Master/Slave setup: where to put best CPU?

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
As in the title....given that I mainly work with:

- Lots of VSTs and Kontakt instances
-Lots of Orchestral Work
-Not so much audio recording
-A few plugins in the inserts, but the most of them would be used only in mixing/mastering phase, when I have already bounced all the VSTs tracks to audio to do some mixing...
- I want to work in master/slave mode with Vienna Ensemble Pro.

/// The Question is: ///

Is it better to have the most powerful CPU on the master computer (where I run Cubase) or on the slave, where I run loads of VSTs ? Imagine an i7 or i9 cpu....would it be more efficiently used and useful on master, or slave?

Again, this is in the scenario of working mainly with lots of VSTs for large orchestral midi mockups, and a few plugins used sometimes in the inserts or on the master bus, just to smooth/balance temporarily the overall sound while composing.

Also, my current only computer is a Mac Pro:
Mac Pro Mid 2012 - 3,33 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon - 20 Gb RAM.
Cubase 9.5

And I'm wondering if I should upgrade the Mac Pro to use it as a master or a slave?

Ideally, I'd like to keep working on my Mac as master for now....because I have a lots of stuf installed on it already, and would like to simply enhance the workflow to be able to work with a slave and load big orchestral templates.

Also....would the 3,33 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon be capable to handle all the audio plugins/inserts work, if all the VSTs libraries are on a new slave pc?

Thanks in advance!
 

Jdiggity1

Senior Member
Moderator
In your situation, the 'better' CPU would be best used in a slave.
The benefit of CPUs with high clock speeds is the ability to stream more voices at once. And for large orchestral mockups, you're going to need as many voices as you can get.
Your Mac Pro would still be absolutely fine as a master, considering you said yourself you don't do heavy plugin work.
 
OP
GrapeBotherhood

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
Thanks a lot Jdiggity1, much appreciated! Can I ask a bit in details? I have a few questions, but if you don't have time, could you help me even with a couple of these?

1) With VSTs work....how much workload of playback and handling tracks would be done by the slave CPU, and how much by master CPU? I'm a bit confused, sorry.

2) Let's say that I run around 80 VSTs tracks from the slave....and on the master I have my 3,33 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon. Let's say as well that I run just 2-3 plugins like Ozotope, Fab-L and similar on the master bus....just to glue things together temporarily while composing.....do you think my master would become soon the bottleneck?

3) I'm afraid that, despite all the power of an i7 or i9 and lots of ram in the slave, a master like the one that I have wouldn't be able to handle automations (dynamics, keyswitching, volumes....) on all those VST tracks?

4) Also, what do you think about my current processor? Is 3,33 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon still acceptable for this kind of "large orchestral template" and master/slave environment?

5) You mentioned "CPUs with high clock speeds" for a slave. Would you mind to suggest me a couple of models that could be still good workhorses in 5-7 years?
Is fast clock speed more important than number of cores?


Thanks again!!




In your situation, the 'better' CPU would be best used in a slave.
The benefit of CPUs with high clock speeds is the ability to stream more voices at once. And for large orchestral mockups, you're going to need as many voices as you can get.
Your Mac Pro would still be absolutely fine as a master, considering you said yourself you don't do heavy plugin work.
 
OP
GrapeBotherhood

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
Hey guys do you think this would be efficient as a slave computer configuration? It's to be used with VEP 6 and large orchestral templates.

Would there be any incompatibility between parts?

SLAVE CONFIGURATION:

Processor: 16 Core Intel® Core™ i9-7960X (2,8*GHz) 22 Mb cache
Motherboard: ASUS® PRIME X299-A : ATX, USB 3.1, SATA 6 Gb/s
RAM Memory: 128 Gb Corsair VENGEANCE DDR4 2666 MHz (8 x 16 Gb)
Graphic Card: 2 Gb NVIDIA GEFORCE GT 1030 - DVI, HDMI

Hard Disks:
Boot Disk: SSD EVO 1 To Samsung 860 2,5 SATA 6 Gb/s
Libraries Disk: SSD EVO 4 To Samsung 860 2,5 SATA 6 Gb/s

Power supply: CORSAIR 550W TXm SERIES™ 80 PLUS GOLD
Cooling: Noctua NH-U14S Performance

External Case:
FRACTAL DEFINE R6 NOIR

LAN Port:
PORT 10/100/1000 GIGABIT LAN (Wi-Fi Not included)

Ports:
MIN. 2 PORTS USB 3.0 ET 6 PORTS USB 2.0 back + MIN. 2 PORTS front


Thanks a lot again!
 

Piano Pete

Active Member
I would also recommend you take a look at Zircon's new build. He comments on that balance of speed to core ratio etc. https://www.vi-control.net/community/threads/build-plan-explanation-9900k-monster.75840/

Additionally, you are often better getting two computers with faster cpus maxed out at 64gb of ram than a single cpu at 128gb. In my experience, it has often been cheaper as well.

What libraries are you using or planning to buy within the near future?
 
OP
GrapeBotherhood

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
Thanks Pete! Will look at that link.

I'm running some tests to understand where my current bottleneck is whenplaying lots of voices from many orchestral VSTs.

- Kontakt "disk" light goes often to red. Almost always, in busy passages.
In the mac's "activity monitor", the cpu usage stays under 25%, which seems good to me.
RAM is almost entirely used as soon as I open a busy cubase project.

This makes me understand what follows, but please correct me if I'm wrong:

- I need to switch to SSD drives to avoid glitches and kontakt "disk" to go to red.
- Cpu seems to dojust fine for now
- I need more ram.
- Willing to add a slave system, the current Mac would be released from all the cpu and ram work with samples, so it should ran smooth, perhaps I should just use SSD as boot drive, and add a bit of RAM on it, but processor should be fine, if working mainly with samples?

What do you think?

Thanks again.


I would also recommend you take a look at Zircon's new build. He comments on that balance of speed to core ratio etc. https://www.vi-control.net/community/threads/build-plan-explanation-9900k-monster.75840/

Additionally, you are often better getting two computers with faster cpus maxed out at 64gb of ram than a single cpu at 128gb. In my experience, it has often been cheaper as well.

What libraries are you using or planning to buy within the near future?
 
OP
GrapeBotherhood

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
PS: regarding libraries....it varies a lot, depending on what's on the market. I unfortunately tend to prefer libraries that have tons of microphones and are heavy :(
 

Piano Pete

Active Member
Ok, first of all: SSD's all the way. Always use SSD's for hosting samples!

Second, Yes. Get more ram for your system. I usually like having 32gb or more on master computers as it gives you some extra flexibility with plugins and extra vsts or synths.

For your libraries, what have you been recently using? How many tracks do you work with? This will help a lot of us out in trying to help, because there is a big difference if you are trying to load all the mic positions from something like Spitfire or Orchestral tools versus only using a few positions from another library.

20gb is not a lot to work with, so you would probably benefit from a slave, without a doubt. You may not, however, fully saturate 128gb worth of ram right off the bat. 64gb is more than enough for most people, and if you make your template and VEP modular, you can add whatever you need as required without much fuss. You have everything pre-baked and routed, then you just pop it into the metaframe as needed.

Im an advocate for building computers to last for several years, but I am also thrifty in my purchases. Since we typically see better performance when spreading out a workload across multiple physical cpus, this also benefits your wallet. In this scenario, you just build additional computers (with 64gb) as you need to expand. This enables you to benefit from newer equipment while also spreading out the cost over time. If you are not moving around a lot, where multiple computers become a hassle, then you are fine.

Ultimately, a single 7960x with 128gb may be perfect for you, but it's some food for thought.
 
OP
GrapeBotherhood

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
Hey Pete, thanks a lot for all these suggestions!

So, if I understood well....having a slave with SSDs to load libraries will improve my DAW system, even if I keep working with my current mac pro as master?
Can this solve all the glitches and poor real time performance? I think it would, because the cpu I'm using doesn't seem to be the problem. I'm using it at 15-20%.

Regarding libraries, yes I load sometimes multiple microphone positions at once, and patches that I use can be as heavy as spitfire libraries, or a bit less. I generally work with around 60-80 playing VSTs tracks.

I'm just worried that after buying a powerful slave, the crackles and pop would continue, and the cubase sessions keep getting stuck when they're busy with more instruments...

Also, do you think more ram on my current master is necessary, even if I load all libraries on a new slave with around 64 Gb of ram?

Do you think my current main bottleneck is SSD or....?

Thank you anyway, you're being helpful and it's good to have advice on these things, I'm new to many of these concepts :)



Ok, first of all: SSD's all the way. Always use SSD's for hosting samples!

Second, Yes. Get more ram for your system. I usually like having 32gb or more on master computers as it gives you some extra flexibility with plugins and extra vsts or synths.

For your libraries, what have you been recently using? How many tracks do you work with? This will help a lot of us out in trying to help, because there is a big difference if you are trying to load all the mic positions from something like Spitfire or Orchestral tools versus only using a few positions from another library.

20gb is not a lot to work with, so you would probably benefit from a slave, without a doubt. You may not, however, fully saturate 128gb worth of ram right off the bat. 64gb is more than enough for most people, and if you make your template and VEP modular, you can add whatever you need as required without much fuss. You have everything pre-baked and routed, then you just pop it into the metaframe as needed.

Im an advocate for building computers to last for several years, but I am also thrifty in my purchases. Since we typically see better performance when spreading out a workload across multiple physical cpus, this also benefits your wallet. In this scenario, you just build additional computers (with 64gb) as you need to expand. This enables you to benefit from newer equipment while also spreading out the cost over time. If you are not moving around a lot, where multiple computers become a hassle, then you are fine.

Ultimately, a single 7960x with 128gb may be perfect for you, but it's some food for thought.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
Wow -- that's a lot of beans for that CPU. And the mobo is kind of a lot as well for a single computer.

You could build two 64GB i7 computers, with far higher clock speeds, for the cost you're facing for the one mooted above. Personally I'm not building any more slave computers unless the clock speed is at least 4.x GHz. The string libraries I like demand surprisingly beefy CPU resources (maybe scripting?), especially, as is apparently the case for you as well, if you load more than one mic position. I have been leaning on Spitfire a lot lately for strings, and Hollywood Strings too, both of which are very demanding.

So, I would build two PCs instead of one, and I'd settle for the vastly-less-expensive i7 CPUs.

Advantages:
1. You spread the load across two computers (bus, CPU, drives);
2. Get considerably higher clock speeds.
3. If you're using VE Pro to connect everything, should be able to use just one license to work with three computers

Disadvantages:
1. Have to maintain two PCs;
2. Not quite as many cores -- though faster GHz, the i7s offer mostly 4 or 6 cores each;
3. Some RAM would be absorbed by the second operating system.

@Piano Pete seems overall to agree with this approach. Other recommendations I've seen, such as using SSDs for hosting all samples, are practically required nowadays.

Do You Really Need Another Computer?

I think you do. I don't think you can reliably drive a full orchestra from a single computer. I use five (Mac Pro and 4 PCs) that host samples and synths, though I hasten to add that only one of the four PCs I use is up to date. Total RAM is around 200 GB. Other guys, like Junkie XL, use a lot more than that. Who knows what Hans Zimmer uses?

Some get along with far less.

I believe it's criminal to waste time juggling samples instead of trying to get better at composing. For far less than the cost of one class at most US universities, you can have a good setup.
 
OP
GrapeBotherhood

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
Hey folks,

I'm continuing my journey to build my first slave computer to be sued with VEP and my Mac Pro master...

For the slave motherboard, I'm trying to understand which one would work at best with a i9-7960X processor.

I was almost going to pick a Asus Prime x299-A, but then a Pictus told me on another forum that this motherboard doesn't have a strong enough VRM for my processor, because the processor is a HCC= High Core Count.

Now, the other options available on the website of the company that will build my PC are:

- Asus Rog Strix X299-E
- Asus Rog Rampage VI Extreme (expensive…worth?)
- Gigabyte X299 UD4 PRO

I have zero experience, could you advise if any of this will give justice to the
i9-7960X prcessor and allow it to work at full power?

Thanks in advance to Pictus or anyone that will chime in and help!
 
OP
GrapeBotherhood

GrapeBotherhood

New Member
Hey Pictus, thanks!

Still trying to understand, if that motherboard wouldn't be okay, then any of those other mentioned in my post above would work?

Or did you reply to that as well? Can't find that reply in case on the other forum...

Thanks again


Also answered there... :)
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
This is a good question, and I think the answer depends on how you work.

I always want my main machine to be the most powerful one, because I work on it all the time and only use slaves as overflow - i.e. I rarely turn any of them on. ("Them" = one decent slave and a pile of old Pentium 4s that I only keep in case I want to run ancient libraries.) My main machine is also the one I use for everything other than music, such as writing this post.

But if you're running an orchestra of EastWest Hollywood libraries with multiple mic positions (i.e. they want a lot of horsepower) and you don't want to bog down the machine they're on with things like a DAW, then it would be different.