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PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

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PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby timmyninja » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:02 pm

Hi guys,

I'm looking at upgrading my PC. I currently use Cubase 5 with Toontrack's EZDrummer 2 and MusicLab's RealGuitar 5. My other sound sources are external, including a Yamaha Motif Rack.

I've only recently started using plugin instruments and hadn't realised how system heavy they can be. Latency is a particular issue, and I'm guessing that a basic souncard isn't up to the task of audio processing such as this.

What should I be looking at in terms of system spec? I currently use:
Intel Core i7-3770 CPU @ 3.40GHz
8Gb RAM
Windows 10 Pro 64bit
NVidia soundcard but I have no idea what the specs are.

I'm no technician by any means so it's very daunting with all the myriad options available. I'm aware that my system is only as good as it's weakest component, so what would be a realistic setup for my purposes?

Any advice humbly and gratefully accepted! Thanks all.
TJ
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby The Elf » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:28 pm

Welcome! :thumbup:

The PC sounds fine.

What audio interface are you using? And what DAW? Are you choosing the interface's ASIO driver in the DAW settings?

Or are you just using the PC's built-in audio? If so, you could try ASIO4ALL to see if you can reduce the latency, but in all honesty I would suggest you look at a basic ASIO-enabled USB audio interface, which should solve the latency problem and sound far better.
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby timmyninja » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:09 pm

The Elf wrote:Welcome! :thumbup:

The PC sounds fine.

What audio interface are you using? And what DAW? Are you choosing the interface's ASIO driver in the DAW settings?

Or are you just using the PC's built-in audio? If so, you could try ASIO4ALL to see if you can reduce the latency, but in all honesty I would suggest you look at a basic ASIO-enabled USB audio interface, which should solve the latency problem and sound far better.

Hi, thanks!

I'm using Cubase 5 and yes, I'm using ASIO4ALL with the PC's built in audio. I'm wondering if that's the main issue.

In terms of latency, playback is fine. But if I try and play the EZDrummer sounds in real time on my MIDI keyboard, that's where th latency occurs basically rendering it unplayable. Would an external audio interface sort that? Such as the Steinberg UR22 etc?

Really appreciate the advice, thanks :D
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby The Elf » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:27 pm

Yes, an external ASIO audio interface would most likely cure the latency. Nothing wrong with the UR22, but it wouldn't be my first choice. I like the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 as a beginner's interface.

But that's a very, VERY old version of Cubase. I would suggest upgrading to ensure everything keeps working...
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby gingertimmins » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:10 pm

Yeah get rid of cubase 5. I gave up on cubase at V5 and went with reaper for a few years. As my needs changed I moved back to cubase. I'm now just using elements as my recording needs extend to jotting down some ideas before showing a band.
Reading your post leads me to believe that your needs aren't much more demanding. I've just bought a tascam us-4x4 which came with cubase LE- a decent starting point for a DAW. The next size down from my interface is the us-2x2. That's 2 inputs. 2 outs plus midi.
I can recommend the hardware and I've not used cubase le but I dare say it will get you making tunes quickly.

Having said all of that, the elf knows his stuff, far more than I ever could so listen to him over me!
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby resistorman » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:10 am

Yep, get a good interface, it will travel with you for a while. My main production machine is not much newer than yours, and I can run a ton of plugins and tracks no problem... I use RME interfaces myself, though the other interfaces mentioned are fine too. I also have 16 gigs of memory, so you might monitor system memory once you upgrade the interface if you have problems running a lot of stuff.
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:08 pm

A few words, specs seem perfectly adequate for some serious audio.. I have an older i7 and run tonnes of plug ins on 100 track + projects in Cubase 9.0.2 and heavily use VSTi. (I am aware Serum/Diva/LuSH-101/Diversion/Repro) are the heavy CPU users here. At intuitive times (or when my ASIO I/O gets to 50pct or so) I bounce a few carefully selected parts. (ones I consider unlikely to change) Then I dump the nicely labelled MIDI parts down on a muted MIDI track at the bottom of the project.

Here is a screen shot of my latest track coming in at 119 tracks, a mix of VSTi running live, audio, samplers (Kontakt/Battery and Cubase sample track) and 100's and 100's of plug ins from multiple developers. In this session there is at least 25 VSTi's running live.. albeit for small sections of the 8 min arrangement. Seems about 50-55pct ASIO.

(Make sure multi processsing is set up in the relevant Cubase settings)

Image

My CPU is a i7 2600, 16GB - Cubase 9.02. RME 9632 PCI card jobby. I use a basic £30.00 ATI/AMD PCI-E Video card. RME drivers are stable.. ASIO performance as good as most. (Actually an old ECHO Layla PCI card used a tad less ASIO in my system) but reliability is good.

I have tweaked the W10 OS system a bit. But nothing radical, just the usual bits and bobs which many say have no bearing on system performance anyway these days.

Cubase 9.0.2 is robust on my system so I don't play the software upgrade game. Working is working for me.

Any specific synths causing you hassles ? Some you can enable multi core support on the synth setup page itself. (Diva and LuSH-101 for example) so look into that. Employing freeze / bouncing synths as part of your work flow is a good thing. (Now I have got used to it it does not impeded my workflow/ceativity) And in fact it can sometimes promote creativity as a side effect as you can process individual synth parts (audio bounced) in different ways other than a VSTi running live.

It also make the system feel super robust, smooth and responsive.

I cannot wait to find spare time to start a new track. :thumbup:
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby CS70 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:37 pm

timmyninja wrote:I'm using Cubase 5 and yes, I'm using ASIO4ALL with the PC's built in audio. I'm wondering if that's the main issue.

In terms of latency, playback is fine. But if I try and play the EZDrummer sounds in real time on my MIDI keyboard, that's where th latency occurs basically rendering it unplayable. Would an external audio interface sort that? Such as the Steinberg UR22 etc?

Really appreciate the advice, thanks :D

Yes, most likely it’s the main issue. Since ASIO4ALL wraps over you regular Windows sound subsystem (which is slow due to the number of software object which processs the data stream) it’s gonna be even slower than without.

If you had a newer DAW supporting WDM it might help, but I doubt it existed at all when Cubase 5 was new.

For the interface, you want to reason on what you need in terms of i/o and preamps and take it from there.
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby timmyninja » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:13 pm

Guys, thanks SO much for all the info and advice. Really appreciated.

I never considered upgrading from Cubase 5 as it does what I require of it, however, if a newer version is just, well, 'nicer' to use I will look into that.

Once again, thanks for your insightful and really useful help.

TJ :)
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:17 pm

I consider myself fairly old school here, whatever that really means. RME PCI audio card and I use actual 5 pin MIDI still and not USB keyboards/controllers etc. I think when I first started using PC's many, many years ago I knew soundblaster type cards were never going to cut it. A good MIDI interface was esssential. I run my driver latency at about 12ms and it normally stays there, fine for playing in from a keyboard. I may increase that towards the end of a track when I am not playing in any more, but more often than not I forget and it stays put.

You probably need an ASIO supported card for good MIDI and decent latency courtesy of a well written and updated driver. When you say basic soundcard do you mean the one built in to the motherboard/soundblaster type ?

That would most likely be a weak link (if you are getting drop outs/to long a delay on inputting notes, even with plenty of CPU horse power). If you are happy with Cubase 5 and it works to your staisfaction, great... no real need for the latest version of Cubase.

Latency comes down to the PC (latency induced by hardware data busses), the soundcard and the sound card driver as a combination. This free application gives some kind of information as to whther you pc is up to the task of real time audio.. If yours is well configured I don't doubt it is. (my cpu is older than yours and the motherboard specs/chipset nothing to write home about)

http://www.resplendence.com/latencymon

There are so many soundcards available. I tend to personally go for expansion slot cards as I find they seem to operate the most reliable in my PC's. I use an Access Virus over USB and try and avoid too much going on with the USB side of things as it needs the full bandwidth of any assigned USB bus. Everyone's needs and system is a bit different but low latency ASIO interface is a must for MIDI keyboard input.

Keyboard (Yamaha SY-35 I have had for an age) on a MIDI input
Audio on PCI
Access Virus over USB

And it works well.
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Re: PC upgrade for Cubase and plugins, where to start...?

Postby ef37a » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:03 pm

TJ, if you go for the NI KA6 you will also get a 'lite' but much later version of Cubase and this might be all you need for some time and even if not it should point up the deficiencies of C5?

You will also get a cheap upgrade option. The interface is THE most stable AI I have ever used of about 6 in over 10 years and delvers very low latency even on a much slower PC than yours.

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