4K in a DAW

I’ve been looking forward to get 4K monitor to use it with DAW and recently made it. I would like now to discuss the benefits and observations in a form of short guide, as seemingly many people are still confused about these.

DPI

4K monitors are offered in many form factors. Some of them are just double the size of original HD1080 monitors, about 40″ or more. Others are much smaller – mine is 27″, but regular 21″ are also available. This decreases visible image size, but keeps its details – meaning that everything you watch becomes smaller. Here’s a comparison of high-DPI laptop screen with the size of user’s brain:

Ableton tiny

Windows

Windows has global scaling options for all the programs. Just go to your display settings and change it:

However, the fact it tries to run app at 150% scaling, for instance, doesn’t make it automatically work. Some old or brand new apps don’t support scaling and appear blurry. Some apps actually do support internal scaling and will appear blurry, too – because they need to be configured internally and external scaling should be disabled. You can do that in app options, r-clicking on app icon:

This example is for Chrome. I don’t have English version of Windows, sorry guys.

Ableton

Ableton has internal scaling option called “Zoom”. Use it after you disabled Windows scaling for this app.

Ableton internal scaling

Plugins

Let’s put it straight – some plugins support scaling, others do not. The latter were written using a variety of legacy libraries and forcing OS scaling might make their GUI not usable at all.  Deal with it.

Naturally all native Ableton devices work fine. On my list, Sylenth1 supports scaling and Harmor, together with other IL plugins, got it recently with updated version. Last year also Serum was teased to get vectorized GUI, but so far it didn’t. In fact it’s the plugin with tiniest GUI in my arsenal. There are many vector-based plugins wich easily scale, in my case it’s The Mangle.

Others, on the other hand, do not. AiR music plugins don’t support scaling and in fact appear glitchy already. I reported in to AiR, but the guys seem to be always two steps behind the current trends and rarely update their stuff. Poor support. Dune 2 doesn’t have scaling, but looks just fine. LuSH-101, despite it’s enormous size, still appears small – it’s just a matter of GUI design. All the controls are tiny. Sill it’s great that D-16 Group provides two size options to choose from for all their plugins. Their Devastor is fine and looks sharp.

There are also tons of effects and I’m not going to discuss each of them. In general one-knob plugins scale nicely, while the more control – the worse. Luckily I always aimed a simplicity 😉

All in all, if something is not immediately clear, I can move closer to the screen. Just don’t do it all the time, though.

Final thoughts

All in all, how does it work? For me it’s great to have over double the total workspace. Tiny plugins are quite an issue, but it’s the only issue I have with 4K monitor. All the other apps benefit from it and my workflow is certainly faster. So guys get 4K.

Ableton 4K

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