First DAW build - looking for advice/suggestions

Member for

8 years 6 months
Submitted by acular123 on Wed, 10/17/2012 - 13:45

First off, I would like to say hello to everyone.

I play guitar and keyboard. I compose all kinds of music in my head and by tapping my fingers on a daily basis. I have lots of it memorized, and the ideas just keep coming. The problem is, I have little experience playing what I write. Also, since I work full time and hardly know anybody where I live, I can't really commit to being in a band. On top of that, being in a band also comes with other issues like creative differences.

So, ultimately, I decided to take a route that allowed me to do everything myself...and build a digital audio workstation. However, I have never built one before, and don't know the first thing about what I need. I would like to be able to record a variety of different types of music such as jingles, video game music, and more techno-type stuff like Ratatat and Infected Mushroom.

So, after doing some research, this is currently what I have in my shopping cart at newegg

[="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133198"]Thermaltake Level 10 Series Level 10 GTS Snow Edition White SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133198"]Thermaltake Level 10 Series Level 10 GTS Snow Edition White SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case[/]Item #: N82E16811133198Return Policy: [[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/] [="http://images10.newegg.com/uploadfilesfornewegg/rebate/SH/Thermaltake11-133-198Oct11Nov1012ey39.pdf"]$15.00 Mail-in Rebate Card[/]="http://images10.newegg.com/uploadfilesfornewegg/rebate/SH/Thermaltake11…"]$15.00 Mail-in Rebate Card[/] $114.99

[[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202006"]SAPPHIRE 100352-2L Radeon HD 7950 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202006"]SAPPHIRE 100352-2L Radeon HD 7950 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card[/]Item #: N82E16814202006Return Policy: [="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#30"]VGA Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#30"]VGA Standard Return Policy[/]

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-$10.00 Instant
[[url=http://="http://images10.newegg.com/uploadfilesfornewegg/rebate/SH/Sapphire34MIR…"]$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card[/]="http://images10.newegg.com/uploadfilesfornewegg/rebate/SH/Sapphire34MIR…"]$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card[/]
$309.99$299.99
1
[="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16800995133"]AMD Gift - Free Sleeping Dogs Coupon[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16800995133"]AMD Gift - Free Sleeping Dogs Coupon[/]Item #: N82E16800995133Return Policy: [[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]
-$49.99 Saving $49.99$0.00

[="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371022"]Antec TruePower New TP-750 Blue 750W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE ...[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371022"]Antec TruePower New TP-750 Blue 750W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE ...[/]Item #: N82E16817371022Return Policy: [[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]
-$30.00 Instant $129.99$99.99

[="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233280"]CORSAIR Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CML16GX3M2A1600C10[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233280"]CORSAIR Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CML16GX3M2A1600C10[/]Item #: N82E16820233280Return Policy: [[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#41"]Memory Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#41"]Memory Standard Return Policy[/]
$79.99

[="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811999950"]StarTech PCSCREWKIT Assortment of screws, nuts and standoffs[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811999950"]StarTech PCSCREWKIT Assortment of screws, nuts and standoffs[/]Item #: N82E16811999950Return Policy: [[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#59"]Computer Cables and Accessories Extended Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#59"]Computer Cables and Accessories Extended Return Policy[/]
-$14.00 Instant $36.99$22.99

[="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131826"]ASUS P8H77-V LE LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131826"]ASUS P8H77-V LE LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard[/]Item #: N82E16813131826Return Policy: [[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]

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[="http://images10.newegg.com/uploadfilesfornewegg/rebate/SH/ASUS12MIRsOct01Oct3112cd12.pdf"]$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card[/]="http://images10.newegg.com/uploadfilesfornewegg/rebate/SH/ASUS12MIRsOct…"]$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card[/] $125.99

[[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115229"]Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 2011 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73820[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115229"]Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 2011 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73820[/]Item #: N82E16819115229Return Policy: [="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#39"]CPU Replacement Only Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#39"]CPU Replacement Only Return Policy[/]

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$299.99

[[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986"]Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986"]Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM[/]Item #: N82E16832116986Return Policy: [="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#27"]Software Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#27"]Software Standard Return Policy[/]
$99.99
1
[[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832286083"]TREND MICRO Titanium Antivirus 2012 - 1 User for System Builder - OEM[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832286083"]TREND MICRO Titanium Antivirus 2012 - 1 User for System Builder - OEM[/]Item #: N82E16832286083Return Policy: [="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#27"]Software Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#27"]Software Standard Return Policy[/]
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$39.99$0.00

[[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099"]COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel ...[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099"]COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel ...[/]Item #: N82E16835103099Return Policy: [="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]

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[[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136250"]LG Black 14X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 12X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-ray Burner,3D Play Back (WH14NS40) - OEM[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136250"]LG Black 14X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 12X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-ray Burner,3D Play Back (WH14NS40) - OEM[/]Item #: N82E16827136250Return Policy: [="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#44"]Standard Return Policy[/]

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-$10.00 Instant $79.99$69.99

[[url=http://="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147163"]SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC128B/WW 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)[/]="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147163"]SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC128B/WW 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)[/]Item #: N82E16820147163Return Policy: [="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#45"]Limited Replacement Only Return Policy[/]="http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx#45"]Limited Replacement Only Return Policy[/]

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Keep in mind I will be playing games on this PC and I have other, larger storage devices to hold my data other than that 120GB HD, which I mainly want just to run windows and the DAW software at quicker speeds. I'm currently weighing the pros and cons of the different audio software (reaper, protools, nuendo, cubase, etc)

So...

Any suggestions for additional or different components?

Any suggestions for the type of audio software I should get based on my goals and skills?

What else do I need? I swear there is so much stuff out there...mixers, audio interfaces, microphones, faders, extenders, controllers....I don't even know what I need out of these things, much less specifically what actual item to get.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated as I do realize I am asking for a lot of advice. Thank you!

Personally, I would go with an NVIDIA card. I've always had issues with Radeon cards taking up audio bandwidth. Make sure you have a separated and dedicated audio drive. Windows 7 Pro is more supported than Home. Some programs will benefit from the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro (which is 14$) unless you are going Pro Tools in which case you need Windows 7 Pro and shouldn't upgrade until Avid has officially qualified it. Then again, if you're going to go with Pro Tools you should check to make sure all of the components are on the official support list.

Don't bother with the antivirus. Microsoft Security Essentials should be good enough. It's light on resources and it works just fine so long as you are not illegally downloading software or any other funky things.

Thanks for the tips. The antivirus is actually just free software that newegg throws in with windows.

So after getting the computer itself, what else will I need? I'm getting lost with all these audio interfaces, control surfaces, midi interfaces...etc.

First of all, what is your budget? What are you recording? Are you recording or is everything midi based? It makes a big difference on the kind of interface you will need. Many midi keyboards also have some control surface capabilities and often have usb interfaces.

Audio Interfaces themselves have an array of possible connections, PCIe, USB, Firewire and now Thunderbolt. Which one is more appropriate depends on your application.

Things you will need to consider:

  • Monitors/cables
  • mics/stands/cables
  • room treatment
class="xf-ul">
The quality and importance of all of this is dependent on your budget and intended genre.

My total budget for now is going to be around $2,500. Of course, if spending a little over my budget will make a big difference, I would definitely consider spending more. This includes the computer, which is going to be about 1300.

I will be mainly recording electronic rock.... as, I can play keyboard, guitar, and bass and want to incorporate other sounds into the music... I am going to be recording my guitar and vocals...and bass too if I ever buy one. Unless of course I can replicate some decent bass tones using midi. Drums will need to be digital and I'd love to be able to have lots of digital instruments that you'd find in an orchestra if that's possible as well.

The motherboard I'm looking at supports USB 3.0. Unless you can recommend something that's better. Sorry I'm so new at this. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me get this right.

So after some further research, it looks like I will be needing both an Audio and a MIDI interface for recording real instruments/vocals and for incorporating other digital instruments. I've decided to go with PCI for my audio interface.

Few more questions:

Will I need both a PCI dedicated sound card AND an audio interface?

Since it's just me recording, will this be all I need to record midi? [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MIDISport1x1/"]M-Audio MIDISPORT 1x1 | Sweetwater.com[/]="http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MIDISport1x1/"]M-Audio MIDISPORT 1x1 | Sweetwater.com[/] - (gonna sell my keyboard for a midi one)

When you say "monitors", are you talking about screens or those speaker looking things?

You don't need a separate midi interface. Most audio interfaces come with midi as well. Also, most modern midi interfaces are USB now.

If you are going to go PCI, you may want to check out MOTU, RME or even AVID. These are expensive. MOTU likely being the most reasonable. If you find that these are far out of your price range, you may want to look into an M-Audio Delta 1010. Not the LT version. The one with the break out box. However the 1010 does not have any preamps. If you want' something even more affordable, theres the Delta 44 which also has no preamps. If you need something with preamps, consider a firewire interface or even USB2.0. The latency is greater but not significantly enough that you can't work. Most home users do fine with up to 15ms of latency and there is always direct monitoring.

So after considering your advice I decided to go with USB 2.0

I'm currently looking at the RME Babyface, as I've read great reviews about it and it comes with a preamp.

So right now, here's what I'm looking to buy

PC
RME Babyface
MIDI Keyboard
Cables
Microphones

Any reccommendation on a good midi keyboard? Not sure if I should get one with pads or if I should get just get dedicated pads. The feel of the keys is going to be important to me as well.

Anything else I will need? I really want to be able to have a professional sound to the music I record. I know some independent game developers that agreed to hear my stuff once it's laid down, so I really wanna make sure I get this right.

Any one of the M-Audio keyboards will do. If you want something with more of a piano feel to it though, consider a lower end digital piano. Yamaha makes a few. For three hundred dollars or so, you can have a midi keyboard with weighted keys for a more real feel. Again it comes down to your budget. Prices can range from a very basic keyboard with non weighted keys to hundreds of dollars for something with weighted keys and some control surface options. The Oxygen controllers from M-Audio are very popular.