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System Optimization For PCDJ

The support department receives numerous tickets concerning software performance issue such as skipping, audio drop outs and other performance related issues. This is normally an indication of poor system performance and not a problem with PCDJ products.
We have decided to put a page together with links and other helpful information in order to help you prepare your machine for pro audio use and to trouble shoot performance issues

Unfortunately, when it comes to tuning your machine for pro audio software there is not a specific roadmap that we can provide for you. Every computer is different depending on hardware configuration, software installed, operating system type, sound card type and driver used, external devices connected when using PCDJ, etc. The combinations can be endless. The following are a couple of points to remember before we begin.

General Advice

  • Be sure that you meet RECOMMENDED system requirements, not minimum system requirements. Minimum system requirements are the bare minimum to simply run and demo the software in a non performance based environment. You should expect issues when using a machine meeting minimum system requirements when out at a gig.
  • On the flip side, just because you recently purchased the latest and greatest laptop with the fastest processor and most RAM you can find, doesn’t mean that it will perform well for PCDJ right off the shelf. it’s true that todays machines are faster than ever however manufacturers load them up at the factory with plenty of “bloatware” (unnecessary extra software) which is fine for general computing convenience but horrible for pro audio use. Be prepared to get into the control panel and uninstall anything not driver related in order to utilize that advanced hardware that you just paid good money to use at your shows.
  • We recommend a DEDICATED machine for PCDJ products. This means that the machine should not be used for email, internet browsing, word processing, etc. You should only have software installed related to PCDJ and Pro audio use. Antivirus / security software is one of the biggest culprits of stealing system resources and is not needed as this machine should only be on the internet for recommended PCDJ updates or others relating to your pro audio software. You should have a secondary machine for general computing operations.
  • IF IT AINT BROKE DONT FIX IT! Once you take the time to get everything running smoothly don’t mess up your system by performing unnecessary updates from Microsoft (windows updates) or hardware driver updates unless they are absolutely needed. Microsoft has a nasty habit of releasing security patches without notifying the third party software community. This has caused customers showing up to a gig with software which has become “locked” or other issues because the update has corrupted registration information in hidden areas of the operating system. Adhering to this advice will assure you piece of mind knowing that every time you show up to a performance that you machine and software will boot up with no issues.
  • If using Vista or Windows 7 You should Disable the User Account Control.

ASIO Driver Advice

ASIO is a low latency third party driver implemented by many of todays pro audio sound card manufacturers. Many multi channel sound cards require you to install this driver in order to access the extra channels with in PCDJ products. You may see a single channel WDM (windows driver model aka direct sound) output available in the control panel but you need to use ASIO to utilize multiple outs. ASIO allows for a lower latency response between the time you press play and actually hear the sound, however it is extremely sensitive to how well your machine is running. Common issues include “Clicks and Pops” or complete dropouts altogether. Try to remember that ASIO is like an old analog radio dial and you should adjust the buffer setting in the driver control panel to see if you obtain a better response. Try a starting setting of 512 mb (11 ms) and increase or decrease buffer settings to see if you rid the system of clicks and pops. Too High or Low of a buffer will cause audio distortion. If changing the buffer settings does not help to improve the audio quality then you should start investigating system performance issues as will be explained below. Here are some things to keep in mind when using ASIO or external sound cards in general:

  • Always connect a USB sound card to the same USB port every time. before installing you should look at the available ports on the machine and decide which one will be the best functional port on the machine.
  • Do not connect through a powered USB hub. always connect the card / Controller directly into the machine
  • if the Asio Soundcard/Controller is USB connected then DO NOT connect an external Hard Drive on the USB. This can over load the USB bus with to much information. Try connecting an external hard drive via firewire or Esata instead.

The DPC Latency Checker

The latency checker is an great tool to diagnose how well your machine is running and whether you will have potential problems running pro audio software like PCDJ.
Download the latency checker here.

Save this file to your desktop. it is a standalone program so no installation is necessary. If you run this and see red spikes it means that your machine may have issues running audio software and would indicate that you consider uninstalling unnecessary programs that are starting up in the background.

Here is the link for full instructions on using the latency checker to help diagnose issues.

Here are a few suggestions for optimizing:

  • Disable any anti-spyware “realtime” scanning. It’s been discovered doing this for Ad-Aware makes a huge difference in latency.
  • Disable anti-virus on-access scanning. This hasn’t been confirmed but is worth a try since these programs are known to slow systems down in general. This is only recommended if your system is not connected to a network or the internet otherwise you put your system at risk of infection. Again you should consider the dedicated solution as suggested above in which case uninstall antivirus completely will not put you at risk.
  • Disable nVidia’s “PowerMizer.” nVidia’s laptop drivers have a feature called “PowerMizer” that has been reported to cause all kinds of problems for audio and overall latency. It can be disabled with a registry tweak.
  • Deactivate the “Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery” in the Device Manager (under Control Panel?System?Hardware.)
  • Change your power profile to high performance. In power options-> change the power profile to “high performance”, then click on the “change plan settings” and go through each option to disable the turn hard off, disable hibernation etc. Pay particular attention to the power button and on screen power off options. Change them from sleep to “shut down”. this will ensure a clean boot every time you start the machine.

Links

Windows Vista Audio Tweaks

Windows XP Audio Tweaks

Windows 7 Audio Tweaks

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