With all the plug-ins and virtual instruments available in Pro Tools 8 now, it’s easy to run out of processing power and memory (RAM) within a session, especially if you’re running PT on an older computer. You might hear “rice krispies” (snaps, crackles and pops) while playing back, or even see error messages when you’ve reached the limits of your computer’s capability. However, there are some ways to get around the issues… and I want to share a few with you here.

First, quit any other applications that are running along with Pro Tools. Those apps take away precious RAM and processing power that could be allocated to Pro Tools. Then, within Pro Tools, visit the Playback Engine window (Setup > Playback Engine). Set the CPU Usage Limit to the highest percentage available. This allows Pro Tools to take control of most of the processing power in your computer.

If you’re editing or mixing (and not recording any more tracks), set the H/W Buffer Size to a higher amount like 1024 Samples. This enables your computer to work with larger chunks of data and makes audio processing less intensive. Boosting this value beyond 1024 (if you have the option) might cause your user interface to act sluggish. Use your judgment. When recording, set the H/W Buffer Size to a lower value (32, 64, 128, or 256) to reduce latency.

Choose the highest number of RTAS Processors available so Pro Tools can utilize your computer’s multiple processors. You may also check the “RTAS Engine” checkbox if you’re experiencing recurrent RTAS errors that interrupt playback and recording. This option may degrade your audio playback quality on virtual instruments, but you’ll see less errors and thus your workflow won’t be interrupted as often. However, be sure to uncheck this option when mixing to ensure the highest quality of audio playback.

Playback Engine

The DAE playback buffer determines the amount of memory allocated with Digidesign Audio Engine (DAE) to manage disk buffers. A smaller buffer size might improve the speed of playback/record initiation if you’re experiencing lag time when you press Record or Play, but it might also make it more difficult for slower hard drives to play or record tracks reliably. A setting of “Level 0” might even make it impossible for your hard drive to read data fast enough to play back a PT session. A larger buffer size might improve the performance of a session with a huge number of edits; however, large DAE buffer sizes tend to increase the time lag before playback or record initiates.

I’d leave the DAE Playback Buffer parameters in their default states (Size = Level 2, Cache Size = Normal) unless you’re having an issue that Digidesign specifically recommends you to change those values.

Stay tuned for more ways to save processing power while using Pro Tools…

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    Digi recommends that you leave one Rtas processor unused for Protools functionality. So if you have 2 processors, use 1. If you have 8 use 7. You may find yourself getting a lot of DAE errors otherwise.

    Ted –

    You make a good point. My sources at Digidesign recommend using all processors unless you see DAE errors. If you see the errors, back it down to one below the max. I should have pointed this out in the article. Thanks for your feedback.


    I have a question…

    I ‘m having some problems with a particular plug in named “Virus TI” from Access.

    I asked about it at Access and the told me to decrease the numbers of Rtas Processors. I have a Mac Pro with 8 Processors.

    They told me to use 2 processors only..

    But I do not understand…. As virus TI is a RTAS Plug In, is it not good to use more Rtas Processors??…


    Actually, for RTAS Processor, use one less as you have in you computer setup!

    If you for example have 4 Cores, use 3 for RTAS processors and you can set the CPU Limit to 99%. That leaves you with one core for he rest of protools and the OS!

    I am using Protools 10 with Hd native card tryining to record with Venue Hdx card but i am getting erroe 9073 about disk .. what is the solution for it

    There are a number of possibilities for that… depending on your hardware and computer OS. A few things to try… use less TDM plug-ins, increase the hardware buffer size (in the playback engine), turn off journaling, or use a faster hard drive. You may also need to defragment your drive. Hope these help. Cheers!

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