Pro Tools 10 – Aggregate I/O problems


A breakthrough! A breakthrough! I have been doing some experimenting with my recording rig, as described yesterday. Today it seems that greater success has come.

Running the newest version of Pro Tools – version 10 – hasn’t been without issue on my Macbook Pro. Although not recommended, I had been running an audio test from the primary (and only) internal drive. It was just easiest that way, but an error message continually popped up during playback: “A CPU overload error occurred. If this happens often, try increasing the H/W Buffer Size” in the Playback Engine Dialog, or removing some plug-ins. (-6101)” With RAM maxed out at 8 GB and this machine not yet being a relic, it seemed something more was going on than the 5400 RPM drive simply not being able to keep up.

I changed Pro Tools settings multiple times, changed back and forth between 1 and 2 host processors, unplugged and plugged all the connections back in, and then something clicked. The newest part of this system I have been dealing with is the Aggregate I/O. For those unfamiliar, it used to be that Digidesign-branded hardware had to be connected to your computer to open the Pro Tools software, and that hardware also acted as the sound card… so speakers/headphones hooked up to it. Now an iLok is used, which is basically an oversized USB thumb drive that holds all your licenses and allows a user to open the software. This also allows you to use either the previously mentioned Digidesign hardware OR you can now use your computer’s internal sound card. Shabam!

What fixed this whole “CPU overload” debacle was taking away the aggregate setting and putting the focus solely on the externally-connected Mbox 2 (via “Setup” -> “Playback Engine” in the PT menu). It never occurred to me before that perhaps more-than-necessary processing was going on, due to sending signals to two sound cards.

Also, for good measure, I have hooked up an external, 7200 RPM hard drive to the Mbox 2, as the Macbook Pro only has one Firewire port, which is being used up by the Mbox 2 itself. I finally have a setup that isn’t clunking out every 15 seconds…. sooooo, if anyone else runs into a similar scenario, hopefully this gives you a solid starting point.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it below! Also, check out the music I’ve written/recorded on Pro Tools here:


6 Responses to “Pro Tools 10 – Aggregate I/O problems”

  1. Anonymous said

    Thank you! This issue has been driving me crazy!!

    • My pleasure… and as an extra note, I discovered that the settings in the MIDI Setup on Macs seem to change on their own when you swap out interfaces. So if you run into any issues in the future, that might be the first place you want to check.

      • Funny enough but my prob is quite the opposite. Instantly when I choose my mbox as the playback engine the underflow -6085 hits the screen. If I then choose the aggregate device everything could not run any smoother… but I have no audio coming out from the mbox outputs (all the outputs/options are grayed out in the midi/audio setup). all specs are accordingly, 48KHz/24Bit.

        I have a Mbox 2 Pro, iMac 27″ 3,4GHz i7, Mountain Lion 10.8.3. Lacie external FW 7200rpm and Pro tools 10.3.3. with all the latest drivers

        • Hey, Lauri… Thanks for letting me know of your situation, as long ago as it’s now been. Hopefully whatever quirk that was causing that is resolved by now, though it seems really bizarre that we have opposite results on our respective Mac systems. It made sense to me that getting rid of my aggregate settings helped cut down on processing power and, thus, eliminated errors, but after reading your explanation, it must just not be that simple…..

  2. peter said

    I’ve been trying to get the Aggregate i/o off my system for a couple of days now and nothing seems to get rid of it. Clean uninstall, searched my computer, can’t seem to find it in the preferences to delete it there? any suggestions?

    • Hi, Peter. Sorry to hear of your Pro Tools troubles. Are you on a Mac system? If so, have you already tried deleting the aggregate i/o in the Audio MIDI Setup program?

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