Recording Computer Build

Discussion in 'Computing' started by Nirvalica, May 16, 2006.

  1. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    I decided im going to go the computer recording route from now on. The main problem is that i don't have a computer. So im going to get a job and make money to build my own.

    We have this old Compaq pII that im going to basically gut and put all new parts in. I want to know what you think of the stuff im putting in and if you have any other suggestions or comments

    Processor- Intel Pentium D 805 its a 2.6ghz dual core processor for $130, but with some over clocking and a more powerful fan, ive been told i can get it to 3.6ghz ( got it to 4.1ghz with liquid cooling)

    Motherboard- ABIT NI8 SLI NVIDIA Socket 775 ATX Motherboard (im probably gonna be using the soundcard and video card on it until i can upgrade them. i will upgrade the soundcard before the videocard because that is a more urgent need...duh :wink: ) im getting a bundle with this and the processor for $200

    $50 DVD/CD burner with lightscribe. made by lite-on. not one of the immediate needs, a later add-on

    $75 for two 512 ddr2 memory cards. made by PNY

    M-Audio Delta 1010LT- $200 im sure i don't need all those inputs, but it gives me room to expand. how would i plug the rca into xlr and trs cables? just using adaptors. thats where i might want a different soundcard. i don't really wanna go usb or firewire route, so its definatly soundcard and under $200. i preferably want 6-8 inputs, but i guess im flexible.

    Seagate 250 GB HD. its $70. It will be an add-on, because i have a 35 gb HD in the computer already, and i think that can hold me until i get money to upgrade.

    500 watt power supply for $50

    Xmedia GeForce 6600 with 512 mb ddr2, hdtv.... video card for $100 (add-on)

    Sabrent TV Tuner $20. just so i can watch and record tv on the computer

    as you can tell, this will also serve as my general use computer, not just for recording.

    i added everything up and it came to about $850..... my initial purchase will probably be around $400-$500 though.
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Nirvalica, I think you're being a bit silly here?? Your Compaq Pentium I I is best left alone. It will not have the proper power supply for the new dual core Pentiums. You want a combo DVD/CD cutter, you'll also need a larger faster system hard disk drive and storage drive with proper fast memory, so basically, you need a complete computer not a screwball penny wise and dollar foolish piece of crap that won't fill the bill.

    Go out and buy yourself a bare-bones computer, outfitted with a combo DVD/CD cutter and jumbo storage drive. That coupled with a FireWire ports and USB 2.0 and you're ready for prime time!

    So if you don't have a computer, how are you playing with From your seventh-grade study hall? I think not?

    I think not therefore I be not
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. Cresta

    Cresta Active Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    1 Gb RAM? nope nope, you will go nowhere witht that amount.
    Start from 2Gb. If possible, choose an HDD at 10.000rpm.
    And listen to Remy: you need a GOOD power supply (for example: Chieftec)
    good luck :)
  4. xian

    xian Guest


    The motherboard in that compaq has a completely different CPU socket and a brand new Dual Core P4 WILL NOT FIT that socket. Waste of time and money.

    Depending on what kind of recording you want to do (tracks, plugins, etc) a 7,200 RPM Hard Drive will do just fine, and 1BG of RAM will do fine for 10 or 12 tracks with light use of plugins. You don't need a superstar computer, but look at getting at least a P4 >2.0GHz. Also getting a computer with a motherboard with SATAII hard drive will leave you with room to expand later on.

    The delta1010 is a good choice from what I hear, this device will replace a normal soundcard (usually onboard with the MoBo) that most computers come with.

    Since you are "getting a job to save money" I am assuming you are a young recoring engineer and your budget is going to be drastically lower than it needs to be.

    Realistically, a small setup starting from scratch is going to cost you a few thousand dollars. If you really cheaped out on the computer, might spend $1000 on that, a decent soundcard will help your recordings. The Delta 1010LT will work, there are also a slew of firewire soundcards out there (also known as firewire pre-amps or interfaces, etc...) These devices actually replace your existing soundcard, so if you got the Delta 1010lt, you don't need to upgrade the existing soundcard.

    You'll also need software which will cost you anywhere between $300 and up.

    You then need to invest in some microphones and a monitoring system (speakers). A good choice for mics are Shure SM57's. You can use them on just about anything and they sound totally decent, plus they are cheap, new they come in at around $115 - $130.

    The alternative would be to get a multitrack studio. You can pick up an 8 track for <$1000 (TASCAM DP-01FXCD $600USD) and it's got everything you need (minus mics and monitors) They're easy to use and will get you well on your way to making decent sounding recordings with 1/10th of the hassle. Plus a lot of those Multitrack recorders have a VGA output so you can hook up the monitor and mouse (probably the only two usable peices of that old computer) to it and get more of a DAW feel and a friendlier interface.
  5. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    lol, remy... i said i was replacing EVERYTHING in the computer except for the case. and for xian, ofcourse the cpu won't fit in the old motherboard. hence why im buying a new one. i am young so i can't spend too much. i have a standalone recorder Fostex MR-8, but i don't like it. plus, its not going to be just for recording. i want to use it for surfing the web, listening to music and stuff.

    the computer im on now is the "family" computer. its in a different room than all my recording stuff, and i don't want to use this one.

    i have a sm-57 and will get some condensers eventually. i don't have monitors, but i will get them eventually. now i know you are all making suggestions for a pro recording computer (or atleast close), but im just 16 and im gonna use it to record myself and band (when i make one). maybe record a friend or something, but not anymore than that.

    thanx for the suggestions though.
  6. xian

    xian Guest

    Get a Dell.
  7. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Oct 28, 2003
    Home Page:
    You can forget using your PII case most of the power supplies that are 500w have a fan on top which your PII case does not. You will need to get a case as well. $50.00 can't buy much of a power supply I would be suspect of something that cheap. You will need to be in the $100 + range to get a stable power supply

    Your hard drive will hold the operating system but that is about it I doubt you will get more than a couple projects on the hard drive before it is full. Any thing that small has to be old and very slow as well.

    The bare bones suggestion is not a bad option.

    It is obvious by your post that you do not have a lot of experience in building a computer. If you are intent on building something I would find a local enthusiast to help you select what you will need but be aware most of these entusiast build gaming machines not audio machines. What is good for gaming is not necessarily good for audio (ie overclocking and that high powered video card you want).

    If you go through with what you are planning you will find that you have a bunch of parts which you cannot use together or that some parts are totaly inadequate for the task.

    You should just use your pII computer to start off with buy your audio interface and save your money till you can aford to get quality components that will usable together.

    General use computer + audio recording computer = disaster waiting to happen enough said here. The only possible way to make that happen is with dual boot partitioning.
  8. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    like i said, this isn't going to be "ideal" conditions for recording. the video card isn't a necessity, and it won't be one of my main focuses. and i said i will be getting a 250 GB harddrive too.

    if what i picked out is inadequate, can you please find some parts that will be just as fast (if not faster), will be under $850 total (that means including everything i mentioned i.e. video card, tv tuner, motherboard, processor etc....), and can be used for general use.

    you guys are looking at this like im starting a recording studio. no, i will record myself for fun basically. it doesn't need to be hardcore audio recording. the delta soundcard may be overkill for what i need. i just want about 6 inputs and for it to sound good. that seemed to work....

    so help me find a dual core processor thats 3.6ghz or more
    a motherboard that will work with it and has 4 ddr2 slots.
    a videocard
    hard drive that is atleast 180 gb
    ram thats atleast 1 gb
    dvd/cd burner
    power supply of atleast 500 watts
    and the tv tuner.

    maybe i should explain this computer not as a recording computer, but general use that has the capability to record.
  9. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Oct 28, 2003
    Home Page:
    Well the dell option sounds good to me then. It will be less trouble and probably cheaper than building one.
  10. xian

    xian Guest

    Good thought Kent. I have such a machine and I dual boot to a heavily tweaked version of XP Home. I took me some solid computer time to get XP reduced to only the bare necessities allowing the most possible resources left available for audio use. It was a painfull process but I finally got a bootable copy of Windows XP Home that I dubbed "Streamlined For Recording" that works really well. Until I have my dream DAW, this will have to do.

    Here are my suggestions for partitioning from a 200 GB HDD:

    C: (RECORDING) [152GB] - this will be for tweaked windows xp, project files and cubase ONLY, nothing uneccisary here.
    D: (WINDOWS) [8GB] - this will be your regular old windows partition, install nothing on this partition except windows itself. period.
    E: (DOCUMENTS) [40GB] - this will be for all your programs and documents and whatnot

    There is an invaluable program called nLite which you can download for free from the manufacturer, you can use this program to create a bootable xp disc and take out all the extra stuff that is usually included with windows. Take out nearly EVERYTHING, internet explorer, messenger, all of it has to go. The only thing is remember to leave network capabilities so you can activate windows.
  11. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    thats a good idea for the partitioning. i was thinking of keeping the 35 gb hard drive for programs and windows and stuff, and the 200 gb hard drive for music and files that take up alot of space.
  12. xian

    xian Guest

    For real though, it is going to be cheaper and less hastle to go to the store and buy a pre-packaged home computer.

    You're asking for the world in a carry-on here, it's gonna be tough to find all that for under $800 with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. What I am saying is to set your sights a little lower, or set your budget a little higher. Go to Best Buy and pick something out, then find a job and save your coins and buy it.

    Well, you did come to to ask about setting up a computer for recording.
  13. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    well, monitor, mouse, and keyboard is fine. i have one. i don't really think you can get such a good computer as you could building it yourself buying it at best buy. plus, it'd have to be a $600 computer if i want to add the soundcard. i know i came here to ask about computers, but i think i specifically said it wasn't going to be a full on recording machine, i would use it for other stuff. and just raise my budget, rememer, im 16 w/o a job. getting $800 will be hard enough, let alone trying to get more for a lesser computer...
  14. xian

    xian Guest

    There is a common misconception that building your own computer means that you will automatically save money. This is not neccisarily true. I'll use Dell as an example. A ginormously huge company like Dell can buy things in bulk. Let's say Dell wanted a bunch of 200GB hard drives, let's say 20,000 of them. They go to the manufacturer and say "We want these HDD's for $65 each, not $85 like you're selling them to everyone else to." The manufacturer says "Ok, no problem" because at $65 they're still going to turn a profit, lets say, of $15. So that's $300,000 profit for manufacturer and $400,000 savings for Dell.

    They can do that with everything.

    Your case is slightly different though, you could get away with saving some cash by getting a barebones kit like Kent said. You can find deals at places like You'll then need to add a HDD, possibly a network card, buy windows xp, as well as your sequencing software, but for $600 you might be able to pull it off.
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Problem with using Dell is that you can't necessarily specify motherboard, RAM, chipset. All of which are crucial when determining a stable audio workstation. Which is why there are companies devoted to building audio machines.

    Regarding RAM: I've done fine using 1 Gig of RAM with as many as 16 inserts and sends going at the same time along with several VSTis and 24 audio tracks. Running Cubase VST 5.2b which is the last update for Cubase VST Standard on Windows 2000 Pro. RAM is really more crucial when you are dealing with samples that have to load into memory. So if you're using Sampletank, Kontakt, Gigasamper, Battery to any great extent, yes abolutely you will probably need 2 Gigs or more but with a mainly audio and Midi or VST HOME studio, 1 Gig will do just fine. I doubt if most hobbyists will use more than that.

    When it comes to audio, processing power and throughput are the real important factors. a 7200rpm drive is fine for most people. Unless you are doing multi layered 64+ tracks, a 10000rpm drive is overkill. It's nice, but not necessary. Any PIV cpu should be sufficient since the majority are 3.0 GHz and up.

    Yes a new case and power supply would be a smart investment. Antec Sonata as far as a case and power supply come to mind.

    The worst thing about cheap cases and power supplies is that they are noisy. The fans are noisey and the rattle of the cheap sheet metal case amplifies the fan noise.

    We're talking home studio here. For a student, no less. So lets take the whole idea into perspective. Is this person planning to woo Sony with his home recordings? Maybe in dreams but in reality, he'll probably want to practice a bit first.

    Regarding the 1010LT: consider that this unit is designed with the intention that you are going to use a mixer (and likely a patchbay)for the front end of this. Other units by M-Audio would be more reasonable like the Fast Track pro. Only two interfaces but preamps built in and phantom power, no need for an external preamp or mixer. It's always a good idea to dip your toe in the water befor you soak yourself and realize you don't swim all that well.
  16. xian

    xian Guest

    Yes but he made it very clear that this is not going to be a stable audio workstation, but a general use computer that is capable of recording... and he's only got a $600 budget.
  17. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    i understand what you mean, and it makes sense. but i want specific parts, which i bet dell doesn't offer. and same with the barebones kits, its good, but they don't have the same processor/motherboard i want.... ive decided that for the same price as the power supply i want, i can get a brand new nicer looking case with a power supply. so i will do that. the only parts of the old computer i will use is HD, probably some of the cards, the cd drives, zip drive, and the keyboard, monitor, and mouse.
  18. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    What are you talking about? I have an iMac G5 with 1gig of RAM and have zero problems running DP 4.6 with 32 tracks, tons of plugs, and BFD!
  19. LividBliss

    LividBliss Guest

    You don't need the best of everything to start off.

    I run a tweaked Vaio as my first real DAW.

    ---2.6 P4 with Hyperthread
    ---2gb 2700 RAM
    ---XP Tweaked/App Hard drive is C:/D: partitioned - 80gb ATA 100/7200rpm/2mb cache (Once this drive loads XP and the App, speed isn't a huge concern on this drive)
    ---Z: Drive is a 300gb ATA 100/7200rpm/16MB Cache for Write only (This drive also contains the Audio Temp files)
    ---300w Power supply - Thats right...All thats needed.
    ---DVD/CD writer with 8mb Cache
    ---256mb GF6200 for the Adobe Audition 2.0 Spectral Graphics
    ---Lynx 2-A PCI Interface (No joke)
    ---Adobe Audition 1.5/2.0

    RE20 with Mackie Onyx 1220. Vocals Only.

    No Floppy, No unnessecary USB/Firewire/Fans. My page file usage is at 34 MB and CPU is dead when I get ready to record via msconfig reboot and tweaked XP Home (no internet).

    *The Ideal setup with the hard drives would be 3 seperate physical drives - 1 for OS, 1 for Apps, 1 for Write Only - thats for a dedicated DAW, otherwise you would consider a dual boot setup if you didn't want to mess with the msconfig. *Partitioned drives may protect data but the one "needle" still reads/writes for all active partitions regardless - this effects the speed of the drive. I work in the IT department of an insurance company, my co-workers helped me consider my options after deciding to keep my VAIO motherboard - this DAW is the result. My next setup will be a dedicated DAW with a Dual Core/SCSI/SATA setup.
  20. Mjolniir

    Mjolniir Guest

    Some of these guys are a little crazy. Considering you are just getting started, you should conserve as much money as you can on hardware, that way you can save as much money as possible for your software.

    I would recommend a barebones system with the following:

    AMD Athlon 64 3000+ or greater

    1gb DDR RAM PC2700 or greater

    Minimum 120 GB HD 7200 rpm (This is fine. I've taken songs up to 64 tracks without a hiccup on my 7200 rpm hd, I've never actually had to go higher than 64 so I have no clue how many it can handle beyind that)

    Any remotely decent video card will do.

    M-Audio Delta 1010LT (This is a great card, especially at it's price, plus it opens up Pro Tools as a software option; You can expand later if you need more inputs simply by purchasing another one).

    Get some studio monitors..M-Audio's BX5's are decent.

    Most soundcards require some kind of preamps, so you will need to pick up a mixer or some preamps as well (Unless you get a USB or Firewire Audio Interface; these usually come with a couple of pre's built in).

    As for software, there are tons of options, at all sorts of price points. Most companies make simpler, less powerful versions for a smaller price so you can learn their software before dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on it.

    Reaper (FREE)
    Kristal Audio Engine (FREE)
    Cakewalk SONAR
    Pro Tools (M-Audio or Digidesign Hardware only)
    and many, many more.

    Each one has it's pro's and con's; only you will be able to figure out if they fill your needs.

    I started recording on my old AMD k6 233 mhz comp (in 1998-1999) with a 5gb hd and 256 mb of RAM and I still accomplished alot. I gradually increased my computer's power as I could afford it, and I went through different software as well. I started out on N-track and then moved to Cakewalk, then onto SONAR and now Pro Tools M-Powered.

    What you need to know is that the quality of the recordings you make is going to depend mostly upon you. Get yourself a basic setup and concentrate on learning how to do everything, from mic placement to mixing. I was recently in a studio where they were recording on low-end 8 year old ADAT machines and yet the engineer was getting amazing sounds. If the equipment is half-way decent, and you know your stuff, you will do great things with it.
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