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how much have you spent on "plugs" and software ? how long do they work for you before you have to upgrade/ update them?

and while we are at it . what about computers? how often do you buy a new one? how often do you have to upgrade software?

the real question is, what is the total expense of the keeping and feeding of a DAW and it's associated peripherals?

love to hear your answers.

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audiokid Sat, 01/03/2015 - 20:16

I like this topic!

I would like to include, do you really need to upgrade everything or do you upgrade because you trust the companies are saying so to improve what you have?

It is my believe, if we stick with a system that was built current ( in a close time frame) , then turned it off from updates. it would work for quite a few years, most likely very well.

Being said, my first system was Pro Tools Mix Plus and I think it cost me around $40,000 at the end of a few years. It was a big system. Did it sound any better than my old analog system? Not really, but it did allow me to edit and sound more current. Which, was worth the investment because, "sounding current" , made me money that I wouldn't have made with the old system I had before. This is a very subjective topic from that POV, because had I stuck it out, I may have not spent money as well, but looking back, I couldn't even buy the Tape from my supplier so I was forced to bail regardless.

Today is a different story, I HAVE A BRAIN! , I spend about $300 a year on software, if that. I don't need much more than the DAW's I choose. They come complete. The upgrades are around #400 every 18 months which I don't really need to pay for.

The computers, we all need those no matter what so I choose PC that are much cheaper than a Mac. Which I also had and will no longer buy into.

After the initial investment for recording/ mixing software essentials, a few grand for two versions of Samplitude my software investment is almost nothing. I don't buy third part plug-ins or need extra DSP for this system to work extremely well on its own. Stock.
1 kind of EQ, Comp and its all most of us need.

pan60 Sat, 01/03/2015 - 21:31

I don't remember what I spent on PT, it's been long gone. Got the DP trade cost price and made one upgrade. No plugins bought here.
I do plan on another upgrade.

I want ten years or close to it before I think of another move. But I also still have one tape machine left. No two.

I do need a new comp but have for the last year or so. still on an old G5. I was planning on getting the newer version of DP just have not as of yet.

anonymous Sun, 01/04/2015 - 02:42

To date, I can look back and see a pattern of buying/upgrading my computer at a rate of about every 5 years.

I have an average of around $1500 -$2000 invested in plugs. I used to have quite a bit more than that invested in my rack of real OB gear... most of which has been sold off, some of which is still kinda cool, like a dbx 163, but much of it, especially the FX, are pretty dated now - not to mention limited in frequency response.

I have 2 Proteus modules, a Lexi Prime Time, Aphex Aural Exciter ( which I never did like but put in my rack because some of my clients insisted on using it), a Digitech TSR 12, a Rockman Sustainor/Chrous/Delay, and a few Alesis FX modules, including a D4 - all in a rack that isn't even powered up.

I upgrade software/OS/progs when I feel it will benefit me, but I'm never the first on the block to do so. I always wait about a year or so, especially with OS changes, to make sure that the bugs have been worked out. To point, I never did upgrade to Windows Vista. I went from XP to W8 when I decided that a 64 bit OS would be to my advantage, (extended RAM use allowance) and, when it was announced that MS was ceasing all support for the XP platform.

I still haven't upgraded to the newest release of Samplitude - it's in its early stages of release, and, following the threads I'm seeing on the Samplitude Forum, there are still quite a few issues to work out.

I also don't immediately jump into any new release of any software I have. I cautiously move in that direction when I've determined that doing so will benefit me. ;)


Tony Carpenter Sun, 01/04/2015 - 06:48

A debate ready topic :). I am going to take the first part, plugins first. I spend only on things that I will need now. I used to buy the latest versions. I stopped now. My expected expenditure for 2015, unless something grabs me off UAD at a ridiculous price, will be zero. I have spent on average about 500-1500 a year over the last few years. In fairness though, most of that was buying suites (Ozone 5 Advanced, NI Komplete Ultimate).

Now computers, here is where we enter an area I have a lot of experience at, and I will explain now why I use a Mac. I have used and built computers since the mid 80s. In 1990 I started running a BBS in New Zealand, and for anyone that knows what that was, it required a strong stable system with finely tuned Autoexec.bat and Config.sys, used Qemm and DESQview. Along with many other batch systems etc to keep my Fidonet hub sytem running. Along side that, I built my PC for music over the years until 1995 when BBSes met their demise to the Internet.

I continued to build/upgrade (usually upgrade) PC's usually every 6-12 months with upgrades to more ram, more HDD space, external CD on SCSI etc. Faster CPUs better MBs, better/bigger monitors. Better video cards, you get the picture. Most of the PCs I made lived well beyond my use, my cousin had my last one I built in the UK 2000 until 2011 with no issues, ran like a train. Chap back in CA has my last PC I bothered building still. Near the end I built my PC's for music, (3 PCs) and also to run a MMORPG for Neverwinter nights (once again, superior stability a must! 64 users at a time with a beefy MySQL backend too). I have not built a PC since about 2005, not worth it to me. Current system specs are beefy, just used for games now :).

Bottom line, I know PCs, how to make them tick over, etc. I will never be convinced to run a Windoze based machine for music. I admit that possibly Cakewalk, Cubase and Protools may have issues that cause certain configurations to play up. I know many people, Craig Anderton (who I have followed for many years) etc are happy with their specifically built PCs (Craig uses a Mac too, and in his words too, it just works). I have run Linux when it was beta (and beyond), OS/2 when we BBS SysOps wanted it to survive and now OSX (unix based still). I refuse to feed microsoft and their arrogant idea of an OS where they don't give a crap about how much resources used and backend crap they throw at the user.

We come to the end of my wordy response, I do not intend any disrespect or lack of belief in the stability some of you experience. I merely point out, tweaking a BIOS, disabling things, not being on stuff, is a symptom of Windoze that is not going away. I got sick of stepping on egg shells, I turn my Mac on, I use it, no issues. I expect my DUAL Proc Xenon system with 32GB of RAM to last me a long time. Only change will be add more HDD space with some SSD or hybrid drives.

Sorry if this seems like a tirade LOL. Not meant as one, just felt the need to express my view from a point of actual knowledge in MY experiences :). And it effects my mental and financial outlooks too.

P.S Last thought, if Roland had expanded on the VS studio series, frankly, I would still be there LOL. Maybe Antelopes new approach will take us there one day :D.

P.P.S Sorry Kurt, almost forgot cost to feed a DAW, how long is a piece of string?.



Davedog Fri, 01/16/2015 - 14:58

I will weigh in on this. A little behind but I've been up to my nads in a project that became a deadline for a part of it. In short, I been busy.....

My current system is the result of several years of learning and growing into something that is user friendly and turn-key ready as well as having benefits that help the 'talent' express themselves to a high level. The idea is to provide a recording environment that has powerful tools of a large variety, an excellent monitoring system both in the speakers and in the headphones, and something that reliability is the key. Unlike some, I am NOT computer savvy. I know enough to not blow one up but not enough to get into the bios and fart around to make it turn left instead of right. And for THAT reason I play on a Mac. I bought a used Mac Pro when I updated about three years ago. I had an older G5 but came to the end of its support for a lot of different programs and that was when I HAD to upgrade in order to accomplish what I set out to do. The G5 was a freebie from a friend who is head of IT at his business...a software company....and when they upgraded their office they had a bunch of Mac's that were going to the recycler. They do this every three years, so I got one of the shells for free. I grew through ProTools 7 LE to PT9LE with that machine. Then the upgrade.

Here's where a person can spend their time with research. What machine do I get that will be viable for several years.? Just like buying a console in reality. How long will it last and at what level of sonics and maintenance costs? What will it do for me in work flow? How easy is it to understand? I spent months figuring out what I would need for the future. Like many of you, I didn't intend to change much at a certain point. I believe a stable system will last as long as the electric bill gets paid and the work you choose to do remains. So I bought another Mac. I have a quad core Pro tower. I can run any OS even though this machine is a late 2009. The thing is, the Nehalem release seems to be the machine that ProTools likes more than any other. The initial investment is now down to about $400 a year and next year it will be even less. Although an SSD drive is in the least on the main drive. Booting at a blink is of interest to me. So theres a $250-$500 investment to consider. Not much for a superior increase in performance, even though I DONT NEED IT........

The software is another thing altogether. I absolutely HATE any sort of latency in a system. The only latency I ever experienced in a tape based system was leaving the sync off when dubbing. It didn't happen again......I don't necessarily "like" ProTools. It works though and the more I understand about it the more confidence I have in its design. I had the LE system before. I made nice sounding records with it. I experienced 'work-arounds' and lots of restarts and crashes the more complicated the projects became. Since I don't know enough to fix that, I needed something to suit my directive. So PT HD2 10.3. Stable. Lots of ways to record. I can add anything anywhere with any input and never have any latency. No latency with outboard (there's a trick that makes this happen) and I can add any effect to the phone mix with no latency....even though I don't recommend it to any of my singers. I bought used so this investment settled in at a shade over $1500. Amortized over the life expectancy of this system it will become a small change thing.

Plug-ins are all about what you like to use. Its easier (I think) for people who have some knowledge of real hardware to have a better handle on which plug-in to go to or to buy. I bought a quad UAD card. Its the one thing that keeps me from going to HD3....not enough a magma chassis...maybe....I DONT NEED IT.....The UAD stuff is fairly realistic in how they affect the sound. I also have a Waves Platinum bundle, a bunch of Nomad plugs, T-Racks, Sonotube, McDSP, POD, and a bunch of others. This is a large investment on my part but not something that anyone NEEDS to make quality recordings. They are just tools.....But, hey, This is all about the long-term thing....I only upgrade the Waves. Its automatic and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I think its something like $100 a year. When they went to the cloud for the new versions it made it so much easier.

When it gets down to it, the investment in this part of my system is small in comparison to how MUCH of the system it is. My outboard costs way way more on the whole and the racks to store these pieces in, takes real estate from the room. If you think about the system from an Old Analog Guys viewpoint, ProTools and the computer...or any other the Console, the Tape Machine, and several high-end pieces of Rack Gear all in one small footprint. So how much is this in relative terms?

My recommendation will always be, get the best computer you can with all the Ram that it will take, get something with a stable OS that is plug and play, and has lots of access points and the ability to house several hard drives and has a great power supply that will bend but not break with a lot of cpu load applied. At that point, your relationship with any DAW program will be enhanced to the point of enjoying recording and mixing. Crashes and slow responses will easily sour anyone to this process and , of course, effect the experience to the point of frustration.

Its not so much about WHAT program you use, but how the machinery operates the program. The computer is the most important part of this and without a great machine running at a high rate of quality, nothing is going to be more frustrating than trying to create music with the problems inherent in an unstable system.

anonymous Sat, 01/17/2015 - 05:15

While Dave can be humble about not being an "expert" with computers - he is being modest - because he obviously knows enough about them to make great recordings. He knows his way around his platform, and this is much more important than knowing how to get into the Bios and tweak settings. Most modern computers - either Mac or PC - are pretty beefy in terms of CPU, RAM and Power Supplies these days. I've had great success with PC's bought at big box stores, right off the shelf and out of the box, with very little - if any - setting adjustments in the OS or the Bios.

There are cats who do know how to tweak a computer for its optimum performance, and who can not only get around bios settings like the rest of us can read the Sunday funny papers, but they also LOVE to do it. They're not really any different than guys who love to work on car engines, whether the engine needs work or not... they love to eek out the last possible drop of horsepower, because it's something that they dig doing.

But computers in general have gotten much better during the development and build at the factories, so that there isn't boat loads of tweaking to be done much anymore. Much of this tweaking was done in the past, during a time when computers were behind the software that they were being tasked to run, so making adjustments was an important skill to know, when you were attempting to make a single core processor with 2 gig of RAM available able to work with the latest multi media software.

In short, if you stick with a machine that is relatively modern, you're not going o have to do a bunch of adjustments. Computer manufacturers are doing their best to make their machines as user friendly and maintenance free as possible, because they know that the vast majority of consumers don't have an intrinsic working knowledge of how computers run. The easier they make the machines to operate, the less the user has to know in terms of operation and settings adjustments, the more computers they will sell.

As long as you aren't working with an old machine that has limited power and memory - and trying to get it to run modern software - you shouldn't have to make a whole lot of changes. There are, of course, some things you need to know - things like buffer settings for record and playback within your DAW, or in your audio i/0, but it's not as if you have to get into the heart and core of your system to successfully record tracks - as long as you are using a machine that is relatively current.

IMHO of course.