Optimize OSX Performance for Audio

Discussion in 'Mac / Hackintosh' started by copylefter, May 8, 2014.

  1. copylefter

    copylefter Producer

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    Hi audiojunkies, I often see people asking if there are ways to optimize their Macs,
    I know there are already many guides on OSX optimization for audio, but I never found one that covers every aspect deeply.

    So here's my attempt to provide a guide as complete as possible.

    I may forget something here, in the likely case feel free to share your thoughts
    :thumbsup:


    I made this guide for 10.8.5 but it will be ok for 10.6 and Mavericks too.


    [​IMG]


    Preamble: Maybe many of you just doesn't care about optimizing, but the years I passed with older OSX versions
    and not so powerful machines have left me with this tuning-up obsession. It has to be said though that it surely doesn't hurt even if you have a powerful computer.

    This is pretty hard optimizing, you may think many of this little changes doesn't have any impact on modern machines,
    but the key is that all this tweaks summed up can bring you non negligible improvements and save you some annoyance too.
    This came at the cost of loosing some osx things you're used to like window animations (I know they're cool but who gives a hack) and Spotlight,
    and obviously those shiny new toys Apple started to introduce from Lion on (Notification Center, Mission Control and other amenities mainly useless).
    Decide now whether you want your OSX to be great on the eye-candy side or on the performance side.

    btw you can skip most Finder/Dock specific graphical settings, they doesn't affect audio work so much, though they will speed up your machine in all your everyday tasks.


    (maybe most of these steps can be unnecessary if you own a 12core IvyBridge Mac-Pro with 64GB memory, but I wonder how many of us can afford such a machine)

    [​IMG]

    Ok, let's get our hands dirty


    Before modifying settings deep inside the system is always good thing to backup first.
    You've been warned *yes* ​


    I will use screenshots when possible. Like they say "a picture is worth a thousand word".
    The screenshots are in spoilers to make the thread more readable.
    Just tick/un-tick option as shown in the pics and you'll be ok.

    The steps marked with the [​IMG] icon are only for 10.8+, if you're on previous OSX versions just ignore them.


    Some common sense advices:

    • Always switch off Airport and Bluetooth before firing up your daw, they're energy and resource hogs.
    • Go grab a copy of LittleSnitch and learn how to set it up properly.
    • Close all non Audio related apps and menubars. Tools like MenuMeters or iStat Menus can be cool for everyday use.
      btw seeing how many resource your system is using doesn't give you more, at least it eat some. So get rid of them while playing.
      To give you an idea I kill even Finder while producing. (later is explained how to add "Quit Finder" to the  menu)
    • Keep your Desktop uncluttered, the less stuff you have on it the less resources it eats.
    • Keep your samples organized, check for duplicates with one of the many apps out there and keep the folder structure as simple as possible.
    • If you have audio playback glitches or CPU going nuts, before going mad and coming to the forums crying your endless pain
      be sure to check the Latency / Buffer settings and in case try to raise them in your DAWs preferences. (needless to say I hope, but worth mention).
    • Don't always think the more processor you have the better your machine will run, i.e. Cubase/Nuendo doesn't,
      they works better with max 4 processors (Steinborg says that 8 will probably work, but unsupported officially).
      The reason is that the computer use resources to synchronize the operations between the various cores/processors.
      I'm not saying not to use all of your cores if you're lucky and have plenty of them, just think about this and make your own tests.
      Try various settings and choose the one seems better for you. Activity Monitor may come in help.
      Worth mention that is always recommended to enable multiprocessor support only in your daw and not in the plug-ins you use inside (or vice-versa).
      Kontakt is the famous case. So disable multiprocessor support and you will avoid problems or even crashes (see related thread in Mac section).
      Here an interesting read on how to balance load between cores on Logic (it's for 8 but should be the same in 9 and X):
      http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3161
    • If you were browsing the web or doing other stuff before starting your DAW, the best thing is to reboot.
      (you can also use the RAM cleaning script I will provide later, but reboot is always the best choice)



    System Preferences Tuning:

    Ok, open up System Preferences ( upper left -> System Preferences or Utilities/System Preferences)

    • Disable Screensaver: Desktop & Screensaver pane -> Screensaver -> Start After: Never (for the fuck's sake please no changing desktop pictures*no* )
    • Disable Mission Control: Mission Control pane -> Disable everything you find in there [​IMG]
    • Disable Location Services: Security & Privacy Pane -> Privacy -> Untick "enable location services"
    • Disable GateKeeper: Security & Privacy pane -> Allow Application Downloaded from: "Anywhere" (not strictly related but it will sure make your life better) [​IMG]
    • Disable Spotlight: Spotlight pane -> Privacy -> drag MacintoshHDD and external drives in the window.
      No need to change search results as we are preventing Spotlight to search at all.
      [​IMG]
    • Disable Location Services: Security & Privacy pane -> Privacy -> Untick "enable location services"
    • Energy Saver: drag both sliders all the way left to never and untick Put Hard Disks to Sleep When Possible
      [​IMG]
    • Energy Saver: Disable Automatic Graphic Switching (Only Macs with Intel GPU have this option, don't worry if you don't find it)
      [​IMG]
    • Disable Auto Software Update: Software Update pane -> Untick Everything (you'll be always able to update if and when you want to).
    • Disable Login Items: Users & Groups pane -> your username -> Login Items -> remove every non audio related login item (don't remove your audio interface helper!)
    • Switch Time Machine off: you can rely on apps like CarbonCopyCloner (my choice) or SuperDuper! for your backup needs, both way better than TimeMachine imho.





    Disabling Dashboard:

    Open /Utilities/Terminal.app
    and paste this commands:

    Code:
    defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES
    hit enter

    Now paste this:

    Code:
    killall Dock
    hit enter again. Done.





    A couple of useful apps:

    Now we'll need a few nice freewares, grab them from these links:
    (OnyX is available in different versions for different OSs, pick the right one)

    OnyX - Diablotin - MonoLingual


    OnyX:

    This is a nice maintenance tool that can do almost any task required to keep your mac clean and customize OSX functions.

    Download it and move it to Applications or Utilities.

    Launch it. It will ask you to check the SMART status and file structure, refuse, we'll do this later.

    Open the Parameter pane
    Now just tick everything as I show in these screenshots, sorry I'm tired of typing :grooves:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]Click on Delete Existing Index

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Automation pane
    Set the option as shown and hit Execute: it will check the SMART status and file structure on the disk and perform some maintenance tasks.
    Go take a coffee, it may take some time.
    Remember is good practice to do this maintenance on a regular basis.

    [​IMG]






    Diablotin:

    A little 3rd party free preference pane that let you get rid of many unwanted stuff, the first to get rid of are fonts, they can really slow down the boot time.
    If you do graphic works on your Mac you may want to keep the fonts (though you surely have lots of font you'll never use, like asian ones...if you're not asian :bow: )
    Anyway don't worry, the process is reversible, if you want to go back just thick again what you unticked and you're done.

    Download it, unpack, double click on it and it will ask you if you wanna add it to System Prefs. You do want. *yes*
    Then open system preferences and open Diablotin pane. It will relaunch SysPref, that's normal.

    Make sure not to disable system fonts, they are those with the little X icon. The other can be removed safely, maybe keep the most common fonts,
    as some app may still use it (i.e. years ago I found myself without text in Speakerphone menu). Remove only all foreign languages font and decorative stuff to be sure.
    [​IMG]
    In Diablotin I disable the screensavers and the system sounds as well, I can guarantee you it makes you go nuts
    when an alert (sound maybe for a LittleSnitch connection alert or whatever) pops up while you're recording/producing.​






    Monolingual:

    A handy app that let you remove all useless localization file. They're basically the languages included in applications,
    you can just keep your native language and english (required). The rest can be safely ticked and dumped.
    [​IMG]

    Don't touch Architectures pane, it can make a mess with some apps, also not many apps still have PPC code inside for older Macs nowadays, so no big deal.​






    Saving some disk space:

    Disable SafeSleep and delete sleep image:
    OSX constantly copy the content of RAM to disk in case of power failure or other bad things, so you won't lose your work in the worst scenario.
    btw if you're on a laptop there's always the battery keeping your ass safe and if you're on a desktop I'll feel safer relying on an APC.
    The sleepimage file can get bigger and wast big space. If you have 4GB RAM it'll be about that size. If you have 16 or more GB
    make your count, you may use that space for a nice Kontakt library for example.
    It can also be cause of excessive (and useless) wearing on SSDs.
    So this feature can be disabled without too much thinking to free up some disk space.

    Be aware of what you're doing and double check you correctly pasted these commands.
    rm command in combination with sudo have no mercy for noobs!







    Freeing up unreleased RAM:

    As I said before rebooting before starting to work in your DAW is always the best choice,
    if you can't/won't here's a little automator script I use to clean up system ram
    There's plenty of similar free and commercial apps around, don't let them fool you, all have a one-liner script inside: the command purge.
    So I use my own (or directly use purge in terminal).

    While most Apple OSX apps efficiently manage the ram they use, many third party apps are not well optimised,
    and they have the habit not to release ram after you quit them. This script clean the Inactive ram used, on 4GB it's often around 1GB, so not little memory.

    Just double click on it, it may take up to a minute. While it do its job the computer can become unresponsive. Don't panic.​


    PurgeRAM.app:

    [​IMG]

    Uploaded.to
    or here:
    Zippyshare




    On my setup I did much more radical tuning (uninstall of almost every non vital Mac app, iTunes included -I use VLC- and some useless daemons)
    but I'm a maniac about optimization, so don't take my way, it becomes an addiction! :wow:



    That's all folks !


    copylefter 4 AudioSex


    A special thanks to Xsze for his revision !
     
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  3. copylefter

    copylefter Producer

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    No problem, it's always great to make something for others :mates:
    Thanks for pinning it ! Gonna have some rest now, typed too much. :rofl:
     
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  4. lowpass

    lowpass Newbie

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    thanks a lot. Cool :thumbsup:
     
  5. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    This is so sweet and it also means less of the same questions taking up space in the forums and things are easier to find. [​IMG]

    [​IMG] Man AudioSex is so amazing lately, I can't even imagine what it will be like when we relaunch. [​IMG]

    Thank you so much copylefter.[​IMG]
     
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  6. ovalf

    ovalf Platinum Record

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    If I may help...
    the free
    Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
    is good to know if your non boot hds are with good speed.
    The fix can be:
    tech tool 7
    Disk warrior (this recover some hds that I thinkd there dead)
    Many friend cry that kontakt libs do not load, but usually their hds are very full and fragmented (remenber that OSX degrag small files not the big kontakt chunks)

    About backup
    CCCloner is the one who make cross hds backups and preserve my 20t files,

    One thing I never shut down is spotlight that I love to find a file, especially to compare, clean doubles and old libs :wow:

    :dancing: Thanks that osx is a lot easeier than tuning a windows xp for audio (I still remember some looog soup operas) :rofl:
     
  7. TwistedCycles

    TwistedCycles Member

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    You're a King Copylefter !

    It's extremely clear and thus a pleasure to read ! Really interesting and useful thread !!

    Good game.

    Now we can all use the maximum of our machine or still use some times the old machine before throw them ! :wink:
     
  8. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    ovalf
    Windows XP was how many years ago, almost 15 was it? Things have changed and again Windows is mopping the floor with OSX in benchmarks for audio production in all its untuned glory.
     
  9. junh1024

    junh1024 Rock Star

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    If you're feeling adventurous, you can try disabling HT to see if it helps on audio stuffs : https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=disable+hyper+threading+on+mac

    EDIT: Mac audio does have some merits (exclusive DAWs logic, garageband, etc), generally more solid/simpler audio: Coreaudio vs WinMME/ASIO/WSAPI/etc
     
  10. thisis theend

    thisis theend Noisemaker

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    Friggin brilliant copylefter :thumbsup:
     
  11. curve1

    curve1 Newbie

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    brilliant guide-thanks for that!
    may i add one thing-i recommend TCPBlock in addition to Little Snitch
    -as Little Snitch does really not blog everything needed!!!
     
  12. vaiman

    vaiman Platinum Record

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    Benchmarks are one thing, just like gaming benchmarks. They make lovely pie charts and that's about it.

    For the record I've never tuned my Mac in 7 years and it still ticks along happy.

    Nice post btw, a friend of mine loves tweaking anything he can so he'll find this very helpful I'm sure :)
     
  13. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    Well I think benchmarks are at least some indication of what can be expected. They may deviate but OSX got clobbered, it wasn't remotely close. I also stand by the fact that Apple is simply an evil corporation and the legions of fanboys aren't doing it any service either. Anyway I don't want to take this on a tangent and begin yet another OS discussion, people should use whatever works for them but I won't lie and say I'm not kind of tired of comparisons between OSX Mavericks and a 13 year old operating system. I used XP for almost 8 years running beautifully and no viruses. It's the operator that is key.
     
  14. seriousofficial

    seriousofficial Kapellmeister

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    indeed very helpfull
    thanks for the trouble of posting this, highly appreciated!
     
  15. vaiman

    vaiman Platinum Record

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    Totally agree.
    I wonder if people have the same online arguments with toaster brands? :D

    "Meh... my DeLonghi E3000 can hold up to 4 slices at one time, and it's never burnt them once in 3 years! Try that with your Russell Hobbs piece of crap!!"
     
  16. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    Ahh that was good. [​IMG]
     
  17. Kookaboo

    Kookaboo Rock Star

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    That's an useful article indeed! :wink:

    I want to add something:
    I still use MAC OSX 10.5.8 and despite of all new MAC OS this
    one is an impressive stable power-horse! Even when I only have 2 GB memory
    space left, Logic 9 still works without serious problems. Apart from small system
    overloads it runs very good, even with Kontakt, EZ-Drummer and XLN-Drums loaded!
    Hell, but my desktop is really messed up with tons of folders.
    So in the next days I'll clean it up and clear some memory space.


     
  18. copylefter

    copylefter Producer

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    Thanks Kook :mates:
    Yeah Leo and SnowLeo are great system regarding stability. Never had a better OS than 10.6. *yes*

    Added a link in OP to an apple support article regarding load distribution between processors/cores in Logic.
    But I think that advice is valid for any DAW.
     
  19. ovalf

    ovalf Platinum Record

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    1 First I was kidding
    2 Well, 15 year ago I think I use os 6, no need ajustment for record well (I can say the same for pc since I spend more time fixing than working)
    3 I thinck that compering performonces mac x pc its senseless because since the adopt of intel by Apple it creates the hackintosh right? Essencially the machines are the same and the real question, at least for me, is windows x OS X :dunno:
    I always have 2 machines and its my taste after testing, studying a lot for 35 years (i am so old) dedicated integrally to music and computers (no integral bacause my desease is time consuming)
    Benchmarks are a cold thing, but music production is a lot more, it burns right? Diferent workflows requires different instruments...
    If you put the fastest benchmack with a stupid musician what music we can expect?
    I do not like this kind of war because usually people do not wanna change their habits right?
    Another thing is that people talk about different OSs without investing time a really work hundreds hours with.
    Benchmarks do not mean better workflow
    benchmarks do not mean better muscic
    benchmarks are almost the same when different OSs are in the same machine
    I like great benchmarks, but certainly its not the first aspect to build my machines *no*
    Cat dont be so doggy with the macs :rofl:
    kiding :mates: :bleh:
     
  20. armyofone

    armyofone Newbie

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    Thanks a lot for the guide. Really useful tips that I'll be trying out for sure.
     
  21. synergon

    synergon Newbie

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    Thank you for publishing this Guide. :thumbsup:
    I doubt that every average Mac user can implement your advice safely. :unsure:
    I hope they are familiar with the Mac recovery. :rofl:
     
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