No bug - only symptoms. Weird instability

Sorry to be unhelpful, but I will write this down, in case anyone can deduce something out of the narration.

Yesterday, I started a fairly simple project:

  • BFD 3
  • MODO 2
  • Model C, loaded in a Halion Sonic (not the full H7)
  • A CP80 patch from FM Zone(?), loaded in a Halion Sonic (not the full H7)
  • A Pianoteq 8 Pianet.

At some point during playback, and while I had all keys record enabled (both halions, pianoteq), playing over the project, the GUI completely FROZE. The mixconsole’s meters were frozen in my second screen. My meters, playback cursor etc were frozen in the project window, it was a straightforward freeze.

Except… the audio path was still going strong. I was playing normally, no drop-outs, no glitches, no pops, nothing. So I bring up the task manager, ok, Cubase is working hard, but it’s NOT “Not Responding”. Everything still frozen visually.

I click on record enable on instrument tracks (no visual feedback of course). After SOME time, I didn’t clock it, the record enable command goes through, the instrument no longer plays. We’re about 2 or 3 minutes in this unstable situation now, Cubase won’t crash, but it’s not coming round either. I toy with Record Enable clicks, to change which instruments play. It works, after a great delay. Now, we might be 5 minutes in.

At this point, I want to see how I can record this weird situation, or ask for any advice. I launch Chrome, to come here. Once Chrome loads, Cubase recovers! What… I give focus to Cubase again, it plays fine for a bit (meters run up and down, GUI works), but after some time, same deal. Frozen GUI, but healthy audio engine. I switched back and forth between chrome some times. I took advantage of the time when Cubase was alive to close the plug-in windows. The only one that failed to close was MODO 2, I don’t know if that was the culprit. But since this unstable situation was still in place, I couldn’t decide what was at fault.

After that, seeing I couldn’t do anything else about it, I just closed down the project when Cubase was responding and called it a day.

No safe-mode prompt during the next start. Cubase never crashed after all. What happened? Don’t ask me. It’s a mystery.

My first thought is its one of those plugins your are using. Have you tried running a project with one plugin on its own then adding one at a time until the problem reproduces itself?

Almost all of my projects have these plugins, nothing of the kind had ever happened until yesterday. Nor today. It’s some 9 or 10 days after launch?

The only thing I can (weakly) connect is that Halion doesn’t always play nice in 13. I have had content disappear, no entry signs, and then after a restart they might come back. I just consider it “turbulence”, it could go away with some Mediabay update.

But the freeze is new and somewhat unsettling. What’s interesting is that I’m running a gtx1060 with drivers from last summer and I’m not having any of those “known” GUI glitches. Maybe my system’s too old to matter.

Have You have added cubase and associated steinberg products to your Anti-virus exceptions list?

Lauch your taskbar and with cubase running check if your anti-virus is doing the rounds?

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I’ve seen something like this in the past (with Cubase 12, though – not yet since the Cubase 13 upgrade). In my case, when it got into this situation, if I tried right clicking on the task bar to bring up Task Manager, it might also be a minute (or more) before I got the menu and/or between getting the menu and having Task Manager come up, and, in general the Windows UI was relatively (or completely) non-responsive, only reacting to actions after some period of time, unless I happened to get lucky and do something in one of its short-lived “breaks”. Yet Cubase would keep playing if it was already doing so, and even pressing the stop button, either in the UI or on my controller, would not stop it (until much later).

When this happened to me, I’m pretty sure it related to some kinds of Windows Updates, or maybe some other application updates, going on in the background. At the time, my system disk was a hard disk that was very slow, partly due to its degrading ahead of failing some months later. I’ve since replaced my old system disk with an SSD (I also have much faster Internet now, so that could help, too), and I have not seen that problem since. Whereas I used to see it occasionally, maybe once or twice a month, perhaps not so coincidentally timed with Windows Updates?

If you have a hard disk as a system disk, it may be worth running CrystalDiskInfo to check its health, and/or maybe running some benchmarks on the disk (I think there are some built into Windows, but I don’t recall the details on that at this point as it was a few years back when I first encountered issues of this type with another failing disk – my audio disk at that point – and was trying to figure out why freezing tracks would actually end up increasing the number of dropouts, in SONAR at the time, rather than helping things, and I determined it was severe disk performance issues).

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