Sorry for the late reply.
Below is my experience:
My name is Tony El khoury and i’m a film sound designer and I work on nuendo 7.
Our current project is a 7.1-96khz project , with almost 860 sound editing tracks.
The project is running on a cheap M-audio fast track ultra8R discontinued 2.0 USB soundcard and WINDOWS 7…
The fact that your system CPU is not maxing out, that means your problem is within the DAW!
I’ve faced this issue many times and here’s what I learned:
1- The higher the sample rate of your project the heavier the project gets, if you can reduce it, your DAW would thank you for it
2- Whenever you are using USB 2.0 based soundcards, your system has a limited amount of tracks it can process , upgrading to a 3.0/Firewire/Thunderbolt/PCIe system wound greatly improve your track count and real time processing power
3- Average Load spikes is affected by the number of tracks , insert/send effects on tracks and most importantly number of clips in your project. The more you consolidate your tracks the better your performance will become.
A great solution would be to start freezing tracks , and reducing inserts plugins on other tracks (create FX channel tracks and use sends instead) .
4- Low buffer size means high average load, bring your Buffer size to the maximum that your Asio offers you if you are mixing and find a balancing when you are recording (you can also use delay compensation). Also don’t forget to use ASIO guard on HIGH, and boost audio performance.
5- Outdated soundcard drivers could also cause this problem, Try to update to a newer version, and keep in mind compatibility issues , sometimes you need to install an older version of your driver in order for the soundcard to work properly (just like my case, because my soundcard is discontinued)
6- Run a compatibility test to your DAW and Soundcard drivers, sometimes they are not supported by your system if it is too new or too old. (right click on the .exe file , select troubleshoot compatibility)
7- Upgrading your CPU will HIGHLY relieve your Average load and overall System CPU spikes…Research what’s the best compatible CPU that you can get for your motherboard within your budget , and don’t think twice on upgrading (was the greatest decision I’ve ever made and i’m currently running on an i7 5870K CPU @3.3GHZ)
Also sometimes all your problems could be because of ONE plugin, and believe me it happens !!
I was using a 32bit plugin extensively and when I removed it from my inserts, it drastically reduced my average load. What I recommend is that you create a new save file and start removing each plugin at a time and checking which one is loading your DAW. When you find it, either use a lighter plugin or freeze your tracks.
Don’t forget to optimize your SYSTEM (remove c-states, hyper-threading, over-clocking) and changing your power plan to HIGH PERFORMANCE. As well as disabling running background apps that you don’t need. Remove visual effects in “Performance options” in your windows and in the advanced tab adjust for the best performance of “Programs” instead of background services.
Also load your project on a De-fragmented hard drive or even better on an SSD.
That should be it!
Apologies for maybe giving solutions more than you actually need, but all of these will greatly improve your work-flow…
Working with cheap equipment requires you to find solutions .
And if you feel like you have a bug in your system, think like a bug Your solution could be the weirdest solution
and don’t be afraid to experiment.
On a side-note , if you are using WINDOWS 10 , I would highly recommend that you downgrade to WINDOWS 7.
Windows 10 is very buggy and is not the best platform for Music and Sound production.
Windows 7 allows you to better control your features, has less useless background running apps and allows to stop
windows updates with a click of a button.
Also, piece of advice, don’t use Internet on your Music and Sound production operating system…