Pimp Your Chronotron

The wide variety of Windows-compatible hardware out there poses a challenge to developers of apps that rely heavily on device CPU and GPU capabilities, let alone the developers of the OS itself. In apps like video games and media players, the configuration dialog always has a couple of settings whose sole purpose is to accommodate for platform idiosyncrasies or even driver bugs.

In Chronotron, such settings can be found under the Performance section in the Options pane.

While the defaults were carefully chosen to make the app run fine on virtually any hardware that supports Windows 10, you can still fine-tune these parameters to get the most out of your system. A detailed documentation of the various configuration options – not just performance-related – can be found here.

The Fast PC

If you have a fast, modern PC, any combination of settings will likely work great.

Still, you may want to crank up audio quality to enjoy better note definition, provided that your sound system lets you hear the difference. There’s one gotcha with the Highest quality setting, though: as mentioned in the documentation, formant preservation uses a more accurate algorithm that may produce sound artifacts on non-vocal-only audio material, so if you use Chronotron to transpose entire songs, it may be better to stick to Very High quality instead of Highest.

Using the alternative playback engine comes in handy if your system has multiple sound cards, because you will be able to switch between audio outputs on the fly (for example, between the main boxes and the headphones).

Disabling audio processing on multiple CPU cores may also help if you want to run other CPU-demanding apps side-by-side with Chronotron.

The Small Tablet or Netbook

It is on more modest systems that tweaking some of these settings can make a real difference. Many tablets and netbooks have limited memory capacity and relatively slow CPU cores – albeit a reasonable amount of them – so one of the goals here is to distribute workload evenly across processing units. Another goal is to reduce the app memory footprint as much as possible.

First, enable audio processing on multiple CPU cores, and make sure video hardware acceleration is also enabled so the app offloads some of the video processing work to the GPU.

If you use the Hold mode frequently, you can further reduce memory pressure by limiting the maximum reverse playback length to 2 seconds. You may also want to choose not to display the waveform in the scroller.

As a last resort, decreasing audio quality to Very Good may give your CPU some more breath. Alternatively, switching Solo Channel to MONO during playback – via the Audio Adjustments pane – will cut CPU usage roughly by half without making any audible difference in such devices, unless you’re wearing headphones.

What About the Other Performance Settings?

Seamless Loop and Low-latency Playback – both of which are enabled by default – are there for troubleshooting purposes. If you experience playback stability issues these are the ones to look at.

Casting shadows on transparent controls improves the readability of on-screen app elements when playing videos having a white background, for example. However, enabling this option has a significant impact on CPU and memory usage, so do it only if it is absolutely required for your usage.

As a final word, note that the app can be customized in many ways that I haven’t covered in this post. Reading the documentation will give you some ideas – and because default values are also documented, there’s no reason not to try – so go ahead and pimp your Chronotron!

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