UPDATE: Not enough wallop: Processing power for making music

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ijontyijonty Frets: 28
edited September 13 in Studio & Recording
Hi folks

I've got a MacBook Air and it can't cope with something as simple as Garageband, saying it's not got enough memory or it's overloaded or something.

This is the spec:

Processor: 

1.7 GHz Intel Core i5

memory:

4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3

Graphics:

Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB


Is that really not powerful enough, or am I doing something wrong? I've just downloaded Reaper, but concerned that my Mac isn't up to it.

If it's no good, what is the most cost-effective solution? I use the MacBook for work, so do I upgrade that, or do I buy a separate machine purely for music?

Cheers,

Jon





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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 330
    ijonty said:
    saying it's not got enough memory or it's overloaded or something.


    What does it actually say? My guess is that your disk/ssd is too full. 
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    edited May 21
    An MBA of that spec is pretty low powered but you should be able to do a few tracks.

    What OS version, what version of Garageband?
    When was the last time you rebuilt your OS?

    Do you have any other plugins installed?
    Ar you trying to work in GB whilst you have other apps open?
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  • markvmarkv Frets: 167
    I would have thought you'd be fine with Reaper on that machine - and Garageband, probably. Definitely check the disk. Processor is unlikely to be an issue. RAM is on the low side but should be fine for Reaper.

    For comparison: I had few problems running Reaper on an old Dell laptop with an i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a spinning rust disk - other than occasional glitches which I think were likely to be the audio interface drivers.

    I recently upgraded the same machine to 8GB RAM and an SSD, and now it's very quick (although reinstalling Windows always helps in that respect anyway)
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3616
    I have an imac running Reaper with 4Gb ram and an old core 2 processor .... at the very moment it's running 24 tracks of audio all with EQ, Compression plugins plus 4 master aux effects. No probs at all so I doubt it's your machines spec

    Assuming your disk isn't full it's gonna be software related 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3415
    Does your MBA get as far as booting up Garageband or does it make a bunch of HDD chuntering noises for a few minutes before politely declining?
    octatonic said:
    What OS version, what version of Garageband? When was the last time you rebuilt your OS?
    All good points.

    A few OSX revisions ago, everything went 64-bit. Even after doubling the RAM capacity, your 1.7GHz i5 processor chip would be close to its limit.

    ijonty said:
    something as simple as Garageband
    GB is now far more complex than you may imagine. Firstly, it runs in 64-bit. Older OSX revisions cannot support it. Secondly, Apple re-engineered GB to become something akin to Logic Lite as a way of luring in new customers. Thirdly, as soon as you ask GB to support a bunch of instrument and/or amp simulation plug-ins, it makes huge demands on the CPU.





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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    The other thing to be looking out for is putting reverbs on individual tracks.
    It is far smarter to use auxes and bus individual tracks to a single reverb plugin than put a different reverb on each track.

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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    ijonty said:
    saying it's not got enough memory or it's overloaded or something.


    What does it actually say? My guess is that your disk/ssd is too full. 
    It uses the word 'overloaded' but can't remember exactly.

    octatonic said:
    An MBA of that spec is pretty low powered but you should be able to do a few tracks.

    What OS version, what version of Garageband?
    When was the last time you rebuilt your OS?

    Do you have any other plugins installed?
    Ar you trying to work in GB whilst you have other apps open?
    Nothing else running at the time. What does 'rebuilding' mean? 

    Danny1969 said:


    Assuming your disk isn't full it's gonna be software related 
    I'm not sure if this is what you mean, but there's 120gb on there, and currently 25gb spare.

    Does your MBA get as far as booting up Garageband or does it make a bunch of HDD chuntering noises for a few minutes before politely declining?


    It opens it fine and I have a few tracks in a project laid out before I get the warning messages.


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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    ijonty said:
    octatonic said:
    An MBA of that spec is pretty low powered but you should be able to do a few tracks.

    What OS version, what version of Garageband?
    When was the last time you rebuilt your OS?

    Do you have any other plugins installed?
    Ar you trying to work in GB whilst you have other apps open?
    Nothing else running at the time. What does 'rebuilding' mean? 

    When was the last time you backed up your data, formatted the hard disk, reinstalled all applications and restored your data?

    I do this yearly, at a minimum.

    You didn't answer my other questions.
    What version of Mac OS?
    What version of Garageband?
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    edited May 21
    octatonic said:
    ijonty said:
    octatonic said:
    An MBA of that spec is pretty low powered but you should be able to do a few tracks.

    What OS version, what version of Garageband?
    When was the last time you rebuilt your OS?

    Do you have any other plugins installed?
    Ar you trying to work in GB whilst you have other apps open?
    Nothing else running at the time. What does 'rebuilding' mean? 

    When was the last time you backed up your data, formatted the hard disk, reinstalled all applications and restored your data?

    I do this yearly, at a minimum.

    You didn't answer my other questions.
    What version of Mac OS?
    What version of Garageband?
    So data is backed up continually on Time Machine, if that's what you mean? Never formatted or reinstalled anything though.  OS is definitely old - El Capitan - so I could update that tonight. Do I just do that through the App Store thing, or do I need to do reformatting stuff first? Sorry, not very clued up in this. GB is 10.2


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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    edited May 21
    ijonty said:
    octatonic said:
    ijonty said:
    octatonic said:
    An MBA of that spec is pretty low powered but you should be able to do a few tracks.

    What OS version, what version of Garageband?
    When was the last time you rebuilt your OS?

    Do you have any other plugins installed?
    Ar you trying to work in GB whilst you have other apps open?
    Nothing else running at the time. What does 'rebuilding' mean? 

    When was the last time you backed up your data, formatted the hard disk, reinstalled all applications and restored your data?

    I do this yearly, at a minimum.

    You didn't answer my other questions.
    What version of Mac OS?
    What version of Garageband?
    So data is backed up continually on Time Machine, if that's what you mean? Never formatted or reinstalled anything though.  OS is definitely old - El Capitan - so I could update that tonight. Do I just do that through the App Store thing, or do I need to do reformatting stuff first? Sorry, not very clued up in this. GB is 10.2
    I don't think I can talk you through the process and, with respect, I don't think you should attempt this yourself if the things I've said thus far are confusing.

    That said, over time an Operating System gets slower and less efficient, because you have a lot of legacy files, or old drivers that are being called and using processing power.
    The way to work out if this is an issue with the OS is to do a clean install.
    Do you have someone who can do this for you?
    If not then you might need to take it to someone who can (for money).

    Updating the OS over one that is possibly already inefficient is not the way forward.
    No, I am not talking about Time Machine backups, although having a backup is always good.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1897
    25Gb of free space is your  problem, get an external drive and store all your samples plug ins etc there and have a disk clean up
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    I don't think so.
    25GB should be enough- if there is 4GB of RAM then the swap file might be 4GB and the session might be a maximum of 4GB unless he is doing something huge (which he has said he isn't).
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28

    octatonic said:

    Updating the OS over one that is possibly already inefficient is not the way forward.
    No, I am not talking about Time Machine backups, although having a backup is always good.
    I won't turn this into a Mac repair forum by asking loads about this, but could you just give me an idea of what you mean by back-ups? Then I'll investigate sorting it out.

    And no, I'm definitely not doing anything huge. Just recording layers of guitar.


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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    ijonty said:

    octatonic said:

    Updating the OS over one that is possibly already inefficient is not the way forward.
    No, I am not talking about Time Machine backups, although having a backup is always good.
    I won't turn this into a Mac repair forum by asking loads about this, but could you just give me an idea of what you mean by back-ups? Then I'll investigate sorting it out.

    And no, I'm definitely not doing anything huge. Just recording layers of guitar.
    This is what I do.

    Ignoring that you have Time Machine backups (which are good to have) I would back up all the data to another volume that can be removed from the computer, ie an external hard drive.
    I use Carbon Copy Cloner  (CCC) to do this.

    BTW CCC is better than Time Machine for backing up your Mac.

    Then, once you are certain you have two backups of your data (Time Machine and CCC) you then format your disk and reinstall Mac OSX.
    Then manually reinstall all applications and put your data back where it should be (using CCC or a manual drag to folders).

    If you encounter a problem then you can actually boot into the CCC volume and work out what is going wrong.
    You cannot do that with Time Machine.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    So I'm back with an update. Done all the above and still the Macbook Air is struggling.

    For example, using Garageband with no other apps open, and not many tracks in a song, I get the warning of "disk is too slow or system overload".

    Also I get plenty of spinning beach ball. 

    As a reminder, this is the spec:

    Processor: 

    1.7 GHz Intel Core i5

    memory:

    4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3

    Graphics:

    Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB


    I've decided it's time for a new laptop (or rather upgrade by buying one secondhand).

    Any advice on what spec I should go for so it will work nice and smooth whatever I throw at it? And I realise some will tell me I shouldn't be using Garageband, but I've not tried Reaper yet.

    Cheers,


    Jon



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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 13
    just adding this here,
    I'm running (and loving) reaper on a similar spec laptop, i7, 4g ram, But its running on ssd, which maybe the macbook is too? no problems with 50 tracks and lots of plugins on master bus.( I was surprised)
    and I'm running Logic, pro-tools and reaper on my other machine, a 2012 macbook pro which has 16 g ram and an i5 processor-also running off ssd, but i put a 2tb disc in there instead of the superdrive. 
    I think that was the last year Apple made a product that we can use.
    the years after-things get a bit messy-soldered ram, smaller ssd drives, lack of USB ports ,etc etc.
    I'd be looking for something like the 2012 now , for about £400, which can be upgraded, but if you need Pro gear, you are going to have to be spending a lot, for a second hand Mac dustbin, which i understand is the best machine out there for music production.
    For now, I'm sticking with my laptop, that can record 8 tracks simultaneusly through usb, into reaper via a Zoom r16, ( again, I was surprised it worked so well)
    YMMV
    Cheers
    andy k
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  • fandangofandango Frets: 1153
    ijonty said:
    So I'm back with an update. Done all the above and still the Macbook Air is struggling.

    For example, using Garageband with no other apps open, and not many tracks in a song, I get the warning of "disk is too slow or system overload".

    Also I get plenty of spinning beach ball. 

    As a reminder, this is the spec:

    Processor: 

    1.7 GHz Intel Core i5

    memory:

    4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3

    Graphics:

    Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB


    I've decided it's time for a new laptop (or rather upgrade by buying one secondhand).

    Any advice on what spec I should go for so it will work nice and smooth whatever I throw at it? And I realise some will tell me I shouldn't be using Garageband, but I've not tried Reaper yet.

    Cheers,


    Jon

    Depending on your budget, i have a MacBook Pro going spare. Am prepared to consider offers. See my signature.
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  • I had a lot of slowness problems recently that I addressed by downloading OnyX from https://www.titanium-software.fr/en/onyx.html and running Maintainance tasks - make sure you get it to rebuild the Spotlight cache, and I also had it rebuild the Mail cache as well. 

    (Basically these are a big list of everything on the computer and everything in Mail)

    It did help a lot with the speed thing.Try it before shelling out for anything (OnyX is free). Make sure you download the version for your OS version.


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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    andy_k said:
    just adding this here,
    I'm running (and loving) reaper on a similar spec laptop, i7, 4g ram, But its running on ssd, which maybe the macbook is too? no problems with 50 tracks and lots of plugins on master bus.( I was surprised)
    and I'm running Logic, pro-tools and reaper on my other machine, a 2012 macbook pro which has 16 g ram and an i5 processor-also running off ssd, but i put a 2tb disc in there instead of the superdrive. 
    I think that was the last year Apple made a product that we can use.
    the years after-things get a bit messy-soldered ram, smaller ssd drives, lack of USB ports ,etc etc.
    I'd be looking for something like the 2012 now , for about £400, which can be upgraded, but if you need Pro gear, you are going to have to be spending a lot, for a second hand Mac dustbin, which i understand is the best machine out there for music production.
    For now, I'm sticking with my laptop, that can record 8 tracks simultaneusly through usb, into reaper via a Zoom r16, ( again, I was surprised it worked so well)
    YMMV
    Cheers
    andy k
    I never fully understand what all these specs mean, so are you saying mine should be good enough because yours is ok with Reaper?  Mine appears to be an SSD. 


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  • pmgpmg Frets: 219
    There’s a 2013 MacBook Pro for sale in the classifieds which will solve all your problems if you go down the new laptop route
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 13
     I guess we all have different needs, but I have come to accept there are limitations with whatever platform we work with.
    my point with the 2 options i use, is that they both work ok for me.
    The more recent macs, with their soldered in ram and fairly small SSD drives, make it hard to avoid filling up with bloat, with each update of Logic for example, the library of sounds that you need to download is enormous.
    When I go back onto a PC, I realise how much I hate Windows, but I wanted a cheap option to take out and record live rehearsals etc, without risking my main macbook pro, and the Ilok that is needed for pro-tools and Slate, so  use an Asus zenbook, which has 4 gig of soldered ram, but is an I7 and running from a fairly small ssd, so the compromise forced me to look into Reaper, and I honestly prefer it to both Logic and Pro-tools.
    All 3 Daws are amazing, and can all do pretty much the same things, and at first they all seem ridiculously complex, Logic is ace for creating ideas, and Midi is one of it's strengths, Pro-tools is the industry standard, so chances are you will have to learn it, but it is expensive and to some extent it is a bit behind the times with its locked in way of working, Reaper seems to be able to do everything the others do, with a tiny footprint on your computer, and if theres anything you need to know-there is a massive community who are willing to help.
    A Mac is a big investment, and will get a lot of use, so will eventually break, so it is a good idea to have a plan B ready to go with. If I was you, I would hold off buying just for now, and look into getting more out of your current machine, when the new macs come out-the price of the second hand Mac dustbins will fall, and that is a serious bit of kit for music creation.
    It is the librarys of content that will soon fill up any hard drive, so it is worth having an external SSD which you can store these things on, and maybe even be able to run from.
    good luck
    Andy k
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    andy_k said:
    If I was you, I would hold off buying just for now, and look into getting more out of your current machine, 
    I definitely agree with not buying new stuff just for the sake of it. My concern is that I'm not sure how to 'get more' out of my current machine. Again this morning, GB was saying it was 'overloaded' with only one track. Having done everything people suggest in this thread and still having trouble, I wonder what I should do. 


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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 3028
    edited September 17
    Get a trial of Reaper
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  • Although it’s an older Mac a couple of things come to mind.

    check all the stuff that is running in activity monitor.
    There could be a few things hogging memory simply need closing down completely. Chrome is one that comes to mind.

    also check how much memory you actually have available once GarageBand is loaded.

    Also check the CPU load which tasks are stealing ticks. some o.der stuff can be badly written or if GB is killing the processor when running then time for an upgrade. If you are constrained on memory you can shutdown or kill stuff.

    If from looking at activity monitor it’s memory or drive a cheap mid life kicker is switch out the old slow hard drive for an SSD. also look at upgrading the memory to the max.

    I still have an old Pre unibody MacBook Pro early 2008 that has max memory and an early SSD. It still works fine for loads of tasks.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    Get a trail of Reaper
    Trail of Reaper sounds like a bitchin’ metal band.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    Although it’s an older Mac a couple of things come to mind.

    check all the stuff that is running in activity monitor.
    There could be a few things hogging memory simply need closing down completely. Chrome is one that comes to mind.


    I've used Activity Monitor and got these readings. Does this reveal anything?






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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18875
    You have a lot of other little applications and resource hogs- the cumulative effect of which will slow down your CPU.
    I would get rid of Backup and Sync, Cloud App, MagicPrefs, Dropbox and anything else that is using the CPU or memory whistle recording.

    In particular, Backup and Sync from Google is a known resource hog and in this instance it is nearly taking 20% of your CPU.
    Get rid of it, or at least disable it when doing music.

    The MBA has a limited amount of power- if you want to run all those small apps and helpers then you will need a faster computer if you want to do audio.
    Or simply disable the various little apps and helpers.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    octatonic said:
    You have a lot of other little applications and resource hogs- the cumulative effect of which will slow down your CPU.
    I would get rid of Backup and Sync, Cloud App, MagicPrefs, Dropbox and anything else that is using the CPU or memory whistle recording.

    In particular, Backup and Sync from Google is a known resource hog and in this instance it is nearly taking 20% of your CPU.
    Get rid of it, or at least disable it when doing music.

    The MBA has a limited amount of power- if you want to run all those small apps and helpers then you will need a faster computer if you want to do audio.
    Or simply disable the various little apps and helpers.
    Thanks @octatonic Have done a clean install and got rid of a lot of those apps completely. I need Dropbox and Backup and Sync for work, but if I just quit them during music, that will help?


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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 13
    I'd recommend you try Reaper, at least see how it runs on your fresh system. There is a resource tab which you can have open while it is running which shows how much resources EACH track and EACH plugin is using in real time, that will at least give you an idea of how far away from a new system you are, it does everything you need, and may well use a lot less resources than Garageband or Logic. it costs nothing to try it out for as long as you like anyway.
    good luck.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    Yep, have downloaded so will give it a go, cheers for all the advice folks!


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