Suggestions on components for DAW System

Discussion in 'Computing' started by DrAlanLipman, Mar 23, 2004.

  1. DrAlanLipman

    DrAlanLipman Guest

    Going to put together a DAW system this month. Anyone want to take a crack at best (e.g. flexibility/sound/value) components--e.g. motherboard, processor, HDs, Interface, case/power supply, etc--for approximately 2000.00 U.S.? I had planned to do this about a year ago, but bought a Korg D1600--Gets limited fast. Starting from scratch. Thanks.
  2. kinetic

    kinetic Guest

    Here's my take (same as my current system and a couple of others I have built_:

    AMD Athlon Barton core 3200+ (better to wait a while before going with their 64 bit processors - but I will build a system with one of their 64 bit processors when the 64 bit Windows is out and other technologies have settled eg PCExpress, DDR2 etc). If you are not going to overclock, the standard AMD fan is fine and in my experience not too noisy. If you are really sensitive about noise, check out the Zalman fans.

    ASUS A7NX Deluxe motherboard - there are other boards available that are a bit better performing, but in terms of reliability, support and overall features this board is my choice. This board uses the nVidia nForce2 chipset, which was for a time the chipset of choice for AMD processors. I believe the VIA chipsets have caught up, but I remain faithful to this motherboard.

    1 Gig Corsair TwinX PC3200 DDR

    Matrax G550 (or 450) dual monitor video card

    2 x 120 Gig Matrox 8M cache 7200 rpm SATA 150 drives - no great performance advantage with SATA drives (although this is changing) - the greatest advantage to me is that the tiny cables (compared to the normal IDE cables) permit better airflow in the case and therefore better heat dissipation.

    Either a LiteOn or Gigabyte CD/DVD Writer - great for backing up images of your drive(s) as well as ordinary burning duties

    You will need a floppy for this system, for installing the SATA drivers when installing XP - I use Panasonic drives with a black face (for asthetics)

    An Antec TruePower 550 watt power supply - a high quality power supply is one of the most important components of any system - 550 watts is overkill, but you won't have any power related problems with one of these installed

    Sound card etc - that's your choice, but I have been using Echo products for some time (eg Echo Gina, Layla etc) with zero problems

    I use Logitech cordless keyboards and optical mice for convernience.....and freedom from cables! The MX Duo is good because the mouse sits in a cradle that keeps the batteries charged.

    Windows XP (I use Pro but you can use Home version unless you are going to get into serious networking)

    A 17" TFT monitor - I recommend Benq here in Australia but I don't know whether they are sold in the US - can't go wrong with Sonys (expensive) or Hitachi - you'll have to do your own research on this. TFT monitors have no electromagnetic radiation and don't scan like CRTs do, meaning less eye strain etc

    And after all that.....a Lian Li case of course!

    I built this very system for a friend last week and it cost $3250 Australian dollars which may put you over budget, but oh what a system! This price does not include the sound card (the motherbiard has built in 5.1 sound, but I disable this in BIOS). It'll keep you going for many a year

    Good Luck!
  3. Tarzanalog

    Tarzanalog Guest

    Play the field...

    Methinks Kinetic is an AMD "fanboy". No offense, I like 'em, too. But I'm equally happy with my recent Intel builds.

    Although... Matrox does OWN the 2D and multi-monitor markets and power supplies are important and often overlooked. (Nobody sings the praises of UPS power backups either, but mine's saved my @$$ several times... definitely worth the $75 I gave for it.) Antec makes good PSUs. I have a Silverstone 460 right now and it's not silent but quieter that most of the Antecs I've "heard".

    I'd go with a pair of Samsung 120GB SATA drives (if you go SATA)instead of the Maxtors, they're quieter and cheaper than similar Maxtor and WD drives. Any drive with an 8MB cache with give you great DAW performance.

    As for the AMD/Intel debate... just pick one and go with it. AMD is cheaper but the P4 Northwoods with Hyper-Threading are tough to beat. Seems like I'm always reading positive feedback about how HT on the P4 improves plug-in performance. I run pretty svelt in the plug-in and VSTi departments so I wouldn't know.

    The 2.8C is a good deal at $180. Team that with an 875P chipset board like the Epox 4PCA3+ and you're good to upgrade for a LONG time. (That MB can take 12+ hard drives including SATA RAID and ATA133 RAID5!!! If it only had built-in Firewire it would be the perfect MB, IMHO.

    The Corsait TwinX stuff is nice. I have a dual256 set. I'm a big fan of the Geil stuff, too. Just make sure your MB support it. (Officially or otherwise.)

    Don't get an aluminum case. Get a nice heavy steel box. Steel is better for RF shielding and the extra girth helps to prevent vibrations which can just add extra noise to your studio.

    The Lite-On 812s burner can do both +R and -R at 8x (assuming you can find the 8x media) and is quiet. (I love mine.) DVD for backups is nice, but extra drives in a mirrored RAID system is a no-brainer. RAID5 give you some of the speed of a striped array and the security of mirrored and the Epox board I mentioned can be had for just a little more than a dedicated RAID5 PCI card.

    My final thoughts: Don't sweat the details on the PC part of your DAW. There are many great choices out there. Just read up on compatibility of parts, save some $$$, and get a good audio interface and monitors.

    And BUY YOUR SOFTWARE! Wouldn't it be great if you could buy legit copies of Cubase SX and Reason for $10 a pop? Upgrades for $5? I'm sure the developers would be money ahead if that were the case and everyone bought what they use. (I'll get off the soapbox now.)

    Oh, and have fun with whatever you end up with. Keep it simple and make music, not more PC work for yourself.
  4. kinetic

    kinetic Guest

    Competition is a great thing :D
  5. Hey, Doc : This is what was recommended by my software provider.
    Remember this, my soundcard hardware does the work with 14 DSP chips onboard and handles the I/O . Many options, look at http://WWW.CWAUDIO.DE ( English )
    Thanks, Mike
    PS : a Lot less than $2k !
    System spec's

    P4 boards
    1:ASUS P4C800-e
    disable Hyper Threading/Onboard sound
    2 Gigabyte GA-8PENXP
    Disable Hyper Threading/Onboard sound
    3:GigaByte GA-8KNXP/Ultra
    Disable Hyperthreading

    AMD Boards

    1:GigaByte GA-7NNXP
    Disable onboard sound
    2:ASUS A7n8X
    3:ASUS A7N8X Deluxe


    Video Card
    Geforce 4 Ti 4200 128meg
    Matrox G550

    WD Raptor 36Gig 10,000RPM 8Meg cache
    Any WD CAVIAR drive with 8meg cache will do.
  6. Tarzanalog

    Tarzanalog Guest

    Kinetic... competition is the ONLY thing!


    AA... why disable HT on P4 systems? I would think that would be a bonus for running VSTi and plugins?!?
  7. I suppose that works better for that particular card and software. Remember, in the Creamware case, all that processing load is carried by the sound card and the SHARC DSP chips on board. The PC is just a host and power supply, all the I/O is on the sound card. Example, I can import 24 tracks, process them with reverb, compressors, eq, etc and output all 24 tracks simultaneously and only put a 2% load on my CPU. All this in realtime. That was the recommendation from the factory .
    Thanks, Durff

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