Optimising Windows or Mac computers for audio

Problems are usually bus and/or buffer overload.

As Macs and PCs now share the same Intel chipsets, hopefully the “rules” that you have to apply to optimise a PC for audio will be similar.

Basically the machine needs to be focussed entirely on handling audio and minimising system interrupts on its data buses.

While the USB2.0 bus is capable of handling a 32-channel I/O audio stream, it’s also used for a whole lot more stuff around the machine. Menu pointers are written in Mac-ese!

Richard’s 10 handy audio streaming tips:

1 – Disconnect any unnecessary network adaptors – preferably turn off ALL networking (System Preferences>Network)

2 – Disable energy saving profiles – in System Preferences uncheck “put hard drives to sleep when possible” and set “computer sleep” to “never”.

3 – Sometimes it’s possible to configure the software in the computer to use GPU engine processing power to reduce CPU load. This can be an awesome leap forwards if you can do it.

4 – Turn off (or even uninstall) anti-virus application.

5 – Turn off Airport and Bluetooth and in”security & privascy” disable the firewall.

6 – Disconnect/disable ALL unnecessary USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt and other external>

7 – Repair “Disk Permissions” in Applications>Utilities>Disk Utility – Macintosh HD and again in other connected hard-drives. This is called First Aid in El Capitan. Restart the computer after doing this.

8 – Close ALL possible applications that are running either on top or under the surface. In System Preferences>Users & Groups>Choose Admin Account>Login Items remove as many start-up applications as possible.

9 – Ensure all drivers and software versions are up-to-date.

10 – With PCs the sort of problem you describe often goes away by bunging in more RAM. With the latest Intel i7/x99 chipset 8GB is skinny, 16GB is workable, 32GB goes like stink. We’d also nowadays use an SSD as the C drive with the OS on it and another SSD (on the M2 bus) for the data storage.

(Richard Merrick)

Other suggestions:

Latency Mon www.resplendence.com/latencymon is an excellent utility for spotting errant drivers/programs that grab the CPU for too long thus starving audio device drivers of buffer filling power…ie. pops, splats, ticks.
(Kevin Darbyshire-Bryant)

DPC Latency Checker from www.thesycon.de/eng/latency_check.shtml
Process Explorer, free from www.sysinternals.com
(Nick Ware)