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Dave K.

Export issues

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Hi all,

Lately (and really for about 6+ months now, but it seems to be getting worse or is at least worse on this particular project) my exports have gotten so slow.

Tonight I actually clocked the export time as slower than real-time on a project (by a matter of seconds, but even so).  One of the things that really jumps out to me is that for years, during the offline bounce, Cakewalk (and all versions of Sonar going back to 7) would have a relatively smooth animation of the meters and certain plugins (in particular an old analyzer called Inspector and Dynameter by MeterPlugs).  I first started noticing issues last year when the animations became visibly "stuttery," for lack of a better term.  They were obviously reacting to brief spurts of no audio processing.

In the past, I've been just sorta bearing with it, but tonight whatever is causing this may also be causing actual stuttering in the exported mix (it actually sounds like a tremolo effect in parts)?

Here's what I've tried to resolve this:

  • Maxing out the bounce buffer size (I even went above the drop-down max of 200 a few times):  no discernible effect.
  • disabling all plugins:  this did actually resolve the tremolo, but export was still as slow as ever.
  • freezing all tracks with plugins and rendering all synths (in this case, 1 single synth was  used: no discernible effect.
  • Exporting to differ file locations, including on different drives: no discernible effect.
  • Exporting to different files: this raised an entirely different set of questions, and I will start a new thread about that.

To get through the current project's deadline, I used a Real-Time export instead, and it came out fine, but obviously this is non-ideal for future use.

Am I missing something obvious to try?

My computer isn't top of the line, but it should be sufficient to do an offline export (and it has been in the past, and is far more powerful than other previous machines I've used in the past):

  • Intel i7-4770 3.4 GHz processor (8-core)
  • 32 GB RAM
  • Cakewalk is installed on an internal system SSD (more than 50% empty on a 1 TB drive)
  • My project/audio is installed on an external USB 3.0 drive (a LaCie Rugged with 7200rpm) and connected via a USB 3.0 port.
  • Audio Interface is a MOTU 828 mk3 Hybrid being used in ASIO mode and connected via a Firewire port on it's own card/bus in the computer.
  • I am, admittedly, wondering if this may be because I'm still trudging along on Windows 7 Pro

The external drive is above 90% capacity, but it's a 500 GB drive, and there's still more than 25 GB of open space left on it.  That should be plenty large to handle this size of export.  I did check the drive using Windows and there are no errors and it does not need to be de-fragmented.

During export, the CPU meters in Cakewalk show 4 cores being utilized, and none of them peak much above 50%.  RAM usage stays consistent at about 5%.

Project complexity is probably involved:  the current project is only 42 tracks (most without plugins, none with automation) and about 20 buses (most without plugins, none with automation), but one of the tests I tried was to export only a handful of tracks rather than the entire mix and my export time was reduced substantially as expected (but still stuttery compared to what I would expect).  This particular session is just over 4 minutes long.  This issue also has regularly popped up on other sessions that are substantially fewer tracks, but substantially longer (stereo recordings of live performances that are 30-40 minutes long).

For all the obvious reasons, I'd prefer to tweak settings in Cakewalk before I take the plunge into a full OS upgrade (which won't be feasible until at least a couple more projects get finished up, because I can't risk taking the entire computer out of operation before they're done).

I did a search in these forums (and the old cakewalk forums) and tried the few things I could find that might help (with the results up above).  Any thoughts?

 

 

Edited by Dave K.

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I’d say rendering audio to an external usb drive that’s more than 90% full is your bottle neck. 
 

Try rendering the file to your C:\ drive and see if there’s a difference. 

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On 1/30/2023 at 4:43 AM, Michael Vogel said:

Try rendering the file to your C:\ drive and see if there’s a difference. 

Gave that a shot tonight, no improvement in result.

Edited by Dave K.

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I think your attempted fixes rule out that there's a problem with the external drives, because you get the same problem with different drives. It seems perhaps there's more of a processing bottleneck that's causing Cakewalk to take a long time converting the project into an exportable set of files. 

This could be any one of a number of things. Once this happened to me and it was because there was a blank CD-R in my optical drive. Go figure. Another user I worked with had similar problems to you and when he removed ASIO4ALL they went away. I doubt these are the culprits in our case but it just goes to show that if your computer gets hung up doing something you don't want it to do, it can slow down seemingly unrelated processes.

Perhaps your best bet is to get support from Obedia.com.  They're who I use for intractable Windows problems, they do a remote desktop probe and they've never failed to fix a problem.  It costs $30 for 30 minutes of consultation (i.e., you "subscribe" for one month) but it's never taken them more than 10 minutes to solve whatever was ailing my computer. 

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Okay, further testing indicates that it has to be project-specific.  I exported a number of different ways using a different session file from the same project (i.e., similar track count/plugin usage) and could not reproduce the effect.  That includes an export with the original settings to the SAME external hard drive that is nearly full (just in a different folder).  In all instances on this particular session file, I had normal, expected (desired) behavior.

My suspicion is there is 1 particular plugin (I'm not sure which) that is causing an issue on the more recent projects.  I don't have a comprehensive listing of all plugin instances at the ready, so I think more experimentation is needed.

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If you have a lot of plugins and suspect one of them may be problematic, use a binary approach. Note that it doesn't necessarily have to be a plugin that's at fault; a corrupt audio file or buggy software instrument can cause the same symptoms. Perhaps even a prepared track, e.g. a Melodyne region or one whose transients have been marked for timing edits. That's why I prefer to delete whole tracks to narrow the search rather than focusing initially on plugins.

Open the project and delete half the tracks. Whether the problem persists or goes away, you'll have eliminated half the clips, effects and soft synths in the project as potential suspects. Continue halving them until the problem track is isolated, then follow the same binary process of elimination for the plugins on that track. Note that when eliminating plugins, you need to delete them from the project, not just bypass them.

That a real-time bounce works but a "fast" bounce doesn't suggests to me a soft synth or corrupt audio file is slightly more likely than a plugin. Try copying the entire project to another location, preferably a different drive, and export from there.

 

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