Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers
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Old 13-05-2014, 02:47 PM   #1
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Icon4 Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

I apologize in advance for how lengthy this post is. I tried to condense things as much as possible!!

I'm trying to minimize the processing my computer is doing running Ableton. Usually about half way through working on a track, once many plugins, tracks, and fx are running, Ableton starts to lag and the audio is sometimes choppy. Additional tips anyone wants to contribute would be hugely appreciated, and maybe this will provide some value to others.

This what I'm already doing and have heard of so far:

  • Close any unnecessary programs
    Closing everything I don't need, sometimes disconnecting my internet, closing virus protection and firewall programs.
  • Optimizing Windows for low-performance
    I switched my visually appealing Windows 7 default theme and assigned the classic Windows theme. Turned off all of the Windows sounds and animations, (I do keep a wallpaper, though). I just disabled as many programs as possible from starting up with Windows.
  • Tidy hard drive
    My laptop has a 500gb HD. I keep no music, pictures, or videos of any kind on it. I've also uninstalled all software that isn't absolutely imperative.
  • Make it easier for my computer to access files when Ableton is running(?)
    My DAW and VSTs and libaries VSTs use are installed on my computer, but my Ableton project files, wavs, and such are all on an external hard drive. I heard this can help. Also, I took the battery out of my laptop and I use the A/C whenever possible.
  • Freeze Tracks
  • Turn off unused EQ filters
  • Keep sample rate at 44100
    There's a "high quality" button as well, which is currently on. Truthfully, I'm not really sure what this function does. Maybe someone can explain this to me? (Note: I don't do any midi or audio recording, and I don't have any physical gear right now-just a laptop and a mouse).
  • Increase Output Buffer Size
    Again, I'm not -entirely- sure how this one works. I think it works somewhat similar to headroom but for processing? But if so, then why an option to increase it? Why not have it maxed out by default?
  • Enable Multicore/Multiprocessing Support
  • Use auxiliary tracks for FX
    Instead of having, for example, 6 reverbs on 6 tracks, route the 6 tracks to 1 bus with a reverb on it.


I've been considering using multiple projects. Might be the surest way to minimize processing, though a hassle. Each step a new project:
  1. "Drawing Board"
    This is basically where I'll create my drum sounds. I'll load in any waves I'll use, do the layering, EQing and some compression. I'll export all my drum sounds as new waves for the next project. This one I do anyway.
  2. Composition
    This will run the VSTs and focus on composition and arrangement from start to finish. Even though I consider the mix itself, (and accompanying automation) as sometimes part of the composition itself, I'll have to alter my mindset by approaching this step as creating rough blueprints or sketches that will be fine-tuned in the next project. This could mean writing my music with underdeveloped tones, as I usually have a chain of effects (distortions, filters) to alter the timbre, not just mixing things together. From here I'll convert everything to wave files for the next project.
  3. Mixing
    This is for everything else except mastering. EQs, compression, sidechaining, automation, etc. As well as creating the actual tones I want.
  4. Mastering


A bit of a pain, but I think it's doable. Until I can get a high-performance rig, these are some challenges I'm facing.

I'm very curious to hear anyone's thoughts/objections regarding multiple projects. How would you split your workflow into separate stages/projects to eliminate going back-and-forth between projects?

Thanks a lot for any help!

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Old 13-05-2014, 04:57 PM   #2
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Nice one. That pretty much covers it in one tidy sheet.

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Old 13-05-2014, 08:34 PM   #3
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Disable scheduled services which are not needed. There's tons of them and most of them run at startup time and will even restart if they fail the first time. This often gets overlooked by people used to XP Optimizations and not Windows 6 (Vista), 7, & 8 Optimizations.

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Old 13-05-2014, 09:37 PM   #4
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

On this page you can find some more usefull tips apart from those already mentioned:

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I also found some good tips on this page:

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Cheers

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Old 13-05-2014, 11:18 PM   #5
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Might be a good thing to get some sort of compendium going here. Thread is highly relevant to my interests.
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Old 14-05-2014, 01:20 AM   #6
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Your hard drive usage shouldn't matter, it is in no way associated with cpu usage. Just make sure you defragment it occasionally.

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Old 14-05-2014, 12:11 PM   #7
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

couple things I've found handy... running Reaper though...which is AMAZING <3

the routing is a big one, huge effect

* you can freeze a track up to a selected fx, meaning freeze up that synth + whateva but keep the delay on etc....

* when you get the basics of the track, bounce that and test new elements with it in a new project

* resampling

*sometimes adjustments within the synth / plugin itself (ex. unison voices) have a huge effect on cpu usage (and may sound better anyways)


just the routing alone means I don't really have to freeze anything running a 2007 macbook pro
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Old 14-05-2014, 01:28 PM   #8
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Some wireless chips can cause audio driver latency issues so if you are using wireless it can help to turn it off while working on music.

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Old 14-05-2014, 10:37 PM   #9
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

This can be a problem even on a fairly decent computer.. after upgrading I've started hitting high usage again.

The best solutions I have is sticking with native plugins, even max4live eats cpu - especially any with radomize functions. Course you'll want those verbs tho.

If I want to process something hard, I route the audio to another track and re record it post-fx, deleting the original.

Trying to get more into a flow of creating and bouncing bus channels for processing after, rather than during now.
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Old 15-05-2014, 09:29 AM   #10
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Bounce to audio or freeze
Send tracks to reverb/delay bus.
Less is more.

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Old 22-05-2014, 07:25 PM   #11
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

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check out the configurations for each Windows OS. Find yours that matches. Commence winning.

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Old 28-05-2014, 06:05 PM   #12
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

I admire your reasoning for the multiple projects thing, I have considered this myself. I think the one major flaw with separating your rough copy stage from your mixing stage is this; as you are building a track, the mixing (timbre, quality of sounds, space created through eq'ing, fine tuning groove etc) has a direct effect on how you proceed with the track and also directly influences and inspires the final outcome and every step it takes to get there.

See if you have a shotty mix half way through the process, things aren't very ear pleasing, it may sound muddy, out of tune etc, it can discourage you from progressing. You might think to yourself "hmmm I like this new element but there's no room in the mix for it without making it more muddy or busy". Or it may just be harder to keep the inspiration and creative juices flowing.

I think we are both methodical, systematic brain types. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. I have learnt over the years that creativity has little to do with logic, it doesn't always thrive in a perfectly scheduled, perfectly organized environment. While a cluttered work area (ie project) can mean a cluttered mind, we need to shoot for the happy medium and let things flow out of us organically without getting too sidetracked by excessive color coding and categorizing etc. Everything in moderation

Just my $0.02

Last edited by Deep Dose; 28-05-2014 at 06:13 PM..
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:49 PM   #13
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

I think you have hit the nail on the head there.
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Old 17-11-2014, 12:50 AM   #14
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Icon4 Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

maybe buy some extra RAM memory

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Old 21-11-2014, 09:48 AM   #15
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Whoa, awesome! Thank you very much!
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Old 21-11-2014, 10:24 AM   #16
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deep Dose View Post
I admire your reasoning for the multiple projects thing, I have considered this myself. I think the one major flaw with separating your rough copy stage from your mixing stage is this; as you are building a track, the mixing (timbre, quality of sounds, space created through eq'ing, fine tuning groove etc) has a direct effect on how you proceed with the track and also directly influences and inspires the final outcome and every step it takes to get there.

See if you have a shotty mix half way through the process, things aren't very ear pleasing, it may sound muddy, out of tune etc, it can discourage you from progressing. You might think to yourself "hmmm I like this new element but there's no room in the mix for it without making it more muddy or busy". Or it may just be harder to keep the inspiration and creative juices flowing.
...
One thing I've done in regards to separate project files is keep the bounced audio with the same name as the project file. For example, say I mixed the fart noise and the vuvuzela and the mooing cow in one project file, then rendered all three into one file to put into the main mixing project file; I'll keep the old project file and the rendered sample titled FVMblokrokkinbeet so if I want to re-render it, it will automatically load in the main mixing project file and not interrupt juice flow.

Bear in mind this was for running out of RAM (32bit floating point ftw) on only a few projects, not dealing with an old senior citizen computer, but I think the workflow concept can apply to both.

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Old 24-11-2014, 08:28 AM   #17
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

more audio less live VSTi's

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Old 24-11-2014, 08:37 AM   #18
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Quote:
Originally Posted by chasedobson View Post
more audio less live VSTi's
>this


+1 to Render that shit

Also Learn how to turn the VSTs u are using to their low cpu settings(Eco, efficient mode...ect) wile your working.
I.e don't rune U-he Diva at full resolution until your rendering the whole track.
Or don't produce with your master bus effects on.

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Old 01-06-2015, 05:13 AM   #19
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

Keep a close eye on how much CPU is being used in the top right corner. When you see the CPU peak notice what is going on in the track. It's a good idea to freeze and flatten tracks that use lots of CPU. Also, many third party plugins take lots of RAM to run. If you can, try to limit the number of very "heavy" plugins (things like Massive and Serum) you use to how many you actually need.
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:01 AM   #20
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Re: Tips to save CPU on lower performance computers

simplify your composition..........................

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