[Ardour-Users] CPU usage of plugins in empty tracks

Ken Restivo ken at restivo.org
Mon Jul 19 16:52:33 PDT 2010

On Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 02:40:22PM +0200, Roberto Suarez Soto wrote:
> El d?a Tue, 13 Jul 2010 07:44:24 -0400, Thomas Vecchione
> <seablaede at gmail.com> escrib?a:
> > >        My question is: if I apply some effect plugins in those tracks, do
> > > they consume CPU in the "empty" parts? Or just in the parts that have
> > > sound recorded?
> > Yes they do, since they are always running, during the empty parts they are
> > still processing, even if it is only processing silence.  This is very
> > intentional as some plugins such as reverb demand to be running long after
> > the source clip has finished to get the proper tail, etc.
> 	Aha, I understand. It makes sense. Then, what's the proper way of
> handling this? Downmixing to a "tape" track and then applying the effects to
> that?

It seems silly to me that a plugin should be using CPU for processing silence. Some plugins are more CPU hungry than others, and better at dealing with 0 or near-0 input values.

I generally avoid using plugins that waste a lot of CPU on silence. I also avoid freezing because it is slow and also wasteful of disk space-- a massive WAV file most of which is filled with silence.

When I have to deal with CPU-inefficient plugins, though, I process the tracks and bounce them to another track, then turn off the plugins on the original track, then I copy the playlist over from the bounce track to the original track.


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