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Dedicated machine for audio work - is it really necessary these days?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by zemlin, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. zemlin

    zemlin Distinguished Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    Thinking about merging my two desktop computers. I have one machine pretty much dedicated to audio work (XP Pro) and another that I use for everything else (W7 64) - general web/email + photo editing, CD burning, DTP, etc.

    I'm thinking that in this day of 64 bit OSs, lots of RAM, quad core CPUs, fast hard disks - machines that are MANY times faster and more powerful than my first dedicated DAW - that there is probably enough overhead in today's computers that dedicating a machine with the OS stripped free of the fluff really isn't necessary.

    My work doesn't involved large track counts - rarely more than a dozen - it just seems a bit pointless to have two machines when they are both probably 10x faster than my old DAW was.

    Your thoughts?
  2. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    Very true!
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    If you can get away with a non dedicated rig for your audio chores, good for you. I myself would never try such a thing and enjoy using a dedicated PC for my serious audio work. Computers are cheap enough now days (new or used) that you can dedicate them to all kinds of things. An older PIII laptop for home email and net surfing, a newer dual core laptop for out of office business and remote gigs, an older dual core desktop for using Nuendo VST System link, another old Pentium-1 laptop I bought for $50 to use as an editor for my Eventide DSP4500 and DSP7000.
  4. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    Sep 21, 2009
    Tempe, AZ
    there are two VERY important reasons to keep things separate.

    1. the more processes you have running in the background the more chance you have of inducing clicks and pops into your audio. regardless of whether or not you are signed into gmail, facebook, dropbox, or recording.org, your computer is sending bursts of information over the internet whether you are using the internet or not, these bursts of data packets ARE audible.. most of the time you wont hear them on consumer speakers but if you take it into a mastering studio (or any professionally treated studio) you will hear it. also, the more processes you have running means your computers processor and memory is using valuable real estate on background tasks... "but what if got a real fast computer that could handle it with 6 cores and 16 gigs of ram" you ask? ... well that brings me to my point number 2.

    2. you want to run 32 bit for audio editing which has a max of about 3.5 gigs of ram. chances are you're recording in 44.1/16. well those 16 bits have to be processed, and in order to do that they get doubled to 32 bit (where the computer processes) then back down to 16bits. its a very simple process to double it. however with a 64 bit processor the leap is even greater and more work needs to be done with the processor, meaning more artifacts and just weird things start happening. not to mention if you jump to 64bit from 32 more than half of your plugins will just stop working (incompatible).

    now, assuming you want to edit AND check your email... keep 2 systems, but make one a laptop, cause in most cases you can get a laptop that outperforms a desktop in its price range.

    if you DONT care about checking your email while you mix then dual boot your computer. have one partition dedicated to audio and install 32bit XP pro, and on the other partition install 64 bit windows. you can install a 6core processor and 16 gigs of ram and win 7 will use all of it. the xp will only use 3.5 gigs of ram but all 6 cores. also, if you have protools it only recognizes 2 cores so don't feel like you need the latest and greatest unless your in sonar, or something that is still working to earn our respect instead of banking off past victories.
    if you are using protools, you can dedicate 2 cores to it, so that the only thing allowed to touch the 2 cores is protools and its plugins, and all system processes happen on different cores... its a little more advanced but it works pretty well for quad core systems.
  5. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    Mar 22, 2010
    I think you might be overlooking the most important factor. If your system becomes unusable because of an automatic upgrade, or security vulnerability, then with only ONE computer, you have NONE to do your audio work on, UNTIL you resolve those other non-audio related issues. If only for that reason you should have a dedicated machine. Or at least a backup machine.

    Having an optimized system and maximum available ram and cpu clocks is a bonus. Not that you really need it for most things audio (when keeping it simple) and not draining resources trying to watch youtube while recording. Even those little banner ads at the top of your webmail can sap a lot of system resources. And potentially cause issues.
  6. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    Sep 21, 2009
    Tempe, AZ
    good call on that. i actually did overlook it, my computer is set to never download or ask for updates.
    also, good call on the backup drive, ive installed a few programs since my last one so ill probably do it again tonight.
  7. Gene

    Gene Guest

    This is a good idea but am not sure if this will be easy since you ram seems a bit low,just try man

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