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Jagman13

Tracking with Helix Native 1.5

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Problem

Has anyone found a workable way to multitrack using HXN that doesn't hog or max out their system pretty quickly? 

System

2016 32G Ram iMac 5K (10.12.6)  (I use it for 4K video editing  so its plenty snappy).

Scenario/Workflow

Open a new project in Logic (10.4.1) Only Logic open and running on the system. 

Open once instance of superior drummer (2.x) all samples loaded in RAM/cache  - 2Gb max. 

Open two instances of HXN and select say PV Panama for stereo rhythm guitars (L+R)

Open another two/three Instances of HXN to work on lead lines and whatever else. 

 

So at most there are up to five separate HXN Instances running with Superior. 

 

Results 

By this stage the system is starting max out and I am getting a lot of stuttering pops, clicks and occasionally system overload messages as I overdub and add new parts to these instances.  Looking at the CPU utilisation proves this. 

 

Solution

The only way to I have found to get around this is to freeze all tracks and then I can carry on working. But this is more of a work around and doing so interrupts my workflow and slows it down. 

 

Possible solution?

I recently tried track summing the HXN tracks with once instance of HXN open at the top of the summing track and then recorded the separate audio tracks underneath. (The theory being that if there is only one HXN instance open with the audio tracks using that one instance, this might cut down the CPU usage)

But no, the results were pretty much the same.

 

Questions

- Is anyone else finding similar results?

- Is HXN really that much of a CPU hog? Am I expecting too much from HXN given it is a relatively new introduction and perhaps not been streamlined or optimised properly for MAC/PC just yet?

- Are LINE 6 working on reducing the CPU/RAM usage?  

- Has anyone found or using another work flow that doesn't max out their system so quickly?

 

BTW - I think HXN is fantastic as a single instance in a DAW environment but when its called upon for multi tracking as it stands IMHO, sadly is not there yet. Unless I am doing or missing something obviously wrong? 

 

Any thoughts, experiences or assistance is really greatly appreciated.

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Have you opened up Activity Monitor and analyzed how much memory and CPU each instance is using?  That would be a great place to start.  Opening up 5 instances at simultaneously will definitely put a strain on your system resources including disk activity.  Do you have solid states drives or regular hard drives?

And the latest version of Helix Native is 1.50.  Not sure where you got Helix Native 2.1 from.

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My apologies... I am using HXN 1.5. The iMac I use has an internal 2TB Fusion Drive and I record/playback direct onto an external thunderbolt connected fast hard drive. 

 

I have not opened up Activity monitor to have a look what each instance is using and perhaps I should have. But then I didn't  really think I would need to given the specs of my system and the performance I get when editing multi  4K video streams using Final Cut Pro which by its very nature are a lot more data transfer intensive than Logic.

I understand where your coming from but I don't think data transfer rates are the issue. Its HXN and just how much CPU/Ram it uses.

 

I am sure that all users on here have large projects with a large amount of other types of plug ins, virtual instruments etc running and their systems don't  even break into a sweat.

Mine doesn't. but add a few instances of HXN and it goes through the roof... 

 

If you don't mind me asking how many instances of HXN can you run before your system starts to stutter and max out? What sort of work flow do you use if you want to multitrack using HXN?

Five instances is really not that many and just seems to me that HXN is not yet optimised for multi track recording IMHO... I am not a HXN basher -  I love it!

Just would like to able to be use it like another other plug in without it going mental with the CPU/RAM.

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Jagman, I'm running a similar system to yours (Late 2015 27†Retina 5K iMac, i7 4.0 GHz, 32G RAM, SSD drives, Logic Pro X 10.4) . Without duping a test to see how many instances I can run, I can tell you my experience has been similar to yours. HxN seems to be a CPU hog at times. You can do the usual stuff (have a blank track highlighted during mixing, render virtual instruments, etc). I also find that running projects in 44.1K/24 bit seem to go easier, higher sample rates cause more problems. 

 

I have, at times, resorted to bouncing the song with no guitar, and setting up a separate project for tracking the guitar parts, rendering the guitar audio tracks, and importing them into the main project. Often I use other plug ins for effects (eg reverb/delay) and just use a mono instance of HxN (uses only 1/2 the horsepower), just for amp/cab/IR tones.

 

HxN sounds good enough on projects that I continue to use it, but I hope they are able to somehow bring down the CPU usage.

 

If it will help you troubleshoot, I can run a duplicate test and we can see if we are seeing the same usage. Maybe create multiple instances running a specific preset, buffer set the same, see how many tracks we can get before it smokes.

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Thanks Soundog, also found that sample rates higher than 44.1Khz cause more problems too. Seems your workflow and work arounds are a lot more convoluted and time consuming than mine :(

 

At your suggestion, I have tried the following test and wonder if you can reproduce it on your system?

 

New project (no other programs running on the system) 44.1Khz tempo 120/Cmin All recording/playback to external thunderbolt hard drive.

All tracks running as presets with no added plug ins.

 

Track 1 Superior 2.x Stereo out. NYC Avatar/ Avatar Factory preset/Avatar Natural (1192Mb Loaded into RAM)

Track 2 Mono-Stereo  PV Panama Left 

Track 3 Mono-Stereo  PV Panama Right

Track 4 Mono-Stereo Calif Rectifier Left

Track 5 Mono-Stereo Calif Rectifier Right

Track 6 Mono- Stereo Matchstick Ch1 left

Track 7 Mono- Stereo Matchstick Ch1 right

Track 8 Mono-Stereo 4D love Left

Track 9 Mono Stereo 4D Love Right,

 

All the above play as expected up to this point with no issues. 

However it is not possible to add another instance of HXN as it starts to lose sync stutter and slow down and is unworkable.

CPU/HD cores 1+2 =5%. Cores 3+4 =99%.

Disk I/0 peaks at 50% on initial playback then falls to zero.

Activity Monitor

CPU- system 3.94% User 50.1 Idle 46.1%

Memory- Physical memory 32Gb used 8.18Gb Cached 10.9Gb.

 

No idea really what this means other than it would appear than half my system resources are being used and the other are idle most of the time. Yet the project stutters by this stage.

Perhaps a yourself or a Guru might be able to explain? 

 

Please let me know how you get on or if you can suggest another test scenario. 

 

Regards

Jagman. 

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I can do. Couple of questions .... do you have a MIDI drum file playing on SD2? For the Helix tracks, what sort (if any) audio is playing on each track? And, for your notation — for example Track 2 Mono-Stereo  PV Panama Left — do you mean a stereo instance of HxN on a stereo track, mono instance on mono track panned left, or ???

 

Another test suggestion would be to use an audio file (e.g. stock Logic Apple loop) on a HxN stereo instance/track with a given preset, then duplicate the audio file and track until Logic chokes. Count the instances.

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Enclosed a screen grab of the project.

The test project was a hastily composed 16 bar jam with Superior playing a standard NYC Avatar midi file.

The HXN guitar parts were improvised standard classic rock riffs with dual harmonies on the 4D Love tracks  - sorry I can't resist Steve vai :)

 

Sorry for the confusion over the notation..

Mono- Stereo  - Guitar input Mono converted to Stereo and played on a Stereo Logic track. 

PV Panama - HXN Patch used.

Left/Right - Stereo track panning. 

 

Will try you suggestion a later on and let you know what I find. 

 

 

post-1701792-0-97027900-1520480744_thumb.png

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I'll test this tomorrow on my system and let you know what happens. Wow, lots of stereo instances of HxN, so not too surprised you were bogging down. What were your Logic buffers set to during the test?

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Thanks, 

512.. its normally 128.. missed that one.. 

 

Kinda suppose your right that there is a lot of stereo instances.

In this test HXN it is performing rather well. But then it is a sterile test.

In a "real world" project with loads of Plug ins virtual instruments etc running CPU usage would be a lot higher across the board and I suppose adding a few instances of HXN might send it over the edge which is no fault of HXN really more a system issue. Hmmm.. 

 

How have you found HXN performs when you add a few instances to a "real world" big project? 

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Soundog, 

 

I tried the test that you suggested and found that I got up to 15 instances of a simple apple loop running through HXN Before my system said enough.

 

 

 

post-1701792-0-48293000-1520511183_thumb.png

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@jagman13 ... I finished the testing. For your first test, I duplicated as best as I could, also adding the busses from SD2 with Space Designer, and Channel EQ shown in your screen shot. Everything ran fine here. Here is how my meter looked with the same project running:

 

test%201.png?raw=1

 

I was able to add 10 additional HxN tracks (duping the Steve 4U one) before I pegged the CPU meter and got a system error. (Plus, I noticed I had Safari, Messenger, and Preview running when I finished the test, so I could have gone for more without those.)

 

For the second "pure" test, I was able to run 35 instances of stereo HxN before I hit the wall (and before going insane from hearing the Bosnian Sunset loop through a wall of Helix Natives): 

 

bohemian%20overload.png?raw=1

 

After running this test, its made me that that perhaps HxN may not necessarily be the culprit in large projects, so I won't be so quick to assume that. With numerous virtual instruments and power-hungry effects plug-ins, HxN may just be the unlucky straw that breaks the cpu's back. Or there is some complex interaction between plug-ins?

 

I don't know how your iMac is spec'ed (cpu speed, dedicated graphics chip(s) for the 5K, etc). My quad core i7 is 4.0 GHz, with dedicated 4GB AMD Radeon M395 GPU. FYI, I'm using SSD internal, USB 3 7200 RPM external drives (for sample libraries) and a Thunderbolt Apollo Twin interface. Not sure why such a big difference in the number of tracks of HxN we were able to run before overload.

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Thanks for trying this out the results are interesting to say the least. Seem's when HXN is run in a basic project it performs very well indeed, certainly on your system Thats a lot of instances!  (the Bosnian Sunset Gtr certainly was a pain after a while :/ 

 

My iMac is not as advanced as yours so that is why your getting a much better performance. my specs are - 

Imac 5k late 2015, 3.2 Ghz Intel Core i5 32Gb 1867Mhz DDR3 Ram, AMD Radeaon M390 2048Mb GPU. Internal, 2Gb Fusion drive with an external thunderbolt 4Tb 7200Rpm hard rive. Focusrite USB Scarlett 214 interface. (this some times acts silly so it could be the culprit at times in my projects - time for an upgrade :) 

 

Overall though HXN has performed very well indeed. I wonder why when its added to a "real" project it seems to be the culprit. Wrong plug in at the wrong place and the wrong time as you suggest. But even then, I have projects running not much different or bigger than these tests and it max's out pretty quick Hmmmm I don't really know... And TBH I don't really have the time to find out why. It would ideal to load up a few instances of HXN and be able to compose, overdub and multitrack without the project going red so quickly. 

 

Have you tried running HXN within a Track Stack with one instance of HXN running and the audio tracks all using that one Patch? I did and found it acts pretty much the same as multi instances as we tried above. 

 

Lets hope that as Line6 further develop and refine HXN Its an amazing plug even as it is right now and can and will get better in the future! 

 

Thanks for tying this out :) (need to try and find that leaky earth/RF interference sometime soon too :/) Thanks... 

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Logic Pro seems prone to those danged overloads. Some think its due to its heritage and code base. If you google you can find lots of stories, and lots of suggested solutions. I have a few plugins in particular that seem to cause problems at times, so I'm cautious with them. HxN is on my list, but its a processor intensive plug in. Omnisphere. Some reverbs. A few tips I can offer that have helped me are:

 

- keep lots of plug-ins of your main 1/2 channel (use busses instead, then route those to the main)

- bus hungry effects (I usually have one room verb, one chamber verb, one plate verb, and a couple of delay busses)

- increase buffer size when mixing, decrease (and use low latency mode) when tracking

- for stereo fx in HxN, use a stereo instance on a stereo track, and use the Volume/Pan block after amp and before stereo fx to pan your guitar position

- for HxN,though, I almost always focus on a getting a good mono guitar track (eg mono Helix with only amp/cab/IR), then use third-party delay/reverb if needed in the mix

- I usually save the raw (muted) guitar track(s), then commit/bounce the amped sound as early in the project as possible. can go back to raw track if needed.

- create a blank audio track with no plugins, and try to always select/highlight it (record enable) when working (this one gets mentioned in lots of forums, and works)

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