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DAW Performance Test Results

Dewdman42

Senior Member
I wanted to post these test results for everyone's FYI and any further discussion which might come out of it.

The main purpose of this test was to take a real world orchestra mockup and play it using several different DAW's, both with and without VEP7, to compare them to each other, and also to see the impact of using VEP together with a DAW in terms of performance.

UPDATE: Cubase 10.1.30 drastically improved performance on the mac, see new results here now.







Full Spreadsheet here:
Procedure

  • 90 track score from VSL's website was used as test project. This contains 90 tracks of ViPro, with MirPro on each track and Miracle reverb on the master bus.
  • The same 90 track score was used in all cases, and every attempt made to optimize each DAW to similar optimized settings
  • Audio Buffer of 1024 used in all cases.
  • Score was played through same section of score, for 3 minutes, sampling the average CPU % every 3 seconds, using following command line, started at same point of score playback:
    Code:
    iostat -w 3 -I -c 60

Summary

Most of the tested situations averaged around 35% cpu usage over the test. In the graph above you can see a cluster of graph lines, some slightly better or worse then others, but all reasonably close and acceptable in performance, both with and without VEP. DP was the worst performer, but only slightly; LPX performed significantly better then everything else with and without VEP, but especially with the new AU3 version of the VEP plugin. In general, everything performed slightly better with VEP than without, except for DP9 which performed better alone, probably related to pregen feature. (See below)

  1. LogicPro alone: 25% average cpu usage.
  2. LogicPro+VEP-AU3: 24% average cpu, this is the clear winner in terms of CPU usage!
  3. StudioOne+VEP 33% average cpu usage
  4. StudioOne alone: 35% average cpu
  5. Cubase+VEP: 33% average cpu usage.
  6. Cubase10 alone: 34% average cpu usage
  7. DP9+VEP: 38% avg cpu
  8. DP9 alone: 35% average cpu. Audio buffer at 2048. Also tried DP10 which performed 5% worse then DP9 and the GUI as extremely laggy compared to DP9, so there is that.
  9. Reaper5+VEP: 35% avg cpu
  10. Reaper Alone: 33% avg cpu

System Specs

  • MacPro 5,1 12 cores x 3.33ghz, 128gb ram, OSX 10.14.5 (Mojave), RX580 video
  • LogicPro 10.4.4
  • Cubase 10.0.30
  • Studio One 4.5.1
  • DP 9.52
  • Reaper 5.978
  • VEP 7.0.826
  • Audio Buffer at 1024
Future Tests

Here are some additional tests that would be interesting to do
  • How many tracks can be added before it starts dropping out audio, at various buffer sizes.
  • All of the above at lower audio buffer sizes
  • A test using generic instruments so that everyone can try the same test on their DAW, instead of using a real world cue, try to max out the max number of tracks in each case to see how big each DAW scenario can go before running out of steam with dropouts.
  • How low latency can each scenario go before getting drop outs
 
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tabulius

Active Member
Thanks for sharing! I found it surprising that Studio One beats Cubase. On my Windows machine Cubase 10 wins Studio One 3.5 in CPU performance. I had serious audio dropouts with S1 but the same project was fine on Cubase. And in your testing Cubase couldn't handle a project that Studio One ran in 35% average CPU. Interesting.

My specs: i7 6600K, 64Gb ram.
 

Victor N.

New Member
i am not surprised to see a program perform better on a windows system than on a mac. i have seen that happen many times before. in fact, the entire pc game industry avoids the mac platform for example. but as a mac user i think the platform is not well understood. i could be wrong though. i am no expert in real time audio and graphics programming.

would love to see these benchmarks on a windows machine.
 
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Dewdman42

Dewdman42

Senior Member
I started to do reaper but it was too hard and painful to use so sorry it probably won’t happen.

I hear that cubase runs better on a pc then Mac but I am not equipped to test that, I leave it to someone else. Cubase is by far the worst on my Mac
 

Geoff Grace

Senior Member
I've been on the fence about crossgrading to Cubase before the sale ends tomorrow. As a Mac user, your tests are a pretty compelling reason for me to not take the plunge. Thanks for posting your results, @Dewdman42.

I am curious as to how Pro Tools 2019 compares, especially as it now supports Mojave.

Best,

Geoff
 

samphony

Senior Member
The problem with vst is that it is always processing and consuming cpu cycles. AU in Logic is implemented to not consume cpu cycles if there is no midi under the playhead or the DAW is idle. Kind of a dynamic plugin processing. Vst3 has a similar feature set but the developers have to enable it in their DAW. As far as I know presonus hasn’t enabled that feature set for vst3 nor au in studio one.

That is my understanding so far and that might be why logic performs better when hosting au Plugins inside Logic.
 

benatural

Active Member
Good test and good work! Thank you! I have many questions...
  • How much ram was being used by the instruments?
  • What interface were you using?
  • What kind of hard drives were the libraries on? How were they connected to the system?
  • How many VEP instances were active? Connected?
  • How many VEP audio channels per instance? MIDI ports?
  • How many cores per instance of VEP?
  • Multi-core processing on in Kontakt if you use it?
  • Multi-core processing on in each DAW?
  • How many VEP buffers per instance?
  • VEP on the same system or a slave?
  • Were the DAW sessions exactly 90 tracks each?
  • How dense was the MIDI activity?
  • What libraries?
So many variables involved, it's hard to know where to start, trying to wrap my head around these results.
 
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charlieclouser

Senior Member
Also I think Logic is able to do some sort of pre-processing, almost like an invisible-to-the-user freeze function, so that tracks / instruments that are not record-enabled are being calculated when the transport is stopped, so that when playback begins the cpu is just spooling a pre-rendered file instead of calculating the instrument + plugins in real time.

Not sure if that is still a part of Logic's audio architecture, but for sure the "dual buffer" thing is, where Logic calculates all non-record-enabled tracks at some obscenely huge buffer while all record-enabled tracks are calculated at the actual buffer size you've set in Preferences - and stuffed onto that last cpu core as well. So, some pros and some cons with that approach.

But I am always amazed at how efficient Logic is. My biggest sessions that use only EXS and audio can have hundreds of instruments hammering away at 16th notes and they play equally well on my 12-core cylinder and on my 2012 quad-core laptop, rarely going above 50% cpu.
 

MatFluor

Senior Member
I started to do reaper but it was too hard and painful to use so sorry it probably won’t happen.

I hear that cubase runs better on a pc then Mac but I am not equipped to test that, I leave it to someone else. Cubase is by far the worst on my Mac
Alright - I find Reaper quite easy to set up and painless in many aspects. If you still want to do Reaper, just hit me up and maybe I can help you, since I use Reaper+VEP daily
 
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Dewdman42

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Alright - I find Reaper quite easy to set up and painless in many aspects. If you still want to do Reaper, just hit me up and maybe I can help you, since I use Reaper+VEP daily
Might hit you up at some point because I am curious also. Won’t have time this week
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Thanks for sharing! I found it surprising that Studio One beats Cubase. On my Windows machine Cubase 10 wins Studio One 3.5 in CPU performance. I had serious audio dropouts with S1 but the same project was fine on Cubase. And in your testing Cubase couldn't handle a project that Studio One ran in 35% average CPU. Interesting.

My specs: i7 6600K, 64Gb ram.
In the past and I don't know if it is still true, Cubase does better on PC than on Mac.
 

garyhiebner

Active Member
Thanks for sharing! I found it surprising that Studio One beats Cubase. On my Windows machine Cubase 10 wins Studio One 3.5 in CPU performance. I had serious audio dropouts with S1 but the same project was fine on Cubase. And in your testing Cubase couldn't handle a project that Studio One ran in 35% average CPU. Interesting.

My specs: i7 6600K, 64Gb ram.
Studio One is a bit of a CPU hog on Windows compared to it running on Mac.
 

EgM

Game music!
Glad to see Studio One doing well, switched from Cubase Pro 9.5 a while ago for a game I'm working on and I've been pleasantly surprised.
 
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Dewdman42

Dewdman42

Senior Member
I bought S1 about a week ago, through classifieds, got a good deal. I wasn't expecting to be as impressed with it as I am. I'm quite impressed with many aspects of it, including performance, but also workflow. I feel drawn towards using it and learning it. The devs are very responsive and are working really hard on it, it has a very bright future. One thing that stood out...S1 was able to use the VST3 version of the VEP plugin, which means it easily handled multiport to a single VEP instance, much like Cubase and DP can (and Logic can't without hacks and work arounds).
 
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