Constant crackling, popping, and distortion

Hello everyone,

I’m new to the forums, so forgive me if I’ve messed anything up so far. :laughing:

When using Cubase LE 4 (or any DAW), if I have more than 5 or 6 tracks or more than a small handful of VSTs or VSTis running, my playback is full of crackles, pops, and distortion. It quickly gets to a point where I can no longer mix or work on my recording at all. In fact, when in Ableton, the CPU usage meter will often show I’m using over 150% CPU after running only a few VSTs. I’m not sure where that meter is in Cubase to check if it’s the same, but I experience the same exact playback issues, so I assume it is.
I also often get the “A Serious Error Has Occured” message and am forced to shut down Cubase without saving my progress.

I’m upgrading to Cubase LE 6 shortly, and I’d love to have this all solved by the time I make the transition. I was wondering if anyone might have any ideas on how to solve this issue?

Here are my specs:

Interface: Zoom R8
Computer: Dell Inspiron 15R (N1550)
Hardrive: TOSHIBA MK5061GSYN 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 2.5" Internal Notebook Hard Drive Bare Drive
Processor: Intel Core i5-2410M CPU @ 2.30 GHz
RAM: 6.00 GB
OS: Windows 7 (x64)

I’m using the soundcard in the Zoom R8, so I’m not sure the specs for that. My computer looks like it should run Cubase just fine, so I feel like I’m missing some little detail. Any advice is very welcome. :smiley:

Thanks so much in advance!

Hi and welcome to the community!!

What kind of performance readings do you see with your scenario? Memory, CPU, hard drive, etc…

Please remember that with version difference, there are generally also a difference in resource usage.

This does not mean that minimum requirements necessarily change (even though sometimes it does) but that there will be differences between a previous and a newer version nevertheless. It is currently a natural occurrence with software upgrades, and it’s important to be aware BEFORE talking the step.

There are way too many people that have problems because their upgraded version is eating more resources than a previous version “on the same computer”. This is not a fault of any software, but an inevitable evolution. Some day that may not be a user problem, but it certainly is today.

If you are on version X and your computer is already having problems, there is a high risk of those problems will persist to version Y, but not always the case.

Hey, thanks for the warm welcome.

I’m not sure what you mean exactly, I have just noticed that my software seems to be eating up CPU usage much faster than it should be. My computer reacts as if it’s taking on too much, when really, it should be able to handle it with relative ease.
Also, I do notice my “Midi output” meter is usually showing heavy activity in Cubase even when I’m not recording or playing back.

It doesn’t seem to be an issue with memory… possibly hard drive or ram, but with 6 GB of ram, I shouldn’t experience such playback issues.

For example, when using DSK Overture (a free VSTi) completely on it’s own, I’ll often get loud crackles and distortion simply by playing a chord on my midi controller. My CPU meter will shoot up to 150%+ and then calm down once I’ve stopped and rest around 2% - 8%. Other VSTs (even ones by DSK) don’t take up as much, but they still take up more than they should, especially with 4 or 5 in use.

Well, what I meant (and obviously didn’t write, LOL) is that if you are experiencing problems on your current system, a newer Cubase will increase demand for resources. This is usually what happens with newer versions of software, with more features and functionality. So be careful to find out exactly what cause a bottleneck and determine a course of action from such information.

How is the MIDI Output meter showing “heavy” activity? Is bobbing up and down like mad or is it that the bar fills up full every so frequently but in a steady manner?

Unfortunately I am not familiar with DSK Overture in particular, but from looking at it, and unless it’s using modeling for sounds (as opposed to samples which is traditional for orchestral sounds), I would guess this plugin is dependent on the hard drive to keep up. If other DSK plugins generally do not have any problems, and since I only know what you have written so far, this is where I would start looking.

Could you post some computer specs, images (3 can be uploaded with each post) or clips of the issues, perhaps some of the performance screens (task manager, etc.) and some information of other MIDI equipment you may have attached to the computer? This makes it easier for others to help track down problems, or otherwise assist you.

I used to get crackles when I used LE1 and two instances of Proteus VX VSTi. Very unstable and not the fault of the hardware. In Cubase, go to Devices–>VST Performance. As you hear crackles you may see the meter hitting red. If so then unfortunately there is not much to be done. You can search “improve VST performance” or something like that and try the tips and tricks. I ended up moving out of LE to the paid version and it works good. You can try downloading a trial version of one of the paid versions, like Cubase 7 AI which I think is currently available for trial. Then load your VSTi and VST effects and see if VST performance improves. A quicker test is to unload the VST instruments from cubase, if possible, and add them back one at a time to see if one of them is causing the crackles. It is easy to do with paid versions which have the VST Instruments menu choice under Devices. Just delete from the menu. With LE4 I’m not sure how to easily unload instruments. Even if you use no instrument tracks, I think the VSTi’s still sit in memory.
Hope you figure it out.