Windows caters to many different types of users and applications. Here are some ways to improve your Windows experience for music production.
You might view this article if you experience these problems:
- Pops, clicks, humming and distorted sounds when you record or playback audio.
- A delay between when you play your instrument/microphone/MIDI instrument and hearing the sound from your speakers/headphones. The technical term for this is LATENCY.
- Your Windows machine operates slowly or keeps crashing.
You may need to change your view in Control Panel from 'Categories' to either 'Small Icons' or 'Large Icons' in order to directly follow some of these steps.
Free up space
Don’t let your computer’s boot drive get too full. Always make sure you leave >20% of your computer's main hard drive empty.
Use enough memory
If you are running large projects involving sample libraries and multiple plugins. at least 8GB of RAM is recommended.
Use a suitable USB cable for your Hardware
Make sure you use a short USB cable, either the one that comes in the box or one that is shorter than 2 metres. Using longer USB cables with your interface can cause dropouts, glitches or may not work entirely.
Ensure your interface has its own dedicated USB port
USB hubs are known to cause issues with audio devices. These issues can include noise, disconnections and even the interface not being detected at all. Therefore, it is recommended that your interface is connected directly to its own USB port.
Close all other background applications
When you run your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), make sure you close applications that are not in use, such as
- Music streaming apps (Spotify etc.)
- Web browsers (Chrome, Edge etc.)
- Office applications (Word, Excel etc.).
This will free up power for your DAW, preventing your system from running slowly when multiple programs are trying to use the machine.
Set your computer's power for high performance
If your computer is set to conserve energy, the CPU may not be running at full speed all of the time. This can have a detrimental effect on your computer's audio performance. To set your computer's power for high performance:
- Go to: Start>Control Panel>Power Options
- Choose "High Performance"
- Click the "Change plan settings" button.
- Make sure both power options are set to "Never"
Ensure that Windows 7 is fully up to date
Microsoft often issues important updates for Windows that may fix issues relating to any audio problems you might be having. Problems arise here if a Windows system has auto-updates turned off, so your system may be missing many updates. It is fine to leave auto-update off, however, we would recommend ensuring that you check for Windows updates regularly.
Disable system sounds
System sounds can interrupt audio. Ensure that they are disabled by doing the following:
- Go to the control panel and select "Sound"
- Go to the sounds tab
- Under sounds scheme, select "No sounds"
- Click "Apply" then, "OK"
Enable DMA (Direct memory access) on each IDE channel
This allows data to be transferred directly into the memory and can improve audio performance. To ensure that DMA is enabled:
- Open device manager
- Expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers category then double click on each one of the IDE channels
- Under the 'Advanced settings' tab, make sure the 'Enable DMA' box is ticked in the device properties
Please note: this only applies to some hardware and if this option is not available, you should not worry about completing this step.
Set processor scheduling to "Background services"
This will improve the performance of your audio drivers on your computer. To do this:
- In the control panel select "system"
- Go to "Advanced system settings" and then the "Performance" tab
- Set processor scheduling as "Background Services"
- Click "Apply" then "OK"
Disable Windows Firewall, anti-virus and spyware software
These should all be disabled to ensure that no interferences occur during audio recording or playback and to ensure that maximum resources are available. To remain secure while your firewall and antivirus are disabled, it is advisable to temporarily disconnect from any internet connections when working with audio.
Disable USB Selective Suspend (for USB interfaces)
This prevents your hub driver from suspending an individual USB port. To do this: Start - Hardware and Sound - Power Options - Change advanced power settings - USB Selective Suspend and select 'Disabled'
If you wish to optimise your system further, you can follow the tips below for additional optimisation.
Disable Visual effects
The visual features in Windows 7 can use resources that could otherwise help to improve audio performance. As a start, it is a good idea to disable some of the visual features by doing the following:
- Press start and in the search box type: "SystemPropertiesPerformance" and press enter
- On the visual effects tab select "custom"
- Untick: "Animate windows when minimising and maximising" to help prevent glitches when minimising and maximising. You can also experiment with disabling other visual effects in the custom list to see how they improve audio performance.
- Once finished, press "OK"
If you wish to optimise your Windows 7 graphics for the best performance use the "Adjust for best performance". Although improving computer performance, this will make your Windows 7 appear a lot less aesthetically pleasing.
Disable Windows services
One way in which you can make more resources available to improve audio performance is to disable unnecessary Windows 7 services as these use valuable resources. The following site has a comprehensive guide to the services running on Windows 7 and helps locate the services that are safe to disable:
Windows 7 Service Configurations by Black Viper
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