Computer Optimization and Latency Essay

Submitted By nyahmusic
Words: 3175
Pages: 13

Optimizing Your System, Improving Performance and Managing Latency

So you bought an audio recording interface, followed all the instructions, and set everything up. Now what?

A typical PC or Mac recording setup may contain software and hardware products from a dozen or more companies. i.e. Dell, Microsoft, Belkin, Steinberg, Syncrosoft, Waves, Universal Audio, Arturia, FXpansion, Native Instruments, Akai Pro, Alesis.

Even with a minimalist setup, getting all the separate hardware and software components to work together smoothly can be tricky. One component’s manual might not pick up exactly where the other one left off, and there are very few manuals which will discuss how to optimize your system over-all for the best performance.

In this article, will cover some measures you can take to optimize your system for maximum recording performance, prevent audio-dropouts and manage latency.

Contents:

Optimizing Your Computer for Recording 2
Tips for All Systems 2
Windows Optimization Tips 3
FireWire 3
USB and USB 2.0 3
Windows XP 3
Windows 7 and Vista 4
Macintosh Optimization Tips 6
Managing Latency 6
What is Latency and how does it effect me? 6
Setting the buffer size in Cubase LE 4 6
When is low latency important? 7
When is low latency not important? 7

Optimizing Your Computer for Recording

You can’t walk into a car dealership and buy a car that’s ready to enter a race. Even high-performance sports cars come tuned for the road, not the race track. Suspension, gearing, timing all need to be tweaked before a car is ready to be pushed to it’s limits.

The same is true of computers. While most new computers will perform well right out of the box, whether you buy a Mac, or a PC, you still have some work to do before you’ll see your new computer perform to it’s maximum potential. Recording and mixing music is one of the most demanding tasks you can ask of your computer, sometimes more taxing than professional graphics and video work.

The suggestions below can be used to squeeze more speed, more tracks, and more plugin-power out of any computer.

Before you begin, make sure that your recording software and your audio device drivers are up-to-date. Of course, visit alesis.com for the latest drivers for any of our products.

Tips for All Systems
1. Don’t let your computer’s boot drive get too full. Make sure to leave about 20% of your computer’s main hard disk free for system tasks and virtual memory operations. This is crucial to maintain system speed. If your main hard disk gets more than 80% full, its time to go out and buy a second hard disk, or either get rid of some files. External USB and FireWire drives are more affordable than ever. For example, a Seagate 1TB External USB 2.0 drive is now less than $150!! Internal drives are even less expensive! While you’re at it, buy an extra drive just for backing up!
2. Get more RAM. Your operating system can use up to 1GB of RAM all by itself. On a recording computer, you’ll want to have more than that so your power-hungry applications have all the resources they need. 2GB is a great place to start. If you’ll be using lots of virtual-instruments, samplers etc, you’ll want to get even more…think 3 or 4GB. Is there such thing as overkill? At this point, yes, there is. While many of today’s’ computers can accommodate 8GB or more of RAM, even in virtual-instrument and sample-heavy projects, it’s almost impossible to use up that much RAM. For the most part, the only time you’ll need 8GB of ram is in the Video and 3D modeling fields.
3. If possible, record to a second hard disk. While even the 5400 RPM drives in most laptops can handle recording 8 or even 16 simultaneous tracks, you can really improve system performance by dedicating a 7200 RPM (or even 10,000 RPM drive to your recording projects. Certain files on your computer change all the time, like your email, internet search history, bookmarks, etc. Other…