Where is the bottleneck?

Discussion in 'Computing' started by Julian Walker Hays, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. Julian Walker Hays

    Julian Walker Hays Active Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Hello, all!

    I am a hobbyist musician, and I enjoy recording as well. Based on my current set up, I am curious where I might be able to upgrade for better performance/less latency.

    Here is my setup:

    Macbook Pro
    2.66GHz Intel Core i7
    4 GB 1067 DDR3 RAM
    OSX 10.6.5

    Tascam US-144 USB

    Logic Pro 9
    Superior Drummer 2.0
    Amplitube 3

    I do a lot of midi work, I like to record drum tracks on my Roland TD6 vdrum kit, running the midi signal through the Tascam US-144, into the Macbook Pro via USB to control Superior Drummer 2.0 in Logic. Overall my setup is pretty good, a nice fast laptop that has done well so far. Sometimes in logic I experience some system overloads, usually only when my projects are getting a little larger. I know that I can change the i/o buffer size to combat this, but when I am recording drums I need the lowest latency possible.

    I also like to record guitar tracks using the amplitube plugin. If I get too many tracks in the project with this plugin, I notice a performance hit.

    I am curious where my system's bottleneck is. If I were to invest some money into my setup to improve latency, where would that be? The laptop is quite a nice Macbook Pro, and as I see it I have a couple options:

    More RAM (increase to 8GB over my current 4)
    Get a faster HD (I am very curious about SSD, how good are they for recording work?)
    Get a new sound interface - my Tascam US-144 is USB. Would an interface with firewire perform better?

    Do things such as the length of my USB cable from the interface, or the length of my MIDI cables between the interface and my drum kit have any effect on the overall latency? I know signals are essentially lightspeed, so I would guess cable length will have no noticeable effect?

    I would love to here your opinions.

  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    You are only going to get so low on the latency if you are using VSTi instruments or amp simulations while you are recording. Plugs are for after you have the tracks recorded. The Tascam is also not know for particularly low latency. More ram isn't likely to help you unless your DAW is 64 bit and your plugins are 64bit.
  3. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Vashon Island, Washington
    Home Page:
    Your laptop comes stock with a 5400 RPM hard drive. You will vastly improve your performance by replacing it with a 7200 RPM drive. I did this in my MacBook Pro a few weeks back and it made a huge difference!

  4. Julian Walker Hays

    Julian Walker Hays Active Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Thanks, do you have any suggestions for an audio interface that would perform better? I only need two inputs and MIDI.

    I am thinking about switching my drums to the Alesis Trigger I/O, which has midi or midi through USB.

    Thanks - I had been thinking about upgrading to 7200 or possibly even SSD.

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