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Starship Krupa

System optimization, tuning and tweaking thread

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It seems like a good time to start this, a dedicated thread for sharing (or requesting?) tried and tested tips for tuning one's DAW system to run Cakewalk by BandLab.

For people submitting them, I think as much information we can provide about our systems will help people reading. I have my system specs in my sig, but anything that pertains more to the suggestion I'll put in the post.

My system is not a rocket by any means. I have an SSD that I use for Programs, OS, plug-ins, sample data, and active projects. 16G of RAM, upgraded from 8 mostly so people would stop telling me I should upgrade my RAM.

Here's my first one, already posted in another thread, but it's a goodie.

Theoretical background included:

First, Cakewalk's playback engine streams from every clip's associated audio file every time you hit Play*. That goes for muted clips and tracks, too. The only tracks and clips that don't stream are ones that are Archived.

Second, Windows Defender Antimalware Service is set up by default to scan everything in real time. That is, every time a program reads or writes a file to or from the drive, Defender is sitting there waiting to jump in and scan it. That includes VST plug-ins, samples, audio files and all the dynamic linking libraries that any Windows program like Cakewalk loads during runtime. Just think of a whole extra program between Cakewalk and the drive that's scanning your vocal performance for malware on the fly....

This is not theoretical. In both cases I sat here and watched Windows Process Monitor as I ran a project and did a Keanu "whoa." I had been getting clean DPC scans, too.

But enough of my prattle!

What can we do about this?

Windows Defender allows you to exclude certain folders from realtime scanning. Get thee now to Settings/Security and exclude your Cakewalk project folders from realtime scanning. I also recommend you do it for your plug-in and sample folders. None of these folders are likely to carry a malware payload, and if by some chance they did, Defender would pick it up on its systemwide scans. Be aware that Microsoft loves to revert your security settings, so once you've excluded folders from realtime scanning, check that setting every couple of months to make sure that they haven't switched back.

Also, in projects with many unused takes that you're keeping around for possible later comping or alternate versions, etc., consider moving them to other tracks and then Archiving those tracks so that they don't all get streamed unnecessarily while you're mixing and comping your main "keepers."

Try these and report back if you see an improvement in performance. They work for me, on my system, but as always, YMMV.

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Good thread. I wasn't aware of the Microsoft real time scanning thing. Changes shall be made this afternoon. While on the subject of Anti-Virus / Malware scanning programs, if you are running McAffee  or Nortons, just get it off your machine NOW. You don't need it. These programs are worse on a DAW machine than an actual virus! I had issues all last year with audio dropouts and the machine bogging so badly that the screens would stop updating. I made 4 changes that completely changed the stability of my machine when running CW.

  1. Removed ALL McAffee products and started using the build in Windows anti-virus solution.
  2. Removed ALL Nvidia drivers from my machine and reverted to using the stock Windows display drivers. This includes removing that pesky high definition audio driver that Nvidia installs.
  3.  I was running a wireless NIC in my machine because I was too lazy to run a hard wire to my building NIC. I removed the wireless card along with all of the drivers and reverted to using the built in NIC on a wired connection.
  4.  I swapped out the system drive for an SSD and rearranged my files so that the CW audio has its on dedicated drive.

Bottom line is that I never have an issue now. After swearing that I'd never go back to CW, here I am. My changes along with the improvements made to the program by the Bakers in the last year have completely changed my mind.

My specs are in my signature and you can see that I'm not exactly running a state of the art rig, but it's back to being rock solid with these few changes.

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1. Disable integrated audio devices on your motherboard in BIOS (this assumes that  you will use your audio interface for DAW and system sounds.)

2. Disable power management for your USB device. 

3. Turn off power management for your CPU(s) (speed step, etc.)

4. Turn off the Windows search indexer. This process scans all files on your system and creates a content index to allow fast searching. 

I'd put step-by-step how-to's here, but in a few weeks time they'd be out of date anyway, so with my apologies, please google it. :)

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1 hour ago, Kevin Walsh said:

1. Disable integrated audio devices on your motherboard in BIOS (this assumes that  you will use your audio interface for DAW and system sounds.)

Respectfully, I typically recommend the opposite: leave onboard audio enabled and designated as the default playback and recording device for use by Windows, browsers, games and other generic multimedia apps so that they keep their mitts off your dedicated "pro audio" interface, reserving it for applications specifically configured to use it (preferably via the manufacturer's own ASIO driver).

If you want to hear multimedia audio through your monitoring system, use an outboard mixer to merge it.

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Great idea for a thread and very helpful! 

It seems many who use  outboard interfaces use ASIO. I recently had need to temporarily switch to MME drivers because my screen capture software wasn't playing well with both my DAW and it. Is there any benefit to using MME over ASIO?  MME seemed more compatible to a larger cross section of devices.

On the subject of cleaning out the junk. What about old versions of Cakewalk? Aren't they still on the drive? Are there places where large amounts of disk memory might be wasted unawares?

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Great tips already!

For those posting and for those reading: we're all just users, nobody speaks for BandLab, and it's anecdotal. Tuner beware, YMMV. My hope is that perhaps some of what we post here will eventually replace the out-of-date suggestions in the current documentation, but for now, it's just us.

We already have conflicting opinions, which is great.

Since many more people read the forum than post, I exercise caution in the matter of recommending disabling peripherals as a matter of course. While it is true that any interrupt-y component (network, video, audio, USB, Firewire, etc.) can have a defective driver that can cause problems that result in high latency and/or playback dropouts, I recommend working the problem and getting them to function correctly rather than just turning them off.

This is especially true in the matter of network adaptors. While you may not use them, these days there is a plethora of DAW functions that depend on networking. Wireless control surfaces, MIDI over ethernet, OSC, streaming audio, remote desktop, VNC, licensing validation, all sorts of things. While it was once true that a computer couldn't handle audio and network traffic at the same time, modern ones should have no trouble at all with network activity as long as the networking is functioning properly. I've run VNC servers and Cakewalk with no issues, and that's constant network activity.

There are tools such as Latency Monitor that we can use to see if a driver is causing trouble. If it is, then maybe try downloading the driver from the manufacturer's website instead of using the one that Microsoft supplies or vice versa, rolling back to the previous one, etc. I had to do this with the NIC driver on my Dell when Latency Monitor showed that the network driver was causing spikes. I've had to do it with video drivers.

There is some danger in blanket recommendations where maybe we don't want things like "I heard you can't use wi-fi with Cakewalk" going around. May seem silly, but have you checked the sales stats of Corona beer lately?

So maybe "wi-fi drivers can sometimes be flaky, if you're getting playback issues when you have wi-fi on, use Latency Monitor to check and see if your driver is the culprit" might be better advice.

I can tell you that I have an ancient Dell i5 notebook that I run Cakewalk on and wi-fi is always enabled and has never caused a bit of trouble. I also use the onboard sound chip. It sounds fantastic through my Sennheiser cans.

More tips to come....

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Johnny 5 says "Need more input"

Removing the new NVidia drivers from Win10 help me some.  They helped Win 7 run better.  Don't know why.   Each tweak should be tested.

Still looking for more options.

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20 hours ago, David Baay said:

Respectfully, I typically recommend the opposite: leave onboard audio enabled and designated as the default playback and recording device for use by Windows, browsers, games and other generic multimedia apps so that they keep their mitts off your dedicated "pro audio" interface, reserving it for applications specifically configured to use it (preferably via the manufacturer's own ASIO driver).

If you want to hear multimedia audio through your monitoring system, use an outboard mixer to merge it.

Same

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11 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

For those posting and for those reading: we're all just users, nobody speaks for BandLab, and it's anecdotal. Tuner beware, YMMV. My hope is that perhaps some of what we post here will eventually replace the out-of-date suggestions in the current documentation, but for now, it's just us.

We already have conflicting opinions, which is great.

+1 on this statement.

There are so many configurations out there that one man's fix might be another's downfall. I agree with the "proceed with caution" sentiment. In my case, the DAW machine in question is a hodgepodge of parts accumulated over several years. Most are obsolete in one way or another. That's just how I roll.

So to the noob, proceed with caution and most of all, make sure you understand what was said. Perception is a funny thing with reading these suggestions! Make sure you know what was being suggested, but perhaps even more than that, consider the context of the suggestion.

 

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19 hours ago, Tim Flannagin said:

There are so many configurations out there that one's fix might be another's downfall.

Hear hear, in the case of hardware tips for sure. I think things like excluding your Cakewalk project folders from realtime virus scanning are universal, but with anything, you're right, even if we don't state it, TRY is implied. If someone's having problems, or if they want to tinker around a bit and see if they can squeeze a little more performance out of their hardware, TRY these things and then see what happens.

I linked to a page with useful tools for monitoring performance, and one of my favorite ones is built right into Windows. We should all know how to run Task Manager and click on Performance to get a general idea of how many resources your system is using. You can also launch a more detailed tool from that page. Down at the bottom, there's a button for open Resource Monitor.

That's how I discovered the behavior with Cakewalk's playback streaming and Defender's realtime scanning. You can use it to see what processes a specific program is launching, what files it's reading and writing, etc. I've noticed some other interesting things that CbB does, like doing a big disk read whenever a Loop Marker was moved. Noel might have amended that or I stopped noticing after I got an SSD. It used to stall my audio engine from time to time, especially if I wasn't diligent about defragging.

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