Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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coppethall
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 10:13 pm

Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by coppethall » Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:04 pm

Hi all.

After playing around with Bitwig and reading that Bitwig has a sandboxing feature (to avoid third party plugins bringing down the application), I thought of how to minimise these problems in Ableton, especially if you're doing live performance.

I use Kontakt 5 a lot, playing midi with a keyboard controller, within Ableton also triggering audio clips.

One possible cheap and dirty method solution was to use the standalone Kontakt 5 (full version) playing midi live in conjunction with Ableton playing only audio clips.
Theoretically, if Kontakt standalone crashed, Ableton would continue.

How safe would this solution be?

jestermgee
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Re: Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by jestermgee » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:57 am

Question would be how many crashed have you had with Live... and how many would be Kontakt bringing it down?

You could easily have a crash related to anything so unless you have had Kontakt causing the crash it probably would just complicate things for no real benefit.

Calagan
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 4:44 am

Re: Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by Calagan » Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:52 am

I'm using Live on stage since many years, using many third party plugins (Kontakt and Native Instruments stuff, U-He, Soundtoys, etc. etc.) and I never had any crash during a show.
I use a macbook pro, mid-2012 version with an i7 processor, SSD and 16gb of ram. It starts to show its age, but it's still rock solid for me onstage.

I've had much more crashes while mixing because I often push my old cpu to its limits, and because while mixing/producing I'm using a lot more third party plugins I don't always spend time testing.

I have some simple rules to be absolutely safe on stage :
- Always keep the CPU usage below 50% in the Live CPU meter (I can go much further on my system, but onstage I don't want that because it's always risky). Or anything that seems more than safe for you.
- Turn off your wifi and disconnect from any internet app or account that could interfere with your CPU managing audio in real time (like iCloud and Apple Store on Mac : I solved many click and pop issues by just disconnecting from my iCloud account. I'm sure Windows have some issues too, like automatic updates or stuff like that)
- Never use onstage a third party plugin that hasn't been extensively tested by yourself and proved safe (for exemple while mixing, producing or rehearsing).
- Never update anything (Live, plugins or OS) before a show. If you update, test it before at home and be sure it doesn't bring issues
- Never change anything in your Live rig just before a show, like adding a new plugin or even a new chain of well known plugins
- Generally speaking, test your Live rig at home extensively before a show. Rehearsals are good for that (and for the show)

If it works at home, it should work on stage (if you use the exact same gear of course).

coppethall
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 10:13 pm

Re: Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by coppethall » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:22 am

Thanks, Calagan.

Great advice, especially the "nothing above 50%" rule".

Thanks!

:D

TLW
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Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by TLW » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:35 pm

Calagan wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:52 am
- Turn off your wifi and disconnect from any internet app or account that could interfere with your CPU managing audio in real time (like iCloud and Apple Store on Mac : I solved many click and pop issues by just disconnecting from my iCloud account. I'm sure Windows have some issues too, like automatic updates or stuff like that)
One reason to keep wifi running is if you need a MIDI network for the gig, say to send MIDI clock to other Macs. Though ethernet is a more reliable way to do it so long as you’ve a suitable ethernet switch if there’s more than one Mac that needs to be a clock slave.

The biggest problem for Windows used to be (and I suspect often still is) third party wi-fi drivers which can take over the PCI bus and grab Windows’ attention for more milliseconds than the audio buffer is set to. That can render a PC unusable for low latency audio work unless the wi-fi adaptor is disabled. Windows ethernet drivers seem to be far less of a nuisance.

Something else to get under control on a Mac is Time Machine. It’s habit of doing hourly “snapshots” can be a real nuisance, especially on an HDD or fusion drive and for a DAW it’s best disabled for gigging and backups scheduled using the (I think free) “time machine editor” app.

As for automatic updates, just disable them and leave the notifications active then update when and if you want to.
Calagan wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:52 am
If it works at home, it should work on stage (if you use the exact same gear of course).
Well it should, but the originator of the famous “Murphy’s Law” (if a thing can go wrong it will go wrong, and at the worst possible time) was also famous for being a bit of an optimist.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

coppethall
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 10:13 pm

Re: Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by coppethall » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:49 pm

Thanks for this TLW.

"The biggest problem for Windows used to be (and I suspect often still is) third party wi-fi drivers which can take over the PCI bus and grab Windows’ attention for more milliseconds than the audio buffer is set to. That can render a PC unusable for low latency audio work unless the wi-fi adaptor is disabled. Windows ethernet drivers seem to be far less of a nuisance."

I use LatencyMon and the wifi drivers seem to come up frequently.

Which drivers exactly should be disabled?
I also use a VPN.

TLW
Posts: 759
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by TLW » Wed Sep 16, 2020 5:09 pm

From memory, you need to go into device manager, locate the wi-fi adaptor, right click on it and select "disable". Don't use the delete or uninstall option, whatever it's called, because Windows will simply load up a fresh copy of the driver and launch it again.

Ethernet, in my experience at least, doesn't seem to suffer from this problem, Nor do Macs, probably because Apple doesn't have to code the OS to run tens of thousands of potential hardware combinations which largely depend on third-party drivers. The VPN is irrelevant as far as the driver is concerned, by disabling it you are switching off wi-fi networking and removing the wi-fi driver from active status. This does not affect network settings, at least in my experience (which is rather out of date) so enabling wi-fi in device manager should return things to normal.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

coppethall
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 10:13 pm

Re: Avoiding third party plugin crashes during performances

Post by coppethall » Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:06 pm

Thanks, TLW.

Really appreciate your advice!

:)

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