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New recommedation list for 2009 DAW?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by rsp2rsp2, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. rsp2rsp2

    rsp2rsp2 Guest

    Thanks to the pros on this site, in 2007, I built a DAW that could not be any more powerful. I did a lot of research to make sure what I bought was rock solid for audio (and not just a loaded gaming machine).

    Now that more programs are supporting Vista-64-bit (and requiring yet more memory, speed & room), it is time to retire my previous DAW (turn it into an office machine) and build a newer DAW (for Cubase 5).

    I am thinking of the NEWEST Intel 7i 3.2 Quad chip as the processor, 15000k speed hard drives & the fasted/biggest dual-channel memory that is advised. I would appreciate any guidance & warnings on this.

    I am willing to spend more money UP FRONT in order to keep this next DAW powerful enough for yet the NEXT generation of “operating systems, soft-synths & sequencers”. Price is not an object.

    If anyone here has RECENTLY built (or about to build) a DAW with the same mind set as I have now, please share your conclusions (component specs) now. I am sure others out there would value a new list!

    1. Motherboard
    2. Memory
    3. Hard drives
    4. DVD burner
    5. Sound card
    6. Power supply
    7. CPU, Fan,
    8. Other PCIe cards (effects, preamps, etc)
  2. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    might be a good link...

  3. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    Feb 21, 2005
    Home Page:
    A few suggestions up front:

    15K rpm drives are loud. I wouldn't want those in a DAW. Perhaps a WD Raptor 10K rpm for samples would be nice.

    If you want to spend big bucks, consider Intel's SSDs (in RAID0). That's a nice way to saturate a S-ATA port.

    A cheaper alternative would be WDs newest 2TB 7200rpm drives with 500GB platters. With Cubase you can decide which tracks are recorded on which HDD, so two of those will definately get you there.

    The Intel Core i7 965 you mention is expensive (about $1000). Do you really need that much power? Well if you do, go ahead. Consider the 940 that is alread very powerful at stock speed.

    Do you have any DSP cards e.g. TC Powercore, UAD etc? They would get you a load of extra plugins without taxing the CPU. If they are PCI-e they will likely last you multiple upgrades.

    FYI: the Core i7 on board memory controller is Tri-channel with massive bandwith. Be sure your motherboard supports the (large) amount and speed of the RAM (DDR3 in this case) you desire. Sometimes occupying all slots asks for a lower RAM speed.

    edit: RAID1 is mirroring / RAID0 is striping. The latter will of course give you better sustained write/read numbers. This RAID0 will have to be hardwarecontrolled through the chipset, not software. Most modern chipsets feature RAID0.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    If price is no object? Why are you playing with disk drives? You are only planning for obsolescence if you are including disk drives. Disk drives will be gone by tomorrow. That magazine in your bathroom is already too old. The only thing that will be green about your computer is you. Maybe it's just ED?

    Not a factor for me
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. rsp2rsp2

    rsp2rsp2 Guest

    True. I forgot about the solid state drives.
  6. Monkey_Mouse

    Monkey_Mouse Active Member

    Nov 8, 2008
    New Jersey
    Motherboard - gen something with at least 2 PCIe 2.0 full slots in case you want to run raid cards or PCIe FX cards like the UA. Lots of SATA ports is a good thing too.

    Memory - get the proper speed memory for your CPU and MB. #GB for Win XP, skys the limit for Vista or Win 7.

    Hard drives - SATA is what you want, SCSI and SAS are a waste in DAW applications and are very loud at 15k rpm. Get a few large drives for the OS, working files, and samples (or backup).

    DVD - you can get a $30 DVD burner for now, BR is still $200+.

    Sound card - you can go PCI/PCIe or FW. Choose wisely - no reason to have to trade in a cheap card in 6 months.

    Power supply - go for something quiet with enough juice and connections for your stuff. You don't need 1000w.

    CPU - many choices... I7, Phenom, Phenom 2, Core 2 Quad; all are good. I7 takes more expensive DDR3 memory, others typically use DDR2.

    CPU fan - go Zalman for quiet and effective cooling.

    Computer cases are important - get something already silent (like an Antec Sonata 3) or one that can be made so.

    Video cards - you don't want a gamer card with a loud fan and outrageous power demands. Go for a fanless card with HDMI and DVI outputs for future proofing.
  7. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    "#GB for Win XP, skys the limit for Vista or Win 7."

    4GB for 32bit OS's, (lots of)GB for 64bit OS's.

    Power Supplies will run slightly cooler and quieter if they have more juice but run with less of a load. Sometimes not worth it.
  8. fmw

    fmw Guest

    Hate to tell you but a state of the art 2 year old computer will do almost anything relative to audio. If you want a new one, get a new one but the motivation for it should be outside of audio.

    Stick with SATA drives, by the way.
  9. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    sorry Fred have to completely disagree.

    while what you say would hold true for nearly any hobbiest definately not true for most pro level guys, Composers and high end hobbiest.

    every fired up BFD, Omnishpere?
    Vienna Symphonic?
    East West?
    ever tried to work @ 128 buffer or below on a serious project?

    to the OP,
    Fred is right about sticking with Sata.
    they are wicked fast reading but still slower than stanard sata for read even the mighty Intel X25.

    nice as an OS drive if you have more money than you need as it does make things snappier, but as a record to drive worthless.

  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Prince George, BC
    Home Page:

    Whats your take on SS drives? Whats coming down the pipe?
  11. PCAL1

    PCAL1 Guest

    The systems we built for Steinberg to show Cubase 5 at the NAMM show were 920's (i7 2.66), which are the lowest current level available in the line so you may be able to scale back what you spend on the processor even more and still be ahead of the game - but that's the real question here - beyond your goal to be state of the art, what do you want this computer to be able to do with regards to tracking/effects/etc?

    Without that, the specs are all abstract. A machine from 2007 may be great or a Core i7 965 may not be enough, all depends on what's being asked of it.

    I would have to say from our testing for Intel/Cakewalk/Stienberg and our usage that the power of the new chip set is far beyond anything we are all used to experiencing. I'm also a big fan of SSD's, but they are a bit cost prohibitive for what you get in storage (but again, storage may not be as important to you as noise/reliability/speed). I know unless you are doing video or high track count/high bit/high sample rate there is little reason to buy anything but 7200rpm drives.

  12. thearrow

    thearrow Guest

    Price is no object, huh?

    I've put together a machine for you, then.......

    Lavry Black DA11


    Brief Highlights:
    -12 GB DDR3 1600 RAM
    - i7 965 Extreme CPU 3.2GHz
    - 384 GB of Solid-State Storage
    - 3 TB of quiet, cool, conventional HDDs
    - Silent video card
    - Quiet case / power supply
  13. robbmatrix

    robbmatrix Guest

    Vista x64 is a great OS with major DX-related flaws that will affect your audio playback. Hold on to the money that you have now and wait for Windows 7 to hit the shelves.

    There's no point in dropping X thousands for an insane machine now with W7 arriving later this year. Grab a new machine at the same time and you'll most likely have access to an OEM version of W7 so you'll save a bit, get the uber OS, and get a 'puter that'll kill the one you would get today.

    Flash SSD drive viability is increasing but never consider them for a dedicated audio drive. You might want to consider a RAID10 configuration for your OS/programs drive and a mechanical (what i call) 'burst drive' for dedicated audio recording. The advantage with SSD is that it kills mechanical HDDs for reads but writes (due to the nature of the material) are best left to the tried-and-true HDD.

    Here's an example setup that you should mention to your tech friend (assuming you custom-build utilizing 3rd-party components):

    RAID 10 setup
    - use two SSD drives for your operating system and programs (striped)
    - use two SSD drives to mirror your primary, striped set
    - SSD drives with at least 64MB on-board cache are SUPERIOR products to their cacheless predecessors
    - run SATA-II drive in AHCI mode no larger than 500GB; minimum 32MB cache
    - create two partitions on the drive; use the first half as a dedicated multi-tracking 'burst' drive
    - format both partitions of the SATA-II drive NTFS and 64KB cluster size
    - store all other types of data on the second half; it's likely you won't fill the first half with audio at 250GB
    - defragment your audio drive weekly (if used regularly)
    - NEVER defragment SSD drives -- EVER

    I'd hit up something like that with an unlimited budget, but W7 literally is going to annihilate every DAW GUI today. Again, waiting on the hardware now will only get you so much more at the W7 release date.
  14. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    1) NEVER run raid anything on your OS unless raid 5 and on a very expensive

    2) NEVER run AHCI....

  15. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    Feb 21, 2005
    Home Page:
    The "DDR3 is expensive" argument is getting old. Even a few months ago, DDR3 cost what I paid in early 2004 for DDR(1). It's just that DDR2 is the cheapest RAM has ever been. We're spoiled.

    DDR3 prices are dropping as we speak. By the time Intel will replace Core2 with i5, DDR3 will be affordable for all, even the higher speeds. With AMD also moving towards DDR3, it will only get better.
  16. boslo

    boslo Guest


    Stick with XP.
    U will not gain any speed in changing to Vista. Wait for Windows 7 instead and do a tuneup on XP to get it ready as a DAW. http://musicxp.net has some very good advice. Look under "tuning tips"

    Audio Player Informer

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