Academy Dashboard Forum Production Mixing Producing or Mixing With SonarWorks vs. Waves NX/ARS3

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      Dear All,

      At yesterday's Feedback Friday Warren highlighted the new Waves Abbey Road Studio 3 plugin, which is similar to NX, but instead of a generic space, it simulates the acoustics of that particular room. This was the impetus to revisit NX and test ARS3, more from an IT perspective, as my computer, albeit in perfect health, counts as somewhat geriatric (late 2014 iMac) and CPU time is precious.

      I had NX since 2016 and never used it, because it was very unreliable back then both with camera and with the bluetooth tracker. I have been using SonarWorks for both the monitors and headphones and it worked reliably - although it didn't need to track my head... Here is a comparison for CPU usage (single 4GHz 4-core i7):

      Systemwide 4: 16-17%
      Plugin (hidden): 2-3%
      Plugin (open): 15%

      Waves NX, Abbey Road Studio 3 V10
      Downloaded this morning (13 Jul)
      Head Tracker App: 6.6% (with constant "head" movement)
      NX or ASR3 (hidden): 6%
      NX or ASR3 (open): 45-50%

      So, the total impact of using Waves NX or ASR3 seems to be around 13%, about the same as using Systemwide, but x6 that of using the SonarWorks plugin. Also, Waves has too much graphical fluff, but if not shown, the load is OK. (And they are not the only company adding too much visual fluff...)

      All measurements are after about 1min of not doing anything, except for gently shaking the headphones to simulate head movement.

      Just to complete the picture here are the base CPU loads for the DAWs I tested:

      Pro Tools 12.8.1 NATIVE
      Yes, it's old - and stable and is the latest version that can coexist with Media Composer... 🙂
      9-10% and scales very gracefully with additional tracks and plugins. But CPU overload is "catastrophic" even if told to ignore, it can leaves core audio in unstable state requiring resetting, e.g., by changing the audio buffer size. (Interestingly, increasing it is not necessarily helpful, PT seems happiest at 256 or 512.)

      Ableton Live 10.1
      Latest available
      5-6% scales well with tracks, but gets bogged down if there are track groups, in particular, nested groups. However, effect racks are very efficient and can do interesting multi-parallel processing. Not fussy about CPU overload, just drops audio and carries on...

      Cubase 8.5
      Old, but stable. Cubase 9 didn't even start sometimes and the plugin management was messed up, so never bothered with it.
      7.6-7.7% pretty consistent, scales well, but seems to have a higher track overhead than Pro Tools and starts to drop out at lower CPU loads.

      Cubase 10
      Latest version, just started testing.

      Not sure if anyone cares... 🙂 but sharing, just in case you have audio dropouts and wonder why, which can be rather annoying as one keeps adding tracks or effects. The DAW and other "baseline" components can crave out a lot of CPU cycles for themselves, leaving much less for the actual tracks.



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