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Ableton Audio Crackles and Dropouts with SSD
Old 27th February 2019
  #1
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Ableton Audio Crackles and Dropouts with SSD

Hi Ableton peeps. I'm having a problem where I'm getting dropouts and crackles on audio clip playback. The red "D" diskspeed indicator lights up.

Here's my system specs:

MBP 2.8GHz
16GB
1TB on-motherboard SSD w/ 300GB free
Sierra updated
Ableton 10

Happens with or without audio interface even with just mac audio out.

Activity Monitor RAM and CPU meters are low like 15%.

Happens with and without clips loaded into RAM.

Buffer is at 256.

44/16 audio, 4 clips at once max

some soundtoys plugs and bx_audio plugins. Probably 15 total.


Any ideas on how to fix?
Old 27th February 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
Hi Ableton peeps. I'm having a problem where I'm getting dropouts and crackles on audio clip playback. The red "D" diskspeed indicator lights up.

Any ideas on how to fix?
Have your run speed tests like Blackmagic Disk Speed Test? The disk should be very fast.

Your MBP 2.8GHz notion says very little as there are five later (2014, 2015 and 2017) models with that clock speed. The 2014 model being a duocore 13".

Any improvements if you set the audio buffer to 512 or 1024?
Old 27th February 2019
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael B View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
Hi Ableton peeps. I'm having a problem where I'm getting dropouts and crackles on audio clip playback. The red "D" diskspeed indicator lights up.

Any ideas on how to fix?
Have your run speed tests like Blackmagic Disk Speed Test? The disk should be very fast.

Your MBP 2.8GHz notion says very little as there are five later (2014, 2015 and 2017) models with that clock speed. The 2014 model being a duocore 13".

Any improvements if you set the audio buffer to 512 or 1024?
2015 model. I'm barely doing anything though. No improvements or changes with buffer size. 700MB/s write 1900 read with BM speed test

I noticed that it says "Buffering xx%" in the activity window at the very bottom. I'm guessing that is the problem but don't know how to fix. It happens intermittently. Sometimes goes away with restarting the application. Sometimes a song is fine and then it starts all of a sudden. Sigh
Old 27th February 2019
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
Bart Nettle's Avatar
There have been reports I have read in the past about interrupt conflicts being caused by on the motherboard SSD drives that effects audio.

Check it out further.
Old 27th February 2019
  #5
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
2015 model. I'm barely doing anything though. No improvements or changes with buffer size. 700MB/s write 1900 read with BM speed test

I noticed that it says "Buffering xx%" in the activity window at the very bottom. I'm guessing that is the problem but don't know how to fix. It happens intermittently. Sometimes goes away with restarting the application. Sometimes a song is fine and then it starts all of a sudden. Sigh
"D" means a disk speed reading problem.

"Buffering xx%" means it is reading the disk to load the samples (of a sample-based instrument) in the buffer (RAM), not directly related to "buffer size".

You have a disk problem.

Troubleshoot your hard drives, and try not to use other software that causes a lot of disk activity (defrag, antivirus, downloaders, etc.) while using Live.
Old 27th February 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pottering View Post
"D" means a disk speed reading problem.

"Buffering xx%" means it is reading the disk to load the samples (of a sample-based instrument) in the buffer (RAM), not directly related to "buffer size".

You have a disk problem.

Troubleshoot your hard drives, and try not to use other software that causes a lot of disk activity (defrag, antivirus, downloaders, etc.) while using Live.
This happens when activity monitor shows minimal IO as in 12MB/s and no other programs running or backups etc.

There is no sample instrument- only clips. Apple disk utility returns no errors and this is a new motherboard
Old 27th February 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Nettle View Post
There have been reports I have read in the past about interrupt conflicts being caused by on the motherboard SSD drives that effects audio.

Check it out further.


Thank you but this is an mac and the ssd is soldered onto the motherboard not a M.2 card.
Old 28th February 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
Thank you but this is an mac and the ssd is soldered onto the motherboard not a M.2 card.
I think the connector is PCIe in these. I also think it's actually not soldered. The RAM is.
You do need to rule out the hardware, so do what you can there. Even on Macs there can be hardware interrupts, certainly if you have externals connected and drivers malfunction. I'm using a 2015 model and there's nothing like that ever, even with around 100 clips.

I don't really know what to say about the issue as such as I've never encountered this and yet my main SSD in a 2011 MBP is way slower than yours. Are all the files your referencing from Live on this SSD?
Have you done anything out of the unusual with your system?
Old 1st March 2019
  #9
Gear Maniac
PCIe can cause problems with latency.

YouTube

Please watch the whole video, but the PCIe part is around 18:50.
Old 1st March 2019
  #10
Gear Maniac
With what you say you are doing, you should not be experiencing this. I would suspect other disk intensive software. Are you using Time Machine?
Old 2nd March 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by pottering View Post
PCIe can cause problems with latency.

YouTube

Please watch the whole video, but the PCIe part is around 18:50.
Thank you for that great post. I haven't watched trough this yet, but do you mean there is something in there that could explain why I don't encounter this using a 2015 15" MBP IG with 1TB and hundreds of clips when the OP does with a 2015 15" MBP and a handful of clips?
Old 2nd March 2019
  #12
Gear Maniac
Oops, I forgot this is a Mac thread.

OP mentioned SSD and you mentioned PCIe, which is exactly the example in the video, so I posted the link without thinking much.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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I "solved" this. In short Ableton sucks and I can't reliably push cpu utilization over 40% without possibly getting crackles. Tracks also need to be kept below 40. Pathetic but it's ok as it with those limitations in mind, it works reliably.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
I "solved" this. In short Ableton sucks and I can't reliably push cpu utilization over 40% without possibly getting crackles. Tracks also need to be kept below 40. Pathetic but it's ok as it with those limitations in mind, it works reliably.
That's not a solution per se. The 2015 IG I use go to 90-95% audio engine load (this is not CPU usage) in Live 9 with any audio interface and never crackles. But this is another problem than disk issues, which typically isn't relying on CPU.

I'm surprised you didn't post any measurements.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

I have exactly the same issue.
Ableton is really not great at the moment.
It literally grinds to a halt even at 2048buffer and with a few Gb of RAM free.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael B View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
I "solved" this. In short Ableton sucks and I can't reliably push cpu utilization over 40% without possibly getting crackles. Tracks also need to be kept below 40. Pathetic but it's ok as it with those limitations in mind, it works reliably.
That's not a solution per se. The 2015 IG I use go to 90-95% audio engine load (this is not CPU usage) in Live 9 with any audio interface and never crackles. But this is another problem than disk issues, which typically isn't relying on CPU.

I'm surprised you didn't post any measurements.
No. It is the solution proposed by level 2 ableton support after numerous remote support sessions.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
No. It is the solution proposed by level 2 ableton support after numerous remote support sessions.
If support suggests something unreasonable I simply ignore it and solve the problem on my own. They don't know everything. Just last week I fixed a problem on my own that stunned them. I still appreciate that they try.

Again, you haven't posted any measurements of your drive. Seems to me if you think this is a real issue you'd look at that first thing. If the drive can't keep up, it can't keep up and that has nothing to do with Live. However, a built-in SSD should be ultra-fast, so something is missing from your story.

Also again, I use the 2015 MBP and have nothing like that. Often I do use 96 KHz sample rate on that one as well. That's bigger files, meaning higher loads on disk.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benjiboko View Post
I have exactly the same issue.
Ableton is really not great at the moment.
It literally grinds to a halt even at 2048buffer and with a few Gb of RAM free.
"exactly the same issue" meaning specifically what? Drive that can't keep up? Because that's the issue here as indicated by faeflora's "The red "D" diskspeed indicator lights up". Or what is same? How many files are you playing back?

Last edited by Mikael B; 1 week ago at 02:44 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael B View Post
<trimmed>

Again, you haven't posted any measurements of your drive. Seems to me if you think this is a real issue you'd look at that first thing. If the drive can't keep up, it can't keep up and that has nothing to do with Live. However, a built-in SSD should be ultra-fast, so something is missing from your story.

Also again, I use the 2015 MBP and have nothing like that. Often I do use 96 KHz sample rate on that one as well. That's bigger files, meaning higher loads on disk.
Yes, seems there must be more to the issue. I also use a mid-2015 MBP (16GB RAM, High Sierra) and the stock internal SSD works fine. Live 10 also works fine with a external SSD (Samsung T5) for some libraries, and don't see any sign of the issue(s) you're describing, even under fairly heavy load. As in ~ 80% load when using some pretty CPU-intensive plugins, and sampler plug-ins (e.g. U-he, Falcon, etc).

What are the temps when the problem occurs? I have a RL buddy who was using one of the "Fan Control" apps to force his MBP cooling fans run more quietly, and he was causing thermal throttling (which caused crackles/pops). He changed it to run faster/cooler, and his problem vanished.
Old 6 days ago
  #20
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I use fan control to have it run on max blast always.

The SSD is fine and benchmarks as it should.

The thing I didn't mention is that I'm doing video playback in Ableton at the same time.

Thanks for the input but I don't want to troubleshoot this further.

The "official fix" works.

Additionally, Ableton support said "Video playback in Ableton sucks and we don't recommend it". For me though, in-application playback even with this limitation is the best option.
Old 6 days ago
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
I use fan control to have it run on max blast always.

The SSD is fine and benchmarks as it should.

Thanks for the input but I don't want to troubleshoot this further.
All-right, but I don't get why you'd settle for this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
The thing I didn't mention is that I'm doing video playback in Ableton at the same time.
So this is high-rez video?
Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
Additionally, Ableton support said "Video playback in Ableton sucks and we don't recommend it". For me though, in-application playback even with this limitation is the best option.
Really? OK. Personally I'm more interested to run video apps separately and direct an audio output to these. Live is too limited for video and Ableton should focus on making SMTPE sync work well instead. AFAIK it does.
Old 6 days ago
  #22
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
I use fan control to have it run on max blast always.
That's great, can't go wrong with that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
The thing I didn't mention is that I'm doing video playback in Ableton at the same time.
Oh, ouch. I should have thought of that... I know from personal experience that problems abound when trying to playback video simultaneously. Some DAWs are better at it, that's for sure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
For me though, in-application playback even with this limitation is the best option.
Yup, makes total sense. Carry on (and good luck!)
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