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Stephen Rybacki

Question About CPU load among DAWS

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At present, I have 3 different DAWS that I am vacillating between - CbB, Reaper and Reason.  I have an older i5 Ivy Bridge chipset machine with 28gb of memory and a pair of solid state drives -- meaning the long pole in my particular tent is the CPU at this [point.  I was able to salvage new life out of this box for around $200 by getting the SSHDs and RAM upgrades vs paying $1300-$1700 for a faster CPU and less RAM and less hard disk space.  Sidenote -- why do we still call SSHD drives "hard drives"?

Anyway, my question is this; of these three  DAWs, anyone care to weight in on which is the lightest in terms of base CPU usage, aside from VSTs etc?

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@Stephen Rybacki I can only speak for Reason and CbB as I have used Reason for ten years now, it amazes me at how well it manages CPU and memory.   When compared to VSTi's in CbB, the difference in the handling of CPU and memory comes down to Reason inst. when used inside the Reason DAW (Not the VST Reason Rack plug for use in all DAWs ) are not virtual instrument "VSTi's".   

Now I don't know how many cores your i5 CPU has but I was running Reason 11 on  an old HP Pavilion with a AMD 1.70 Ghz Phenom II Qaud Core P940. 4GB Ram.  Now back in 2009, this was a serious laptop of the day with a GPU card but is not able to run Win10 so I opted for Win8.1.  Reason not once ever gave me trouble except that Reason is way to keyboard shortcut focused and sometimes I feel like im reading a language I cannot speak while trying to edit tracks.  The mixing board is modeled after SSL and includes official SSL Channel and Bus comp.  Reason is a powerful and great sounding DAW and has the least impact on my old slow outdated laptop I use for running midi keyboards for writing.  But you will have to learn a new language in terms of editing and getting around the DAW,

Or you could get Reason and use the Reason Rack plug in that comes with it and open up Reasons instruments within Cakewalk so that you can have best of both worlds!

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10 hours ago, Clovis Ramsay said:

@Stephen Rybacki I can only speak for Reason and CbB as I have used Reason for ten years now, it amazes me at how well it manages CPU and memory.   When compared to VSTi's in CbB, the difference in the handling of CPU and memory comes down to Reason inst. when used inside the Reason DAW (Not the VST Reason Rack plug for use in all DAWs ) are not virtual instrument "VSTi's".   

Now I don't know how many cores your i5 CPU has but I was running Reason 11 on  an old HP Pavilion with a AMD 1.70 Ghz Phenom II Qaud Core P940. 4GB Ram.  Now back in 2009, this was a serious laptop of the day with a GPU card but is not able to run Win10 so I opted for Win8.1.  Reason not once ever gave me trouble except that Reason is way to keyboard shortcut focused and sometimes I feel like im reading a language I cannot speak while trying to edit tracks.  The mixing board is modeled after SSL and includes official SSL Channel and Bus comp.  Reason is a powerful and great sounding DAW and has the least impact on my old slow outdated laptop I use for running midi keyboards for writing.  But you will have to learn a new language in terms of editing and getting around the DAW,

Or you could get Reason and use the Reason Rack plug in that comes with it and open up Reasons instruments within Cakewalk so that you can have best of both worlds!

Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. My i5 has 4 cores and an on board GPU by Intel and it runs Windows 10 beautifully. Very responsive.

I guess i wasn't clear enough in my original post; I already do have Reason and yes it seems to run the things I do fine. It does however seem to take forever to start... Do you notice that? I'm on R11S with a bunch of rack extensions over the 8 years I've had it. 

I just happened to notice that both CbB and Reaper load up darn near instantly by comparison so that was where my question was coming from.

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I dont have other DAW's for a comparison, but my i5 750 (first gen iCore) is overclocked to 4 GHz and runs beautifully with Cakewalk on Win10. So CnB seems to be not so heavy on CPU. With 16 Gigs of Ram i can use plenty VSTi's and FX, without having issues. My only bottleneck i ever had, was when some plugins needed GPU reccources. I bought an used GT1030 and everything runs fine again.^^

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In Cakewalk everything is processed in real-time.

REAPER and some other DAWs have "precalculate" mode. So currently recorded or monitored tracks (including up-chain) are processed in real-time, all other (in fact all till you record or monitor something) are processed way more forgiving way. For that reason it is possible to have more plug-ins/tracks without problems even when audio buffer is small, no problem with recording into projects with PD plug-ins already inserted (till in the same chain as recorded track).

But that comes with price... In REAPER PD is always rounded to the next buffer size, so if you record with a plug-in which has 1ms PD and the buffer is 3ms, that plug-ins adds 3ms. Two such plug-ins in the chain and you have 6ms. In Cakewalk you get exact PD or the sum of them, so 1ms and 2ms in the example. Also in some of my tests Cakewalk was able to drive more plug-ins in recording chain then REAPER, using the same buffer size.

Note that any DAW has many obvious and not really obvious settings which significantly influence CPU load.

BTW my upgrade 2 years ago was under 1k€, with i9, 32GB and 1TB fast M2 SSD. Note that in many (most?) cases only one M2 works as fast as possible (insufficient PCIe lines in desktop CPUs). Optimizing the computer for audio is the most challenging task, one single component or setting can render top configuration less usable for audio then 10 years old optimized system... 

 

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17 hours ago, Stephen Rybacki said:

Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. My i5 has 4 cores and an on board GPU by Intel and it runs Windows 10 beautifully. Very responsive.

I guess i wasn't clear enough in my original post; I already do have Reason and yes it seems to run the things I do fine. It does however seem to take forever to start... Do you notice that? I'm on R11S with a bunch of rack extensions over the 8 years I've had it. 

I just happened to notice that both CbB and Reaper load up darn near instantly by comparison so that was where my question was coming from.

Ahh okay, well at least you have met the “oh here goes a tangent” side of my personality, nice to meet ya 😄

Yes Reason at first use after a fresh reboot does indeed take a great deal of time to load.  I couldn’t tell you exactly why that is the case but I will say that it isn’t due to your pc, it is totally a Reason thing that started to occur when they went the way of distributing via  digital downloads and USB dongles, and now you must have either a virtual key that contains your license or signed in working online.   My older version of Reason installed via cd-rom and it would load in an instant.  
 

The only time I experience CbB with extremely long loading times is when I open large projects with to many Waves plug ins going on.  Waves is a memory drain when initialized so In sure CbB having to load all of the plug ins and VI’s creates a bottle neck in data.  
 

i just manage my expectations now and utilize  those several minutes to refresh my beverage or find a ball game to watch, maybe practice some ping pong, do a little  crocheting, give my cat a bath, go visit relatives in Alaska, or take a good solid nap and feel rejuvenated for that next project that I will have to open at some point.  

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Stephen,

Your system should run any of those DAW's just fine, so I'd go with the one you like best.

If I were you, I'd check to see if that Ivy Bridge motherboard of yours can take an i7. My main DAW is an Ivy Bridge with an i7 3770 in it. These older CPU's can be had for very little, and the more cores the better for DAW use. I even pulled the i5 from my ancient laptop and put an i7 in it, and it runs Cakewalk pretty well with 8G of RAM (maxed out). The fan runs more and battery life went to heck, but Cakewalk likes having twice the cores to play with.

Both of my systems do have discrete GPU's. I'd also get a cheap second hand nVidia card to put in there. Either or both of those upgrades will be easy on the wallet and give you a perceptible increase in smoothness. The internal HD4000 graphics could barely keep up with displaying Console View or Piano Roll on a second monitor. Nothing bad happened, it would just take longer for it to page the images in and out of memory. You could see it putting up a grey box and then filling it in with the various screen elements.

Sidenote: we call solid state storage devices "hard drives" because they are physically hard, as opposed to flexible, which was the most widespread non-volatile mass storage technology before drives where the medium was hard metal disks. Flexible plastic disks with rust on them gave way to hard disks with rust on them, which gave way to hard slabs of melted sand. Why a mechanical box with a whirling plastic disk in it would be called a "drive" is the big mystery to me. I get the "floppy" vs. "hard" thing. But "drive?" What is it driving? Container, tank, cache, box, locker,  these are all terms for storing things. Now we're stuck with a plastic-encased bit of silicon being called a "drive." It goes back at least as far as paper tape.

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3 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Stephen,

Your system should run any of those DAW's just fine, so I'd go with the one you like best.

If I were you, I'd check to see if that Ivy Bridge motherboard of yours can take an i7. My main DAW is an Ivy Bridge with an i7 3770 in it. These older CPU's can be had for very little, and the more cores the better for DAW use. I even pulled the i5 from my ancient laptop and put an i7 in it, and it runs Cakewalk pretty well with 8G of RAM (maxed out). The fan runs more and battery life went to heck, but Cakewalk likes having twice the cores to play with.

Both of my systems do have discrete GPU's. I'd also get a cheap second hand nVidia card to put in there. Either or both of those upgrades will be easy on the wallet and give you a perceptible increase in smoothness. The internal HD4000 graphics could barely keep up with displaying Console View or Piano Roll on a second monitor. Nothing bad happened, it would just take longer for it to page the images in and out of memory. You could see it putting up a grey box and then filling it in with the various screen elements.

Sidenote: we call solid state storage devices "hard drives" because they are physically hard, as opposed to flexible, which was the most widespread non-volatile mass storage technology before drives where the medium was hard metal disks. Flexible plastic disks with rust on them gave way to hard disks with rust on them, which gave way to hard slabs of melted sand. Why a mechanical box with a whirling plastic disk in it would be called a "drive" is the big mystery to me. I get the "floppy" vs. "hard" thing. But "drive?" What is it driving? Container, tank, cache, box, locker,  these are all terms for storing things. Now we're stuck with a plastic-encased bit of silicon being called a "drive." It goes back at least as far as paper tape.

+1 to this processor - I use this as well, although I'm just using the on board graphics with 2 x 1080P monitors and 16GB RAM.

One thing I would say though, is I didn't notice a huge difference in performance between the i5 3570 and the i7 3770 - probably only around 15% difference.  But pricewise, the i5 is 1/3 to 1/2 the price of the i7.

 

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12 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Your system should run any of those DAW's just fine, so I'd go with the one you like best.

Sums it up. What plugins you use will have a far greater impact on CPU performance than the host.

200+ tracks of audio with basic processing (EQ, compression, reverb) will have no issues, while 16 tracks of unfrozen resource-hungry VIs can grind everything to a halt. You can't escape the need for resource management, regardless of platform.

IOW, any of us here can bring any system to its knees if we try. I, for one, try on a daily basis.

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On 9/11/2021 at 7:31 AM, Starship Krupa said:

Why a mechanical box with a whirling plastic disk in it would be called a "drive" is the big mystery to me.

Comes from 'driving' tape across the magnetic head in a tape-based storage system using a capstan and pinch roller. 

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Well, consarn it then, they should have called it a "pull!" 😄

Doesn't punched paper tape predate magnetic tape as a data storage medium?

A reel of tape for sound recording gets loaded on to a "deck," while a reel of magnetic tape for binary data recording gets loaded into a "drive." A DVD (or CD) can go into either a "drive" or a "player," depending on whether it's hooked up to a computer system (including when that system is a game system like an Xbox).

I think "deck" should have been the term; I'm old enough (just barely) to have submitted computer programs for class in "decks" of punched cards. Innovation in computer systems was moving very fast back then; less than 3 years later I was in Silicon Valley doing printed circuit design for a modem company on an IBM XT-based CAD system, and those punched cards seemed as distant and archaic to me as they do now.

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And before large-capacity disk drives were a thing, bulk storage was on tape, which was loaded onto a tape drive.

Only the very earliest of those had capstans and rollers; they were driven by synchronized DC motors connected directly to the spindles, with vacuum columns to take up the slack during fast stops and starts. For all their complexity, when they broke it was always the same part that failed: just like your solid-state guitar amp, it was the heatsink-mounted bank of 2N3055s that made up the power amp for the motors.

And those drives were dangerous: if you forgot to extend the stabilization arms on the rack when you pulled out a tape drive for maintenance the whole rack could come down on you. Don't ask me how I know that.

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30 minutes ago, bitflipper said:

And before large-capacity disk drives were a thing, bulk storage was on tape, which was loaded onto a tape drive.

Only the very earliest of those had capstans and rollers; they were driven by synchronized DC motors connected directly to the spindles, with vacuum columns to take up the slack during fast stops and starts. For all their complexity, when they broke it was always the same part that failed: just like your solid-state guitar amp, it was the heatsink-mounted bank of 2N3055s that made up the power amp for the motors.

And those drives were dangerous: if you forgot to extend the stabilization arms on the rack when you pulled out a tape drive for maintenance the whole rack could come down on you. Don't ask me how I know that.

That reminds me of my first job as an intern doing the mainframe backup.... I spent every Friday feeding 5 huge tape machines one by one with 200 tapes.

Shortly after I left, they replaced the lot with two DAT drives.

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I am too young... My "computer operator" curse was already with disks, which had to be loaded into (wash-machine like) disk drive.

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I am intimately familiar with the model you're referring to...19 heads, 20 platters, 300 MB capacity, similar in size and form factor to a top-loading washing machine. Those things used to go for $60,000. Weighed about 200 lbs. Were never popular with laptops.

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3 hours ago, bitflipper said:

I am intimately familiar with the model you're referring to...19 heads, 20 platters, 300 MB capacity, similar in size and form factor to a top-loading washing machine. Those things used to go for $60,000. Weighed about 200 lbs. Were never popular with laptops.

Yeah, and they kept them in rooms so freaking cold you had to wear two sweaters!

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8 hours ago, David Baay said:

Ah, but did you ever play Star Trek on a teletype terminal?

...on a teletype terminal with an acoustic phone coupler!

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8 hours ago, David Baay said:

Ah, but did you ever play Star Trek on a teletype terminal?

No. I played Wumpus, Colossal Cave and Lunar Lander. Not on a Teletype, but a GE Terminet, which was to a Teletype what an electric typewriter was to a manual typewriter. You're really challenging my memory cells here. 

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1 hour ago, bitflipper said:

No. I played Wumpus, Colossal Cave and Lunar Lander. Not on a Teletype, but a GE Terminet

Ha! You got me. I know Adventure and Lunar Lander, but not the hardware.

For the uninitiated/curious/nostalgic, I Googled up this:

https://www.pcmag.com/news/the-forgotten-world-of-teletype-computer-games

Fond memories.

Apologies to the OP. Your thread is now well, and truly, hijacked. 

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