How fast is AudioMulch?

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Jake's picture
Joined: July 27, 2009

I am buying a new laptop for, pretty much, the sole purpose of using AudioMulch for real time audio sound processing. I want to use it for guitar effects and such, and I want to get as cheap a laptop as I can.

Do you know the minimum processor speed with which AudioMulch can run one or two effects, looping, without a noticeable delay?

Thanks, in advance.

rooftopsonfire's picture
Joined: June 23, 2009

Whenever people ask this question and say 'I don't want to spend much on my computer' I have to ask; why are you bothering? Just remember that if you get a 'cheap' machine, then you're likely to end up compromising on various components, sometimes something critical. Any of these 'off the shelf' machines (from PC World and the ilk) are generally good for running Word and downloading some internet pr0n. Anything else, and you're not going to have a good time.

I'd advise, as I do everyone, get online and get a white Macbook. Best computer for the money, IMO. Plenty fast enough for what you want to do with it (going on your original post) and tons of space left over for running a separate DAW etc in the background.

I used to use PCs, but found that there were so many compatibility issues and compromises that had to be made. Enough to make me not use PCs any more!

flukazoid's picture
Joined: June 26, 2009

I've gigged on audiomulch under both windows and mac os x... do not use windows if you can possibly help it. like, really.

for my money I'd say macbook pros are worth it, but if that's not in your budget then yes - white macbooks are the way to go.

Jake's picture
Joined: July 27, 2009

Okay, so, cheap PC = bad and unreliable.

The only drawback to a new Macbook is the price. Mac was my first choice (because of Core Audio). But I can't afford a new White Macbook.

But, old 500MHz to 700MHz PowerBooks do, however, fall into my price range.

Would AudioMulch function smoothly, if at all, at those speeds?

rooftopsonfire's picture
Joined: June 23, 2009

Not even a 2nd hand white one on eBay? They go for about £400/$400 if that, esp. for the 1.8ghz models. Seriously, they're worth the cash even if it means you're a bit strapped for a while!

I spent £650 on a new 2.1ghz MacBook about 8 months ago and it is, without a doubt, the best machine I've ever bought (over my Powerbook, which was the previous 'best machine ever'!)

You couldn't run it on an older machine (Powerbook) as it needs an Intel processor to run.

Ross B.
Ross B.'s picture
Joined: April 11, 2009

Do you know the minimum processor speed with which AudioMulch can run one or two effects, looping, without a noticeable delay?

I recommend you make your decision based on other factors than processor speed.

The processor speed will affect how many effects you can run at once, but any new computer currently on the market will run one or two effects and some looping without significant processor strain.

_BUT_ Unless the CPU is completely overloaded the delay (aka latency) is not usually dependent on the CPU speed. Usually it is other factors, some you can control, some you can't. If you want to go for absolute lowest delay you may have some tweaking ahead of you. Factors include:

- The operating system version

- The audio driver type you use (on Windows you want ASIO not build in WMME for example)

- The quality of your audio interface's drivers (the audio interface manufacturer usually writes these -- pro audio soundcards in theory have better (lower latency) drivers, but ymmv.)

Other drivers installed in your system can also interfere with the achievable latency (see for example this thread which shows that some WiFi drivers (for example) can really mess with the possible latency of your audio on Windows: )

I think driver quality (all drivers on the system) is the #1 factor in audio latency.

Hopefully by now you've got the picture that Processor Speed doesn't have much to do with the lowest achievable delay.

I don't have a good overview of 'what's best' in laptops right now but I have a few recommendations:

- Buy a laptop brand and model which is currently considered to be "good" (personally I think Asus is one of the better brands at the moment but there are plenty of others).

- See how you go with the built-in audio hardware and ASIO4All drivers, but in my view everyone should consider at least a semi-pro audio interface with ASIO drivers (or equivalent on OSX). For day-to day portable audio I have a Tascam US122 which I'm pretty happy with for the price. I think MOTU is a good brand if you want to go further. Be aware that there are some "big brands" which don't have particularly good drivers and that may affect the latency you can achieve.

I've used a MacBook every day for the last three years and I wouldn't recommend it unless you know you want to go in the Mac direction for reasons other than someone told you it's "good quality". If you spend as much as a MacBook costs you will probably find PCs which are at least as good (depending on what you value) -- perhaps you don't want to spend that much anyway.

jimtobias's picture
Joined: August 18, 2009

Thanks, Ross -- this is good info. I and perhaps others would like to set up a more-or-less dedicated AM machine. Perhaps you could be persuaded to post this optimizing info in an easy-to-find location?

strunkdts's picture
Joined: July 21, 2009

just a note, but 400 pounds is like 1300 bucks down here!!!! :)
["and its not as fast as youll be running when ya dack that mac from harvey norman"]
All good information otherewise. :)

see u around

bagger288's picture
Joined: September 12, 2009

well, i've been using mulch since around when it first came out, and back then I had something like an 6 or 800mhz intel processor, definitely not glamorous, but it was able to accommodate quite a lot of processing. unless you're running 12 granulator plugins at high speed with 100 simultaneous grains, there's not much in mulch that will overload your CPU. typically, it's the plugins you're using that tax the CPU in mulch, and those use as much DSP as they do in any other application.

also, as a user of both mac AND pc, I suggest getting a PC for using mulch. I use both computers for music but have found my $1200 toshiba laptop to be a lot more reliable than my $2500 macbook pro :)

also, you can actually boot windows straight into audiomulch without even launching windows explorer. I forget how to do this now, but at one time I did this. can't get anymore hardcore than that

olegeeza's picture
Joined: July 20, 2009

bit of an old thread.
but doing some research.

i'm interested in what Ross said earlier.

I've been looking at a laptop which I'm quite in love with, an ASUS, but it has the specs as following:

# 1.3GHz Intel SU7300 Core 2 Duo Processor
# 4GB of DDR3 RAM
# 320GB 7200rpm HDD

The ram is plenty, and the HDD is fast, but i'm not sure if the CPU is fast enough. Most laptops these days have core 2 duo processors that are faster than 2ghz.

Is 1.3GHz too slow?

Shannon509's picture
Joined: December 19, 2009

This is all very funny to me, except Ross B. who is the mastah.

Uhmm.. I used to run an older version of Mulch on 1.75 ghz, 512 mb ram and it worked great. That was on XP which is pretty much the biz for audio, but whatev. If that ran that good, I wouldn't worry about 1.3 ghz. Should be fine for most things.

It's totally a driver issue. I learned that as soon as I hooked up with ASIO4ALL (which is free BTW.)
If you get that you will still have that delay, but it wont be as much, and will allow you to play something with effects, live, and even tho it feels (and sounds) funny with that small delay, it is do-able. I think built-in drivers sound fine, but sooner or later you want to do live effects on your computer, and yes it is possible. But like Ross said, eventually a professional would be sure to get a pro card and drivers but the free ASIO is very popular to greatly lessen that latency in a jif.