Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
adekit
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:25 am

Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by adekit » Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:58 am

Hi Members

First post so please go easy on me!

I am getting poor audio performance from Live 10. My setup is as follows.

Macbook Pro Retina i7 2.6Ghz Late 2013
1TB Internal SSD
16GB Ram

Audient ID14 Audio Interface

Live 10.0.5

Komplete Kontrol with Komplete 11 Ultimate

Other VST instruments (serum etc)

Large library of One Shot/Loop samples

What I am finding with a lot of my projects is that the CPU meter in Live is reaching between 35-45% and I am getting drop outs and jittery audio. I have set the audio latency to highest value (2048 samples) and this is happening even with this high latency value (its worse when dropping the latency down).

I have tried a few things I can think of with no improvements, such as:

- Audio interface in different USB ports
- Running without audio interface (through mac headphone jack)

The current project Im working on has 8 instances of Komplete Kontrol and 3 audio tracks.
Only processing is a few stock live compressors and a reverb and delay (stock) on the return channels.

Am I expecting too much from my setup to be able to handle these instances of KK with some audio channels? or does it sound like something else may be the problem? If the CPU meter in live was near 100%, then I'd know I was pushing things too far, however as its barley getting half way it causing me a lot of frustration.

I also thought it may be the disk struggling to keep up, but I've had no red flashing disc icons in Live. Also I've checked activity monitor on my Mac and only thing that seems to be using a considerable amount of processor is Live, cpu goes to 172% (at the times lives CPU meter peaks at 45%). This is when I get the drop outs and poor audio performance.

It could just be a case that I'm expecting too much and I need to freeze and flatten some VSTs. However I'd like to make sure nothing else is hindering the performance of my system. From reading other peoples set-ups and what they can achieve, I feel mine is underperforming.

Any suggestions on things to try/possible issues would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance.

jestermgee
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by jestermgee » Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:16 pm

Firstly, top marks for actually posting your computer details. Quite rare these days when people ask for help but post nothing about what they are using.

I'm no Mac user so maybe the more experienced Mac users have some more ideas but in regards to this:
The current project Im working on has 8 instances of Komplete Kontrol and 3 audio tracks.
What is loaded within Komplete Kontrol?

The CPU meter in Live isn't an overall reflection of the load on your system and the point where people start to get some dropouts will differ. Basically the more real-time voices you try and process the more load is placed on your audio buffer which is different from CPU load. I have some projects with close to 100 tracks but only a few have synths and not all play at the same time, most are audio. Then I have some projects with large powerful synths where I may only get 10 tracks before having issues.

Keep in mind your system is now 5 years old so the CPU may not be up to the full challenges of lots of modern synths. On Windows there are things like power performance settings that can be adjusted to make sure the CPU is working at 100% capacity instead of throttling down and that tends to help, not sure if there are similar things to check for Mac.

My guess is that the synths you are using are probably just a bit too much to have many of them with Live. It's not the most efficient DAW on the market. Serum for instance is a huge CPU hog and even though it may not really put a lot of load directly on the CPU, there are a lot of voices to process and only so much time to do it in. You could try reduce the voice count in your Serum instances and see if it helps.

garyboozy
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by garyboozy » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:28 am

have you tried updating the iD14 firmware (4.0.4 currently) ?

adekit
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:25 am

Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by adekit » Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:25 pm

jestermgee wrote:Firstly, top marks for actually posting your computer details. Quite rare these days when people ask for help but post nothing about what they are using.

I'm no Mac user so maybe the more experienced Mac users have some more ideas but in regards to this:
The current project Im working on has 8 instances of Komplete Kontrol and 3 audio tracks.
What is loaded within Komplete Kontrol?

The CPU meter in Live isn't an overall reflection of the load on your system and the point where people start to get some dropouts will differ. Basically the more real-time voices you try and process the more load is placed on your audio buffer which is different from CPU load. I have some projects with close to 100 tracks but only a few have synths and not all play at the same time, most are audio. Then I have some projects with large powerful synths where I may only get 10 tracks before having issues.

Keep in mind your system is now 5 years old so the CPU may not be up to the full challenges of lots of modern synths. On Windows there are things like power performance settings that can be adjusted to make sure the CPU is working at 100% capacity instead of throttling down and that tends to help, not sure if there are similar things to check for Mac.

My guess is that the synths you are using are probably just a bit too much to have many of them with Live. It's not the most efficient DAW on the market. Serum for instance is a huge CPU hog and even though it may not really put a lot of load directly on the CPU, there are a lot of voices to process and only so much time to do it in. You could try reduce the voice count in your Serum instances and see if it helps.
Thanks jestermgee

I had another look at the projects that I am having issues with and it seems to be the ones I've used a lot of stock VST patches on. Looking into serum patches a bit closer and some of them are running high unison values and playing a fair few voices at a time. I don't seem to have the same issues with projects where I've built patches in Serum from scratch or ones that use less voices.
I naively linked the poor audio performance to CPU usage, but of course you are right, its the audio buffer that has all that work to do. Does Live have a buffer meter of any kind? Would be useful if it did.
Anyway, I'm going to go through my projects and dig a bit deeper into my patches to see if there are any "bloated patches" that can be trimmed down. Thanks a lot for your advice :D
garyboozy wrote:have you tried updating the iD14 firmware (4.0.4 currently) ?
Thanks garyboozy

I'm going to check and update now if not.

Do either of you know, could updating my firmware of my interface improve audio buffering times? Is the amount of audio that can be buffered dictated by the interface? Or is it a combination of interface and computer. (ie: if I got a better interface would I see an improvement in buffer speeds and thus be able to run more instances of hoggy vsts?)

Thanks again both of you for your help :D

garyboozy
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by garyboozy » Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:46 pm

What instruments are you running inside KK? A few instances of Monark or Absynth etc shouldn't be squashing your system, but if you're loading up orchestral Kontakt stuff with scripting etc, things will start to break up pretty quickly.

jestermgee
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by jestermgee » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:30 pm

garyboozy wrote:What instruments are you running inside KK? A few instances of Monark or Absynth etc shouldn't be squashing your system, but if you're loading up orchestral Kontakt stuff with scripting etc, things will start to break up pretty quickly.
Mentioned Serum above which I know can be very heavy on the CPU when you have a lot of voices and FX enabled.
Do either of you know, could updating my firmware of my interface improve audio buffering times? Is the amount of audio that can be buffered dictated by the interface? Or is it a combination of interface and computer. (ie: if I got a better interface would I see an improvement in buffer speeds and thus be able to run more instances of hoggy vsts?)
Always best to update firmware for an audio interface if available. It normally only improves things.

Impossible to say if it will reduce latency or buffer, it wouldn't be much. I have personally never heard of your audio interface but i'm not really across all that is out there but some drivers/manufacturers are better than others with their drivers and hoe they cope with large demands. RME for instance comes to mind as one of the top performers with drivers and why so many swear by their products. Also a reason they appear more expensive compared to something like an Akai or Behringer interface which you get what you pay for.

The audio your system can handle is a combination of a lot of things. For example, some audio interfaces have a very poor time if you connect them to USB3 ports. I have a Roland OctaCapture which isn't impressing me with how it performs compared to my old Presonus Firebox that was so reliable and fast, but is no longer supported in Win10. It's USB, not firewire, and is very picky with USB ports on my system. Does not like USB3 and doesn't like to Share a USB controller with other devices either. It also likes to "loose" its ASIO driver into oblivion sometimes and I have to physically reset it several times to get it back. Holds a door open really well tho so it will have a purpose when I kick it out the room soon.

So yeah, some interfaces are better than others

fishmonkey
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by fishmonkey » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:43 pm

adekit wrote: Macbook Pro Retina i7 2.6Ghz Late 2013
1TB Internal SSD
16GB Ram
is your machine a 13" or 15"? that makes a big difference, as 2013 13" MBPs all have dual-core CPUs, whereas the 15" MBPs were quad-core.

apart from that, you haven't mentioned anything about your setup. have you reduced or eliminated all the other stuff your computer might be doing in the background? the most obvious of these is closing all other applications, however there is also a bunch of other stuff you can do to maximise the amount of processing power available for Live. there is a good guide here (for High Sierra and up):

http://figure53.com/docs/qlab/v4/genera ... -your-mac/

if you are running an older version of Mac OS, check this guide instead:

https://figure53.com/docs/qlab/v3/gener ... -your-mac/
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

Sine One
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by Sine One » Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:24 am

Huge Bump.

@adekit got your same setup except from the audio interface (Apollo 8 Thunderbolt in my case)

Having the same exact behavior by Live 10 that is basically preventing me from finishing every single project.

Once i freeze the VST's (even just 3 or 4 of them) everything runs smooth again.

Not sure if it's a Live thing, a VST thing or a MacBook issue, but I'm about to throw this muthafucka on the front wall.

jestermgee
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by jestermgee » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:14 am

Sine One wrote:Huge Bump.

@adekit got your same setup except from the audio interface (Apollo 8 Thunderbolt in my case)

Having the same exact behavior by Live 10 that is basically preventing me from finishing every single project.

Once i freeze the VST's (even just 3 or 4 of them) everything runs smooth again.

Not sure if it's a Live thing, a VST thing or a MacBook issue, but I'm about to throw this muthafucka on the front wall.
As mentioned above, if your machine is the same model it is old and tired and tho you haven't actually mentioned what VSTs you are using, 3 or 4 instances of a VST like Serum or Omnisphere would easily tip your system over the edge.

I'd say it's time to, as you put it, "throw this muthafucka on the front wall" and upgrade.

fewtureJ
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:28 pm

Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by fewtureJ » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:25 am

I've got same issue, but I'm running a 2018 Macbook Pro (2.2 6core with 32gb ram) with a RME UCX interface.

Live glitches out, and massive CPU spikes. Gets worse when I plug into a 4k monitor (then I get GUI lag and super slow GUI interface but I think the GUI lag is a separate issue).

This will happen with some heavy duty plugins (Byome, Softtube Tape, Serum, Ableton's Wavetable) but often around 4-5 tracks, not more than 10 tracks. The weird thing is my CPU usage stays around 25% or less, so it's not even close to getting maxed out (I'm using istat menus).

I haven't tried other DAW's yet to see if this is just an Ableton thing

I don't remember having this issue in Live 9.

scheffkoch
Posts: 492
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by scheffkoch » Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:26 am

...you do know about the problems (crackles, drop outs) with usb interfaces and mbp 2018 t2 chip?...
macbook pro late 2016, osx 10.13.6, rme multiface via sonnet thunderbolt expresscard adapter + thunderbolt to usb-c adapter, ableton live 10.0.1, push 2, komplete 9, maschine 2.7.6, touchable

fewtureJ
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:28 pm

Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by fewtureJ » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:53 am

Yeah
scheffkoch wrote:...you do know about the problems (crackles, drop outs) with usb interfaces and mbp 2018 t2 chip?...
Yeah, I get audio glitches, but wasn't aware as part of T2 chip issue there was also CPU spikes on low level number of tracks? Happy to be wrong about this.

I had same issue with MBP 2017 2.9ghz 4-core 16gb ram on High Sierra. One of the reasons I upgraded :(

There are definitely issues with RME interfaces and USB-c on these newer MBP's (check their forums), but I haven't heard about CPU spikes. I haven't yet tried another audio interface so could be the RME.

jlgrimes
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Location: Atlanta, Ga

Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by jlgrimes » Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:50 pm

adekit wrote:Hi Members

First post so please go easy on me!

I am getting poor audio performance from Live 10. My setup is as follows.

Macbook Pro Retina i7 2.6Ghz Late 2013
1TB Internal SSD
16GB Ram

Audient ID14 Audio Interface

Live 10.0.5

Komplete Kontrol with Komplete 11 Ultimate

Other VST instruments (serum etc)

Large library of One Shot/Loop samples

What I am finding with a lot of my projects is that the CPU meter in Live is reaching between 35-45% and I am getting drop outs and jittery audio. I have set the audio latency to highest value (2048 samples) and this is happening even with this high latency value (its worse when dropping the latency down).

I have tried a few things I can think of with no improvements, such as:

- Audio interface in different USB ports
- Running without audio interface (through mac headphone jack)

The current project Im working on has 8 instances of Komplete Kontrol and 3 audio tracks.
Only processing is a few stock live compressors and a reverb and delay (stock) on the return channels.

Am I expecting too much from my setup to be able to handle these instances of KK with some audio channels? or does it sound like something else may be the problem? If the CPU meter in live was near 100%, then I'd know I was pushing things too far, however as its barley getting half way it causing me a lot of frustration.

I also thought it may be the disk struggling to keep up, but I've had no red flashing disc icons in Live. Also I've checked activity monitor on my Mac and only thing that seems to be using a considerable amount of processor is Live, cpu goes to 172% (at the times lives CPU meter peaks at 45%). This is when I get the drop outs and poor audio performance.

It could just be a case that I'm expecting too much and I need to freeze and flatten some VSTs. However I'd like to make sure nothing else is hindering the performance of my system. From reading other peoples set-ups and what they can achieve, I feel mine is underperforming.

Any suggestions on things to try/possible issues would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance.

Check out the following:

1. If you use the built-in audio on your laptop, is your performance better/worse?

2. How close is your Disk drive to being full?

3. Are there any particular plug-ins that are affecting your system, what happens if you have a project full of more modest synths (eg Operator, Massive etc).

4. Could your CPU be having heat issues? I think there might be software tools that check the heat of your CPU. If it is overheating, it will reduce your performance considerably to keep from permanently failing.

oratowsky
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Location: los angeles

Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by oratowsky » Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:44 am

hey,

poor performance can be caused by so many things...

When is the last time, if ever, you physically cleaned your computer ? i.e. open up the back and clean the fans out?

It's pretty common for laptops to overheat and the issues you describe would fit the symptoms. Even if CPU usage isn't being max'ed out or if temperature sensors aren't reporting high temps.

I would try this! good luck

[jur]
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Re: Poor Audio Performance in Live with no CPU overload

Post by [jur] » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:13 am

One setup detail that is often overlooked but so crucial with laptops:
make sure to use the power adaptor. If you run your mbp on the battery, osx will automatically lower its performance to save energy.
Ableton Forum Moderator

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