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Please Help Me with my new PC system!!! :-)

Discussion in 'Recording' started by razor_usmc, Oct 14, 2004.

  1. razor_usmc

    razor_usmc Guest

    Wow! A friend at work has volunteered me her old PC that I can use for my high speed internet and email...which means I can now use my current PC for my studio. That means I am now enlisting the help from all of you guys who offered it to me, once I had an idea of what I wanted to do.

    I am currently running Windows XP Home ed. on an AMD Athalon 2600+ processor on an ASUS A7V8X motherboard. I have 512 Mb of RAM currently. ATI all-in-wonder Radeon 8500-DV, 64 MB, DDR, OEM. 20 Gig and 60 Gig hard drives. :shock: Quick question. I know I need more ram, and I have 2 slots left on my MOBO. Is 1.5 Mb gonna be enough? Can I just buy 2 more 512 ddr-333, pc2700 333mhz non-ecc chips? Or should I get 1 Mb and another 512? Can I put a 1Gb chip next to 2 512 Mb chips? (Ignorance ALERT!!) :shock: I dont know the brand name of the 512 MB ram in right now...should they match brand names? Does it matter? IF not, who is a reliable chip maker?

    Okay, I am interested in doing good acoustical recordings of vocals, drums and guitars. I will plug electric guitars, basses and Keyboards directly into an interface. I am also very interested in doing MIDI work extensively, but not exclusively. I don't know much about all that's out there, but I was very impressed with the Protools Digi 002 package at Guitar center. (granted all set up on Mac) I currently have the minimum system requirements based on the digidesign website, and I think the extra RAM is a must. The only thing I am missing is a firewire card or whatever to go into my MOBO. Can anyone recommend one that would not be problematic based on what I currently have? Does it matter?

    I am going to erase everything and reload win xp onto my computer and download my recording software. This PC will be strictly for my studio. Should I download the windows updates or just install the box-only version to prevent software probs with digidesign software versus constantly upgraded windows XP?

    Lastly, (whew) :? thus far with the exception of programs like cakewalk and cubase, (which frankly don't seem to be blowing people away in these forums like protools) is there much that is in my price range (see below) that competes, based on what I want to do? I hear Digidesign hardware is very good, software reliable and upgradable, and cust. svc. is second to none. Thoughts/opinions?
    I have roughly $1000 cash and $2200 credit for a total of $3200 to spend on computer upgrades, software, interfaces and the whole deal. I have currently been using a Roland digital 8 track workstation with Event PS-6's. Quite frankly, I have debated the PC/Mac studio vs. A new Roland 24 track all-in-one with monitor up until very recently.

    Any last thoughts or items I am missing or anything you wish to throw in, or things you think I would need?


    Please allow me to thank everyone in advance for your time, and willingness to help an ignorant music lover.

    Razor
     
  2. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Okay, Let's start with the PC.
    My first concern is the MOBO. This is a VIA chipset and is one of the main causes of PC compatability issues. My solution would be to upgrade the MOBO and retain your current CPU. I would suggest this MOBO.

    ASUS A7N8X-E-DELUXE, Socket A for Athlon XP, NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400 AGPset, 400MHz FSB, Dual Channel DDR, 0/3GB DDR400/333/266, 5x32 PCI, AGP 8X, 6-CH Audio w/HP Amplifier, USB 2.0, SATA, ATA133, 1394, Dual LAN, ATX - Motherboard only
    $105.99 at http://www.aberdeeninc.com/

    This would solve 2 problems for you, it gets rid of the VIA chipset and comes with 2 firewire ports on board. It also gives you SATA support if you should decide to run SATA drives. Your current drives are ATA133 or less so buying a larger SATA drive for music storage would benefit you in 2 ways, increased transfer speed (150MB/s as opposed to 133MB/s) and the ability to have each drive on it's own (IDE/SATA) port as master device. I assume you have a CDRW drive, with all IDE drives you will be forced to make one of the drives (20GB/60GB/CDRW) a slave device cutting down on performance. The drive below would be a good choice.

    Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 6Y120M0 Hard Drive - 120GB 9.3ms 7200rpm SATA/150 (Serial ATA) 8MB Buffer (8192KB), Shock Protection System, Data Protection System, 100% FDB (fluid dynamic bearing) motors (OEM Drive Only No Cables Included)
    103.99 at http://www.aberdeeninc.com/

    As far as memory you should upgrade to 1GB but 1.5GB is not really necessary, don't get me wrong 1.5GB is nice but you won't notice much of a gain over 1GB. Your memory is probably OEM and not low latency or dual channel so name brand won't change anything except how much money is left in your pocket. It's a common misconception that name brand memory is better, it can be but only if you are buying matched sets of low latency RAM. The standard RAM that most people use and the branded stuff are the same chips. The only difference is that branded RAM is fully tested and OEM gets a partial test. Does it make a difference? I'll leave that for you to decide. Here is some OEM RAM that would work with what you have.

    512MB DDR333 333MHz (2x166MHz) PC2700 SDRAM 184-pin DIMM $92.99 at http://www.aberdeeninc.com/

    This MOBO does support dual channel RAM so if you decide to go with that you'll need matched pairs and you'll have to add around $200 to the RAM price.

    As far as downloading the windows upgrades I would download SP1 and DX9. I would wait a while to download SP2 as it's fairly new, in case there are issues.


    The total for PC upgrades comes to around $300. If you decide you want to upgrade more let me know I'd be happy to help you spend your money. But the things I listed will make your DAW perform nicely and you won't have compatability issues with standard DAW software. Digidesign is another story however. I would suggest you check their site to insure these upgrades will still work with their software, alot of stuff doesn't.

    No offense but where did you get that idea. If you check the DAW poll
    http://recording.org/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=20849
    you'll find that twice as many people at RO use Cubase/Nuendo as do PT. Other seems to have the most at 42%. So it seems PT is in the minority.


    Some of this is true, the hardware is sturdy if that's what you mean but IMO the pre's are nothing to write home about. FWIW I think I get better sound from my Mackie and Layla's. I would say the software is reliable (probably PT's best point). Yes it is upgradable, Digi will make sure you upgrade (or risk being incompatible with other PT users) and they'll be happy to empty your wallet when you do. I don't think those rumors of Digi busting the knee caps of those who don't upgrade are true LOL. As far as customer service I wouldn't know since I'm not a customer.

    As far as other software (besides PT) I like Cubase (I was a former Sonar user). But I would suggest posting on the Digital Audio Recording Forum as they could help more with your software choices. I don't do much MIDI or Sampling (only for composing) my finished work is all audio, but the guys at the DAR forum are real pros at MIDI and Samples. They helped me alot, I'm sure they'll help you too.

    For interfaces there's a miriad of choices. I'll get a list together of the different types and post tomorrow.
     
  3. razor_usmc

    razor_usmc Guest

    Hey Big_D,

    Thanks for responding! I read the RO poll, and I guess I WAS mistaken on the PT vs. "others" vote results. I come from a background of all-in-ones. One of the things that really called to me about protools was that despite the price and need to upgrade 24/7, generally it was all-inclusive. The software works with its own hardware, quick firewire into the back of your PC and voila, you are recording, mixing and mastering with the aid of a few plug-ins. Overpriced, but reliable and very "Simple" relatively speaking.

    I am NEW...period, to this genre of recording. Whatever platform I use, I will spend a ton of time learning all the ins and outs and it just seemd that protools would eliminate the need to learn many programs for several jobs. If I had been doing this forever and was just ready to upgrade, I would be more inclined to rush out for the multi-software bundles...just right now, it seems so overwhelming compared to what I am sure seems oversimplified and overpriced. Comments?

    What would you recommend for someone on my budget, with my needs? I am not opposed to cubase or what have you, but at this point if there was one software bundle (maker) that did it all that would be great! (assuming quality is not sacrificed!) Doesn't do me any good to keep it simple if I get worse results than I would with a much simpler Roland 2480 DVD. I see some people in this forum record with one program and then master with another? Why? I can only guess its because some companies make better recording software and others better mixing software. Who makes a great program that does both? I still think pro-tools is a great idea but quite frankly after I pay for my stuff I don't want to be left behind still grabbing my ankles.

    Can you advise me on a great pro-level software set up and a good firewire I/O console to work with it?

    Oh, and one more question. I currently only have a relatively small room to work in...what kind of (how much) PC sound dampening do you do? Do you insulate the inside of your case/use ultraquiet fans or what?

    Thanks again Big_D and anyone else who takes the time to reply.

    Razor
     

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