Audio glitches in Reason (OSX) and what Propellerhead can do to fix it (easy!)

Ableton Live performs flawlessly using low latency settings while Propellerhead Reason performs badly using the same settings. In Reason the audio starts to glitch very soon even on songs which shouldn’t be causing issues.
I contacted the Props a few times about this but they never found a solution for this. They told me this was perfectly normal behaviour when using low latency values.

Well, Propellerhead (hope you are reading this) here’s a very SIMPLE reason which explains these glitches in Reason. And why they are not a problem in Ableton Live.

Graphics Switching

My MacBook Pro is using 2 graphics cards, one for high power discreet graphics card for best performance and a low power integrated graphics chip for better battery life.

If your Mac is using 2 graphics cards like mine you should be able to change the default setting ‘Automatic graphics switching’:

If this setting is disabled your Mac will only use the discreet graphics card. Although the performance of your Mac will be great, this setting comes with an issue which is not so nice: heavy battery/power drain.

You shouldn’t need to worry about this, the software you’re using will do the thinking for you. It should use the best setting and switch between both cards automatically.

To give you an example, at the moment when writing this, my MBpro is using the integrated graphics chip (low power). Even when the power adapter is plugged in. And even when watching a YouTube video in HD fullscreen this integrated graphics chip is used.

But as soon as I open Ableton Live my MBpro switches to discreet graphics card for optimal performance. And as soon as I close Live my MBpro switches back to the integrated graphics chip.

The reason why Reason is glitching

However, when I open Propellerhead Reason my MBpro will keep on using the integrated graphics chip instead of switching to the discreet graphics card! This totally explains why in Reason the audio will glitch while in Live it will not. Simply because it uses the low performance card! Switching to the discreet graphics card when using Reason totally solve the glitch issues! So simple!

Please Propellerhead FIX this! Make sure Reason only and always will use the discreet graphics card instead of the low performance integrated graphics chip!

Workaround: use the gfxCardStatus app

The simple workaround at the moment for this is to disable the ‘Automatic graphics switching’ setting under System Preferences > Energy Saver. But you need to enable this again when you want to save battery life. It is very inconvenient to change this setting every time you’re using Reason. So now what?

There’s a better solution: use gfxCardStatus, an unobtrusive menu bar app for OS X which shows which card is being used and which allows you to switch between both cards. When using Reason you can manually set it to ‘Discreet Only’ and Reason will definitely perform much better.

Download this wonderful free gfxCardStatus app and consider doing a donation: gfx.io

More info on graphics switching, see idownloadblog.com/2016/10/22/automatic-graphics-switching/

Thanks jappe for mentioning the graphics switching issue in this thread at Reasontalk!

And let me say this again: please Propellerhead, fix this!


Also published on Medium.

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5 Responses to Audio glitches in Reason (OSX) and what Propellerhead can do to fix it (easy!)

  1. Nils Breunese March 16, 2017 at 2:07 am #

    While it may be true that you don’t experience the issue when the dedicated graphics card is used, this sounds more like a workaround than a solution, because I don’t see why switching graphics should impact anything other than graphics performance and the issue has to do with audio instead of graphics. Audio should work well when using integrated graphics. Some laptops don’t even have a dedicated graphics card, but they still should be able to use low latency audio settings.

    • Marco Raaphorst March 16, 2017 at 10:07 am #

      A lot of laptops are problematic when using low latency audio. With larger buffer settings this is not a problem. But when using low latency the integrated card causes interrups on the CPU which can be tricky on live input. I am playing guitar with live effects from Reason, that’s prone to glitch. A GPU will render graphics on a much higher speed and not interrupt the CPU at all.

      What would be the reason that Garageband & Logic, iMovie & Final Cut X and Ableton Live switch to the dedicated card? Imo because it is a safe bet. Making sure that graphic processing will be as fast as possible and not interrupt the CPU.

      4k full screen video doesn’t use the dedicated card though, but that’s just a playback stream which can be buffered extremely well. Very predicable while live input is totally unpredictable.

      • Nils Breunese March 16, 2017 at 10:58 am #

        Apparently you’re right about, because for instance Native Instruments also recommends disabling automatic graphics switching before starting your music software: https://support.native-instruments.com/hc/en-us/articles/210296445-Mac-OS-X-Tuning-Tips-for-Audio-Processing

        Then the question becomes: should Reason automatically override the system-wide user preference for automatic graphics switching or inform the user of the impact this setting has on audio latency and leave the decision whether to disable this settings (and decrease battery life) to the user.

        Apple could also do better and explain that this settings also has impact on performance for low latency audio applications.

        • Marco Raaphorst March 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

          Propellerhead could follow what others are doing, like Apple and Ableton. Those companies will simply choose the faster graphics card when it’s available and needed for better performance.

          You say “Then the question becomes: should Reason automatically override the system-wide user preference for automatic graphics switching or inform the user of the impact this setting has on audio latency and leave the decision whether to disable this settings (and decrease battery life) to the user.”

          Well there’s no automatically override when ‘Automatic graphics switching’ is checked under preferences. That setting simply says that any software program will be able to switch. If uncheck it the faster card, the discrete card, will always be used. But then no program is able to reset it. So those options in OSX are very clear and useful.

          But this is very nerdy stuff. Most people won’t ever use that discrete card. When I bought my MacBook Pro I was expecting the discrete card was very much needed because of the Retina display. But I was wrong. It almost never gets used, except for serious audio and video editing.

  2. Frank De Wulf October 26, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

    Hi, As I use reason on a MacPro (beefy system) it doesn’t have to do with the graphics card as you explained I suppose. I also have serious glittering and pops during playback. Even with a few tracks playing, but only when using midi, not with audio tracks… I’m getting nuts as I have a 3 screen setup, serious audio setup and a decent audio box (Focusrite claret 2pro) and been searching for what the issue can be. Btw. Logic doesn’t have these issues…. so it seems.
    Anybody?

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