Everybody knows the importance of workflow and how it affects our creative process. Because of that, we need to minimize the chances of having unexpected problems when it’s time to record. So today, in this article, we will see tips to set up our low-end PCs to maximize workflow and creativity.
How do I optimize old PC for music production?
To optimize your PC, you need to focus on background apps, energy consumption, up-to-date drivers, and visual effects. It is also crucial to have as much space as you can on your hard drive. Another thing to notice is that if your PC isn’t clean and doesn’t have good ventilation, it won’t work as expected.
Now let’s see some ways to optimize your PC
See if our pc is set to a high-performance plan
Disable all unnecessary background apps
Turning off let apps run in the background will give your processor more space to work.
Turning off “get notifications from apps and other senders” is another way to help reduce CPU consumption, and it also helps to stop annoying notifications popping up every time.
Adjust windows visual effects
This last step is the most important because graphic settings consume a lot of CPU usage. I recommend adjusting for best performance or clicking in custom and untick all settings.
Up to date drivers
Sometimes not having updated drivers can cause unexpected problems. Windows updates and some PC manufacturers offer system update utilities that handle various updates at once. These often do not include the exact GPU driver that you need. It’s always recommended to install the graphics drivers directly from the manufacturer’s website.
Check your hard drive to see if you have sufficient space available; 10% of the area must always be free of use. If this rule isn’t applied, you can experience problems with your PC.
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What PC, RAM & CPU Do I Need For Music Production In 2022?
PC vs. MAC: Which Is Best For Music Production In 2022?
How To Make Music Without Using A DAW?
What Is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)? How Does It Work?
How do I use my low-end PC effectively?
To use a low-end PC effectively, you need to focus all the available resources on your priority tasks; this means disabling all background apps that might be using CPU power and doing the same for visual effects like shadows, fades, and round corners.
Can I produce music on a low-end PC?
It’s possible, but you need to know how to manage your resources and know your limitations. Many producers have done it and achieved excellent results even with cheap recording gear. The only thing that matters is transmitting a vibe to your audience.
Now that we have learned how to optimize our PCs, we need to talk about DAWs. First of all, be aware that DAWs such as Avid Pro Tools and Cubase 8-9-10 are unsuitable for low-end PCs because of their graphic consumption.
The best options for you will be Ableton Live, FL Studio, Reaper, or Studio One. Depending on the type of producer you are, you can be more interested in a beatmaker-friendly DAW or one in which multitrack recordings are more accessible. That’s why here you can see an elementary table with points that you might be interested in:
Low CPU Consumption
Low Graphics Consumption
Bundled Effect Plugins
Support for VST Plugins
Support for ARA2
How do I avoid CPU Overloads?
To avoid CPU Overloads while producing music, you can do things like lowering your sample rate and increasing the buffer size. Also, you can try something like reducing polyphony on synths, freezing tracks, or processing various channels in one bus to avoid using multiple plugins in multiple tracks.
Now we are going to list and talk more in-depth about the things you can do to avoid a CPU overload:
Sample Rate and Bit Depth
Setting up your session in 44.1khz 16bit will help you a lot. With this configuration, your CPU will have less information to process, and the files in your hard drive will weigh much less than a 48khz 24bit recording. This is a significant improvement that won’t change the audio quality of your production.
Increasing your buffer size will improve your PC performance; that’s a fact. This comes with a problem, latency. But, depending on the situation, you won’t notice this problem. For example, latency won’t be something to worry about if you are writing in a piano roll or mixing. But suppose you are recording audio through your interface. In that case, the best option is to use direct monitoring to hear your recording before processing and converting it to a digital file.
The graph shows why very long buffers don’t make a difference in performance – This proves that a buffer of 10ms (almost 441 samples) is enough. Here we can see CPU load against Buffer length and how the curve isn’t that different after a 10 ms buffer.
Third-party plugins usually consume more CPU than stock plugins. That’s why you need to get used to working with the tools you have within your DAW. Plugins like the ones in Waves bundle or Fab Filter won’t keep your CPU usage at a low level. One solution might be hard processing essential instruments and then bouncing that audio to a new track. This way, you can save a lot of CPU and still use any plugin you want.
The send feature consumes CPU; you should be aware of that. But if you plan to apply a lot of processing in your session, grouping channels and applying plugins there can make a difference. Why would you EQ and compress two guitar tracks separately when you can make a stereo bus and process them? Questions like this are the ones you should start asking yourself to save resources. Just be creative. You can do a lot with buses.
Limit polyphony on synths
By Reducing polyphony on your plugins and multisample instruments, you will have fewer voices in use, and because of that, less CPU consumption.
Turn off all unused plugins.
It is crucial to be aware of every bit of processing that we are doing in our session.
Freeze midi tracks
Freezing means that a temporary audio render of your track is created. Converting your channel to audio will relieve your CPU from processing your VSTs. That’s graphics and audio! This will be your go-to option when finishing a midi file with any VST.
In Ableton Live, you have the option to freeze tracks:
If your DAW doesn’t have this option, you can solo your midi track and bounce it to your hard drive to put it back in your session as an audio track.
FL Studio and Ableton Live
These DAWs are the most used nowadays by producers and beatmakers; we will give these users some specialized tips:
- Turn off the Spread function: Some devices have a Spread parameter (Corpus, Operator, Sampler). When Spread is in use, it generates two voices per note, which doubles CPU processing.
- Turn off warping in Simpler: Or use a more CPU-friendly algorithm.
- Set reverb in “ECHO” mode: Echo mode uses minimal CPU resources to process reverbs, High delivers the best audio quality.
- Turn off Hi-Q mode on audio clips: When turned on, “HI-Q” improves the Sample Rate conversion when pitching audio files at the cost of a higher CPU usage. Please turn it off when necessary.
- Enable smart disable: This fantastic tool automatically turns off any VST that is not in use.
- Turn off “Keep on disk” mode: Keep on disk will pre-load your sample into your FL Studio memory to avoid problems reading from your hard drive, But it should be enabled if the user has less RAM.
- Reset time stretch mode to “Resample”: When many samples are in stretch mode, you use more CPU, so you should change to resample mode if your CPU is overloading.
- Multithread Support: Turn on both multithreaded generator processing and multithreaded mixer processing. You can find it when clicking audio settings in the CPU apart.
What is the best DAW for a low-end PC?
The best DAW for a low-end PC is Reaper. It is a very well-optimized software whit most of the things you need to produce music. It has a low CPU and graphics consumption, and also you can install it in Linux, which is a great advantage for users that work in this alternative operating system.
I have tested this DAW with an old laptop, and the performance was excellent, even with midi files. Of course, if you want to record more than eight audio tracks simultaneously, you will need an upgraded pc.
On the other hand, Reaper might not be for everybody; it all depends on the type of production you want to do. If you are a beatmaker, your best choice is either Fl Studio Or Ableton.
It is vital to be aware of your limitations; that’s the starting point. These tips shown here will help you get a better performance out of your PC and, consequently, have a fluid workflow. If you can, try this advice before running to your local PC center to buy expensive equipment. Maybe your computer can work better, and you can use your money on more exciting things such as midi controllers, a better interface, a new instrument, or something that can improve your production and audio quality.
Readings that you may like:
Best DAWs For Musicians Available (With FREE DAWs)
What’s The Most CPU Efficient DAW? – 5 DAWs Compared
How To Make Music Without Using A DAW?
Pro Tools Guide: How To Use AutoTune & Pitch Correction?
Ableton Review: Is It Worth The Money? (Cons & Pros)
Logic Pro X Review: Is It Worth It? (Cons & Pros)
How To Use Auto-tune & Pitch Correction In Cubase?
How To Fix Ableton Crackling, Crashing & Freezing? Step By Step
What Are Audio Plugins? Different Types of Plugins Explained
What Are The Best Tools To Develop VST Plugins & How Are They Made?
Cost of Developing Audio VST Plugin: Several Factors (With Table)
VST, VST, AU and AAX – What’s The Difference? Plugin Formats Explained
Complete Guide To Noise Gate – What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It?
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Complete Guide To Limiter: How To Use It (+ Best Plugins & Analog Limiters)
Mixing With Reverb: How To Add Life To Your Mixes
Linear Phase vs Minimum Phase EQ – Full Guide
Difference Between LUFS, RMS & True Peak Loudness Meters
How And When To Use Algorithmic And Convolution Reverb In Your Mix?
Difference Between Active EQ, Passive EQ and Dynamic EQ
Headphones & Studio Monitors:
Do headphones get worse with age?
Monitors vs Studio Headphones For Mixing & Mastering
Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins
Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Good For Music Production?
Can Headphones Break in Cold Weather?
Why do headphones & cables get sticky?
Can Wearing Headphones Cause Hair Loss?
How Do I know If My Studio Monitor Is Blown?
Side Effects Of Sleeping With Your Headphones On
Do You Need Music Amplifier For Studio Monitors or Studio Headphones?
Do Headphones or Earphones Damage Your Brain?
Can Headphones or Earphones cause Deafness or Toothache?
FarField, MidField & NearField Monitors – Their Uses, Pros & Cons
MIDI & Synths:
Should I Buy A MIDI Keyboard Or Synth? (Are Synths Worth It Anymore?)
Why Is Audio Gear So Expensive? (Especially Synths)
Top 12 Synth Brands – Analog, Digital & Modular Synth Manufacturers
11 Tips How To Choose MIDI Keyboard
Should I Buy MIDI Controller Or Keyboard? Cons, Pros & Tips
Can I Put Nylon Strings on a Steel-string Guitar?
Do Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?
Buying Your First Guitar: 2 Things To Know
Are Tube Amps Worth It? (Tube vs Solid-State Amps)
How Often Does A Guitar Need a Setup?
Can I Play Classical Guitar On A Steel-String Guitar?
How often guitar necks need reset?
Can You Play Two Guitars Through One Amp?
Can a 6 String Bass Be Tuned Like A Guitar?
Can I leave My Guitar Tuned Down a Step? Yes, But Is It Safe?
Should I Learn 4, 5 Or 6 String Bass Guitar & Why?
How To Know If your Guitar Amp Is Broken?
How To Fix Distorted Bass Guitar Sound?
Do Fender Guitars Appreciate In Value?
Should You Put Stickers On A Bass Guitar?
How Acoustic And Electric Guitars Are Made?
Is Electric Guitar Too Loud for an Apartment?
Does a Preamp Improve Sound Quality?
If I Learn Acoustic Guitar Can I Play Electric Guitar?
How Many Hours A Day Should You Practice Bass Guitar?
Do I need an AMP/DAC To Run Bookshelf Speakers?
How to Record Electric Guitar Into Logic Pro X?
Do headphones get worse with age?
Top 12 NearField Studio Monitors On Any Budget
Top 10 Midfield Studio Monitors For Home Recording
Best Biggest Studio Monitors (FarField Monitors)
Top 10 Guitar Pickups for Low Tunings
Top 10 Analog Compressors For Mixing & Mastering (On Any Budget)
Top 12 USB Audio Interfaces Under 150$, 200$, 300$ 400$ (Any Budget)
Top 12 Hardware Equalizers (Analog EQs For Mixing & Mastering)
Top 6 Analog Hardware Limiters
Top 6 Solid State Bass Amps (On Any Budget)
Top 6 Ribbon Mics On Any Budget (For Vocals, Drums & Guitars)
Top 6 Cheap Dynamic Mics For Vocals Under 50$, 100$, 200$ & 300$
Top 6 Chorus Guitar Pedals (On Any Budget)
6 Best 61-Key MIDI Keyboards (On Any Budget)
9 Best 49-Key MIDI Keyboards Under 100$ & 200$
Top 5 Best 25 Key MIDI Keyboards (On Any Budget)
Top 12 Acoustic Drums (Best Kits/Sets On Any Budget)
Top 10 EDM Plugins (And 10 Best FREE Plugins For EDM)
Top 10 Plugins For TRAP Beats (And 5 Best FREE Trap Plugins)
20 Best Plugins For Rock Musicians (+ 6 FREE Plugins)
Top 14 Trance Plugins (Uplifting, Tech, Progressive, Vocal, Dream, Hard)
Top 10 GOA & PsyTrance Plugins (Best Psychedelic Trance Tools)
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Top 20 Synthwave Plugins (+ 11 Best FREE Plugins)
Top 15 Plugins For Techno, House, Electro, Tech House, UK Garage
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Top 12 Plugins For Hip-Hop (+ Best Kontakt Libraries)
Top 7 Plugins For Game & Film Scoring (+ 6 Best Kontakt Libraries)
Top 10 R&B And Pop Music Plugins & KONTAKT Libraries
30 Best Free Plugins For DnB, EDM, IDM & Experimental Music
Top 12 Free EQ Plugins For Precise Mixing & Mastering
Top 9 Mid/Side EQ Plugins For Mixing & Mastering (+ 2 Free Tools)
Top 7 Graphic EQ Plugins (With 3 Best Free EQs)
Top 7 EQ Plugins For Mastering In | And Best FREE Mastering EQs
Top 6 Passive EQ Plugins (Klevgrand, SPL, UAD, Waves, IK Multimedia)
Top 11 Plugins For Making Metal (Best Guitars, Drums & Effects)
Top 5 Audio Metering Plugins (LUFS, RMS, LRA, True Peak)
Top 6 Spectrum Analyzer Plugins – Spectral Analysis Tools
Top 6 Oscilloscope Plugins To See The Waveforms
Top 5 Key Detection Plugins & Software (+ Best FREE App)
20 Best Kontakt Libraries For All Categories (Synths, Drums, Vocals)
Top 7 Drum Libraries For KONTAKT (And 4 Freebies)
Top 7 Trap Music Kontakt Libraries (And Best Lo-Fi Kontakt Library)
Top 7 Metal & Rock Kontakt Libraries (Best Guitars & Drums)
Top 10 Guitar Libraries For Kontakt (Acoustic, Electric, Bass & Freebies)
Top 7 Trailer Scoring Plugins & Kontakt Libraries
20 Best Free KONTAKT Libraries For Various Instruments
Top 9 Piano Kontakt Sample Libraries (And 5 Best Free Pianos)
Top 10 Percussion KONTAKT Libraries (And 3 Freebies)
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Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:
Top 6 Noise Reduction Plugins (And 3 Best Free Tools)
6 Best Audio Restoration Plugins & Software
Top 7 Phase Alignment Plugins To Fix Your Bass & Drums
Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins
Top 6 Vocoder Plugins (Effects & Synths + FREE Vocoder)
11 Best Rhodes VST Plugins (AND 5 Free Rhodes Plugins)
Top 12 Randomizer Plugins Including FREE Plugins
Top 6 Kick Drum Plugins (Best Kick Designer Tools)
Top 12 Woodwind Plugins (And KONTAKT Libraries)
Top 10 Double Bass Plugins (Best Upright Basses)
Top 5 Strings VST Plugins (AND 4 Best Free Instruments)
Top 6 Sampler Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)
Top 6 Classical Guitar Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (And FREE Guitars)
Top 12 Sub Plugins (Best 808 & Bass Tools For Massive Low End)
Top 10 Plugins On PluginBoutique (And 7 Best Free Plugins)
Top 11 Plugins On Plugin Alliance
Top 7 Acoustic Guitar Plugins (And 4 Best Kontakt Libraries)
9 Best Bass Guitar Plugins (And 2 Best Freebies)
Top 6 Electric Guitar Plugins (Best PAID & FREE Picks)
Top 10 Arpeggiator VST Plugins (Best Synths, MIDI Effects & Tools)
Top 10 Modular Synth Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)
Top 6 Choir Plugins & Sample Libraries (And 3 Best Free Plugins)
11 Best Percussion & Drum VST Plugins (And FREE Plugins)
Top 8 Piano Plugins (Best Sounding Pianos & 5 FREE Piano Plugins)
Top 6 Organ Plugins Ever Made (And 3 Best Free Organs)
Top 14 VST Plugins For Beginners (And 9 FREE Plugins)
Top 9 Drum Machine Plugins (And Groovebox Plugins)
4 Best Banjo Plugins (Best Banjo Instruments)
The 5 Best Ukulele Plugins & Kontakt Libraries
Top 13 Synth Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Synths Plugins)
Top 13 Sequencer Plugins (Synth, MIDI & Step Sequencers)
The 10 Best Multi-Effect Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins)
Top 12 Plugin Bundles For Musicians (Synths, Mixing & Mastering)
Processing & Sound Design:
8 Best Lo-Fi Plugins (PAID & FREE)
Top 11 Plugins For Mixing Vocals (For Home Studio)
Top 12 Saturation Plugins (Best Mixing & Mastering Tools)
Top 6 Pitch Shifter Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Pitch Shifters)
Top 6 Chorus VST Plugins For Musicians (And 3 FREE Plugins)
Top 6 Limiter Plugins For Precise Mastering & Mixing
The 8 Best Filter Plugins For Precise Cuts & Boosts (+ 5 Free Filters)
6 Best Autotune Plugins To Improve & Enhance Your Vocals
Top 10 Transient Shaper Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)
Top 7 Enhancer Plugins (For Bass, Drums, Vocals & Harmonics)
Top 6 Flanger Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Flanger Emulators)
Top 7 Phaser Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Phasers)
Top 10 Plugins For Mixing Drums (And 3 Best Free Plugins)
Top 7 Bitcrusher Plugins (And 4 Best FREE Bitcrushers + 3 Bonuses)
Top 6 Plugins For Voice-Over & Dialogue Cleaning (Post Production)
Top 10 Stereo Imaging Plugins (Best Old & Modern Picks)
Top 5 Multiband Limiter Plugins
Top 7 De-Esser Plugins For Better Vocals (And 4 FREE Plugins)
Top 7 Clipper Plugins (Best Limiter Alternatives)
Top 6 Chord Generator Plugins That Inspire Melodies (+ FREE Tools)
7 Best Exciter Plugins For Mixing & Mastering
Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 2 Best Free Plugins)
Top 11 Distortion Plugins (And 4 Top Free Plugins)
Top 5 Comb Filter & Resonator Plugins | Melda, Kilohearts, Tritik
The 7 Best Vibrato VST Plugins | Audec, Audiority, Melda
The 7 Best Tremolo Plugins | Eventide, Melda, SoundToys, Kuassa…
The 7 Best Harmonizer Plugins | Eventide, Melda, Aegean Music
7 Best Sidechain Plugins (VST, AU, AAX) | Xfer, Cableguys..
Top 10 Noise Gate Plugins (And 6 FREE Free Gate Tools)
The 6 Best Ring Modulator VST Plugins | KiloHearts, Melda
7 Best Autopan VST Plugins | CableGuys, Melda, Waves, Soundtoys
The 6 Best Frequency Shifter VST Plugins
Top 11 Granulizer Plugins For Future Sound Design
29 Best Sound Design VST Plugins
Top 11 Free Compressor Plugins (VCA, Vari-Mu, FET, Digital)
Top 7 Multiband Compressor Plugins (And 4 FREE Plugins)
Top 5 Diode-Bridge Compressor Plugins
Top 6 Mastering Chain Plugins: Complete VST Solutions
The 7 Best VCA Compressor Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)
Top 11 Mastering Compressor Plugins (And 2 FREE Plugins)
Top 10 Opto Compressor Plugins For Transparent Sound
The 7 Best Vari-Mu Compressor Plugins (And 2 Best FREE Tools)
Reverb & Delay Plugins:
Top 12 Reverb Plugins (And 5 FREE Reverb Plugins)
The 6 Best Spring Reverb VST Plugins | AudioThing, GSi, u-he, Eventide
Top 12 Delay Plugins For Music Production In (VST, AU, AAX)
Top 10 FREE Delay Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)
The 10 Best Convolution Reverb Plugins
Amps & Preamps:
Top 10 Guitar Amp Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Simulators)
Top 10 Bass Amp Plugins (And 5 Best Free Simulators)
Top 9 Preamp Plugins (For Vocals, Guitars & More!) + Free Preamps
Franco is a music producer and sound technician from Argentina. He is specialized in Indie music and electronic music