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> Music Pc, a more sensible spec
PosterBoy
post Apr 20 2012, 12:49 PM
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So I spec'd out my pc a while back and it was an I7 with 2xSSD 1x storage HD @7200rpm 16GB ram etc pretty high spec

My needs are now much more urgent and I'm thinking what is a more realistic spec that is usable for recording with a fair few hungry plugins
(I could render the VST instrument tracks to save processing power) but that I could upgrade on at a later date.

Where can I compromise

8Gb Ram

1 SSD

1x Storage and Plugin HD

Where will the biggest savings be?



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thefireball
post Apr 20 2012, 01:47 PM
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Newegg.com all the way...

QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Apr 20 2012, 06:49 AM) *
So I spec'd out my pc a while back and it was an I7 with 2xSSD 1x storage HD @7200rpm 16GB ram etc pretty high spec

My needs are now much more urgent and I'm thinking what is a more realistic spec that is usable for recording with a fair few hungry plugins
(I could render the VST instrument tracks to save processing power) but that I could upgrade on at a later date.

Where can I compromise

8Gb Ram

1 SSD

1x Storage and Plugin HD

Where will the biggest savings be?



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PosterBoy
post Apr 20 2012, 01:56 PM
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Shipping and getting hit on import tax might negate any savings. I've been looking at a custom configuration from a company but might just take their parts list and put it together myself from a similar company to new egg in Eu


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SpaseMoonkey
post Apr 20 2012, 11:54 PM
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Personally to save cash I would skip the SSD, they are crazy expensive, if you have a pc now use the main drive as the windows/OS drive, then toss something bigger as the secondary. The SSD typically helps the loading. I have a 120GB one and well... I love the speed of booting windows. But I just have windows loaded on it and I'm sitting at over half a drive used just for that. I have all my recording/games/music on a secondary drive and have no issues. But I would stick with the 16GB Ram, depending on the prices there. I know its around $10-20 difference from 8GB.

If you really want to save cash look into say a AMD FX-8150 (8-Core 3.60Ghtz) I know here in the states its $150ish for the chip.


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Azzaboi
post Apr 21 2012, 02:03 AM
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This depends...

Recommend Sandy Bridge (2nd Gen) or Ivy Bridge (3rd Gen) motherboard and I7 CPU these days, your looking at 40-60% improvement due to the redesign and reduce of bottlenecks.

If you already have one of these, some come with small SSD cache builtin to the motherboard, in which case you don't need a SSD drive. Else if you don't a SSD, while expensive I highly recommend to be purchased for the OS, the rest can be normal HDD 7200RPM or better. You want the most accessed files/cache on the SSD which will hugely increase performance, boot, shutdown, application launch and stability.

Graphic card is the most important for me next, this is where it all ends up. Don't cheap out here if your into hardcore gaming or large graphical applications. It's the biggest bang for your buck, getting the mid/high range (at least one down from the latest as that one is always overpriced). Aim for a good amount of graphics memory if planning on using large textures / high resolutions.

Memory these days is cheap and easy to upgrade, your find it's better with 8GB DDRAM faster memory than 16GB which most of the time your'll never fully use. Get the same speeds/brand but 1600MHz is quite good speed rate to look for. At 8GB it's even enough to get rid of Windows 7 virtual memory and put it all in memory (Vista is a memory hog in which case recommend to double the memory). If you have SSD, which is memory itself, even if you ever need virtual memory you wont notice the change.

I would recommend half the memory to 8GB depending on OS and you only need 1 SSD for the OS, put the rest of the data onto HDDs.
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Todd Simpson
post Apr 21 2012, 02:09 AM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Apr 20 2012, 08:56 AM) *
Shipping and getting hit on import tax might negate any savings. I've been looking at a custom configuration from a company but might just take their parts list and put it together myself from a similar company to new egg in Eu



Great point smile.gif The SSD is great of course, but crazy pricey. It helps with windows and application launch times. So it will make an older machine feel newer. This is something you could always add later. You run out of hard drive space QUICK on a media machine when making lots of media. Also, you said NOTHING about backup?

The first time you lose your "Media Drive" to a crash and all your songs go up in smoke, you will want to cry/kill yourself. So plan to get a second 1 TB drive to back up the first one. Not having a backup can really cause serious problems.


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Sinisa Cekic
post Apr 21 2012, 10:29 AM
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Look at this page.. http://www.shop-sonica.com/hushx58specs.cfm


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 21 2012, 11:33 AM
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QUOTE (Azzaboi @ Apr 21 2012, 02:03 AM) *
...

Graphic card is the most important for me next, this is where it all ends up. Don't cheap out here if your into hardcore gaming or large graphical applications. It's the biggest bang for your buck, getting the mid/high range (at least one down from the latest as that one is always overpriced). Aim for a good amount of graphics memory if planning on using large textures / high resolutions.

...


If you are building a multi-purpose pc and want to use it for gaming then the graphics card is important.

If you really will only use this pc for music then you can compromise on the graphics card as audio pcs do not need a state of the art 3d.

What you probably need to concentrate on is processor speed (dual core is fine), sufficient ram (8 is fine for 64 bit but a waste for 32), an OS/DAW hard disc plus separate, fast hd to stream audio i/o for samples/recording etc is great but you could just partition and put the lot on a single drive for now to save money. Solidstate - coud help save ram and load times but it's expensive at the mo and SSD can die after a lot of access.

You should also think about passive cooling and sound insulation and spec a good tower case if you can. (A tower case is great for both adding stuff at a later date but can also help with airflow and therefore cooling.)

In addition you also need to consider how you are going to interface your sound card - USB2 (or USB3 though there are very few cards that can use this just yet), or FW, or an internal AD/DA with AES/EBU or lightpipe or similar. Compromises on your soundcard/interface here will ultimately compromise your daw.

A good cdr is a must and you also need a dvd drive. Lightscribe etc are gimicky and don't help the quality.

You also need to consider what OS you will use - many daws and vsts/is still have issues with 64 bit but regardless of this almost all will expect you to use the 'home premium' version of XP/Vista etc as a minimum. Check the recommended pc specs for the daw that you intend to use.


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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PosterBoy
post Apr 25 2012, 08:33 AM
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Definitely no gaming (I don't have the time)

Maybe Video editing if I get to a point with my music I need to do something visual.

Windows 7 64 will be my OS of choice

I will be use a drum program (EZ Drummer at the moment), Omnisphere and may look at Trillian for bass (or maybe just buy a bass) also a piano Vsti, which is why I thought 16Gb would be beneficial

I have an M-audio Fasttrack Pro (I think that is just USB 1.0) which will do until I need to upgrade to better.

And for now until i see a reason not to use it I'll keep using Reaper as my DAW program

This post has been edited by PosterBoy: Apr 25 2012, 08:33 AM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 25 2012, 09:55 AM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Apr 25 2012, 08:33 AM) *
Definitely no gaming (I don't have the time)

Maybe Video editing if I get to a point with my music I need to do something visual.

Windows 7 64 will be my OS of choice


Don't think there's any real need for a state of the art video card then - so you can save money here.

It's worth checking compatability as 64 bit can be problematic.

QUOTE
I will be use a drum program (EZ Drummer at the moment), Omnisphere and may look at Trillian for bass (or maybe just buy a bass) also a piano Vsti, which is why I thought 16Gb would be beneficial


You'll probably be streaming samples with the Spectrasonics vstis so hard disc speed may need to be better than 5200RPM. Piano vstis tend to need a lot of layers to sound realistic so can gobble up ram but unless you have multiple instances of a vsti and lots of channels open at the same time 16Gig sounds like overkill to me. - Ozrob and The Uncreator will know more then me about this though.


QUOTE
I have an M-audio Fasttrack Pro (I think that is just USB 1.0) which will do until I need to upgrade to better.


Check the spec - most USB i/o are at least 1.1 and have been for a few years. If it is USB 1.0 then it will have issues with latency - from memory latency on USB 1.0 is around 25ms and this is not measured by the daw. Again, if it is then I'd try and upgrade this asap.

QUOTE
And for now until i see a reason not to use it I'll keep using Reaper as my DAW program


Reaper 64 is fine if you're happy with it - just check the compatability with the various vstis etc at 64 smile.gif


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

Be friends on facebook with us here.

We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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OzRob
post Apr 25 2012, 12:17 PM
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Posterboy,

I just specced out and took delivery of a new machine (built for music & some games) a week ago. Some thoughts after reading the whole thread....

1) Win 7 64 - if there's no price difference order the Pro version. Home and Premium have capped ram limits at about 8 and 16gb respectively, IIRC. Pro and above allow 192gb so even if you're not needing it now you are at least giving yourself more space in the future before needing to upgrade your OS.

2) Run your OS, DAW and VSTs from the SSD and samples/song files/data etc from another disk. I have a second SSD for my larger libraries such as orchestra, choir, percussion etc. Plus two HDDs for smaller samples, data and x32 bit programs.

3) The life-span issue of SSDs is no longer as big a deal as it used to be. Current gen versions should last at least five years. In any case BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP! You must have a second HDD (internal or external) to save all your critical data to. Or use 2x HDDS in RAID 1 (the downside to that is you end with effectively only one HDD). It's already been said but your HDDs should be at least 7200rpm for streaming samples.

4) SSD caching is a viable way to get a HDD size storage solution at near SSD speeds. It currently only works for the OS disk though. The idea is to use a smaller SSD (say 60Gb) and a large HDD (2 or 3TB). There's a way to set them up so the SSD caches the HDD. Essentially the most frequently used data will be automatically stored on the SSD. The catch here is there are only two ways to do it (1) the mobo needs a particular Intel chipset that enables it, or (2) some new SSDs have built in support for it but cost more. You'd have to do some research on that though. I specced out my system before I knew about it.

5) With ram, 1600Mhz will do fine and go for a latency of 10ms or less. I don't have Omnisphere (Uncreator does), but by all accounts it's a memory hog. No less than 8gb and if you can, go for 16gb. One of my orchestral bass patches is 4gb on its own! Trust me, you will never regret having too much ram but you will curse constantly if you go for less and you're at the limit and experience freezing or crashes.

6) Ram will let you load large sample templates but CPU power is what it comes down to when crunching lots of samples and effects at real time with low latency. I've installed an i7 2600k. The 2700k should be available now and it's a few dollars more with a corresponding performance increase. I've always been an AMD user but quite simply, they've dropped the ball. The 2600k is an all round better performer than the Bulldozer 8150. 2600k/2700k is the value/performance sweet spot at the moment. You can go more powerful but the extra cost is currently not rewarded with correlated extra performance.

7) When you get set up, move the My Documents folder to the HDD. It's very simple. If you want, you can also move the User folder but it's more complicated. Basically, have all your data on the HDD and only programs on the SSD (if you're not caching).

8) My system is in a CM Storm Trooper case. Not very cheap, but huge and really quiet. There are four fans built in: top, rear and 2 for the HDD bays. There are also six speeds for them and I have them running at 5 currently (2nd fastest) and it's still very quiet. I could easily drop the speed more but as I do very little live recording, it's not as critical in terms of creating background noise in recordings, so I'd rather keep the system cooler. I can and do turn them down as needed.

Hope those 2c are helpful.

Ps. But if you want to save money, scrimping on the graphics card will do it if you don't play many games. Also, the SSD is not strictly necessary. Up until now I'd been running Win XP x32 from a 7200rpm HDD.

QUOTE (SpaseMoonkey @ Apr 21 2012, 08:54 AM) *
I have a 120GB one and well... I love the speed of booting windows. But I just have windows loaded on it and I'm sitting at over half a drive used just for that.


Have you checked your pagefile size? By default, Win 7 will section off twice your ram capacity for paging. IOW, if you have 16gb ram, it takes 32gb of your SSD for itself, but this function is made virtually redundant because of the speed of the SSD. If you haven't already done so, lower your page file to 1-4gb. You should notice no difference except to suddenly see a heap more SSD space become available.

This post has been edited by OzRob: Apr 25 2012, 12:48 PM


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Sensible Jones
post Apr 25 2012, 12:25 PM
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My 'newish' one is as follows:-
AMD Athlon II 3.0GHz Quad Core.
8 GB RAM.
1 x 1 TB Sata HD 7200rpm.
1x 500GB SATA HD 7200rpm.
1 x 1 TB Off Board HD.
1 x DVD Drive.
1 x DVD Lightscribe Drive (Sorry for being 'Gimmicky' Tony!!! biggrin.gif ).
M-Audio Fast Track Interface.
Win 7 Ultimate 64 Bit OS.

Price of Basic System (Tower, PS, MoBo, Processor, 1 TB HD and 1 DVD Drive) was about £250. (No OS installed)

The only thing I've had issue with is trying to Drag and Drop Drum Patterns from EZ Drummer onto Tracks in Reaper. I had no issue doing this with Vista 32 bit. So far I haven't installed a Video Card but may think about installing a 1 GB Graphic Card as I was given some games and have no other way of playing them!!
smile.gif


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PosterBoy
post Apr 25 2012, 12:48 PM
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Was that with DAB or Komplette type place Jonesy?


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SpaseMoonkey
post Apr 25 2012, 12:50 PM
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OzRob - Much thanks, I just changed the pagefile size to half of what it was and gained 20gigs


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OzRob
post Apr 25 2012, 01:00 PM
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QUOTE (SpaseMoonkey @ Apr 25 2012, 09:50 PM) *
OzRob - Much thanks, I just changed the pagefile size to half of what it was and gained 20gigs


smile.gif

FWIW, I have 32gb ram with the PF set at 1gb min and 4gb max and it works just fine.


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Sensible Jones
post Apr 25 2012, 01:43 PM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Apr 25 2012, 12:48 PM) *
Was that with DAB or Komplette type place Jonesy?

Actually it was ordered through eBay! Subsequent parts were from Novatech and the whole thing was carefully checked over by a good friend who installed the OS for me and made sure everything was OK!
I can post a link to their eBay shop if you're interested?


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