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re-optimizing pc for audio

Discussion in 'Recording' started by imagineaudio, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    gentlemen,

    I am looking for some tips for re-optimizing my pc.....here's the background.....

    I started building my DAW about 2 years ago, when I started taking my hobby a little more seriously, I have aquired some software and did the best I could setting up XP right for audio(turning off screensavers, system sounds, However, I've learned that there are some things I should do differently to achieve better performance......

    Right now this is what I got:

    P4 2.4ghz
    Asus P4PE mobo
    128mb Gforce 4 dual monitor outs
    80gb Serial ATA drive (not sure which brand, but i can open her up if ya'll need me to )
    120gb Western Digital 7200rpm standard internal drive (guess that makes it an IDE?)or ATA?) i know its not another SATA
    512mb Ram

    Win XP Home
    Nuendo 2.1
    Cubase SX 1.3

    I have the OS, all software running on the SATA drive, the other is used purely or storing files I dont use very often. I know this is not the optimal way to have configured.

    Based on a project I did last night, putting a HDD from my broken computer and into my internet pc, I see how the master/slave thing works with 2 IDE drives, so.................

    Here are my questions:

    Is the serial drive faster than the 7200rpm IDE drive?
    How should I set the hard drives up?
    should I use partitions?
    Which drive should be my Master?
    How do I set up the slave?
    Which drive should XP be on?
    Should I use a RAID config or no?

    If XP needs to be on the IDE (or is it UDMA?) drive I guess I'm going to need to do a fresh install, right? Then, windows will prompt me to regester in 30 days, Is this going to be a hassle? I am not plugging this PC into the internet so I will have to call to re-register windows, has anybody done this? what should I expect?


    I know there are a lot of questions here, but the further I get into this digital recording the more I have to learn about these awful machines 8) I guess thats par for the course, I look foreward to hearing ya'lls suggestions.................thanks for the help :D
     
  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    hi,

    let me try to answer as best i can. perhaps somebody else will have suggestions / improvements to this but i have done it before so i know a bit about it...

    yes, the serial drive is faster. it should be your audio drive, so the slave. although in fact as it is on a seperate bus, that doesn't come into it.

    format the 120 drive, then disconnect the SATA entirely, and perform a fresh install of windows on the 120 drive.

    there is a list somewhere of exactly how to do a very very clean install of XP perfect for audio, might well be somewhere on this site, but hopefully somebody here will point it out.

    once you are done and registered, with all extraneous software removed and working versions of your base drivers and DAW software installed, reconnect the SATA and run Norton Ghost or similar and take an image of the IDE hard drive onto the SATA. Do this twice, one compressed, one uncompressed to be safe.

    Then you can copy what you need from the SATA to the IDE, disconnect from the net, format your SATA and use it for audio.

    i used to partition my OS drive just to keep things neat, and run multiple OSes from different partitions. If you are audio-only I don't think partitions should be an issue.

    I also don't think you can RAiD between 2 different types of drive, and yes, your 120gb drive is IDE.

    Once all this is done you have a Base OS which you can then add software to, and when performance degrades, you can reload the disk image and load back on only what you think you have been using.

    hope this helps. i have a printout of the XP reformat tweak list somewhere in my studio so if you really struggle, tell me.
     
  3. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    update: I looked under my HDD properties on the 60gb SATA drive and this is what it says:

    Promise 1+0 stripe/RAID0 SCSI Disk Device

    For the westen digital:

    WDC WD1200JB
     
  4. roirat

    roirat Guest

    I would be very interested to read this...

    RR
     
  5. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    so, let me get this right......I would only use norton ghost to back up the IDE drive, I don't need it to actually do this work to my pc?


    by they way, thanks a hell of a lot for taking the time to break that down to me, and even better that I can understand it, I'll give it a go
     
  6. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Yes, SATA transfers data faster than IDE. IDE, EIDE, ATA, UATA UDMA etc. are all standards for IDE and as such are IDE devices, SATA is not.

    I would keep your 80GB (SATA) drive as your OS and Program drive. I would use the 120GB (IDE) drive to store your audio files on for now. I would buy a 120GB or larger SATA drive as soon as you can and use it for your audio drive. You could leave the 120GB IDE drive in your system and backup your music from the 120GB SATA. It's best to have both your OS and Audio drives be SATA for best performance and that IDE would serve well as insurance should the audio SATA ever fail.

    All drives are partitioned so I assume you mean multiple partitions. No I would not add additional partitions to either drive but especially the audio drive. As partitions fill up the drives performance falls off so it's best to have one contigous partition for best performance.

    All SATA devices are master so it's not an issue and if you only have 2 IDE devices both could be master also. You only have to worry about IDE master/slave if you have more than two IDE devices.

    As I said above XP should be on the 80GB (SATA) drive.

    I would skip the RAID for now anyway, especially stripe. A discussion of RAID implementations is too lengthy for me to get into right now but I will follow up at another time.

    Your system looks fine. As I said I would look into a 120GB SATA drive for audio and after that I would add another 512MB of RAM. It should be set up as follows,

    80GB SATA
    Win XP, Nuendo, Cubase, Samples and Plugins.

    120GB IDE or SATA
    Audio Files Only!

    Yes it is, you have it right now just get yourself an SATA for audio and your all set. Now go make music.
     
  7. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Don,

    Why SATA for OS?

    I thought the important thing was that the audio could be written to the HDD as fast as possible, and so the faster drive was for audio.

    Certainly in ye olde dayes I am sure I was advised to use my 5400rpm for OS and SCSI for audio.

    Obviously SATA thru'n'thru is ideal, but am i missing something here?

    I didn't think once loaded to memory, the speed of the program drive itself was a more important factor than the IDE?

    Just to make 2 things clear for Imagine:

    1) Norton Ghost is used purely to create a 'clone' image file of your hard drive. An exact sector-by-sector copy of your perfect, starting OS. No corrupt dlls, no viruses,no software you never use, nothing.

    You record this, and then overwrite your hard drive with it later in the future when it gets corrupted/messy.

    On the subject of which a defragmenter is essential, and Norton Speed Disk is good here.

    Don am I correct in saying this should be installed to the audio drive?

    2) To make 100% clear the master / slave thing. As I understand it each IDE bus is a socket on your motherboard where you can connect a cable, with 2 plugs, connecting 2 IDE devices. Most if not all motherbosrds have 2 IDE buses and so can hold 4 devices total (CD drives / writers, ZIP drives, hard drives).

    On each bus one device must be a master and one a slave. Therefore if you want 2 masters they must be connected to 2 seperate buses. Sometimes drives are recommended to run as slaves, although this might be an outdated statement now, certainly ZJIP and come CDRWS were in the old days.

    Will look out this tweaks list unless somebody posts it here soon, I am sure it was here on RO in the first place maybe 2 years ago,

    J
     
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    in the meantime google search brought up musicxp.net which seems to be a good starting point.

    there are more than 21 tweaks though, from memory you should be performing something like 50-60 OS and registry alts.
     
  9. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    hmmm, some differing opinions.......Big_D, I appreciate the response, but I wonder why it would be better to run the OS and software from the SATA drive. The way I was thinking, and from what Jeemy said, it seems more logical to have the audio on the drive with the faster transfer speed, what am I missing? I am more of a "why" person than a "how" person, could you maybe touch on "why" this would not perform better?
     
  10. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

  11. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Ok, I guess further explanation is needed.

    I was making assumptions based on another post by Imagine and I should have included those in my previous post as well as my reasoning for the recomendations but to save space (and my fingers) I didn't include them. So here goes.

    Jamie, I would normally agree with you SATA for Audio and IDE for OS if your stuck with that combo but I also look at the system as a whole and the users needs as well (assumptions stated earlier).

    First the assumptions, Imagine said in his other post he had a 20GB drive filled with songs and ideas. If he transfers them to the 80GB drive he's already used 25% of the drive and he hasn't recorded anything new yet. You know how fast performance falls off as drives begin to fill up. I was figuring 100GB of free space was alot better than 60GB in case he couldn't swing a large SATA for a while.

    Second assumption, he seems to be a songwriter and working on his own and not with bands (correct me if I'm wrong) so the track counts should be quite reasonable (16 to 20 maybe). The 120GB should be UATA/133 and at 133MB/s should have no problem streamng those track counts.

    Third assumption, many songwriters I know use samples and MIDI alot in their arrangements for instruments they don't play so many tracks aren't audio at all. In this case having the faster access of SATA to samples and such would be a benefit.

    If I am incorrect in my assumptions and he is recording bands with large track counts I believe memory would come into play before the IDE drive. All those tracks with all those plugs running at once would surely test 512MB of RAM.

    So for these reasons I say stick to your current configuration and when you get a large SATA drive you only have to install it and not redo your OS and everything else again.



    Your right the SATA would perform better on audio but the question is, is it perfromance you will us right now (see assumptions above). Just like using a top fuel dragster to get to the grocery store is overkill, if your needs don't dictate the change it would be overkill also. Are you having problems with your system? If not you may be fine with the IDE as your audio drive until you can upgrade to an SATA for audio and add more RAM. As I said before keeping the config as is will make changes easier down the road as well. If I'm wrong about any of this then you should swap your drives.

    Agreed, I would suggest the same here if this was the case, fortunately it's not. SCSI/120 to 150MBs and 5400/33MBs drives were light years apart in performance so it just made sense. But SATA/150MBs and UATA/133MBs are not that far apart IMO to justify the swap if he intends to pickup an SATA and RAM in the near future. Granted the difference is a little bigger than the numbers indicate due to the SATA being a serial device but still to get the most out of his system an upgrade in HDD and RAM is needed to see the full potential of this machine. The upgrade of those two items will do far more for performance than all the tweaks in the world.

    Yeah Jamie, your dead on. There is one exception however, under Win95 through ME if you install an SATA device you must disable an IDE port, because it can't support more than 4 devices. With XP and 2K this is not an issue.

    Jamie, in general I think we view DAW setup the same but in this case (if my assumptions are correct) I think this may be a better option for now.

    BTW, Ghosting drives is a great idea, I keep a spare drive with a ghost of my DAW software outside of my system and can install it in case of emergency as well as an image on CD's. Very good suggestion that everyone should follow, thanks Jamie :cool:

    PS. It would be appreciated if you guys and everyone else for that matter would go to this thread

    (Dead Link Removed)

    and take a minute to tell us about the hardware and performance of your DAW (MAC guys too.) It would benefit those with questions on what works and what doesn't.

    Thanks Guys :D
     
  12. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    Big_D, I appreciate your consideration and using information from another post, and most of your assumptions are right on. However, the 20g HDD from my other thread got installed in my internet pc, any audio files I use from that drive, if any at all, would be loaded on to an external HDD and transfered to my audio pc that way. I am looking for optimal performance. I own all the software/plugs/vsti's/samples that I use, so doing a clean install of everyting on my IDE drive wont be much of a problem. I won't be copying the 20GB from my other HDD to either of the drives on my DAW. I use about 16-20 tracks on average, but my performance has been so-so......I will get another 512ram before I start doing anything major, but eventually will do this. So just to be clear, it IS better to use the IDE for OS, software, etc and use the SATA exclusivly for all audio files/samples/loops?
     
  13. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Yes, if your having performance problems I would do what Jamie suggested and use the SATA for audio. This should help the situation in addition to using the tuning tips that ADK posted. I would install the SATA and then use the MUSICXP.NET tips to tune the PC and test. If further tweaks are needed try the ADK ProAudio tips.

    BTW, I have the same processor in my DAW w/ (2) SATA HDD's and have only gone to 1GB of RAM recently. I run around 24 tracks (just audio/no MIDI or samples) and work mostly by myself. My system is very stable and fast with no issues and I believe I could do 36 tracks with no issues either. So I think an upgrade in RAM and a second SATA will give you what you are looking for.

    I guess conventional wisdom is best here after all. Nice job Jamie. I shouldn't have assumed anything and asked more questions instead. Sorry for the confusion guys and good luck with changes Imagine. We'll be here if you have any more questions.
     
  14. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    And to ice the cake here's the magic link:

    http://www.opusaudioprojects.net/WinXP.htm

    Hopefully its still online. If not, I have a printout, and can make a PDF if someone can host it,

    J
     
  15. DaveG

    DaveG Guest

    SATA for audio has its issues. I have had to buy a second ide drive for audio because when using my SATA drive in "my setup" I'd get clicking no matter how low the track count was. There's a great thread here Case on the topic.


    DaveG
     

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