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CPU usage much higher compared to other amp suits


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Hello,

 

I am looking into buying Helix Native for my home recordings. The main reason I want to go with it are the "legacy" effects I learned to love from my M9 stompbox modeler. Going fully digital helps a lot with being efficient and chaining effects. The amount of new models of course is a super big plus, especially since they'd also be very useful for vocals or synths.

 

There is just one big issue I noticed:

Together with a friend I recently compared the Helix Native demo with other amp suits and plugins. We checked overall sound, workflow and CPU usage between Helix Native, Peavey Revalver 4, ToneLib-GFX, Audio Assault Grind Machine II, Ignite Emmissary and LePou Poulin with NadIR as cab loader. While sonic impressions are always subjective and based on what your ears and brain like, CPU usage is a very different aspect.

It turned out that Helix Native always ended up with noticeably more, sometimes up to twice or thrice the CPU usage than the other plugins when using similar setups. The free LePou amps would stand a bit out regarding CPU power, but not as much as Helix Native. Overall usage was worse in FL Studio compared to Reaper. Leaving just a few numbers I noted down taken from empty projects running mono @ 512 samples / 44Khz on a single guitar track:

 

  • Helix Native (808 distortion + 5150/6505 amp sim and cab) = 2.3% CPU 57/512 spls in Reaper // 10% CPU in FL Studio

 

  • Peavey Revalver 4 (") = 1.2% CPU 0/0 spls Reaper // 6% CPU in FL Studio

 

  • Tone Libs-GFX (") = 0.7% CPU/ 0/0 spls Reaper // 4% CPU in FL Studio

 

Now, as FL Studio is my main DAW I am a little concerned looking at the CPU usage. 10%+ for a basic rythm guitar track setup would ultimately end up at 40-60% when I have it double tracked along with a lead and bass playing -- even more when using Helix Native for occasional vocal effects. With the other plugins I have never reached that much usage at all. Never have I had to pay attention to running out of CPU power or consider freezing tracks to keep things working well. All in all, this keeps me from buying the software at the moment. So help or advice is very welcome. 

 

My system:

 

  • Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Intel i5-4690K CPU @ 3.50 GHz
  • 16,0 GB DDR3 RAM (all matched)
  • 500 GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD

 

Can you, Line 6, or any user/reader give clues why the CPU usage is that high?

Are there any CPU optimization developments going on to fix that?

Any advanced setting options I need to look at?

 

Kind regards

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Hey there!

Thanks for your suggestion. I've just checked everything with my Steinberg UR22 as well as with my old Avid/M-Audio C400. In both cases the performance stayed the same. It really looks like Helix Native seems to be more resource heavy than other amp/fx suits. I'd love more headroom to be availble to creatively use more instances of the plugin though.

Hopefully there is some kind of performance improvement in the works.

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The sound quality is superb and it doesn't feel like it's lacking something at all.

I went with Revalver 4 back then as it would always deliver a super authentic feeling in the way the amp simulations reacted and sounded. Furthermore I could "exchange" some tubes in their digital blueprints to give certain channels more room before the tones "broke up" (rarely used that feature though). Overall it's just as rock solid and great sounding with Helix Native. On top of that I have all of my favorite stompbox effects on board, which is ultimately the reason I want to purchase it!

Compared to the free ToneLib-GFX, Grind Machine and LePou amp sims, they feel a bit more flat and not as dynamic. The LePous also had more of that digital noise in the treble. Whereas the Ignite Emmissary was super convincing in every area and felt like the best of the free ones I tried.

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Do you think the CPU performance with Helix Native would actually cause you problems? Since you say it delivers superb sound and also provides the FX you want, I think the only reason not to buy/use it would be if the performance is actually troublesome. That could likely be fixed by optimizing your computer for audio DAW purposes,  but perhaps you might prefer to use an inferior amp/FX simulator for improved performance. 

 

I don't know whether performance enhancements are in development. But the latest release of Helix Native allows you to use as many instances/FX as your computer will support. Previous versions required HN presets to be compatible with Helix device DSP limits. The latest version opens the door to performance discussions since users can now add more and more performance demands until their computer balks. There are two solutions: Line 6 can work on performance enhancements (out of your control) or you can upgrade/optimize your computer (totally within in your control).

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Exactly, the performance is my only issue.

I've been recording/mixing/producing music at home for a little while and I've set my system up in a way that I can easily mix and master music without being limited by hardware. I've always had enough headroom in final mixes (max 50-70% CPU) before. I am just seeing that with Helix Native this headroom is definitely getting a lot smaller and it has the most impact among all the plugins (iZotope, Waves, Softube, ToneBoosters, Kontakt, Revalver etc.) that I use and amp suits I compared it to.

 

Checked my emails a few minutes ago and I was told by the support team that currently there is no information regarding future CPU optimizations. So it seems like I have to look into upgrading my system or somehow adapt to more resources being used by Helix Native.

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It's interesting that the CPU usage is so much higher in FL Studio than in Reaper. That seems to be the big issue. I wonder if there's some setting in FL Studio that's causing that.

 

I use Native with Reaper all the time, and I've never run into any issues. I mean, I have projects with probably 10 or more instances of Native running, and I have a bunch of other plug-ins as well. I'm running an Asus ROG laptop with a 2.6GHz i7 and 16GB of RAM on Windows 10.

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About ten or more instances of Helix Native sounds awesome and like a lot of tone crafting work--kinda what I aim for sculpting different sounds for various sections or using it for synths and vocals additionally.

And you're right, that is interesting! Might have to do with all the fancy stuff FL Studio has. There was an update last year, that reduced the overall CPU usage by a nice amount. But yeah, it's still higher than what REAPER offers as the numbers show. So on top of that comes the overall performance difference to other amp suits I noticed in both DAWs.


(If I'm right though, REAPER has always been one of the most efficient DAWs and I expected it to run a bit smoother with everything. Another option might be to transition my mixing sessions into REAPER in future.)

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Since latency is an issue when recording (not mixing) guitar tracks (and I'm assuming when monitoring your guitar through Helix Native so you can hear the tone as you play), you might want to experiment with one of these methods:

 

1) use your DAW's "freeze tracks" feature to free up CPU (with the goal of getting your DAW buffers set low enough to minimize latency when recording guitar tracks)

2) bounce a stereo mix of your project with no guitars, and use that mix in a separate project to record your guitar tracks using Helix Native. Then import those guitar tracks into your main project for mixing (where high buffers and latency won't be an issue). Be sure to use the same tempo map so your tracks will align.

3) monitor your guitar through "something" that will provide you with zero or near-zero latency during guitar tracking while your DAW is running with high buffer settings. For example, a UAD Apollo interface (or similar) that uses its own DSP for an amp modeler plugin. Or split your input, one for raw guitar into your DAW and one through a stomp box, small amp, whatever for monitoring tone. (I often use Scuffham's S-Gear standalone app with a low buffer setting).

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Hey soundog,

 

thanks for your help! I'll totally make use of freeze tracks again. This was something that helped me in the past when I used an old laptop.  I'll also try to adapt the other tricks mentioned.

 

Luckily FL Studio has something called "smart disable" where it automatically switches off plugins not in use and turns them back on when needed. This should also help keeping the CPU headroom a bit more stable.

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Smart Disable sounds like a great feature -- I wish Logic Pro X had that.

 

One thing that has really helped my workflow when creating songs is to get all of my tracks recorded, minimize them to the essentials, and then completely transition to the mixing stage. That way I can have my creative (recording) hat on, then put on my mixing (engineering) hat.

 

Another advantage to this method that you don't really need a lot of plug-ins during your tracking/recording phase; you need them during your mixing phase. After I get to the mixing stage, I set my DAW buffers really high so my CPU doesn't choke as I add mixing plug-ins or experiment with sounds (for example, different synths on MIDI keyboard tracks, different amps in guitar sims, etc).

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