Logic Pro 9 Maximizing Power on a MacBook Pro


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Hi guys (and gals); my first post here. I'm working with a musical partner to "realize" an original score that will be mixed down to stereo and used for a professional live theatre show. The cues won't be long but I can see them using 30-50 tracks, primarily samples from the East/West Composers Collection. I'm on a 1 year old MBP with 4GB RAM, Snow Leopard, current Logic 9.1.3, etc., and my samples all live on a Drobo HD enclosure (LIKE a RAID, but not quite) through FW800.

I'm anticipating that I'm going to run out of juice, so I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions to keep working as I build up arrangements. I thought of sub mixing to Stems, but I'm not sure if that will actually save any power (even though a software instrument track would be muted, my assumption is that it's using cycles, but more importantly RAM). Does the Freeze function work well, and works as it should? Bounce in Place may also work, but again, I'd have to unload the plug-in to free up any power.

Any other ideas of suggestions (besides buying a 12-core MacPro with 32 GB of RAM!!)??


Hi Marcel,

Sorry I can't help but I'm also on a 1yr old MBP with 4GB RAM (2.53GHz) and would be interested to hear suggestions.
I recently transferred a project over from my 3yr old, 2GHz, 4GB RAM Macbook and it suddenly started generating system overload messages. Freezing some tracks, deleting unused regions and consolidating project didn't help.
I've tentatively put this down to transferring from one machine to another mid-project but it'd be interesting to hear other views.
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That MBP will take 8GB of RAM total. I'd seriously consider upping that. The track count shouldn't be a problem, what will be is CPU usage if you are using a lot of plug-ins, and Ram usage if you aren't running Logic at 64bit. You may want to consider VSL ensemble for the East West Libraries. Running that behind Logic will help greatly with not running out of memory. Also, if the East West stuff has built in Reverbs, take that off and use a single reverb in Logics mix. that will help with CPU usage too.

I recently retired my 4 year old MBP because the CPU just couldn't meet the demand I needed any longer, but it was a workhorse as long as I kept an eye on things. It was only a 2.16Ghz dual core 2 duo model.

Freezing tracks can also help a lot. It's much easier to stream audio tracks, and I never had track count problems.

When mixing, up the Buffer to 1024, that will help a lot too.
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I know these problems and have them myself all the time. My Macbook Pro is an older model, a little newer than the one bobdemaa mentioned in his post. A 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB RAM. It worked phantastic as I bought it. Then, from year to year, the performance dropped significantly and continuously. In Logic I feel now like in the "good" old days: freezing, rearranging tracks, downmixing, freezing. I get audio overloads all the time.

Now, since many people complain about the same things even on newer machines, we have to accept that there is a problem. Or a couple of problems. Maybe with particular computer models, maybe with the modern programming techniques in OSX, music software, other software, maybe with the manufacturer's race for hard- and software with the most features, what ever.

What can we do in Logic? What about three instances of Ultrabeat and a bass and glueing Hip Hop tracks together? Or concentrate on high quality Minimal House, 50 notes in a row, finally going out to analogue consoles and tapes? Probably modal Jazz is the way to go, one chord per hour should be enough. Or should we do what the machine tries to suggest - buy a new, bigger machine. Better two or five of them.

I am not willing to follow the dictated upgrade pace any longer, be it hardware or software. Maybe I will end up with a flute and a microphone and let other people fight against the world. Well, I'm afraid if I continue talking about this general issue we will lose the focus on our subject.


Let's get constructive as far as possible.
Below are a couple of suggestions in random order and independently from the types of errors you may get from your particular system:

  • Keep your system free of any gimmicks that run in the background and are not really needed.

  • Since you have a Unix system, do not fill the system disk more than 70%.

  • Do not record to the system disk, use an external disk. Firewire is good for extensive multichannel audio recording.

  • Store your samples on an external disk. USB works for many people, for bigger libraries use a Firewire disk. Some of todays huge libraries require something like a RAID.

  • Put in the maximum RAM you can.

  • If you have just one or two plugins which bring Logic onto it's knees on those machines, try to run them separately in Plogue Bidule. Maybe even the VST versions work better there than AUs in Logic. If you are unlucky or overdo it, you will overload the machine anyway.

  • Do not use audio servers like Soundflower or Jack while you work in Logic.

  • Freeze, freeze, freeze.

  • Bounce in place but watch out for strange results. Better send the track to a bus, record it from there and mute the original.

  • Do not run flexed tracks longer than necessary. Flex is very hungry and can make failures which may stop your playback with an error. Mixdown, mute them, lock them away in a folder just in case you need to modify them later.

  • Most CPU is used by bigger software instruments and effects, especially third party products. Playing audio alone doesn't need much. Mixdown or freezing solve many problems.

  • A small buffer size makes no sense for mixing. Turn it up.

  • Return to the old school arrangement technique. Work on parts, on stems if you want, then mix them down. Fortunately you don't lose quality via copying in digital world.

  • If you send a channelstrip to sleep, don't believe anybody who tells you that it will magically stop using CPU when you mute it in a certain way with a certain preference setting. Be radical, turn everything off: Mute the regions, alt-click on every instrument, any insert effect and all active sends, do all you can to make this thing completely dumb and deaf and grey. Only the mute button should please your eyes by it's wonderful blue colour. Sounds ridiculous, overdone, silly? Maybe, I don't care but just do it since years and my dead channelstrips are really dead.

  • Forget getting creative in the software. Be creative in your music and use Logic like a recorder and mixing desk. This sounds really bad I know. And I don't like the idea. But do we have a chance? I feel that I am forced to work like that since a while.

  • If you are a musician and a good player, bring this to the foreground again. You have your ideas, you have a heart and a soul and you have performance skills. You don't always need total recall. Try using software instruments like real instruments. You can play third party synthesizers in their standalone version if available or in Plogue Bidule and record only the audio signal. Why not hardware synthesizers. If you get this right, there is no reason to mess with single notes. The mix has to accept what the boss played.
Apparently I went out of control while writing the text above. So I will stop here. I hope you find one or two suggestions which are useful for you and help you to keep a constructive alliance with Logic and this machine that has a "Pro" in its name. That "Pro" is not necessarily meant for musical work. You yourself are more "pro" when you find ways to overcome technical difficulties.
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That was an awesome post !!!

I run as stated in my sig.

I rarely run out of power, but I'm very Old Skool.

Rarely do I run over 12 or so tracks. I still remember making records on 8 and 16 Track Tascams !!! LOL.

I think maybe this is where the problem lies. People are getting used to and then demanding what has historically been unrealistic performance and track counts.

My laptop still amazes me !!!

Hope this helps.
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Just to add one other item to Peter's excellent list, a classic I come across every so often is seeing arrangements where instances of space designer are used in audio channel strips, one for each individual track. This practice can run any computer into the wall, instead, think "mixing console" and send from all these tracks to one instance of space designer on an aux channel strip. Just make sure to set this instance of space designer up so the dry signal is at mute.

This method can be applied to other time/space/delay effects such as Delay Designer.

kind regards

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Peter, that was really nice of you to take the time to put that extensive list together.

I do think that there are cpu consumption issues with the latest version of Logic and OS X 10.6.6. That might be another thing to consider. Stick to an older OS version. I think on the MBP the best performance I had was with 10.5.8. I can't verify that though.

I wound up getting a mac pro this time around with the fastest processors I could. A quad core at 3.2 Ghz. So far it's done everything I've asked of it with no problems.

The old school approach is always the safest way (and best sounding IMHO) of course it's easier to be that way when you are old school. : P But I don't miss the days of 2" reels either.


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The old school approach is always the safest way (and best sounding IMHO) of course it's easier to be that way when you are old school.
This sounds logical but I am not convinced. Btw, I am not old school! I am just old, cannot remember any school.

But when I hear new school people playing Vivaldi perfectly boring on shredding guitars with faces like special agents and the opposite, everytime when I hear a really good and innovative sound and this guy is barely under 60, then I get the impression that the world is a little twisted.

C'mon, youngsters all around, a bit of anarchy is a natural domain of young people and a lot of fun. Once you find out that musical notes can sit on different lines and - surprise - actually where you want them and that they don't even need to be well-known notes, this may change the picture. The computer alone cannot change it. It freezes the picture.
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Some excellent replies here. Thanks.

I do think that there are cpu consumption issues with the latest version of Logic and OS X 10.6.6.

This was my fear.

My new 2.53GHz, 4GB MBP also has an SSD (256GB) so I expected it to perform much better with Logic than my 2GHz, 4GB MacBook's 5400rpm drive but, at least for the project in question, it's *much* worse.
(As an aside, I've been doing my recording to the internal drive on both machines for the following reasons. The laptops only have one FW port, 400 & 800 respectively. This port is taken by my 01x audio/MIDI i/f. The 01x has two FW ports but I found that if I daisy-chained my FW devices in this way it made things worse. And even the MB 5400rpm seems to perform better than external USB.)

That might be another thing to consider. Stick to an older OS version. I think on the MBP the best performance I had was with 10.5.8. I can't verify that though.

Is there a way to dual-boot 10.5 & 10.6?
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Sorry guys, I didn't get email notice that there were posts; I just decided to poke around. Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts;ESPECIALLY Peter...wow! And yes, there are several good pointers that I'll take from that. I've been nervous to go 64-bit with Logic to access more RAM because I know that I'm going to have some plug-ins that won't like the change. Any thoughts?

I spent a fair bit of time with EW/QL Platinum Orchestra last night and one thing piqued my interest in reference to an earlier comment about disabling plug-in 'verbs and using Space Designer at the end. Their library has separate Release samples and I THOUGHT I was hearing reverb but it turns out it was the space of the hall; you can unload those, so now I'm wondering if it would be better to run the dry orchestra through SD at the end. To get some depth, I'd probably have to take different orchestra "sections" to multiple outs and dial up different amounts of reverb.

I'll look into the RAM and try some of your ideas. Again, thanks to all!

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I've been nervous to go 64-bit with Logic to access more RAM because I know that I'm going to have some plug-ins that won't like the change. Any thoughts?

Actually, Audio Units are by and large behaving well for me running Logic in 64 bit mode. Which plug-ins are you concerned about?

kind regards

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