Cubase vs FL Studio, Ryzen, ASIO Guard, latency

Hi folks :slight_smile: My name is Iskander Gafarov, I’m from Russia, so my English can be kinda bad, pls, don’t judge me too much :smiley: My old PC based on AMD FX started to be not enough for my music writing needs, so recently I’ve got an upgrade to new computer:

  • CPU AMD Ryzen 7 1700 with stock cooler, running at 3.75ghz;
  • MB ASUS ROG Strix Gaming B350-f;
  • RAM Geil EVO X 16gb running at 3000 mHz;
  • SSD Samsung 860 EVO 500 gb;
  • Audio interface RME Babyface Pro.
    Currently I’m using Cubase 9.5.30 Pro as well as FL Studio 20, OS - Win10. Since I’m kinda experienced piano player, my usage of MIDI-controller (Novation SL mk2 49) is extensive and I like recording scores for VSTi via MIDI using 128 and 256 samples buffer size settings. Furthermore, sometimes I’m playing my electric guitar using Guitar Rig 5 (I’m not too good at this tho), so 128 is even more interesting for me.

So after upgrade all of my old projects in FL Studio are running extremely smoothly and with much more CPU power available than ever, even with 128 ASIO buffer latency, absolutely rock solid, especially after last FL Studio update.

In Cubase 9.5.30, however, something strange is happening. With ASIO Guard at normal settings and 128 latency everything runs absolutely well, like in FL Studio, or even better. But with ASIO Guard OFF and 128 buffer Cubase is capable of handling something like 5 Kontakts, 2-3 Spires, 2 Omnispheres, pack of FabFilters in whole project with Pro-L on master FX insert and ton of samples, which is actually not bad at all for me, but is still far away from FL Studio’s result, loading more VSTis than that is causing dropouts, while CPU resources are consumed only by 30%. Increasing ASIO buffer size helps accordingly to its size, but latency while playing guitar with NI Guitar Rig becomes much more noticeable as well as while playing VSTi using MIDI.

I was thinking that some thing’s wrong with my Ryzen or Ryzen is that bad for Cubase, but then I’ve tried to perform DAWbench tests, I’ve got pretty solid results. What is more important, Cubase was suddenly able to use 80% of Ryzen 7 1700 resources on 64 buffer even without using ASIO Guard.
DAWbench DSP test, SGA:
Buffer 64 - 115 instances
Buffer 128 - 127
Buffer 256 - 134
DAWbench VI test on non-convolution polyphony showed 380 voices on 128 buffer size before dropouts are showing.

So, here are my exactly questions:

  1. Why FL Studio is using CPU resources much more effectively than Cubase WITHOUT ASIO Guard?
  2. Does ASIO Guard automatically apply lowest possible latency for VSTi being currently played via MIDI controller?
  3. is it okay to use ASIO Guard constantly?
  4. How to use 100% of CPU’s resources? Maybe not 100% but somewhat close to it…
  5. Should I use multiple instances of Kontakt with 1 library loaded or should I use 1 multi-timbral Kontakt and load like 5 libraries into 1 instance?

Thank you :slight_smile:

I think your absolute best bet is to simply test those things yourself.

I have an R7 1700 rig myself clocked at 3.7GHz all cores, stock cooler, and I too noticed huge gains using ASIO guard. But I haven’t done the testing needed to answer your questions, and I’m guessing most people haven’t. So really the best thing you can do is to set up tests for yourself to see how things really work.

And when it comes to testing the only thing I can say is that it’s best to change as few parameters as possible whenever you test something. Some people don’t do that, so just make sure that you do. Of course the first two questions may be ones to ask developers and not users, but for #3 and #5 at least testing is probably the way to go.

As far as #4 goes (and maybe #1);

CPU usage seems to vary depending on a few different parameters if I remember correctly. Those parameters are the CPU, BIOS, memory in the case of Ryzen, the motherboard “subsystem”, the OS, and also connected devices (i.e. firmware).

So if you wanted to experiment the first thing I would do - since it’s the easiest - is to make sure you have your interface connected to the ‘best’ USB port possible. I did a quick search and found this:

AMD Ryzen™ 2nd Generation/ Ryzen™ with Radeon™ Vega Graphics/ Ryzen™ 1st Generation/7th Generation A-Series/Athlon X4 Processors :
4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
AMD B350 chipset :
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 port(s) (2 at back panel, red)
AMD B350 chipset :
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s) (2 at mid-board)
AMD B350 chipset :
6 x USB 2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)

So the four blue USB connectors go straight into your CPU, and all the other USB ports connect to the chipset. Depending on how you’ve connected stuff to your B350 chipset I would try to move things around a bit. I think it’s possible to get different maximum performance using different USB ports.

The second thing I would do is to take a project that you feel is _under_performing in Cubase, but performs well in FLStudio, and (do a save-as) delete one type of plugin/VSTi and look at the results. Then open up the original project again and delete a different one and try again. If you repeat this process you might bump into one plugin that is a bigger problem than the rest.

My hunch is that Cubase has issues with some types of plugins, because that’s really the only good explanation for why both FLStudio and DAWbench would do better. I suppose it’s possible that one of those plugins/VSTi stresses the subsystem - for example pulling data off of drives and then eventually sending it back out - and that the subsystem is better managed by FLStudio than Cubase; if that’s the case then a solution could be to again change the subsystem by choosing different ports etc. And if it’s a bandwidth issue then getting an m.2 NVME drive to run samples and/or recorded audio off of might help.

Thank you for such a detailed post and for explanations! :slight_smile: So I’m not the only one who noticed huge difference betwenn ON and OFF.

My main concern was that is ASIO Guard is probably messing up with ASIO’s buffer size to make the workflow efficient and thus increasing latency while playing with MIDI or recording. But it’s actually not true, it’s just different matter, more like “max freeze everytime possible on quantum level”. So, as you recommended, I’ve tested everything and Googled everything as well. Had to smoke this article for a night:

Here are some things that I’ve found:
2) Does ASIO Guard automatically apply lowest possible latency for VSTi being currently played via MIDI controller?
Yes, everything what is being recorded and/or selected (Audio, MIDI info, automation) is being processed realtime, while everything else is being pre-processed because of ASIO Guard. I’ve tested it as you recommend just an hour ago - it’s actually true to my big nice surprise, even with ASIO Guard High settings one current recorded track is being processed real-time and here comes only audio-interface’s round-trip latency and acoustic latency for sure :smiley:

3) is it okay to use ASIO Guard constantly?
To be honest, I can’t find any disadvantages of ASIO Guard.

4) How to use 100% of CPU’s resources? Maybe not 100% but somewhat close to it…
AMD Ryzen by itself is much stronger in terms of multi-thread tasks and it’s weaker in single-core tasks, so it’s better to:

5) Should I use multiple instances of Kontakt with 1 library loaded
Yes, because of 2 factors:

  • due to better multi-core Ryzen’s efficiency;
  • because if Kontakt with several libraries loaded is selected for recording MIDI score, all of libraries loaded will be processed real-time and thus out of ASIO Guard’s field, it doesnt’ happen if you use “one Kontakt - one library” scheme.

Thank you! Didn’t think about it at all.

I’ve found that some Omnisphere’s filters are causing +20% additional CPU loading, that’s happening only in Cubase for some reason, so I think you’re absolutely right on this one:

By the way, I was wondering about does other DAWs has something like ASIO Guard, and they actually do - Logic has something like this, Reaper has and etc…

I was thinking about m.2 NVME SSD storage, but it’s actually very pricey :frowning: Furthermore, that kind of problems doesn’t happen in FL Studio, buying a serious thing just for a Cubase it’s an overkill in my opinion xD

Thank you again for reply :slight_smile: With love from Russia.

Thanks for sharing your results.