Reducing the CPU load on macOS

To optimize performance and reduce CPU load on both Intel and Silicon Macs, you can adjust settings in Ableton Live and on your computer, as detailed below. If you're experiencing performance issues, you can find additional tips in these guides:

Note: To determine the performance impact of third-party plug-ins, try running Live with plug-ins disabled. Hold down [OPTION] on your computer keyboard while launching Live to temporarily disable all plug-ins. To re-enable plug-ins, relaunch Live.

Guidelines to reduce CPU usage on macOS

Audio preferences in Live
Software updates
Optimizing resources
Reduce CPU Throttling

Audio preferences in Live

Intel and Apple Silicon

As of Live 11.3.25, the following guidelines apply to both Intel and Silicon Macs. Please test various settings on your computer to find the best balance for your system.

Buffer Size

Open Live's Preferences → Audio → Latency to set the buffer size.

  • Smaller buffer sizes may contribute to higher CPU usage and lower latency
  • Larger buffer sizes may contribute to lower CPU usage and higher latency

Silicon_BufferSize.png

Sample Rate

Open Live's Preferences → Audio → Sample Rate to select the desired sample rate, if different from Live's default 44100 kHz. Set the sample rate before starting a new project.

  • Lower sample rates may contribute to lower CPU usage and higher latency
  • Higher sample rates may contribute to higher CPU usage and lower latency

Silicon_SampleRate.png

Driver Error Compensation

Outside of certain specific situations in which you’ve measured the precise offset required by your hardware, set Driver Error Compensation to the default value 0.00 ms. Visit the Driver Error Compensation FAQ for more details.

DriverErrorCompensation.png

If you’re experiencing latency, follow the steps in our guides to setting up an Audio Interface and How to reduce latency.

Software updates

Intel and Apple Silicon

Update all third-party plug-ins, e-licensing software, hardware drivers, and control scripts to the latest Silicon-supported versions. Install all available security and performance updates for your versions of macOS and Ableton Live.

Apple Silicon

If available, use native Apple Silicon builds of third-party plug-ins.

Optimizing resources

1. Close other programs.

To free up processing capability for Live, close other applications that are placing a high demand on your computer’s CPU, such as your web browser.

You can check the current breakdown of CPU in use by open applications in Activity Monitor (Finder → Applications → Utilities). Learn more about Monitoring Live’s CPU usage on your computer.

Note: If you compare the idle performance of Live 12.0 or 11.3.25 with earlier versions on an Apple Silicon computer, you might notice a higher % CPU value in Activity Monitor. This is because while Silicon Macs offer both performance cores and efficiency cores, Live attempts to schedule all audio threads on performance cores, to ensure consistent and predictable performance. This may result in a higher percentage of the relevant cores being used, and thus a higher value listed in % CPU. This increase may be expected, and does not necessarily indicate a problem with Live.

If you’d like to revert to Live’s prior behavior for handling performance cores, an Options.txt entry is available. Please test Live's performance and try optimizing CPU usage following the other tips in this guide, if needed, before installing this option. Learn more about Multi-Core CPU handling.

2. Deactivate wireless connections.

Conserve CPU usage by disabling Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth in your macOS System Settings or in the macOS menu bar when not needed.

3. Clear space on your system drive.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend keeping at least 10% of your hard drive's capacity available as free space. Running low on free space may affect Live’s performance and the ability to create and save audio files.

Reduce CPU Throttling

Follow the steps in this guide to reducing CPU throttling. 

Ableton offers these in-depth help and learning resources: