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Save your home studio desktop environment. Reduce your CPU load.

Audio production can be expensive work, even if you go the virtual route with a digital audio workstation (DAW) and virtual instruments. Working with virtual studio technology (VST) plugins is tremendously convenient, but a lot of the best VST plugins out there are very expensive. 100% Free Online DAW. Develop your songs from inspiration to finished projects with our best-in-class Mix Editor. Pull from thousands of available beats and loops in our extensive library or connect an interface and record live audio. The Purdue Online Writing Lab Welcome to the Purdue OWL. We offer free resources including Writing and Teaching Writing, Research, Grammar and Mechanics, Style Guides, ESL (English as a Second Language), and Job Search and Professional Writing. Verdict: Cakewalk is a free DAW software for Windows that offers unlimited audio, MIDI, Instrument, Loop and Aux tracks in every project. Before starting, you can select a project template, adjust the inputs, outputs and MIDI controllers, the sample rate and bit depth. GarageBand is easily the best rated free DAW for Mac on this list. It’s extremely user friendly and provides a great startup to music making and producing. If you want a quick start to music production, GarageBand will provide that for you.

One of my favourite feelings is laying on the warm sand in the middle of summer. Or having a nice hot bowl of soup in the middle of January. Some things are just better when they’re hot.

Your computer’s processor isn’t one of them.

Like any machine, your computer has its limits. Producing music pushes them to the max.

Your DAW starts to sloooowwww waaaayyyy doooowwwwn. Not good for when you’re trying to bang out hit tracks. And even worse: lag can cause clicks and distortion on your track. Don’t let lag write your song for you.

Give It a Break

Here’s 10 ways to give your computer a break while it’s doing the heavy lifting of music production.

1. Wi-Fi Won’t Fly

Turn your Wi-Fi off. A lot of applications are constantly checking in for updates, new info, or upgrades. This sucks up more processing power than you might think.

Turning off your wi-fi is also a great way to reduce pesky distractions. That kills two annoying birds with one stone.

2. Shut It Down

While you’re creating in your DAW you probably don’t need to be playing games, watching movies, and live tweeting your progress. Shut your unnecessary programs down. These will be the biggest processing suckers of them all.

To find out what’s taking up the most power go to your OS’s process manager (on Mac it’s the Activity Monitor. Windows it’s called the Task Manager).

They’ll tell you which sneaky little process is taking up the most juice.

3. Freeze or Be Frozen

Most DAWs have a feature that allows you to ‘freeze’ specific tracks. Freezing means you can pause a track’s power sucking while you work on different stem.

It’s like being able to pause your dog while you play with your cat so no one gets sad.

4. Cool it on The Effects

Obviously you need effects. But you’ve gotta draw the line somewhere. 30 different reverbs on one bass track is just too many.

The more effects you have the harder your computer is working. Think of your computer like a little train trying to get up the hill. Effects make the hill way steeper.

5. Limit your VST and Plugin Count

Virtual instruments rule because you can have as many as you want. But putting every single one on your song is gonna turn your DAW into molasses. Same with big beefy plugins. They suck up processing juice real quick.

Limit your VSTs as much as you can. Simpler is usually better for your sound anyways. Pick only a few and use ’em wisely.

6. Make Your Buffer More…Buff

Increasing your buffer during the mixing phase will give you way more CPU wiggle room.


Keep in mind that the lower the sample rate, the higher the audio latency will be at a given buffer size (the short delay between inputting something and hearing the output). But this will decrease your CPU load overall.

7. Upgrade Yourself

Your computer has given you years of dedicated service. It’s fine to feel some emotional attachment to it. But if you can afford it, it might be time to let go.

New usually means more power. But if you can’t let go of your trusty friend quite yet RAM upgrades are a nice cheap alternative.

8. Trim Your Hard-Drive Fat

Full means slow. No one’s winning a hundred yard dash right after thanksgiving dinner. Your computer is the same way. The less that’s in its belly (hard drive) the faster it’ll run.

Be ruthless with your trashing and do it often. More space means more power. A good rule of thumb is to keep at least 10% of your hard disk free.

9. Extra Externalized

If you’re like me and you like to digitally hoard stuff (I can’t even count all my sample packs at this point) cloud storage is your best friend.


If you’re in need of some extra storage for your music, the new LANDR app doubles as cloud storage. Anything you put through LANDR mastering software is automatically backed up. Plus, cloud-based mastering takes all the pressure off your processor.

10. Update Your Softies

Audio software manufacturers are constantly releasing updates. A big reason they do this is to optimize performance.

That means if you’re still using that copy of Pro Tools from 1995, your CPU might start acting a bit funky.

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Updating to the newest release of your software should speed things up and reduce power drain on your processor.

Happiness Is No Lag

Now that you’ve reduced your lag, producing will be a major breeze. Use these cool (literally) tips on your next project.

Best Free Daw Programs

And let us know your what your tricks are for lowering your lag. We’re always trying to squeeze out as much producing power as we can.