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Old 12-04-2018, 08:34 PM
intermezzo intermezzo is offline
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Default Hardware advice for an EW beginner, using a Macbook

Hi EW,

I'm an undergraduate studying composition. I have only worked with acoustic instruments, paper/pencil, and notation software (e.g. Finale/Sibelius). I'm new to DAWs, but I want to begin making MIDI performances of my compositions. For now, I am stuck with my Macbook Pro 2015, specs below.

Macbook Pro 2015
RAM: 8GB 1867 MHz DDR3
Processor: 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5

I am willing to eventually purchase a better desktop rig, like a Mac Pro, but I want to wait about a year so that I can learn more about DAWs / EastWest libraries / choosing hardware / ensuring proper connections (e.g. how to properly connect multiple external hard drives to a USB hub without limiting bandwidth).

So, I basically want to learn the ropes of EastWest via my MacBook, before investing in a more serious setup. Given that, I would really appreciate your advice on how to make the most of my current set up. I have purchased EW Composer Cloud.

Some questions I have:
1. Does anyone have experience upgrading MacBook Pro RAM (unscrewing the laptop and manually installing)? By reading these forums it seems that 8GB of RAM is quite undesirable.

2. I have seen these forums recommend Samsung T3/T5s for external, and EVOs for internal. Since EVOs are cheaper, has anyone had success in buying an external casing for an internal drive (SATA to USB or thunderbolt)?

3. I feel a bit scared about achieving a proper external hard drive setup (I have read Lorenz W's helpful document but still have questions). There seem to be so many variables that may bottleneck your bandwidth. For example, what is the difference between T3 and T5 which are the only types of Samsung external SSDs for sale right now? And if I am using a USB hub to connect them to my MacBook, how can I be sure the USB hub does not bottleneck their performance? (If I am supposed to turn off bluetooth and internet as Lorenz recommends, then I need to use a USB hub to connect mouse and keyboard).

4. These forums make clear that more RAM is better, and faster HDD/SDD is better, but I haven't read much about CPU. How will my CPU limit my performance?

5. Besides the hardware aspects, what should I know about the EW Cloud libraries to optimize them for my not-so-powerful system? (e.g. people have mentioned the Hollywood library is more intense? Should I avoid that and focus on others? Are there tips for optimizing Logic and the Play engine?)

I'm sorry if my questions are redundant with other forum posts; I am happy to read resources that you might link me to!

Thank you for taking the time and I hope I can get started using EW and Logic soon!

Daniel
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2018, 02:12 AM
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LMW LMW is offline
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Hi Daniel,

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
1. Does anyone have experience upgrading MacBook Pro RAM (unscrewing
the laptop and manually installing)? By reading these forums it seems that
8GB of RAM is quite undesirable.
I've been mainly a Windows user my entire life. One of the large downsides of a MAC,
as far as I'm aware of, is the limited warranty and the problem of opening the case and
refitting the MBP / iMacs etc. Please remember that changing the internal hardware
on MACs should only be done by licensed support staff, since it will otherwise void
the warranty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
2. I have seen these forums recommend Samsung T3/T5s for external,
and EVOs for internal. Since EVOs are cheaper, has anyone had success in
buying an external casing for an internal drive (SATA to USB or thunderbolt)?
If possible, I'd directly go for the T-series, though I'm aware that it's definitely
a pricing issue. Externals casing can be problematic. In one of my recent cases,
after trouble-shooting, we recognized the case as being the issue for the Play
engine not reading and recognizing the drive.

I've very rarely had users with cases, so I hope that someone else can chime in!
After all, it might have been the specific connection or something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
3. I feel a bit scared about achieving a proper external hard drive setup (I have
read Lorenz W's helpful document but still have questions). There seem to be
so many variables that may bottleneck your bandwidth.
It's definitely true, that there are a lot of variables that can limit or interfere with
computer performance. I'm currently re-working that entire PDF to update it.
Thanks for bringing the limitations of the PDF to my attention. I'll update it till
this weekend. Much appreciated!

My document aims for a fully dedicated audio / DAW computer with optimized
settings on all points for best sample streaming capabilities and use. As for
my comments on them:

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
And if I am using a USB hub to connect them to my MacBook, how can I be
sure the USB hub does not bottleneck their performance?
It's an issue with the USB algorithm which can result in read-jumps. With direct
USB connections to the computer, I've never had any issues, no matter how many
peripherals and drives I've had connected. However, something that can result
in a rather significant issue with a hub is the power supply. Definitely make sure
that the hub is powered externaly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
If I am supposed to turn off bluetooth and internet as Lorenz recommends,
then I need to use a USB hub to connect mouse and keyboard.
Turning off Bluetooth and Wifi is only a recommendation to limit CPU use,
since it has a bit higher requirements. Wifi has the additional software concerns
of auto-updates implemented by various programs or the Operating System. You're
on a Mac, so that shouldn't be an issue with the latter (Win10, looking at you!).

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
For example, what is the difference between T3 and T5 which are the
only types of Samsung external SSDs for sale right now?
The differences of T3 and T5 are quite few. Mainly a higher bandwidth and
different external design.
https://news.samsung.com/global/info...rison-t3-vs-t5

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
4. These forums make clear that more RAM is better, and faster HDD/SDD is better,
but I haven't read much about CPU. How will my CPU limit my performance?
The CPU is used for the playback of the samples and the export of the audio.
The more your streaming simultaneously, the more your CPU will be taxed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
5. Besides the hardware aspects, what should I know about the EW Cloud
libraries to optimize them for my not-so-powerful system? (e.g. people have
mentioned the Hollywood library is more intense? Should I avoid that and
focus on others? Are there tips for optimizing Logic and the Play engine?)
The Hollywood series is indeed a lot more powerful than the Symphonic Orchestra.
And it also uses a lot more space. For the beginning, I'd probably recommend
SO due it's "out-of-the-box" sound due to pre-added reverbs, which require less
work for you. HO is quite dry so that will need you to put more effort into getting
it to sound good (well worth it, though).

I assume you have the regular ComposerCloud or the ComposerCloud X?
Since you're an undergrad, are you on the EDU plan? I didn't find your account.
Anyway, both of those use the Gold versions and having them all on one drive
is not an issue. If you were using Platinum / Diamond, then I'd definitely get
into more detail, but with Gold, most drive can handle quite a lot thrown at them.

Note that turning off WIFI and Bluetooth in this case is the pre-requisite for
safely turning off the background security programs. Do NOT turn off the security,
if you're still connected to the internet!

- Turn off WIFI and BlueTooth
- Unplug your LAN cable (basically, get off the internet)
- Turn off all background programs such as security etc.
Depending on your security settings, these might actually
be scanning the samples prior to them loading / playing.
- Only open your DAW. Check how many programs are
automatically run upon startup.

NOTE: Please remember that the turned off security settings
should be re-enabled prior to connecting to the internet again!

p. 19: The Sample Cache feature allows you to determine how many
of the samples are loaded directly into RAM or are streamed from the drive.
Test out different levels to see what works best for you.
p. 56: The Sample Purge feature allows you to remove any not used
samples from the RAM.
http://www.soundsonline-forums.com/d...ser-Manual.pdf

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Cheers.
__________________
Lorenz W. - EastWest Technical Support - E-Mail: lorenz@eastwestsounds.com

Helpful links: Sample Path, Library Sizes, Tips and Tricks, On DAWs - "On Drives" is being Updated
Hardware: OS W7 Pro, i7-4910MQ 2,9 GHz (Overclock to 3,9 GHz), 32GB RAM, int. 3TB 840 EVO SSDs,
ext. 1TB Samsung T1 + 6TB backup + UR22 Interface + Kawai MP7 (88 Keys) + Yamaha MS60S Speakers
Software: Cubase Pro 8.0.40, PLAY v6.X.X, EastWest et multi alii
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Old 12-05-2018, 10:41 AM
intermezzo intermezzo is offline
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Hi Lorenz,

Thank you for your detailed reply! I really appreciate you working on your PDF guide to hardware. When updating it, here are some questions I have, that other newbies may have as well. If anyone could address these questions before your PDF is updated (plus, a forum discussion that reaches a consensus on these questions would further validate your PDF's accuracy), that would be appreciated as well!:

1. Once I have purchased two external drives (since I am on laptop), one for Sample Libraries and one for DAW Projects, how can I test my system to ensure it is working as expected? (e.g. HDD/SDD read/write speed tests? Tests done via Play engine or DAW?)

2. On laptops, a USB hub will likely be necessary to use the two external drives + periphery items (mouse, keyboard). Please discuss how to choose a USB hub that will not limit performance, and how to test this once things are set up.

3. Testing / optimization strategies for variables other than HDD/SDD (e.g. CPU, RAM). In essence: if my DAW + EW Play is being slow, how can I tell if it is CPU, RAM, or HDD problem, and how can I alleviate those problems via optimization?

4. I see in your response below that you elaborated on the actual reason for turning off bluetooth/wifi. So are you saying that on Mac OS, turning off wifi will not help DAW + Play performance? One only needs to turn off bluetooth? Furthermore, how can one test whether turning off bluetooth/wifi helps performance? How much of a performance boost are you expecting?

5. Do you have any particular suggestions for workstations with low RAM? For example, I have an MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM. Are there certain things I should do/avoid doing that would help me get better results out of this limited RAM? Will 8GB of RAM make me UNABLE to do certain things or will it just make those things SLOWER? I don't understand the details of how RAM helps performance, and what will happen if my RAM is insufficient. For example, does streaming your libraries from an SSD compensate for the limitations of low RAM? (I may make this a completely separate post since I assume it is a long topic).

6. Is there a guide for how a beginner should approach using EW with a low-RAM beginner's workstation? For example, you said avoid Hollywood, and instead use Symphonic Orchestra. Are there more tips like this, for how to get good sounds with limited RAM/CPU resources?

And yes, I am on CCloud EDU (you couldn't find me bc I used my edu email for that, and a different email for this forum).

Thank you again I really appreciate this forum's help! All my questions above really are tied by one central concern: how can a newcomer with a limited-power workstation (8GB RAM MacBook, but with a fast SSD for libraries) make the most out of EW Play? If I encounter slowness, how can I overcome it without upgrading RAM (e.g. use a different EW library, test sample library SSD speed, test if CPU is performing as expected?). And will an SSD for samples make my low RAM less of a problem?
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Old 12-05-2018, 08:55 PM
jspencer jspencer is offline
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As usual, great advice from Lorenz! He's the man.

Daniel, as a guy that uses a 2013 MacBook Pro (i7, 16GB), here's my thoughts (in relation to your last post)....

1. There is a way to test the speeds, Lorenz can probably shed more light on that. I use a Samsung T5 for my samples, it's a great little drive. I just use an external Lacie 7200rpm for the project drive, but SSD's are "cheap" these days.

2. I use a hub. https://www.anker.com/products/varia...ub/68ANHUB-S7A

Just make sure you buy a powered hub (has a power supply), as opposed to a bus powered unit.

3. Turn off Wi-Fi and close other apps that might be unnecessary.

4. I use Bluetooth for my trackpad, no issues. Wi-Fi won't be an issue if you can ensure your Mac is not trying to use it to access the internet, cloud, etc. This will interfere with performance.

5. If your system chokes, you can freeze tracks in your DAW (the MIDI data gets converted into audio). In reality though, 8GB is okay for the smaller libraries, such as Symphonic Orchestra, Goliath, etc. The Hollywood series will inevitably bring your system to its knees....especially Hollywood Strings. Your OS is probably gobbling up 2GB, leaving you with 6GB if you're lucky (that's not very much). You could load and program a few Hollywood Strings tracks, but once you start adding more instruments, you'll experience dropouts, pops and clicks, and possible crashing. NOTE: the Ram in your MacBook is soldered, you cannot upgrade it.

6. Experiment and see what happens...you already have CC. If you stick to the libraries like Symphonic Orchestra, you'll get by okay. It's a decent library, I still use it

Another thing to consider (and Lorenz left this one for me!), is an audio interface. This will allow you to run the samples with lower latency, and give you better overall performance when playing the samples.

Ultimately though, a newer, more powerful computer is the way to go once you have the money.
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Old 12-05-2018, 09:59 PM
intermezzo intermezzo is offline
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Thank you for your advice, Jeremy!

It is good to know that you haven't observed performance hits while using a USB hub, and don't have issues using bluetooth peripherals.

Also good to know that if I encounter problems because my laptop is at its limit, I can freeze audio in place to alleviate the issue.

Could you please elaborate on how an audio interface will be helpful to me, or direct me to any readings on that topic? I haven't encountered that at all in my research so far...And I don't know anything about them.
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Old 12-06-2018, 05:50 AM
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LMW LMW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer View Post
Another thing to consider (and Lorenz left this one for me!), is an audio interface.
This will allow you to run the samples with lower latency, and give you better overall
performance when playing the samples.
Haha. Yeah, you're the audio interface guy around here.
I still remember you recommending I get one all those years ago.
Still using that UR22.

You can read up on sound cards here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_...dio_interfaces)

I'll get around to commenting on the rest in a few hours. Cheers.
__________________
Lorenz W. - EastWest Technical Support - E-Mail: lorenz@eastwestsounds.com

Helpful links: Sample Path, Library Sizes, Tips and Tricks, On DAWs - "On Drives" is being Updated
Hardware: OS W7 Pro, i7-4910MQ 2,9 GHz (Overclock to 3,9 GHz), 32GB RAM, int. 3TB 840 EVO SSDs,
ext. 1TB Samsung T1 + 6TB backup + UR22 Interface + Kawai MP7 (88 Keys) + Yamaha MS60S Speakers
Software: Cubase Pro 8.0.40, PLAY v6.X.X, EastWest et multi alii
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Old 12-06-2018, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
1. Once I have purchased two external drives (since I am on laptop),
one for Sample Libraries and one for DAW Projects, how can I test my system to ensure
it is working as expected? (e.g. HDD/SDD read/write speed tests? Tests done via Play engine or DAW?)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer View Post
1. There is a way to test the speeds, Lorenz can probably shed more light on that. I use a
Samsung T5 for my samples, it's a great little drive. I just use an external Lacie 7200rpm
for the project drive, but SSD's are "cheap" these days.
Basic testing would include loading up a template and seeing if that runs for you.
My own template, which you can get here is setup for 32GB. So divide that by five
and you should be good to go. Then when testing, see how the RAM and the CPU
spike in comparison to idle usage. Even when doing nothing in your project,
there will be a certain amount of usage, which I recommend should not be
higher than 20%!

For full testing of drive speeds etc., you'll need benchmark software. Note that this is
not laboratory environments, so it's highly improbable that you'll actually get the results,
which are advertised as maximum speeds by the manufacturer. Though it shouldn't be that
far off, either, of course. Check the drive forums or directly contact the drive manufacturer
for support, if the discrepancy is too large.

As for the specific benchmark software, you'll need to do a google on that one. "Hard Drive
Benchmark Test Mac" will result in enough reputable software and articles coming up on the
first search result page.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
2. On laptops, a USB hub will likely be necessary to use the two external drives + periphery
items (mouse, keyboard). Please discuss how to choose a USB hub that will not limit performance,
and how to test this once things are set up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer View Post
2. Just make sure you buy a powered hub (has a power supply), as opposed to a bus powered unit.
If possible, and I know this is a large if, I'd connect drive peripherals directly to your computer.
If you have a single SSD - as I'm guessing from your previous statements on what you were
looking into - then with the MacBook Pro 2015, you have two USB 3.0 ports available.
You can use one for the drive, and one for the hub and remaining peripherals.

But the really important thing is what Jeremy wrote: It HAS to be powered!

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
3. Testing / optimization strategies for variables other than HDD/SDD (e.g. CPU, RAM).
In essence: if my DAW + EW Play is being slow, how can I tell if it is CPU, RAM, or HDD
problem, and how can I alleviate those problems via optimization?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer View Post
3. Turn off Wi-Fi and close other apps that might be unnecessary.
You can usually tell CPU and RAM issues directly from their usage if you open the Activity Monitor.
If those are running at heights of 80+%, then it's quite obviously going to be those.

As for the drive, that will be noticeable via pops-and-clicks during playback. This is due to the
read speed no longer being able to keep up with what you're throwing at it.

Use the Sample Cache feature to toggle how much is being streamed from RAM vs disk.
The lower the value, the more is streamed from the disk, therefore, is better for SSDs,
since they have more bandwidth.

p. 19: The Sample Cache feature allows you to determine how many
of the samples are loaded directly into RAM or are streamed from the drive.
Test out different levels to see what works best for you.
p. 56: The Sample Purge feature allows you to remove any not used
samples from the RAM.
http://www.soundsonline-forums.com/d...ser-Manual.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
4. I see in your response below that you elaborated on the actual reason for turning off
bluetooth/wifi. So are you saying that on Mac OS, turning off wifi will not help DAW + Play
performance? One only needs to turn off bluetooth? Furthermore, how can one test whether
turning off bluetooth/wifi helps performance? How much of a performance boost are you expecting?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer View Post
4. I use Bluetooth for my trackpad, no issues. Wi-Fi won't be an issue if you can
ensure your Mac is not trying to use it to access the internet, cloud, etc. This will
interfere with performance.
Ah, my apologies for not clarifying that better. Jeremy explained it quite well, I find.
The main reason for turning off bluetooth and Wifi is to disconnect the computer from
any other outside source. This would then allow you to safely turn off the security programs.
I'm not too sure how it is on Macs, but for Windows, they have been known to check
each sample prior to streaming / loading. When turning it off, I've had reports of
template loads being reduced from 20 minutes to a measly 7 minutes.

Apart from the security program issue, there is also the problem with auto-updates and
installations of programs and Operating Systems. Those can get highly annoying if they
start happening during your project work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
5. Do you have any particular suggestions for workstations with low RAM? For example,
I have an MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM. Are there certain things I should do/avoid doing
that would help me get better results out of this limited RAM?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer View Post
5. If your system chokes, you can freeze tracks in your DAW (the MIDI data
gets converted into audio). [...] NOTE: the Ram in your MacBook is soldered,
you cannot upgrade it.
Please note the note!

Basically, every patch requires a certain amount of RAM to be used. Each sample of the patch
needs to be loaded or at least be recognized and prepared by the system for usage.

You can read up on an answer to my question on overloading RAM a few years back which jcrosby
answered quite satisfactorily: http://soundsonline-forums.com/showt...50162&p=759191

You can use the previously mentioned Sample Cache feature to determine how much is being
streamed from RAM vs Disk. And the Sample Purge feature allows you to remove any unused
samples once you've already finished that track (you can easily reload them via Play > Main
Menu > Sample Purge > Reload.

p. 19: The Sample Cache feature allows you to determine how many
of the samples are loaded directly into RAM or are streamed from the drive.
Test out different levels to see what works best for you.
p. 56: The Sample Purge feature allows you to remove any not used
samples from the RAM.
http://www.soundsonline-forums.com/d...ser-Manual.pdf

Apart from that, you can export to audio - I recommend using high quality exports e.g.
.wav / 24-bit / 44.1kHz - where you can then re-import the stems (this should be directly
available as a feature in the DAW of your choice) into the project.

Quote:
Originally Posted by intermezzo View Post
6. Is there a guide for how a beginner should approach using EW with a low-RAM beginner's
workstation? For example, you said avoid Hollywood, and instead use Symphonic Orchestra.
Are there more tips like this, for how to get good sounds with limited RAM/CPU resources?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer View Post
6. Experiment and see what happens...you already have CC. If you stick to the libraries
like Symphonic Orchestra, you'll get by okay. It's a decent library, I still use it
Not really, I'm afraid. It's mostly a combination of experimenting with how much
you can throw at your computer template / patch-amount wise before it gives up.

---

I hope I got everything. Soundcards / audio interfaces is one post up.

Cheers.
__________________
Lorenz W. - EastWest Technical Support - E-Mail: lorenz@eastwestsounds.com

Helpful links: Sample Path, Library Sizes, Tips and Tricks, On DAWs - "On Drives" is being Updated
Hardware: OS W7 Pro, i7-4910MQ 2,9 GHz (Overclock to 3,9 GHz), 32GB RAM, int. 3TB 840 EVO SSDs,
ext. 1TB Samsung T1 + 6TB backup + UR22 Interface + Kawai MP7 (88 Keys) + Yamaha MS60S Speakers
Software: Cubase Pro 8.0.40, PLAY v6.X.X, EastWest et multi alii

Last edited by LMW; 12-06-2018 at 11:37 AM.
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