When working on a Logic Pro project with a lot of audio tracks, software instruments, or plug-ins, a system overload alert might appear that interrupts playback or recording. System overloads can occur when your Mac doesn't have enough processing power to play back or record audio. Use the techniques in this article to avoid system overloads.

Configure your system

Follow these guidelines when configuring your system for use with Logic Pro:

  • Quit other apps when using Logic Pro.
  • Make sure your Mac has the maximum amount of RAM, especially if your projects usually include many plug-ins or multiple instances of the EXS24 sampler.
  • Save projects with high track counts to a dedicated storage device such as an external USB-C hard drive or an external solid-state drive (SSD) instead of saving projects to the system drive of your Mac.
  • If your projects include multiple instances of the EXS24 sampler, use a dedicated hard drive to store EXS24 samples. Always use a dedicated drive if you use the Virtual Memory option with EXS24.
  • Format hard disks, flash drives, or other storage devices used with Logic Pro in the APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format. Learn more about which file system is best for you.

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Monitor system performance

Use the meters in the Logic Pro CPU/HD window to monitor system performance while working on a project. To view the CPU/HD window:

  1. Choose Logic Pro > Preferences > Advanced Tools, then select Show Advanced Tools. Choose any other additional options to streamline your workflow.
  2. Choose View > Customize Control Bar and Display.
  3. Choose Custom from the pop-up menu in the LCD section.
  4. Select the Load Meters (CPU/HD) checkbox, then click OK.
  5. A CPU/HD meter appears on the right side of the LCD. Double-click the CPU meter to open it in a new, expanded window.

The CPU/HD window has two sets of meters:

Audio: Shows the amount of CPU and RAM processing power used by Logic Pro. Each CPU core in your Mac has its own meter. On Mac computers with processors that support Hyper-Threading, two meters are shown for each core.

Disk I/O: Shows the amount of disk bandwidth used by Logic Pro.

Watch the meters as the project plays back, noting when the meters are full. When a meter is full, the CPU or the disk has reached the limit of its processing capability. System overload alerts can appear when any of these meters peak. You can use this information to make adjustments to your project or your system configuration.

Set audio device preferences

Choose Logic Pro > Preferences > Audio, click Devices, then adjust the following preferences:

  • I/O Buffer Size: Increase the I/O buffer size, up to a maximum of 256 samples. The I/O buffers temporarily store audio data before sending it to other destinations on your Mac. Increasing the I/O buffer size reduces the load on the CPU of your Mac. However, larger I/O buffer sizes increase latency when recording.

To avoid latency and system overload alerts, decrease the I/O buffer size when recording, then increase it when mixing. If you're recording audio and not software instruments, you can monitor your audio directly from the source. Choose Logic Pro > Preferences > Audio > General, and deselect Software Monitoring. You can then set the I/O buffer size to 256 samples and leave it there for both recording and mixing.

  • Process Buffer Range: Set this option to Large. As with the I/O buffers, higher settings increase latency.
  • ReWire Behavior: If you aren't using ReWire, then set this option to Off. If you are using ReWire, set this option to Playback Mode.
  • Multithreading: Multithreading affects how Logic distributes the DSP resources of your Mac. Learn more about setting the Multithreading preference to optimize performance.

Set automation preferences

If your project doesn't include automation, or the automation doesn't need to be sample accurate, you can reduce the CPU load by turning off Sample Accurate Automation.

  1. Choose Logic Pro > Preferences > Audio, then click General.
  2. From the Sample Accurate Automation pop-up menu, choose Off.

If your project does include automation, choose the option that includes only the parameters you're automating.

Pro

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Choose the best sample rate for your project

Projects with higher sample rates create larger audio files, which can increase the load on the CPU and disk. Plug-ins also require more CPU power to process audio files at higher sample rates. When choosing the sample rate for your project, balance the considerations of audio quality, the anticipated format of the final product, and the performance of your Mac. If disk activity is causing system overload alerts, try choosing lower sample rates for your projects.

Use send effects

When using CPU-intensive effect plug-ins such as reverbs and delays, you can reduce the load on the CPU by usingsend effects. Send effects let you use a single plug-in to process signals from multiple channels.

Avoid inserting effect plug-ins on individual tracks in a project. If you need to insert reverb plug-ins on individual tracks, try less CPU-intensive reverbs like the SilverVerb and PlatinumVerb.

Optimize software instruments

Use these guidelines when working with software instruments:

  • When mixing, make sure to select an Audio track or an External MIDI track, not a Software Instrument track. Select a Software Instrument track only when you're actively working on it. If your project includes Track Stacks, make sure no Software Instrument sub-tracks are selected.
  • Freeze tracks, especially tracks with a lot of plug-ins. However, if system overload alerts coincide with peaks in the Disk I/O meter, avoid freezing Software Instrument tracks. Freezing Software Instrument tracks can increase the load on the disk, increasing the likelihood of encountering a system overload alert.
  • Set the number of voices used in a software instrument to the lowest number required. For example, if you have a Sculpture track that plays only two simultaneous notes, you could set that instance of Sculpture to use two voices.

Optimize EXS24 Virtual Memory settings

You can adjust EXS24 Virtual Memory settings to optimize its performance. In the EXS24 Parameter window, click the Options button, then select Virtual Memory from the pop-up menu.

Adjust the following preferences:

  • Active: If most of your system overload alerts coincide with peaks in the CPU/HD window Audio meter, select this option. If the alerts coincide with peaks in the Disk I/O meter, deselect it.
  • Disk Drive Speed: If you have a solid-state drive or a 7200-rpm or faster hard drive for your audio samples, choose Fast. If you are using a 5400-rpm drive for your audio samples, choose Medium.
  • Hard Disk Recording Activity: If your projects include very few audio tracks, select Less. If your projects include a lot of audio tracks, select Average or Extensive.

Settings in the EXS24 Virtual Memory window are global—they affect all instances of EXS24 in all projects.

Optimize Alchemy

You can also optimize Alchemy for improved performance.

Logic Pro User Guide

This section explains how to effectively use the main Compressor parameters.

Tip: Click the Meter or Graph button to change the meter. This visual aid can help you to achieve more precise compression.

Compressor Threshold and Ratio

The most important Compressor parameters are Threshold and Ratio. The Threshold parameter sets the floor level in decibels. Signals that exceed this level are reduced by the amount set as the Ratio.

The Ratio parameter is a percentage of the overall level; the more the signal exceeds the threshold, the more it is reduced. A ratio of 4:1 means that increasing the input by 4 dB results in an increase of the output by 1 dB, if above the threshold.

For example, with the Threshold set at −20 dB and the Ratio set to 4:1, a −16 dB peak in the signal (4 dB louder than the threshold) is reduced by 3 dB, resulting in an output level of −19 dB.

Compressor envelope times

The Attack and Release parameters shape the dynamic response of Compressor. The Attack parameter determines the time it takes after the signal exceeds the threshold level before Compressor starts reducing the signal.

Many sounds, including voices and musical instruments, rely on the initial attack phase to define the core timbre and characteristic of the sound. When compressing these types of sounds, set higher Attack values to make sure that the attack transients of the source signal aren’t lost or altered.

Requirements

When attempting to maximize the level of an overall mix, it is best to set the Attack parameter to a lower value, because higher values often result in no, or minimal, compression.

The Release parameter determines how quickly the signal is restored to its original level after it falls below the threshold level. Set a higher Release value to smooth out dynamic differences in the signal. Set lower Release values if you want to emphasize dynamic differences.

Important: The results of your settings for the Attack and Release parameters depend not only on the type of source material but on the compression ratio and threshold settings.

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Compressor Knee

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The Knee parameter determines whether the signal is slightly, or severely, compressed as it approaches the threshold level.

Setting a Knee value close to 0 (zero) results in no compression of signal levels that fall just below the threshold, while levels at the threshold are compressed by the full Ratio amount. This is known as hard knee compression, which can cause abrupt and often unwanted transitions as the signal reaches the threshold.

Increasing the Knee parameter value increases the amount of compression as the signal approaches the threshold, creating a smoother transition. This is called soft knee compression.

Other Compressor parameters

As Compressor reduces levels, the overall volume at its output is typically lower than the input signal. You can adjust the output level with the Make Up knob.

You can also use the Auto Gain parameter to compensate for the level reduction caused by compression (choose either 0 dB or −12 dB).

When the Platinum Digital type is chosen, Compressor can analyze the signal using one of two methods: Peak or root mean square (RMS). While Peak is technically more accurate, RMS provides a better indication of how people perceive the signal loudness.

Note: If you turn on Auto Gain and RMS simultaneously, the signal may become oversaturated. If you hear any distortion, turn off Auto Gain and adjust the Make Up knob until the distortion is inaudible.

Use a side chain with Compressor

Use of a side chain with a compressor is common. The dynamics (level changes) of another channel strip is used as a control source for compression. For example, the dynamics of a drum groove can be used to rhythmically change the compression, and therefore dynamics, of a guitar, synthesizer, or bass part.

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The side chain signal is used only as a detector or trigger in this situation. The side chain source is used to control the compressor, but the audio of the side chain signal is not actually routed through the compressor.

  1. In Logic Pro, insert Compressor into a channel strip.

  2. Click the Side Chain button in the Compressor window.

  3. In the plug-in window header, choose the channel strip that carries the signal you want to use as the side chain source from the Side Chain pop-up menu.

  4. Choose the Max or Sum analysis method with the Detection buttons.

  5. Adjust Compressor parameters.

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