If you are having a problem with high CPU usage in Studio One, below you will find some tips for troubleshooting your system.
1. Operating System Optimization: Make sure that your operating system is fully optimized. If you are running Windows 8 or 10, please refer to the following two articles. For macOS, please read the information below the two Windows articles.
macOS does not normally need as much tuning as Windows. It is recommended that you disable any cloud technology such as iCloud Drive to make sure that you are not backing up the same folder that you are writing audio to. Here is an article from Apple that explains how to disable iCloud Drive and how to get your Desktop and Documents folder back to the local machine that you are working on.
If you are running the macOS operating system on a MacBook Pro, there is an option for GPU switching that you will need to disable. In short, this option allows your computer to switch graphics systems when more than one system is available and battery power becomes limited. Here is an article from Apple that explains this feature and how to disable or enable it.
When upgrading from one version of macOS to another, it is recommended that you reset your NVram. Here is an article from Apple that explains this process.
Most of the problems that are seen on macOS revolve around 3rd-party applications. Remove any 3rd-party antivirus software from your system. Currently, the application "Parallels" is not supported and can cause problems with GPU functions. There is also a program called "Lil Snitch" that has been found to cause problems on the Mojave operating system.
2. Performance Monitor: Another common place to look for high CPU usage is the Performance Monitor in Studio One. Below is a screenshot of the Performance Monitor. The Performance Monitor will show you the CPU load (shown as percentage) for the core that has the highest CPU usage. This number will NOT match what you see in the Windows Performance Monitor or the macOS Activity Monitor, being that it is not a cumulative representation of all CPU usage.
Although there is a lot to be said about this window in Studio One which will be addressed in another article, in terms of CPU usage, you will want to click the "CPU" tab to arrange your plug-ins by CPU usage, and then try disabling them one at a time to see if you can isolate the issue to a 3rd-party plug-in. If you are able to isolate the issue to a plug-in please proceed to step 4 of this article.
3. Disable Services to identify where the issue is coming from: In Studio One, you can go to Studio One>Options (Preferences on a Mac)>Advanced>Services and disable ARA, VST2.4, VST3, AU(Mac Only), and ReWire. Once you have disabled all of these services, close and re-open Studio One. See if there is a specific service that can be attributed to the CPU usage. If so, turn all services back on and see if you can isolate where the problem is coming from. If ARA is causing the issue, this would more than likely be Melodyne or Vocalign causing the problem. If ReWire is causing the problem, it is possibly an issue with the driver for your audio interface or the ReWire slave.
***Disabling services may seem like a coarse way to troubleshoot high CPU usage, but if it is not possible to identify an individual plug-in that might be causing the issue per the instructions in step 2 of this article, this will at least give you a definitive answer as to whether or not a virtual instrument, plug-in, or application might be causing the issue or if an adjustment to your workflow is necessary.
4. Limits to CPU usage: There are certain situations in which you can possibly hit a ceiling with CPU usage, regardless of the chip that you are running. The first one to mention is a mixer channel or console channel. A mixer channel or console channel cannot be load-balanced across multiple cores and will be locked to one core. If you load too many effects plug-ins on one channel, it is possible that you can spike your CPU. To resolve the issue, you can bounce your audio to commit to your edits before adding new plug-ins to the channel.
Another limit that you can hit is with multi-instruments. If you have stacked multiple virtual instruments on one channel to create a multi-instrument, this new multi-instrument will not be load-balanced across multiple cores. This can spike your CPU as well.
***With Studio One 4.5 and above, multi-instruments are now load balanced across multiple cores, giving you up to 70% more CPU power. Below are 2 excerpts from the release notes for 4.5...
-Improved CPU performance with Multi Instruments
-Improved CPU performance with Mai Tai, Sample One XT, Impact XT and Presence XT
***If you find that you are dealing with high CPU usage with just one or two plug-ins added to a song, you will want to contact the manufacturer of the plug-in for support.
For these reasons, it is more important to have a CPU that has a higher speed than one that has more cores when working with audio applications. For more information on what to consider when building or purchasing a computer for audio, please refer to the article below.
5. Audio Interfaces: Another area that can create problems with high CPU usage is your audio interface. This is normally the cause when you open a new song in Studio One and without any tracks or plugins added, you are already seeing the CPU spike. If this is the scenario, go into Studio One>Options (Preferences on macOS)>Audio Setup and switch over to the built-in audio on a Mac or use "Windows Audio" on a PC. If "Windows Audio" is not an option for you or you don't have an internal soundcard, you can try downloading a free program called ASIO4all from asio4all.com. This free driver will work with almost all audio interfaces and will allow you to determine if the problem is with the driver of your audio interface. If switching to a different audio interface resolves the issue, try contacting the manufacturer of your device for information about firmware updates, driver updates, and operating system compatibility.
Device Block Size and Dropout Protection: Two settings in Studio One that work hand and hand that are worth mentioning in terms of CPU usage are "Device Block Size" and "Dropout Protection." For more information on these two options, please refer to the link to our online Studio One Reference Manual below or the Studio One Reference Manual that is available within the Studio One app in the Help menu.
***In regards to "Dropout Protection," start with a “Medium” setting first, then either increase or decrease Dropout Protection level until the best effect on CPU is achieved.
***Dropout protection does not necessarily mean lower CPU metering. It means you can process more tracks or instruments before you get audio dropouts.***
Physical Cabling: It is also possible that the cabling for your audio interface can be the issue. If you have identified that you are dealing with high CPU usage because of your audio interface, and your device is a USB device, try using a different USB cable. If you are using a USB3 cable, try using USB2 or vice versa. You might also want to try using a powered USB Hub.
6. Power Settings and Core Parking:
***Please take a look at the link below for information on disabling c-states to get rid of pops and clicks...
If you are running a Windows operating system, you can open the Windows Resource Monitor to determine if Windows is parking any of your cores. If you open the "Performance" tab in the Windows Task Manager, you will see a link to open the "Resource Monitor" at the bottom of that window. Under each core, you will see if it is parked or active. Windows can park cores to save battery life and lower power consumption when you are doing tasks that do not require all of the cores of your CPU.
***There are registry hacks out there on the web for disabling core parking, but it is hard to predict the future of Microsoft updates and how they may perform on your system after removing functionality from the registry. Below you will find safe ways to set up your system to avoid core parking as to avoid causing damage to your operating system.
If you are running an AMD processor, take a look at the following kb from Microsoft to see if it is applicable to your system. This kb from Microsoft will disable the core parking feature in Windows 7 for AMD FX, AMD Opteron 4200 Series, or AMD Opteron 6200 Series processors. Make sure that you read the full article to understand exactly what you are doing here.
For AMD processors, we have also seen problems with the CPU management software from the manufacturer of your motherboard as well as the CPU. For example, if you have installed a 3rd-party CPU management utility from AMD or ASUS and you are running into CPU problems, uninstall it.
For Intel processors and all other systems, it is recommended to set the power profile for your Windows operating system to "High Performance." This is explained in the Windows Optimization articles referenced in item 1 of this article.
While we are on the subject of power settings, we want to mention C-states. C-states are the different power settings for your CPU as dictated by the BIOS of your computer. C-states determine whether or not a core is receiving power. You do not normally need to manage C-states, but if all else fails, you can disable C-states in your BIOS. This will consume more power, but will prevent any cores from shutting off. If there is not an option to disable C-states altogether in the BIOS for your motherboard, C0 will set your CPU to be wide open.
7. BIOS and Heat Problems:
Make sure that you have visited the manufacturer of your Motherboard's web site and that you have installed the latest BIOS for your system. It is not uncommon for a manufacturer to release an update to the BIOS that addresses CPU performance issues.
To begin with, load your optimized defaults for your BIOS. This is a common setting available for the BIOS on most systems. The main setting that deals with CPU performance is the Front Side Bus or FSB. On older systems, it used to be necessary to set the correct FSB setting for your BIOS. If your CPU is running at a slower speed than it is rated for when looking at your system in the operating system, increase the FSB. This is also how people over-clock their systems. Be sure not to increase the FSB beyond the recommended settings for the CPU as this can damage your system. If there is any question, contact the manufacturer of your motherboard. For i-series processors, the FSB is usually set to "Auto" so that it can use the turbo function to speed up as necessary.
Another setting in your BIOS is Hyperthreading. If you are running an Intel system, you will most-likely want to enable Hyperthreading as it will double the number of logical processors on your system.
Another option in your BIOS is related to temperature of your system. Normally there is a setting for how hot you will allow your system to get before turning off the system to avoid damage. That is fine and it is recommended that you keep the default setting. One thing to keep in mind is the turbo setting on some Intel i-Series processors. What happens is that the processor will overclock as necessary when resources are being demanded. The problem though is that if the system gets too hot, it will no longer overclock or "turbo." This locks the CPU at the native speed of the processor and can slow your system down. Try loading the same song in Studio One with a cold system that was just booted up and see if you run into the same problem. If you notice that the CPU spikes are occurring after some period of use on your system, try installing a new heat sync and fan, case fans, or a laptop tray that has fans on it. When installing a heat sink, it is recommended to purchase premium thermal paste. The paste with silver nitrate in it always seems to perform well.