Tag Archives: cubase 10

AMD 3 Series – ASIOGuard and AMD, a Further Cubase & Reaper Comparison.

In light of recent testing on the new AMD platform, a number of questions arose and I’m going to spend some time working through those over a couple of follow up articles.

The first one to tackle is Cubase which I ended up pulling from the testing this time due to uncertainty on the results being returned. This was to be the first time using Cubase 10 in the benchmarks, a change I was keen to move up to in light of them making adjustments to the engine to resolve the MMCSS issues that crept in on the previous build due to low-level OS changes. We had been working with a tweaked registry workaround in C9.5, so we were rather keen to see what other gains were to be had in working with the latest iteration of the software.

Whilst I’m looking at this I also want to start off by tackling another question in the process, namely the one of ASIOGuard.

ASIOGuard is there to stop dropouts and overloading whilst recording, it’s essentially another buffer designed to keep you safe from digital gremlins. where It also means that your trading off some degree of performance overhead in order to achieve that extra stability.

Normally, we will test with ASIOGuard disabled essentially because we’re looking to test the hardware and not ASIOGuard itself. The first result I want to post is a Cubase 10 with ASIOGuard Off/Low/Normal/High and at various buffer setting.

Cubase ASIOGuard Testing On The 3900X – Click To Expand

Firstly you’ll note that ASIOGuard off is far better performing, although I’ll note this still isn’t quite as I would have expected.

AG
Off
CPU
Over
load
Point
AG
On
Low
CPU
Over
load
Point
AG
On
Norm
CPU
Over
load
Point
AG
On
High
CPU
Over
load
Point
512272090%56035%116070%118085%
256124080%52035%60070%108080%
12886075%50035%48070%56080%
6444060%48025%40025%44075%

So, as it shows above, ASIOGuard rather skews the performance for us in testing. You can note that with a CPU overload point of roughly 90% maximum the ASIOGuard off setting gave us both the highest total polyphony and succeeded in leveraging the most amount CPU in that test.

Now with ASIOGuard on this isn’t the whole story. At each buffer setting the total performance was still there above the points where I drew the line. However, I couldn’t cleanly push past the points that I’ve indicated.

What do I mean by this?

With DAWBench testing, the way we take the metric is to simply keep adding more and more instances of whichever plugin it might be until such point where the audio overloads and then we pull back slightly and take the measurement.

What I was seeing here was the audio breaking up and then not coming back until I reduced the active channels back to the point that I’ve recorded.

So, for example, the chart above shows ASIOGuard – Low overloading on the 512 buffer at 560 notes. If I keep adding more instances until the point it crackles and falls over, it’s more like 1100 poly with 95% CPU.

So, why are the results on paper looking so low?

Because whilst I can build up to 1100 instances I then can not start/stop cleanly without it replicating the audio cut out and recover issue I note above.

So, say I take it to 1000 note poly and the audio is playing away fine. If I stop the project at this point the audio will stop playing. If I then proceed to start Cubase playing again it will immediately lock up, refusing to start playing audio again until I reduce it back to the point that I’ve noted on the chart.

Essentially it’s behaving as if it’s overloading and choking, which doesn’t make for a smooth session when recording.

So, the next question that comes to mind, is this an inherent issue inside of the Cubase 10 engine?

Cubase 10 DAWBench Vi Test On Intel 9900K – Click To Expand

Above we see the same set of ASIOGuard On/Off tests running on a 9900K at 4,9GHz all core and running 2666MHz RAM.

AG
Off
CPUOver
load
Point
AG
On
Low
CPUOver
load
Point
AG
On
Norm
CPUOver
load
Point
AG
On
High
CPUOver
load
Point
51212801001080100%60070%1180100%
25610401001000100%52060%1000100%
12872010048060%48055%56075%
6444090%44055%44050%44065%

The first thing to note is that the ASIOGuard “off” setting does look to offer us the sort of result curve that we would be expecting to see in this testing situation and with a minimum of 90% CPU being leveraged rising quickly to 100% it’s performing as we would hope to see.

The ASIOGuard itself is designed to sit as a safety buffer and at tighter settings you can see where it fails to keep up as the CPU overloads at lower buffer settings, but when working ideally it will tend to trade off performance for stability at lower ASIO buffers as well as allowing for potentially a little more overhead to be extracted at more relaxed settings.

But that aside, the results above should indicate why we prefer to run any testing in Cubase with ASIOGuard itself disabled due to more balanced results as we’re testing just the hardware and not the ASIOGuard itself.

What was also apparent was that I wasn’t seeing the “rubber banding” effect on the Intel system and that the point where it fell over, it did pretty much fall over at its audio load break-up point.

There was none of this being able to push it 200% past it’s highest start/stop result and on the Intel testing it would prove to be that the point where it started to crackle that was also the same point where it would fail the stop/start part of the test.

So, on the Intel setup, these were the respective results for Cubase and Reaper testing where the performance curves look to be as we’d expect in regards to the point of audio drop out in each instance.

Intel 9900K Test

9900K TestCubase
(AG Off)
CPU Over
load Point
Reaper CPU Over
load Point
5122720100%3400100%
2561020100%2660100%
128720100%1680100%
6444090%720100%

AMD 3900X Test

3900X TestCubase
(AG Off)
CPU Over
load Point
Reaper CPU Over
load Point
512272090%4320100%
256124080%3780100%
12886065%2120100%
6444050%112080%

So, the reason I ultimately dropped Cubase from this round was the above. I just wasn’t sure at the time what or why the results were skewed in the fashion that they were and wanted to go with a test that I considered to be less aggressive with trying to optimize its own handling.

To note, I did a similar shoot off on Ryzen 1 & 2 setups but wasn’t able to close the gap in any meaningful way although I was using an older build of the sequencer engine at the time it should be noted that I’m seeing the memory hole tighten up slightly with faster RAM than the 3200MHz which was recommended on the last generation, but is now being eschewed in AMD recommendations in place of the newer 3733MHz packs which they’ve now noted is the optimum clocking speed for working with Ryzen.

I can’t help but wonder if this was always the case and it was simply the prohibitory high price of 3600MHz+ RAM two years ago (3800MHz is still rather high cost at the time of writing), is this a case of Infinity Fabric making it to market a number of years before the supporting hardware was widely available to the general public?

At the moment the Vi test is being updated, so I’ll look to do a pure VI test in the coming days and will republish with updated results as well as delving further into the memory handling side. I’ll note that the performance curve that I saw in testing this time mirrored my first run with the hybrid test build, but I’m also keen to see how it plays out doing a full retest with it across the board.

To draw this article to a close, Cubase 10 on the Intel side appears to be behaving as expected but the AMD handling has proven erratic enough for me to question it in regards to giving the hardware being examined a fairer test. For Cubase users and importantly for those of you working with large sample libraries, this raises questions on the suitability of AMD for handling your workload.

For the rest of us, it raises the question on whether or not its Cubase or Reaper that is the exception to the rule here and right now I’m not well placed to answer it. I understand there are further builds in the pipeline, so more testing will be carried out there as and when it’s ported.

Ryzen 3000 Series CPU Testing

All 3XS Computer Systems At Scan

Steinberg introduces Cubase 10

In what’s become a fairly regular feature in the calendar these days, we see the yearly update to Cubase making its appearance once more as we hurtle towards the final month of the year.

This time around sees us receive a full version update as we move on to Cubase 10. With the full version releases we expect to see plenty of new features creep in whilst the smaller updates and fixes tend to be the focus on the .5 release, so what exactly do we have in store this time around?

Working through the “what’s new” list for interesting updates and the first one that stands out is a revised channel strip promising to extend the functionality and usability of its included modules, with new metering elements offering direct visual feedback for each of those modules.

Mix console snapshots now allow you to set up alternative mixes for your project and A/B compare the results within seconds. By lettings you save your current mix into a tab within MixConsole you can then instantly switch between them at any time, adding notes to each snapshot as you go. You can even mix and match by choosing a part of the mix like the EQ settings from one snapshot and applying them to another one.

Next up we see a dedicated audio alignment tool being introduced, which no doubt is the sort of functionality that is going to be very well received by many users out there.

Variaudio gets its own overhaul with improved workflow and even more creative tools. Smart controls aim to speed up your workflow by allowing direct control of all parameters at each segment. Promising micro pitch level adjustments for smooth drifts and transitions and the capability to push it to the extreme in order to achieve popular extreme pitch effects, this is another tool update that is no doubt going to make a lot of users happy.

Groove Agent getting an update to SE5. Alongside those on the handy plugin side is a redesigned and updated REVerence along with a collection of Vintage Verb settings and a completely new “Distroyer” processor capable of adding subtle warmth or utterly destroying your audio for those extreme effects.

But GUI changes and new tools whilst all nice to have, are not going to be the highlight for a lot of users this time around. For the power users amongst us, the biggest bugbear for the last few years has been the 14 thread limit we’ve been seeing after last years Creators update moved the goalposts for Cubase and how it handles multiple cores, which certainly left a lot of users frustrated at lost performance overhead. Well, the good news is that we’re being promised “significant improvement” this time around, and we’ve heard that they’ve been working on this for a while behind the scenes, so this alone could prove an extremely worthwhile upgrade for anyone running 8 or more physical cores.

The new Latency Monitor in the MixConsole promises to give you enhanced control whilst your monitoring and recording by now displaying both the sum of the latencies and the individual latency of each plug-in bugbear the effects chain viable. This should make it easier to track down any painful lag when working with effects cores in a live situation and should prove to be of benefit to many users.

Side-chaining which for a long time was a bit of a weak spot for Cubase gets another overhaul this time around, with further refinements to the process. The new simplified method will allow you to create the desired routing via just a few clicks by activating the side-chaining in your FX plug-in and selecting the source from the track list and away you go.

Other interesting technical updates include adding support for 32-bit integer and 64-bit float audio formats, AAF import and export options, along with additional MPE support for those users making use of capable controllers.

Productivity wise there is a host of improved “editing to picture” features for those doing sound for film work as well as a  full “Virtual Reality production suite” featuring a whole host of tools specifically designed for producing VR content all the way from the recording to mastering stages.

All in all an interesting set of updates and some much-needed fixes carried out behind the scenes. We’ll certainly looking forward to road testing this edition in the near future.

All Steinberg kit @ Scan