Why you need to optimize your computer for recording/mixing audio!

Computers today are fast!

They load up and open programs quickly. The hardware is fast too. Even the most graphic intensive based software will load and run faster and more smoothly than ever before.
So you might ask  ‘ If the computer is already speeding along nicely, why do I need to optimize my computer for recording audio? ‘
Recording and mixing sessions can be very time consuming and generally require a lot of preparation and focus. The last thing you want in the middle of a good session is to suddenly hear  clicks & pops or stuttering of audio, latency, or even devices disconnecting themselves for apparently no reason at all.
These are just a few of the types of issues that can bring a session to a grinding halt!

Optimizing can help your computer (and your DAW software) work to its full potential when dealing with recording and playing back audio before any of these problems start to rear their ugly little session-stopping heads.

Please Note!
All of the following tips are offered as a guide only.
Use them at your own risk and we take no responsibility for anything that could happen to your computer.
Knowledge of the specifications and current operating system of your machine and computer maintenance knowledge are required.

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Music Computer Optimization Tips – Windows 7

1. Keep all your software including the operating system up to date :
A lot of the time issue that you think are hardware or computer related are due to bugs in software that can easily be fixed with an update patch.

2. Sound Card Drivers :
Make sure you have the correct driver for your audio interface selected. If your sound card for example has an ASIO driver from it’s manufacturer, make sure you have the latest version and it is selected in your DAW’s audio preferences page.

3. Make sure your soundcard has the correct buffer size set.
I have found that most of the time when your DAW software is installed it will detect the specs of your computer and adjust this buffer size to suit.

4. Minimize CPU use from other background programs loaded on start-up that you may not need running.
-To view start-up programs on windows 7 for eg:
-Go to start button
-Type “RUN” to find the Run Dialogue (Windows + R)
-Hit Enter
-Type “msconfig” with out commas
-Click the “Start-up tab”
-Disable any unnecessary programs that you may not need on start-up. These can include messenger or file sharing apps,auto updaters for programs
like Adobe acrobat or other idle programs. You can always re-enable then later if you wish

5: Disable Visual Effects on Windows 7.
By default, Windows 7 will have the Aero graphics theme enabled which can tie up resources otherwise useful for your audio performance. To disable this theme, along with other unnecessary visual effects, please do the following:
-Right click on the Desktop and choose ‘Personalize’ from the menu.
-From the Basic & High Contrast Themes section, select Windows Classic, or Windows 7 Basic.
-Select the ‘Start’ Button.
-Type ‘Run’ to find the Run Dialogue (Windows button + R)
-Type: “SystemPropertiesPerformance” and press Enter
In the ‘Visual Effects’ tab, you have the option to select ‘Adjust for best performance’. This will make windows look a little less flashy buy may give you back a tiny bit of power.

6: Disable wireless and Bluetooth adapter if not using them.
These have been known to case dropouts sometimes.

7: Adjust Power Options
It is recommended to adjust the power options so that your computer does not enter sleep mode, put the hard disks to sleep, or suspend USB devices. These features can cause playback and record issues as well as issues with your audio interfaces.
Follow these steps to optimize your power options:
-Open Control Panel
-Click on Power Options
-Select High Performance
-Click on Change plan setting
-Set the display’s sleep time as well as the computer’s sleep time to Never.
-Click on Change advanced power settings
-Click the + next to Hard Disk, then click the + next to Turn Off Hard Disk After In the text field, type Never
-Click on the + next to USB settings, the click the + next to USB selective suspend settings
-Double-click where it says Enabled, then click Disabled.
-Click on the + next to Processor power management, then click the + next to Minimum processor state
-Type 100 in the text field
-Click Apply, then OK
-Click Save Changes

8: Disable USB Power Management
By disabling the USB power management, you can free up bandwidth on the USB bus which will help with issues related to device recognition and driver installation.
To turn it off, follow the steps below:
-Open Control Panel
-Click on Device Manager
-Double-click on Universal Serial Bus Controllers
-Double-click on the first USB Root Hub item
-Click on the Power Management Tab
-Uncheck the box that says “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” and click OK
-Do this for all USB Root Hub items

9 : Adjust Processor Scheduling
Adjusting the processor scheduling will allow your computer to run your DAW more efficiently.
To learn how, follow the steps below:
-Open Control Panel
-Click on System
-Select Advanced System Settings
-Click the Advanced Tab
-Under Performance, click the Settings button
-When the Performance Options window pops up, click the Advanced tab
-Under Processor Scheduling, select Background Services
-Click Apply, then OK
-Click OK to close System Properties
-Restart your computer for the changes to take effect

10: Disabling Screen Saver – Win8
Your screen saver may cause issues if it starts while your DAW is running.
To turn it off, follow these steps:
-From the Start Screen, select the Desktop tile
-Right-click on your Desktop and select Personalize
-Click on Screen Saver
-Select None, then click OK

11: Disable USB Port Power Saving
Windows 7 allows the computer to power off USB devices to save power. This can be handy when on a laptop, however in most audio applications this is not ideal.
To disable this, do the following:
-Control Panel→ System and Security → System→ Device Manager
-In the Universal Serial Bus controllers:
-Right Click each USB Root Hub
-Choose Properties→ Power Management
-Make sure “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power ” is unticked.

 Important!:
Never run your audio interface from a USB hub whether it’s a powered hub or not. Always plug your interface into it’s own usb port . USB dongles & USB controllers that don’t carry audio are OK to use in a hub as they transmit very little data compared to an audio interface.
When using external USB hubs, try to use those that are ‘powered’ and have an external power supply.

 

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 Music Computer Optimization Tips – MAC OS X

 

1 : Audio Settings
Most audio applications offer a buffer size orlatency setting as well as a sample rate in their preferences. The buffer size determines how much time is available to the computer to complete all calculations for continuous audio playback.
Depending on the processing power of your computer and the amount of calculations needed for your application, we recommend a buffer size of 256 or 512 samples at a sample rate of 44100 Hz (on Mac OS X 10.9 or higher, we recommend a sample of 48000 Hz instead). A buffer size of 256 samples is a good starting point. Decrease this value to 128 samples if there is a noticeable lag between your actions and the audio, for example when playing virtual instruments live with a keyboard. Increase to 512 samples if you experience dropouts in the audio playback.

2 : Power Supply
Always play with your Macbook connected to the power supply, especially when using an external audio interface and / or MIDI controller. To make sure your Macbook is properly grounded, use the extension cable of the power supply.

3: USB Hub
Since most Mac computer models have two USB ports, you may require an external USB hub to expand the number of external USB devices being used simultaneously. See the above Important! note on USB hubs.

4 : Other Applications
Close all applications except the audio software you are using. This applies to any software not needed for your audio work, including internet browsers, email clients and background processes.

5: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Network activity can potentially interfere with your audio playback, thus we recommend to turn Wi-Fi / Airport off. To do this, click on the Wi-Fi symbol in the desktop header and select Turn Wi-Fi off in the menu

6: Energy Saver Settings
The Energy Saver on Mac provides several options to optimize the power consumption of your Mac. For audio applications, these should be deactivated. Go to System Preferences > Energy Saver. Move the sliders Computer sleep and Display sleep to Never and untick the checkbox Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible

7: Sleep Mode
If you are normally using the Sleep Mode (e.g. closing the lid of your Macbook) instead of powering down the computer, we recommend to do a fresh boot of the system prior to playing with your audio applications.

8: Graphics Card Switching
If you own a Macbook Pro that has both Intel HD Graphics as well as a dedicated graphics card, we recommend to switch the graphics mode to Higher performance before starting your music software. You can do this in the Energy Saver section of the Mac OS System Preferences, by deactivating the Automatic graphics switching

9: Networks
In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Network and make sure to remove any Network Adapters you are not currently using for Internet or LAN. ports you use for audio set to also be used for Networking can eat up their bandwidth which is needed for smooth audio streaming.
– If you have a Firewire Interface make sure to remove any Firewire, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt Bridge or Thunderbolt Firewire listings
– If you have a USB Interface make sure to remove any USB connected items, such as BlueTooth PAN, BlueTooth DUN, Android or iPhone connections, etc, as these devices are often internally connected to your USB Bus.

10: Start-up Items
In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Choose Admin Account > Login Items and remove any Start-up items.

11: Hard Disk Sleep
In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Energy Saver set Computer Sleep to Never. Make sure “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” is NOT checked.

12: Firewall
In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall make sure Firewall is Off.

13: Repair Disk Permissions
In Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility select Macintosh HD and click Repair Disk Permissions. Repeat this for any other Hard Drives you have connected.

RESTART the Computer.

Additional notes:
-If you have a virus software like Norton please turn it off while recording.
-If you have Airport on for your Internet please turn it off while recording.
-If you do not have a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse turn off Bluetooth while recording.

 

I hope theses optimisation tips will keep you free of problems. If you are still having any major difficulties, we can help with our Tech Care service, either in-store, on the phone or by remote desktop service.

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