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Need More Native Processing Power Reverb/Delay Processors (HW)
Old 16th August 2007
  #1
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Rappy's Avatar
 

Need More Native Processing Power

Hello fine Gearslutz. I have a problem. I am using a Mac G5 PPC dual 2.0 processor with 3.5 GB of Ram. My DAW is Pro-Tools M-Powered with a M-Audio Profire Lightbridge and an Apogee AD-16 (not using a card, just lightpipe).

My mixes are becoming more and more complex and I find Pro Tools behaving sluggishly and sometimes freezing with the message that I have run out of processing power and need to remove plugins. No surprise there. The thing is, I LIKE to mix with plugins. My mixes typically have 40 or more tracks with 2 to 4 plugins inserted on each track. In addition, I will have 6 or more parallel effects such as reverbs and delays, plus a couple of inserts on the master fader. All of my plugins are RTAS.

When tracking musicians, I try to keep the H/W buffer at 128 samples to keep latency to a minimum. When mixing, I will switch the buffer to 512 or 1024 samples.

I am trying to avoid spending the cash on HD, which is probably what I need. Is there a way I can get my system to perform better using the load I described? I am not going to change the way I mix significantly, although I am trying to use more outboard gear and commit to sounds going to "tape" so that I will have to perform less processing in the mix.

Solutions I have though of are:

1) filling my last 2 remaining RAM slots on the G5; giving me 5.5 GB RAM total.

2) getting a 10,000 RPM hard drive dedicated for audio (internal or external?)

3) using an external 7200 RPM firewire 800 drive instead of the firewire 400 drive I am currently using

4) doing a clean install of Mac OS X 10.4.1 and reformatting my hard drives (they are pretty cluttered)

5) getting an SSL Duende or UAD-1 card to share some of the plugin processing duties

6) selling my G5 and getting a new Mac Pro (processor and RAM configuration recommendations appreciated)


Please let me know what you think will give be the best performance without breaking the bank. There might be another option that I haven't thought of, so I am open to suggestions.


Thank you very much for the help!

Cheers,

Rappy
Old 16th August 2007
  #2
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lowfreq33's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rappy View Post

1) filling my last 2 remaining RAM slots on the G5; giving me 5.5 GB RAM total.

5) getting an SSL Duende or UAD-1 card to share some of the plugin processing duties

6) selling my G5 and getting a new Mac Pro (processor and RAM configuration recommendations appreciated)

These will help. I'd reccomend the uad-1, I've heard that Duende w/protools is a little buggy.
For the Mac Pro it's simple. Get the fastest processor and the most Ram your budget will allow.
Old 16th August 2007
  #3
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UnDeFiNeD's Avatar
 

Quote:
5) getting an SSL Duende or UAD-1 card to share some of the plugin processing duties

6) selling my G5 and getting a new Mac Pro (processor and RAM configuration recommendations appreciated)
These are the only ones who'll do the trick, can't imagine how +2.0Gb could be a bottleneck on any system. And faster HD's won't cut it either, smart partitioning and workload dispension are almost allways sufficient.

I run a Quad core PC (XP) here, with 2Gb's of ram and 2 7200rpm disks here and I do 40 - 60 tracks with loads of native plugs on them, without my pc even breaks a sweat. Processor power is about 90% of the grunt in a strong DAW, the rest is easily 'sufficient'.
Old 16th August 2007
  #4
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Ram and hard drive wont do it, you could consider getting an outboard reverb or two, to take some of the load off of the cpu, or you could buy a faster computer, or your idea of a uad or the like would help but you would have to deal with latency. Your current computer handles a lot. sounds like you are really taxing it.

Frost
Old 16th August 2007
  #5
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If you do decide to get the Mac Pro, do a little research first. Depending on your plugins it may cost you some money to get Intel compatible versions. Waves comes to mind. I hear that there are a few companies who STILL haven't coded their plugs for Intel. I don't know if this is true, but it seems a little ridiculous, these chips have been in use for almost 2 years now.
Old 16th August 2007
  #6
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Are you using reverbs as inserts or sends. I started out using a ton of reverb plugs in my insert slots, but always ran out of processing power and my mixes didn't seem to gel. Now I run about three to four reverbs as sends and everything goes through those if needed. Reverbs, Compressors, and delays kill cpu so rethink how you use them. this will help big time.
Old 16th August 2007
  #7
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gainstages's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drummin4christ View Post
Are you using reverbs as inserts or sends. I started out using a ton of reverb plugs in my insert slots, but always ran out of processing power and my mixes didn't seem to gel. Now I run about three to four reverbs as sends and everything goes through those if needed. Reverbs, Compressors, and delays kill cpu so rethink how you use them. this will help big time.

EXCELENT point on the use of reverb. Normally, in a mix I think more than 3 reverbs is excessive. A great trick is to set up a short, mid length, and longer reverb that have similar character but different lengths, and then use them in your session - even sending the same track to more than one of the reverbs - for example, blending a lot of the short reverb with a tiny bit of the long reverb. if done right, it helps gel the mix together and you use less DSP because you only have 2-3 reverbs set up.

i say get the quad Mac - but beware of the cost of upgrading plugins like someone previously mentioned. the quad has made a world of difference in my studio.

one final suggestion is the waves DSP unit - if you use their plugs a lot it can help add some juice.
Old 17th August 2007
  #8
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Rappy's Avatar
 

Thank you everyone for the advice. Very helpful.

I am not using reverbs and delays as inserts on channels. I know that is a waste of processing, plus I like to pan the send on a stereo reverb so that I can spread it around the mix.

Most of my insert plugs ins consist of noise gates, compressors, EQ, and tape emulation.

I will take the suggestion and try using an outboard reverb. I have a TC Electronic M-One XL which I believe has S/PDIF in and out.

I will also try using a UAD-1 card for some compressors and EQs. If that doesn't do the trick, it sounds like I will eventually need a new Mac.

Thanks again,

Rappy
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