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#3061924 12/28/20 03:43 AM
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Would a higher core-count CPU with lower individual clock speeds (CPU A) provide better performance while using VSTs opposed to a lower core-count CPU with higher individual clock speeds (CPU B)? For example, CPU A would be a Ryzen Threadripper, and CPU B would be an Intel i9-10900K. And i'm assuming faster clock speeds for RAM would help too, like 2600 mhz vs 3200 mhz RAM, right? Would faster gigs per second usbs help too?


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I run a 2.4ghz i3 with an ssd and 4 gigs of Ram with a focusrite Scarlet solo USB interface. Gives me glitch free playing with every VST I've played so far.

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When calling out a processor I think it would be helpful to be more specific.
Originally Posted by OU812
I run a 2.4ghz i3 with an ssd and 4 gigs of Ram with a focusrite Scarlet solo USB interface. Gives me glitch free playing with every VST I've played so far.
You mentioned an i3 processor. But I found 144 different i3 processors listed online. And 7 of them were listed as 2.4 GHz.

The situation is similar with the i5 and i7 processors (around 250 different ones in each category).

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Originally Posted by joemama42O
Would a higher core-count CPU with lower individual clock speeds (CPU A) provide better performance while using VSTs opposed to a lower core-count CPU with higher individual clock speeds (CPU B)? For example, CPU A would be a Ryzen Threadripper, and CPU B would be an Intel i9-10900K. And i'm assuming faster clock speeds for RAM would help too, like 2600 mhz vs 3200 mhz RAM, right? Would faster gigs per second usbs help too?

Both are probably overkill for any virtual pianos. Even a decent dual core laptop CPU can run most pianos glitch-free in my experience, unless you crank the polyphony to extreme levels. An external interface also makes things better (allows to use a very lower buffer size and still be glitch-free). RAM speed does not matter, storage speed matters for some pianos.
Having said that, to answer you question, it depends how the engine is coded. Most engine can hardly benefit from more that 4 core - 8 threads, unless you do other things at the same time. So faster core is better, unless some very recent pianos can take advantage of more. But again, I run everything on a dual core (hyperthreaded) laptop and have zero glitches


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@Digitalguy: I agree. I ran quite well on an old laptop from 2005, a dual core relic. But it benefitted from running XP rather than the newer Windows.
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Still ... it doesn't take much to run VSTs these days. I think an SSD is best for sampled pianos. And I agree that an external audio interface helps quite a lot.

Aside from that ... it's hard to find a PC that won't hold up, so long as you stay away from the extreme low-end junk.

Note that production work requires more. But there aren't many people here who talk about production. Those folks live at Gear Slutz, etc.

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The GS forums generally recommend faster single core speeds for live VI playing (which is what most of us here do). GS recommends more cores for production of many tracks of music (not a popular activity at PW). GS is focused on professional music production and has some music computer builders there also.

As Mac noted, desktop computers are much higher performing (and cheaper) than laptop computers. The laptops have troublesome power savings schemes, low-binned CPUs, compromised engineering for size, power consumption, thermals, and price.

You will notice that sustained single-core CPU speeds have not improved much over the years. So old computers can work great for VIs. Ironically, older laptops can work extra well with live VI playing as they don't suffer from modern power savings schemes.

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
@Digitalguy: I agree. I ran quite well on an old laptop from 2005, a dual core relic. But it benefitted from running XP rather than the newer Windows.
\
Still ... it doesn't take much to run VSTs these days. I think an SSD is best for sampled pianos. And I agree that an external audio interface helps quite a lot.

Aside from that ... it's hard to find a PC that won't hold up, so long as you stay away from the extreme low-end junk.

Note that production work requires more. But there aren't many people here who talk about production. Those folks live at Gear Slutz, etc.

I don't want to hijack this thread, but I am using a Dell Latitude 5490 (MFG2018) i5 (7300U)/16GBRAM/256GBSSD with Windows 10 Pro and onboard audio, yet I still get pops with pianoteq. Must be something running in the background, but can't identify (because I get the same kind of pop if I start internet explorer while pianoteq is playing ---- which I did as an experiment). I can take the questionas to what I should do to a new thread `if that's considered more appropriate, but I think it's instructive that even a good processor CAN glitch and pop, presumably especially with Windows. (for the record, running the free hammersmith piano in Kontakt player produced ZERO glitches. SO it's a processor thing

Someone raised the idea of focusrite, and I've heard that before. Does that reduce latency? If so, how? Doesn't the CPU of the computer still have to do all the calculations?

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For a given buffer length and sampling rate, the only way to have a smaller latency is to have a better audio interface (and its driver).

Focusrite is quite good, RME is better.

The fast CPU is needed if the buffer length is small and gives few time to compute the samples.


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Originally Posted by joemama42O
i'm assuming faster clock speeds for RAM would help too, like 2600 mhz vs 3200 mhz RAM, right? Would faster gigs per second usbs help too?
I could be mistaken, but my understanding is that there is no benefit to faster RAM, all that matters is that the RAM is fast enough for the processor it is being used with. If the RAM is faster than that, it makes no difference. Faster USB might help if you're storing streaming sample data on an external USB drive, I doubt it matters for anything else.

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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
For a given buffer length and sampling rate, the only way to have a smaller latency is to have a better audio interface (and its driver).

Focusrite is quite good, RME is better.

The fast CPU is needed if the buffer length is small and gives few time to compute the samples.

I want to understand this better. Where does the focusrite or the RME go? How do they process the signal if it is pianoteq that does the processing, and pianoteq runs in the computer? DOes the computer somehow use focusrite (sorry, the other one is way to pricey for me) to process the audio signal? Or is processing the digital data?

Last edited by Eli26; 12/28/20 02:33 PM.
Eli26 #3062123 12/28/20 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Eli26
I don't want to hijack this thread, but I am using a Dell Latitude 5490 (MFG2018) i5 (7300U)/16GBRAM/256GBSSD with Windows 10 Pro and onboard audio, yet I still get pops with pianoteq. Must be something running in the background, but can't identify (because I get the same kind of pop if I start internet explorer while pianoteq is playing ---- which I did as an experiment).

Have you tried running latencymon?


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Eli26 #3062179 12/28/20 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Eli26
Originally Posted by Frédéric L
For a given buffer length and sampling rate, the only way to have a smaller latency is to have a better audio interface (and its driver).

Focusrite is quite good, RME is better.

The fast CPU is needed if the buffer length is small and gives few time to compute the samples.

I want to understand this better. Where does the focusrite or the RME go? How do they process the signal if it is pianoteq that does the processing, and pianoteq runs in the computer? DOes the computer somehow use focusrite (sorry, the other one is way to pricey for me) to process the audio signal? Or is processing the digital data?

Since the operating system can’t guarantee the transmission of audio buffers at a steady state (we have some jitter), the audio interface uses some other buffers, then it can wait a little if the next buffer of samples come too late. Not all audio interfaces are equal about this point, and about the quality of the driver.

You can see https://www.gearslutz.com/board/showpost.php?p=13368351&postcount=2186 that even with the same parameters, RME audio interfaces (RTL=2.947) are better than a Focusrite 6i6 (RTL=4.160) with is better than a Steinberg UR44 which hasn’t been measure at 32 samples per buffer.

(RTL = round trip latency :the time for an audio signal to be sent and received)

Last edited by Frédéric L; 12/28/20 05:06 PM.

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Higher clock speeds do not necessarily indicate better single core performance (although I suspect it is true for your specific example). The design architecture of the core matters a lot. This is measured by instructions per clock (IPC) and it varies greatly depending on the task the computer is doing. 5 years ago Intel was far ahead of AMD in IPC but AMD's latest processors (5000 series) now have better IPC for most workloads.

I don't think there's a need for a 16 or 32 core Threadripper or 10 core Intel processor (unless you are running dozens of VST's simultaneously in a DAW with good multicore scaling). Even if you have a generous budget I'd get the fastest 8 core processor (Ryzen 7 5800x) and use the savings to get a good audio interface. You'll save on the motherboard as well.

Last edited by 88snowmonkeys; 12/29/20 02:32 AM.
Eli26 #3062326 12/29/20 03:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Eli26
Originally Posted by Frédéric L
For a given buffer length and sampling rate, the only way to have a smaller latency is to have a better audio interface (and its driver).

Focusrite is quite good, RME is better.

The fast CPU is needed if the buffer length is small and gives few time to compute the samples.

I want to understand this better. Where does the focusrite or the RME go? How do they process the signal if it is pianoteq that does the processing, and pianoteq runs in the computer? DOes the computer somehow use focusrite (sorry, the other one is way to pricey for me) to process the audio signal? Or is processing the digital data?

I think it works something like this:
1) Pianoteq receives MIDI data which it processes into digital audio data using the CPU.

Without an external interface:
2) The audio driver/audio device on your motherboard convert this digital audio data into an analog signal which is usually output through a 3.5mm jack into whatever speakers or headphones are connected to it.

With an external audio interface:
2) The digital audio data is instead sent over USB to the Focusrite (which has its own specialized audio driver), and converts the digital data into an analog signal much more efficiently. Then you can connect your headphones/speakers directly to the Focusrite.

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IIRC Eli26 was reluctant to disabling some services in his DELL that are known (IME) causes of DPC (delayed procedure call) therefore having latency issues. So, until he have run, verified and reported which processes are causing the problem, we cannot do anything but speculating.

Also I remember reading here that some models of DELL laptops (XPS IIRC) are hopeless when it comes to realtime performance, due to poor hardware/firmware design.

Last edited by EVC2017; 12/29/20 07:00 AM.

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Originally Posted by EVC2017
Also I remember reading here that some models of DELL laptops (XPS IIRC) are hopeless when it comes to realtime performance, due to poor hardware/firmware design.

I can confirm. I have a shiny XPS (admittedly older - from 2015 - but high spec then, and I use it daily for work with 16GB RAM and large SSD). It's a champ. But due to high DPC, based on BIOS/firmware/etc., makes it unusable for VST.

Instead, I have a very old HP Elitebook (2010ish), upgraded to 8GB and SSD, which performs beautifully and at very low latency.


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I also have XPS from 2015 (6300hq). It was terrible but after a year or so, Dell finally issued better BIOS and drivers. It is good now for VST work but I use a RME interface so that probably helps.

The newer XPS models have some documented latency problems; consider buying once they are sorted.

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Originally Posted by joemama42O
Would a higher core-count CPU with lower individual clock speeds (CPU A) provide better performance while using VSTs opposed to a lower core-count CPU with higher individual clock speeds (CPU B)?

If you intend to use many plugins in parallel, then obviously yes (for example, if you plan on doing orchestral arrangements a lot). However, it depends. Usual home studio usage probably profits more from single CPU speed because there are VSTs out there that need it and don't use more than one core....

Last edited by Marc345; 12/30/20 05:53 AM.

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