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  #1  
Old 08-08-2022, 11:58 AM
QuacksMeUp QuacksMeUp is offline
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Default Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

2020 iMac - top end i9 10 cores SSD 64GB RAM AMD 5700XT-16GB

As I get more into music production (lots of plug-ins on every track, sends, auxxes, virtual instruments), I am beginning to notice the slightest bit of delay or sluggishness during playback - which I anticipate will get worse as I get into larger sessions. I'm also noticing the iMac fans revving up more often.

Timing is a slight challenge when playing virtual instruments on a USB keyboard (Komplete Kontrol). (Playback engine samples set to 32 when tracking; 1024 when mixing)

So, will upping my RAM to the 128GB max help here?

Interface is Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt 2. Is it time to look at something like Avid Carbon - would that improve things?

Is there a way to slave two iMacs (or an iMac and Mac mini) to split the load? Or moving to an M1 or M2 Mac the best way to go?

Any thoughts appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 08-08-2022, 12:26 PM
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Eric Lambert Eric Lambert is offline
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

Open one of those large, sluggish sessions, then take a look at Activity Monitor (in the Utilities folder on your Mac) and check to see how much RAM is being used. 64 GB is a lot, so I'd be surprised if that's the issue, but it would be smart to check, especially if you use a lot of VIs.

Is the issue primarily the latency you feel when playing the keyboard? Or is it the delay after hitting play on the transport?

If you have plugins on that track you're playing which add a lot of latency, you're going to feel it. In those cases, I "Make Inactive" the offending plugin while I'm playing then reactivate afterward. There's no way around those delays, unless you opt for the ProTools DSP systems, which is a primary reason why people invest in them: low record latency.
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Old 08-08-2022, 02:08 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is offline
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

As Eric is saying, slight slowness in a UI might be memory related but any true audio latency is cause by internal buffering and if the system is too slow to keep up with those buffers then Pro Tools will crash with a CPU error. So typical latencies you are experiencing comes though the IO Buffer, any latencies in plugins, VI plugins etc. You really should have an understanding of latencies you are experiencing, what the latency from the IO buffer is, the claimed latency for any plugins you are using, and it often helps to measure the latency (or what parts you can) and make sure that matches what you expect. And once you understand that you can answer your own question about Carbon, Carbon with AAX DSP processing cannot directly help any latencies in the MIDI to VI chain... at least not with sample based VIs which don't run as AAX DSP.

You are talking about delay during playback. I'm not clear what you are talking about, you should not be receiving any *playback* delay/latency (as opposed to audio or MIDI tracking monitoring latency) not if delay comp is enabled.

Adding memory only really affects latency in that if you are low on memory and having CPU errors because of that and have to run at larger IO buffer sizes and adding memory allows you to run at lower IO Buffer sizes... but that's a somewhat indirect relationship.

As for memory yes you look at Activity Monitor to see if you are low on memory, *but* you need to look at the right thing. Much of the memory stats do not mean what people expect. The single best stat to look at is the "memory pressure" chart in the Activity Monitor memory page. If that is chart climbs up into the red or is persistently amber you may have a problem.

And if that is happening make sure other programs are not running, including things like bloated web browsers, check the Pro Tools disk cache is not set to a large value (if you have enough memory the disk cache should be set large enough to fully cache your sessions) and that VI sample based plugins are not set to use large caches (hopefully nowadays more VI plugins can stream samples). Reboot the mac, start pro tools again and watch if it is working OK and then over time if memory pressure keeps increasing (here "memory used" also can be helpful, but don't go to that first to see if there are problems). And memory is a low cost if it is needed, but adding memory is not a direct cure for audio latency.

Last edited by Darryl Ramm; 08-08-2022 at 02:21 PM.
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  #4  
Old 08-08-2022, 03:32 PM
musicman691 musicman691 is offline
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuacksMeUp View Post
2020 iMac - top end i9 10 cores SSD 64GB RAM AMD 5700XT-16GB

As I get more into music production (lots of plug-ins on every track, sends, auxxes, virtual instruments), I am beginning to notice the slightest bit of delay or sluggishness during playback - which I anticipate will get worse as I get into larger sessions. I'm also noticing the iMac fans revving up more often.

Timing is a slight challenge when playing virtual instruments on a USB keyboard (Komplete Kontrol). (Playback engine samples set to 32 when tracking; 1024 when mixing)

So, will upping my RAM to the 128GB max help here?

Interface is Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt 2. Is it time to look at something like Avid Carbon - would that improve things?

Is there a way to slave two iMacs (or an iMac and Mac mini) to split the load? Or moving to an M1 or M2 Mac the best way to go?

Any thoughts appreciated!
The easiest way to slave two computers is to use VEPro 7 and an ethernet cable. You could put your vi's on one machine and everything on your master machine. You say you're using a lot of plugins on each track - how many and do you really need them on the track? Also what plugins are you using? Any of them using oversampling? There are some plugins that are notorious cpu munchers - Acustica Audio is but one. iZotope rX plugins on a track are another.
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Old 08-08-2022, 06:32 PM
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

Memory Pressure, yes. And if you want a number, only one that you should be interested in is Swap Used. So long as it is zero, adding more memory is not helping.
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Old 08-08-2022, 08:42 PM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

What is your Disk Cache set to? If its set to "Normal", change that to something like 6-8GB and see if there is any improvement
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Old 08-09-2022, 12:19 AM
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Eric Lambert Eric Lambert is offline
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

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Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
What is your Disk Cache set to? If its set to "Normal", change that to something like 6-8GB and see if there is any improvement
Isn't that the amount of RAM reserved for audio files? It decreases seek time by loading them into memory, but a higher cache won't improve CPU functionality or latency. Or maybe this functionality has changed recently?
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Old 08-09-2022, 08:26 PM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

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Originally Posted by Eric Lambert View Post
Isn't that the amount of RAM reserved for audio files? It decreases seek time by loading them into memory, but a higher cache won't improve CPU functionality or latency. Or maybe this functionality has changed recently?
I may be barking up the wrong tree, but my feeling is that anything that eases strain on any part of the processing is worth trying. And, its not that Disk Cache decreases seek time; it loads audio into RAM so audio streaming is much faster than streaming off a hard drive. Will it make a difference? I'm not sure. Is it worth trying? It is if it makes a difference BTW, to the best of my knowledge, the setting of "Normal" is actually no Disk Cache and 64GB of RAM is plenty to at least experiment with(I only have 32GB of RAM and set my Disk Cache to 5GB).

Another thing that could help a lot is to commit VI tracks that have resource hog VI plugins. 1 such plugin that sounds awesome is KeyScape(specifically, the Yamaha C7), but a single instance will drag my rig down pretty bad. My solution is to flesh out the midi with MiniGrand. When the performance is all good, I switch to KeyScape and commit it.
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Old 08-09-2022, 09:10 PM
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

Normal setting "improves performance"; meaning incoming audio is cached but recorded files of the timeline are not. This setting practically makes all recording hiccups (that are disk related) go away.

If your system usage windows says disk cache is below 100% (and the meter is green) it is working optimally and the more closer it is to zero the more memory you are wasting. Doesn't take so long to optimise which setting works best for you.
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  #10  
Old 08-10-2022, 12:20 AM
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Eric Lambert Eric Lambert is offline
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Default Re: Put Your Money Where Your Mix Is - Extra RAM?

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Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
And, its not that Disk Cache decreases seek time; it loads audio into RAM so audio streaming is much faster than streaming off a hard drive.
I meant "seek" in the more traditional sense of the computer having to go find the audio on a drive, but considering how that's an established drive-related term it was a poor word choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
1 such plugin that sounds awesome is KeyScape(specifically, the Yamaha C7), but a single instance will drag my rig down pretty bad.
Pianos can have a habit of doing that, especially those that are complex. I don't think any plugin, of any kind, has been more of a CPU hog in my experience than the older Abbey Road Classic Upright pianos (Mrs. Mills, Challen, etc.). If I tried playing even moderately thick chords using the sustain pedal my computer would self-destruct and burst into a blue flame.
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