Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
portvaldes
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Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by portvaldes » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:44 pm

Just got a macbook pro and this thing is a nightmare. Upgraded it to High Sierra when I got it.

Whenever I make a mere drum loop in a new set the CPU is hitting 50 -70% during playback, whole projects would max at 5% on my old laptop. 16GB Ram, i7 processor, nothing else installed on it. What do I do? Should I just sell it and go back to Windows, this is unusable

TLW
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by TLW » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:18 pm

Not seeing that on my i7 MBP (2015 version).

Have you bought a new MBP or a second hand one? If so, which spec is it? Does Live stick at 70% or fluctuate?

Are you using an audio interface, if so, which?

portvaldes
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by portvaldes » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:57 pm

It's second hand, a late 2014. And I'm a newbie so idk if this is what you mean by interface but it's a Focusrite, red box. Could it be the OS?

TLW
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by TLW » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:54 pm

I had no problems with High Sierra (or Mojave for that matter). Cpu spiking does seem to be an issue with Live 10 for some, but a single simple drum loop with no plugins loaded shouldn’t cause any issues at all.

Some plugins can grind my Mac to a halt if I use low buffers - both Waves Abbey Road reverbs for example, but they could also load my last PC (3.5Ghz i7) pretty heavily as well.

I suggest taking a look at the cpu loading on your Mac to see if something else is hogging cpu time.

Machinesworking
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by Machinesworking » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:13 am

portvaldes wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:44 pm
Just got a macbook pro and this thing is a nightmare. Upgraded it to High Sierra when I got it.

Whenever I make a mere drum loop in a new set the CPU is hitting 50 -70% during playback, whole projects would max at 5% on my old laptop. 16GB Ram, i7 processor, nothing else installed on it. What do I do? Should I just sell it and go back to Windows, this is unusable
Yeah that's weird, something fishy going on, drum loops haven't been a problem on anything I've use going back to 800mhz single core G4 chips.. If you're talking about using Lives Drum Racks that's a different story, they can take some CPU for sure.

You know that i7 is good but you're not giving us the CPU speed or core amount there. MacBook Pros from that year come with 2 or four cores. 2014 15" 4 core went as low as 2.2Ghz i7's. Here's the thing as well, Live is weird to say the least with it's CPU meter. Typically in my experience it's like it reads the first core as if it only had one core, so tosses out 50% + numbers, then as you add new plug ins etc. it tends to not go up nearly as fast. DAWs in general tend to assign a core per track, so if you load a track with plug ins, then it's going to overload much much quicker than if you spread plug ins across tracks.

You can find out all of this by going to the Apple icon in the upper left menu and clicking on About this Mac, then System report for more details like amount of cores.

TLW
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by TLW » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:08 pm

Machinesworking wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:13 am
You know that i7 is good but you're not giving us the CPU speed or core amount there. MacBook Pros from that year come with 2 or four cores. 2014 15" 4 core went as low as 2.2Ghz i7's.
Mine’s a 2.2GHz quad core (8 “virtual cores”) and can certainly handle drum racks. Live’s bundled plugins tend to be pretty good when it comes to not using huge amounts of resources.
Machinesworking wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:13 am
Here's the thing as well, Live is weird to say the least with it's CPU meter. Typically in my experience it's like it reads the first core as if it only had one core, so tosses out 50% + numbers, then as you add new plug ins etc. it tends to not go up nearly as fast. DAWs in general tend to assign a core per track, so if you load a track with plug ins, then it's going to overload much much quicker than if you spread plug ins across tracks.
Not sure how Live handles threading and core usage, but until recently Logic Pro shoved everything in the same “chain” - the track, track fx and anything the track had sends to - through a single core. Which could result in overloading one core while the others were at barely more than idle. Live seems to handle threading better than that, but you’re right that Live’s meter doesn’t show what the cpu is actually doing, it shows Live’s audio processing load.
https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/artic ... sk-Manager explains this.

TLW
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by TLW » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:10 pm

portvaldes wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:57 pm
It's second hand, a late 2014. And I'm a newbie so idk if this is what you mean by interface but it's a Focusrite, red box. Could it be the OS?
A thought.

What do you have the audio buffer set to in Live’s audio preferences, and what is the sample rate you’re using?

If the buffer is very small, under say 128 samples, it might be worth trying increasing it.

Machinesworking
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by Machinesworking » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:31 pm

TLW wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:08 pm
Not sure how Live handles threading and core usage, but until recently Logic Pro shoved everything in the same “chain” - the track, track fx and anything the track had sends to - through a single core. Which could result in overloading one core while the others were at barely more than idle. Live seems to handle threading better than that, but you’re right that Live’s meter doesn’t show what the cpu is actually doing, it shows Live’s audio processing load.
https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/artic ... sk-Manager explains this.
Yeah, the article doesn't really explain what I'm talking about, but I suppose it does a little. Mostly looking at the CPU meter in Live at 50% in a project is not any indication that you have used 50% of the CPU, it's just not. Live tends to get a 50% CPU read when one processor is hitting 50%, even on 8 core machines. So loading more plug ins on different tracks pops the CPU up a lot less than you would think. Typically I can get almost twice as many plug ins as one would expect from looking at the initial reading of 50%

Live barely handles things better than Loigic did, and really all DAWs for the most part tend to assign a single core to a single track. This makes perfect sense in terms of CPU and efficiency, there's a trade off when more than one core is used for the same job. Some off loading can happen for sure, but if you have a DAW that shows each cores CPU use like Logic used to, you clearly see it. In general if you can, loading separate tracks is a good idea as opposed to loading one tracks with heavy plug ins.

I've got a clear as day example of this in Live 9 with heavily scripted Kontakt instruments from Cinesamples. Live would't even run with a patch I made in Kontakt of a few legato string ensembles. It ran fine if I loaded each patch into separate tracks. The original stacked Kontakt patch loaded fine into DP9 though, but that's due to Live's heavier in general CPU consumption than traditional DAWs.. About 80% of what DP and Logic can handle track count wise.

fishmonkey
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:48 pm

Machinesworking wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:31 pm
TLW wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:08 pm
Not sure how Live handles threading and core usage, but until recently Logic Pro shoved everything in the same “chain” - the track, track fx and anything the track had sends to - through a single core. Which could result in overloading one core while the others were at barely more than idle. Live seems to handle threading better than that, but you’re right that Live’s meter doesn’t show what the cpu is actually doing, it shows Live’s audio processing load.
https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/artic ... sk-Manager explains this.
Yeah, the article doesn't really explain what I'm talking about, but I suppose it does a little. Mostly looking at the CPU meter in Live at 50% in a project is not any indication that you have used 50% of the CPU, it's just not. Live tends to get a 50% CPU read when one processor is hitting 50%, even on 8 core machines. So loading more plug ins on different tracks pops the CPU up a lot less than you would think. Typically I can get almost twice as many plug ins as one would expect from looking at the initial reading of 50%
essentially the Live "CPU" meter is showing the status of the weakest link in the chain. which makes sense, since overloading any one core will cause a glitch.

in the end it doesn't matter how many cores you have—if any one core is overloaded then you are done. if you have 1000 cores and only one is overloaded it's no different to having a single-core machine that is overloaded. your 1000 core machine's absolute CPU utilisation might only be 1%, but it would still be glitching.
smutek wrote:For an ever lasting sound ... turn sustain, decay and release all the way up and lay a brick on your keyboard. You also want to leave your computer on for this. Don't move the brick.

Tarekith
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by Tarekith » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:04 am

This is the best explanation of how CPU power relates to DAW use that I've ever seen. So well done. Well worth a half hour of your time if you use computers to make music. Seriously.

https://youtu.be/GUsLLEkswzE

[jur]
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by [jur] » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:55 am

Tarekith wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:04 am
This is the best explanation of how CPU power relates to DAW use that I've ever seen. So well done. Well worth a half hour of your time if you use computers to make music. Seriously.

https://youtu.be/GUsLLEkswzE
That was very instructive Erik, thanks!
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jestermgee
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by jestermgee » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:55 am

Tarekith wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:04 am
This is the best explanation of how CPU power relates to DAW use that I've ever seen. So well done. Well worth a half hour of your time if you use computers to make music. Seriously.

https://youtu.be/GUsLLEkswzE
Very well explained and certainly worth the time to watch if one is interested to know more about why audio software is a different ballgame from most other applications. Thanks for posting.

Machinesworking
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by Machinesworking » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:17 pm

fishmonkey wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:48 pm
essentially the Live "CPU" meter is showing the status of the weakest link in the chain. which makes sense, since overloading any one core will cause a glitch.

in the end it doesn't matter how many cores you have—if any one core is overloaded then you are done. if you have 1000 cores and only one is overloaded it's no different to having a single-core machine that is overloaded. your 1000 core machine's absolute CPU utilisation might only be 1%, but it would still be glitching.
This is why you can have a reading of 50% in Live's performance meter with 4 plug ins playing on your 8 core machine, and still be able to load an additional 12 plug ins to get it to 90%, each plug in is more or less using 50% of your 8 CPUs. This is why to failure tests are the only true test of a systems performance.

Machinesworking
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by Machinesworking » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:40 pm

Tarekith wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:04 am
This is the best explanation of how CPU power relates to DAW use that I've ever seen. So well done. Well worth a half hour of your time if you use computers to make music. Seriously.

https://youtu.be/GUsLLEkswzE
Yeah that's a pretty good explanation as to why you can have problems with real time performance on a machine with a great CPU and cheap or poorly supported parts. Cheap components without decent drivers is a real problem on PC, and even Mac sometimes. There was a Centrino chip put into the 2 core 2.4ghz 17" MacBook pros and pretty much all the laptops from that period, that had issues with Apples speed stepping technology, it would power down and glitch audibly when ask to read from disk, so Akoustic Piano by NI would glitch the first time it played in a certain song we were doing.

He didn't mention system busses which I was surprised about, part of the problem with laptops especially in terms of CPU use can be overloading the system bus, which will do all the things he mentioned a bad PCIe component would do etc. <- and the fact that the PCIe is a direct route to the system bus means it's interrupting everything if it's not a well made part/driver.

In general the other thing I found kind of funny was his insistence that it's not just about CPU, but his explanation as to why something would glitch etc was that a bad component was taking the CPU offline more or less. So it is the CPU, just not the CPU as shown in performance meters. Understod that he's trying to state emphatically that it's not just a good chipset than matters. :)

I'm still rocking the 09 Mac Pro, heavily modded, but the one thing I won't be able to mod is the System bus. Installed a USB3 card in a PCIe slot, and this all makes me aware of a couple things though. I might get slightly better performance off of the MP by upgrading the graphics card, since less CPU will be directed towards a more powerful card etc. And it might not be a good idea to upgrade to Mojave on it regardless, since it's possible that USB3 driver might be outdated.

pottering
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Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by pottering » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:16 pm


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