Resource Management Techniques
Modern computers are getting more and more powerful each year. But many of us are not running the fastest and most cutting-edge machines, and many can not afford even an old high-performance machine. Though a better computer can make the composing experience much smoother, there are a variety of tricks and techniques we can use to fully optimize whatever gear we have and get more performance out of it as we go. This is where it is really important to understand the hardware of your computer, because you would want to take these actions to specifically target and improve the performance of specific components.
Resource Management techniques:
1. Restart your computer
Restarting your computer is one of the most basic but most essential methods to utilize while practicing resource management. Doing so clears the RAM and only applications that run on start up will be utilizing CPU upon restarting. Make sure to disable any non-essential start up programs for maximum gains here.
2. Change the “Nice” settings of your program
On unix based systems (Mac and Linux), you can open up the terminal and manipulate the “nice” settings of your application. Essentially what this does is prioritize the computers resources to the application this is applied to. You can find a tutorial on how to do so here, and remember you will need to do this each time you run the program.
3. Internet Disconnection
Force your computer to use the stronger and more reliable connection of ethernet by disabling wi-fi entirely on your computer. Also turn off Bluetooth if you are not using it.
4. Set your composing gear up on an isolated network
Create an isolated sub-net for your composing rig. Doing so dedicates the entire bandwidth of your network traffic to your composing system, rather than sharing the bandwidth will all of the users and IoT devices on the rest of your network.
5. Deactivating “additional” mics (Treat libraries as a proxy)
If you are not using multiple mic positions, you do not need to load them all. This will save on RAM. If you do need to use multiple mic’s, treat the main mic as a proxy while you write. Once your writing is complete, go back and bounce stems section by section with the “proper” mix loaded and enabled.
6. Working in Stages vs. All at once
Similar to the last point, it can be beneficial to write your music in stages rather than performing all of the tasks of production all at once. Compose your music before you mix. Bounce to stems/stripes and mix audio files rather than live from the midi/instrument tracks. The goal being to dedicate your system to one area of production at a time.
7. Proxy Videos
Creating proxy videos with a software like handbrake can cut down on the processing power your computer needs to perform up to speed. A 4k video will require much more processing power to playback smoothly than a 360p video, and you don’t need to sharpest of images to write music to picture.
8. Mixing in a Separate session or DAW
After printing stripes/stems, it can be beneficial to import these into a clean session. The extra tracks and routing needed for creating the music still takes up extra resources even if they aren’t being utilized while mixing.
9. Deactivating programs in background
If it is not essential to composing, you should fully close or deactivate programs that run in the background (such as client services like Adobe Creative Cloud).
10. Offloading to satellites/outboard gear
The more you can spread your processing out off your main computer the better. The largest benefit of outboard gear and VEP servers is the load they can remove from your computer.
11. Utilizing smaller templates
If you are squeezing every ounce of performance out of your computer and still not getting enough, perhaps you should be utilizing smaller templates. If you are not using every track in your projects every time, it may be worth cutting down to only the essentials.
12. Freezing Tracks/printing
Working in stages and printing/freezing tracks as you go allows you to disable and offload kontakt instances when you are no longer using them, freeing up resources for you to load other instances/plug-ins (perhaps a kontakt instance of a different instrument section)
13. Buffer Size
Manipulating the buffer size in your DAW is one of the first resource management techniques composers learn. Be aware of this, as a shorter buffer reduces latency BUT puts increased strain on the CPU. A larger buffer size can be beneficial while mixing, freeing up more resources for your plugins to use as latency is less of an issue while mixing than while tracking.
14. Running plugins as send effects
Running plugin’s as send effects rather than loading a new instance on each track individually substantially improves performance. One reverb on an aux track is far more efficient than thirty-five reverbs on thirty five instrument tracks. It can also make it much easier to mix as well.
15. Deactivating plugins when not in use
Some plug-ins still utilize system resources, even when no audio or midi data is running through them. Synths for example may have an LFO that is constantly running, even when the instrument itself is not in use. Be aware that not all plug-ins are created equal in this respect and take care to disable anything not in use. Or better yet, have everything disabled by default and enable them only as necessary.