BIG performance issue on MacBook

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
codemac
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:20 pm

BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by codemac » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:49 am

I am new on this forum and first of all I want to say a big hello to everybody!
Searching and reading your questions and opinions I found the LIVE 8 PERFORMANCE TEST http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php? ... 5#p1101785 topic and I decided to test my system. My results aren't so shiny so I would like to ask you for your opinions. First of all here are the results:

1. Ableton Live CPU Meter: 67-68%
2. Desktop: MacBook White (mid 2007)
3. OS: Leopard 10.5.8
4. Ableton Live version: 8.1.1
5. CPU Make, Model, and Speed: Intel C2D 2.16
6. Amount of RAM: 2 GB
7. Soundcard: built-in
8. Hard Disk Drive Speed: 5400 rpm
9. Number of playback tracks: 2 (!?!?!?)

with 3 tracks the play is still ok, but 4 or more are causing serious problems: over 100% prc, with all 8 tracks ableton cpu meter shows 128% ...

this is unbelievable, only 2 tracks, however other users with the same or worse configuration had successfully run all the 8 tracks.
I don't have any programs/processes running, excepting the ones of the operating system. Airport, bluetooth, dashboard and other useless stuff - ALL OFF.
I don't know what could I do to improve the performance or, in other words, I don't know why the Live's CPU meters shows such a huge value (the Live's manual explains that the CPU meter shows only the power needed to process the audio).

Could you tell me what could I optimize to get a better result??? (Also sometimes I have cracks while playing 7-8 simultaneous wave files).... Unfortunately I use the application for professional work and until now I thought this is what Ableton's Live can do... now I realize that my system is down... :(

Any help is highly appreciated, thank you a lot!!!!

8O
Posts: 5502
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Location: Berlin

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by 8O » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:17 am

Hi again! :)

Some things to check:

On Leopard I think you still have the options for "highest performance" or something, in Energy Saver preferences, right? How's your hard disk space, still have enough (e.g. > 10%) free? Tried running Repair Disk Permissions? Is it only Live that runs badly, or other programs too? And, maybe a stupid question, I know, but did you set up Live's preferences exactly as mentioned in the first page of the performance test thread (e.g. buffer size)?

Otherwise, maybe install some monitor application (I like iStat Menus) to check that your temp and fans are working ok...

Edit: do you also have multicore support enabled in Live's Preferences -> CPU?
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locojohn
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Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by locojohn » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:01 pm

8O wrote:Hi again! :)

Some things to check:

On Leopard I think you still have the options for "highest performance" or something, in Energy Saver preferences, right?
There is no such option on Mac OS X 10.6.

Andrejs
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robnotrob
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:27 pm

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by robnotrob » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:45 pm

A few things to check

What sample rate is your soundcard set too? Hint try 44.1 khz

If you're using Ableton 8 then it might be down to a bug I've found, where opening a project with a drumrack in it will cause the CPU to go hay wire, this can be resolved by double-clicking on the drumrack track to display the drum rack itself.

Does it happen with every project, even a new one?

codemac
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:20 pm

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by codemac » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:21 pm

The buffer was 512 as described in the help file, and the sample rate 44100.

I haven't clicked on every track itself, I just started the test. I'll try this in a few hours when I'll be in the studio.
As much as I know the hard disk space should not affect the CPU speed, as long as the partition is not (very) fragmented. Anyway, I have at least 20% free space on each of my partitions.
The other programs are running OK.

Ah, I remember now something weird: in this weekend after a jam session in the studio with my band, when everything was stopped (no sequencer running, no audio processing) the CPU meter showed a peak of 50%-54% (!!!!). WTF?? Of course, we have a lot of tracks, 2 return tracks, automations and stuff... but hey man, everything was stopped! The Live is the main mixer and we're using samples, drum racks, voice effects and also a Projectmix I/O audio mixer.
I am curious what happens with your CPU meter when you open a large session with... ummm... 50-60 wave files and a few drum racks (the session should be only opened, not started).

Multicore is enabled. I have to check the CPU temp and fan speed.

Thank you for your support, I'll get back with more information later.

robnotrob
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:27 pm

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by robnotrob » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:09 pm

codemac wrote: and a few drum racks (the session should be only opened, not started).
Seriously it's the drum racks they're broken, you only need view the drumrack once after loading the project for it to go away. I literally have the same issue all the time!

dothedru22
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Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:26 pm

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by dothedru22 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:14 pm

Your hard drive is killing your performance hands down. Please go to www.newegg.com and get a western digital scorpio black 7200 rpm drive. I guarantee much better performance

madlab
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Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by madlab » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:15 pm

What do you mean by 'view the drum rack' ?
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codemac
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Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:20 pm

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by codemac » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:24 pm

robnotrob wrote:
codemac wrote: and a few drum racks (the session should be only opened, not started).
Seriously it's the drum racks they're broken, you only need view the drumrack once after loading the project for it to go away. I literally have the same issue all the time!

You mean: the Live's built-in drum rack has to be "visible" for a moment after loading the project, and the audio glitches while playing will disappear? I'll check this, however I can reproduce this error very hard. SOMETIMES and in some songs I notice a little audio glitch and/or metronome tempo issue (a kind of tempo change for a few milliseconds and an audio crack-glitch) and after that the track continues playing without problems. While the error occurs the CPU meter is going to... 60-70% and then back to normal, 20-30%.

Dexes
Posts: 427
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Location: Vienna / AT

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by Dexes » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:09 pm

codemac wrote:While the error occurs the CPU meter is going to... 60-70% and then back to normal, 20-30%.
Sounds like an issue with power saving options. If you have your laptop set to anything other than "Highest performance" or whatever it's called. To save energy the cpu speed will be reduced to 1/2 of it's actual capabilities as soon as the load is less than 50% but will not step back up until more is needed. This moment between when it realizes that the software needs more power and it actually setting the cpu back to full power will cause bad glitches to occur.

-----------------------------------------------------
locojohn wrote:
8O wrote:Hi again! :)

Some things to check:

On Leopard I think you still have the options for "highest performance" or something, in Energy Saver preferences, right?
There is no such option on Mac OS X 10.6.

Andrejs
codemac wrote:First of all here are the results:

1. Ableton Live CPU Meter: 67-68%
2. Desktop: MacBook White (mid 2007)
3. OS: Leopard 10.5.8
4. Ableton Live version: 8.1.1

8O
Posts: 5502
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:29 am
Location: Berlin

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by 8O » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:45 pm

dothedru22 wrote:Your hard drive is killing your performance hands down. Please go to http://www.newegg.com and get a western digital scorpio black 7200 rpm drive. I guarantee much better performance
7200 will give better performance than 5400, but that test set should still run fine on 5400 with 8 tracks. It's fine on my 5400 laptop and fine on other reports in that thread.
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codemac
Posts: 14
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Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by codemac » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:46 pm

Ok guys, I'm back now with fresh news.

After a meticulous ONYX cleanup, repair of permissions and whatever, guess what: all the 8 tracks are running without any problems!!! Yeah baby! The CPU meter shows 60%, I guess this is fine for my configuration.

I'm looking forward to reproduce the audio glitch error (which happens very rare) while playing a few tracks simultaneously.
After that I'll set the Power Saving to High Performance (it is customized) and also try what @robnotrob said.

Many thanks!

8O
Posts: 5502
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:29 am
Location: Berlin

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by 8O » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:55 pm

codemac wrote:Ok guys, I'm back now with fresh news.

After a meticulous ONYX cleanup, repair of permissions and whatever, guess what: all the 8 tracks are running without any problems!!! Yeah baby! The CPU meter shows 60%, I guess this is fine for my configuration.

I'm looking forward to reproduce the audio glitch error (which happens very rare) while playing a few tracks simultaneously.
After that I'll set the Power Saving to High Performance (it is customized) and also try what @robnotrob said.

Many thanks!
Result! Yup, 60% sounds about right with your set-up - good news!
Image

codemac
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:20 pm

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by codemac » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:43 pm

Unfortunately I have bad news related to my second problem.

There are short audio drops, glitches however everything is set up. I'm playing 8 or 9 wave tracks, 16 bit each of them and all are set to HI-Q (higher CPU but better interpolation). These are the tracks of a song (drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, voices, stuff)...

On every glitch and drop the led from the right upper corner is blinking, showing that the audio couldn't been read from the disk. I'm wondering if a faster hard disk would be enough to solve this problem.

What do you think, guys, could I optimize something else or the only way to get over this is a faster hard drive?


Thanks

8O
Posts: 5502
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:29 am
Location: Berlin

Re: BIG performance issue on MacBook

Post by 8O » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:41 pm

I'd look at an external soundcard first, tbh.
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