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Ian McAllister

Buying a computer solely for recording

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Hi all. As a teacher in central China, I use my desknote computer for everything: Downloading telly, watching movies, listening to music, spreadsheets, reports and lesson plans, making dvds with Movie Maker, surfing, chatting and the like...oh yes, and recording!

It's all a bit too much, so I thought of buying a low-budget computer solely for recording. There are plenty of cheap components to buy here, but as we all know, 'cheap' can just mean well, 'cheap', not 'inexpensive'.

I can get the local computer shop to build me one, but not being really computer-savvy, I would ask anyone here to guide me as to what to look for, specs etc, and what to look out for. I will be installing Reaper, EZ Drummer, Toneport KB37, GearBox, CE Pro. and I use a lot of VSTis. I was thinking of never connecting the new computer to the Internet, transferring downloads and updates via USB drive.

Thanks,

Ian

p.s. I'm making an album in February as part of the RPM Challenge '09. Check it out here:

The RPM Challenge

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Hi Ian, only thing I could recommend{I'm no techie} is to get the maximum ram allowed for whatever machine you choose. Also get the highest Ghz processor your pocket will allow, processing and memory are the two most most vital ingredients IMO. Also keep in mind when choosing, 64bit processors are frequently incompatible with older 32bit peripheral's, such as printers and possibly some interface's.

Just my thoughts at the moment.

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SlickCat    1
Hi Ian, only thing I could recommend{I'm no techie} is to get the maximum ram allowed for whatever machine you choose. Also get the highest Ghz processor your pocket will allow, processing and memory are the two most most vital ingredients IMO. Also keep in mind when choosing, 64bit processors are frequently incompatible with older 32bit peripheral's, such as printers and possibly some interface's.

Just my thoughts at the moment.

I agree with Kenny, stick with 32 bit and get XP not Vista.

Some people say you need a Apple..........but I never had one and tend towards a PC.

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Nutty    1

And a decent sound card designed for recording...not gaming..

That's as far as this delinquent teckie can go.

Ian you probably have your fill of apple's from teaching anyway, so go with the PC :escape:

Annette

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Thanks guys, remember LOW BUDGET! An Apple would be way too expensive. I actually don't need a soundcard at all, my recording interface, Toneport KB37 is the soundcard.

The cliche came true at the Christmas party, I came home with around thirty apples! And a chicken.

Ian:yeahhh:

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6string    81

How about (not quite sure how to say it) having the female receptacle that connects to the sound card be the same size as the male end of your guitar chord so that you don't need an adaptor to connect your guitar to the computer?

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How about (not quite sure how to say it) having the female receptacle that connects to the sound card be the same size as the male end of your guitar chord so that you don't need an adaptor to connect your guitar to the computer?

The 'Toneport' Ian uses is an interface, it has 1/4 inch insert receptacle's for 'guitar' and 'line-in' and Xlr for mic's. it{the toneport} connects via Usb to the pc and has it's own soundcard built in.

Ian, with $ being a guideline, have you considered up-grading a used machine? Don't know about where your at, but here they're a dime a dozen...a few new parts and your good to go...just another thought.

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Stratrat    0

+1 to what the others said about as much processor and RAM as possible. Also think big on drive capacity, as music files can eat up a lot of space. I like having my recording software on one drive, and storing my files on a second drive (external FW drive in my case)...it keeps one drive from having to try to read and write at the same time. As you said, the soundcard isn't an issue because your interface takes care of that end of things.

I'd also second the recommendations on XP vs. Vista.

EDIT: Actually, if given a choice and I had to stick to a budget, I'd prefer HD capacity and RAM over processor speed (within reason, of course). Just about any recent processor is more than capable of handling the demands of recording (as long as you're not doing horrendously complex multi-tracking with lots of VST's/FX). You're more likely to run out of RAM or drive space than you are to overtax any modern CPU.

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Tekker    1

Hi Ian,

Instead of buying a new computer that sounds like it will be much slower than your current one, you can buy a new hard drive, load XP onto it and set it up as a dual boot. This way you can have an installation of XP that is for general computer use and another for your music applications only. The music only side should not get any of the odd problems that you get from other programs/viruses messing up your registry and slowing your computer down. It will essentially be just like having another computer. Then you can take the money you save and upgrade your current PC with more RAM.

On the music only side, disable the TCP/IP (internet) connection, don't install antivirus, and you can even strip out a lot of the Windows "junk" to make it more suited for audio applications.

www.musicxp.net is a great site for XP tweaks for music applications. Another great site for general XP tweaks is TweakXP.com - Windows XP Tweaks, Tips, Hacks, Visual Styles, Support, and Software

This is what I do and it works great. :thumbup1:

-tkr

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Thanks for the input everyone.

Tekker, that's a good thing to know, but the computer I have is a desknote, and I wouldn't know how to upgrade the RAM. The attachment is for the latest model, mine only has 1Gb RAM, and it shares with the video card.

I believe I can buy a 2GhzDual Core/2GbRAM/320HDD/xp for around $300 U.S. new. My issue would be trusting Chinese-bought parts to be genuine, I know 100% that the OS will be pirated! What risk, other than legal, will I be taking?

By the way, I have 2Tb of external HDD with me.

I would also like to 'clean' my computer. Reinstall Visa etc. The problem is that I don't have a disk. It's genuine Windows, but was pre-installed. There is an activation code in my system properties window. Is it possible to reinstall Vista with that, at bootup?

Thanks again for all your help.

Ian

7914.attach

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Tekker    1
Tekker, that's a good thing to know, but the computer I have is a desknote, and I wouldn't know how to upgrade the RAM. The attachment is for the latest model, mine only has 1Gb RAM, and it shares with the video card.

Here you go, this might help.

Installing laptop memory

I believe I can buy a 2GhzDual Core/2GbRAM/320HDD/xp for around $300 U.S. new. My issue would be trusting Chinese-bought parts to be genuine, I know 100% that the OS will be pirated! What risk, other than legal, will I be taking?

I would be weary of buying anything with pirated software. Besides probably not having any warranty, not having legit software, who knows where all they cut corners when putting the system together. I personally wouldn't go that route, just to many possible problems when dealing with shady companies like that.

By the way, I have 2Tb of external HDD with me.

Very nice! That will take a while to fill up for sure. :D

I would also like to 'clean' my computer. Reinstall Visa etc. The problem is that I don't have a disk. It's genuine Windows, but was pre-installed. There is an activation code in my system properties window. Is it possible to reinstall Vista with that, at bootup?

You might be able to download an ISO image of Vista online, burn the ISO image to a CD, use the CD to install Vista, and then use your code to register it. I've done that with XP, so hopefully that will work with Vista also.

-tkr

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why bother with a desktop for standard home recording?

Seriously, consider a half decent laptop.

You are using urs purely for recording, so will be even better, but my laptop is 2ghz dual core (effectivly running at 4ghz), 3gb ram and 800-900mhz bus cache (i have no idea what bus cache is or does)

It runs kristal and reaper (at the same time) with iTunes and several internet windows that are streaming music/video, and also has previously done all of this with 3 of behringers guitar combo packages open, with NO LAG, no nothing, it is brilliant!

I got it for £450 + £50 for a wireless mouse (muchly recomended for mastering - its a nightmare with out a mouse) and i can honestly say, i wouldnt bother with a desktop unless i was going serious with my recording, ie with a real studio and all that.

Get a laptop, seriously, and, if you wanna get out and about, record some friends or make some cash on the side, you can just grab it and set it up anywhere, and go record some lads in their garage over a weekend for £300-400!!

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Thanks to everyone for their advice. I looked today, and was actually surprised at how narrow my choices are, and how little I'd have to pay.

No-one sells anything that isn't designed for gaming! No-one within a days traveling anyway!

2Ghz Dual Core Intel, 2GB RAM, 500Gb HDD,Xp = $300.

In the interests of getting things done, and lessening frustration, I'm going to go that way.

Colin, thanks for that, but laptops are pretty expensive here, (probably because they're not fakes) and Yekker, thanks for explaining dual-booting, now I understand.

Thanks again to everyone who chipped in, (is that a pun?)

Ian:)

p.s. If the new computer doesn't work for recording as well as I hope, then I can switch duties between th Samsung and it.

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