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Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

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Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby Panas1 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:05 am

Pretty much what the title says. I need the DAW at 64 samples buffer size but sample rate can stay at 44.1 for now. I'm using about 16 audio tracks and a few MIDI tracks in a project and some processing and fx plugins. Ableton's CPU meter is at about 40%. Occasionally I get pops and clicks in the audio that sound like a buffer issue. I'm using a Firewire interface (MOTU 896mk3) which is also piping in more audio via optical ADAT.
Would switching to a Thunderbolt interface ( the Mac has both TB and FW) give improved performance, which may fix the issue?
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Re: Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby G-Doubleyou » Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:22 pm

How much RAM do you have?

Free space on system drive?
Do you have a dedicated projects drive?

:?:
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Re: Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby Panas1 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 12:17 pm

Thanks. 8 GB RAM, SSD drive with free space (at least 80GB free). No dedicated audio drive. Most of the audio is coming from external hardware.
The Mini has a second drive but it's not an SSD so I'm only using it for backups and storage.
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Re: Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby cyrano.mac » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:29 am

Panas1 wrote:Would switching to a Thunderbolt interface ( the Mac has both TB and FW) give improved performance, which may fix the issue?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: it depends on the interface. The biggest problem with TB (and USB-C) lies in the adapters. Apple's adapters tend to work, but not always.

Have you tested performance @48 KHz?

In my experience, 48 KHz sometimes works better. And a higher sample rate yields lower latency. A bit, that is.

It's a question of finding the tuning point. That doesn't depend on raw power, but on having the system (mac + interface) run reliably.

You also might want to experiment with switching off services. The cloud can interfere at times. In the lastest T2 Macs, fi, even network time has interfered for some. So try disabling Time Machine, logging out of you Apple account...

Also, play around with screen resolution. Depending on the DAW in use, it might use modern graphics (Metal, as Logic does), or old-fashioned graphics (like Reaper does). That CAN make a boatload of difference in processing time. Metal is often twice as performant.

It's worthwhile taking notes. I never seem to remember *exactly* what was wrong if I return to a setup weeks later. But that's me. Maybe your memory is better?
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Re: Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:24 pm

I'd be checking to see if there are any plugins that are using a high proportion of CPU or possibly something graphics intensive. For utmost reliability I would suggest using no plug-ins during recording if possible. Have you switched networking off?
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Re: Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby Panas1 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:57 am

Thanks all. My Mac Mini is strictly optimised for music, so no networking or Apple account :)

So it sounds like I may not see any benefit in splashing out for a TB interface..

I may have to optimise my project and freeze some tracks then. .
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Re: Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby cyrano.mac » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:04 am

Unless you're running a very old system on that Mini (say, Snow Leopard), you do have an Apple account. Or didn't you ever upgrade?

That said, a 2012 Mac Mini should easily handle 16 tracks. I don't know Ableton, but I suppose it's no slouch. Which leaves two things: the MOTU driver and plugins.

Is the MOTU driver up-to-date?
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Re: Mac Mini 2012: Thunderbolt vs Firewire audio interface and audio buffer size?

Postby G-Doubleyou » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:27 pm

I suggest more RAM, it won't hurt.

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