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Home / Producer Tips / Latency and CPU: 9 Ideas To Optimize Your DAW Efficiency

Latency and CPU: 9 Ideas To Optimize Your DAW Efficiency


We’ve all been there. You’re listening again to your tune in your DAW, checking the mixdown when abruptly every thing cracks and stutters. Sound acquainted? You then’re most likely having CPU points.

Your laptop specs set the boundaries of what your DAW is ready to course of. Nonetheless, there are a lot of steps you may take to optimize your laptop efficiency.

So on this information we’ll stroll you thru:

  • The distinction between CPU load and latency
  • Basic tricks to optimize your CPU efficiency (in any DAW)
  • 5 particular tricks to optimize CPU load in each FL Studio & Ableton Reside

Let’s dive in! 👇

CPU, Latency and Buffer Size

As digital music producers, we usually consider ourselves as artists. Nonetheless, working with {hardware} and software program additionally requires a primary understanding of know-how.

And though buffer sizes and pattern charges will not be essentially the most thrilling subjects, they’re essential to making sure a clean workflow. And everyone knows the hyperlink between workflow and creativity.

So earlier than diving any additional, let’s make clear some terminology that can be used all through this information.


Latency is the time it takes for knowledge to maneuver from one level to a different. In networks, latency refers back to the time it takes for a request to go from the supply to the vacation spot.

Consider an internet site taking too lengthy to load, an e mail not going by, or a recreation freezing after which transferring once more.

Want a extra visible rationalization? Try this video:

In different phrases, it’s the time it takes on your laptop to reply to an motion you took. In our context, this would possibly seek advice from the delay between urgent a be aware on our keyboard and listening to a sound.

Or think about recording vocals, however listening to every thing you say with a half-second delay.

Sometimes, you want your latency to be imperceptible. However this comes at a value of elevated CPU utilization, as we’ll discover later.


CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, typically merely known as processor. It’s the primary unit of any laptop that executes directions.

Yep, this chip runs your complete laptop!

You possibly can consider the CPU as a ‘mind’ that receives inputs out of your mouse, keyboard, and any software program you might be working. It then performs these duties or instructs different items to do one thing.

To maintain it easy, the extra highly effective your CPU, the extra duties it is going to be capable of full with out working into points.

Different components comparable to RAM and storage dimension are additionally key to your laptop’s efficiency, however we’ll depart these for one more article.

Buffer Size

Buffer size (or buffer dimension) is the period of time allowed on your laptop to course of sound.

A low buffer dimension will scale back latency, however improve the pressure in your CPU. However, rising the buffer dimension will lighten the load in your CPU, however introduce latency.

Windows buffer settings 64 samples
Small buffer dimension and low latency
Windows buffer settings 1024 samples
Greater buffer dimension, longer latency

Notice right here the inverse correlation between buffer dimension and latency. This implies there’s a tradeoff to make between CPU load and latency.

Right here’s a easy rationalization:

Decrease Buffer Dimension = Much less Latency = Extra CPU Utilization

Greater Buffer Dimension = Extra Latency = Much less CPU Utilization

So one query to ask your self is: are you optimizing for dwell efficiency or stability?

If you’re recording, you might want to hear what you might be enjoying in real-time (decrease latency). However in case you are listening again to a observe with 50 plugins working on the similar time, you need the sound to return by seamlessly (decrease CPU utilization).

As a result of many producers run into CPU points, we can be specializing in optimizing for CPU utilization moderately than latency in the remainder of this information.

5 Tricks to Save Your CPU (for any DAW)

Though producers like to reward their favourite DAW versus one other, the inside workings of most DAWs are fairly related. For this reason a variety of CPU-saving ideas are relevant to most (if not all) DAWs.

Setting The Proper Buffer Size

As defined above, setting the precise buffer dimension is step one to lighten your CPU load. One of the simplest ways to go about that is trial and error.

You would possibly wish to begin at 1024 samples and see if the latency isn’t too large for you. This can be extremely dependent in your method of writing music.

In the event you work largely with samples, then a excessive latency won’t be a problem. If you’re the sort that can jam out on the keyboard, then you definitely want low latency.

Primarily based by myself workflow and CPU specs, I discover {that a} buffer dimension of 1024 samples works effectively for me. If I would like extra responsiveness (i.e. decrease latency) when dwell recording, I’ll drop the buffer dimension to 512 samples or decrease.

Setting The Proper Pattern Price

The pattern price is the variety of instances that audio is captured each second. It’s the audio equal of FPS, or frames per second within the video world.

Be sure that your laptop pattern price and your audio interface pattern price match:

Windows audio properties
Laptop pattern price set at 44.1 kHz
FL Studio sample rate settings
FL Studio pattern price set at 44.1 kHz

Though pattern charges can go as much as 192 kHz, the vast majority of digital music (suppose Spotify, YouTube, and so on.) is at 44.1 kHz, in order that needs to be the pattern price you set.

Making Most Use of Your CPU

In an age of energy-saving and optimization, your laptop may need a battery-saving setting enabled by default.

In Home windows, it would be best to select the Excessive-performance mode from the ability choices:

Windows power options

For macOS, ensure that any sleep settings are de-activated. Within the Battery menu, uncheck “Put laborious disks to sleep when potential” and Allow Energy Nap.

macOS battery settings

Basically, it would be best to de-activate any settings that sound just like the goal is to avoid wasting power. Additionally, ensure that your laptop computer is all the time plugged-in, as this can permit it to make use of most assets.

Shut Any Different Packages and Laptop Capabilities

As defined beforehand, the CPU is a bit just like the mind of your laptop. It’s consistently juggling a number of duties on the similar time.

Among the finest issues you are able to do when producing music is to shut all different functions. This may unencumber your CPU, and permit it to focus in your DAW.

Open applications

Verify your Job Supervisor/Exercise Monitor for any pointless background apps which have launched at start-up, and shut them.

I personally restart my laptop after I’m about to provide music. This ensures that there aren’t any background packages working and taking over the CPU.

I’ll even typically flip off my Wi-Fi, which has the added bonus of holding me targeted on the duty at hand!

Wi-fi turned off
The most effective workflow hack!

Don’t be Scared to Render to Audio

Rendering to audio has been a revelation for me. Beforehand I was very cautious: what if I wish to change the pre-delay on that reverb afterward? What if I wish to change the ADSR of my lead synth?

However rendering to audio has led me to 2 nice realizations.

Firstly, it frees up a ton of CPU. Having 5 situations of Kontakt and a dozen FabFilter plugins takes its toll. So with the ability to shut all these plugins and work with audio is so much gentler on my laptop computer.

Secondly, it has sped up my workflow dramatically. Committing to audio and never having to skill to consistently return and tweak settings forces you to maneuver ahead with what you’ve bought.

Rendering to audio in FL Studio

In the event you want extra tips about dashing up your workflow, ensure that to take a look at our 100 Ableton Reside Ideas!

In Fl Studio, you may render to audio by choosing a portion of the playlist and urgent CTRL+ALT+C.

In Ableton Reside, right-click a observe and click on”Freeze Monitor”. Proper-click once more and select “Flatten” to render to audio.

You possibly can all the time save a brand new model of your undertaking earlier than rendering to audio totally different sections.

In FL Studio, your CPU load is indicated on the prime of the window:

FL Studio CPU load

Double-clicking on the window will open up the Plugin efficiency monitor, exhibiting you the CPU utilization by plugin:

Plugin performance monitor in FL Studio

This lets you detect excessive CPU-using plugins proper off the bat, and substitute or render to audio the problematic ones.

5 Tricks to Save Your CPU in FL Studio

Driver and CPU settings

Though we have now already mentioned CPU settings, there are a couple of steps particular to FL Studio that you may take to optimize your CPU efficiency.

Firstly, ensure that to pick out an ASIO machine on your enter/output. Until you’re on macOS, by which case you may skip this step.

You possibly can select your soundcard’s default ASIO driver if it helps one, or the FL Studio ASIO:

FL Studio ASIO drivers

A number of different audio settings to pick out are the next:

  • Set Precedence to highest and deselect Secure overloads:
  • Set re-sampling high quality to 24-point sinc or decrease:
  • Lastly, set your CPU settings as follows:
  • You can too attempt to activate Triple buffer and Combine in buffer swap if CPU points persist.

Closing Plugin Home windows

Leaving your plugin home windows open will draw fairly a little bit of CPU. Attempt to shut plugin home windows if you end up not utilizing them, and positively don’t depart 15 home windows open on prime of one another.

You can too shut all plugin home windows directly:

FL Studio close all plugin windows

Sensible Disable Plugins

Even when they don’t seem to be actively used, plugins can take up a substantial quantity of CPU. Switching “Sensible Disable” on will disable any plugins which are standing idle:

Smart disable plugins option in FL Studio

Keep away from Bridged Plugins

Bridged plugins happen when working 32 Bit variations of plugins on a 64 Bit system. If FL Studio doesn’t discover the 64 Bit model of a plugin, it should “bridge” the 32 Bit model. This makes use of extra CPU than merely working the 64 Bit model of a plugin on a 64 Bit system.

You possibly can test which model of every plugin you might be working by opening up the Plugin Supervisor below Choices – Handle plugins:

FL Studio plugin bits column

Flip Off “Carry on Disk”

For tasks with a variety of audio samples, deactivate “Carry on Disk” within the Channel Sampler:

FL Studio Keep on disk option

This may permit samples to be pre-loaded into reminiscence earlier than being performed.

5 Tricks to Save Your CPU in Ableton Reside

In Ableton Reside, the CPU meter is indicated on the top-right hand nook of the window:

Ableton Live CPU meter

Disable Unused Inputs/Outputs

Beneath Preferences – Audio – Channel Configuration, choose Enter Config and Output Config and disable any inputs/outputs that you’re not utilizing. You possibly can depart solely the mono enter activated for instance in case you are not utilizing the stereo enter, and vice versa:

Ableton Live input and output preferences

Set Unfold to 0%

The Unfold perform on Ableton’s Operator (and different devices) creates a second voice that’s barely de-tuned from the primary. This implies you want twice the processing energy each time a be aware is performed.

Setting the Unfold to 0 will save up on CPU:

Ableton Live spread knob

Bonus tip: scale back the polyphony quantity on Ableton’s native devices to a minimal. Every further voice provides extra CPU pressure.

Disable Warping

When utilizing Easier, ensure that warping is deactivated. In the event you do must warp samples, keep away from utilizing the Advanced and Advanced Professional settings as these use extra CPU. You can too render to audio upon getting warped the pattern:

Ableton Live warping

Handle Audio Clips Effectively

When working instantly with audio samples, there are a couple of settings you may tweak to lighten the burden in your CPU.

Open up your pattern settings by double-clicking on it, de-select HiQ, and choose RAM:

Ableton Live RAM and HiQ options

Activating RAM will permit the pattern to be pre-loaded in reminiscence, whereas HiQ makes use of a better pattern price for audio file conversion.

Use Return Tracks

Though this tip isn’t unique to Ableton Reside, it’s good apply to make use of CPU-intensive impact plugins on return tracks.

Ableton Live return tracks

Firstly, return tracks save on CPU by utilizing just one occasion of the plugin.

Secondly, your observe will achieve cohesiveness. For instance, utilizing the identical reverb settings on a number of devices will add unity and coherence to your association.

In the event you want a refresher on mixing usually, ensure that to take a look at our Full Information to Mixing EDM!

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you’ll now be capable of run your laptop to its full potential!

Regardless of the following tips and plenty of extra we might have coated, you’ll all the time be restricted by your laptop computer and CPU specs. For this reason choosing the proper laptop computer and audio interface is without doubt one of the most essential choices you’ll make.

Did I miss something right here! Be happy to drop me a line.

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