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Thread: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

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    Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    I've been asked to price up and spec some options (plural) for a PC to do the following:

    It will be replacing a machine running audacity, powerpoint and displaying video output simultaneously to a VPU for display on a large screen min 3m x 3m. (The VPU is already installed so no need to select that.) Recording currently is mainly single track, or a blended single track from a multi channel PA mixing desk. The PC also has to provide a stereo line-out that is fed into the PA mixer for when CD/DVD/web video playback is required.

    The machine has to maintain the ability to do the above, but also allow for installation and operation of sound mixing/editing software. They mentioned wanting to use ProTools(? I think that's what they said, I lost my notes) in the future so presume the machine will need some multi-core grunt to enable multi-track processing/mixing.

    Present video replay is stuttery and it won't handle certain formats, but I think this is partly due to just 256MB of DDR and an old celeron processor, not to mention a DVD drive that looks like it's from 2000. They do have an Audigy soundcard already, so not sure if that's worth keeping or not.

    Would welcome your collective suggestions for this, particularly as the end user is budget limited. There isn't a target budget as such - they just have to keep the cost as low as possible to do the job sensibly for the forseeable future. ie not something that will put them back in the same position for at least 5+ years if possible.

    I thought I'd offer them three options to pick from:

    1) the cheapest minimum to do the current job but without the stuttering and make it more responsive
    2) the happy middle ground
    3) will do all you chuck at it and mix/edit multitrack with ease while simultaneously playing back DVDs embedded into powerpoint


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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    It's been a while since I built a PC for sound recording, but if they want to progress to Pro Tools I would suggest you spec them a quad-core at least. However I wouldn't necessarily spec one with a high clock rate if the budget is limited; try to focus on I/O speed and also a decent chunk of RAM. Noise is another issue, finding the balance between good cooling and low noise is a pain. Again, given the budget, a specialist "quiet" pc case might be too expensive, but you might get similar results with a cheaper case with good airflow, quiet fans and noise dampening materials. With regards the Audigy, it'd probably be better than the onboard chipset, but I would expect they'd get a dedicated audio interface if they move to Pro Tools in the future.

    I'd honestly think there wouldn't be much point going for the bare minimum option, considering that the price difference wouldn't be much between that and a happy middle-ground. Sorry if this all sounds a bit obvious, but I think you need someone who's built a music production machine a bit more recently than me!

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Its sounds so painfully under spec that just a few bits off ebay maybe all they need.
    Check what the mobo can take and maybe get a 3.4 GHz pent D for less than 20 and a
    gig or two for another £10 to £20.

    Other than that look at some old core 2 bundles with ram and see how much they are going for.

    They may find that for what they actually use pro tools for that is good enough. Then if it isnt
    thats the time to go for something new.

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Only one warning from me - Pro Tools only supports nVidia gfx cards.

    This page may help :
    http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/self...p?DocId=380551

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    You might want to try and pick up a 2nd hand Q6600 and basic motherboard then,

    (\___/) (\___/) (\___/) (\___/) (\___/) (\___/) (\___/)
    (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=)
    (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(")


    This is bunny and friends. He is fed up waiting for everyone to help him out, and decided to help himself instead!

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumagoro View Post
    Its sounds so painfully under spec that just a few bits off ebay maybe all they need.

    They may find that for what they actually use pro tools for that is good enough. Then if it isnt
    thats the time to go for something new.
    That's partly the problem. The new guy taking over is much more adept than people previously, but persuading the powers that be to give him the kit will be challenging. He'll def be able to use stuff to the full, it's just a question of how well we can sell the idea to the powers that be that going for the big splurge is worth it. Hence being able to show that £x00 gets you nowhere, £(x+y)00 gets you something that will do a,b,c and £(x+2y)00 gets you the beans which will be good for 5+ years - and do a,b,c plus d,e,f and will be cheaply upgradable in future (if possible)...


    Quote Originally Posted by thestjohn View Post
    It's been a while since I built a PC for sound recording, but if they want to progress to Pro Tools I would suggest you spec them a quad-core at least.
    Thought it might need at least a quad. Glad to have it confirmed.


    Quote Originally Posted by thestjohn View Post
    However I wouldn't necessarily spec one with a high clock rate if the budget is limited; try to focus on I/O speed and also a decent chunk of RAM.
    Any suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by thestjohn View Post
    Noise is another issue, finding the balance between good cooling and low noise is a pain. Again, given the budget, a specialist "quiet" pc case might be too expensive, but you might get similar results with a cheaper case with good airflow, quiet fans and noise dampening materials. With regards the Audigy, it'd probably be better than the onboard chipset, but I would expect they'd get a dedicated audio interface if they move to Pro Tools in the future.
    yup. noise v performance is always a pain. I just put a server grade HDD I got given free in my machine and now it is noticeably louder - to the point where I'm thinking of gettting rid of the new HDD. Their current machine is only quiet because it has so little in it. I'm fairly sure it's passively cooled - and throttled for it given the oh-so-stonking chip in it at the moment.

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumagoro View Post
    Its sounds so painfully under spec that just a few bits off ebay maybe all they need.

    Other than that look at some old core 2 bundles with ram and see how much they are going for.

    They may find that for what they actually use pro tools for that is good enough. Then if it isnt
    thats the time to go for something new.
    Fair point. I think the guy knows his stuff though so don't want to hamstring him. If they go the cheap route they'll never upgrade and I fear the chance will be gone as budget won't get (re)allocated again. Might pick his brains on whether that route would work though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumagoro View Post
    Check what the mobo can take and maybe get a 3.4 GHz pent D for less than 20 and a
    gig or two for another £10 to £20.
    No way am I giving them anything less than DDR3 if I can help it. The cost of DDR now is a joke.

    Edit: do you know where to get 1-2GB of DDR for £10-20? Spill the beans if so - been looking for some recently.
    Last edited by ik9000; 04-04-2011 at 12:01 AM.

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Quote Originally Posted by g8ina View Post
    Only one warning from me - Pro Tools only supports nVidia gfx cards.

    This page may help :
    http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/self...p?DocId=380551
    Wow - bizarre. And even then only with WHQL drivers. And reading through it requires certain machines in order for USB2 to work!? Man, what a lottery

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    IIRC, a lot of the sound editing programmes seem to run better on Intel processors although I could be wrong.

    Regarding the recommended specification smaller software companies tend only to test a very limited range of computers.

    Here are some threads looking at the performance of the Phenom II X6 in audio editing:

    http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=285630

    http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music...ii-x6-daw.html

    http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t...ghlight=phenom

    From what I gather looking at the Avid forums, Pro Tools 8 tends to like more cores and a decent amount of cache. However,it also tends to like Intel processors it seems.

    I would probably get a socket 1156 or 1155 Core i5. The reason I am mentioning the older socket is since the chipsets probably will have any compatibility bugs well documented by now.


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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Yeah I've now got a bit overwhelmed by some of the hardware requirements. I mean, on these forums here they talk about their protools builds, and there are definitely some problems. http://duc.avid.com/forumdisplay.php?f=17 Although the specs they seem to be building around are all i7 based.

    Man, I don't know what to suggest now? If I knew it would work with Protools, would an AM3 Quad-core based system work within the budget?

    oh just noticed CAT said Intel works better. Ignore me

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Quote Originally Posted by thestjohn View Post
    Yeah I've now got a bit overwhelmed by some of the hardware requirements. I mean, on these forums here they talk about their protools builds, and there are definitely some problems. http://duc.avid.com/forumdisplay.php?f=17 Although the specs they seem to be building around are all i7 based.

    Man, I don't know what to suggest now? If I knew it would work with Protools, would an AM3 Quad-core based system work within the budget?
    On a budget the AM3 based builds seem to be decent performers but looking at some of the benchmark scores supposedly a 2.83GHZ Q9550 is faster than a 2.8GHZ Phenom II X6! This is really strange since the software supposedly can use more cores and in things like video editing the Phenom II X6 would be much faster.

    Having said that I wonder which is better a £100 Phenom II X4 955BE or a £95 Core i3 2100??


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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Thanks both CAT and StJohn - I'm having the same problem getting my head around it. Totally at a loss. When i first got the brief I thought a Phenom would be the answer but totally confused now. Time for bed and I'll pick this up later.

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    Having said that I wonder which is better a £100 Phenom II X4 955BE or a £95 Core i3 2100??
    LOL - but alas, not an i3-540. I think we've settled that one by now

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    The benchmark is called the DVerb test?

    I have a Core i3 2100 running on an H67 chipset so if anyone give me details of this test I could try to run it on my computer to get a score.

    If someone else with a Phenom II X4 could then run the test on their computer we could see which is faster.

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    LOL - but alas, not an i3-540. I think we've settled that one by now
    You could run the test on your PC too.


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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    I'm game, but can't right now as early start tomorrow. Plus I want to sort the gremlin that is eating the responsiveness out of my machine. Been doing it for a week or two now and it's getting irritating. Happened since I did a windows back-up and now the machine takes forever to start-up + shut down, plus more laggy opening programs, even ie8 etc. but that's another thread: http://forums.hexus.net/newreply.php...te=1&p=2059725

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    Re: Spec help for new PC inc Sound Recording

    Ahh sorry fella I had assumed it was for a friend who was thinking about using pro tools rather
    than a company.

    I still think though that you need to find out what he will do with pro tools and find out how
    stressful that will be. You may even find that pro tools is overkill.

    I had a friend who used cubase 3.x on a 1.4 GHz AMD Athlon yes ATHLON only a few years back
    he was making tunes.amazingly well enough somehow, on this with easily 50 odd tracks. The problem he had was using real-time filters and effects.

    Anyway I built him an X3 clocked at, 3.7 GHz though, with 4 GB of RAM. This had no problems
    with anything he threw at it with Cubase 4 using 100 tracks and all the filters and effects running
    real time. This was a few months after playing with it and I haven't asked him about it since so he
    may have found something to tax it by now.

    How much of a budget do you think you can squeeze out of them?

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