Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pro Tools Quick Tip: Dynamically Maximize Your Computer's CPU Power

There's nothing more frustrating than to be deep inside of a mix and to suddenly start getting Pro Tools errors related to your computer reaching the limits of its processing power. Here's a simple yet effective tip that can help you make the most of the power you have available: simply automate the Master Bypass parameter on your plug-ins so that they are not using up CPU cycles when no audio is being passed through them. A good example is to bypass the plug-ins on your chorus tracks during the verse sections, and the verse plug-ins during the chorus sections. To enable automation for the Master Bypass parameter on any plug-in, hold down Ctrl+Command+Option (Ctrl+Alt+Start on PC), and click the Bypass button in the plug-in's GUI, then choose Enable Automation for Master Bypass. Next, change the track view selector to show the Bypass automation lane for that plug-in, and draw in the automation.

After looking deeper into this, it appears that some plug-ins stop using CPU cycles when bypassed while others do not. In my testing in Pro Tools 10, plug-ins by Brainworx, Fxpansion, Line 6, Kush Audio, Massey, Slate Digital, Softube, and URS all showed reduced CPU usage, while plug-ins by Avid/Digidesign (including AIR, Bomb Factory and Trillium Lane), McDSP, Sonalksis, SoundToys, and Waves did not. If you find others that do or do not stop using CPU cycles when bypassed, post them in the comments section and I will update this post accordingly.

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