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Old 03-27-2021, 08:54 PM   #1
woodslanding
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Default Settings to improve live performance with Reaper?

My current host for live work is Usine, and I have a live performance computer that has been custom built and thoroughly tweaked for low latency audio. With Usine, I run a mixer with 15 vsts, and can typically play 8-10 vstis ( a mixture of Reaktor, Kontakt, Keyscape, Synthmaster, etc, layered and controlled from two keyboards) running through 4 effect channels, at 128 samples, with my RME interface (with lots of playing and big chords) before I get dropouts. The CPU starts to cause clicks at about 39%, according to Usine's performance meter.

Under Reaper, once I get the 15 vsts loaded into tracks, I'm getting dropouts with just one instance of Reaktor playing a couple of notes! (although the other instruments are loaded and using processor, they are not playing any notes at all, and the reaktor instances don't even have ensembles loaded yet) and meanwhile Reaper's total CPU is registering barely 20%.

Are there any preference settings that might help this? I'm guessing that my routing is somehow keeping Reaper from making good use of multi-threading, but I'm not sure what to change. Does anyone have any tips on routing do's and dont's for live use? I know Usine is well adapted for multi-threading, but I expected Reaper to be as well.

I realize, I should bypass unused instruments, although I don't want to lose the tails of sounds when I turn off an instrument, so that's going to take some scripting--not sure exactly how to approach that. But still I feel like I shouldn't be seeing dropouts with Reaper working this little. (They are consistent clicks, not the occasional glitch from a bad driver or something.)

Any thoughts welcomed. I would really like to move to Reaper, as it is much more stable, and I like scripting in Lua much better than Delphi!

Windows 10, intel 5775c processor, Samsung M.2 NVME drives for OS and samples.
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Last edited by woodslanding; 03-27-2021 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 03-28-2021, 12:34 PM   #2
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To get started, I'd say two things :

Avoid putting fx on Master track

Experiment with the buffer menu options regarding multiprocessoring live input, number of cores involved etc...

The cpu you want to look at is the RTCpu (real time cpu). If I remember correctly, it's an option within the cpu minitoring window. Better to keep it under 20% If you want no stutter at all, and it's always higher than the Cpu meter in my experience.

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Old 03-31-2021, 12:55 AM   #3
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If you want to save processing power just use mute automate in combination with volume automation. Unmute in the automation lane and then fade the track in and out with the tail length you want and you can the mute the track again once the volume is at 0.
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Old 04-21-2021, 05:15 PM   #4
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If you use a GFX card instead of the built in GPU it will turn the L4 (victim cache) into a cache used with your audio apps.

Your CPU isn’t locked but if overclocked will choke because the cache (ring buss) is stock @ 1800 MHz, and will clock up to 2200 MHz before choking, as it is tied to the CPU.

My 5775C is a spare to my i7, but works great @ stock 3.3GHz. No difference in performance to my i7’s.

But using a discrete GFX card makes all the difference.
I use an EVGA GTX 40 dollar dual monitor card.
I also use Bidule as a live host because it’s modular, and strictly for hosting instruments, no automation tracks needed. Hardware Sequencer handles that with synced lighting.
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Old 04-22-2021, 03:34 AM   #5
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There are JSFXes that allow for "mute when volume down" in "real" live (not sequenced) application controlled by Midi.

-Michael
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Old 04-23-2021, 10:04 AM   #6
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wow, cool tip about the gpu. A lot cheaper than building a new computer, so I will definitely give it a go! Hope I can find a card small enough to fit. Might need a right-angle riser.... actually I already have one, from thinking about adding an RME pcie card!

Thanks!!

Bidule has been promising user gui widgets would be in version 1.0 since I stopped using it in 2006! What are they at now? v .99999998? :0
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Old 05-05-2021, 05:40 AM   #7
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Default At risk of stating the bleeding obvious...

... have you played with the buffer settings here too?

(Options --> Preferences --> Audio --> Device)

It might be worth tweaking the Block Size in what ever Windows audio driver you're using (such as ASIO, or whatever). This can make a big difference on Windows (it's not an issue on Macs). It's due to the way Windows handles audio. Put simplistically (and it is more complex than this) sound in Windows is essentially a stream of audio data chunks that have to wait for a Windows system interrupt before they can be processed. If you have a big buffer full of stuff this can cause clicks and dropouts; a small buffer is more likely to get processed smoothly and quickly by Windows, but it humps CPU consumption up. It's a trade off. This can cause audible and measurable performance changes depending on what you're trying to do.

I don't use Reaper live (at least not right now), but I do change this setting for studio use depending on whether I'm recording or comping/mixing. In my case, I want the low latency when recording, so drop this value right down, but at the expense of greater CPU load as I mentioned. When mixing/comping with loads of FX and virtual synths in action, I can put up with the occasional drop out (and if I can't, well it's easy to change it back down a bit). Mostly this works well for me. I have a grunty machine anyway, so in my case it's a small-ish tweak; if you're a newb on a cheap laptop this might matter much more (I can see that you're not! )

Conscious that this isn't precisely what you're describing, but you might find it improves your experience in various ways. You sound like you know what you're up to so you probably thought about this already, but just in case! Good luck anyway.
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:41 AM   #8
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When I said '128 samples' that is the setting I was referring to. I know I can go up to 256 samples to give Reaper more time to compute the blocks, but playing at fast tempos with that latency is really unpleasant. I had to run at that blocksize for years, (first with a Dell SF desktop, and then a mac mini) and being able to go to 128 with this computer made me feel like I was playing a musical instrument again.

Not worth compromising that setting for Reaper's sake...

still need to look into the options mentioned above, though. Haven't had time to do that yet, still using my old software for the moment.

-e
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XITE-1/4LIVE View Post
If you use a GFX card instead of the built in GPU it will turn the L4 (victim cache) into a cache used with your audio apps.

I use an EVGA GTX 40 dollar dual monitor card.
I have never bought a video card. Is there some minimum requirement I should look for in this application? I've heard that some folks have had issues with nvidia cards wiith audio...

Well, I'll scout around anyway.
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Old 05-05-2021, 11:46 AM   #10
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found this for $38 on ebay used. we'll see how it works.

Asus 2GB DDR3 R5230-SL-2GD3-L Radeon R5 230 2gb Video Graphics Card
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Old 05-06-2021, 04:14 AM   #11
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Default It's not Reaper, it's Windows...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodslanding View Post
When I said '128 samples' that is the setting I was referring to. I know I can go up to 256 samples to give Reaper more time to compute the blocks, but playing at fast tempos with that latency is really unpleasant. I had to run at that blocksize for years, (first with a Dell SF desktop, and then a mac mini) and being able to go to 128 with this computer made me feel like I was playing a musical instrument again.

Not worth compromising that setting for Reaper's sake...

still need to look into the options mentioned above, though. Haven't had time to do that yet, still using my old software for the moment.

-e

Just to be clear, Windows is the constraining factor specifically here, not Reaper. Anyway, have you tried going lower? You don't actually have to be constrained by powers of 2 (even though people tend to go for that); what happens if you set it at 100 or 90? Might be worth a go. Agree with exploring all the other options too; as I said -- good luck. These things are a pain until you find the right combo. My grunty desktop is great for studio work but it would be a rubbish thing to use for live, so I feel your pain.
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Old 05-06-2021, 08:50 AM   #12
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Lower? That is going to require more processing and cause more dropouts. So no have not tried that. If you are having trouble processing blocks, you need to make them LARGER, to give more time for the computer to compute each block. I could try going up to 192 if its supported, but honestly REAPER is not even close to handling the load at the moment, so I'm looking elsewhere.

And btw, the blocksize is generally handled by the interface, so you are limited to the options your interface supplies. You can have reaper request a different blocksize, (and some interfaces only work this way) but I trust RME to understand what blocksizes work for their hardware.

And to be clear, although the OS and the computer are ultimately the problem, I am able to run the 15 VSTs on the same computer under the same OS with the same blocksize and equivalent routing under my previous host, USINE, with no dropouts, whereas REAPER is choking playing just one, once I have all the routing set up.

So I do hope to make reaper itself run more efficiently somehow. I'm mostly wondering if I need to set up the busses differently. I will put together a wiring diagram, and see if folks have a recommendation for doing it differently.
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Old 05-06-2021, 01:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodslanding View Post
Lower? That is going to require more processing and cause more dropouts. So no have not tried that. If you are having trouble processing blocks, you need to make them LARGER, to give more time for the computer to compute each block. I could try going up to 192 if its supported, but honestly REAPER is not even close to handling the load at the moment, so I'm looking elsewhere.

And btw, the blocksize is generally handled by the interface, so you are limited to the options your interface supplies. You can have reaper request a different blocksize, (and some interfaces only work this way) but I trust RME to understand what blocksizes work for their hardware.

And to be clear, although the OS and the computer are ultimately the problem, I am able to run the 15 VSTs on the same computer under the same OS with the same blocksize and equivalent routing under my previous host, USINE, with no dropouts, whereas REAPER is choking playing just one, once I have all the routing set up.

So I do hope to make reaper itself run more efficiently somehow. I'm mostly wondering if I need to set up the busses differently. I will put together a wiring diagram, and see if folks have a recommendation for doing it differently.

OK. Just to be 100% clear, I am ONLY referring to the "BlockSize" setting. You are definitely correct; other settings associated with groups, routings, how VSTs are connected etc are almost certainly to do with Reaper. And as I think you're saying, the way that you're doing routings and groupings and using busses and VSTs etc may well have an impact. Agree with all that.


My post is SPECIFICALLY about the "BlockSize" setting. In that case, I can assure you I'm right (or at least, I'm right about what I'm trying to say; it's possible that I expressed myself badly, of course! ). The lower this BlockSize, the lower the latency but the HIGHER the CPU consumption. That's precisely how it works in Windows. And that's the tradeoff. And that's why I proactively change it depending on what I'm doing. I'm taking NO account of other Reaper settings, the plugins you're using, your routing, and so on when I say this. That will I'm sure make a difference as you describe.



Rather than debate that for the rest of time; I was looking at other suggestions, too, that may help.



I wondered if you'd looked at the Buffering settings? I think Regisfofo may have mentioned this earlier; it's in Options --> Preferences --> Audio --> Buffering. Have you dabbled in changing the threading options? One thing that "The Reaper Blog" YouTuber says (and I have my doubts but, y'know -- might be worth a go) is to have the "Audio reading/processing threads" plus the "Allow live FX multiprocessing on ??? CPUs" to add up to the total amount of processing cores on your computer, with 3/4 going to the "Audio reading/processing..." threads setting and the rest on the "Allow Live FX multi..." setting. You have to disable the top box that says "Auto detect the number of needed audio processing threads" to do this.



Have you got anywhere trying that or anything like it? I have changed this myself and it definitely imrpoved things when I was mixing. But that's not live performance, so don't hang your hat on it. It even warns you about low-latency performance. As well, changing the value of the media buffer in this dialogue may make a difference. Given how crucial this is to you, you might find some experimentation works wonders. I think the defaults seem to suggest that it's aimed at lower powered machines from a previous era, and I wonder if different defaults might suit you better. It's just choosing precisely what that should be isn't straightforward to pin down. Might be worth a pop though. What happens if you try changing these things?

One last thing; have you looked at this tool? This helped me figure out some niggles a while back. Check out https://resplendence.com/latencymon as this give you a big clue about how your Windows system is running audio at an in-depth techie level.

Last edited by SiddieNam; 05-06-2021 at 01:48 PM. Reason: Forgot to add some useful detail!
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Old 05-06-2021, 07:40 PM   #14
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Find the sweet spot for live multi-fx processing.

In prefs/audio, raise the number of CPU's by one. Start playback and toggle record arming some tracks. Check RTCPU in the performance meter (right click to enable RTCPU) and keep raising that CPU value in prefs until there's little difference between armed and not armed and then stop when it's not improving anymore.

Restart playback each time you raise the value to refresh the buffer and see the result.

Personally, I can't separate mixing process from recording process, so when I need to record in a project that's become very heavy, I'll just temporarily mute my fx sends and bypass master fx (using the preference to reduce cpu of muted tracks). I can never stay at 128 buffer size throughout a project and always need to raise it by the end, but little tricks like that can allow me to bring it back down when I need to.
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Old 05-08-2021, 03:26 PM   #15
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Thank you all!!

I will try these all the next chance I get (rig is in studio for sessions the next few days) Report forthcoming. Glad there are so many options to consider, that gives me hope. Really want to move everything to REAPER if it can work.

Still trying to get my head around how a smaller blocksize could lead to fewer dropouts, but I'll try that too.

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Old 05-10-2021, 08:55 AM   #16
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You can use scripts that turn off tracks that you don't need when you're not using them.

And I agree with other posters, keep FX off of master track. Instead put the FX you want on each track.

Consider this script that automatically disables FX on tracks that are not currently needed:

https://stash.reaper.fm/v/41970/Live_Keys_Scripts.zip
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Old 05-10-2021, 09:55 AM   #17
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Yikes, super cool script, THANK YOU. Definitely going in the setup!!

That said, I do want to be able to run most tracks most of the time, so I'll still need to figure out some other tweaks...
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Old 05-10-2021, 10:47 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodslanding View Post
Yikes, super cool script, THANK YOU. Definitely going in the setup!!

That said, I do want to be able to run most tracks most of the time, so I'll still need to figure out some other tweaks...
The script only works on the first 16 tracks. If you need some tracks that always stay 'on' and are not effected by it, simply create 16+ tracks... the ones above 16 will be ignored by the script.
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