Reducing the CPU Load on an Apple Silicon Mac

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: MacOS

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) of Apple computers with Apple Silicon Processors (e.g. M1 chips) performs differently from previous generation Macs with Intel processors.

Due to these fundamental differences, Live's Audio Preferences should be configured with these differences in mind in order to reduce the CPU load. 

Note: For optimal performance, it is important to ensure that all third-party plug-ins, as well as hardware drivers, are always updated to their latest versions. In addition, we recommend updating to the latest macOS and Live version. Where available, use native Apple Silicon builds of plugins.

For more advice consider the following techniques to reduce the CPU usage of devices and plug-ins, and other best practices, with additional recommendations in our Learn Live 11: Computer Performance video tutorial. 

How to Optimize Live's Audio preferences for Apple Silicon vs. Intel Processors? 

The relationship between real-time audio performance and buffer size changed with the introduction of Apple Silicon Processor's architecture. 

On Intel-based CPUs the following relationship in Live is as follows:

Smaller buffer sizes may result in higher CPU usage 

Larger buffer sizes may result in lower CPU usage

Contrastingly, on Apple Silicon CPUs:

Smaller buffer sizes may result in lower CPU usage 

Larger buffer sizes may result in higher CPU usage

Optimizing Live's Audio Preferences for Apple Silicon Computers: 

1. Choose a Sample Rate 

Open Live's Preferences → Audio.

Note: Ideally, you should pick the correct setting before starting a new project, rather than changing it while working on an existing one. Live's default sample rate is 44100 kHz.


2. Lower the Buffer Size

Choose a buffer size less than or equal to 256 samples 

  • Ideally, choose a value that's a power of 2, e.g. 128, 256, 512, or 1024.

Note: In some case with certain CPU intensive processes, lowering the buffer size will not reduce CPU load. In that case it might be better to higher the buffer size. In addition, consider the following article for techniques to reduce the CPU usage of devices and plug-ins. 


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