Is something wrong with Ableton's CPU usage in Windows? (Also, hi I'm new)

Hey. I’m new, never posted before, and don’t mean to stir anything up. You won’t get any argument from me, no matter what you say; I just want to see if anybody knows what I’m talking about–if you do, you might well be weirded out over it like I am and hopefully forgive the long post as I explain. I definitely know I’m not the only one, there are discussions on Reddit and Ableton forums, I know from Googling, but not as many as there should be if this were widespread. I swear it’s real, but all crackpots say that, don’t they?

I have been dealing with this for at least months, if not a year-I think version 11 brought the problem to the surface. So, lots of troubleshooting and working over it, but the short version: I can load the exact same thing into Mixcraft and Ableton, and Mixcraft easily handles it while Ableton stutters to an agonizing and noisy halt–not crashing, just hitting 80 to 100+ on the CPU (set to Average) and grinding to a halt. Just a few tracks–couple of instances of Guitar Rig, a synth, a track of Spectrasonics Trillian, maybe a sprinkle of EZ Drummer–bit of a load, but nothing it shouldn’t be able to handle on an i7, and nothing Mixcraft can’t handle on the same machine.

I’ve upgraded to an i9 desktop in the last few days, and the CPU meter on Ableton runs up to 35 or 40% while Mixcraft with the same load is literally at 0 or 1 %–which is where it should be on a friggin’ i9 with 64 megs of RAM. Sure, take the CPU meter with a grain of salt, but that’s a pretty extreme difference, yes? User error, sure, some sort of thing I’m doing wrong (the Windows power setting is on High Performance, not Balanced if you want to know…) but Mixcraft is on the same machine with the same fumbling user, so…

I haven’t actually overloaded Ableton with the new machine as I constantly did on the laptop, but only because I’m not curious enough to test it, I bet I could with just a few tracks of Arturia emulations played with lots of chords and a couple of Guitar Rig presets with stereo splits in them–Ableton hates those, Ableton just goes, “Nah.”

I’m giving up on Ableton (after the full Suite investment…buyer’s remorse? yup. oh yeah), I’ll use it as a lab for sound and Mixcraft as my actual DAW, so fine.

But I’m very, very curious. Does anybody else think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with Ableton’s multi-core processing in Windows? Or something like that? I’m about 90% sure Ableton is only tapping a fraction of the power from my CPU. Anybody? If you haven’t experienced it, you probably won’t believe me, and that’s fine, but I’ll say again, I know I’m not the only one.

Anyway, way long post for a first post, but this has been killing me for a long time and I thought I’d just ask in a nice quiet place where people likely won’t scream that I know nothing about music, tech, life or Shinola.

Hi David,

It’s a mix bag of number of cores and clock speed with Ableton Live I believe.

Next to this, your audio interface and settings like sample rate and buffering ( for both your interface and inside Live preferences also come into play since it’s also taxing more CPU power or more audio DSP resources depending of your settings ).

While Live supports and can take advantage of multi-cores CPU, the reality behind this is that 1 track equal 1 thread, so that’s why it’s a mix bag between number of cores and CPU clock speed and multi-threading performances.

The number of tracks might not seem important at first but the plugins you’ve listed above are quite heavy on CPU and again in Live, it’s 1 thread for 1 track and even using only 1 very resources hungry plug-in might result in high CPU usage and jumps TBH.

All of that said, I’m not an expert in Live and that might be something to discuss more on Ableton’s forums I believe, here’s a thread as well as the support article from Ableton’s FAQ about the matter.

Live not using all cores

Multi-core CPU handling

Let’s see if other community members share their own feedback and experience with this :sunglasses:


Sorry to learn you’re having performance issue with Ableton Live.

Can you tell us what audio interface you are using?

If your interface doesn’t have a native ASIO driver, make sure to use ASIO4ALL as explained here:

Switching to ASIO can make a huge difference if you’re not already using that driver type.

Looking forward to hearing back from you!

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