Also keep this in mind: Windows loads cpu microcode updates while booting into the cpu, while macos for example only provides microcode updates via the mainboard firmware update. Those firmware updates can be prevented on macos, by removing a directory from installation / update files, but once flashed, there is no way back. This is good news for Windows (and Linux?) users, since you can remove those patches, and you will get your original microcode back (also do not update your mainboard’s firmware).
These microcode updates “fix” a lot of security holes (a.k.a. “Spectre” etc), but at the same time can heavily degrade the performance of your cpu and cpu’s gpu, too. The older your i5/i7 is, the more drastical the performance loss is. On older i7, even the virtual cores can be disabled. I don’t really know, if the average user really needs those patches. Those are all very theoretical. A NSA or a hacker group could address those holes. Still they would need access to your network or locally first. And since those microcode updates are distributed to everybody, I guess no hacker would choose an already patched hole. I even would say, those microcde updates are really bad for you and the planet, since those turn millions of running systems into garbage. They are “good” for Intel, letting you think that you need a new computer. In reality the cpu performance poorly improved since 2013 (except in really new CPUs like Apple’s one).
Live audio processing is very CPU intense, as you know. And if those patches degrade your CPU performance, and also memory accessing by 50% over a lot of patches, it is very likely to find the problem here.
As you see in the link above, microcode patches in Windows come with a KBXXX patch for Windows. Which means the files of it reside in the Windows dir and are soft-loaded. This is good news, since someone who is fit with Windows could try to remove those files from Windows in a test (and deregister it or whatever), and benchmark before and after. I did such things in Windows, but that was pre 2006… It possible for sure and not that complicated either. You might need the old version of those files. Since Windows is known for its backwards compatibility, most likely old device drivers will run in a new system. Of course you should then really disable Windows auto updater (which is possible).