30 tracks - playback problems

I apologise in advance if this is covered elsewhere and for my inexperience in the area of computer-based midi …

I have a piece for large symphonic wind orchestra with 30 tracks, which Dorico (pro version 2,2) arranges into two muti-program racks of 16 and 14 tracks respectively.

On playback, in sections where a large number of intstruments ares playing (more than 16?) the are many dropouts, of indivudual tracks and sometimes just the first note of the bar etc. I.e., it’s not playing back everything in all 30 tracks…

I wonder if I need to know/do more with midi channels/ports/outputs etc. or whether this playback is beyond my setup on a windows 10 PC.

I’'d be most grateful for any advice or pointers to information that would help me better understand the issues here and make some big music!


At what sample rate and block size are you driving your audio interface?
The sample rate you find in the Device Setup dialog (Edit > Device Setup) and the block size when you click on the Device Control Panel button in there.
Try to increase the block size and see if that makes a difference.
Furthermore, on the Options page of HALion Sonic SE you find the Multi-Core option.
To what is that set with you?


What should the multi-core button say for best performance?

The more cores the better - if it’s a tickbox then you want it turned on.

It’s a pull-down but comes with a warning that multiple cores may cause dropouts, which I found surprising, perhaps because I do not understand how HALion interfaces with the cores.

Right, the more cores you let HALion use, the better HALion’s performance. But don’t go up to the maximum, otherwise other programs (and also Dorico itself belongs to that, because HALion runs in the VSTAudioEngine, which is an own process) don’t get enough power anymore. So e.g. if you have 8 cores, I’d set HALion to use 6 or 7 of them. It’s also a matter of trying out and see what works best for you.

Look into NotePerformer. From my expirience it does much better with big scores than sample-based products.

I’ve done some pretty big symphonic stuff in it (full triple winds, etc), no rpob.

Unfortunately I get quite frequent dropouts when playing back in NP, even with the buffer maxed. :frowning: Choral samples seem to be the worst offender, when paired with orchestra.

Obviously it depends on the complete system spec, but on my 6-core Intel I7 (now about 5 years old) this collection of five copies of NP plays back fine, and uses about 30% CPU in total.

I’m no computer expert (how’s that for a preface to a pontification on computer issues??), but it seems dropouts are largely a function of audio drivers, not CPU.

At least that’s my rumination. I have a pretty zippy i7, and it can’t handle choir/orchestra playback at all. CPU isn’t working hard, either. I think the audio engine stinks.

Thanks for all the comments/advice. I will try noteperformer.

I have found that setting it to 2 multicores (although no idea what ‘clear before/ switch after’ means or does) and increasing the disk/ram balance to maximum RAM made quite a difference. It looks like I need a computer with more cores and more ram…

The audio engine most certainly does not stink: it’s the same high-performance engine in Cubase. If you find the performance of the audio engine poor on your system, you should consider getting a better-performing audio interface.

Such as?

I got myself a Steinberg U242 and find it works reliably. I suppose most of those not-too-old audio interfaces will give better results that built-in ones (I’m by no means endorsed by Steinberg, even though I’m very active on this forum).

I personally use the Steinberg UR-22mkII at home and find it to be very good and reliable, but I am on Mac, where the built-in audio hardware generally (notwithstanding the fun and games of the new dual audio devices in Macs since the iMac Pro and 2016 MacBook Pro lines) causes fewer problems than Windows ones. Basically any good quality external audio interface with ASIO-drivers will do: the Steinberg ones are all good, and many users also get along very well with e.g. Focusrite interfaces.

I was referring to my system, not the Dorico audio thingie. I just don’t know what it’s called.

My laptop handles audio poorly across the board. Which is disappointing, since it’s a higher-end model. ASIO4ALL seems to be a great solution for most people, but it’s not working for me, (and I have a Focusrite interface, but it’s a pain when I’m mobile).

Is there another “internal” solution for an audio driver?

There’s not a huge amount you can do if your laptop doesn’t have a good soundcard (most Windows machines are optimised more for games and surround-sound video playback, rather than music-making), but there are some useful specific tips in this helpcentre article: https://helpcenter.steinberg.de/hc/en-us/articles/206112724-Optimizing-Windows-for-DAWs

I have seen people have various problems in the past due to other system components such as wireless networking hardware/drivers. So try turning off wifi and disconnecting any other devices in order to see if you can isolate what the cause of the problem is.

ASIO4ALL isn’t a great solution for anyone. It’s a hack that barely works. It isn’t real ASIO, just emulation. It is a last resort, not a solution.

It might not be a great solution for you, but I have had many “proper” ASIO drivers for different pieces of audio hardware over the last 10 years of so, and frankly NONE of them have ever worked properly - except for ASIO4ALL.

(And there are at least two from Steinberg in the list of those that didn’t work properly - including the current “generic” driver.)