Reducing the CPU load

  • Live Versions: All
  • 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. 

Note: It is generally important to make sure that your third-party plugins as well as all hardware drivers are always updated to their latest versions. You can find more recommendations in our Learn Live 11: Computer Performance video tutorial to help reduce the CPU load.

Live 11

In Live 11, the improved CPU meter now displays the current (total) CPU usage as well as the average CPU usage.

Live 10

The CPU meter in Live 10 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).

Guidelines to reduce CPU meter level:

  1. Optimize Live's Audio and CPU Preferences
  2. Optimize Graphics card settings
  3. Optimize CPU-Intensive Devices
  4. Optimize Audio file settings
  5. Close Plug-In Device Windows
  6. Optimize system resources
  7. Reduce CPU throttling
  8. Upgrade your computer components

Optimize Live's Audio and CPU Preferences

Note: For Apple Silicon computers, please refer to new guidelines regarding Buffer Size:

Reducing the CPU load on an Apple Silicon Mac

1. Lower the Sample Rate 

Open Live's Preferences → Audio. Lower sample rates help 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.


2. Increase the Buffer Size

Ideally to a value by the power of 2, e.g. 128, 256, 512 or 1024. Keep in mind that higher buffer sizes can cause higher latency.


3. 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 Graphics Card Settings

1. Update graphics card


Make sure that your Windows graphics card drivers are updated to their latest available versions since an outdated GPU driver can cause a variety of problems.


On MacOS, the graphics driver is part of the operating system which makes it necessary to update to a newer version of the operating system (external link) if available.

2. Integrated vs. discrete graphics card

Integrated graphics card refers to the graphics processing unit (GPU) being built onto the same motherboard as the CPU. Integrated graphics cards do not have their own CPU and therefore use system RAM and system CPU. A dedicated or discrete graphics card is an expansion card using its own CPU to manage the graphics performance of a computer.


In case of performance issues caused by the GPU, you can try to switch the graphics card that is being used as explained in this article.


  • If you are working on a dual GPU Mac, you can download this third party application (external link) to test whether using the integrated or discrete graphics card improves or worsens the performance and switch it accordingly.
  • Also make sure to disable Automatic Graphics Switching as explained here (external link).
  • To find out which graphics card your Mac uses, click on the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen and select About this Mac.

Note: Using a dedicated graphics card can cause increased fan activity which under certain conditions can not be avoided.

3. Optimize graphics card settings (Windows)

Picture_1.pngPicture_2.pngPicture_3.pngSimilar settings are available in the NVIDIA or Ati Radeon Control Panel and can be set per application:​Picture_4.png

4. Disable additional graphics card options (Windows)

In case your graphics card comes with additional options to improve Gaming scenarios such as 3D or frame rate related features, for example the NVIDIA G-Sync option (external link), try to disable or uninstall these.

5. Working with external or 4K monitors

In case you are using a 4K monitor, remember that the GPU processing load to run applications will increase accordingly. Try to disconnect the external monitor to check for improvement.

On macOS, the system forces the high-performance graphics adapter when a demanding application such as Live starts. Learn how to adjust the graphics performance on your MacBook Pro in this article (external link).

Optimize CPU-Intensive Devices

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

1. Wavetable

Managing CPU load when using Wavetable.

2. Echo

Managing CPU load when using Echo.

3. Freeze or resample tracks containing CPU-intensive devices

Freezing tracks creates a temporary render of the audio and then deactivates all the devices. Right-click a track and choose "Freeze Track". Right-click again and choose "Flatten" if you want to flatten the track to audio.

Resampling a track records it to another track as audio. Then you can deactivate the devices or delete the original track.



4. Put CPU-intensive effects into Return tracks

This allows you process more than one track with the same effect.

5. Reduce polyphony

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


6. 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 doubles the processing requirement.


7. 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.


8. Turn off Filters, LFOs and Effects

Turn off any unused parameters in devices.

9. Use the standard filter circuit

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

10. Disable warping in Simpler

Or use a warping algorithm other than Complex or Complex Pro.


Optimize Audio File Settings

1. De-activate Hi-Q mode on audio clips

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


2. Use Complex and Complex Pro warping sparingly

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

Close Plug-In Device Windows

Rendering device Graphic User Interface windows may add to Live's processing load. Close any plug-in device windows when not actively interacting with or modulating the device parameters.

Optimize System Resources

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

1. 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.

2. Deactivate Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the Webcam

Using these in conjunction with Live can take up more CPU.

3. 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.

4. 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 (external link).

Reduce CPU Throttling

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

1. Always keep your laptop plugged in

When a laptop is unplugged, the CPU may be throttled when using CPU intensive programs like Live.

2. 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.

3. Check the battery life

Old and inefficient laptop batteries can throttle CPU resources. Replace them when necessary.

4. Clean your fans and vents

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.

5. Make sure your computer is well ventilated

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. 

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