TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

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TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I know several forum members own Clarity M meters, for whom I have a warning:

DO NOT UPDATE TO v2.1.2 firmware!

I'm not sure when it came out -- I don't check often but I recently saw it was available and ran the update. The previous issue, v2.03, is flawed in several small ways but it's far less badly flawed than the latest update which has managed to swap the left/right axes of the Vectorscope display -- something which is spectacularly unhelpful!

It looks like the reason this has happened is because TC tried to correct a different problem with the vectorscope display in v2.03, where the polarity is inverted in v2.03 so that asymmetrical positive-going signals are displayed going down instead of up. Thankfully, this error, though basic and fundamental, is likely only to be relevant to critical mastering engineers.

Sadly, the firmware engineer assigned to fix this polarity issue didn't understand the problem properly, and has rotated the entire display image in V2.1.2, so although asymmetrical signals now display with the correct polarity the left and right channels have been swapped over.

DOH! :headbang:

And obviously, that is a much more mission-critical problem!

So, if you make regular use of the vectorscope -- and if not, why not? -- I'd recommend until someone at MusicTribe realises their gross error and comes up with firmware beyond v2.12, stick with (or revert to) v2.03.

Hopefully, MusicTribe's forum bots will pick up on this post and pass the feedback to the relevant people... :lol:
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Luke W »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:05 pm Sadly, the Firmware engineer assigned to fix this polarity issue didn't understand the problem properly, and has rotated the entire display image in V2.1.2, so although asymmetrical signals now display with the correct polarity the left and right channels have been swapped over. DOH! And obviously, that is a much more mission-critical problem!

As in, they've just turned it upside down? That's amazing. :lol:
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Not the word I'd use. :lolno:

Considering the Clarity M meter was launched 5 years ago, I am rather disappointed that they are still fixing such basic issues as inverted displays and erroneous meter calibration markings.

Nevertheless, I have to say the Clarity M (and Clarity M Stereo) are very useful and capable meters overall, and extremely good value for money, with nothing to touch them in that part of the market. It's frustrating, though, being let down by such careless, silly errors.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Luke W »

No in all seriousness I can imagine it's pretty infuriating, and it's not good enough really. I just quite often choose to laugh rather than cry! I've been thinking about getting myself one for quite some time now, but it's issues such as this that put me off.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Luke W wrote: Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:25 pmI just quite often choose to laugh rather than cry!

Good life policy! :D

I've been thinking about getting myself one for quite some time now, but it's issues such as this that put me off.

Please don't let it put you off -- as I said above, considered overall the Clarity M really is a very useful and versatile hardware meter, and you get a lot for your money. (It's currently half the price it was when launched, which makes it exceptional value for money in my book!)

I use mine routinely on location recording sessions and would be completely lost without it. (I have a DK Technologies meter in the studio, but that is irreplaceable now so I don't risk it on the road!)

I'm sure MusicTribe/TC Electronic will fix this firmware cockup soon enough as I can't be the only one to have noticed such a basic and obvious error!

BTW, if you are looking to buy a Clarity M, bear in mind that the are two versions: the 5.1 channel 'Clarity M', and the two-channel 'Clarity M Stereo'. There's typically around £25 difference in price between them (the stereo model being cheaper, of course).

The physical hardware is identical, as are the core metering functions, but the stereo version has only one (two-channel) digital input instead of three, and the superfluous channels' bar-graph meters are blanked out by the firmware. Both have a USB input to access the DAW plugin.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Eddy Deegan »

Thanks for the heads-up Hugh. When I got my Clarity-M Stereo I was expecting it to be interesting and useful enough but after using it on a number of projects I'd absolutely hate to be without it now.

For me the immediacy of the display at all times is a big plus; unlike a software solution it's always there and visible independent of the arrangement of windows on the DAW displays.

It's also great for verifying measurements generated by software and as it can be inserted at any point in the signal chain of the DAW it's extremely flexible in how it can be deployed too.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by The Elf »

Thanks for the warning. I have to say that I've not felt the need to search for updates to my Clarity M, but this news will pre-emptively stop me from doing so!
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Eddy Deegan wrote: Wed Oct 27, 2021 3:33 pm...after using it on a number of projects I'd absolutely hate to be without it now.

Funny how that happens! :lol:

For me the immediacy of the display at all times is a big plus...

Yes, I'm the same. having a meter that's always in the peripheral vision is very reassuring, and much easier to work with in practice than a virtual meter on screen IMHO.

When on location recording sessions, where I have to work mostly in headphones, the vectorscope display is a absolutely essential in providing information and reassurance about the stereo image and helping to decide the positions of stereo mic arrays and/or spot mic panning.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

The Elf wrote: Wed Oct 27, 2021 3:39 pmI have to say that I've not felt the need to search for updates to my Clarity M, but this news will pre-emptively stop me from doing so!

:lol:

In a product like this, updates often provide additional presets for the latest Loudness standards etc, so I keep an eye on such things as the standards are still evolving.

Previous updates have improved the CPU usage, and improved integration with specific DAWs including Cubase and Audition. The release notes for 2.1.2 mention six improvements, including better system stability and constant running performance. A single sample delay issue when locking to an AES3 input has also been fixed, and both the Nordic meter scale and vectorscope polarity corrected, along with the Sliding Loudness descriptor. So all worthy updates.

Unfortunately, they managed to unfix an important aspect of the vectorscope at the same time in error, and since I use that facility more than any other, I noticed!
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Luke W »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:32 pm Please don't let it put you off -- as I said above, considered overall the Clarity M really is a very useful and versatile hardware meter, and you get a lot for your money. (It's currently half the price it was when launched, which makes it exceptional value for money in my book!)


Thanks for that, I've been seeing the price gradually falling and it does seem like a bit of a steal at its current point. I've certainly heard more good than bad overall anyway.

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:32 pm BTW, if you are looking to buy a Clarity M, bear in mind that the are two versions: the 5.1 channel 'Clarity M', and the two-channel 'Clarity M Stereo'. There's typically around £25 difference in price between them (the stereo model being cheaper, of course).

The physical hardware is identical, as are the core metering functions, but the stereo version has only one (two-channel) digital input instead of three, and the superfluous channels' bar-graph meters are blanked out by the firmware. Both have a USB input to access the DAW plugin.

I had spotted that. I'm working purely in stereo at the moment with no plans to move into surround at any time soon, so that's probably a fairly easy decision.

The plugin input was a selling point for me as well, I think it's a great idea. I like the idea of being able to sit it across my monitor controller but I have no D-A cards installed at present and expanding it is a slippery slope I'd like to stay away from the top of for a while...
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by The Elf »

Just checked...

I'm on 2.03 and there I will remain. My Clarity rarely strays beyond the 'loudness-over-time' circle display TBH!
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Bob Bickerton »

I decided to order one of these following a big project which entailed 5 hours of audio of various lengths and types, all of which had to have similar loudness levels. I have the plug-in and it proved invaluable, but frustrating in terms of taking up screen real estate.

Heart sunk when I read the thread title, but feel reassured having followed it - I’m curious to see what firmware version it’ll have………

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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Both v2.0.3 and v2.1.2 are currently available on the TC Electronic website.

Loading firmware is as simple as dropping the required file into a dedicated folder when the meter is plugged into a computer (and set to look like a thumb drive).

Fortunately, the meter is quite happy to accept an earlier version of firmware than currently installed, if necessary, as well as a later version, and it only takes a few seconds and a reboot of the meter to complete.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Bob Bickerton »

Thanks!

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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Bob Bickerton »

Arrived and shipped with 2.0.3.

Very nice piece of kit.

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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I think 2.1.2 must be very recent.

Glad the system pleases, though. ;-)
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by ConcertinaChap »

Thanks for the heads-up, Hugh. I'm a major fan of the thing too. To be quite honest, despite all the explanations I never really understood what loudness was all about until I watched that amazing radar display on different pieces of music. I've never used the plugin as I've attached it to an S/PDIF output on my Apollo which is set to mirror the analogue output which is in turn set to full volume (monitoring volume controlled through a Drawmer). That means I can use it to check anything that can be played on my computer which is massively useful.

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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by The Elf »

I can honestly tell you that the plug-in is rock-solid. If you only ever need to run it from your DAW (as do I), then it really is a simple solution. I set it up years ago and I just forget it exists - the Clarity works with no fuss, even if I switch it on after loadsing Cubase; that's something I can't say for any other USB gear!
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Urthlupe »

I work with no fuss, even after being turned on once Cubase has loaded…..

:beamup:

Loopy xx
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Martin Walker »

Urthlupe wrote: Mon Nov 01, 2021 6:27 pm I work with no fuss, even after being turned on once Cubase has loaded…..

:beamup:

Loopy xx

TMI ;)
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by stormymondays »

2.1.3 has been out for a few months, fortunately. I’m reviving this thread to ask how you guys use it. I think Hugh could write an article about how to use the vector scope :)

I find it invaluable for loudness metering, but the RTA is not much use, which it’s a shame. Maybe the display is too fast? I’ve tried using it to compare the tonal balances of mixes and I can’t really “see” anything of what I can hear.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by ConcertinaChap »

I haven't been looking, does 2.1.3 fix the issue Hugh had noted, do you know?

Like the Elf, mine mainly resides on the loudness page which I've tailored to my taste. A tutorial on the vector scope would be useful, I have to say.

Cheers,

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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

stormymondays wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 9:41 pm 2.1.3 has been out for a few months

Ah, thanks for that -- I haven't looked for an update in a while. I'll check it out.

I’m reviving this thread to ask how you guys use it. I think Hugh could write an article about how to use the vector scope :)

The more you use the vectorscope, the more sense it makes! It's a case of learning to interpret and correlate what you see with what you hear.

As a general rule, you want a round ball of string with no (large) holes. That's 'perfect' stereo.

If it's a vertical sausage the source is narrow, tending towards mono. True mono is a vertical line.

If the ball is flattened, so it's wider than it is high, you have a significant 'out-of-phase' element and it will sound super-wide, but mono compatibility may be compromised.

If the image becomes diamond shaped with hard edges there is significant limiting going on.

If it leans towards one side you have a left/right imbalance.

And if you have big holes in the ball of string there are substantial time-of-arrival differences between the channels -- such as when using a spaced mic array -- which, again, may compromise mono compatibility.

... the RTA is not much use, which it’s a shame. Maybe the display is too fast? I’ve tried using it to compare the tonal balances of mixes and I can’t really “see” anything of what I can hear.

The RTA is quite a crude tool in comparison to the FFT displays which are increasingly available in DAWs and EQ plugins. It really comes into its own for system alignment with pink noise, and identifying howlround frequencies in PAs! But you're not going to see subtle tonal differences with it.

I presume the Clarity M doesn't have the processing power to provide a real-time high-res FFT display.

I'll check out the firmware and report back.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by stormymondays »

Very useful! I think this should at least make it into a Q&A feature in SOS...
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by ConcertinaChap »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 11:55 am The more you use the vectorscope, the more sense it makes! It's a case of learning to interpret and correlate what you see with what you hear.

As a general rule, you want a round ball of string with no (large) holes. That's 'perfect' stereo.

If it's a vertical sausage the source is narrow, tending towards mono. True mono is a vertical line.

If the ball is flattened, so it's wider than it is high, you have a significant 'out-of-phase' element and it will sound super-wide, but mono compatibility may be compromised.

If the image becomes diamond shaped with hard edges there is significant limiting going on.

If it leans towards one side you have a left/right imbalance.

And if you have big holes in the ball of string there are substantial time-of-arrival differences between the channels -- such as when using a spaced mic array -- which, again, may compromise mono compatibility.

Thanks for that, Hugh.

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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Issue

Post by Martin Walker »

Indeed - that's a handy résumé.
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Re: TC Electronic Clarity M Meter Firmware Fixed

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

:clap: Yay!

V2.1.3 has fixed the vectorscope L/R swap introduced accidentally in V2.1.2.

Given the range of minor but worthwhile tweaks added in V2.1.2 (and obviously carried over into V2.1.3 I would say it is now worthwhile updating to 2.1.3 if you're still running V2.0.3

To perform the update:

1. Download the file from the TC website and then extract it from the zip file. (After extraction there are three files: the firmware, install process notes, and a revision list. Only the firmware file is needed.)

2. Connect the Clarity M to your PC or Mac via the USB port.

3. Select the USB Disc Drive mode in the Clarity M settings. (SYS > USB Mode > Disk Drive.) The Clarity should now appear as an external disk drive on the computer.

4. Open the Clarity M disk drive and locate a folder labelled "Firmware".

5. Copy/move the downloaded firmware file into the firmware folder.

6. Reboot the Clarity M to install the new firmware.

7. You can confirm success by opening the SYS page on the Clarity M and looking at the System Information which should now state V2.1.3 (or whichever version you've installed).

It takes longer to describe/read than to do!
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