Another Pro Tools question - PT performance test?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Mayor McCheese, Feb 15, 2005.


  1. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    Hi all -

    I've been using PT LE with a Digi001 for quite a while now, and running into a lot of issues with CPU performance. Whenever I get more than about 8-10 tracks up, I start getting the dreaded "increase buffer size" error. I'm using DVerb and the BombFactory MultiTap delay in parallel on AUX sends. Typically I'm using EQ and compression plugins on the other tracks.

    I've tried all the optimizations as recommended by Digidesign to no avail.

    I've seen a PT performance test but I don't know what that entails. Can anyone give me a link to what this is?

    I'm running a windows PC with a 2 Gig P4, 512MB of DDR, and 2 120GB hard drives (one for programs, and one for data). The machine is networked, but there are no other apps running on the computer. Running Windows XP SP 1, and version 6.2 of PT IIRC.

    I'd like to benchmark this box to find out where the bottleneck is, and hopefully find some way to improve its performance without having to totally rebuild it or buy a Mac. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    I've been able to work around it by premixing and bouncing, or by applying the effects directly to the files, but this makes it more difficult to tweak the mixes and I'd really rather not have to do this. All the stuff I've read says my box should be able to do better than this, so I'm baffled.
     
  2. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Not to be a wiseass, but did you try increasing the buffer size?

    I'm on Mac, but when I mix it's always with maximum buffer size. When I'm tracking I disable the bigger plugs so I can decrease the buffer size.
     
  3. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    I thought after I posted this that I should mention that.

    Yeah, I track at 128, and increase it to 256 or 512 to mix. Above 512 I start getting another error.
     
  4. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    That could be the problem. I need the max buffer for big plugs. Unfortunately I'm not a PC man... try the Digi User Conference: http://duc.digidesign.com/
     
  5. bjm007

    bjm007 Member

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    Get more RAM... At least a Gig... 2 is better :D
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Also not a bad idea, though it probably is not the problem. The buffer message means the processor is flipping out. But more memory is always good.
     
  7. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    Yeah, I think I have a bottleneck somewhere, either some application that's choking it up or something about my motherboard is not quite right. Looking over on the DuC guys are getting 32 tracks and tons of AUX tracks with the same basic setup as me.
     
  8. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    Dang. Your machine specs out almost identically to mine, although i'm running SCSI drives for data. I typically use a lot more plugs and tracks (unless you're using some verry hungry comps and eqs you don't mention), and am not experiencing the bottlenecks you mention. I track at 256, and mix at 256 or 512.

    You might consider partitiong your drives into substantially smaller chunks, although the additional drive letters are a bit of a pain.

    How about background programs, virus protection, limewire, etc?
     
  9. Tom CT

    Tom CT Old Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Not sure if this would work, but...

    Have you tried muting everything but the tracks you want to add effects to, and then bounce a 100% wet aux track (w/verb) to an open track? Then you could just mix in as much verb as you like during playback later.

    Muting channels while bouncing should free up some CPU resources, no?
     
  10. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    I know! That's what is KILLING me! It SHOULD work!

    I don't have anything else on the machine. No virus protection, no other apps other than iTunes, which I have tried leaving running or killing off with the same results.

    What size partitions are you running?
     
  11. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    Nah, muting channels doesn't really do much. The main issue is the plugins. You have to start using the destructive plugs on the files themselves to free up resources which forces me to commit to things earlier than I want to. Yeah, I know, the original track is still there but it's a pain in the butt to tweak a mix this way.
     
  12. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    512m of RAM is just not enough. I'd lay bets that much of your issue lies there. Run the max your machine allows. I run 2 Gigs of DDR. You'll be amazed.

    PC's need RAM. LOTS.
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    If you mean AudioSuite plugs, they're not destructive. They create new files and the old files are still there. Just keep notes of the processor settings so you can re-do them if you decide to.

    I still suspect you have something running in the background that's hogging processor power.

    Add that memory, too. Max it out. It's cheap, there's no reason not to do it.
     
  14. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    If you're interested, here's the infamous "DaveC" benchmark:

    1) Open new PT session
    2) Create a new mono audio track
    3) Add PT stock effects Compressor, 4B-EQ, Slap delay, medium delay, long delay.
    4) Open the System Usage window under the Windows menu item to see the CPU utilization.
    5) With your mouse select the newly created track from step 2 above.
    6) Press Alt-Shift-D (to duplicate the track)
    7) Record enable the track.
    8) Repeat step 6 until your CPU goes into the red.
    9) If your CPU is in the RED delete the last track created. IF it's still in the red, delete another track until the CPU is back in the green. Click on the CPU meter after every deletion to reset the meter (see warning below). Going into the RED means your getting a -9128 message from PT.
    10) Hit RECORD, and record for 60 sec. (it doesn't matter what you record as the file still get's created). If your CPU goes into the RED then delete a track and repeat step 10 until you can record 60 secs. without peaking.

    I've applied a few more recommended tweaks for XP and managed to get it to handle 20-21 tracks, but that's about the best I think I can get.
     
  15. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I think we get it: you have a problem.

    Did you add memory? Is there something running in the background? Did you ask for help in the DUC?
     
  16. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    Are you getting 20-21 tracks with 5 inserts (3 delays) per track?
     
  17. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    Yeah.
     
  18. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    Today's update:

    I went and picked up 1GB of PC2700 memory. No difference. There's no appreciable gain in performance after doing this.

    Now I'm truly baffled.
     
  19. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    Check your startup toolbar if there are lots of things running there then that can slow it down too.
     
  20. bjm007

    bjm007 Member

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    Try this...

    1) Go to Start
    2) Control panel
    3) Performance and maint
    4) Administrative tools
    5) Performance tools

    Double click the icon. It opens a window that will track memory utilization, CPU usage and hard Drive usage AND as it tracks all three in real time, it also creates a graph so you can look back over the last minute or so of operation and see exactly where you're having a problem.

    Start the app (which hardly takes any resources to run) and have it running in the background when you do your thing in Pro Tools. As soon as you have the problem, click on the performance tab to just go back to that window and see what went wrong. Unless your whole system freezes up entirely, you'll be able to just go to that window and see what resources were having problems. That should give you a good idea as to what you're gonna have to fix... Good Luck ;)
     

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