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  • Need to get more performance from VSL on a MacBookPro

    Hi all,

    I need help understanding why Vienna Instruments takes so much horsepower compared to all the other samplers on the market.  It is completely thrashing my macbookpro to constant logic audio overloads etc and has been for as long as I have run Vienna Instruments products.  I need some breakdown honesty to what's going on and why it takes 1000 times more resources to run VSL products then anyone else.  And it isn't due to file corruption or install issues on my laptop.  It has been this way since the first day I bought SE running and Tiger OS X and Logic 7.  Now I am on logic studio 8 and Leopard OS X and it is still exactly the same results and I have tried all variations (logic 8 on Tiger, Logic 7 on Tiger, Logic 7 on Leopard, Logic 8 on Leopard).  I have even paid close attention to trying each build with every single update apple has put out.  I always backed up before proceding.  I have spent countless months trying for more performance from VSL minus spending a second mortgage on a Mac Pro which isn't going to happen.  I should be able to do the small stuff I do on my Macbookpro (3-8 instrument orchestrations).

    **This is not a bash VSL thread.  I love you guys and all the products.  I swear by them and live by them now a days and I have total faith in your teams abilities.

    Using Beat's tutorial example midi file (Handel Water Music) I added no additional programming at all the to the midi file/notes.  I simply created 4 separate projects in Logic 8 to compare the following setups.

    1.  Logic 8 hosting Kontakt 2 and Garritan Libraries - Multi-timbral.

    2.  Logic 8 hosting EXS24 using a combination of Apple Jam Packs and converted Gigastudio samples.

    3.  Logic 8 hosting single VI instances running VSL Special Edition.

    4.  Logic 8 hosting Vienna Ensemble 3 Network Locally - Multi-timbral.  Tried this and it's proving to be more sophisticated then the other 3 (dealing with being able to control separate volume per instruments etc).  Maybe this is best option but want to ask the board and VSL first before going through the pain of setting up this environment.

    Each one is run inside Logic, not as external routed stand alones.  Here are the results for each in order.

    1.  I am able to run Kontakt 2 and Garritan products within logic studio 8 and have at the moment a template of 64 different orchestral instruments 4 x (16 multi stereo output) multi-timbral blasting notes nonstop with compression, channel EQ's and reverb and can't EVER get over 60-70% CPU on one core.  No matter how hard I push it won't audio over load, pop or click.  It's flawless playback with no freezing tracks etc with channel effects applied to ALL instruments.  I am not using bus setups for EQ/Reverb.  I am purposely trying to make the system overload and it won't.

    2.  I can't even begin to explain how lean this runs.  I am at 64 instruments with so many effects and plug-ins that i have almost no room for anymore and I can't get this to even reach 50% CPU.  This is the most powerful of the 4 but sounds the least impressive.  So best performance, least impressive sounding.

    3.  This one is a joke.  I get audio overload with 2 instruments (CPU hits 100%, Second core is at 0%).  I imported the midi file, assigned the appropriate instrument patch (only using legato patch stacked with a staccato patch for the repetition notes).  I then did LEARN mode, Bounced the file and then OPTIMIZED.  Each instrument channel is taking up no more then 10-20MB of ram.  That's 10-20MB x 8 channels = 160MB ram total.  Yet Vienna Instruments shows over 500MB used RAM in activity monitor.

    I solo'd 2 of the instruments (running now only the oboes! OPTIMIZED) and the second it gets to the first note BOOM audio overload.  Once it overloads it will play back some what better but will overload shortly again.  By the way I have no EQ's, Compressors, or plug-ins at all on these channel strips.  I have ONE instance of space designer using Christians Warm VSL Room SIR file from his logic 7.2.3 SE demo.  I have one AUX channel running that and the 8 tracks going out bus 32 to that Reverb.  Nothing complex at all.  This one sounds the best but is the worst performance I have ever seen in all my years of sampling.

    I am forced to freeze all my tracks with the above said number 3 option to even playback without problems.  Then to make changes to a single note or articulation I have to unfreeze, change it and then sit while the thing freezes again.  I normally run a VE3 setup hosting all my instruments on an XP 64-bit system but the motherboard is in for repair for 3 weeks now.  2 more weeks to go before I am up and running on it again at least.  So i am forced to use my macbookpro solely for now.  I have NO issues at all when I run VE3 over the network.  However, when I go out of town I am forced to take my macbookpro with me and it is just insane that I can't even host at least 16 instruments on this machine.  Just seems wrong to me.

    4.  Didn't test this one fully.  I did a basic 16 multi-timbral instrument and it was popping and clicking.  This one will take a custom template with all it's environment setup needed.

    Here is my setup/hardware.

    1.  MacBookPro - 2GHZ Intel Core Duo, 2GB DDR2 Memory

    2.  RME Expresscard DSP Multiface 2

    3.  Leopard OS X 10.5.6

    4.  Logic 8 Studio 8.0.2

    5.  Logic installed on internal Laptop Hard Drive.

    6.  Samples Loaded on a USB External Seagate Free Agent Desktop - USB 2.0, 7200RPM, 250GB.

    7.  All Networking and applications are shutdown during Logic Sessions including airport/network etc.

    8.  Have all special effects etc shut off. Universal access mode, speech recognition etc is all disabled.  No widgets installed.

    Final note.  I have 2 USB Ports on this laptop and one firewire.  My samples drive is hosted on one of the USB 2.0 ports.  Then I have a 4 port USB Hub on the second port running my external mouse, keyboard, M-audio Axion 25 and Vienna Key.  I have no conflicts or issues with hardware not responding or failing to work.  I have yet to use my Firewire Connection.

    Thanks for helping!  Would love to hear all your ideas.  And before bashing me and saying I need a new 5 to 20k dollar computer, back that up with evidence of why everything else runs so lean compared to the VI sampler [:D].


  • Well today I have made some serious progress on the above post actually.  I spoke to RME support to be sure that my sound card had the best firmware, driver and setup and he confirmed it did.

    I went on to test setting my audio buffer to 512 and then 1024 in Logic and it made no difference at all.  That got me really digging.  Here is what I found.

    1.  The buffer size in Logic is just that!  The buffer size IN LOGIC.  Even though Logic is controlling all the plug-ins within itself, changing the latency buffer had no effect on Vienna or my plug-ins latency.

    2.  So out of chance I closed Logic and opened the stand alone version of Vienna Instruments.  Son of a bitch!  It was set to 64 samples latency!  Why the hell if the latency has to be changed in the "Stand Alone" version doesn't anything make mention of that?  I have never read anything that said if you're running VI as an AU be sure to open up VI stand alone, setup your audio settings and then those setting pass on to Logics AU plug-in?  This has brutally hurt my workflow for over a year!  You can't even get to the audio interface setup window from the AU plug-in.  (I just re-read the manual and it clearly says "If you run Vienna Instruments the first time the audio interface comes up").  Problem is I don't ever run it in stand alone mode so I never got the audio interface window.  It just set it itself to those happy 64 samples latency and crushed my studio for over a year lol [:D].

    3.  I set the VI "Stand Alone" to 512 latency, as well as Logics environment.  If you're using VE2 or VE3 stand alones it works the same way.  You have to open the Stand Alone version to make your audio adjustments, not in ProTools or Logic etc.  I just confirmed it on my VE3 install.  (the exception would be a VE3 NETWORK install, where you don't configure audio cards, you configure your VE3 buffer to x0, x1 or x2).

    4.  Opened up Logic and loaded my project.  Hit play and sweet Jesus, it worked.

    I have been plagued with this for over a year.  I seriously hope this helps someone.  I also hope someone (anyone) reads my prior post and has other ideas for improving performance.  Maybe a Firewire drive will help?  My hard drive % in logic is so low it's not even hardly registering when I playback.  It was always the CPU.

    I hope the other people with slower/older machines read this and gain something.


  •  well, not beeing the funky logic guy your finding caught me though ... i'll ask our mac support to double check details.


    USB vs. firewire vs. internal (sATA) disk:

    from left to right data throughput increases and CPU load decreases, this is by design of the protocols, involved controllers and driver implementation in the operating system ...

    what you should avoid in any case is streaming from and recording to the same disk simultaneosly.


    and remember: only a CRAY can run an endless loop in just three seconds.
  • With my MacBook Pro 17 (2009), I just opened up the newly-installed standalone VSL VI and it's apparently set to DEFAULT, which is apparently a 512K buffer. Actually, the Latency drop=down button says Default, but there are no other choices. If I turn off the Engine and restart it, it does show an indicator that says it's running at a 512K buffer. If Logic is Open, you don't get any other choices in standalone. If Logic is closed, then other buffer settings like 64, 128, etc., are available. Maybe you once set it to 64K possibly?

  • I hadn't opened the software prior that I know of ever as I never used it in stand alone mode.  And also when I opened it up it, the audio/midi setup window came up wanting me to setup the software for the first time.  It said, "no midi devices are configured, please review the Audio/Midi preferences".  I hit ok and it took me to the setup window.  As soon as this next window appeared it said 44100 sample rate, 64 latency.

    So I am really not sure how it got 64 samples since it was the first time I had run the stand alone before (because I run either VI/VE within Logic OR VE3 over the network with no soundcard in my slave) so I've never seen this screen until the other day.  How very odd...

    I wonder if I should set it to default?  Does default mean it will run at the latency my sequencer is running at?

    None the less it's worked out now and I need to make sure that I am actually picking some good latency numbers.  What is probably a good latency setting?  "Default" on VI/VE and then putting a 512/1024 latency in Logic?  Or setting an actual latency in the VSL Software other then default and another in Logic 8?



  • last edited
    last edited

    @cm said:

     well, not beeing the funky logic guy your finding caught me though ... i'll ask our mac support to double check details.

    USB vs. firewire vs. internal (sATA) disk:

    from left to right data throughput increases and CPU load decreases, this is by design of the protocols, involved controllers and driver implementation in the operating system ...

    what you should avoid in any case is streaming from and recording to the same disk simultaneosly.


    Also, thanks for the response Christian.  I am trying to understand what you're saying here.  Are you saying the more throughput I can get from my hard drives, the lower it will hit my CPU during playback?  So potentially I could get a firewire 400 drive for samples only and get more instruments out of my projects during laptop sessions?

    I remember reading a technical note on Firewire vs USB 2.0 and although USB 2.0 claims to be 480mps, it is in fact not as fast as firewire 400 (400mps) due to how the actual protocol itself handles transmission.  Do you find this to be true (backed up by results)?



  • data throughput and CPU depend on the involved components - a year ago or so the following numbers turned up (mac pro) during a simple file copy to an internal drive:

    USB2.0 26 MB/s ~8%CPU, FW400 38MB/s ~4% CPU sATA 78 MB/s ~2% CPU (same disk, same data, same computer)


    USB2 and firewire are differently working protocols - the numbers you're citing are correct, but relate only to the total available transfer rate on the bus, it doesn't mean anything for a specific device or action.


    the second thing to consider with notebooks is how your audio interface is connected - in an ideal world my recommendation would be to not use the same connection for disk and audio (and USB only if no other option is possible), so either audio over firewire and disk over eSATA (eg. an express card adapter) or audio over express card and disk over firewire.

    hth, christian

    and remember: only a CRAY can run an endless loop in just three seconds.
  •  Christian,

    That really helps.  Thanks so much.  Right now I am using an RME Hammerfall DSP System (expresscard) so my expresscard slot is used up.  My samples are using USB controller so I think I am going to buy a firewire 400 drive and put my samples there.  Maybe I can find a 10k RPM drive that's firewire.  I do have some 320MB Ultra320 SCSI drives (15000RPM) that are brand new sitting around.  Wonder if there is an adapter/housing to convert from Ultra320 SCSI to Firewire400.  Do you see that being a problem?

    Hopefully future laptops will come with sata plugs right on the laptop casing (like a USB Port or Firewire port).  I see them on PC's already now a days.  One of the main problems I am facing is I went with Logic a few years ago and now I am stuck in the Apple platform.  I love the program but the hardware premium is just insane.  They really take advantage of it's trusted users in my opinion.  I can build a machine as powerful as a macpro for a 3rd of the cost (or less).

    Please let me know what drive you recommend or if you happen to know of a solution that I could use my expensive ultra320 SCSI drives in a housing for samples.



  •  the apple platform has a huge advantage: the limited number of available components make it easier to get an overall smooth system - in the PC world one has to read zillions of specs to detect the incompatibilities ...

    but what i'm missing (especially on notebooks and the macMini) is the eSATA port, what the chipset would allow ... just add a tiny connector for us ... probable reason for that: none of the current operating systems is supporting hot plugging for eSATA really well.


    the SCSI-to_FW800 adapter would be great ... i have here very old IOMEGA SCSI-II to USB and FW adapters, but it is limited to 20MB/sec ... nothing we would need ourdays except maybe for backing up data ... i also have a heap of SCSI drives which are only gathering dust ...




    ps: too technical - moved to general discussions

    and remember: only a CRAY can run an endless loop in just three seconds.