Strategies for optimizing performance and stability

Melodyne offers unique possibilities at the very frontiers of what is technically possible, but it does make certain demands on your computer in return. These can prove particularly exacting when you have multiple instances of Melodyne and other processor-intensive plug-ins loaded into your DAW at the same time. Knowing how to make the most of the resources available at such times is of crucial importance to the smooth operation and stability of the overall system. In this tour, therefore, we will show you how to get the best out of Melodyne and your working environment.

Tip 1: The size of your DAW's buffer

Somewhere among the audio settings or general preferences of your DAW, you will find one that allows you to adjust the size of the buffer. The buffer size is given in samples, often accompanied by a display in milliseconds. In simple language, the buffer size determines the size of the ‘chunks’ of audio data the computer receives from the DAW and processes.

If the buffer is any smaller, the load on the CPU is increased considerably, quickly leading to dropouts and artifacts in the audio reproduction. Having a sufficiently large buffer is not only important for the use of Melodyne but also of advantage to other plug-ins as well as the DAW itself.

Of course, there are also situations in which a larger buffer can be a disadvantage. When monitoring through the computer or playing software instruments, for example, the larger the buffer, the greater the delay (latency), and this can prove distracting. If possible, therefore, you should use the latency-free direct monitoring function in the channel strip of your mixer or audio interface.

If during recording, however, you are obliged to monitor via the computer or need a smaller buffer to avoid latency whilst playing a software instrument, you should temporarily deactivate (bypass) Melodyne and reduce the buffer size. Later, when you have restored the buffer to its original size, you can switch Melodyne back on.

Please consult the user manual of your DAW to find out how to adjust the buffer size.

Tip 2: Avoid running short of RAM

When RAM becomes scarce, problems occur almost automatically and these may even include crashing. If you are using your computer for music production, as a general rule, the more RAM you have, the better; but even when vast amounts of RAM have been installed, if it is not used efficiently, it can still become scarce. We therefore recommend the following strategies for optimizing RAM management.

Realizing when RAM is scarce: The first thing is to establish whether or not you are running short of RAM. If you are using Windows, open the Task Manager (shortcut [Ctrl][Alt][Del]) or if using a Mac, open the Activity Monitor (Applications>Utilities) and you will see how much RAM is being used by each application. Of particular interest here is the amount of RAM being used by your DAW, as this figure includes the RAM used by all the plug-ins loaded.

When it comes to RAM use, there is an important difference between 32-bit and 64-bit DAWs: 32-bit DAWs are only capable of addressing 2 GB of RAM, even if the computer itself contains considerably more. As soon as the RAM requirements of a 32-bit DAW begin to approach this 2 GB limit, the application will become unstable and malfunctions inevitable. In this case, you should use the measures outlined below to reduce your RAM requirements. With a 64-bit DAW, of course, you can use considerably more RAM, but here, too, shortages can occur, if the DAW claims virtually all the RAM that is physically available. In either case, the following measures are recommended.

Only transfer the passages you need to edit: Each passage transferred to Melodyne claims a certain amount of RAM. For this reason, you should only transfer to Melodyne the passages you really intend to edit. If, for example, you only want to edit the vocals during the refrain (chorus), transfer the refrain only to Melodyne and not the verse as well.

In this way, you can prevent Melodyne claiming RAM it doesn’t need. This does not mean, of course, that you cannot transfer longer passages to Melodyne when you need to edit them. Only that you should not do so unless it is necessary. If you are aware of the problem and adopt the measures we recommend to avoid wasting RAM, when you do need to edit longer passages, you will be able to do so without experiencing the instability associated with RAM shortage.

Transfer one track at a time: Admittedly you can save time by selecting multiple tracks for transfer and transferring them all in one go, but such a procedure requires considerably more RAM than the track-by-track method. By transferring your material one track at a time, you can avoid the spikes in demand that are inevitable when Melodyne has to analyze (or ‘detect’) multiple tracks simultaneously.

Reduce the maximum number of undo steps: Melodyne allows you to undo up to 100 editing steps. However, managing the undo history also requires memory – and the more undo steps are stored there, the greater the memory requirement. Each possible undo step therefore costs memory, and does so in all instances of Melodyne plugin. For this reason, since version 2.1 of Melodyne editor, assistant and essential, it has been possible to reduce the maximum number of undo steps and with it the amount of RAM needed by the undo function. By default, the parameter is set to 25. Reduce this value if you find memory running short or decide you really don’t need that many undo steps.

Bounce tracks: All tracks containing instances of Melodyne and also all tracks containing software samplers consume RAM, and this is reflected in the overall amount of RAM used by your DAW. By bouncing Melodyne and/or sampler tracks you’ve finished working on, you can make more efficient use of the RAM available.

The ‘bounce’ function (variously known as ‘Render to Disk’, ‘Mixdown’ or ‘Print to Track’) results in your Melodyne edits or sampler output being finalized in an audio file that can then be played back from a simple and resource-sparing audio track instead of the original track. This makes it possible to remove Melodyne and/or the software sampler from the original track and even delete the original track entirely, thereby economizing on RAM. A tip: before performing the bounce, save a copy of the song, in case you want to access the original track (complete with the plug-ins) at a later date.

Please consult the user manual of your DAW to find out how to bounce tracks.

Optimize sampler instruments: Although Melodyne makes the data required for playback available in the most efficient way possible and the one that makes the most modest demands upon RAM i.e. by streaming from the hard disk, it remains unquestionably a RAM-intensive plug-in. Of course, RAM shortage is a problem to which other plug-ins also contribute, and depending upon the use you make of them, their share of responsibility could even be greater.

Sampler instruments with long, multi-layered samples are particularly greedy when it comes to RAM. For this reason, most such instruments are also capable of switching to disk streaming technology whenever their RAM consumption would otherwise exceed a prescribed limit. This limit is generally user-adjustable, so if you need to economize on RAM, you can simply reduce it. Keep an eye, though, on the CPU load display of your DAW, as lowering the RAM limit of your sampler engine will increase the load on the CPU. The aim is to find a happy medium whereby excessive demands are made upon neither your CPU nor your RAM.

Restart your DAW at regular intervals: Many DAWs have a tendency, the longer they run, to monopolize more and more RAM, which they fail to give back to the operating system in the correct way. This is something you will notice typically from the fact that the RAM display (in the Task Manager under Windows or the Activity Monitor on the Mac) will show less and less free RAM available even though you haven’t performed any additional editing in Melodyne or added new sampler instruments. Restarting your DAW at regular intervals, you will find, works wonders in such cases. As a rule of thumb, we recommend the following: each time you leave off editing one (fairly long) track with Melodyne, before you begin work on the next, you should save the song and restart your DAW. Only then should you perform the next transfer and resume editing.

Reboot your computer: It is less often necessary but can still do no harm to reboot your computer from time to time, thereby defragmenting the RAM. Severely fragmented RAM can sometimes be responsible for your DAW becoming unstable — even when, at first sight, the level of RAM consumption is far from critical. Even though the total quantity of RAM available may seem sufficient, if it is fragmented (i.e. if no large blocks are available but only a multitude of fragments scattered all over the place), hiccups can be experienced in the communication between the operating system and the DAW or between the DAW and the plug-in. You can solve such problems at a stroke simply by rebooting the computer.

Tip 3: The correct DAW settings

We try to ensure Melodyne functions flawlessly in as many DAWs as possible. Each DAW, however, has its own specific characteristics and setting options that can influence the operation of Melodyne. The number of so-called ‘render threads’, for example, can have a direct influence on Melodyne and it can be useful to reduce these progressively to see whether any problems you are experiencing can be eliminated in that way.

We have documented a variety of points such as these that can affect the operation of Melodyne in the various DAWs we have tested. You will find the relevant information on the Compatibility page on our web site

Tip 4: Always use the latest version of Melodyne

We are constantly improving our products through regular updates. It may be that you are experiencing a problem that has been eliminated in the latest version. We therefore recommend you to use at all times the latest version of the software. You can easily discover whether a newer version is available using the ‘Check for Updates’ function on the Settings tab of the Preferences property sheet of Melodyne editor, assistant and essential or, in the case of Melodyne studio, in the Help menu. If a newer version does exist, you can then download it immediately.

Tip 5: Use the correct audio driver format

Melodyne requires one of the professional audio driver formats ASIO (Windows), Core Audio (Mac) or, if using Pro Tools, direct integration with a proprietary audio interface. We recommend the use of high-quality audio hardware that supports one of these driver formats.

If you are working under Windows and your sound card does not offer an ASIO driver, you can use ASIO4ALL as a temporary workaround. Bear in mind, however, that a software solution such as this will not transform your sound card into a professional audio interface for music production. If possible, therefore, you should use ASIO-compatible audio hardware. Furthermore, we specifically recommend you to avoid DirectX or MME drivers under Windows.

Under Mac OS X, you can use the integrated audio output of your Mac with a clear conscience for audio reproduction. Depending upon the DAW you are using, however, it may be that recording via the integrated input is only possible using a workaround (the creation of an aggregate audio device in the utility program ‘Audio-MIDI Setup’).

Tip 6: Use the latest version of the audio driver

Problems with audio drivers often occur after a music application has been updated. In some cases, the problem manifests itself in a dramatic way: the computer crashes. At other times, however, the symptoms can be less obvious, taking the form of subtle and hard-to-explain malfunctions. Whatever form they take, when you do encounter problems you should check the manufacturer’s web site to see whether new drivers are available for your audio interface. This is particularly important in the case of newly purchased hardware. A newly purchased device will often have been manufactured, packaged and shipped some time ago, having spent months in the warehouse of the distributor or dealer. The drivers contained on the CD supplied with such a device may well be out of date and you will find the latest ones online.

If our tips are of no help

If you encounter problems when using Melodyne and the troubleshooting techniques outlined here fail to help, please send an e-mail to our support team: