Computer Parts Question

Discussion in 'Computing' started by yodermr, Mar 24, 2002.

  1. yodermr

    yodermr Guest

    I have been attentively reading the posts on building a recording computer. Very impressive! To complete my plan to build a new one I need to ask a few questions that I havn't seen answers to...

    Can someone just give me a brand and model for a quiet ATA harddrive and power supply?

    I run a Roland VM3100 pro mixer & RBUS interface. 8 channels in/out of the computer.I would like to avoid a sound card but how do I get the CD sound to my RBUS? Do I have to get a sound card just to get the output to the Mixer? If this is so can someone suggest a simple sound card with SpDIF out so I can just get CD audio to my mixer?

    BTW My system is very simple compared to what I see here. Just Sonar and the ROland setup but while I'm building this thing I want to do it right and not so its obsolete in a year. Seems to be a worn question but any help in building this would be great.

  2. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Western Digital and Maxtor brand hard drives..7200RPM ATA133...both very quiet and fast.
    Always been reliable for me.
    As far as Power Supply...Enermax are quiet..
    To get CD out install 2K or XP and turn on Digital Music for it in the properties of the CDROM and put your main soundcard as the default output for the windows muktimedia settings and violla..CD out to your mixer...
    simple as that
  3. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hey Mark - If you really want to do this right, the quietest Maxtor right now is the fluid bearing model - the part # has two "L"s in it. For example, the part # for the fluid bearing 80 GB drive is 6L080L4. These drives are identical to the 6L080J4, except for the fluid bearings which make them a few db quieter. Both are warranteed for 3 years, and all other specs appear to be identical. The fluid bearing ones cost about $15 more. For a good price, go to and type in the part # in their search window to save time.

    If you want a power supply that is not only quiet physically, but will keep your audio cleaner as well, get a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 400. It will allow future expansion with more drives, ram, etc, and several people like them well enough to move them to new machines. Not cheap, around $170 - My research turned up the fact that the PC Power units have 10 TIMES as good regulation as the Enermax units, and they have an average lifespan of over 11 years. Your audio cards can only be as good as the power they get, and they get it from your computer power supply. The Enermax has 10% regulation, the PC Power unit has 1% regulation. Here is a link if you're interested -

    These guys apparently only sell direct, because I haven't been able to find much of their stuff on pricewatch. While you're there, check out their other cooling devices - their fans are a good replacement for stock fans in the case, and will quiet things down even more. Good hunting... Steve
  4. teddancin

    teddancin Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Personally, I would never touch a Maxtor, too many horror stories. I'm an IBM man myself. The 75GXP and 60GXP models are great. They have a new model (the 120 GXP's) that are probably even better. You can check them out here . They're very fast, very reliable, and make little to no audible noise... unless you're ear is right next to it. As for power supplies, I use NMB, but it's a 460 watt beast and it kills me on electrical payments, no joke. But as long as you have a decent PS, it doesn't really matter that much, in my opinion, but I'd probably want a 350 watt (or more, but you don't need it) PS if I were you.
  5. Nick Driver

    Nick Driver Guest

    Something that may be a concern about the new IBM 120GXP series disk drives is that IBM is officially stating that they are only designed to be run at most 8 hours per day, no more than 333 hours per month. This is probably just a CYA statement by IBM because of the deal with their 75GXP's dropping like flies and having to eat a bunch of returns. Still, I've had good luck with IBM disks and just bought a pair of 80GB 120GXPs myself. I've also had great luck in the past with Maxtors and Seagates. Terrible luck with Western Digitals.
  6. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    From reading countless threads on the Nuendo forums from day one I've seen nothing but bad things about IBM drives so most people tend to stay away from them..
    Most people have been going with Maxtor or Western Digital drives...Seagates for SCSI..
    Everyone has their own personal preference as well on which drives work or have worked for I said I've worked with Fujitsu, WD and Maxtor drives and never had any problems at all
  7. yodermr

    yodermr Guest


    "To get CD out install 2K or XP and turn on Digital Music for it in the properties of the CDROM and put your main soundcard as the default output for the windows muktimedia settings and violla..CD out to your mixer..."

    I thought that the wires off of the CDrom needed to go to the sound card. Never thought it was this easy. I have heard it refered to as 'soundcard' but I thougth that that meant like a sound blaster not a recording IO card.

  8. yodermr

    yodermr Guest

    OK sorry guys, another question...

    How big of a power supply do i need?

    BTW, I plan on running a P 4, two hard drives, CD RW, DVD, Modem, rbus card, floppy - Is that all that matters?

  9. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    With Win2k and WinXp it allows the music to stream through the ATA cable instead of having to hook up that little audio wire to a soundblaster..or the like there now, you can set your audio card(Layla, RME, M-Audio..whatever you may have)as the default output in the windows multi-media settings and when you play CD's it will stream out that specified card.
    If I was specifying the soundblaster I usually call it the sound blabber!! lol
    Anyhue..Power supplies...minimum should be 300Watts...from there it really shouldnt matter much as I doubt you are going to be pulling that much power from's a safer bet to go with a 350Watt for that extra oomph so to speak..
    The more intensive cards and drives you put in there the more power you will want...Server machines typically want more power..stand alone machines for simplistic operations will need less obviously..
    I'm sure ted, steve or one of the other fellow computer geeks around can shed more light as well..
    Those guys are more indepth with the technical specs than I, I get it running and I'm happy! lol
  10. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Ditto. You won't regret putting money into a premium power supply, especially for a DAW. And a good monitor too, for that matter. LOL, everything else gets recycled every six months or so..... :eek:
  11. yodermr

    yodermr Guest

    Well I thought I knew, but I had to check my current box - Win 98. I was able to hear the computer sound FX through the RBUS, not the CD though. I won't dump too much time into that problem cuz I'll dump that box soon.

    I just assume you guys turn off all windows sound effects?

    I did notice that it makes the channel I picked in the control panel multimedia unavailable in cakewalk 9.0. Again I won't dump any time into that for obvious reasons but if it is how it works in 2000 then I'm curious how you get around that.

    Thanks very much, I was told before to route the SB out to the Roland in. I thought that seemed strange.

    I'm sure I'll ask another question before I start ordering everything :roll:
  12. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Mark, you're right on the windows sounds - I'm not sure if 2k and XP have better sounds, but some of the sounds are lower sample rates. If they are enabled, they can screw up real sound cards settings. All the optimization guides tell you to disable windows sounds.

    Also, here is a primer and power usage chart that will help figure out your needs.

    These are not figured based on an audio PC, so I tend to up the ante in order to NEVER tax the power supply anywhere near its capacity. Note that ram takes about 8 watts per 128 MB, so a Gig of ram would take 64 watts by itself. Also, you said you wanted to "do it right" - if this means as clean a sound as you can get, then sell a kidney and buy a PC Power/Cooling unit, and size it big enough to allow some slack. Less ripple and better regulation means quieter audio performance. End of story. Personally, with a 2-drive system I wouldn't go any smaller than a 350 watt power supply. You may want to add drives, ram, cards, etc, and the bigger supply will allow that. The electric bill just isn't a factor - Even if the computer actually used the extra, which it doesn't unless it's needed for peripherals, 100 watts difference at $.07 per KWH is $5.20 a month - your beer refrig in the garage costs more than twice that to run, and the more you use the frig the WORSE your music sounds... Steve
  13. yodermr

    yodermr Guest

    Well I hate to do this cuz it must get old but you guys have been real helpful. This is what I have planned.. THoughts? I still need to figure out a case, anything I'm missing?

    CPU - Intel P4 1.8 GHZ (Northwood) 150
    Motherboard - Asus P4T-E with 850 chipset, without sound 155
    Memory - 512 RDRAM 180
    Hard drive (OS)- Deskstar 120gxp 90
    Hard drive (Sound)- Deskstar 120gxp 90
    Video Card - Matrox G450/550 Dual Head with 32MB memory 95
    Modem - U.S. Robotics® External 56k V.90 X2 85
    CD RW - Teac CD-W524E 150
    DVD - From my old box (Pioneer 6X)
    Power Supply - SILENCER® 400 ATX/ATX12V 170
    Case - ???
    Monitor - A Second one, Another 19" ??
    Keyboard - WHat ever?
    Floppy drive - WHatever?
    OS - Windows 2000 Professional with Service Pack 2 140
    DAW - Sonar

  14. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Mark, whether it makes a real difference or not, most guys have been shying away from the i850 chipset - there is a bug (intel calls it an "errata") that causes data corruption in the PCI bus at over 90 MB/sec, which is why you don't see any i850 Mobo's with ATA133 controllers on them. Intel states that they have no intention of EVER fixing this. The i845D chipsets (DDR ram) have no bugs that have not beed addressed with BIOS updates, and are within probably 4-5% as fast as RDRAM. If you want a "do everything" Mobo with the ability to overclock, raid, lan, firewire, card reader, 6 PCI, etc, look at the Soyo Fire Dragon. It ain't cheap, about $200, but all you should have to plug into it is Video and audio cards, so there is lots of expansion room. The raid part will allow you to have a completely separate cable for each drive in your system, as long as you have just two HDD's and 2 Opticals. Also, it only has 2 memory slots, so there is no confusion about single vs. double sided chips, etc - Also, DDR doesn't require being used in pairs like RDRAM, so you could get one 512 chip now and add one more later if you like. Matrox IS the video card of choice, I'm sure you've seen that here. Judging from your price quotes, it sounds like you're looking at OEM stuff and not "retail box" stuff - unless you're an experienced computer tech, I would recommend getting "retail" versions of Mobo, drives, Video at least - they usually come with all the brackets, screws, software, cables, etc, that you need. OEM drives have been know to come in a white plastic bag (not even a box) and you have to go to their website, find their conditioning software, download it, download a manual, buy cables, mounting rails, etc - you will spend more time and money on all that crap than you saved. Same with the Video, and Mobo too.
    Case - get a tall tower with lots of drive bays - looks impressive :=) and you have room to expand, and room to work in it. You may need longer cables for drives, but can probably mount them low enough to reach. The case I'm looking at now is the Antec SX1240, from, for $75 - they also have other info on overclocking, round ATA 80-pin cables (better cable layout for air flow) and other stuff. They sell Enermax power supplies, just keep walkin... (remember, they are primarily gamers, not audiophiles)

    I think that about covers it, post back if I lied. If you want a manual on the Soyo board before you buy, call 1-510-226-7696 and have them mail you one. Call it the Fire Dragon, you'll get the right one in about 3-4 days. That's what I ended up doing, because their Taiwan server is a little slower than a broken Commodore Vic20 and kept timing out before I could get the manual online.

    Sorry to squish your pet frog, but you asked. My answers reflect several months of research trying to find my own "ideal" system, and since I don't yet have ANY of the parts in house I can only HOPE there's no conflicts. This is why I download manuals on EVERY piece of the puzzle I can find, read them all at least 3-4 times in sequence, etc - The last thing I checked was: the Soyo Mobo book states that the AGP slot does NOT support 3.5 volt AGP cards, only 1.5 - checked the Matrox G550 manual, no problem. (Whew...)Gotta go, too many people want me to send them money... Steve
  15. yodermr

    yodermr Guest

    OK I'm game but Ill need some help. I have added on to and tweaked my current computer but building one specifically for recording is new.
    A good friend of mine builds computers for a job so he is willing to put this together. He doesn't know recording audio, just building computers.

    I just kept searching for info on the right setup for audio recording and this is what I came up with.

    I'll certainly follow expert advive when offered but so I understand lets get the jargon straight...

    ""do everything" Mobo with the ability to overclock, raid, lan, firewire, card reader, 6 PCI"
    What is a MOBO? Card reader? Why do I need to overclock?

    I know I need PCI slots for the I/O card and Modem, AGP slot for the video. Fast quiet and large hard drives, separate for OS and sound files.

    I know RAID system stream data accross several hard drives to create a continuous backup.
    Lan is network communication. Fire wire is a fast serial port?

    But why do I need this extra? I just might be ignorant.

    Everything else looks good? Just down to mother board and memory?

    :cool: Lead the way my friend

  16. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Why do you "need" to's a added bonus feature basically. It's nice to get the speed of a 2Ghz chip at the price of a 1.4!!

    Firewire is a 400MegaBit/second protocol..if you want to call it serial port..sure..but I dont think Apple will like that very much! lol
    Firewire is nice because it's sort of like swappable! Firewire is great for video capturing or external burners and or hard drives.

    I dont know why having a card reader for audio is important myself :roll:
    LAN..well, only of you plan on doing networking or internet on the machine as well..

    If you have Audio, Lan, Firewire and USB all on one mainboard I cant imagine being able to use all the 6 PCI slots without some type of conflict in the I/O addressing of Windows at that point :eek:

    When I look into a mainboard the only thing I want onboard is IDE, AGP and USB! Onboard audio is optional component and I'd rather have that than getting a PCI generic audio card.
    Well...waiting for Steve's reply on why he thinks an everything installed mobo is good!
  17. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Okey Dokey Opie (hehehe) I'll 'splain it too yoo wan moor thyme - I want it all, I want it perfect, and damn it, I want it NOW !!!! Butt serially, fokes - Not having actually "masochised" myself with WinXP, I am still holding out hope for the 8 extra IRQ's supposedly supported by XP and i845/850 chipsets - IF, and I do mean IF, this can become a reality, there should be no conflicts with extra crap. If not, I tried, and all the extra stuff can be disabled in BIOS. (I finally got a manual for the Fire Dragon Mobo 2 days ago)

    My thoughts are thus: If I can get nearly everything I need on the Mobo, and it works good, I have 6 PCI slots available for things like SCSI controllers if necessary for 15,000 rpm video drives, hardware codecs for Video editing without long lunchbreaks, 3 or 4 different audio cards, etc - I intend to set up this machine using every trick in/out of the book, on 2 different and independent OS's, and when I find the combination of hard/software that works for me, never change it again. I am hoping that WinXP will get me there because of a couple of things it does that 2k does not, and one of those requires an i845 chipset for sure, even if it wasn't a good idea for audio hardware, which we all know it is...

    Card reader? It comes on the board, not sure what cards it even reads, but if Compact Flash is one of them my Nikon will love it...

    This machine will definitely have two separate and distinct personalities, one with nothing enabled that doesn't make noise, and one with other useful studio stuff.

    The Soyo Mobo allows 4-5 steps further core voltage tweaks than most Mobos, and freq tweaks from 100 to 150 mHz, so theoretically it could reach a FSB of 600. From what I've read on the BIOS, you can change virtually anything about the machine or leave it in auto, your choice. This includes manual IRQ setting, Video clock multiplier and voltage, yadayadayadayada...Plus, the raid should let me have 8 cheap big drives for the price of 2-1/2 SCSI's the same size, so storage is a non-issue. I will put audio drives mostly on the ATA133 connectors, with the boot and scratch pad drives on the ATA100 bus.

    If a particular function of the Mobo doesn't work as well as I think it should, I will still have the option of disabling it and installing a separate card for that function. That's what it's all about for me - OPTIONS !!! BTW, Opus me bud, OCSystems is selling (basically) your 1.6a setup, with options for a 2.2 gig Northwood OC'd to 3.04 gHz - the FSB is still at 552, but the faster proc should help with plugs that are FPU intensive, like 'verbs - They're too expensive on most of their stuff so I won't buy from them, but since they're getting the same results as you with the 1.6, I figure the 2.2/3.04 deal is also real. Sompin' to shoot for, anyhoo. Dat's my story, call me crazy but call me in time fer dinner... Steve
  18. yodermr

    yodermr Guest

    Great information... but... I just needed help picking a different MOBO?

    ANy concensus on an acceptable choice?

    Again I (will) use a Roland digital mixer with the Rbus 8 in 8 out, Sonar, gigasampler, probably do lots of production (Many tracks, FXs and the like). One thing I havent mentioned is that I'll be working with another musician where we will swap files (via CD RW)fairly often to collaborate. I only mention it because I'll be left with many CDs as backup copies.

  19. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Steve...okely dokely and O'tay Buckwheat!

    I think the 8 extra IRQ's come into play on the ACPI install...thats my next goal..install XP as ACPI and see what happens..gee, arent you glad someone is being a guinea pig for you guys! lol

    My plan is to eventually get the 2.2Ghz chip when they drop in price some and OC to 3Ghz...cant imagine the speed at that point but I'd love to see it!!

  20. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Mark - remember a couple of posts back in this thread?

    "If you want a "do everything" Mobo with the ability to overclock, raid, lan, firewire, card reader, 6 PCI, etc, look at the Soyo Fire Dragon. It ain't cheap, about $200, but all you should have to plug into it is Video and audio cards, so there is lots of expansion room. The raid part will allow you to have a completely separate cable for each drive in your system, as long as you have just two HDD's and 2 Opticals. "

    This is the Mobo I will be using. If $200 is more than you want to spend, or you don't want/need all the things this board offers, go to the thread in this forum, named Building the Opus2000 SDFC - here

    (Dead Link Removed)

    There are a lot of threads in the forum about building computers (duh, that's the name of the forum, hehehe) but you need to read what's already here so we can answer NEW questions too. The Mobo mentioned in above thread is less expensive and has less options, but obviously works - just read the comments. Your choices for mobo's will depend on your budget or your "wants", the main thing with an Intel processor is the i845D chipset. Some descriptions don't mention the "D" in the chipset, so you have to look for DDR ram in the description. Older SDRAM slows down a P4 to about the speed of a 1 gHz P3, so that's a no-no.

    Later, when I get some time, I'll post my own personal list of Mobo features and why I like/hate them. I'll also divulge my methods of finding what I want and then finding out if I REALLY want it or not. This will probably take a few days, as the alligators are getting restless again (anybody got some small tactical nukes they're not using?) Later... Steve

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