Setup in set
I close many apps including Finder in OS X 10.11 and boot up Live 9.7.1 to continue on a simple song I recently started with one drum plug-in, Heartbeat (played from 5 tracks) and 4 tracks with software synths; Oxbd (2) and U-he TyrellN6 (1) as well as Monark (not playing) and 2 instances of Waves VEQ-3, 1 Doubler and 1 native Glue.
On my both return tracks I have first Cleansweep V2, on the first followed by Eareverb and on my second followed by Grain Delay and another Glue. On my Main Buss I have Waves L1. On the Master I have Waves NX with head tracking off. The separate NX app isn't running.
Usually I have at least VEQ-3 on every track, at least a couple of more drum tracks with Tremor or Sampler and 2-3 more synth tracks, plus Waves NLS on every track more or less and MMultianalyzer active on most tracks as well, plus saturation and what not on some tracks and about 3 additional effects tracks, including usually MFL device Magnetic. and sometimes Convolution Reverb.
So this set should be a piece of cake for my Quadcore MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD with 150 GB free.
With latest RME driver, buffer settings at 1024 (Usually I'm at 256 to 512), App Nap being inactivated on Live and the Push connected I start playback. Immediately I get crackles as the engine load goes up over 100%. What the …?
I do this in order:
- Buffer settings to 2048. No change
- buffer settings to 512. No change
- I turn off internet completely. Nothing.
- Freeze 4 drum tracks and 2 synth tracks. No change.
- I investigate if there are any undue apps running including backup. No.
- I start Activity monitor to see if there are any runaway processes, that Apple seem so fond of to start up when you least expect it, running and taking up all my CPU. Nope.
Result? Crack, Sizzle and Pop.
CPU overload? No, the meter barely moves over 30% in each core.
What to do? I restart the machine. All my 11 background apps are running and network is active and Firefox with tens of tabs open in multiple windows, Path Finder, Total Mix, Fireface as well as Skim.
I start the song with frozen tracks. I get perfect playback and the engine load meter goes up to just below 30%. I unfreeze each and every frozen track and the meter moves between 30 and 38%. In other words Live behaves like expected.
So could my machine been overheated? I doubt it. The most likely hardware explanation is that power saving had kicked in, but that's not apparent. Could it be any of the free software synths? Yes, possible. AFAIK they're not known for acting up. It could be any number of things. Bottom line is: how is this a music machine? What is this system we accept to live with every day of music? Do I have to go all hardware as it's the early nighties? Now, in 2017?
I feel like asking Ableton if they are you going to build hardware that can actually run Live. But what if the problem is in Live and throwing hardware at the problem doesn't solve it?
I'm already not installing software that I don't use. Maybe I should do detailed testing of everything I use and throw out what isn't up to snuff? Or toss all but a few makers, that do known good software? Would Ableton pass or is my use of Live just a fairy tale best enjoyed with Ibogaine? Am I going crazy? Maybe that would be preferable?
How many more stories like this one are there? I need to do something drastic that actually works. All I want to do is to make music.