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Windows 10 Audio Tweaks
Old 25th March 2017
  #1
Windows 10 Audio Tweaks

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/12502649-post4072.html

As requested.

New thread started. To host all discussions on optimising Windows 10 for Audio../DAW
Old 25th March 2017
  #2
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Finnish's Avatar
 

High performance mode is enough?
Old 25th March 2017
  #3
HSi
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I feel that w10 is good enough out of the box tbqh.

Apart from disabling updates if you're using it live, disable bluietooth and wireless if you're not using it. I think it's more the crap that people install after that gives them the impression it needs some optimising. You could disable search, but then you're missing out on really useful functionality for a very very small performance gain, if any, on anything like a modern
computer.

You could also shut down all the web base services too from services.msc, but you're really going to see very little gain. Back in the days of p2 this sort of stuff could give a decent little boost, these days, not so much imo.

Just be careful what you install, leave plenty of HDD space and set a static page file.

Be interested to see others opinions though.
Old 25th March 2017
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSi View Post
Just be careful what you install, leave plenty of HDD space and set a static page file.
Is this worth doing / important? Not questioning you, I just thought that modern Win OSs did a better job of managing this than it may have once done.
Old 25th March 2017
  #5
HSi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dontsimon View Post
Is this worth doing / important? Not questioning you, I just thought that modern Win OSs did a better job of managing this than it may have once done.
I would think if anyone has over 6gb ram or a ssd they may as well leave it. The only time it can be a problem is when you run out of ram and your HDD gets really slow.

Hard to say anymore tbh I never get issue anymore, I never run out of memory anymore though.
Old 26th March 2017
  #6
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I don't have any issues. However, I disable the NIC when I do anything with my DAW program to avoid any potentials.
I have an SSD and 16GB of RAM on an i7 6700K.
Old 28th March 2017
  #7
One more possible cause of higher then anticipated CPU utilisation, dropouts, etc, which would apply in any DAW.

----------------------------------------------------------

Simple yet difficult to deduce. On further thought, this could happen in any DAW on all operating systems... Windows, Mac OS/OSX, Linux, and is completely driven by user error.

In my case my USB Audio Interface - Latency and drop outs challenge is 100% resolved.

Prior to now, I had attempted to find ways to route MME/Wasapi (windows audio) and mix it with the outputs of my DAW, cos my USB interface does not provide such an elegant mixer, which led to all kinds of inelegant solutions, routing audio through multiple instances of the DAW via local broadcast IP(Internet protocol).

I discovered today - via a Eureka moment - or moments, that the source of all the latency challenges which I had experienced with my DAW and Audio Interface on Window 10, were primarily due to user error - all mine.

I'll explain.

I had been monitoring my audio inputs via the DAW, through a fairly heavy set of reverbs, analog emulation plugins, track effects and additional monitoring effects.

Through a very fortunate set of events, I discovered my error, while monitoring another channel which had only a few monitoring effects in the path and my DAW's Interface CPU meter immediately indicated significantly lower CPU usage.

Monitoring with a heavy chain of plugins places more strain on the CPU, in real time.

In my case

Lesson learned - we are able do do things that many only dreamed of - monitor via a USB interface - with no discernible latency, via the DAW, with effects. But it needs a new mindset to avoid turning opportunity to a self inflicted nightmare. Once I reduced the number of effects in my consolidated record monitoring chain, I have since been able to simultaneously:

1. Playback Youtube video into my DAW

2. Record outputs into the DAW

3. Monitor A and B

4. Run at @ 44.1K down to 256 samples buffer, which meets my needs, all things considered, on a fairly vintage USB audio interface - EMU 0404 USB

5. No drop outs - will keep monitoring.

6. And I can watch/listen to as many streams of audio/video via my web browsers tabs, as my memory can load.

All is well, thought it good to share my learned lessons.

For those who do not have multi-client drivers, which is the case with the EMU 0404 USB, do take a look at VoiceMeeter Banana, which is an incredible mixing engine, although the documentation is a bit terse, but it does work and allow you to mix Windows audio (MME, WASAPI, etc) and pass this into an ASIO input stream through your DAW(optional) and mix the output from your DAW, with Windows Audio and inputs from your audio device, similar to tools like RME's Totalmix. An elegant and very stable solution

PS, I've taken the liberty to turn off the paging file in Windows 10. I prefer the operating system to let me know when memory is at a premium, which it graciously does, when its about to run out of memory, and I can date corrective action, by closing some browser tabs or other software.

Never thought I'd say this, but Windows 10 rocks, and my plan B to migrate to a turbocharged Mac Pro, is on hold, for now. I am more likely to migrate to a more powerful desktop/workstation also running Windows.

For now, Thunderbolt is definitely not required cos USB works well enough. 96K needs extra buffers but I can live with that, I'll record at 44.1 or 48 and mix at 96K, with extra buffers.

My Config

1. I'm on Windows 10
2. i5 laptop
3. I leave my Wi-fi enabled and Network, it makes no difference to the performance, now that the real issue has been resolved.
4 8GB RAM
5. I did disable the onboard sound card, not sure if this had any impact. I do not use it anyway.
6. Audio Interface - EMU 0404 USB, works well on all my USB ports USB2 or USB3.

It's only fair that having been quite vocal about my opinion on the challenges of navigating the interworking between hardware, audio device, and Windows manufacturer's, I can report that inadvertently the error was mine all along.

Of course I also did a number of the Windows 10 DAW optimisation tweaks - too many to list again here, but I think the aforementioned use of too many effects in the monitoring chain, was the 80 of the 20, the single most significant cause of the extraneous latency, when monitoring.

I think its important to highlight this cause its a new one to me, makes absolute sense, and a very easy error to make, and furthermore - hitherto, I have not heard it mentioned as a possible cause of latency challenges in all the write ups and advisories that I have come across.

Simply by turning on monitoring in a track where the audio is routed through effects down the audio path, places a higher demand on the processing hardware/USB , than if you were simply playing back the project. This higher demand is somehow made significantly worse, when the DAW needs to mix input into outputs through a huge chain of all these plugins which could be inserted or an auxes, or on the master, or in a monitoring chain - for DAW's which have a provision for monitoring effects that are not included in the mixdown.

Once you turn off monitoring, or reduce the number of effects in the monitoring audio routing (turning off insert plugins except maybe low CPU zero latency comfort reverp, on sends, grouping, sub grouping, etc), the CPU/USB interrupt demands reduce..... and gone are the glitches...

It's so easy to make this mistake, if you overdub after you have already placed effects on in the processing chain.

Special mention of Reaper's performance monitoring tool which gave me both the overall CPU load for the playback as well as the monitoring/record chain, as two separate related but distinct values, and really enabled me confirm that I had found the root cause of the unusually high CPU utilisation for the monitoring chain, and fixed it.
Old 29th March 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
[QUOTE=kodebode;12533076]One more possible cause of higher then anticipated CPU utilisation, dropouts, etc, which would apply in any DAW. [QUOTE]

It's easy enough to mute plugins and see when the clicks stop. It's also very instructive to cross-reference this with a free real-time monitor like DPC Latency Checker DPC Latency Checker

All the background info you need to check background activity is on the linked page above.

Finally, this guide still holds true: PC AUDIO 116 | AudioTechnology Magazine
Old 29th March 2017
  #9
[QUOTE=studer58;12535257][QUOTE=kodebode;12533076]One more possible cause of higher then anticipated CPU utilisation, dropouts, etc, which would apply in any DAW.
Quote:

It's easy enough to mute plugins and see when the clicks stop. It's also very instructive to cross-reference this with a free real-time monitor like DPC Latency Checker DPC Latency Checker

All the background info you need to check background activity is on the linked page above.

Finally, this guide still holds true: PC AUDIO 116 | AudioTechnology Magazine
Interesting. Lovely article by a noted commentator/author - Martin Walker.

Thanks for sharing this.
Old 29th March 2017
  #10
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I recently set up my new HP Z workstation for recording. I hadn't done a full setup from scratch in a long time. That laptop smokes by the way. Its a quad core I5 with three internal drives, Two solid state and one standard. Its got USB 2, 3 and Thunderbolt too. Boot time is instantaneous. My wife works for HP and they gifted her the prototype.

My current studio DAW is over 5 years old and even when changing drives I simply clone it and keep going.

The new one was 64 bit so I had to do everything from scratch. I actually failed on the first attempt because I tried running sonar X1 in 64 bit and tried to let bit bridge run 32 bit plugins. I guess I had too many plugins in the file or some other issue going on but it became unstable to the point when I wiped the drive and started over. I installed a 64 bit and 32 bit version of X1, got the 32 bit working properly with all my normal plugins, then setup the 64 bit and only installed 64 bit plugins. Even then a few weren't recognized for some reason so I removed them from the plugin folders. I have a couple of essential plugins that will run 32 bit but I'd rather run the 32 bit version if I need those plugins.

Honestly, I don't see any difference in performance running 32 bit vs 64 bit. At least not running sonar.

Win 10 in my opinion sucks as an operating system for a DAW. I spent at least 2 weeks tweaking and optimizing that system to get it up to speed. My unit has the Pro version so there was a bunch of unnecessary services running I had to shut down. The worst part about it is its so invasive. It pushes you to network through a MS account and has big brother watching on everything you do. It took me awhile to figure out how to set the system up as a local account so it didn't connect to the net every time I booted up. If I would could have installed XP or Win 7 I would have but since it was a new workstation being released this year they only had win 10 drivers for the hardware.

Many of the tweaks I did were the same as what I used on older computers, all the stuff shutting down startup programs, turning off eye candy, setting it for background services, and turning off unnecessary services all applied.

There is another I found important. Ever since Vista windows has been using indexing which scans all your files for quick access. This process runs in the background and can cause huge demands on the CPU, especially with a new installation because all the files are new. Indexing combined with MS's invasive security allows all your work to be constantly scanned. Years back I had a bunch of recordings of cover tunes which literally got wiped by security protocols. Because the files had the same names as the originals I guess they got identified as unpurchased copies of something. In any case they were on my backup drive and got damaged.

Since then I've turned off indexing for all by backup drives including the drive I write my waves files to and I no longer have any issues. I know where my backup files are so I don't need to search them. They don't get fragmented because they aren't being moved as slack files shrink and grow like they do on the C drive. If I did need to defragment them I do all that manually. The wave files you write aren't going to fragment much is that's all you have on that drive. Same thing with Virus scammers. If you have antivirus, do scans manually and skip your backup drives if they see no traffic.

I'm still working on a few kinks with the 64 bit DAW version. Apparently the effect plugin presets stick with the project. If I select a customized plugin menu for the 32 bit version, then open that project in 34 bits, whatever 32 bit plugins that were there fail, and it retains the 32 bit favorites menu. I expect it to have the plugins fail but I also have to switch to a 64 bit favorites menu to find my 64 bit plugins. I can then save the project with a new name and the plugins and favorites menu will stick with the program version.

There's still some other unidentified glitch going on which I haven't figured out yet but I'm still miles ahead of where I was before. I'd prefer to kill all the internet and security but the unit has a wireless card and I need some minimal security to protect the system. I wish I could install an older OS but it seems every time they come out with better hardware the software manufacturers are right in there using up all that extra performance with they're bloatware.

Figuring out how to shut off as much of it as you can without crippling the computer is by far the toughest part of optimizing a daw. You can use the task manager to view the apps running and view the CPU load improve as you get stuff to turn off. That's the problem when you have a company like MS who thinks they're operating system has to wow people. All its supposed to be is a platform that lest the programs you run communicate with the hardware. a good 80% of whats loaded isn't needed for audio programs and all it does is rob precious CPU power and memory
Old 30th March 2017
  #11
Sure I find with no paging file, windows informs me when it runs out of memory and asks me to close the applications with the most significant memory use (in its opinion). Interesting.

This feedback is informative and I can take my own decisions of what app is priority. Rather then windows attempting to take this decision for me. Empowering.

Yes for a DAW, this should help me run all the important things in memory, and avoid any performance penalties from swapping.

Subjectively, things seem snappier, but it might not be just because I no longer use a paging file.

Guess in these days when RAM is not too expensive, up to a certain point, no need for swapping for Audio apps that need to respond asap.
Old 5th May 2017
  #12
Ive just gone Windows 10 Optimization crazy, ill post back here what Iv'e done but to begin with Ive run
Black Vipers windows 10 services tweaks, which essentially just disables a lot of not so needed services.

Black Viper's Windows 10 Service Configurations | Black Viper | www.blackviper.com
Old 6th May 2017
  #13
Reportedly good advice from Audient Audio :

https://support.audient.com/hc/en-us...ters-For-Audio

Reportedly good advice from Presonus, a lot of which can be retrofitted to Windows 10 equivalents :

Optimizing Your Computer for Audio - Windows Vista/Windows 7 – Knowledge Base | PreSonus
Old 6th May 2017
  #14
Gear Addict
 

There's plenty of evidence to NOT change processor scheduling in Windows. For example: https://www.native-instruments.com/f....313271/page-5

Note that I also believe that changing the scheduling MAY help, because it may mask one or more other problems with your setup, but I wouldn't just automatically change this setting in Windows out of the gate.

I believe it was a recommendation from Steinberg dating to the time of Windows XP. Chances are, if it makes any improvement at all (rather than making things worse), you probably have better bang for the buck with different drivers or a different audio interface with better drivers instead of mucking with a lot of Windows settings. You may also be having issues from crappy drivers written for other hardware you might have, or just crappy USB in general as some USB chipsets can cause issues resolved by getting a PCIe USB 3.0 card with a Frescologic chip.

Yes, check the apps and services running in the background - the fewer the better (esp. any software that does automatic scanning, like antivirus). The Audient guide is pretty good, except for the aforementioned Processor Scheduling.
Old 7th May 2017
  #15
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fireberd's Avatar
I now have the Creator's Upgrade. Still no tweaking required, in my case.

Interesting note from Cakewalk Sonar about not using the Gaming Mode.

Quote:
"Your DAW is not a Game"
The observed performance with Game Mode did not to hold up to its claims of smoother performance, at least for SONAR running on a well tuned system. This could be because Game Mode allocates a fixed amount of resources while SONAR wants to use all CPU cores. On a DAW where SONAR is the only app running turning on Game Mode could result in worse performance in this scenario. On an underpowered system where there are other background processes, game mode could be beneficial by preventing unwanted interactions with other apps or services.
Our suggestion for now is not to use Game mode for SONAR, at least for the initial release of the Creator’s Update. Perhaps a future update may improve on performance, but at this time we don’t see any improvement in SONAR’s performance with this feature.
Old 8th May 2017
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by fireberd View Post
I now have the Creator's Upgrade. Still no tweaking required, in my case.

Interesting note from Cakewalk Sonar about not using the Gaming Mode.
Looks like Game mode is optimised for Games, sure a bit obvious, and probably most games do not need/task all cores, the same way many DAW's would attempt to.

I have attempted to use Game mode with Reaper, and it yielded no discernible improvement.
Old 13th August 2018
  #17
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I'm also finding the performance of U-he plugins pretty poor on my new quad core 8th Gen 3.1 base clock speed and 16gb ram. I've done some recommend windows 10 high performance tweaks and I can only manage about 6 instances of Diva in divine mode with a the note chord loop. With certain patches I can get between 8 and 18 on repro 5. With sylenth1 I can get over 200 instances. I know you're plugins are supposed to be processor hungry but this is a brand new powerful laptop and I was expecting way more. I notice Diva causes audio glitching at only 50-60% CPU usage whereas other plugins can only start to glitch out at about 95%+ CPU usage. I've checked the multicore option. Diva doesn't even perform well in the lower 2 draft modes.

I've tried wasapi drivers and the realtek asio and also asio4all v2 which mostly just gives me white noise. This is running at 256-512 buffer settings too. I'm wondering whether I should go back to Mac. If it's the audio card causing the issue. Our whether windows just isn't very good for audio, or if it's the plugins themselves. I'm currently using bitwig 2.35 on windows 10. Given my 10 year old Mac could run a couple of instances of Diva I was hoping to for 10-15 instances given my new laptop geekbenches at around 5 to 6 times more powerful.

These are the optimisations I've been doing Optimising your PC for Audio on Windows 10 – Focusrite Audio Engineering

Do you think getting an RME audio interface will massively improve performance or is it really a windows or CPU issue? On Mac I never found the audio interface to really reduce CPU usage just add more inputs. I like to use my internal audio card and headphones quite a lot
Old 13th August 2018
  #18
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I run a vanilla install except for power settings on 100%.

Rubns like a dream, connected to WWW 24/7 two LAN's in use one for internet on for wifi for ipad remote in cubase. Steinberg UR824 with two MR816's for 24 io via USB 2. 3x Euphoncs controllers, CC121.

windows 10 x64 pro. i7 3960x 32 gigs ram, Nvidea GFX


No issues whatsoever.




MC
Old 13th August 2018
  #19
Deleted User
Guest
Fiddling with stuff causes more issues than it solves. If it won’t run vanilla, don’t run it.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Since last week im experiencing super high glitch when I play my composition in my DAW.

I looked at me CPU ressources and they sit at about 46 to 53% and my ram at about 30%.

Same thing for the mettering in my DAW

So nothing unusual.

Now, I've tried downloading LatencyMon and DPCclat.exe and none would run on my PC even if I was to run them as Administrator ( right click )

Now as a last resort, I'm trying to find that software that I used to run to turn all the useless Win 10 background process Off .

It was quite a simple interface with on/off icon switches if I remeber correctly ( or maybe it was something like Enable / disable turning red or green....I'm not quite sure) but I cant find it anymore.

I'm pretty desperate.

Can someone point me in the right direction to get that software ( it was something like Win10TweakPowerTool or some BS like that ) .

Also, some help about why LatencyMon or DPC latency software wont work would be greatly appreciated.



It was looking a bit like this image but with red and green switch and a menu on top saying something like : turn all off ....or another one saying turn recommended setting....

Old 1 week ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by vitocorleone123 View Post
There's plenty of evidence to NOT change processor scheduling in Windows. For example: https://www.native-instruments.com/f....313271/page-5

Note that I also believe that changing the scheduling MAY help, because it may mask one or more other problems with your setup, but I wouldn't just automatically change this setting in Windows out of the gate.
Correct.

Quote:
I believe it was a recommendation from Steinberg dating to the time of Windows XP.
It was an XP tweak for the RME Digi96 which had a bug at the time. It was fixed shortly after. This workaround is still on 95% of audio tweak websites.

Quote:
Yes, check the apps and services running in the background - the fewer the better (esp. any software that does automatic scanning, like antivirus). The Audient guide is pretty good, except for the aforementioned Processor Scheduling.
I measured services and apps running in the background. The difference is not measurable. Just leave them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rixsta View Post
Ive just gone Windows 10 Optimization crazy, ill post back here what Iv'e done but to begin with Ive run
Black Vipers windows 10 services tweaks, which essentially just disables a lot of not so needed services.

Black Viper's Windows 10 Service Configurations | Black Viper | www.blackviper.com
I can save you the trouble. Black Viper is not an audio guy and his tweaks bring less than 1% performance extra. If you are a gamer, maybe, I didn't test that.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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loopy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martel80 View Post
Since last week im experiencing super high glitch when I play my composition in my DAW.

I looked at me CPU ressources and they sit at about 46 to 53% and my ram at about 30%.

Same thing for the mettering in my DAW

So nothing unusual.

Now, I've tried downloading LatencyMon and DPCclat.exe and none would run on my PC even if I was to run them as Administrator ( right click )

Now as a last resort, I'm trying to find that software that I used to run to turn all the useless Win 10 background process Off .

It was quite a simple interface with on/off icon switches if I remeber correctly ( or maybe it was something like Enable / disable turning red or green....I'm not quite sure) but I cant find it anymore.

I'm pretty desperate.

Can someone point me in the right direction to get that software ( it was something like Win10TweakPowerTool or some BS like that ) .

Also, some help about why LatencyMon or DPC latency software wont work would be greatly appreciated.



It was looking a bit like this image but with red and green switch and a menu on top saying something like : turn all off ....or another one saying turn recommended setting....

You shouldn't need to tweak Windows 10 other than the power profile and making sure USB ports aren't using power management. Also take a look at your Startup Programs and make sure you don't have tons of junk in there as well. It's under Task Manager.


Programs not being able to start is a classic sign of either Windows corruption, a permissions problem or a virus.
You need to take a close look at what is running on your system to determine if there is a rogue program that is causing your problems.

That's where I would start the troubleshooting process.
Run a quality virus scanner in advanced mode set to deep scan everything.

As for rogue processes, you can use Windows built in task manager for this, but a program called Process Hacker is a much better alternative.

https://processhacker.sourceforge.io/

That should get you started.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by loopy View Post
You shouldn't need to tweak Windows 10 other than the power profile and making sure USB ports aren't using power management. Also take a look at your Startup Programs and make sure you don't have tons of junk in there as well. It's under Task Manager.


Programs not being able to start is a classic sign of either Windows corruption, a permissions problem or a virus.
You need to take a close look at what is running on your system to determine if there is a rogue program that is causing your problems.

That's where I would start the troubleshooting process.
Run a quality virus scanner in advanced mode set to deep scan everything.

As for rogue processes, you can use Windows built in task manager for this, but a program called Process Hacker is a much better alternative.

https://processhacker.sourceforge.io/

That should get you started.
I tried downloading the software youre talking about and also malwarebites and none would run on my PC.

Thats so awkward.

First time I see this happening.

I dont knnow what to do anymore .....
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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loopy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martel80 View Post
I tried downloading the software youre talking about and also malwarebites and none would run on my PC.

Thats so awkward.

First time I see this happening.

I dont knnow what to do anymore .....
What is the message you get when you try and run the software?
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by loopy View Post
What is the message you get when you try and run the software?
Nothing at all.

Just...nothing happen.

I<ve tried followinf those tutorial to edit my registry but it didnt work.

I then tried to create a local Admin user and signing in and on that new user all the exe file work.

I ran Malwarebytes but he found nothing.

I think my admin user is corrupted.

:(
Old 6 days ago
  #26
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loopy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martel80 View Post
Nothing at all.

Just...nothing happen.

I<ve tried followinf those tutorial to edit my registry but it didnt work.

I then tried to create a local Admin user and signing in and on that new user all the exe file work.

I ran Malwarebytes but he found nothing.

I think my admin user is corrupted.

:(
So you want to start conservative at first in order to preserve whatever can be saved.

1. Download a bootable antivirus scanner. There are many available that will allow you to boot the media, usually USB based, and scan your system. You might want to try more than one.

2. If nothing is found, that is probably a good thing.

3. Proceed to Windows Recovery.. There are many ways to do this. Here are 2 pages with different approaches.. Only you can determine which one to try.

If at all possible, back up your current system via an *.iso before starting the surgery.
This way at least you can go back to where you currently are.

You can also try Windows System Restore and go back to well before you started having problems. This may fix the corruption.

https://www.lifewire.com/free-bootab...-tools-2625785

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/...ecker-tool-to-

https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/repair-windows-10
Old 6 days ago
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by loopy View Post
So you want to start conservative at first in order to preserve whatever can be saved.

1. Download a bootable antivirus scanner. There are many available that will allow you to boot the media, usually USB based, and scan your system. You might want to try more than one.

2. If nothing is found, that is probably a good thing.

3. Proceed to Windows Recovery.. There are many ways to do this. Here are 2 pages with different approaches.. Only you can determine which one to try.

If at all possible, back up your current system via an *.iso before starting the surgery.
This way at least you can go back to where you currently are.

You can also try Windows System Restore and go back to well before you started having problems. This may fix the corruption.

https://www.lifewire.com/free-bootab...-tools-2625785

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/...ecker-tool-to-

https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/repair-windows-10
I think what I'll do is format and start from scratch.

Mean while, I did a new Admin user and its working flawlessly now.

But that type of stupid thing, when it happen, its never a good sign and I already lost all I did twice in my life and I certainly dont want that to happen again.
I'll buy a 8tb external drive when I come back and back up all my important files.

Thanks for your help. It was really appreciated.
Old 6 days ago
  #28
I had a bit of an epiphany, and a eureka period.

SOME BACKGROUND

For about 5 years I had been struggling with two i5 laptops, which I upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 8 or 8.1. I think 4th geneationm CPU's - from their processor number 4200u, which had a base of 1.6Ghz and a Turbo of 2.4Ghz. 8GB RAM. 5400rpm hard drives. Network via Wifi.

On one laptop a Dell, for some reason, once I heavily used my DAW, it would throttle down to 1.6Ghz, a lot of the time. This laptop was hot all the time.

The CPU's were dual core

The other laptop a Lenovo also i5, similar processor, was ok, it ran at 2.4Ghz consistently.

Audio interface was EMU 0404 USB.

WHAT CHANGED ?

I was having peformance issues, as I had now acquired some sampled piano libraries, which demanded more than the laptops could cope with.

WHERE AM I NOW?

In heaven.

I bought this other PC a while back, 2 years but was so affixed with portability I did not start using it. The EMU 0404 USB did not work with the new PC, no matter waht I did, it literally froze the computer anytime the DAW tried to access the interface, requiring a reboot.

So I pulled out an EMU 1212M - PCI card and daughter board, I had lying idle for about 7 years, in an old PC, and transferred it to the new PC.

PC Description :

24 GB RAM, Xeon Quad core, running at 3.6 Ghz Turbo (3.2 Ghz otherwise), 7200 rpm hard drive. NO Wifi - network via an ethernet cable., Windows 7 Professional. + EMU 1212M PCI audiocard. No apps installed on this one- except the essentials for audio - absolutely nothing else installed.

This is a Lenovo workstation, acquired used.

This computer runs like a dream, super stable like a rock, no hiccups whatsoever, and where I was struggling to run plugins with buffers as hgh as 1000 on the laptops, on this one I cruise along all day at 576 buffers with an output latency of 6.1 milliseconds (previous laptops could not reliably run any piano libraries below 12 or 14 milliseconds output latency).

I run @ 96K audio sampling rate on all my computers, so my buffers are more than twice the buffers needed at @ 44.1k..

And CPU utilisation on the new PC is down to no more than 5% if I'm playing a piano library, compared to about 8% or more on the laptops.

What's most significant is - no glitches, none whatsoever, not once, never, never ever, its a whole new experience.

NOW SOME QUESTIONS.

After this experience, I feel that the vast majority of audio pundits are asking the wrong questions and attempting to solve issues that we should not have been involved in, in the 1st place.

1. USB vs PCI/PCie/Thunderbolt.

For the benefit of portability, we are saddled with an interface standard - USB that needed over 10 years for some interface manufactures like Focusrite to gradually refine their drivers to reliably obtain low latency - making their customers guinea pigs.

Why bother with USB, when PCI/PCIe was always so much better for low latency, and has been stable for the last 15 to 20 years....

USB is just another pain. we could have avoided, but its the fashion and the cheapest way to get into audio - with all in one devices with preamps, line inputs, outputs, headphone outs, MIDI, at low cost + frustration on a lot of these devices. e.g I had thought about getting a NI Komplete 6 to replace my ailing EMU 0404 USB, but the new Komplete audio interface does not support Windows 7, to the best of my knowledge.

2. Windows 10.

Why bother, what particular advantage does Windows 10 bring to audio - none. Especially if your audio device will run ASIO anyway, Windows 10 adds no value.

On the other hand Windows 10 comes with bloat ware - all manner of proceses and apps like Cortana, eating up the attention of the computer. Not so much in processor cycles but the overhead of multitasking between so many useless processes that add absolutely no value to an audio PC - none., but take up RAM, run in the background achieving nothing.

Sure I know Windows 7 support is about to run out, But I am not bothered. I'll remain on Wndows 7, and connect the desktop to the internet, only when required, for plugin activation.

3. Laptops

Why bother, their architecture is simply a bunch of compromises, poor airflow, low power supplies, poor cooling, underpowered processors in comparison to the desktop equivalents.

Using a laptop and expecting anything awesome is just folly, why bother, unless you really have to, and if you do get a mobile desktop replacement with a proper desktop processor.

From my recent experience, just do not bother with laptops. And a used workstation grade computer from the likes of HP or Lenovo (not sure about Dell anymore after my poor experience with the Dell laptop- I was previously a Dell advocate and bought only Dells for everything, but have had a better experience with HP and Lenovo), with lots of server grade RAM, fast disks, good xeon processors, may save you money if you cannot afford the latest greatest i7 or i9 based PC. If you can afford it just get the latest greratest toys from Intel, 32GB RAM or more, and live happily ever after.

4. Oh what a joy to be back to a proper mouse and a high quality chunky Lenovo keyboard - reminiscent of the original keyboards on IBM PC's derived from the age of type writers. No more of this lack of proper feedback from shallow throw keys on a laptop. And unlike a mouse pad, the proper mouse has a scroll wheel, that makes using a DAW so much faster...... so much faster. Want to change a parameter - move mouse, scroll wheel.... no mouse clicks - far more intuitive that clicking and dragging - more like using and analog mixer/device.

5. And the years of squinting at a dinky laptop screen, are over. I hav only a 19 inch monitor, but its so much better - than the laptop - cos it has the power, and is not struggling with getting enough juice, I get a brighter screen, more screen real estate, can position the screen at eye level, and keyboard at hand level, with no compromises. With a laptop there is always a compromise, which also ruins your neck - having to look down.

Looking back I wonder how I ever got sold on using a laptop for music/audio Bad idea. Sure its possible, but please once you get serious with your audio, ditch the laptop and enjoy the peace and productivity of a proper workstation grade device that will not impede your creativity.

I acknowledge that in today's world, most all in one audio interfaces are USB, which is their main attraction, but I'd rather invest in a set of preamps, or preamps with digital outs is I needed lots of simultaneous inputs, and a headphone amp/monitor controller, to complement the PCI/PCIe audio interface which does not have some of these bells and whistles.

If you are having challenges with Windows 10, USB audio interfaces, or Laptops, think again, rather tnan solve the problems of these "advancements", why entertain the problem in the 1st place.

It reminds me of space missions, when devices need to be absolutely reliable, totally out of reach of any human repair opportunity, they use the most proven tech, not the latest tech.

If you want to be a guinea pig - that's ok, but if you want to make music and focus on your audio, the solution is there. Ditch all these new fangled toys, and go old school, with things that have been working reliably for at least 10 years, and all the kinks were working optimally as much as 15 years ago and did not need any further improvement.

I'm in virtual music heaven and you are welcome to join.

Whatever you do in Windows, please run as a user with administrator priviledgs. Makes life easier.
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