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Garageband choking ...any advice Desktop Synthesizers
Old 31st August 2011
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Garageband choking ...any advice

I'm running a macbook pro 2.4 ghz core duo 2 with 4 gigs of ram (maxed out for this model) and with the latest tune I'm working on I'm constantly getting the "This song has too many tracks, effects, or notes to be played in real-time" message.

I'm using the internal hard drive for starters, I have a TC Konnect 8 audio interface running firewire.

The song has 12 tracks (9 audio and 3 midi). Drums are addictive drums, electric guitars are all using the amplitude plug-in, acoustic's are using just some built in garageband compression etc. Not all the tracks are active from start to finish.

I know there is quite a bit going on but is there anything I can do other than locking tracks as that doesn't help? If I use the built in guitar FX in garageband would that take up less juice to amplitude?

If I ran the song off an external firewire hard drive would that be a suggestion? I've cleared my cache etc, reboot, close all running programs, turned off power save on the hard drives.

The song is recorded I'm just in the mixing stage but sometimes it's fine and others it stops 3-4 times. Is this what I can expect based on my computer specs all the time for a project this size?
Old 31st August 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 

You are probably saturating your hard drive, external drive will help to a point.

Be aware that every track and instrument by default has effects engaged.

Save CPU by turning the effects off, or bounce each track, and bring the resulting audio files back into GB.

Old 1st September 2011
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Can I just copy the song to the external and not the whole GB application?
Old 1st September 2011
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Better to do a "Save As" with check "archive" to your external drive. This will move any real instrument apple loops also to the new location. If you do not do this and are using real instrument loops those will continue to be accessed from your internal drive.

Before you do any of this check how much free space you have left on your drive. Once it reaches 75% full performance drops off substantially. Freeing up a good size chunk of storage may help. Also check if you are using stereo track where mono would work. Stereo places extra burden on the drive.

Doug

Delora Software: Electronic Music Software
Old 1st September 2011
  #5
Gear Nut
 

ok thanks I'll give this a try. In the case of the guitars it's mono tracks panned left and right but I recorded each track
Old 1st September 2011
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Ok so I tried Save As and moving the song to the external. It seems to have helped a bit but everything is slow like if I want to click from track to track while playing the song. Is this based on ram?

I just ran activity monitor while the song was playing and gathered this data

Free: 20MB
Wired: 745MB
Active: 2.17GB
Inactive: 1.08GB
Used: 3.99 GB

Not knowing too much about this I'd look and see the "Free" as 20MB and think that's the problem yet the Inactive is 1.08GB so I'm confused
Old 1st September 2011
  #7
Lives for gear
 

All drum samplers are quite taxing for any system. Bounce the tracks out to audio and import them. Your computer will love you for it.

Same goes for any guitar modelling you have. Do the same on it also.
Old 1st September 2011
  #8
Gear Nut
 

problem is I'm still tweaking sounds etc so I don't want to export to audio file. I just read that I can upgrade my ram to 8 gigs on my mac per the firmware update which I have currently. I think the problem is I need more ram.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Decoding memory usage based on activity monitor can be a bit challenging if you don't know all the nuances. Unix-like OSes, including OSX rarely leave any physical memory unused. Having only 20MB free doesn't really mean what it does on say Windows. The more meaningful amount is active and inactive; inactive means the memory is allocated to programs but those programs are not active. Its pretty easy for OSX to take this memory and give it to an active process if needed. You can pretty much consider inactive the same as free.

Buying more memory is a good thing generally to a point but in this case I doubt it's going to make a huge difference. Quit all other apps except GB. My guess is GB will not claim any additional memory.

Your symptoms sounds more like an over taxed CPU (sluggish UI being the main clue). Do you have any other programs running? When you look at activity monitor sort the processes by CPU usage. Is something other than GB at the top or a close second? Be sure you are showing all processes and not just user ones. It could be some background process is competing with GB for CPU and disk activity.

Are you using sampled instruments that rely on streaming? Streaming samplers place about the same stress on a hard drive as an audio track for each active note. These can add up quickly and drastically reduce the disk bandwidth for regular tracks.

Doug

Delora Software: Electronic Music Software
Old 2nd September 2011
  #10
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Insomniaclown's Avatar
 

I don't know if they made it better or not, but when I used garageband a few years ago for music making, it would choke up if the song went over a few minutes in length. That was just a few MIDI drum tracks and 3 or 4 audio tracks.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #11
Gear Nut
 

I can say that I rebooted, opened activity monitor and nothing was running using anywhere close to what garageband was. I had GB open and activity monitor open and free was only at 230MB this time. The timeline arrow was orange/red meaning if I did anything else I was going to run into problems. I closed garageband, opened up logic and I was down to just under 100 megs free with page outs starting to add up.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #12
Here for the gear
 

When GB is open with your project also open Activity Monitor. Sort the list by "Real Mem". That shows the actual physical memory currently held by each process. How much is GB using? What are the other big hitters?

Sort by the % CPU column and then start the project playing. What % CPU is GB using? Are there other big users and if so how much percent do they use. Since you have a dual core CPU the total can be up to 200%.

GB is currently a 32-bit app so there is a limit to how much additional memory will benefit. 4GB of system memory is a decent amount for music work unless you are using a large number of sampled instruments whose libraries use a large number of big samples.

What kind of software instruments are involved in this project?

Doug

Delora Software: Electronic Music Software
Old 2nd September 2011
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Garageband is using 1.72GB realmem , kernel task is using 327 megs then it drops down to windows server 82 megs and various other things. CPU% for garageband is at 130%

I have amplitude on 7 guitar tracks, addictive drums, ampeg plugin for the bass. Standard synth from garageband for keyboards, reverb and comp for acoustic guitar. The tracks might have a little more on them.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elvtnedge View Post
Garageband is using 1.72GB realmem , kernel task is using 327 megs then it drops down to windows server 82 megs and various other things. CPU% for garageband is at 130%

I have amplitude on 7 guitar tracks, addictive drums, ampeg plugin for the bass. Standard synth from garageband for keyboards, reverb and comp for acoustic guitar. The tracks might have a little more on them.
Amplitude eats CPU cycles for breakfast, bounce that track when you're happy with the sound.

Old 2nd September 2011
  #15
Gear Nut
 
jimcasy786's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elvtnedge View Post
I have amplitude on 7 guitar tracks, addictive drums, ampeg plugin for the bass. Standard synth from garageband for keyboards, reverb and comp for acoustic guitar. The tracks might have a little more on them.
Yeah, this is why it's running so slow. Upping the memory won't make much of a difference. I have 8 gigs in my mac and it doesn't help at all when trying to run too many CPU-intensive plugins, especially modelers . . . This is goes for any DAW . . .
Old 2nd September 2011
  #16
Gear Nut
 

So I should export the track as a wav file and then import it back in?
Old 2nd September 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
 

First save that version, then delete the track, drag and drop the audio and rename the song.

Then work on the new version, if you have to make adjustments, the original will still be there.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #18
Gear Nut
 

but where do I get the audio track from if I've deleted the track?
Old 3rd September 2011
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Why not just lock the tracks with the offending plugins (this is GB's version of freeze)? That will essential bounce the track with effects in place. If you need to make any changes all you then need to do is unlock it, make your changes, and then relock it.

Doug
Delora Software: Electronic Music Software
Old 5th September 2011
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Ok I'll give that a shot. Just wondering though, it seems the suggestions seem to be to stick to my 4 GB of Ram.. if 8 GB wouldn't make a difference for this particular song, then what would the extra ram be beneficial for in general in regards to recording?
Old 5th September 2011
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Whether increasing your RAM benefits your particular situation depends on how you work with your Mac. If you tend to have a number of apps open and running at the same time then additional RAM helps reduce the need for virtual memory accesses. But if you tend to only have one or two apps open at a time then the benefit depends on the app(s), and to a lesser extent how OSX works.

As I mentioned in a previous post UNIX-style OSes like to use "spare" RAM for system caches, especially hard drive caching. More RAM does benefit this use up to a point after which it is very much a diminishing return. In my experience for normal "daily use" (non-music apps) 4GB is a comfortable amount unless you like to have a lot of apps running at the same time.

Studio systems are a bit different in that usual practice is to not have anything other than the DAW running unless is a secondary app like rewiring Reason or something similar. When you are only running your DAW, in this case GarageBand, RAM usage depends a great deal on what plugins, loops and samples you use in your project. It also depends on how the app (GarageBand) uses RAM. Currently GB is a 32-bit app so it is restricted to less than 3GB of RAM, regardless of whether it is running on 64-bit capable Snow Leopard or Lion.

Most plugins do not require a large RAM footprint. The exceptions are sampled instruments that use large samples but do not stream them from the hard drive. In that case each sample set consumes RAM. Most sampled instruments these days use HDD streaming. They still consume a good deal of RAM though as streaming requires "priming" the playback so latency is manageable. This is done by storing the initial part of every sample in RAM buffers. The more complex (multi sampled) the instrument the more of these buffers needed.

Musicians who use a good deal of these sampled instruments, say a film composer, often run into RAM limitations. For them having a DAW or sampler plugin capable of addressing more than 3GB of RAM is essential, as is have more RAM. 16GB is not uncommon. The key though is unless your DAW, or at least the plugin, somehow supports 64-bit RAM addressing, you will not see any benefit above 4GB. Most of the advanced sampler plugins, Like East West Play or Kontact, now have a work around for the 3GB limitation, and if I recall correctly, so does EXS24 when configured properly in Logic. Whether this is supported in GarageBand I do not know.

In your case it seems the problem revolves around the use of a guitar amp plugin and not sampled instruments. Those do not require high amounts of RAM and won't derive any benefit from more RAM for this type of project.

My recommendation would be to stay with 4GB, it seems to be a good match to your current Mac's capabilities and your typical project. If you start working on projects that use big sample libraries then consider an upgrade, though I suspect at that point a new more capable Mac will be in order anyway.

cheers,

Doug
Old 5th September 2011
  #22
Gear Addict
 

The sad truth of the matter is that standard laptop hard-rives are not fast enough to run sample libraries. I'm surprised you were able to run more than just your drum library to be perfectly honest. Having more RAM won't save you from a slow HDD.
Old 5th September 2011
  #23
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Boschen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delora Software View Post
Why not just lock the tracks with the offending plugins (this is GB's version of freeze)? That will essential bounce the track with effects in place. If you need to make any changes all you then need to do is unlock it, make your changes, and then relock it.

Doug
Delora Software: Electronic Music Software

This was my first thought too. I've used that trick to unglue GB tracks that were plodding slow....

Also, try using an external drive. Memory is cheap atm.
Old 6th September 2011
  #24
Gear Nut
 

Thanks everyone. I do have logic and just slowly making my way over. My next tune I work on will solely be based in Logic. I'll be running the song off the external HDD.

Just wondering if the amp simps/fx for guitars in logic causes less strain compared to amplitude or guitar rig for example?
Old 6th September 2011
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Sometimes I do quick sketches in GB, sessions that struggle in GB usually play fine in Logic.

Take a look at the chart on this page
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music...hmarktest.html

Your machine is one of lower spec machines when compared to the current crop of Macs.

The freezing/locking tracks strategy will be your best bet, a faster internal hard drive will help, along with a fast external drive, but it will not cure lack of CPU power.

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