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Suggestions for best DAW for Kronos
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ChrisDuncan
Full Member


Joined: 17 May 2018
Posts: 247

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Track 7 wrote:

For the record, my current computer is a 15" 2020 Lenovo Legion 5 laptop with a Core i7 and 8GB RAM. As most DAWs seem to require at least i5 and 4GB, I'm hoping my laptop has enough headroom.

Plenty of horsepower in an i7, and 8 gigs is fine. I've worked with 4 (see below).

As you know from experience, there's no such thing as a computer that you can't stress out. Some guys have massive memory but then load massive amounts of plugins and can thus still hit the wall. What I've found over the years is knowing your environmental boundaries and working within them is the path to a better session.

I'm a classic rock guy, so I tend to use traditional keys (piano / B3 / Rhodes), some orchestra, and only the occasional synth, as opposed to an EDM guy who might need a ton of synths. I also don't have 500 tracks. So, my modest Xeon / 24 gigs memory box never even whines. But that wasn't always the case. The farther back in time we go, the more of a strain the systems felt from lesser loads. At that point a good experience is all about workflow.

In a current day DAW, recording and playing back audio tracks is nothing in terms of strain. Several years ago I was testing a live rig with a lite version of Cubase on a 32 bit i5 laptop with one physical hard drive (not an SSD), and 4 gigs of memory (max for 32 bit). I was able to record 24 audio tracks at 48k / 24 bit simultaneously with no stutter. I then played back those 24 tracks while recording another 24 at the same time. No stutter.

So, recording raw audio shouldn't be a problem for you. However, when I hit a wall, it's usually because I'm trying to do too many things at once. When that's the case, I record MIDI only (never a strain), and then I'll go back and render those to audio. I can always change the patch and re-record later since I still have the MIDI performance. Then I'm back to audio only, and again no problems.

This would be a workaround for those who might be playing back dozens of MIDI tracks pointing to VST instruments in real time. When the system is struggling, the most common culprit is too much VST stuff happening at the same time.

The final place I've hit the wall has been mixing, and for the same reasons - too many VSTs at once. By the time I'm mixing any VST instruments have been rendered to audio and the plugins unloaded, as I find it easier to mix with audio tracks rather than trying to deal with plugins in real time. If I get carried away with mix plugins, I can always go old school and bounce a track that has a gazillion plugins, then unload the plugins to regain processing power.

Honestly, as my mixing abilities have evolved over the years that's become less and less of a problem. Plus, unless you're running Pro Tools, most DAWs now have a ton of things built in for which you used to have to load a plugin. So, less reliance on plugins to save me (get it right when tracking), better understanding of what needs to be fixed, and thus fewer plugins.

In all the cases, with a modern DAW and even your 8 gigs of memory there's a way to destress an tracking / mixing session without resorting to all the old stuff of having to tweak the buffer sizes, etc. In most cases, rendering a plugin or two and unloading it gets you there. And if you're tracking the audio from your Kronos, VST instruments aren't even in the picture.

The DAW world is way, way better than it was when you left it. I'd encourage you to give it a chance. If you don't mind the learning curve, once you get there you'll love the amount of horsepower at your disposal.
_________________
Studio: Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | Yamaha TF5 | Mackie MCU | CMC AI, QC
Keyboard Station: Kronos 2 88 | Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | UR 22 | CMC TP
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chris Duncan
Atlanta, GA, USA, Earth
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ChrisDuncan
Full Member


Joined: 17 May 2018
Posts: 247

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Track 7 wrote:

For the record, my current computer is a 15" 2020 Lenovo Legion 5 laptop with a Core i7 and 8GB RAM. As most DAWs seem to require at least i5 and 4GB, I'm hoping my laptop has enough headroom.

Plenty of horsepower in an i7, and 8 gigs is fine. I've worked with 4 (see below).

As you know from experience, there's no such thing as a computer that you can't stress out. Some guys have massive memory but then load massive amounts of plugins and can thus still hit the wall. What I've found over the years is knowing your environmental boundaries and working within them is the path to a better session.

I'm a classic rock guy, so I tend to use traditional keys (piano / B3 / Rhodes), some orchestra, and only the occasional synth, as opposed to an EDM guy who might need a ton of synths. I also don't have 500 tracks. So, my modest Xeon / 24 gigs memory box never even whines. But that wasn't always the case. The farther back in time we go, the more of a strain the systems felt from lesser loads. At that point a good experience is all about workflow.

In a current day DAW, recording and playing back audio tracks is nothing in terms of strain. Several years ago I was testing a live rig with a lite version of Cubase on a 32 bit i5 laptop with one physical hard drive (not an SSD), and 4 gigs of memory (max for 32 bit). I was able to record 24 audio tracks at 48k / 24 bit simultaneously with no stutter. I then played back those 24 tracks while recording another 24 at the same time. No stutter.

So, recording raw audio shouldn't be a problem for you. However, when I hit a wall, it's usually because I'm trying to do too many things at once. When that's the case, I record MIDI only (never a strain), and then I'll go back and render those to audio. I can always change the patch and re-record later since I still have the MIDI performance. Then I'm back to audio only, and again no problems.

This would be a workaround for those who might be playing back dozens of MIDI tracks pointing to VST instruments in real time. When the system is struggling, the most common culprit is too much VST stuff happening at the same time.

The final place I've hit the wall has been mixing, and for the same reasons - too many VSTs at once. By the time I'm mixing any VST instruments have been rendered to audio and the plugins unloaded, as I find it easier to mix with audio tracks rather than trying to deal with plugins in real time. If I get carried away with mix plugins, I can always go old school and bounce a track that has a gazillion plugins, then unload the plugins to regain processing power.

Honestly, as my mixing abilities have evolved over the years that's become less and less of a problem. Plus, unless you're running Pro Tools, most DAWs now have a ton of things built in for which you used to have to load a plugin. So, less reliance on plugins to save me (get it right when tracking), better understanding of what needs to be fixed, and thus fewer plugins.

In all the cases, with a modern DAW and even your 8 gigs of memory there's a way to destress an tracking / mixing session without resorting to all the old stuff of having to tweak the buffer sizes, etc. In most cases, rendering a plugin or two and unloading it gets you there. And if you're tracking the audio from your Kronos, VST instruments aren't even in the picture.

The DAW world is way, way better than it was when you left it. I'd encourage you to give it a chance. If you don't mind the learning curve, once you get there you'll love the amount of horsepower at your disposal.
_________________
Studio: Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | Yamaha TF5 | Mackie MCU | CMC AI, QC
Keyboard Station: Kronos 2 88 | Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | UR 22 | CMC TP
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chris Duncan
Atlanta, GA, USA, Earth
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Track 7
Junior Member


Joined: 22 Sep 2016
Posts: 79

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisDuncan wrote:
In a current day DAW, recording and playing back audio tracks is nothing in terms of strain.

I've been figuring this out just this week! I always thought the opposite. But now I'm starting to understand the weight of plugins.

As I've mentioned in other threads, the whole reason I've been thinking about DAWs and virtual instruments at all is to get away from tracking audio. I'm tired of it and not that good at it. I'm no longer the player I once was and would prefer to concentrate on composing without limiting myself to what I can play on the guitar and bass.

Realistic virtual guitars would change my life if I could find a comfortable way to use them. The rest of my music is full orchestra, pianos, EPs, percussion, mallets, and a few synth pads. If I could do everything with MIDI, that would be great. And if I had to render the virtual guitars to audio to ease the strain, that would be OK.

I'm not sure, but I think I'm pretty light on other resources. I use only a few insert effects here and there, saving reverb and compression for the very end on just the stereo mix (Kronos' Total Effects) so that my entire "orchestra" is playing in the same "room."

Are virtual instruments from a library (either native or third-party) considered plugins? If so, are they as resource heavy as plugin processors?

ChrisDuncan wrote:
The DAW world is way, way better than it was when you left it. I'd encourage you to give it a chance. If you don't mind the learning curve, once you get there you'll love the amount of horsepower at your disposal.

Thanks once again, Chris. I am officially giving it a shot now. Last night I downloaded Studio One Prime, the free version. First I tried Reaper and hated it -- already uninstalled. Not sure why S1 seems so much more comfortable, but I'm going to keep exploring it.

And in a nod to the OP, who I hope will forgive me for semi-hijacking this thread (albeit still on topic), so far I would suggest trying Studio One Prime. Reaper is also free to try (and only $60 to buy), so it's worth checking out as well. If I hit any walls with S1, I'll try Cakewalk (also free) but have a feeling S1 is going to be doable for me. I've already eyed some third-party virtual guitars with a free trial version (musiclab.com) and will experiment with them in the coming weeks.

Goal for today: Connect Kronos to Studio One as a controller. Fingers crossed.
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ChrisDuncan
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Joined: 17 May 2018
Posts: 247

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Track 7 wrote:

Realistic virtual guitars would change my life if I could find a comfortable way to use them. The rest of my music is full orchestra, pianos, EPs, percussion, mallets, and a few synth pads. If I could do everything with MIDI, that would be great. And if I had to render the virtual guitars to audio to ease the strain, that would be OK.

I did everything but guitar and vocals (bass, drums, orchestra, keys, etc.) by writing midi for many years. Absolutely a doable approach.

Track 7 wrote:

Are virtual instruments from a library (either native or third-party) considered plugins? If so, are they as resource heavy as plugin processors?

Yes, virtual instruments are plugins, and often the weightiest type. Cubase has a "freeze" feature for instrument tracks that renders the audio in place and then unloads the plugin so you have just the audio with no plugin overhead. If you want to make changes you unfreeze, and then when you're happy you can freeze again. Pretty sure all major DAWs do this.

Also, the Kronos can be thought of as a kind of "external plugin." Okay, not really, but you can record the midi, then point it to the Kronos, play back, and record the audio output of the Kronos to a track, then mute your midi track. Same thing, if you want changes you delete the audio, unmute the midi, rinse and repeat.

So, you'll have the best of both worlds. All you can do in VST instruments without losing any of the sounds you have in the Kronos.

Track 7 wrote:

Last night I downloaded Studio One Prime, the free version. First I tried Reaper and hated it -- already uninstalled. Not sure why S1 seems so much more comfortable, but I'm going to keep exploring it.

Reaper is very configurable but is the least well designed in terms of user interface. It may be the Penguin heritage (Linux geeks, even with X Windows, Unix was never known for stunning user interface design). It's also very young compared to most of them. It's capable and I have friends who love it, but it would probably come near the bottom of any list I made.

Studio One has a good rep. It's also younger than Pro Tools, Cubase and Cakewalk, but seems to be very full featured. Should do a great job for you.

Track 7 wrote:

Goal for today: Connect Kronos to Studio One as a controller. Fingers crossed.

For what it's worth, I don't connect via USB. While that's certainly an option, that gets me into vulnerabilities with drivers, puts me at the mercy of Windows Updates (insert your favorite profanity here), etc. I just do it old school. Kronos MIDI in / out to audio interface MIDI out / in. Kronos audio out L / R to audio interface L / R in. Just like any other instrument. Nothing to it.
_________________
Studio: Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | Yamaha TF5 | Mackie MCU | CMC AI, QC
Keyboard Station: Kronos 2 88 | Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | UR 22 | CMC TP
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chris Duncan
Atlanta, GA, USA, Earth
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Track 7
Junior Member


Joined: 22 Sep 2016
Posts: 79

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisDuncan wrote:
Yes, virtual instruments are plugins, and often the weightiest type. Cubase has a "freeze" feature for instrument tracks that renders the audio in place and then unloads the plugin so you have just the audio with no plugin overhead. . . .

So, you'll have the best of both worlds. All you can do in VST instruments without losing any of the sounds you have in the Kronos. . . .

For what it's worth, I don't connect via USB.

So I managed to connect via USB. I already see what you mean about Windows, etc. There was some latency too, which I can figure out later once I have an interface. I don't have one now. My goal today was just to trigger the Studio One sounds with something other than my mouse. I could not get the Kronos' sustain pedal or joystick to register, but again, I can figure that out later with a MIDI cable + interface.

Or . . . I'll probably just order a simple USB keyboard controller and build a separate learning station. The "best of both worlds" -- Kronos + DAW -- is too much for me to process right now. I can integrate later once I'm more comfortable with the DAW.

Today I created a short orchestral piece with five tracks -- strings, two woodwinds, percussion, and clean guitar -- all from the onboard virtual instruments. It sounds good! I could imagine adding just some third-party guitars and synth pads plus maybe the Presonus Symphonic Orchestra library and being good to go.

According to the CPU performance monitor, my short song tops out at around 6%. I'll keep an eye on it as I add parts. I'm basically a 24-track guy. If something can't be done in that space, it's too complicated. In the Kronos, that generally means 16 MIDI + 8 audio. If my DAW workflow were to become 24 virtual instruments and no audio, then I'm hoping the CPU would keep up. I've read about Cubase's freeze feature and if needed will look up how to do that in S1.
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ChrisDuncan
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Joined: 17 May 2018
Posts: 247

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome, man. Sounds like you're on the road with it!
_________________
Studio: Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | Yamaha TF5 | Mackie MCU | CMC AI, QC
Keyboard Station: Kronos 2 88 | Cubase 10.5 | Windows 10 | UR 22 | CMC TP
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chris Duncan
Atlanta, GA, USA, Earth
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