Windows 10 for music making

This thread made me think of something. I do not have a dedicated music computer anymore, and I’m not sure how things are currently set up is really working for me. One possible solution to this problem is digging out an old (but not that old) PC I build some time ago.

Now here’s a little question to all of you people who use or have used Windows for making music, especially with USB audio interfaces.
I used to make music with Ableton on Windows7 and that worked fine for me, except I kept having issued with drop outs. I went through a long list of audio interfaces, even tried firewire, did some fresh installs, tweaked the hell out of the system, etc.
The problem I kept having was always the same, initially things were working fine, but with time (we’re taliking something between 2 weeks and a couple of months) audio glitches and dropouts would appear and become more and more.

In my troubleshooting I noticed that Windows doesn’t like it when you plug in USB devices in a different port than where they previously were. And my suspicion is that somehow the USB related part of the OS would become “clogged” after some time. But that’s just my guess.

Now I’m wondering if this kind of thing maybe was a Windows7 thing, and 10 solved the problem.
Anybody ever had that sort of problem?

1 Like

God there are so many possible answers to Ableton audio dropouts… As I mentionned, Ableton prefers integrated graphic cards than it does dedicated ones, but that’s more of a common issue on laptop (where the two side by side can cause conflicts). It can also be related to some battery efficiency parameters that unnecessarily throttle CPU (for that you’ve got to tweek some parameters in the windows performance page), it can also be an issue caused by some intel settings that you’ve got to take care of in bios (which similarly keeps ableton from using the full extent of your CPU by dynamically reducing its capabilities). Some people reported problems with multithreading although I never encountered any. It can also be the network causing problems (for live use on my laptop I disable all network cards, graphic cards and anything I don’t need in the device manager). Ableton is such a complicated thing to get the right settings for, in ways I never encountered on any other softwares (Cubase, Protools, Reason for what I use).

Having said all that I’m running Ableton on a daily basis with very complicated sessions and it’s been a glitch free universe since 2 years now (I changed computers around that time), it just took a few weeks to make sure everything was smooth, but since then no windows or ableton update caused any trouble, I never ran into any new issue, and I’m yet to ran into CPU / RAM limits.

I’m too early on in the process to say, but I’ll report as I get a sense of it.

I never have audio dropouts on Windows 10. Never had them on 7 or 8 either. I’m using a MOTU AVB Ultralite.

Make sure that you’re using ASIO drivers when using Windows. All of the other options do lead to dropouts.

1 Like

staff notice:

to keep this thread specifically focused on making music with windows 10, extensive unrelated general discussion on Win10 apps, tips, migration from other operating systems, and so on, was moved to a new thread:

4 Likes

The only thing, besides a RME usb interface and not to much stuff on the Mainboard (EG WiFi) , is I use a program called “fullthrottle override” which switches the pc to full power mode as soon as one instance of ableton is running. Without it: dropouts very early, with it: smooth sailing plus still power saving when no ableton of running.

It’s worth mentioning that I was getting those dropout with every audio application not just Ableton.
And I was getting those both on the desktop as on the laptop.

I’ve always used the latest official ASIO driver.

Anyway, not really asking for a solution, since that would be a bit pointless, since I haven’t got a Windows machine right now. I was mostly curious to know if it might perhaps have been a Win7-related problem.

how are people getting along with win10?

my macbook air screen died so the music studio has it propper on top of an external monitor and keyboard, which is, uhm, not so ergonomic.

i’m considering a thinkstation or something tiny running win10. i’m not planning to do dev or real “work” on win10 because i’m beyond passionate about ubuntu— but wondering what might be missing in terms of audio software when switching from mac to win10.

ie, madronlabs, c74, and izotope make the move no problem. is there much anyone has missed when switching? thinking of renewing my vows to reaper as well.

3 Likes

My uses are pretty minimal, so I’m not a great test case. I’ll keep an eye on how others reply.

1 Like

I was doing a lot of research into it a few weeks ago contemplating a switch.

The biggest difference it seems is that system audio is routed through windows, whereas it seems universally recommended to use asio drivers for daw work. Where this might be a problem is for loopback applications (where you want to route system audio back into a daw)…I couldn’t tell if there were solutions out there for this kind of thing, or the kind of routing you can do with sound flower, blackhole, or jack. I also don’t believe there are ways to do aggregate audio devices like in the audio midi setup application. I’m not sure if either is super important to you, curious if people have found windows solutions for these things.

The other thing that came up is thunderbolt compatibility…it seems thunderbolt 1 devices generally do not work with the windows motherboards out there, where as thunderbolt 3 (and thunderbolt 2 with adapter) is fine. There were some mention of noises leaking over tb ports into the outs of interfaces I found but it seemed like that might have been ground loop related.

But in general people seem to be happy with the switch. With adequate interface and cpu it seems you can run DAWs at the lowest buffer sizes and stuff with no issues.

1 Like

Asio4All is a solution to the aggregate audio thing. Some people have had difficulty with it, while it works well for other people. The few times I’ve used it it worked, but I haven’t pushed it hard.

I know people that love the touch screen interface to Bitwig. A touchscreen laptop like the Surface works with all Windows software, but it’s exceptional when the application has a UI that’s been optimized for touch.

3 Likes

It’s annoying that many externals are compiled mac only, is all…

3 Likes

I’ve been using Windows 10 as my primary work / audio workstation since the quarantine started.

I’ve got it set up with the Linux subsystem for windows running Ubuntu. It’s been just as good as my Macbook for development. Visual Studio Code can mount to the Linux subsystem, and you can install everything you need like you would in any other linux distro.

There are no noticeable differences between OSX and Windows from an audio perspective. I use ableton, max, pure data, a few different vst instruments / effects, and a motu mk4 for my audio interface.

2 Likes

Running Windows 10 for years now with an UA Apollo Twin Duo locked with ASIO4ALL to my Expert Sleepers ES-8, ES-3, ES-6 setup talking between Bitwig and 2,000hp of modules without issue. I record up to 10 simultaneous mono tracks in Bitwig and have 16 audio/CV channels going into my rack. The PC is based on the Intel i7-4790 which is about 5 years old with a GTX-1080 video along with 32GB of ram. I get finicky results when I need to send Sysex stuff via another sound interface that has MIDI in/out but that’s about it.

2 Likes

i have a win10 install as a dual boot on my main linux laptop, for the occasional use of izotope and Max and software to configure/maintain broadcast hardware.
Every time i boot in windows, i find myself getting annoyed and shaking my head. Its constantly doing something behind my back and slowing me down; either some hard drive indexing, or antimalware scanning, or using an entire CPU core for half an hour to process an update, or preventing you from simply turning it off because it’s “getting ready” and so on.
Also, my MOTU card worked well, then i installed a Focusrite driver (to configure a 18i20 for linux…) and since then the MOTU appears as an audio peripheral but no sound is actually ever routed to it.
I guess there are probably tweaks and stuff i could do against all that but i’m not sure it’s worth the time fixing.
Tbh i am actually in the process of installing a hackintosh to see if macOS idiosyncrasies are more bearable to me than windows’. The tipping point for me was a few Max libraries that i’d like to try and that don’t work correctly on Windows.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about moving over to a PC when my MacBook gives up the ghost but jeez figuring out what I need is pretty overwhelming. What should I be looking for if I use:

-Reaper
-Max 8
-Adobe (Premiere, Photoshop, Audition)
-MOTU Ultralite (with a view to upgrading to another dc-coupled interface)
-EDIT: Pro Tools

Desktop is fine as I would want it to be purely a studio computer, and something that can run as quiet as possible is important.

Seems like super straightforward needs, good CPU (the last Rizen ones), good GPU (RTX 20xx series, try to go for the ones that have the lower noisefloor), good ventilation system (BeQuiet, Dark Rock Pro 4 or something like that), some amount of RAM for peace of mind with videos (I use 32go but it depends on your Ableton / Premiere sessions, you shouldn’t worry too much about the speed), if space isn’t an issue the large Silent Base 601 or similar for the case.

Make sure to take a decent and modern enough motherboard with all the i/o you need if you plan on using USB-C / Thunderbolt things (I’ve got a thunderbold interface so I needed something compatible with Windows Thunderbolt cards).

But other than that I’d say there’s nothing quite complicated about what you want, what do you feel is giving you some problems ?

1 Like

Great, thanks! I think what is confusing me is the number of options for each piece of hardware. I’ve only ever owned Macs so it’s been quite simple in that regard :slight_smile:

The “good” thing with PC is once you know what you need spec-wise, you can more or less go for the cheapest option with the specs you’re looking for and be good to go (typically with RAM / SSD drives / GPUs / Motherboards), so just figure what you need in that regard and then it’s just that many brands and makers offer slightly different approaches and possibilities but mostly if it fits your initial specsheet you don’t need to bother about the details you don’t get.

2 Likes

ok, cool. so is a motherboard the best place to begin?