New DAW / M-AudioFW410 / Suggestions

Discussion in 'Computing' started by spacebarr, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. spacebarr

    spacebarr Guest

    I'd like to build a new audio workstation at home; a desktop system revolving around the M-Audio FireWire 410 audio interface. My current setup is basic, consisting of:

    Mobo: Asus A7V8X-X (AGP,PCI,IMB,i2x/SMBus)
    CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2600+ (1905MHz - Socket A)
    Memory: 1023.53MB / 436.54MB Free
    OS: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
    Sound: Creative SB Audigy2

    I'd like to stick with an AMD processor (X2), greatly increase my space/storage and utilize SATA drives, find a motherboard that doesn't have any PCI-E slots, have the option of utilizing at least 4GB of RAM, continue to use my copy of Windows XP (not entirely sure of RAM limitations).


    I'm not entirely certain of how to implement the M-Audio FireWire 410 as I've never used a FireWire device before.

    I'm also not sure where to find a motherboard w/out PCI-E (as I've read that these detract from DAW setups).

    My external gear is basic:

    Korg MS2000
    M-Audio TriggerFinger
    Rode NT1A Condenser Mic

    Software utilized:

    AbletonLive 7.0.1
    Reason 3.0 (rewired through AbletonLive)
    Assorted VSTs
    Sony Soundforge
    FL Studio (haven't used it lately, but would like to have it on hand)

    The M-Audio FireWire 410 provides preamps and phantom power so I'll finally get to utilize the condenser mic I have plus the FireWire supposedly reduces strain on resources as opposed to USB. If it's not apparent, I'm not so well versed in setting up a stable DAW. My setup now is basically the product of making use of what I have on hand.

    If anyone has any experience, advice, or suggestions to offer, I would really appreciate it as I'm hoping to invest most of my tax return into a new machine.

    Again, I'm mostly concerned with finding a quality motherboard and implementing the M-Audio FireWire 410 audio interface. I'm not trying for anything too fancy, but I'd like to reduce the response time as much as possible (5ms is good, 2-3ms would be amazing).

  2. spacebarr

    spacebarr Guest

    In addition, I'm looking to re-use my PCI Radeon X800 Pro/GTO graphics card with my setup. Not looking to use this computer for gaming and audio combined, but the card was free and works well with my monitor. Hoping to avoid on-board video. I've read articles where one is advised to stray away from motherboards offering on-board video (and, of course, on-board audio) as an extra:

    Also, I'm finding it hard to find a AMD dual-core compatible motherboard without PCI-e slots. Anyone know of where to look? Am I just being lazy in my pursuit?

    Currently, I hook up audio/midi through the front panel of my audigy2 while I the output goes to my receiver. How would I route the sound with the new setup?

    At the risk of sounding ignorant (I think I'm past that), I'm still clueless of how to implement the M-Audio FireWire 410 with the machine. Will I need a basic sound card installed as well? Is it simply a matter of having a mobo equipped with FireWire input then plug and play?

    I just want to make sure the main things are taken care of and that no extra, unnecessary frills will get in my way.

    Again, this is what I'm looking at:

    Audio Interface: M-Audio FireWire 410
    Case: Antex Sonata II (comes w/ 450W PSU)
    Motherboard: Asus? Gigabyte? MSI?
    Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 2.8GHz Socket AM2 (or something close)
    RAM: At least 2GB (pretty sure that I'm limited if I use Windows XP)
    GFX Card: PCI Radeon X800 Pro/GTO
    Midi Devices: M-Audio TriggerFinger / Korg MS2000

    Even if you've only got a link for me (beyond ', thanks), I'd appreciate your insight.

  3. spacebarr

    spacebarr Guest


    I'm not attached at the hip to AMD or anything, so any Intel suggestions will be just as welcome.
  4. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    Feb 21, 2006

    First off, the FW410 would be the sound card. You hook it up with a firewire cable and install the drivers (probably after disabling or removing the soundcard) - it should have directions for instalation.

    I think you can find mother boards that have AGP still - though they might be hard to find. Check - one of the best online computer part retailers. You can certainly stick with AMD, but the Intels are a bit better ATM.

    You could (probably) use your current computer with what you are looking at (though some motherboards may have compatibility issues, and you would want to get a PCI firewire card with a Texas Instrument chipset for it) - my desktop is just a little better and I can record up to 16 tracks at a time without a problem. You also should have 2 hard drives to do audio - one for the applications and one for the audio files. Another GB of ram would also be beneficial.
  5. spacebarr

    spacebarr Guest

    Spase, thanks for the reply.

    I do plan on using 2 hard drives to apply them as you say. 2GB is definitely on my list as well. Thanks for the information on the FW410. The answer is obvious, but I've never utilized FireWire before. My friend has recommended Intel for the time being, too. It's coming together, but still looking around.

    Thanks again.
  6. spacebarr

    spacebarr Guest

    Here's what I'd like to put together:

    Case/PSU: Antec LifeStyle SONATA II Piano Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 450W SmartPower 2.0 Power Supply - $109.99
    Mobo: ASUS P5N-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - $114.99
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 Allendale 2.4GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E4600 - $139.99
    RAM: OCZ Gold Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $46.99
    HDD1: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST380815AS 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - $43.99
    HDD2: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - $69.99

    = $525.94

    Audio Interface: M-Audio FireWire 410 - $299.99 (awaiting tax return)

    I could opt for a better Core 2 Duo, but I'm not so sure I'll need it.
    The 80GB drive that I have now might work for the OS/Application HDD, too (hasn't given me any problems yet). Not sure of the cache size on the current HDD.
    Looking to get a heatsink for the processor at least, if not the north and south bridges.

    Heatsink: Rosewill RCX-Z4 120mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler - $49.99
    VANTEC CCB-A1C Ball VGA Cooler Kit - $9.99
    EVERCOOL EC-VC-RE Ball All In One Vga Cooler Kit - $7.99

    Whatchu' thinks?

  7. EricUndead

    EricUndead Guest

    I'm a beginner at recording so I won't answer any of that, but I know a thing or two about computers and Ill tell you that unless you have XP64 bit (with appropriate MB & processor then anything over 3GB of ram is a waist with XP.
  8. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    I'll offer my $.02, but don't take it wrong.

    I had a FW410 and it was horrible. Very thin, very tinny, very digital (this is with guitar and vox btw).

    You didn't specify what kind of music/style recording you were venturing into, but it appears that you're a key player. I can't speak to how keys will sound, but if you're planning on recording vocals or guitar then you may want to shop around for some alternatives.

    None the less, best of luck.
  9. spacebarr

    spacebarr Guest


    I'll utilize MIDI for the most part with Ableton instruments, but I was hoping to record vocals ( Rode NT1A condenser), elecetric bass, and maybe some 'turntablism' down the line. Not sure of a genre exactly, but hiphop, electronic, funk, soul, etc... would all be slightly present. Mainly hiphop. This isn't necessarily a Hi-Fi thing.

    The M-Audio FW410 was appealing because it contained the pre-amps and the phantom power I'd need for my microphone, but I'd like to avoid thin and tinny.

    Considering you're experienced with the FW410, and you suggest shopping around, maybe you've found something worthwhile?



    Thanks for pointing out the RAM limitations of a 32bit system. No need to waste money on extra memory if I cant use it. ^_^


    Thanks for all the responses so far.
  10. spacebarr

    spacebarr Guest


    I forgot to ask.. What microphone you were using to record vocals with?

  11. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    I was using an SM58 on vox and a 57 on guitar. I would think that most preamps would phantom power for you mic, but I could be wrong. You may fare better than I given the more 'electronic' nature of the music you're doing.
    I do know that when I sold the 410FW and picked up a Apogee Duet, the difference is/was night and day. The Duet is far from being high shelf too.

    I'm not really savy with recording in the PC world, so I don't think I can offer any applicable alternatives, sorry.

    Maybe you can take the 410 home for a few days from some place like GC and return/swap it out if it didn't work for you?
  12. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Nuremberg, Germany
    Home Page:
    Actually the apogee duet is not "far from being high shelf". It's got the same preamps and converters as apogees ensemble, which has some of the best sounding inputs you will find.
    I use the FW410, too, and don't think it sounds thin or tinny. It's quite good for it's price. Although the preamps are no match for the duets they are very usable, especially for homerecording.

    just my 2 euro cents
  13. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    I thought the Ensemble has better converters?

    Can Duets be used for PCs or Mac only?
  14. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Nuremberg, Germany
    Home Page:
    as far as i know they have the same. i can be wrong, but anyway, they're very good.
    the duet is mac only.

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