[MAC] CPU spikes and audio issues with DAW plugin

If you have noticed a high CPU utilization whilst using the SoundID Reference plugin, this guide explains the process in detail and how to work around the issue if your Mac is affected.


In this article:


CPU plugin issues

When using DAW with many plugins and tracks, it may be that the CPU starts spiking when the SoundID Reference plugin is also loaded and activated in a project. This is not DAW or plugin-format specific. 




Multi-core processing

It would be logical to think that more and more powerful cores would enhance the processing power and therefore lead to more speed and efficiency. There are a few things to keep in mind, though, when it comes to CPU usage and mixing your music in DAW. 

DAW can handle inputs from multiple audio tracks in parallel, also known as multi-threading. None of the general processes need to wait for other processes to finish before they can begin, so their load can easily be spread between multiple cores. 


Single-core processing

That’s not the case for effects plugins - including the SoundID Reference plugin. Every plugin used on a track is linked to the next plugin in series. These single-threaded processes complete instructions in a single sequence. For example, you have a reverb, a compressor and SoundID Reference (always as the last in the chain). These are processed in sequence, one after the other, on the same core. This means that one process can’t begin before the prior plugin hasn’t finished. 

Each channel strip with all the plugins it contains is processed by one core. If you are using many heavy-load plugins on a single channel strip, the core it runs on will have a higher load. Especially if the sample rate is set higher. It's not possible to split a single thread across multiple cores, although a single core may run multiple threads at the same time. This is one reason that you may sometimes see uneven load distributions across the available cores on your computer. 



Every CPU manufacturer has its own architecture to support power efficiency and efficiency overall, however, this does not change the fact that sequences will be dismissed when running multiple software solutions, and the development standards won’t necessarily change with the new silicone available on the market.



When encountering CPU issues, we recommend trying the following:

  1. Lower the sample rate in your DAW
  2. Increase the audio buffer size in your DAW/audio interface (note: higher latency is expected)
  3. We recommend checking out your DAW knowledge center on how to distribute the CPU load and if it supports multicore processing (for example, Ableton's Knowledge Base: How to reduce CPU load)
  4. Make the cfg.json file in the below directory read-only. Close DAW beforehand.
    Macintosh HD/Users/your username/Library/Application Support/Sonarworks/SoundID Reference/plugin

    When making the file read-only, changes to presets won't be saved

  5. M-series: double-check that DAW and plugins (components) are all running on the Apple process
  6. Clear the plugin configuration data: Deleting the config file in SoundID Reference DAW plugin
  7. Reinstall the software: How to uninstall SoundID Reference (Mac)?

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