

    3. Load a plugin or chain of plugins in StudioRack. (You may want to take advantage of StudioRack’s advanced chaining features, including the parallel and multiband splits and the macros.)

    4. Play back your audio. The plugin processing you hear is being handled by the Soundgrid server.

Learn More about Additional SoundGrid Capabilities

As noted at the start of this article, this setup is intended for mixing only. It allows you to mix with more plugins, by offloading all plugin processing to the SoundGrid server. For this purpose, you do not need a SoundGrid audio interface.

If you do add a SoundGrid audio interface to this setup, you will also be able to:

  • Record and monitor through plugins in real time: See complete instructions.

  • Connect more computers and devices to your SoundGrid network, in order to stream audio easily between all these different devices and DAWs. Each new device you add will be patched automatically by SoundGrid Studio’s Auto-Config Wizard; but you will also be able to adjust the patch and device settings as you wish, manually. Using eMotion ST (the mixer section of SoundGrid Studio), you will be able to control and mix all audio coming from these devices.

    To learn more about SoundGrid networking, including how to stream audio between DAWs and how to mix different DAW outputs using SoundGrid Studio, consult the SoundGrid Studio user guide.

Related Support Articles

Need more assistance? Contact Waves Technical Support.