Mac Studio: Cubase 12 Disappointing Performance

I just got my new mac set up with Cubase 12 and attempted to render a few projects from my older machine. Cubase 12 can’t run in M1 native mode now for me because some key plugins are not M1 native yet, such as:

  • Majority of Native Instruments plugins
  • Vienna Ensemble and Synchron Player
  • Reason Rack Plugin

So Rosetta it is for the time being. However, this shouldn’t be much of a problem performance-wise from what I’ve been able to test on my other M1 machine, a Macbook Air, which was able to outperform my 10 year old i7 Hackintosh with a 3930K

Rendering these projects was not significantly faster, if not with much difference to me. This was really surprising and looking at the activity monitor I could see the M1 Ultra barely going beyond 23% of CPU usage while all cores were being used.

So to me this looks like there is some bottleneck here. It’s either some of the plugins or something going on with Cubase 12?

Overall, I am not very impressed. I was expecting by investing in a fast machine, even one that can simply “emulate” somewhat recent intel CPU with a lot of power, RAM and a fast SSD would at least have some impact.

I mean I can clearly feel some improvement in some places, like loading projects - even from a network volume - goes really fast. Cubases GUI is also very snappy - on my older PC just the act of scrolling through all the mixer channels would make the system sluggish. This is not a big problem for the mac studio.

There was a 64Bit precision setting which I applied in the audio settings. Multithreading is activated. Audio buffer is at 128.

I am going to test this a bit more, maybe by skipping using the Synchron Player and just sticking with Retrologue, Opus and Arturia plugins to see if this makes a difference.

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It’s Ok because Apple is putting out the new M2 chip. That should fix it.

Not sure what that has to do with anything.

Please try to stay civil. This has nothing to do with platforms. Both Windows and MacOS are great for music making.

I am reading similar stuff from PC users in relation to C12 and a colleague of mine who got a new PC at the same time I got a new Mac is experiencing not much of an improvement either (both hardware and software wise).

I do get that the VST ecosystem is heavily fragmented. But come on.

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You mistook my response. Not trying to cause a debate, just trying to state with not so many words that because Apple has another in house chip in production, software companies might invest more into creating software that actually works with Apple processors. Remember Cubase and other software companies have been creating software for decades compatible with Intel, and then not flawlessly AMD. Always stay a couple years back with Apple if you want something you know is going to work, sounds crazy but that’s the way it is

This thread is not very productive so far… please share experiences with newer machines and cubase 12 only, thanks.

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I have some upsides though:

  • haven’t experienced any performance peaks and dropouts yet when working in the active project with 40-50 instances of opus, vienna, synths, kontakt and other instruments
  • snappy UI
  • Cubase 12 launch is incredibly fast, I love it
  • loading more than 20 GB of samples doesn’t make my machine budge, not even with firefox, file/backup operations and email running in the background

I am slowly suspecting this has to do with some of the plugins I am using (specifically Vienna Synchron Player) and not specifically Cubase 12

Another update:

I just did a random test with 18 instances of Synchron Player playing random notes and Ozone 9 on the master channel.

Rendering takes 2:30 minutes (for a 3 minute track)

Afterwards, I switched out all Vienna Synchron instances with EW Opus and rendered it again. It took 1:30 minutes.

When having all the 19 Synchron instances loaded and hitting play, my performance meter would peak with occasional dropouts. Definately not normal.

Opus doesn’t even take 1-2% out of the systems performance.

Offline export utilize the same number of cores as real-time export, the structure doesn’t change.
Offline export is faster because it does not need to synchronize to audio clock, so it can process more samples per second, and move to next buffer as soon as the calculation ends, but the project structure does not change, if the project is complex and effect chains are long, it won’t be efficient,
E.g, if you export one track project with a lot of plugins inserted to it and master, it can only use 1 core during export and playback.

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I can see the CPU usage going up in all cores while doing the rendering. Also, isn’t Cubase optimized to handle multi-core load dynamically during rendering and playback? I don’t think it necessarily applies to one-core-per-track. That would be inefficient would it?

Also, this doesn’t explain how another plugin doing basically the same (i.e. just basic file operations and loading samples) can be so much faster compared to the other one.

Keep in mind, this working scenario involves little processing and only sample playback.

Allright, so I did some more tests. I may want to reconsider my impression of “poor performance”. It is complicated.

  1. 10+ year old Project with 67 channels, 1 instance of Vienna Ensemble, a couple of Battery instruments, Kontakt, Absynth, Reaktor

This rendered out in under a minute at 48 kHz / 32 Bit - all of the channels simultaneously. Totally mindblowing and kinda restoring my faith. Loading up this project on my hackintosh i7 took several minutes to load and almost 30minutes to render due to Vienna Ensemble taking super long in the render chain, even for just short segments. Keep in mind, this is still just running under Rosetta as most of the older plugins in this project don’t even know the concept of M1. I am using deprecated versions of Native Instruments plugins which I installed just by moving from one system to the other and copying preferences files. Most of them just run in demo mode but they still produce a sound and rendering works without problems. Needless to say this took me a while to get everything installed and loaded properly.

  1. Project with a couple of audio clips in a timeline montage - for a video of 11 minutes.

I work on moving picture and also have to do the foley. I do it in Cubase and it generally works really well. All of the audio clips are timed to the video and I have a total of 30 Audio Channels.
Rendering this takes 9 Minutes - which is not much different from what I am used to on my old Hackintosh. Not a lot of plugins loaded, just Neuron 3 for a few of the Dialog tracks and Ozone 9 on the Master.

This takes too long for my taste.

  1. Project with 18 Instances of Vienna Synchron Player playing random notes nonstop for 4 minutes

The project renders in 2:30 minutes under Rosetta and 2 minutes with Cubase in M1 native mode. No additional plugins loaded. When I hit play in the live Timeline, the performance meter peaks at times and I get drop outs.

For comparison, I swapped all of thes instances out with EW Opus. Rendering took 1 minute. in M1 Native mode it took just under a minute. Hitting play in the live timeline does not peak the performance meter at all. In fact, it is barely even moving past 2% - as opposed to Vienna Synchron Player, which is all over the place.

Kinda makes me wonder what is keeping Synchron Player back and also how processing and file operations differ when rendering just timed audio from the timeline.

On Win11 here (i7 8700k, 16GB Ram, everything on separate SSDs):

C12 has at least the same good performance as C11. Projects which already began to crackle on C11, work in C12 without any pops/clicks, so even an improvement here.

I had issues/instabilities/worse performance initially as well, but they were sorted out by updating all plugins to their latest versions and installing the maintenance updates.
I am happy. Also to keep in mind: CPU performance does not always directly relate to DAW performance, especially when the buffer size is relatively low. It may be possible you have audio drop outs on lower buffer sizes and a relatively low CPU usage. There is a video which often gety linked a lot of forums, that explains why.

PS: DAWs/Plugins/etc. were developed for decades for intel processors mostly, so don’t be surprised, that it takes some time, until M1 processors can show their potential. Its a completely new architecture. Thats why I don’t get why so many people are switching to that. Thats just no wise decision at the moment.

PS2: I am gonna update to the newest intel generation later this year, and we will see, how much this improves my workflow. If you want I can let you know.

Nuendo 12 (for what I now share the same engine as Cubase 12) works great here in Rosetta mode on a Macbook M1 Max.
I run large sessions (1000-1500 tracks and a couple of hours long) with a mix of Vienna Ensemble Pro and Kontakt etc.
Performance is great (and silent) compared to previous Hackintosh I’ve used (last one was a i9-10900 and before that a i7-5960x).
On my current project I use around 75% CPU playing the bigger cues (60% idle). And I can push it up to 85% usage on exports.

I know the M1 Ultra don’t get fully utilized in other programs, sounds like it could also be the case here.

As you noticed your self some third part plugins causes more “problems” they others.

Thanks guys, yes I totally agree.

Mac Studio M1 Max user.
C12 Rosetta mode.
I’m noticing with almost nothing loaded (plugins) and not even running (nothing recorded) my performance meter is jumping up and down (ASIO guard at about 25% average)
When I check activity monitor no issues.
So far working in M1 native everything seems normal.
Really puzzled.

Goto preferences and find the auto arm selected track option. See of that is turned on. If it is then turn it off.

Auto arm selected track option?
Why would this affect anything to do with performance?

Because even with just one track it would put the system into ultra low latency mode. It is exactly what the option is for, it puts the current track in ultra low latency record mode whilst leaving the other tracks as normal. Which would stress the system more than usual. On C11 that was not ticked but installing 12 it is ticked by default. Its instrument tracks I’ve notice it has a strange effect on the performance more than audio tracks.

But it does sound more like you have an issue with hardware drivers or buffer settings or a rouge plugin.

Whats your buffer settings ? At 32 mine is jumpy but at 256 mine is fine. But i usually have it set to 2048 unless I’m recording.

Hope you get it resolved chap.

I am having the same thing but it doesn’t have any negative impact on performance afaik. Been doing a bunch of big projects already and it seems the M1 cores just balance each other out. The performance meter is to be taken with a grain of salt. Lot’s of bugs in the current C12 release. I should wait for an update, hopefully out till december? We’ll see…

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Yes i do not look at the petformance meter anymore, its different to the old C11 meter anyway.

I just keep adding to my project and my M1 keeps working fine.

@slinky_005 this seems like a daft question but are you using 12.0.40 and does it state Apple Silicon on the cubase screen splash when it opens ?

Getting C12 to open in native mode has a bit of a trick to it. You need to tick the rosetta box then open C12 then close it. Then untick Rosetta and open C12, now it will be apple silicon. Seems daft but when C12 is first installed it does not have Rosetta ticked but it is in Rosetta mode. It makes people think they are in native mode when they are not.

If you already have that sorted then no worries.