Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH

Creativity First

Frankenstraße 18 b
20097 Hamburg

Tel: +49 (0)40 210 35-0
Fax: +49 (0)40 210 35-300

Optimizing Windows for DAWs

1. Please examine your system and make sure that all device drivers of the system are up to date. This involves the drivers of the audio hardware as well as the chipset drivers and the display card drivers. Also Windows should be up to date (Service Packs and updates/hot fixes). You should avoid using dedicated mouse and keyboard drivers, instead use the drivers provided by Windows!

2. Systems with shared memory display setups are not advisable. They often can be found on mobile systems (laptops). 

3. Audio interface related settings:

  • Onboard sound cards: If your mainboards provides an onboard sound card it should be configured to be the standard playback device in the Windows Sound and Audio Settings. Thus, the Windows system sound will be played back by the onboard device without affecting the audio signal of your audio interface or soundcard. However, if playback issues occur it can also be advisable to deactivate the onboard device in the BIOS of your system. Onboard soundcards cannot be recommended for the usage with our products since they do not allow working with low latencies due to missing ASIO drivers. Furthermore, some onboard sound chips are equipped with substandard AD/DA converters and only offer low signal quality (high noise level, non-linear frequency response, bad electrostatic shield).
  • Latency/Buffer Setting: If you experience audio drop-outs or crackles take a look at the "ASIO" part of the VST Performance Window (Devices menu). It indicates how much resources are left to calculate the audio data and forward it to the audio driver in time. If the latency is very low (which is corresponding to a very small buffer size) time might be too short for proper signal processing. Depending on the system, the audio interface and the running project, it might make sense to increase the latency/buffer setting. Please refer to the manual of the corresponding audio interface for details. Updating the audio driver might also improve the overall system performance and allow using latencies which weren't usable before. Generally, internal audio cards using the PCI or PCIe bus are able to provide lower latencies than external USB or Firewire based audio interfaces.

4. Any energy saving option should be deactivated or set to "none". The system should be configured for continued operations. If this is not done, hard disks will throttle in speed or toggle off after a while and some processors will down clock and slow down. Because of this, our products could stop functioning correctly. For current Cubase and Nuendo releases, please see #9 which covers this part.

5. Programs that are running in background can cause issues while working with our products or even already during installation. These programs are mostly configured to automatically start when Windows boots up, e.g. virus scanners, security software, firewalls, printer and media software. It is advisable to deactivate these programs and slim out your auto start. You can mostly configure this through the settings of the program itself or you must manually deactivate them through typing "msconfig" (without the "") via Start -> Run.

6. Disable Hyper-Threading if your CPU supports it (e.g. Intel i7) and you use older sequencer versions than Cubase 7 and Nuendo 6 (details).

7. Disable advanced power-saving and dynamic performance options for your CPU. This usually needs to be done in the BIOS or UEFI of your computer and includes Enhanced Intel SpeedStep (EIST), AMD Cool 'n' Quiet, Intel Turbo Boost, and AMD Turbo CORE.

8. Disable C-States in the BIOS/UEFI, if your computer's BIOS/UEFI gives you this option. C-States allow your CPU to sleep when idle, which may interfere with real-time applications such as audio. This option is often called "Disable CPU Idle State for Power Saving" in the BIOS/UEFI.

9. Use analysis software to monitor the overall real-time performance of your system. The free utilities DPC Latency Checker (only Windows 7 or earlier) and LatencyMon facilitate the search for possible sources of error a lot.

10. Processor scheduling (Windows XP only): It might make sense to set the processor scheduling to "Background services":

  • Go to Windows Start menu, select "Control Panels"
  • Start "System"
  • Select the tab "Advanced"
  • Click on "Settings" in the section "Performance"
  • In the window "Performance Options" select the tab "Advanced"
  • There you find the "Processor scheduling" options, set it to "Background services"

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