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Optimizing performance

From: Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

Video: Optimizing performance

In this lesson, we'll learn how to configure preferences that affect computer performance, so that your system will work at maximum efficiency when running Ableton Live. So again, I am going to go into Preferences, and that's under the Live menu--or Options menu on a PC--and I am going to go to the Audio tab. So let's first talk a little bit about latency and setting the Buffer Size setting. So computers work more efficiently when there is a larger buffer, and essentially what's happening is that a chunk of data is being held for the CPU, and when the CPU is ready it can grab it. And the larger that piece of data is the more efficiently the computer is going to work.

Optimizing performance

In this lesson, we'll learn how to configure preferences that affect computer performance, so that your system will work at maximum efficiency when running Ableton Live. So again, I am going to go into Preferences, and that's under the Live menu--or Options menu on a PC--and I am going to go to the Audio tab. So let's first talk a little bit about latency and setting the Buffer Size setting. So computers work more efficiently when there is a larger buffer, and essentially what's happening is that a chunk of data is being held for the CPU, and when the CPU is ready it can grab it. And the larger that piece of data is the more efficiently the computer is going to work.

But there is a payback for that when using audio applications, and that is delay as the signal passes through the system, and that delay can be particularly annoying when you're actually recording because you'll play the note, and then you'll actually here the note. As we look right now, my buffer size is set at 128 samples and my input latency is about 3.7 milliseconds and the output 4, for a total of about 7.7. That's actually quite low, and you'll probably be okay with a buffer size setting like that. Now when you are mixing and editing you can bump that up to a much larger size, and you should be also aware that when you change the values in this Buffer Size field Ableton Live will let you type any figure in there, but many interfaces actually work with preset sizes like 64 or 128 or 256 samples and then multiples of that.

So in some cases you can actually type a number in here that'll cause a conflict with your interface. So you want to find out what those options are with your particular interface. But we can actually test this out and see how this particular interface that we are using with Live right now will work, and we can do that using this cool little utility that they've built into Preferences down here, under Test. So what I can do is I can actually run a test tone so that I can listen to the audio as it's passing through the system, and then I can simulate a heavy CPU load by setting the CPU Usage Simulator parameter at a higher setting.

So I am going to click in there, and I am going to bump that all the way up to 80%, and then I am going to turn on the test tone. Now right now I've set this is pretty soft, so that we can actually talk over the top of it. (Test tone sounding.) So there is the test tone, and if I look over here in the CPU Usage field out in the Live window, we can see that it's seeing 80% CPU usage. Now what I'll do is I'll click in the Buffer Size setting field, and I will put in a smaller setting, so we'll try 64 samples. I'll hit Return. Now listen. (Test tone sounding.) It doesn't sound too bad. Let's go down a little bit lower.

And you can start to hear a little fuzziness happen there definitely at 32 samples. This particular interface will let me go all the way down to 20 samples. You can immediately hear some crackling there in the background. So if I was going to record into this system, I would probably start at either 64 or 128, knowing that a total of about 7.7 milliseconds is not going to cause a problem with Latency in recording. But if I was to get up to something like let's say 512 samples, you can see that I would then be looking at over 24 milliseconds of latency, and that is going to be noticeable.

In my experience, I'll just let you know that that actually is kind of the breaking point. So usually I would do this at least at 256 or lower, and we can hear that the audio is unaffected by that buffer setting. And I'll turn off the test tone here, and let's drop down and take a look at the Preferences under the CPU tab. And the first one here is the Multicore/ Multiprocessor Support, and this enables spreading the CPU load over multiple processors if available on your computer. Now, when do you need to worry about that or how would you know? Well, you can always take a look at here on the CPU Load Meter in Live. And if this is up near 100% that shows that the computer is working at its maximum ability, and you may end up with some pops or clicks or distortion or dropouts.

So if this occurs, you are going to want to increase the Buffer Size setting on the Audio tab that we were just talking about. And there are some other things like freezing tracks that we'll talk about in a later video. While we are out here there is a disk overload indicator. That's the one here with the D on it. And note that hard drive speeds affect the performance of programs like Live, so most computers today have 7,200 rpm drives, which are sufficient for running audio applications. But those of you who are using laptops, you probably have a 5,400 rpm drive, and you may run into problems with high track counts and other issues where you're taxing the machine.

If that happens you may want to reduce the track count, come back to the Audio tab and raise your Buffer Size setting. But in any case, there is no reason why you wouldn't want to enable multicore/multiprocessor support. Another parameter we'll take a look at here is the plug-in buffer size. Now currently this says as audio buffer, and what that means is that when we're routing audio in Live to an audio effect, like a compressor or an EQ or something of that nature, it's going to receive the same buffer size as the rest of the system.

In some cases, if you're having problems with the CPU overload or other issues, you may want to come in here and try and set this to a higher setting. So this can be different than the actual CPU buffer setting, but normally we'll leave that as Audio Buffer. Okay, so in this lesson we learned how to configure the Preferences in Live that affect system performance. This will enable you to set up your computer and Live so that they will operate effectively.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

69 video lessons · 16988 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 30s
    1. Welcome
      49s
    2. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 8m 43s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      4m 30s
  3. 12m 59s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      3m 31s
    3. Optimizing performance
      5m 34s
  4. 35m 42s
    1. Understanding Session view
      8m 7s
    2. Working with Live browsers
      5m 3s
    3. Working with Live clips
      7m 57s
    4. Understanding clip properties
      7m 52s
    5. Working with Live scenes
      6m 43s
  5. 28m 16s
    1. Building Live Sets and projects
      4m 25s
    2. Learning Live file management
      4m 2s
    3. Exporting content from Live
      7m 32s
    4. Importing and exporting Live Packs
      3m 17s
    5. Searching for and auditioning clips
      4m 58s
    6. Setting up frequently accessed folders
      4m 2s
  6. 23m 3s
    1. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 51s
    2. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 32s
    3. Working with alternate MIDI entry methods
      6m 49s
    4. Using multi-output virtual instruments
      5m 51s
  7. 24m 26s
    1. The MIDI Editor
      4m 49s
    2. Quantizing MIDI data
      6m 6s
    3. Advanced MIDI editing
      6m 49s
    4. Setting up groove in editing
      6m 42s
  8. 9m 18s
    1. Preparing to record
      5m 0s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 18s
  9. 22m 37s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      3m 41s
    2. Recording in Arrangement view
      3m 51s
    3. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 21s
    4. Reworking clips
      9m 44s
  10. 27m 57s
    1. Understanding Live's mixer
      12m 38s
    2. Using sends and returns
      3m 47s
    3. Building headphone cues
      3m 49s
    4. Grouping tracks
      7m 43s
  11. 43m 14s
    1. Working with effect devices
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 14s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      7m 28s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      8m 18s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 22s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      6m 56s
  12. 15m 37s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      8m 38s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      6m 59s
  13. 25m 24s
    1. Building automation patterns
      8m 44s
    2. Editing existing automation information
      5m 3s
    3. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 10s
    4. Understanding the power of clip envelopes
      7m 27s
  14. 20m 17s
    1. Understanding the basics of looping
      6m 54s
    2. Creating tracks that loop smoothly
      7m 50s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 33s
  15. 17m 47s
    1. Using the computer keyboard to control Live
      6m 39s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      4m 36s
    3. Using Live's instant mapping feature
      6m 32s
  16. 10m 44s
    1. Exporting audio
      5m 37s
    2. Freezing tracks
      5m 7s
  17. 20m 45s
    1. Building with the Impulse virtual instrument
      11m 35s
    2. Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
      9m 10s
  18. 36m 22s
    1. Overview of Live racks
      10m 13s
    2. Combining instruments and effects into a single device
      8m 22s
    3. Adding effects with Drum Rack
      11m 28s
    4. Assigning rack parameters to macros
      6m 19s
  19. 13m 53s
    1. Setting up ReWire with Pro Tools
      7m 3s
    2. Setting up ReWire with Logic
      6m 50s
  20. 33m 43s
    1. Preparing audio clips with the Warp tool
      14m 31s
    2. Triggering clips using follow actions
      8m 9s
    3. Using Live as a sound source
      11m 3s
  21. 7m 21s
    1. Working with video files
      7m 21s
  22. 37s
    1. Further Recommendations
      37s

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