Yes mikedetar pops and crackles are caused by load the CPU can't handle in real time at low latency..
Dropout protection is supposed to alleviate this but turning dropout protection on creates either a similar level and sometimes MORE pops and crackles which makes the feature redundant..
I wanted to test this more fully so I created a set of 8 test projects for Studio One 4.5 using only native/built in plugins. The tests use soft non-percussive synth sounds and sine waves so pops and crackles are easy to spot..
The first test starts with a light CPU load then subsequent tests progressively load the CPU with more audio tracks and instruments until audible pops and crackles occur. I recorded my results at Minimum (equivalent to turning DP off), Medium and Maximum dropout protection(supposed to make things better) and rated the results for each project at each setting,.
I'll post up the tests and results on another thread here or on the forum when I have more time, in summary though I found the general pattern was that turning Dropout Protection ON by setting it to Medium or Maximum caused more dropouts..
If anyone is interested in trying them out to see whether turning Dropout protection on makes things better or worse PM me and I can send you the tests.
On a positive note though it took quite a lot of effects and instruments(lots of Mai Tai!!) to create dropouts, for anyone using just stock plugins in S! it's unlikely there will be many issues on a decent spec PC/Audio interface. It's more likely with CPU intensive 3rd party plugins that people will run into these kinds of problems on real-world projects. Most of the stock plugins in S1 are great too so I might think about substituting some of these in my S1 template.