Minimum P3 Speed?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Doublehelix, Oct 7, 2001.

  1. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    (Hey Opus 2000, I finally made it over to this forum, thanks for the tip!)

    I am building a new computer box to run:

    Cubase VST/32
    Tascam US-428
    Probably another hardware device (Echo Layla?)

    Background info:
    I am currently running VST/32 and the 428 from an IBM Thinkpad T20 laptop.

    I will be using the new upcoming system for home project work, and an occasional live project or two.

    Sounds like I should be staying away from the Athlon and Via chipsets, so I am convinced that Intel is the way to go. I have also heard that the P3 is better than the (current) P4 due to the floating point calculation speed on the P3 vs. the P4.

    So how fast a P3 do I need? I have an unused box (actually it is sitting there as a file and print server on my home network doing nothing else). It is an IBM server running with a P3 500 MHz. Is this fast enough? I normally run between 16-20 channels per project, with a fair smattering ofplug-ins (reverb, compression, gates, etc.).

    Any generalized recommendations?


  2. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Hey man...welcome to my world!! Here there are no can swear..piss and moan..rant and rave(altho I'd rather you not!!) and talk about any hardware you so desire... to the point..
    A PIII 500 should do's only a 100Mhz bus chip but that's not much of a huge difference between that and a 133Mhz chip. Sure..there are differences and you will notice a difference between the two..that's technology for ya..
    Plugins..well...those always bog the system matter what unless they are on a DSP chip like the UA cards. It really depends on the track counts and how much memory you have..512 is typically fine and dandy.
    Yes...P4's are new and software companies need to revamp part of their code to get it optimized for motherboards and Memory are expensive at this point..go with a PIII 1Ghz..I'm about to build a dual PIII 1Ghz machine and that will smoke anything out there at that point!!!

    Now...hardware...sooooo many choices out there..RME..Echo..Motu..Aardvark..even Crest Audio(firewire card)...
    Which one is better for you..well..that depends on you! I love Echo cards..straight up and simple to use..great performance and low latency..RME are great cards but the fact of the matter is that they are all digital input cards(at least 85% of em are) and you need an external converter box to make analog into digital..gets expensive at that point. Motu makes some nice boxes but to be honest I wouldnt trust their Win2k drivers worth $*^t...they have a terrible track record for PC support..or support in general..good luck getting in touch with them unless you are a reputable dealer with a good connection inside MOTU..
    Aardvark..well, I havent heard many people using their stuff..except for mostly cakewalk users these days(only because it comes bundled with their cards) Otherwise they go thru some buggy stages as well..everything usually gets fixed but it's a hassle to get it fixed.
    Echo drivers for win2k were a little unstable for awhile but they recently came out with an update that truly got them working really really nice..I'm psyched about that since I use a Layla20 bit model...looking forward to getting the new 24 bitmodel too..

    How many inputs are you looking for to go in at one time? let me know the specifics about your track counts and so forth
  3. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    I have been averaging about 16 - 24 tracks total, and that is without a real drummer! (I usually average 3-4 "percussion" tracks total). For the most part, the work I and my writing partner are doing involves just the two of us, unless were are playing live. I am thinking that I need at *least* 8 inputs for live recording...4 vox, guit, bass, keys, drums. (That would require sub mixes for the drums and keys...Our drummer uses 8 mics when we play live!)

    When are tracking at home, we rarely track more than 2 at once (stereo, or multiple guitar mics), but we will eventually want to track *real* drums at home, so the number of input channels is going to have to go up from the 4 I have now with the Tascam 428. (I am currently using ART pres for all 4 inputs...).

    When we go into a "real" studio, we average about 18 - 20 tracks per song, but we have used more.

    Hopefully that gives you an idea about the capacity we will require. I keep hearing such good things about the Layla, it is going to be hard to pass up, but that Aardvark unit has 8 pres, plus 4 inserts! Sounds intreging, but the quality and reliability of the system is an unknown at this point.

    Thanks for all your comments...
  4. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    gothca...Yes...the layla is nice..8 in at once..and if you want to expand later on get the Mona..has 4 mic pres right can use the Mona and the Layla at the same time too in Cubase..that's what's great about the Echo products as well..multi-card support at it's best. plus the optical inputs can be used simultaneously with the analog inputs...tons of inputs at that you could get yourself an external converter box that takes analog to digital and get 16 in on the layla and 12 in on the layla...28 tracks total at once!!
    A PIII500 would handle that just fine..just remember during mixdown you want to bring the buffer size up to give yourself more horsepower for the plugins..
    When recording the buffer size should be lower as to reduce latency(only if using direct monitoring and MIDI)
  5. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    OK Opie (mind if I call you "Opie"??? <g> Hehe...just kidding...)

    I meant to say "*Sir* Opus2000" :)

    It sounds like I could save myself some much-needed cash and just use the IBM box I have sitting here next to with a few minor upgrades. I need to open her up and take a look at the board speed (100 vs 133, etc.) and see what she'll support. Memory is indeed cheap right now, so that is a no-brainer. What I can do is just *try* the P3 500 as you suggested (high buffer for mix, low for recording) for a fairly small investment in memory. Since I will need the SCSI card and drive no matter which way I go, that is a good investment, since if this box doesn't work, I can always pull it out and put it in a new box...

    Speaking of which...a tough choice here...ATA 100 vs. SCSI...

    I will probably need a new controller card for the ATA 100 drives anyway. Could there be any other problems (bus speed for example) supporting that transfer rate? How about for the SCSI-160?

    The cost is obviously in favor of the ATA drives, but since I am "skimping" somewhat on the CPU, maybe I should be sure to keep the HD rate as high as possible.

    I am not necessarily a Seagate fan, but my latest Micro Warehouse catalog shows a 40 GB Seagate Barracuda III (7200 RPM, 2MB cache) for about $155 US. The Seagate 36.7 GB Cheetah (10,000 RPB, 4 MB cache) goes for about $450 US. That is almost 3X!!! They also show a 7200 RPM 2MB Seagate SCSI (36.9 GB) for $370 US, still fairly pricy!

    I know you have said Opus, that the ATA 100's are fine, and llornkcor2 seems to think that SCSI is the way to go...but man! I could get 120GB worth of ATA drives for the cost of 40GB worth of SCSI!!!

    I am not being cheap here, I just want to make sure that I spend my money wisely. If it will make a big difference and cause less headaches, it is worth the extra $300 (plus card), but if the payback is marginal or unnoticible, sheesh...forget it!

  6. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    What about Firewire??? Glyph and others...

    How does the transfer rate compare? This might be a cool way to share drives between the laptop and the tower...
  7. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Yes...SCSI rocks..but with the track counts you will be doing it's not worth it...Ljp is a geek like me and we battle a lot on technical issues..we have fun doing it too!!! Right Ljp?!!! You Linux geek!!!
    Anyhue...IDE drives will handle what you need so you will save yourself money and time trying to suss out IRQ issues and so forth..and as you said it's a hell of a lot cheaper to go IDE..I buy Western Digital drives...very quiet and good performance aspects...also never seen s a WD drive go down...If it's a Socket's 100Mhz..not upgradeable to will n eed to get 100Mhz SDRAM memory for it..I bought three sticks of 256PC133 RAM for 16 bucks a pop...unbelievable how cheap RAM is these days..go to for those types of you can find hard drives cheap as well..
    Try the PIII500 and see how it works out for ya..if it's just sitting there might as well put it to use...I can almost gaurantee you will have good success with it..
    Firewire is good but I would wait till they bump the specs up on it from 400MegaBITS(not Bytes) per second to 800 that point firewire will truly be amazing..Glyoh is good,,
    Again..I've stated this is earlier posts..SCSI tends to break down after time..having worked at Sweetwater's tech support I constantly had to call glyph about SCSI drives gone well as my other fellow techs...just a stated fact!!!
  8. llornkcor

    llornkcor Active Member

    May 8, 2001
    Brisbane, Australia (originally Boulder, CO, USA)
    Home Page:
    Originally posted by Opus2000:
    we have fun doing it too!!! Right Ljp?!!!

    No, man, I'm f*cking serious! scsi rocks!! :D
    SCSI 160 will get you 160MBps, whereas ATA100 gives you a puiny 100 MBps. You poor, poor ATA'ers...
    Ya have to rely on tricks to get yer speed!
    You get what you pay for!

    Besides, you can only have what, like 4 harddrives, max? Scsi chains can have what 8, 10... ? Not to mention scsi RAID!
    How about a beowulf cluster for audio?

    Man if I had money, I'd have a super computer rockn and a rollin'!!



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