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Computer Woes......

Discussion in 'Computing' started by Schirall, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Schirall

    Schirall Active Member

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first time posting on this particular forum, but I'm willing to bet that there are some people here who know a thing or two.

    Very brief intro, I guess I became an 'official' engineer when I graduated IAR in NY in 1997, although I messed around before that. I'm into hip hop and for 7 years after that I did a lot of freelance stuff. I worked at Jim Jonsin's studio back when he was just my friend Jimbo and not a big star. lol But mainly concentrated on my own stuff. Anyway, from 04 to 10, I did graduate from a Mackie/Adats to a computer based set up, but ironically stopped doing anything serious because I was led to believe that I was too 'old and mature' for that sort of thing. Finally, almost two years ago, I was talked into getting back and when I started to see the state of digital recording, I fell in love all over again.

    Ok tried to be concise there. lol So, the first DAW I ever worked with (and it wasnt even a DAW then) was Acid. Today, although everyone online disagrees and I did try Abelton and Reaper, but I just love acid 7, especially since finding fxpansion Geist, which is just my old MPC 60 on steroids. So it's all good.

    BUT, here's the question: It just seems that I am getting too much interference (clicking popping, stuttering......) during playback and I want to see how f----ed up it is exactly and why.

    My system is very humble, an upgrade is in my future but I am saving for something very good! lol But in the meantime, I have a PC running windows xp sp3 (updated fully) athlon processor 3400+, 2.4ghz, and 2.0 gb ram, 200gb hd. I have done all of the common things to optimize it, like the performance settings and page file. I have disabled just about every process available. I have no internet on it.

    I use an MBox2. I also have an EMU 0404 that's even worse. Asio driver (it's the latest, correct one as far as I can tell). I have the buffer set as high as it will go 4096. I cant get many more than 5 tracks + Geist with a few engines going before I get interruptions. It's maddening. lol It happens on transients like kick and snare, like it's clipping, but nothing is close to the red. I have plug ins reduced to a couple compressors. Minimizing vsts helps, but man, I remember mastering (or tracking) at a friend's studio around 2000. He must've had at most 512mb....yet it was flawless. I have quadruple that and I wouldnt dream about charging anyone to sit through mine on a bad day. Its fickle like that.

    Sorry so long. Is it 'their' way of making sure we stay upgraded?? Meaning older rigs cant handle newer Vst's and Daw's????

    Thanks for any thoughts.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    First question. On this Athlon based desktop (?) how many hard drives are you using. I am guessing you have only one hard drive. This is wrong. You need a second and if you are sample based or VSTi based you need probably three. The main hard drive is ONLY for the operating system and the programs. The second hard drive is for recording projects/destination audio and possibly a small library of virtual instruments or samples. The third hard drive would be for extensive sample libraries or virtual instrument libraries as well as for the main temp cache folder. All hard drives or SSD drives should be on their own cable which is the only way for SATA/SSD but needs to be the same for the older PATA drives. If you need to get a SATA PCI expansion card then do so. All hard drives should be 7200rpm and quality. Stick with Seagate and Caviar Black in my opinion. You can use eSATA or firewire external drives but internal is more stable physically.

    Can this be done with only two drives? Yes but not as seamlessly and for large track counts not nearly so well. Your computer should handle what today is considered small to moderate track counts. You may still stutter once in a while but usage load will be heavier when that happens.
  3. Schirall

    Schirall Active Member

    Thanks a lot for the response. An external Hard drive is definitely something that's on my list, especially because of the growing sample library on my current hard drive. I did have my drives in three partitions: operating system, session files, and main library, but the 2nd one kept filling up and unfortunately I am not a very neat, organized person lol Anyway, now i have two. Excuse my ignorance, does that change with a dual or quad core (I'm certain my upgrade will be such)? I know these days the HD space is outrageous...an external is still the way to go? If so, I'll grab one pronto. If not, I'll bite the bullet for a few months.

    Yesterday, I went back and bypassed all the vst effects from my projects and it runs beautifully. There is no question that I've had a lead foot, simply because i want to try everything. lol From here on I'm going to work dry, which actually is nice. Once you get passed the "loudness war" it is nice to have the natural dynamics back. Especially Hip Hop and especially using Drums from a sample cd (even a motown cd), it's so easy to kill everything. So, a two-in-one lesson. I'm happy. Thanks Again
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Partitioning a drive is no good. Data can't be utilized from multiple partitions or multiple sections of the same partition of the same hard drive at the same time. You need a separate physical drive. Hard drives are cheap. Buy a SATA cable and a 7200rpm Seagate and stick it in the machine. External is fine but for your purposes internal is likely just as good or better.
  5. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    As far as I understand it, Windows XP SP3 is not generally recommended for audio. A lot of the current drivers have trouble being compatible with it and it has a firewire problem with audio devices so SP2 is usually the best choice. In my own experience I have had way more success running a stable system in SP2 than SP3.

    And yes, having two or more hard drives is essential in DAW audio. This may be the cause of all your problems. Also, I would not buy an external drive for recording, however, unless the enclosure supports eSATA and you have an eSATA connection. It'll be best to have the drive installed internally on a standard SATA 3.0 bus.

    Cheers :)
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mo you are close. XP SP2 was the version that the firewire driver made most gear non functional. It still worked for USB and such but hosed the firewire to such an extent that it required reinstalling the XP or XPSP1 or XPSP3 driver.

    As for external storage, I have successfully used USB2, firewire 400, firewire 800, and eSATA for the connection. This is for 2-24 tracks at 88.2k/24 bit. They will all work if the enclosure is professional grade and the drives inside are fast enough. The average consumer external drive is only a 5400 rpm drive which is where the problem starts and the bridge board on the enclosure is usually also garbage. Oxford chips work best (924 or 934 or newer).

    With the lack of published specs, if one isn't willing to buy a professional grade box or build their own with a quality drive and quality enclosure, then a second internal drive is usually easiest.

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