Cures for CPU-Hogitis!

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In another thread, I coined the term “CPU-Hogitis” to explain why I had unearthed my old hardware synths recently, for more layering options.

However, that mention fails to do justice to the AMAZING number of synths that can be loaded and ACTUALLY BE USED at the same time when using Cantabile! MOST VSTi’s and VST effects are NOT CPU hogs!

So, I thought I’d start a little thread where people could mention their favorite low-CPU instruments and effects, which might be useful for “layering freaks” like myself!

Off the top of my head, here’s a few I use:

Any of the Korg Legacy Collection synths. Wavestation, MS-20, M1, Mono/Poly, PolySix. Amazing bang for the buck especially from M1 and Wavestation! (Each one or entire collection goes on 1/2 price sale periodically.)

Linplug’s Morphox and CRX4 (also Octopus and Alpha3 for their older stuff). Spectral - no way - serious CPU-Hog! (But amazing!) (All on sale now due to them ceasing operations.)

Xils-Labs’ Oxium. (Just got Xils-4 and haven’t been able to evaluate it deeply yet. PolyKB III is a bit demanding, but still fairly lean.)

Native Instruments “The Grandeur” piano has been pretty lean. In fact, many of the Kontakt instruments have been pretty efficient. Not familiar enough with the rest of the Komplete 11 collection yet to say anything.

AIR’s Velvet 2, Vacuum Pro, Loom (amazing additive synth), Xpand!2, and Hybrid 3 are all very lean machines.

That’s just a selection to get the topic rolling! :slight_smile:


Popping sound when using VST Plugins
Managing Multiple Inputs

Great idea, @terrybritton! Thanx for the pointer to Oxium - just downloaded the demo, playing with it is a lot of fun! And I love the simple serial number authorization - great for my live setup.

From my side, a big +1 for the Korg Legacy Collection - the M1 is my go-to machine for bread&butter sounds, especially basic strings and pads. Also a cautious +1 for Xpand!2 - love the sounds and the efficiency but hate the 2-machine licensing. But since I got 2 licenses cheap during a sale, I live with it (grudgingly)…

Two additions:

  • XLN Audio Addictive Keys - my absolute favorite live piano; resource-efficient (both RAM and processor) and very playable. Reduce it to just 1 or to virtual microphones and mix your own sound - great stuff
  • U-he HIVE - a very lean and easy-to-operate subtractive synth. A more modern take on the subtractive synth than good old DIVA, plus a powerful effects rack make it a good universal subtractive synth if you’re not shooting for a 1:1 emulation of a classic. It’s just got some ideosyncrasies when using the sustain pedal - some notes get cut off for no good reason - which keeps it from becoming my #1 universal synth. Maybe Oxium can fill that slot…




BTW: XLN Audio currently have a summer sale - everything 50% off!


I totally agree with you about Addictive Keys - it was the first VSTi I ever bought, in fact! :slight_smile:

Really nice sounding and low on the CPU hit always, just like you said.

For another good subtractive synth like Hive, check out Vacuum Pro I listed above. It has become one of my favorite items, and has a wonderful warm, analog sound, and a cool “dice” randomizer feature you can apply to just certain elements of a patch to explore new realms.



Looks nice, but all the AIR plugs suffer from the licensing restrictions to 2 machines - disqualifies them for me (I need three parallel authorizations - studio machine, live laptop, backup laptop). Unless they have a super-cheap sale like for Xpand, I’m not biting…




Ah, yes - I got around that with Xpand!2’s dollar sale also! :slight_smile:

I think I bought three licenses!!!

Definitely a roadblock, though. (UVI’s Rotary is the only iLok plugin I have that permits 3 authorizations. All others I have using iLok permit only 1 or 2, with Xils-Lab only recently upping theirs to 2.)



Great thread Terry. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The good ones: VB3, of course! Usually peaks at 25%. Blue3 is peaking approx 30%, The Legend and OBX Pro II both peak less than 50%. The older Acoustic Samples that were in Kontakt.

The bad ones: Most UVI plugs including B5, Diva (although I love it), most Kontakt speciality pianos, such as Alicia’s Keys.

The ugly ones: All Arturia plugs


Poor Arturia - now you’re making me feel sorry for them. :wink:

C’mon - they had to have some redeeming item for live use!?!?! :neutral_face:

(That is my best neutral face, btw. I’m trying to remain somewhat impartial on this one…)



Hi Terry,

This info offered here is as important as having a fast computer. Good vsti coding can make your life better when it’s done lean, powerful and good sounding. I feel out of place in this thread because my fav plugs are all hungry creatures. They play good on the system I have now but the $$ ran up on the way to building it. So, if you want to use C3 live on a standard laptop or brick you should really check out Terry and Torsten’s suggestions. If you can afford it and like the hungrier plugs then save your money up, you’ll need it for the hardware and the software. I am interested in ‘Addictive’ Piano suggestion. I use Ivory but on some pieces I would like to do I need to ratchet down the piano plug use to make room for other plugin layers. Oh, and I agree with Corky, UVI instruments are resource hungry on all their own offerings as well as the 3rd party sample sets. And Diva can kneecap my laptop in ‘Divine’ mode pretty easily at my preferred latency settings but I use it in ‘Draft’ mode live and it’s very polite on cpu. With the outbreak of more VST live musicians maybe the companies that made their vsti plugins for DAW studio use are looking to make products that are leaner for the live market. Witness the new ROLI Synth designed for their keyboard controller surfaces. Anyway my offering is Synapse’s ‘The Legend’ it is very low resource use on my rig. Good topic …



For modern stuff I like Sylenth, it’s got that production sound and unless you make it run a retarded number of oscillators (like 300+) it’s pretty low CPU. If you ignore the presets it’s half decent as a classic analog too and then it’s DEFINITELY low CPU. I also like Addictive Keys but tbh I got it because it was cheap at the time, not because I thought it was the best. I’ve considered Ivory a bunch of times but iLok makes it a no go for me.

Maybe slightly off topic but for VST FX I really like FabFilter Pro-Q2 and Valhalla Room. Both very powerful and quite reasonable with CPU. Obviously Valhalla Room needs more than Pro-Q2 but you only need one of the former usually.


No, no! Definitely not off-topic!!! The effects I have are some of the worst offenders as CPU-hogs (of course, I WOULD be one who loves boutique reverbs…)

More on good, lean effects! :slight_smile:

I’ve been using the free D16 “Frontier” as a limiter lately, and it seems to be pretty lean so far (just started using it to get control over certain synths!) I would love to know about good but lean reverbs.

I love UVI’s “Rotary” but I have to report it is really quite demanding on resources even when not in use, so it has been phased out for live use unless the rest of the setup is very, very lean!



OK, the entire DMG Audio Track line! for high quality, low latency and low cpu.


I have to admit I only really notice when plugs misbehave, not when they don’t! Addictive Keys is noticeably light on usage, and it loads fast too. EZDrummer is generally not a CPU hog, though some patches on some kits hit harder than others. (I’m horrified of how Superior 3 is going to be though!! :O) DavoSynth makes some sweet little free synths (a Moog Sonic 6!!!) that I use a bunch live and they don’t even ping the cpu at all hardly. I love the Eventide effects line and I’ve never particularly noticed them eating CPU, not even Blackhole.


I also think, as touched on by Dave, LIVE use is what most of us are here for. And, unless you are playing a major gig, on a huge stage, with thousands of fans, and a state of the art sound system…most gigs are in small to medium venues with small PA systems that won’t do justice for that $600 amazing sounding synth vst. In most cases, I look at a piano that can cut through the mix (and the non-responsive, loud drinkers), not how many different samples, with different mics and their positions. And, that piano needs to load fast, and not hog my system because I’ve got 40 more songs to perform tonight. Granted, I do use “the hogs” when on larger gigs with a great sound system and, hopefully, a good sound man. I also use a larger computer with more processing power and RAM. But, if I am recording, I pull out all the “big dogs” and tax my system. I guess the difference in all this is how, and where you use it. It also relies on whether your needs justifies the money drain of a larger system and superior sounding plugs. I really love some of the Arturia plugs, and use them occasionally, but not at the local biker bar.:joy:


+1 on Eventide Reverbs, I love them in my live sound setup and they don’t hog.

I might also add that a number of my hogs predated my live vst use. Ivory was for Home recording at first but after listening to it through a well balanced PA it was easy to play it for hours at band practice. I couldn’t bring it to shows as I wasn’t portable yet but I much preferred it to my 2600 piano samples so it stuck when at practice hall (my cave). I started rethinking it lately after exposure to the folks here who had already found solutions.


So much of the time a really good sounding studio piano just fails in a live mix even if the PA system is great. I like cheap bright pianos live. Half the time I’m on the verge of just using a CP-80 sample just for the character (and I am using it for one song). Oddly enough though, I’m now using The Maverick by NI as a primary piano. It loads plenty fast off of an SSD and it’s a nice character, bright like a cheap piano but still has some good grand piano qualities.


I concur with Dave and Fred, Eventide works very well for me.


disclaimer : no hogs were harmed in the making of this thread … :grin:


For another reverb offer (that is also, coincidentally, FREE!) I just discovered the ProtoVerb by U-he in a discussion about reverbs over at KVR, and this fellow who likes it is mainly a hardware-reverb guy. I just loaded it in with some sound playing through it and it is barely touching my CPU, much to my amazement.

We’ll see - I still have to try it out with actual setups yet.



I like that little thing too

Crank the decay time up close to max and it it starts to eat and with this high decay and a smear you’ll see a marked increase and some pops on lesser systems, but for shorter decays it’s real nice. If you max it out on the decay it starts synthesizing (infinite decay oops … I mean feedback loop)!