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DAW Tips & Tricks: Optimizing Your CustoMac Audio Workstation

BoomR

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i cant believe it! updated to uefi bios... all working now. if you could explain to me what the bios version has to do with my automap software.. :D damn, if nothing needs fixing, it looks like i will have to go and actually do some music. this forum is such a good way of procrastination. anyway... thank you so much for ur help. it works perfectly for me!
If I told you, then I'd have to kill you (just kidding!). Glad that it's all working as expected now! Happy music making!!!
--B
 
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Hi,
I have OS 10.10 using Ableton Live and a RME Multiface II.

But I keep getting clicks when I go lower that 512 samples even at 30% CPU.
This will result in 13.ms latency which makes Push very odd to play.

I tried disabling EIST in BIOS but that doesn't change a thing :(

Any idea?
 

BoomR

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Hi,
I have OS 10.10 using Ableton Live and a RME Multiface II.

But I keep getting clicks when I go lower that 512 samples even at 30% CPU.
This will result in 13.ms latency which makes Push very odd to play.

I tried disabling EIST in BIOS but that doesn't change a thing :(

Any idea?
I'd start by reading this:
http://www.tonymacx86.com/music/145446-your-music-customac-yosemite-look-before-you-leap.html

...and then checking to make sure everything is certified compatible/supported, and that you're running the latest versions/drivers ....
 
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I have anything certified and the latest drives but still cant get below 512 samples buffersize without any clicks:/
[EDIT] seams to be a Ableton Live issue
 
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How do you guys set up Power Management with your DAW?
 

BoomR

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How do you guts set up Power Management with your DAW?
Unless you're on the bleeding edge of the hardware/configuration curve, power management should be "native" to all builds up to the 8-series boards. Because Apple has not released any products with 9-series chipsets, that takes a bit more doing....
 
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Any advices for a supported Firewire Expansion card? I own a Yamaha N12 and 2 Steinberg MR816 in daisy chain.

I wouldn't like to trash them...

Of course I don't mean for the laptop in my info, but for a hackintosh I'm actually building, z97x UD5H motherboard
 

BoomR

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Any advices for a supported Firewire Expansion card? I own a Yamaha N12 and 2 Steinberg MR816 in daisy chain.

I wouldn't like to trash them...

Of course I don't mean for the laptop in my info, but for a hackintosh I'm actually building, z97x UD5H motherboard
That's an awful lot of I/O on a single FW bus (including the 2 devices that are daisy chained). Have you considered getting a 2nd card & splitting the workload?

Otherwise, you really shouldn't have any issues as long as the FW card is one that is supported for CustoMac.
 
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Once you get your new DAW CustoMac built, there are quite a few things you can do to optimize your system & settings. Taking these extra few steps can really help both the performance and the stability of your system, plus help prevent surprise mishaps that may cause you lots of hair pulling, swearing, and even having to “shake the Etch-a-Sketch” and have to reinstall your OS, apps, and plug-ins.

Hardware Compatibility
Audio Interfaces (Firewire, USB, Thunderbolt, and PCI-based)
Always make sure to check with your audio interface’s manufacturer for the latest device drivers, and check to see what the most recent version of OS X it’s certified to work with. For example, if your audio interface only has “beta” drivers for Mavericks, you may need to weigh the potential of instability against a more stable Mountain Lion-based system. Case in point: I know that there may be some issues with older M-Audio interfaces, now that AVID has sold the M-Audio division & product line to the InMusic group (AKAI Professional, Alesis, Alto, ION, etc.). During this "transition" time, support and ML-approved/certified drivers for their devices may be a bit of a challenge.

MIDI interfaces/USB MIDI
If you’re using lots of MIDI keyboards or MIDI sound modules as your audio sources, you’ll need a compatible MIDI interface. Again, same rule applies here – make sure you have the latest MIDI interface drivers from the manufacturer installed. On the other hand, if your keyboard or module is equipped with a USB port and has the ability to send/receive MIDI data over USB, make sure to have the latest USB-MIDI drivers for your device.

Hard Drives (Workload considerations)
Most all DAW manufacturers will agree: while it is possible to record audio/playback from your boot drive (where OSX and your apps are installed), this is not recommended. Recording and playback on a system drive may result in lower track counts and fewer plug-ins.

Those of you who have read some of my posts know that I try to distribute my disk I/O workload and activity across several drives: #1) my boot drive for OSX and my DAW apps (Logic, Digital Performer, and Pro Tools|HD, #2) my “work” drive where my Logic/PT/DP session files are written to/stored (including all the audio files), and #3) my “Library” drive for sample libraries, VST libraries/resource files, and Logic’s Apple Loops. Many of today’s top VSTs and samplers actually stream their audio in real-time (vs. loading all samples into RAM). Since this behavior is also very disk-intensive, keeping those libraries on a separate drive helps distribute the disk I/O workload.

Hard Drives (Platter/mechanical)
Most audio pros and factory reps will recommend that you avoid “green” drives. In order to be more energy efficient, they don’t spin at 7200RPM (which is the standard for best system performance & higher track counts). While it’s true that lots of people are using laptops with 2.5” drives that run at 5400RPM, track counts and system responsiveness is not nearly as snappy as it is with 7200RPM drives.

In the early days of Pro Tools - and even today - AVID provides a list of “approved” or “compatible” drives for use with Pro Tools. These drives have been tested by AVID for performance, durability, and responsiveness. Many of these drives are actually RE (RAID Edition) drives or A/V-rated drives, designed for longer lifespan and the heavy-duty demands of network storage devices in corporate environments or in media servers. If you plan on using your DAW in a commercial environment where clients are paying you $$ to record their performances, a little more $$ invested in your drives may just save you grief and protect your reputation. The last thing you want is a hard drive failure in the middle of a session where paid musicians are sitting in your studio and the clock is ticking!

SSD (Solid State Drives)
Pro Tools in particular certifies the use of SSDs for audio recording, starting with PT10. But depending on your track count, sample rate, number of takes you choose to save, you could fill up a 120-240GB SSD with just a few projects. While I’ve not tried using an SSD for my projects drive, I can only imagine that the responsiveness of your DAW would be AMAZING.

Configuring OS X – Best Practices & Mfgr. Recommendations
Before running your DAW app, make sure to check the following OSX settings. Since AVID (formerly Digidesign’s) Pro Tools has long been the vanguard of DAWs, most other DAW manufacturers make the same recommendations for system optimization.

Turn Off Automatic Software Update
Do not use the Mac OS X automatic Software Update feature, as it may upgrade your system to a version of Mac OS X that has not yet been qualified or certified for use with your DAW application. Open System Preferences and then click Software Update. Remove the checkmark from the Automatically Check for Updates. Remember – you can always manually check for software updates by selection Software Update from the Apple menu. When OSX notifies you that software updates are available, ALWAYS click the show details option to see what updates are available. Never update to a newer version of OSX until you check your DAW application’s Web site for compatibility with your DAW.

Turn Off Energy Saver
Disks spinning down during sessions, or wake from sleep often results in system freezes, USB or FW device “disconnects” or other instability issues shortly after devices or the system wakes. From System Preferences, click Energy Saver. Set the Computer Sleep setting to Never. Set the Display Sleep setting to Never. Deselect the “Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible” option.

Disable Spotlight Indexing
Spotlight automatically indexes files/folders on local hard drives in the background. If Spotlight starts indexing drives while recording a session with high track counts for an extended period of time, it can adversely affect your system performance. You may want to disable Spotlight indexing for all local drives before any big recording projects. From System Preferences, click Spotlight. Click the Privacy tab. Now, drag the desktop icon for each of your drives into the list.

Disable FileVault Protection
This optimization allows your hard drive to work more efficiently with certain DAW apps, and can prevent certain DAW system errors from occurring. From System Preferences, click Security & Privacy. Click the FileVault tab. If FileVault is on, click the Turn Off FileVault button.

Repair Disk Permissions
Believe it or not, simply repairing disk permissions can resolve some whack-a-doodle system behaviors. You should get in the habit of periodically running Repair Disk Permissions, especially after you install a new app.

Activate Journaling for Your Audio Drives
Activating Journaling on the drive(s) which audio files are written to & played back results in higher performance from those drives. To activate this feature, launch Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities). Select your audio drive (work drive, sample libraries drive, etc.) then click the Enable Journaling button in the toolbar. If you used Disk Utility to partition and format your hard drive, and you selected the Mac OS X (Journaled) option, Journaling is already activated.

Other Best Practices
  • Disable WiFi if your DAW build is so equipped during recording sessions. In addition to freeing up system resources, disabling these can help resolve certain system errors with some DAW apps.
  • Your DAW should be the only app running during a recording session. Exit email, chat, web browsers, etc., as these apps take away horsepower that your DAW & plugins could use.
  • Keep high-traffic USB or FW devices on separate busses. For example, if you have a USB audio interface, and you record your audio files/project files to a USB hard drive, make sure they are not on the same bus. Having them on the same bus could lead to data “traffic jams” resulting in pops, clicks, or audio drop-outs.
  • Make sure your DAW application certifies the use of USB or Thunderbolt drives. With the launch of Pro Tools 10, AVID now approves both USB and TB drives, as long as they are 7200RPM (or higher) drives. You can check these sorts of requirements by going to your DAW manufacturer’s Web site, then checking the Technical Specifications section or System Requirement section of your DAW application’s Web page.

I welcome comments & feedback, as well as other tips, tricks, and best practices from other long-time DAW guys & gals in the forum!
--B
I second what BoomR says about trying to keep things in separate busses (interfaces and storage for example). FWIW I've found better reliability with FireWire interfaces using Logic and Live. I have all my Midi and peripherals on USB while just my interface on FireWire. Firewire also sends data bidirectionaly at the same time (like a 2 way street) vs USB which is always juggling data unidirectionaly.

I've found more stability recording and monitoring with lower latency on a FireWire interface.
 

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