Ideal System for Music

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Cain, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. Cain

    Cain Guest


    What would be the IDEAL computer setup for doing music on? Of course we're talking realistic, average working man budget for procuring one....

    I've been looking a lot at the Spectral Computers stats and they're looking great. Only problem is I'm not spending $7000 on a system....

    So then I looked into building my own. What sort of optimum performance should I be looking at? I was going to start with a barebone system 7 expansion slot. I'll copy and paste some specs....

    Hard Drive
    Capacity 320GB
    Interface Serial ATA-300
    Spindle Speed (RPM) 7200
    Buffer Memory 16MB
    Average Latency (msec) 4.16
    Maximum External Transfer Rate (Mbits/sec) 300
    Data Transfer Rate on Serial ATA Up to 3000 Mb/sec
    Logical Cylinders/Heads/Sectors per Track 16,383/16/63
    Bytes Per Sector 512
    Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read 1 in 10E14
    Temperature, Operating (°C) 0 to 60
    Temperature, Nonoperating (°C) -40 to 70
    Shock, Operating: 2 msec (Gs) 68
    Shock, Nonoperating: 2 msec (Gs) 300
    Type OEM

    Matrix Mach Speed Motherboard
    Form Factor microATX
    Processor Interface Socket 478
    Processors Supported Intel Celeron D
    Intel Pentium 4 Prescott and Northwood up to 3.06GHz
    Intel Pentium 4 up to 3.40GHz
    Channels 6 Channels
    Video Memory 64MB Share Memory
    Speed 8X
    LAN Type 10/100Mbps
    AGP Slots 1
    PCI Slots 3
    CNR Slots 1

    Intel Celeron Processor
    Processor Speed 350 / 3.20GHz
    Processor Interface Socket 478
    Bus Speed 533MHz

    I'll probably be going TWIN 400mhz DDR Mem Expansion 2x512mb
    with a Creative Labs Dolby 7.1 X-fi XtreamMusic SRS Card and a Hanns-G 19" LCD Monitor.

    I really don't want to get anything I don't really need on it, since I'll only be running audio recording software and internet. I don't really know anything about video cards or anything, so if someone wants to help me out on what I'd need for a really killer system, let me know!!

  2. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    I'm on my 3rd dedicated PC, and this is the first one that I bought from Dell. The first two, I built. To be honest, they worked fine (too slow for today's standards... but at the time they were hoppin'!).
    The issue with building your own is: You don't really save any money, and you have to do all of the work yourself.
    I got sick of working on a PC to make all of the components play nice... so I bought a refurb Dell. Strip down the software and it's good to go. XP pro, when optimized, runs like a champ. So this one was the easiest upgrade by far. I think the only spec it didn't meet was the hard drive size I intended to get. That's an easy one to upgrade when I feel the need.

    This Dell suits me fine, dual core 2.8G processor, 200G SATA... all the usual stuff... and I added a firewire card for my inputs.

    All that for about $800-$900, about 6 months ago.

    You may need better specs than that, I don't know what your intentions are... but for me, it isn't lacking anything and I didn't spend over $1000, so I'm happy.
  3. Cain

    Cain Guest

    So it's a good thing that I know a computer geek that knows exactly how to put together a computer, right? lol. It sounds like I'd drive myself crazy trying to put everything together, so that's not a problem.

    The setup I gave above with the HD, Motherboard, Soundcard, and Monitor will only run $784 which I think is a nice deal.

    If those specs aren't great, I'd like to hear what would be better to use specifically for recording/audio software. The computer I have is from the STONE AGE and if I get too much running at once (it tops out around 13-14 tracks) it starts to hiccup and throw off timing if I try and record anything else. So obviously, I need to think about a new system for school once I get there.

    Let's hear the ideas, people!
  4. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    I think your specs are fine. I wouldn't worry so much about that.

    One other thing... legal software will cost you a bundle, keep that in mind.
  5. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    You should have at least 2 hard drives. One for your OS and things of that nature and one that is strictly for audio. 320gig is big and if it crashes, that's a lot of data lost. You may want to get something a bit smaller.

    I don't know if it's a good idea to go with a Celeron chip. If budget is a concern I would probably go with a socket 939 mother board and an AMD chip because you can get one that fast and cheap.
  6. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    yea, get two smaller hds and a different processor, like an AMD 64. i was going to build a computer, but then i saw an emachines that had all the stuff i was going to buy in it and it came with xp and software and stuff, and already assembled for less than it would cost me to build it. it was refurbished, so thats part of the reason for the price, but there was also a rebate.
  7. Cain

    Cain Guest

    I'm not opposed to a refurbished machine, yet I want to spend under $900 for a really good system. I've pretty much got what I need software-wise (comsumer grade mind you, not like a Pro Tools rig or anything) but I have a sort of endorsement deal with Sony Digital Media and am securing others along the way (if anyone wants to do some software exchanges let me know privately, as I don't know the guidelines on what you can and can't ask for on here.

    320GB too much HD space? A lot of projects that I work on .wav form wise can get upwards of almost 100mb a piece. I definately need some large capacity HD, but you think going 2 smaller drives is better? What sort of CPU would I need to support the 320gb HD?

    You've been helpful so far guys, keep it coming....
  8. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    the thing with the smaller drives is that they are read faster than that huge 320gb one. you could get like an 80 gb for system and programs, and then like a 200gb for other files. the emachines i got was $400 after rebate, so $500. heres a link...
  9. Cain

    Cain Guest

    Nice system for sure. I'd put in a killer soundcard first and foremost, maybe video too since the reviews all said the video card was lacking. I'd like to see the ghz on the processor a little faster though, especially since Powerbooks are coming with ridiculous amounts, why buy something a laptop can outdo? I don't want to be shredding up $*^t if I don't need to, so if the Memory/RAM is the most important thing, I'll worry about that. I most likely would do something like 2 HD's since they're inexpensive, plus it's just nice to have the space if you need it.

  10. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    well, for amd, they run more efficiently than Intels, so the speed is fast, but numbers are low. it runs about as fast as a 3.4 ghz intel. and yea, the graphics card is lacking a little, i overloaded it once playing a game online with a lot of people on at once, but i don't do much graphics stuff, so its not a necessity. and im going to buy a new soundcard in a week or two. one with alot of inputs and outputs. for ram, i'd say atleast 1 gb. look for a motherboard with 4 ram slots, so you can just add more when you need to.
  11. lk

    lk Guest

    The consumer sound card isn't going to help you. You need an Interface if you really want to "record". I can recommend an excellent complete setup for under $1000, but first need to know......

    1.What are you recording? Live Drums?, Vocals?, Midi?

    2.What software are you using?
  12. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Replace the Celeron with a P4. I have 2 computers at work--a Dell Celeron (2.8Ghz), and a me-built P4 3.2Ghz. The P4 isn't that much faster Ghz-wise, but it is way more reliable and faster and has fewer hiccups/hangups.
    I would also get a better motherboard. I got an ASUS with like 5pci slots.
    The Creative soundcard will be fine for watching movies and playing games and such, but you will want a separate soundcard/interface for recording & mixing music.

    The old socket 478 boards and P4's are a stable tried and true workhorse, but it is really old technology at this point. You may want to look into the dual-core stuff so you aren't wondering in about a year why you hadn't.

    Oh, and yeah, you will want to do a dedicated audio hard drive. You will want to check the latest prices to decide on what size is the best deal, but maybe something like 160GB for your main drive, and 250GB for your audio.
  13. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    pentium D's are dual core and pretty fast.
  14. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    The PC I'm using is a P4D, dual core 2.8. I use Sonar5PE and that utilizes dual core processors pretty effectively. I would recommend it highly...
  15. Cain

    Cain Guest

    If and when I do record, I do vocals, keys and synth. MIDI comes later when I get the better system.

    Software wise> PT Pro Audio 8.0, Acid Pro, Vegas Video 6, will be getting Reason 3.0 on the new system, and other assorted goodies. (we should talk software privately. I'd like to know your arsenal as well)

    I'm honestly looking to spend UNDER $800, realistically. I have other obligations (paying for school, plane tickets, place to live while at school, etc) and can't live in a computer so I don't want to spend a shitload on it.

    So far the system is going to be changed to people's suggestions (ie, the 2 HD's one for music the other for everything else, different soundcard for music and recording, etc) I just want to know what the BEST, FASTEST and AFFORDABLE for music, recording and remixing.


    PS> For the soundcard, what would you put in instead of the Creative Labs 7.1 SRS?
  16. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    I think the point is, you don't want to use a "soundcard" (by the standard assumption of what a "soundcard is). You want an "audio interface". Generally these days, that's an outboard unit that plugs in via Firewire, or something along those lines. There isn't really a card in that case. It can make life much easier having it all external, as well.

    Take a look at the PreSonus Firepod:

    Not that I'm suggesting that model in particular... but that's the same concept many interfaces use for DAWs.
    Usually they give you a bunch of inputs (that varies by model and manufacturer), and at least 2 outputs (for stereo playback). Most of these devices act as external soundcards.

    For example, on my DAW I use a Mackie Onyx Firewire I/O board. But if I'm just playing an mp3, it still goes through the playback on my board, just like it was a really expensive soundblaster. :lol:

    Another note... if this is the direction you're looking to go, it's better not to have a second audio card anyway (an on-board one, that is)... because that can lead to device conflicts, IRQ problems, etc...

    Does that make more sense?
  17. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    I should add... if you only want to record one track at a time and you don't have much cash anyway... a good starter card would be the M-Audio "Audiophile 2496".
    I had one for years and it rocked... but if you're recording more than one at once, you'll have to upgrade that a bit. I'm sure you can find them pretty cheap on an auction site, they're around $100. Then if you wanted to upgrade it wouldn't be such a disappointment...
  18. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    im planning on getting the M-audio Delta 1010lt, which is an internal soundcard, but has alot of inputs.
  19. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    That is a whole 'nuther BIG issue without one clearcut answer. One of the most important pieces of your entire system. M-Audio makes a bunch of decent recording soundcards of various configurations. Look at all of them and see what one fits your needs and budget. Delta 1010LT is pretty cool for the price.
  20. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    Cool, then that's really all you'll need. You don't need an additional consumer card. The Delta will serve as your output as well as input.

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