Do I need a system upgrade?

Hi all,

I’ve recently got Cubase, but quite often experience crackling and popping sounds, and sometimes crashing. I’m wondering if my system needs upgrading.

Here’s my system info:

Processor: 2.50 GHz Pentium dual-core
Memory: 2GB RAM
Hard Drive: Hitachi HDT721032SLA360 320GB 7200RPM
Sound card/recording device: M-Audio Firewire Solo

Also, is it better to install Cubase & record projects onto an external hard drive?

Thanks so much for any help

Just a few other notes, if it helps give you more info:

The PC itself is pretty old - I got it about 6 years ago. The processor, memory and hard drive were upgraded around two and a half years ago. Everything else (the case, the cooling, the power supply, etc) are all as they were when I first got it.

In terms of what I’m doing on Cubase, it’s mainly guitar music I’m recording (have done some electronic but have had no issues with that). As an example, the current project I’m working on has around 8 guitar tracks (all with amp modelling plugins on the inserts), two or three vocal tracks, a drum track using samples on Groove Agent One, and around 5-6 virtual instrument tracks for strings & brass (using Halion One).

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to upgrade (2 more GB’s of RAM come to mind), but you should be able to work with what you got as long as you accept the limitations.

Here’s what I do with a PC about the same age as yours when I do songs with a couple of drum tracks (Superior), Bass (Kontakt) and maybe some organ VSTi.

When tracking I set my audio card to a low latency (256) and make sure nothing ‘heavy’ is loaded in the current project except for a simple MIDI drum loop through Superior. I commit to a guitar sound which enables me to unload the guitar sim (Guitar Rig 4) after recording a track - an alternative would be to freeze the track - but I have found that commiting to a sound are better for my workflow.

When it’s time for mixing I raise the latency to 1024 so I can use more plug ins without pushing the PC to the absolute edge. Then I usually bounce everything to WAV’s and import them in a new, mixing only, project. If I need to retrack/reprogram something, I go back to the original project.

It can be a bit frustrating, but it’s something I have come to accept until I decide to upgrade.

My guess is that your PC is pretty close to the edge. Try to freeze the sims/VSTi’s you’re not currently working on, and find the highest acceptable latency setting for tracking, then use a higher setting when mixing.

Install Cubase on your system drive, but projects should go to a different drive (as long as it’s a fairly modern internal one. External USB/FW drives could be trickier). If not for performance gains, you at least won’t lose them if Windows crashes bad and a Win reinstall is needed.

When you’re using Cubase, turn on your resource viewer or the VST performance window within Cubase. If the meters peg out to the max, then you have a problem. Upgrade may ‘fix’ your issue but you may not have addressed the root cause. Your hardware specs should suffice, so my first guess would be to look at the following:

  1. Configuring the driver for your sound card.
  2. Other services running on the OS, like anti-virus or malware. You can shutdown your anti-virus while using Cubase. If you have malware, then it’s probably consuming resources.
  3. Your specs are insufficient for the sampling rate, you’re using.
  4. You have digitally connected hardware attached to your Solo, and their clocks are out of synch. Check master/slave relationships of the digital connections.