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Optimizing Pro Tools performance

From: Pro Tools 9 Essential Training

Video: Optimizing Pro Tools performance

In this video, I'm going to explain some of the key settings that affect how Pro Tools interacts with your computer, and why you should adjust them for improved performance. Let's go to this Setup menu and choose Playback Engine. First, make sure that the Current Engine matches the peripheral you chose in the Hardware Setup window. Let's talk about some of these settings down here. First, let's look at the CPU Usage Limit. The CPU Usage Limit is the amount of your computer's total processing power assigned to Pro Tools.

Optimizing Pro Tools performance

In this video, I'm going to explain some of the key settings that affect how Pro Tools interacts with your computer, and why you should adjust them for improved performance. Let's go to this Setup menu and choose Playback Engine. First, make sure that the Current Engine matches the peripheral you chose in the Hardware Setup window. Let's talk about some of these settings down here. First, let's look at the CPU Usage Limit. The CPU Usage Limit is the amount of your computer's total processing power assigned to Pro Tools.

For example, if you assign 85% of your computer's power to Pro Tools, 15% is left for other applications, including your operating system. On this system, we're actually allowed to choose up to 99%, and that's because this is an 8-core multiprocessor. Your computer might only be able to go up to about 90% if you don't have a multi-core processor. The only reason not to boost this all the way to the limit is if you're going to be running other intensive programs on your computer at the same time as Pro Tools.

Now let's talk about the Hardware Buffer Size. The Hardware Buffer Size is related to latency. All computer recording systems have latency. Well, what is latency? Latency is the time it takes for your computer to receive an input signal, process it, and send it back out to an output so that you can hear it. Yes, that's right; digital recording is not actually instantaneous. We can adjust the latency in Pro Tools using the Hardware Buffer Size, shown here. The Hardware Buffer Size is the amount of audio data in samples that your computer grabs and processes at one time before it spits it back out for monitoring or recording.

Large buffer sizes give the computer more time to process audio data, but also increase the amount of latency, and cause slower user interface response. Small buffer sizes--like 32 samples shown here--decrease latency, but don't allow the use of as many plug-ins while using Pro Tools. So smaller hardware buffer sizes--like 32 samples or 64 samples--are more useful for recording sessions where you'll have less latency, and you may not need to use as many plug-ins.

Larger buffer sizes--like 512 or 1024 samples--are more useful for mixing sessions, where there is more latency, but you can also put in more plug-ins. As a side note, because these buffers are measured in samples, it stands to reason that faster sampling rates will yield lower latencies. For example, 128 samples at a 96 kHz sampling rate is half as long as 128 samples at a 48 kHz sampling rate.

These calculations may be over your head at the moment, but if they are no worries. The take-home message here is that lower buffer sizes are better for recording and higher buffer sizes are better for mixing. We'll discuss this topic further in the Recording chapter. Let's move onto the Host Processors. The Host Processors setting determines how many processors in your computer are allocated for plug-in processing. On computers with one processor, this is automatically set to 1; however, on computers with multiple processors like this one, you can increase this number to take advantage of those extra processors.

I recommend setting this to either the maximum, 8, or the one below the maximum allowed, 7, which is often the preferred value. When using most audio interfaces you want to keep the Ignore Errors During Playback/Record unchecked, because if you do check it, it says down here it, "May cause clicks and pops in your playback and recording." The only real reason to check this is if you need a little bit of extra horsepower from your computer, and you can deal with a couple of clicks and pops during playback and recording.

Below the Host Engine, we have the Delay Compensation Engine, and I'm going to discuss that in another video. Let's look at the DAE Playback Buffer. DAE stands for the Digidesign Audio Engine. It works behind the scenes within Pro Tools to manage all of the audio streams. The DAE Playback Buffer setting can affect the responsiveness of the Pro Tools interface. However, I've rarely have the need to change the default values, which are shown here: Level 2, which is the default, we'll keep it that, and the Cache Size we'll keep as Normal.

As you can read here on the screen, "Lower values for the disk buffer reduce disk latency while higher values improve disk performance." Again, the default settings should be fine for both of these. On some devices, you may see a plug- in streaming buffer in this window. This setting determines the amount of memory DAE allocates for streaming playback from virtual instruments samplers, like structure. Low values free up system resources for other uses, while higher values yield better playback reliability, even though they take up more system resources.

Usually keeping the default value is fine. Only change this value if you're experiencing problems with the reliability of streaming playback from virtual instruments samplers. Although some of these settings and terminologies explained in this video might not make complete sense to you right now, it will as you move forward in using Pro Tools. Revisit this video after getting more familiar with Pro Tools, and you'll understand it more deeply. However, for our purposes here, I would recommend maximizing your CPU Usage, adjusting your Hardware Buffer Size to a lower number, and setting your Host Processors to one below the maximum amount.

These settings will increase the power and optimize your performance of Pro Tools on your computer.

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This video is part of

Image for Pro Tools 9 Essential Training
Pro Tools 9 Essential Training

106 video lessons · 11368 viewers

David Franz
Author

 
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  1. 13m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Exploring the different versions of Pro Tools
      2m 30s
    3. Optimizing your computer before installing Pro Tools
      4m 6s
    4. Troubleshooting
      2m 18s
    5. Using the exercise files
      3m 3s
  2. 31m 3s
    1. Installing and authorizing Pro Tools
      1m 50s
    2. Connecting your Pro Tools system
      4m 1s
    3. Powering up and powering down
      58s
    4. Choosing the Playback Engine and Hardware settings
      4m 13s
    5. Optimizing Pro Tools performance
      5m 52s
    6. Utilizing Automatic Delay Compensation (ADC)
      1m 38s
    7. Setting essential preferences
      2m 35s
    8. Creating a Pro Tools session
      3m 43s
    9. Identifying elements in a session folder
      2m 33s
    10. Creating new tracks
      3m 40s
  3. 42m 9s
    1. Exploring the Edit window
      6m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mix window
      3m 11s
    3. Exploring the Transport and Big Counter windows
      2m 57s
    4. Using the Color palette and window arrangements
      2m 36s
    5. Investigating the menus
      3m 13s
    6. Understanding samples and ticks
      3m 34s
    7. Viewing and manipulating tracks
      4m 31s
    8. Selecting inputs, outputs, and buses
      3m 58s
    9. Selecting an I/O Settings file
      4m 12s
    10. Understanding signal paths and gain stages
      3m 46s
    11. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and keyboard focus
      3m 19s
  4. 19m 31s
    1. Using DigiBase and the Workspace browser
      4m 22s
    2. Importing audio
      3m 1s
    3. Importing MIDI
      2m 46s
    4. Importing session data
      3m 44s
    5. Importing tracks from a CD
      2m 44s
    6. Importing video
      2m 54s
  5. 1h 0m
    1. Recording audio
      6m 14s
    2. Playing back audio
      10m 0s
    3. Creating a click track
      5m 25s
    4. Overdubbing and using the record modes
      8m 29s
    5. Recording with playlists and Loop Record
      4m 3s
    6. Punch recording and using the monitoring modes
      4m 17s
    7. Dealing with latency and ADC
      4m 58s
    8. Creating a group
      4m 52s
    9. Adding effects while recording
      5m 17s
    10. Creating a headphone (cue) mix
      4m 29s
    11. Assigning disk allocation
      2m 17s
  6. 1h 19m
    1. Understanding nondestructive editing and region types
      3m 3s
    2. Using the Selector and Grabber tools
      3m 29s
    3. Using the Trimmer and Scrubber tools
      8m 16s
    4. Using the Zoomer tool and Zoom presets
      5m 41s
    5. Using the Pencil tool
      2m 46s
    6. Using the Smart tool
      1m 28s
    7. Understanding the Edit modes
      5m 9s
    8. Arranging regions
      5m 33s
    9. Undoing an edit
      2m 8s
    10. Utilizing fades and crossfades
      7m 22s
    11. Building a comp track using playlists
      4m 50s
    12. Locking and muting regions
      2m 52s
    13. Special Edit window buttons
      6m 47s
    14. Creating an audio loop
      4m 13s
    15. Editing a voiceover
      8m 37s
    16. Using Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch
      7m 38s
  7. 19m 27s
    1. Working with region groups
      6m 39s
    2. Using time, tempo, meter, key, and chord
      5m 37s
    3. Creating memory locations
      7m 11s
  8. 30m 47s
    1. Setting up MIDI on a Mac
      4m 7s
    2. Setting up MIDI on a PC
      2m 13s
    3. Setting up MIDI in Pro Tools
      2m 37s
    4. Recording MIDI data
      3m 7s
    5. Recording multiple MIDI tracks with one virtual instrument
      2m 17s
    6. Recording options for MIDI
      5m 44s
    7. Using step input
      4m 14s
    8. Making a drum loop with MIDI Merge
      3m 36s
    9. Composing with virtual instruments
      2m 52s
  9. 54m 25s
    1. Using the edit tools for editing MIDI data
      9m 47s
    2. Editing MIDI data in the MIDI Editor
      8m 17s
    3. Working with the MIDI event list
      2m 13s
    4. Editing MIDI data with event operations
      8m 35s
    5. Quantizing MIDI tracks
      12m 16s
    6. Creating and using groove templates
      5m 35s
    7. Utilizing real-time properties
      3m 49s
    8. Using MIDI Learn
      3m 53s
  10. 17m 44s
    1. Exploring the Score Editor
      5m 56s
    2. Using the Score Editor
      5m 11s
    3. Setting up a score
      4m 48s
    4. Printing and exporting a score
      1m 49s
  11. 25m 45s
    1. Writing and editing automation
      7m 21s
    2. Drawing automation with the Pencil tool
      3m 58s
    3. Editing automation with the Trimmer and Grabber tools
      2m 26s
    4. Cutting, copying, pasting, and clearing automation
      4m 2s
    5. Turning automation on and off
      4m 0s
    6. Automating plug-ins and virtual instruments
      3m 58s
  12. 1h 33m
    1. Setting up a session for mixing
      7m 53s
    2. Setting up an effects loop
      9m 30s
    3. Working with plug-ins
      4m 33s
    4. Utilizing ADC while mixing
      9m 11s
    5. Applying EQ
      9m 25s
    6. Adding compression and limiting
      13m 27s
    7. Adding depth effects: Delay and reverb
      12m 45s
    8. Applying AudioSuite plug-ins
      4m 14s
    9. Bouncing down a mix and making an MP3
      5m 44s
    10. Setting up a session for mastering
      4m 36s
    11. Mastering a session
      7m 35s
    12. Bouncing down master recordings with Dither and Noise Shaping
      4m 52s
  13. 10m 6s
    1. Importing and displaying video files
      2m 42s
    2. Adding music, foley, ADR, and FX
      4m 32s
    3. Bouncing down video and audio together
      2m 52s
  14. 4m 22s
    1. Archiving an entire session
      4m 22s
  15. 52s
    1. Further Recommendations
      52s

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