Reducing the CPU load

  • Live Versions: 8-10
  • Operating System: All

Excessive CPU load in Live can lead to dropouts, crackles or glitches in the audio and/or a sluggish response in Live. Follow these tips to help reduce the CPU load as much as possible.

Note: The CPU meter in Live displays the amount of the CPU currently processing audio, rather than the overall CPU load. To get an accurate reading of the current CPU load overall, open Activity Monitor (Mac) or Task Manager (Win). More information in this article.

Optimize Live's Audio and CPU Preferences

Follow these suggestions to optimize Live's preferences:

Lower the Sample Rate. Open Live's Preferences → Audio. Lower sample rates = lower CPU usage. Try setting it to a value of 44100 or 48000 Hz. Ideally, you should pick the correct setting before starting a new project, rather than changing it while working on an existing one.

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Increase the Buffer Size. Ideally to a value by the power of 2, like 128, 256, 512 or 1024. Keep in mind that higher buffer sizes = higher latency.

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Disable unused inputs and outputs. Open "Input Config" and "Output Config". You can also disable the mono input pair of the same stereo input, or vice versa, depending on which is being used. 

Optimize CPU-Intensive Devices

Follow these suggestions to optimize the CPU handling of your devices and plug-ins:

Wavetable. See our dedicated article: Managing CPU load when using Wavetable.

Echo. See our dedicated article: Managing CPU load when using Echo.

Freeze tracks containing CPU-intensive devices. Freezing tracks creates a temporary render of the audio and then deactivates all the devices. To freeze a track, right-click it and choose "Freeze Track". It can then be flattened afterwards to an audio file if necessary.

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Resample tracks containing CPU-intensive devices. Please refer to Live's Manual Chapter 14.5. Resampling for further instructions. 

Put CPU-intensive effects into Return tracks so that you can process more than one track with the same effect.

Place CPU-intensive plug-ins/devices on separate tracks. Each signal path in Live uses one thread of the processor. If the plug-ins and devices are contained within an instrument or effect rack in one track, the processing will be less efficient. Separate them into different tracks instead to spread out the processing load.

Reduce the polyphony of your devices, plug-ins and multisample instruments. The less voices currently in use, the less CPU is used.

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Turn off the Spread function. Some Live devices have a Spread parameter (e.g. Corpus, Operator, Sampler). When Spread is used, two detuned voices are generated per note, this also doubles the processing requirement.

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Set the Reverb to "Eco" mode. This controls the tradeoff between reverb quality and computer performance. Eco uses minimal CPU resources, while high delivers the richest reverberation.

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Turn off Filters, LFOs and Effects or any other unused parameters in devices.

Use the standard filter circuit. All of the Cytomic filter circuits (OSR, MS2, SMP, PRD) use slightly more CPU.

Disable warping in Simpler. Or use a warping algorithm other than Complex or Complex Pro.

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Audio File Settings

Follow these suggestions to optimize audio file playback:

De-activate Hi-Q mode on audio clips. This setting improves the Sample Rate conversion when transposing audio files, at the cost of higher CPU drain. The Hi-Q button can be toggled from within the Sample Box.

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Use Complex and Complex Pro warping sparingly. Use different warping algorithms or turn off warping completely where possible. Otherwise consider freezing the track, or eventually consolidating/resampling those clips.

Manage System Resources

Other processes on your computer can reduce the amount of CPU available for Live.

Close other programs. Check the Activity Monitor (Mac) by pressing [cmd][space] and typing "activity monitor" into Spotlight, or Task Manager (Win) by right-clicking your task bar to see if other applications might be consuming much CPU and/or RAM on your machine, then close them.

Deactivate Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the Webcam. Using these in conjunction with Live can take up more CPU.

Disk Management. Check the hard-drive of your machine to see if you have sufficient space available. As a rule of thumb, you should always have 10% of your hard drive's capacity available as free space.

Prevent Windows from turning off USB devices. Windows automatically turns off USB ports if it thinks that they aren't being used. USB audio interfaces always need to be on, and this may cause CPU spikes in Live unless this function is disabled. See how to prevent Windows from turning off USB devices.

Reduce CPU Throttling

Certain scenarios or settings on your computer can throttle (reduce the maximum capability) of your CPU.

Always keep your laptop plugged in. When a laptop is unplugged, the CPU may be throttled when using CPU intensive programs like Live.

Choose the High Performance plan (Windows only). Windows has a number of defined plans, some of which are more CPU efficient than others. However, the High Performance plan is recommended when using CPU-intensive programs like Live. See this dedicated article about how to disable power throttling on Windows.

Check the battery life. Old and inefficient laptop batteries can throttle CPU resources. Replace them when necessary.

Clean your fans and vents to minimise thermal throttling. If fans and vents are full of dust or lint, they need to spin harder and longer to keep the computer cool. This results in thermal throttling, as the system's resources are increasingly reduced the hotter the computer gets. We recommend to get your computer's fans and vents cleaned once a year by a qualified professional.

Make sure your computer is well ventilated to minimise thermal throttling. Make sure there is an adequate flow of cool air around your computer. Don't place it on a couch, cushion or fabric surface which could block the vents. If using your computer in a hot room, you could use an external fan or AC unit to cool it further.

Upgrade Computer components

Live's capabilities are only as powerful as your system. While the minimum system requirements give the absolute minimum specifications needed to run Live, ideally you'll want to get the most powerful computer that you can afford. Despite this, even the most powerful systems can still run into CPU issues depending on their usage.

If you're not able to upgrade your computer outright, you may find considerable improvements simply upgrading individual components. Although in some computers it's impossible to upgrade components, if your computer allows it try upgrading the CPU, upgrading the hard drive to an SSD (Solid state drive) or adding more RAM. 

Further Reading