Why Dorico is it so slow and painful?


After some vacations I’m back and open Dorico, ready to start working again, and -I don’t know why- after the fortnight break Dorico, which already didn’t love my using Vienna Ensemble Pro for the playback, doesn’t respond and freezes most of the time, even when I use the Halion Symphony Orchestra bank (which I don’t really like, but I wanted to give it a try until Vienna will be more integrated to Dorico). It’s crazy: when I ask for the music to be played, nothing happens, after a while it starts playing but I can’t stop it anymore…

I should precise my try today was to import some midi sheet music just to practice, it’s not a score I made from scratch. But I reloaded each of the three instruments involved-I mean, it’s really a few and there shouldn’t be no problem at all! So Dorico freezes even with 3 instruments in Halion.

Is there something wrong with my setup? I even made a check of my computer today with the Apple diagnostic routine, and it said my computer is ok.

I read at some point people sending a crash report, or I don’t know how to call it, but I wouldn’t be able to do it, especially because it doesn’t crash: it becomes hyper slow, it is almost a dead software, but it doesn’t completely freeze-for instance it doesn’t propos me to “force to quit”’.

Any idea?

Forgot to ad in my signature that I’m running Mojave OS - and the last eLicenser driver.

Thanks a lot,

Added information: when I launch the activity monitor, Dorico is on top regarding the ressources in the processor and the memory tabs, with another things called VST Audio Engine. I should also precise that I just got the RME ARC USB, sort of a remote for my sound card, today (the RME Fireface 802 has no volume knob…), and the problem appeared today, could it be linked to it?

You can do Help > Create Diagnostic Report, which will create a zip file on your desktop called “Dorico Diagnostics.zip” that you can attach here. My suspicion is that you are experiencing some kind of MIDI feedback loop: go to the Play page of Preferences and click the ‘MIDI Input Devices’ button to check that Dorico is not receiving input from a device that is also being used for playback.

Without addressing the speed of Dorico, there’s a way to give your 2015 iMac a major speed boost for not much money. VSL is a major resource hog but, again, this can be improved at far less cost than the iMac Pro you really need for what you are doing.

The 2015 has a fast NVMe 3 x4 bus but uses a much slower blade (this wasn’t corrected till the 2017 model). A fast blade such as the WD Black 3D + adapter and tape kit runs around $400 for 2TB. If unwilling to crack it open yourself, professional installation and data transfer costs around $100.
Adapter https://www.amazon.com/Sintech-Adapter-Upgrade-2013-2016-2013-2015/dp/B07FYY3H5F/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=nvme+adapter+mac&qid=1578169823&s=electronics&sr=1-3

Do not get the OWC equivalent. Besides being a lot more money, they caution against using it in a late 2015 iMac.

Many thanks Daniel for your prompt answer! I think you got it right: this was linked to the RME ARC USB, supposed to be a remote for my sound card, but which appeared in the midi input list. I just unchecked it and it seems it works quite better. I also made the diagnostics, but until things go wrong again I won’t send it to you (although I keep the routine in mind in case of future issue). Thanks again, Benjamin

Thank you PF for all the details, which unfortunately I’m not sure I understand very well, even with Google Translation! I’m not English mother tongue, as one can easily guess, and pretty bad with computers. But maybe I got it: If I buy the two items you make a link to ($ 400) and have them installed by a professional ($ 100), this will boost my Mac (for $ 500)? And spare me the buying of a new machine which would cost much more? Thanks again, Benjamin

Benjamin, MVMe is basically a faster, newer form of flash storage. If you’re performing tasks that pull from the hard disk a lot, NVMe will really speed things up (as opposed to SATA SSDs).

Although Paul W from the Dorico team mentioned here recently that disk speed is not a major factor in Dorico. Overall though, NVMe does really make a computer snappier. I guess something like VSL would be significantly altered by improved disk speed. Not sure how much.

Thank you Dan for the explanation. Does it replace the SSDs, or is it just a “link” to them? Best, B.

Replaces, I think. But my knowledge of the details is limited. I had thought this was determined by the architecture of the motherboard.

I had a friend build me a computer for home use. He installed storage drives as NVMe instead of SATA.

Hopefully someone else can answer your question better…

I will try to make this easy to understand and leave out as much unnecessary jargon—but I can’t leave it all out.

Hybrid storage consists of a tiny blade + a large HDD. 2013–2015 model SSD only iMacs have an AHCI blade style SSD. 2017 on uses NVMe 3 x4 blade SSDs. (the 2018 Mini, iMac Pro and new Mac Pro use proprietary blades controlled by the T2 chip — not an issue here).

For comparison, an AHCI blade is 44% speed of a slow NVMe 3 x4 SSD (Crucial P1 or Intel 660P) and roughly 25% the speed of a WD Black 3D or Samsung 970 EVO.

A 2015 iMac is an interesting hybrid of older and newer tech. Like most iMacs, from 2013 on, the 27" (and most but not all 21.5") have two storage bays: a PCIe blade bus and a SATA III bus.

The blade bus in a 2015 is NVMe 3 x4 (new for 2015). Although rated very fast, Apple used the older, much slower AHCI blade. This drive can be upgraded as I described in my earlier post to a fast NVMe 3 x4 blade (there are slower 3 x4 blades on the market, too). The Samsung 970 EVO and WD Black 3D are two of the fast blades out there. Essentially, this upgrade turns your 2015 into a much faster 2017 SSD only model.

The SATA III bus can take a mechanical drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SSD). A SATA III SSD is about 1/6 the speed of the NVMe bus with a fast 3 x4 blade and an HDD is even slower. Connecting an external SSD over Thunderbolt or USB 3 doesn’t matter since the speed bottleneck is SATA III.

Older iMacs:

2013–2014 — A 3 x4 blade can be used to replace the AHCI blade in older 2013–2014 iMacs and Mac Pro 6.1. Slow or fast doesn’t matter since the bus is 3 x2 so the speed is half of 3 x4 (still over 2x AHCI). Blades are available up to 2TB and slow ones are inexpensive. There’s a wake from sleep issue and workarounds — none of this applies to the 2015. I only mention this for those with older machines.

2011–2012 — Both busses are SATA III even though there’s a blade connector for one on the 2012. Adapters are available. The 2011 also has a SATA II bus for the CD/DVD drive. Use a single SATA III SSD plus the OWC 2011–on Thermal sensor to get the most speed out of these — runs much cooler, too. Last OS is High Sierra on the 2011.

2009–2010 (21.5" & 27") — Both busses are SATA II — the 2010 has a third SATA II bus. Again, use a single SATA III SSD plus the correct OWC 2009–10 Thermal sensor to get the most speed out of these — runs much cooler, too. Last OS is High Sierra on the 2009–10.

Throwing away the HDDs in my 2009–2012 iMacs lowered my electrical bill enough to more than pay for the upgrade. I had to run the air conditioner on mild days just to keep my office cool. All of those machines still run well since I got rid of those internal heat pumps.

To simplify: Macs c. 2013-2015 can use a variety of faster SSDs than the ones they were shipped with. I have a similar type of Apple SSD in my 2014 MacBook Pro** as your 2015 iMac, and I get speeds of 1300 Mbps Write and 1500 Mbps Read.

Dorico works very well for me, launching and loading samples swiftly, and I have no problems in medium-weight usage. While you (and I) might see some general speed improvements from an even faster SSD, I’m not sure it would improve the performance of Dorico in operation, once it’s up and running with samples loaded.

You certainly should not be getting freezes, slowdowns and playback problems as ‘standard’, even on an older, slower Mac.

This page gives a detailed history of the SSDs used by Apple in Macs.

**I upgraded the original PCIe 2 x lane SSD for a 1Tb Apple 2015 part with 4 lanes. It’s still AHCI, and I could probably get a faster NVMe blade, but I’m not convinced of the cost/benefit over what I’ve already bought, in both size and speed, which certainly isn’t a limiting factor on my usage.

There’s a big difference between the speed you need for editing HD video (for example) and working with audio.

Unless Mac “conventional” SSDs have low performance for some reason, I don’t think getting the latest alternative will make any significant difference.

To an outsider, the whole thing looks like Apple’s general “let’s make everything proprietary and backwards incompatible” business strategy rather than a real user benefit for most people.

I agree that in a 5-year-old machine, a faster SSD than stock is not going be the bottleneck.

Except for all the things they deliberate go to great lengths to make things compatible and non-proprietary, like including fixes in their OS for specific third-party software, and contributing to open source and hardware open standards.

People complained when Apple introduced the USB connector. People complain when Apple doesn’t use the latest hardware. People complain (at the price) when Apple does use the latest hardware. (And the same with user-serviceability.)

The important thing is that people complain. If Apple thought that enough people cared what kind of connector was on their SSD (and wouldn’t end up at the Apple Store because they’d replaced it with the wrong sort of off-the-peg module) they’d use a different one.

One word: Catalina.

But hey, if you deliberately design an OS upgrade that breaks hundreds of third party apps, I guess you can claim that “helping to fix them after you broke them” is a positive thing.

Windows 10 runs 20-year-old apps written for Windows XP with no problems, and nothing to fix. Just saying. (They did break some Windows 98 apps though, because the old 16-bit installers don’t work any more…)

This getting very tangential, but at what cost to Apple and the userbase should Apple continue to develop and install 2 sets of code libraries? Twice the bugs, twice the disk footprint.
Apple has given developers several years notice that 32-bit was going to be turned off: you can’t blame Apple if devs don’t respond in that time.

To quote you in another thread: “Progress is made one funeral at a time. The people who don’t want to move on from what they know aren’t important - they won’t keep buying the old products for ever.”
People who want to keep using old software on old hardware aren’t anyone’s customer. Microsoft is unlikely to support 32-bit forever.

Thank you all for your precise answers.

@PF Slow : I think you’re definitely in the right direction, as I noticed some time ago (from the moment I bought this second hand iMac-from a guy working at Apple) that my electricity bill had jumped, plus I had to install a little software, a fan controller, within my iMac as it went to more than 60 degrees when I was working with Cubase (Dorico seems to be even more greedy and heating, but with the fan controller that’s sort of ok). I’m going to get some info to find somebody doing this for me, as I will never be able to open the computer by myself and do the job…