Playback problem with VSL Synchron Prime on Dorico 4

I use the latest version of Dorico 4 on a Mac mini with M1 processor and 16 GB of ram on Mac OS 12.3 Monterey. I downloaded a 30-day demo of VSL Synchron Prime in the hope its comparatively modest computer requirements would allow it to function smoothly but found it plays back my test piece the first time with annoying pops and clicks but afterwards, plays back smoothly. This behavior is unchanged regardless of the number of initial samples I load into the Synchron player. VSL has been very helpful and tell me this problem does’t arise on similarly spec’d Windows computers and, in any event, I should get noticeably fewer pops and clicks as I load more initial samples into the Synchron player. VSL suggests the problem doesn’t appear to be based on the 16 GB ram on my system but instead from a software hangup from either Dorico 4 or the Monterey operating system. Has anybody else tried Synchron Prime with an M1 processor and have you had similar problems?

I note with interest Daniel’s response 2 weeks ago in the thread “Why does Dorico work so hard when changing instrument routing?”:
An update on this issue: we have isolated the things that Dorico 4 is doing differently than Dorico 3.5 in this regard, and in an initial test with BBC SO we have got the response time down to more or less the same as Dorico 3.5. The change will have to go through testing and so on, but there’s reason for optimism that this should be resolved in the next update.

The next update came out today and I wonder if the changes referred to might also resolve the problems I was having with the first playback of Dorico files when using VSL Synchron Prime. Unfortunately, my demo copy of that library expired a couple of days ago so I am unable to try out the updated version of Dorico 4 and see for myself. The problems I experienced also showed up in a playback of my test file by “Andreas” at VSL who was very helpful throughout and came to the conclusion:

I can confirm the issue with requiring a 2nd playthrough - but only on Mac, for some reason. I wonder if that is some strange interaction with Dorico on Mac… I just checked with a huge preload size 32768 and the same issues can be experienced for the 1st play through. And that was 12 GB already loaded - instead of 1 GB. So it’s not a player streaming issue.

EDIT: I want to add something about the Dorico file I used for testing and I hope this edit won’t bump my post. Following John Barron’s March 31st “Discover Dorico” session, I entered the first 14 bars of Mahler #1, mov’t. 4 and this was the primary Dorico test file I used with Synchron Prime at home and sent to VSL. I mention this to clarify that my playback difficulties were not related to huge numbers of instruments or bars. IRV was turned on to accommodate condensing.

@dspreadbury, I hope the conclusion of my first posting above doesn’t obscure the fact that I’m hoping to learn whether my playback problems might arise from an unusual Dorico problem with Mac as the VSL employee suggested might be the case—apologies if you are already looking into this!

Hi @Mike_999 , clicks and pops during playback usually mean a problem in the audio engine, and not that Dorico can’t stream quick enough the MIDI data to the audio engine. So I don’t think that it has anything to do with Dorico as such, especially not with the problem Daniel mentioned.
Well, I can get in touch with Vienna and ask them for a Prime license and try it out myself, I have an M1 Mac Mini here as well.

Thanks, Ulf! I’m hoping the problem can be resolved without (eventually) moving to a more powerful computer. This seems likely, though, since VSL says the problem doesn’t arise on a similarly spec’d Windows machine and the M1-equipped computers account for themselves very well in most respects.

Btw, would you be able to share your test piece with me, @Mike_999 ?

The attached file was the first one I played back using VSL Prime and also the one I sent to VSL (my communications there were with “Andreas”). Also, my M1 Mac mini is the one with 16 GB of ram.

2022-06-03 23-39-32_Mahler.Symphony 1.Movement 4.vsl.dorico (1.6 MB)

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Hi @Mike_999 ,
I have now Synchron Prime running on my Mac and can confirm that behaviour.
However, I think the problem is on Vienna side.

I also tried with a new audio engine that is more close to the latest Cubase 12 audio engine and which has a lot of improvements, especially for running on Mac, but the behaviour is always the same.

The fact that it only happens only during the first time playback after project load, makes me think it is not our fault. Even if I load the project and wait for a couple of minutes before starting playback, I still get the audio drop outs. Our audio engine runs stateless and knows nothing about project start or first time loading, it just sits there processing whatever is currently in that moment needed.
From a different case I also know, that the Synchron Player easily reaches the limit of the CPU, because it is not optimized for multi-core processing. I had a user with a very powerful machine and lots of cores, but Synchron player would only ever make use of one core. Then this one core would be completely stretched out and drop outs occured even though 15 other cores had basically nothing to do. Something along this effect also takes place here, I think. Probably the fetching of samples is the culprit. Synchron only preloads a certain amount of samples and needs to suddenly load other stuff when the playback starts. Once it’s running everything is there and playback is smooth afterwards.
I will try to get in touch with VSL developers and discuss this further .

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It’s interesting the problems you mention with audio dropouts when first running the project as that pretty well describes the behaviour with the BBC Core. There seems to be dropouts for the first minute or so which suggests to me that there may be somewhat similar behaviour with this engine. However a) this issue is primarily with Dorico 4, not 3.5 and b) although I haven’t tried the new Synchron Prime orchestra, there do not appear to be problems with the SE packages which you might think would be similar in resource requirements.

I should say this is a Windows 10 machine. It is interesting that there is a new Cubase audio engine as it’s not impossible that might sort the issues I have had with Dorico 4 audio, though they are largely restricted to the BBC orchestra (running in general under VEP as standalone is clearly worse)

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Hello @Ulf, @dko22 and @Mike_999,
I hope you are all doing great during this extremely hot summer! :slight_smile:
Despite the fact that Germans are most famous for their hard working and engineering mind,
of course with all my respect to @Ulf and his amazing work on the audio engine behind Dorico,
but VSL Synchron Player looks like something designed in Germany and developed in some village in China, or Namibia… :smiley:
It runs fine with small libraries, but when it comes to larger ones like Dimension Strings Bundle, it’s an absolute disaster… It eats enormous amount of real-time resources, which is the main cause for pops, clicks… etc.
I’m a bit disappointed by the VSL team, because one the guys there promised me, on 13th of May, that one of his colleagues will take a look deeper into the Performance issue of Synchron Player during the upcoming week (after 13th of May). Guess what? :smiley: No one contacted me on this problem even after 2 messages I’ve sent them asking about news and improvements on this topic. We are already in July. I wrote them my 3rd message today in the late morning, but still no any reply.
VSL produces the most expensive virtual instruments on the market, but when there are serious issues no one of them takes responsibility.
@Mike_999, you are having this issue on Mac OS, me on Windows 10 Pro… Both we are having enough powerful CPUs, no matter that mine are older 2x Xeon 8-Core E5-2670 0 @ 2.60 GHz (Overclocked to 3.0 GHz).
I would strongly recommend you to write to VSL about this issue. They should realize that there is a serious performance issue with the Synchron Player.

Best wishes,
Thurisaz :slight_smile:

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The village’s name is Vienna and is the capital of Austria. The company is Vienna Symphonic Library and has nothing to do with Steinberg.

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In the Synchron Player click on the cogwheel and select “Force enable all slots”. This will avoid pops and clicks during first playback as all articulations will have been loaded already.

Hi @olilo ,
Thank you for your reply! :slight_smile:

Unfortunately this doesn’t help. This option is already enabled and still I’m having issues with Synchron Player.
Even the guy from @symphonic-riot , who worked on the Dorico Expression Maps sets for Vienna Instruments Pro warned me about serious performance issues with Synchron Player.
The only reason to invest in the Synchronized DS Bundle was the fact that VI Pro will be discontinued in future.

Thank you for the information, but I know perfectly where Vienna is. :wink: After all Austria is founded by some of German tribes, they speak the same language, just different dialects, basically one people in two separate countries. Just the Austrians are slightly more conservative and strict as society than the Germans in Germany. :wink:
I’m aware that VSL has nothing to do with Steinberg, unfortunately… I’m starting to think that VSL should be acquired by Steinberg. This will have positive effect on VSL products, no doubt. :slight_smile:

Best regards,
Thurisaz :slight_smile:

Hi Ulf, and thanks. The time and effort you and other members of the Dorico team put into sorting out users’ problems is incredible and much appreciated! From @dko22’s posting below it appears that similar problems may well be a fact of life with BBC Core and I will likely hold off on purchasing an orchestral library to supplement NotePerformer until I can more safely rely on the relevant sample players that come with those libraries.

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@olilo, thanks for the suggestion but I had already enabled all slots to accommodate condensing and unfortunately, this did not resolve the problem.

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I can confirm what Thurisaz says about the OS. It runs without issue on my Win11 system, first time and every time…

Hi @wcreed,
Thank you for your reply! :slight_smile:
Would you, please, make your statement more clear?
You can confirm, or you can’t?
If you can confirm, it’s valid for Windows 10 Pro?
After upgrading to Windows 11 everything works fine?
If you could share more details from your experience, would be very helpful. :slight_smile:

Best regards,
Thurisaz :slight_smile:

I built this system months ago, so can’t comment on Win10. I can’t imagine it’s any different though

I can only repeat that the VSL Special Edition with a full orchestral template works absolutely fine — my very modest processor (i3 4x core) runs at generally 30-40% with no clicks or dropouts . It’s possible a) they’ve got something wrong with the Prime version, in which case consider SE vol1 or b) it’s only a Mac issue. The full Dimension libraries will, not surprisingly, require more resources but I don’t know if the programming is any worse than the competition. From my experience, Spitfire’s BBC is clearly more problematical and many others have had similar issues.

Off topic!

Hi @dko22,
About your problem with BBC SO.
Try the following settings in the Spitfire Player in order to improve the performance:

  • Maximum Voices: 768 (Default 512)
  • Preload size: 6144 (Default 12288)
  • Stream Buffer Size: 8192 (Default 65536)
  • Maximum Pitch Voices: 12 (Default 8)

I’ve issues with BBC SO Pro and I was given these settings by the Spitfire Audio support.
Now everything works as expected.

Best regards,
Thurisaz :slight_smile: