Taking My First DAW Plunge, Please Review & Provide Inpu

Discussion in 'Computing' started by PallieBoy, Nov 13, 2006.

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  1. PallieBoy

    PallieBoy Guest


    Being a recording novice, I am about to make the plunge for my first DAW, hopefully capable of recording at least 16 simultaneous tracks with plugins & stand-alone box effects. I have a Mackie Onyx with Firewire that will be the interface. I'll be recording 3 vocals (layered, probably), many midi'ed & sequenced virtual instrument tracks through a Fantom X, and maybe a couple of guitars.

    Based on the following items, have I left anything out, or are there any other suggestions based on your experience? For those familiar with the components, or have already purchased them, any input would be appreciated. Also, in your humble opinions, do I need to buy another CPU fan that is quieter than the stock one, and any suggestions?

    I would appreciate your comments on the following components, compatability for those who have them, and if you think I can save money somewhere else.



    Memory-$109.99 x 2 = $219.98

    Hard Drives
    Secondary-$99.00 x 2 = 198.00 (one internal & one external w/enclosure)


    Power Supply-$104.99

    Dual Video Card-$88.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16814121021 (NOTE: IF ANYONE HAS A BETTER SUGGESTION, I'M OPEN TO IT)

    Optical Drive-$79

    Sound Card-$130

    Windows XP Pro-$179

    Linksus WiFi Card-$69


    Much Thanks,
  2. DIGIT

    DIGIT Guest

    I would stay away from WiFi for several reasons.

    If this is a music DAW you don't need the fancy video card you picked. In fact, certain programs do NOT like fancy video cards but, you'll have to ck with your software's specs, etc...

    ALso, you do NOT need the 10K rpm sytem drive. Just get separate 7200rpm drives for system, music, samples, etc... You WILL need a separate drive for MUSIC, streaming SAMPLES and of course, your OS.

    Do NOT buy the Samsung DVD writers! Get something better, like Plextor, for example.

    Also, there are better power supplies and what about some silent fans for your CPU and case?

    Finally, I would go with a RACKMOUNT server case, for a variety of reasons.

    Remember, it's BEST to have a dedicated music DAW which means, no other programs or games should be installed. Therefore, buy ONLY the components BEST suited for MUSIC, and nothing else.

    Finally (really this time) I'd spend more on a better sound card (like an RME, etc...). Your sound card should be 10 times more expensive than your video card :wink:
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I was looking at your selection of components before DIGIT replied and for the most part I agree with DIGIT. Spending nearly $2000 for a two channel input computer recorder does not make sense.

    I have purchased and built all of my workstations as you are planning to do, all with ASUS motherboards since 1996. But in September, I finally broke down and purchased an HP DV 8000 laptop. It's a fabulous machine! Albeit, it has the Intel Centrino Duo not the core 2 at 1.7GHz with 1GB of RAM. It's Vista capable but came with XP media center edition, which ain't as great as Pro but decent. It has been rock solid stable, reliable. Beautiful 17 inch widescreen display and oh so quiet. So far, unlike what DIGIT described, I've had no problems with the WI-FI, besides you can switch it off. For simple 2 track work, I didn't want microphone inputs since I use my API 3124M's, so a simple Edirol by Roland has given me some very nice 24-bit, 96kHz capabilities if I want. Generally I just use 16-bit 44.1 or occasionally 24-bit 44.1, recorded as 32-bit float. 48kHz for video. I have been doing all of my video capture and editing on this machine as well and it is up to the task. If I wanted more audio inputs, I'd probably purchase a Presonus fire pod? This machine only features a single 4 pin FireWire input that cannot bus power a device. For 6 pin FireWire and bus powering, I purchased a $40 PCMCIA card with 2 ports. It also has 4 USB ports and a CD/DVD writer with lightscribe. Total investment, $1500. With the savings, I was able to purchase a nice bag of pot! It makes all of your mixes sound better!

    Cough choke cough gags cough choke swig of beer... Rock and Roll!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    West Suss ex, UK
    Well you asked what you may have missed. How about some recording software?

    If you are just getting started you will probably have no established workflow. In terms of bang for buck I can heartily recommend Sonar 6 PE but I'm sure others, as usual, will disagree.
  5. PallieBoy

    PallieBoy Guest

    Taking My First DAW Plunge

    Thanks for your thoughts, Digit.

    You are not the first to indicate that the video card may spell trouble. I'm reinvestigating my options for a simpler, passively cooled one.

    I have read that it would be advantageous to go with a 10 K RPM system for the OS drive, with 7200's for the others. You dissagree?

    I'm not inclined to go with rack mounted server case, but in all honesty, never even considered it. What would the reason be, other than I can mount it in a rack? How about cooling capacity, any issues with that?

    I'm going to take your's & other's advice & look into a silent fan(s) & upgraded power supply. Any suggestions specifically?

    Regarding the sound card, I already have the ONYX with firewire, so I'm all set in that dept., I believe.

  6. PallieBoy

    PallieBoy Guest

    Taking My First DAW Plunge

    Thanks for your reply RemyRAD.

    I'm very surprised to see a computer builder like yourself go with a laptop, but I'm new at this & sure to learn quite a few things. Just seems like avid DAW builders tend to go with towers or rack mounts. Sounds like you may think my proposed set-up is "overengineered"? I'm curious to know, how often do you upgrade? I'm thinking that with a set-up with my proposed components, I will not need to upgrade for years to come. Although, now that you mention it, I would like to score a bag....or 2.

  7. PallieBoy

    PallieBoy Guest

    Taking My First DAW Plunge

    Hey MrEase,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Since the ONYX with firewire comes with Tracktion 2, that's what I'm going to cut my teeth on. From many other users, it appears that the learning curve is not so steep, and it's pretty good overall. After working with it, I'll probably try some others to see the difference in capability.

    Take Care,
  8. GregP

    GregP Guest

    Tracktion has been my preferred software since version 1.4. Only die-hard MIDI nutbars (I mean that as a compliment) seem to find fault with it, because its MIDI implemenation, while capable, isn't as robust.

    A few other questions--

    - Why get the Audiophile at all, if you already have the Onyx?
    - Why $79 for the optical drive? You can get comparable products for less.
    - You're right to consider a passive vid card. I clicked the link, though-- and isn't it passive already? I didn't read the specs, but I didn't see a fan in the pics.

  9. PallieBoy

    PallieBoy Guest

    Taking My First DAW Plunge

    Hey GregP,

    Thanks for the reply. You are correct about the Audiophile, an oversight on my part.

    You bring up a good point about the optical drive, and it's also been recommended by several to go with some other drives, like the Plexor or some other brand. The reason I went with that particular drive, is that it had Lightscribe, which I wanted to try & think it may save me money in the long run.

    Yea, the card is passive, but I think the recommendation by another member went with a 7600GT vs the 7300GT for the same money. Both passive & silent.

  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I think you are correct in your assumption that your machine should do you quite well over the next couple of years and so I think you have thought this out rather well. Good call on the Onyx.

    I've pretty much built up a desktop machine every other year since 1996. Only 2 of my machines did not have ASUS motherboards (ABIT & GAINWARD). I still have 3 3.2 and 3.06GHz desktop workstations in service but I am on the go so much these days, I really wanted a convenient transportable workstation and now I have one. I felt as this new HP unit would give me comparable performance to what I am currently using on the desktop and I believe it does. More than adequate. Production studio in a purse. It's great!

    I still have some of the older machines, which are still quite functional for other less demanding applications. Dual 350, 400, 500, 800MHz Pentium I I and I I I's I've donated some, scavenged from others but what I really want to do is a new video. I need at least a five-story building however. It will be much easier that way to get a good "terminal velocity" so that when it hits the ground, it will make a spectacular smash hit!

    Watch this space
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  11. LSD25

    LSD25 Guest

    I'm working on something similar, but I decided to go the rackmount way because I'de rather not lug around many boxes without wheels...

    The problem I'm having is taht my case (Antec Take 4 - 260 bux) comes with some special isolated power supply with a very quiet fan but is only 450W, which is questionable when running my P5N32 SLI SE (which i scored for 130 bux). I think I'm just going to use some really crappy video card (PCI to post as I say), and see what Cubase wants from me (maybe get XFX 7300LE (40 bux cheaper than ASUS silent) or HIS Hightech H925H128E1TOPN if you wanna go PCI with dx9 support). My rack is geared towards supporting the Mackie 1200F when it comes out, so I've got Xp Pro with an E6700 and 2G of 800Mhz ram. Since I'm using a rack I want the cooling to be portable, so I loaded it up with the low center of gravity Silent 775 from termal take. The silent GeForces look nice, but I would raather save my x16 slots for some DSP options down the road.

    If you aren't going to have sound isolation I suggest getting some HDD rubbers, since HDD'z generate most of the noise (besides the fans) and making sure to get a nice PSU with a big fan for low RPM (Seasonic s12 is used by the endpcnoise people).

    The E6600 is a good choise with the overclocking mobo you have decided on. If you get PC6400 you might be able to go for a multiplier of 400 Mhz when OCing, but I don't suggest Oc'ing a DAW, for the sake of longevity.

    Good luck on your build!
  12. Scoobie

    Scoobie Active Member

    Sep 6, 2006
    I didn't read all the thread's so, sorry if I just repeated someone. But.......................

    With the money you are going to spend on building your own . You could buy one from a Daw builder that has been tested to work with your Mackie firewire and tracktion software. And get a warranty to boot. That said, I have Rolled my own. It is a good learning tool to build your own.

    And don't forget to check with Mackie/Tacktion users to make sure the motherboard (chipset) will work, No conflicks. Usally it is a good idea to go with what is known to work.............

    Just a though......

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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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