Using C3 Performer for live jam session VST host

Background: new user, recently upgraded my home studio with Lenovo ThinkPad with i7 processor with Windows 10, MOTU 828es audio interface with MOTU 8pre optical expander, and new/upgraded plugins (mostly Waves V11 VST3).

I used C3 Performer this weekend in a home jam session that my wife and I host. Basically, I routed 20 audio channels through C3 Performer with each channel getting a plugin chain of low latency plugins to allow me to have a basic setup where I could plug in mics, guitars, etc from whomever shows up and not have to fool around too much with setup of any one channel. I went through the glitch free book and applied the ideas from it, as well as a few others from the forum. I am a software architect by profession, so I think I did most of these correctly (meaning nothing seemed to onerous/ difficult for me to try and to apply).

When things were going well, it sounded great and the CPU was running just 10% to 15%. However, there were problems at times. Given the nature of the use, everyone was tolerant of little breaks in the action, just to tweak things when they occurred. Most of the bigger problems happened during setup before the jam. I will list these first and this involved C3 crashing when doing the following actions in the “wiring” view (I like that view other than the crashes!)

  1. Inserting VST3 plugin
  2. Opening VST3 plugin to configure
  3. Dragging a port up or down to reorder
  4. Drawing/manipulating wiring connections
  5. Saving the “song” that holds the 20 channel wiring diagram

During the jam, almost all of the problems were incidents of digital audio glitching. The CPU usage tended to raise to 35% to 50% with a flurry of page faults. If I quickly hit the power down and power up button in C3, we were back in business immediately in less than a second. I had one crash doing that and one hang where I had to reboot everything as the audio interface somehow got stuck, too, and a tone was generated until I shut down. During my preparation tests, I could get things to run for hours with low CPU and no glitching.

So, I don’t see anything else like this in the forum. Should I flood Brad with crash dumps (for the crashes) or does anyone here have some experience to share on any of this, including the glitches?

BTW - my picture here is of the “jam” room with C3 loaded in the laptop in the background.

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I believe I have answered my own questions. The biggest issue was caught when I had task manager open during a couple of crashes. Both times, I saw some Lenovo “Vantage” related tasks suddenly spike in resource usage just before the crash. These are services loaded with the Lenovo computer to do various tasks to help keep things up to date, but don’t have to run on the preloaded schedule, by my estimation. I changed all of the services related to this to start “manually” instead “automatically” and suddenly things became very smooth in operation. The CPU usage dropped quite a bit in general without these tasks running. I did some general scanning of the web and found out these services have caused others (especially gamers) some grief and many of the remove them altogether. I am thinking I will leave them, but keep control of when they run.

Before this, I had noticed a what-turned-out-to-be a more minor issue. I had done a lot of inserting similar plug in chains across several of my 18 channels (such as almost the same general treatment of the five vocal mics or the several guitar channels I had set up for the jam session). It looked like when running the profiler that some of the repeated plug instances became less efficient (had much higher CPU) than the first two to four instances. So, I used similar but not the same plugs in some chains and had reduced quite a bit the CPU usage for the overall set up. Once I fixed the first problem, I did put some of the duplication back into the setup. The Waves F6, C6, and Sibilance plugins are pretty handy in a general way as final treatments of each mic by my estimation. In particular, the C6 plugin seemed to eat some extra resources after a few instances were inserted into the setup. Some of their plugs, like the SSL E Channel, seemed to be low resource usage no matter how many instances and sounded great in a broad range of applications, so ones like that are “go to” for extra tracks, etc. where I didn’t know who would plug in what to the channel before the session.

At any rate, all my editing problems and performance issues seemed to disappear with fixing the first problem. The crashes on the inserts and moving/configuring plugins all went away. No more “glitching” and before I dropped in the duplicate plugins again, the CPU had dropped to 2% to 5% normally. After adding a few back in (since I could now afford to) the CPU was running 5% to 10% within Cantabile. The real test, I guess, will be the next jam session.