Avoiding DAE Errors and All Their Friends…

Ever seen one of these before?? Of course you have! Every audio engineer using Pro Tools has maxed out the power of their system at least once… probably more than once… and probably not on purpose.


So what can we do about it?

Is there a way to avoid seeing those pesky three letters, D A E? Wave a magic wand? Wish upon a star? Throw your computer out a 10th story window and head for the nearest Apple Store for a more powerful machine?

While that’s an option for some, most people will just need to find a way to make their session more efficient when they hit the “ceiling” of their processing power. This was originally a question from one of our MixCoach Pro Members, Gary Paquin who has developed into a really great mix engineer. After answering his question, I decided to go ahead and share the help and advice with everyone. So here’s some ideas of what we can do when the inevitable happens…

Dedicate Plug-ins:
If you are working in Pro Tools this is a relatively simple process. Every plug-in has a small downward pointing arrow on it, if you click on this arrow you can “Copy Plug-in Settings”. The next step is to pull up the same plug-in from the “AudioSuite” menu and click the same downward pointing arrow and click “Paste Plug-in Settings” Then highlight the files you want to process this way, then click “process” and POOF! you have “dedicated” a plug-in… No printing in real time necessary… Remember to remove the “in-line” plug-in after doing this and you’ve got a bit more processing power to use for other super cool things!

If this process is unclear to you, watch Kevin’s video tutorial about it HERE!

Print Stems:
There is another option that’s related to the last one… you can print entire sections of your mix… like Drums, Instruments, and Vocals. This saves you even more processing but it always feel more “clunky” to me. I’m always wanting to turn some individual element up or down after printing. So this is probably a “last resort” situation. The way to do this one is either use busses to route the different mixes to an audio track, or just mute the undesired elements and print them that way.

Lower the Levels of Undo:
In the preferences of Pro Tools there is a spot labeled, “levels of undo”. The interesting thing about these “levels” is that they are stored in your computer’s RAM. So they take up space in your processor. So if you want to squeeze just a little more from your processor you can lower this number and potentially get it. I want to say that this number is set by default to some crazy high number like 30 and if I were wanting to go back 30 undo levels I would probably just re-load a session file backup anyway. Which brings me to a suggestion I have: There is also a preference for how often your session is backed up in the “Session File Backups” folder. I would strongly suggest setting this to 1 minute or 2 minutes. That way if you ever DO need those extra levels of undo, you can always go back a minute or two via the backup files.

Ok so these may not be super magical ways to keep your session from those pesky three letter errors, (D–A–E) but this can help you get that last bit of power you needed to finish that epic mix you’ve been working on.

What are some ways that you’ve saved processing power when you needed it? Share with us in the comments below… we might even feature your comment!

By Jon Wright

As a graduate of MTSU with a degree in Audio Engineering and Technology Jon has been working as a full time mixer and engineer in Nashville. He loves running, writing, and all forms of entertainment. He also enjoys long walks on the beach with his wife.


  1. Thank you for the compliment…MixCoach plays a major role in my skills and development…Hands down one of the best investments I’ve made…Thank you for sharing your wealth of information and experience….Much Rhythm Luv….Gman….

  2. Hi Guys
    I am on Win, so have had all the problems that can be found in the universe:) After long years I came to the following 3 solutions that work:
    Do not believe blind in the user’s manuals. Why? Can be easily misunderstood. Here is an example: “Requirements of a DAW:
    – some OS, 2-core processor, so-so memory etc…
    It is true! the DAW works in this environment, but with one or a hundred tracks? it is not given.
    – the DAW uses just 2 cores, no more. Sure it is true, but the machine, the mouse, the operating system, the monitor all the rest also uses those 2 cores!
    So much less remain for the DAW.

    If you want to avoid failure messages you must go 4-core, or more

    Hard drive forget HD and go SSD (ten times quicker:)
    Most cases not the CPU is the weakest point but the data transfer inside and between drives.

    Some plugins, sometimes even your favorites, do not like a certain DAW they cause problems.
    Solution: Hard to heart, but get rid of them in this specific DAW.

    4. Did I say 3? No problem but this 4th can be the consequence of 1, and 2. Going to other configuration like I mentioned surely you have to change 32 for 64 bit system to have enough memory, and so on…, but it is PC thing, not mixing, but necessary:)

    A 60-track project loaded with plugins used to run(?) at 90% CPU and freeze was by minutes or the whole was lost on machines meeting a bit more than the “system requirement”.
    After the change I wrote above the same project runs at 15-20% CPU and everybody is happy:) Mostly me.
    Hope it helps some of you.

  3. Multi Core processors all the way – but, I have an 8 core system, you should set only 7 for Pro tools and turn them up (as soon as you change it to less cores you can run them at a higher percent).

    Why? Because PT is not the only thing using the computer, and by doing this there is always 1 processor untouched for the rest ie OSX/Windows. It can stop PT going into a downward spiral.

    do this under setup>playback engine. Change to 1 core less than you have under host processors and then up to 99% CPU usage.

    Its not the end of the problems but it stops the computer going into a bad state. If you only have 2 cores, you are probably due an upgrade to a 4+ core system anyway as previously mentioned.

    Another cool thing to check is running 2 machines using network midi – you can chain a Logic computer up to a pro tools computer and have 2 going, which I have heard is the way to go specially for more intensive midi instrument based setups – complex but worth a look!

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