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Tekker

New Computer for Recording Suggestions

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Tekker    1

OK, I'm at my last straw with my current computer (see THIS THREAD), so it is officially getting the boot! :brickwall:

I've tried some other things with it just to see if I could get any kind of improvement and still no change.

* Changed the hard drive

* Changed the motherboard (an extra one we got to try to troubleshoot the family PC, which also didn't fix the problem with that PC)

* Change power supply (off of family PC)

* Unplugged all other devices but a single hard drive to test with.

I am so far beyond done with trying to troubleshoot that thing it's not even funny, so now it's finally time for a new system and I'd love to get some suggestions from our resident computer gurus. :)

After posting on the Samplitude forum (the recording software that I use) asking anyone who has a rock solid system to post their system specs and everyone that responded is using Intel. So bye bye AMD!

I'm thinking about going with a Quad core this time, if it doesn't end up being to expensive. Based on one of the comments on the Samplitude forum I'm leaning towards a Gigabyte motherboard as he said that ASUS has had more complaints over the last few years and Gigabyte is consistently rated very highly.

This is one of the systems that was posted, which looks very nice but is a little on the spendy side for me. If I could knock a few hundred off this system while still keeping good components that would be great.

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz ($280)

GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P ($260)

Kingston HyperX 6GB DDR3 SDRAM Triple Channel ($180)

ZALMAN ZM850-HP 850W ($175)

TOTAL = $895

I think I'll stay with that processor (it's not much more than the Core 2 Quad Q6600), but I'll have to do some searching and see where I can bring the cost down in the other areas. I'll probably go with a less powerful power supply, maybe 500-600 watts instead of 850 watts. A cheaper motherboard would be great and I don't need 6GB of memory at the moment (still using XP), 2GB should be fine for now.

Any thoughts and suggestions are more than welcome.

Thanks,

-tkr

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carol m    64

You didn't change your chip! But hey, what do I know - yesterday I was in violent hand-to-hand combat with my AMD for about 5 hours straight, and I'm not sure who won - we're both having a rest day today. :)

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Tekker    1

No, I haven't changed the chip. I don't know if I want to keep throwing money at this thing only to never fix the problem and wind up upgrading anyways. If I knew 100% for sure that it was the processor, then I would go for it. But with the luck I've had so far, I figure I just better quit while I'm behind. :confused:

-tkr

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carol m    64

Yes, just as I'm tempted to ditch mine, it behaves perfectly for 3 weeks and I forget about the past because I can just use it instead of fighting it. Will you be able to re-cycle things like DVD burner, and extra ports?

Good luck anyway. I'll be watching with interest. :)

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Tekker    1
Will you be able to re-cycle things like DVD burner, and extra ports?

Yes, DVD-RW and hard drives will be reused.

-tkr

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Hi Tekker

will be watchin this thread very closely, im in the thinkin mode of building a new comp myself, this one is about 6 yrs old now, i have done upgrades on it a couple times, but its gettin tired, havnt been keepin up on new stuff the last couple yrs. I have always been an ASUS and Amd fan myself, but times change, so ill be lookin.

and yes carol hard drives can go bad, some will last for yrs and others will fail in a yr or so, but if it still works then keep it, i back everything up on my external 640 gig hard drive and DVD's or CD's, and u should do that even if ur hard drive is good, i know lots of people's comps that i have worked on that lost pic's and things because they didnt back anything up

Chuck

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skinnybloke    4

Tekker, if you're after bang for buck, I'd go with the Core2 Duo....unless your into HEAVY gaming.

There's a multitude of cheap M/Boards to suit the above. If you can find an Asus P5K SE, it's bulletproof.

Windows 7 looks good, I wouldn't go below 4M Kingston ram.

A good quality 500W (genuine 500w) P/S.

Sell your old bits on ebay, as individual items.

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Tekker    1
Tekker, if you're after bang for buck, I'd go with the Core2 Duo....unless your into HEAVY gaming

Hey skinnybloke,

I'm not into gaming, but some of the VST plugins I use are very (VERY) CPU intensive, so I would definitely be able to put the power of a quad to use.

I also thought about going with the Core2 Quad as the processor is a little cheaper and it will likely provide cheaper motherboard options also. All of the Gigabyte Intel i7 compatible boards that I found are $200 or more (and they only had one IDE connection). Would the Asus P5K SE work with a Core2 Quad?

I found a Zalman 500W PSU for $110. I haven't checked into the RAM yet, as I need to decide on a motherboard and then choose the appropriate RAM type for it. Do you prefer Kingston over Corsair?

Thanks,

-tkr

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solidwalnut    5

Hi Tekker--

On your choice of Intel, I have to say 'bravo'. Yes, I'm a bit biased! 15 years worth of hard labor to prove it...

But seriously, every where I turn it seems the serious pros are using Intel. But we're not all serious pros, I know. I'm just saying they're just highly reliable.

I'm running Pro Tools on an Intel Core2 Quad (2.66Mhz, Q9450, Penryn) and a Asus P5K SE/EPU (P35 chipset) MB and 4GB of RAM (Lifetime, DDR2 800) and I have more power than I could ever want for a project studio.

I'm on the Pro Tools forum a bunch, and people just rave about running it on the i7. Since I don't know Samplitude, I'm not sure what to think. But PT is pretty CPU and virtual memory intensive, so the bigger the better as far as PT goes.

So if you get an i7 with DDR3 RAM, you'll most likely never need more horsepower for a few years!

But the deal is that the capabilities of Pro Tools LE is nearly that of ProTools HD because of processor and program improvements over the last few years.

As far as the amount of RAM, 4G should be plenty. Windows allocates a max of 2G for programs, and 2G for the system. So theoretically, you'll never need to add more than 4G to a system.

But you can find out how high Samplitude runs when it's jammin'. If you think it's an issue for you and that it begins to run up in the neighborhood of 1.3G or so, you can check the Samplitude forum to see if it's possible to add a Large Address Aware switch. Basically, when you add a LAA switch in boot-up, you tell the system to be aware that a program will take up more room than 2G (I have a 3G switch set).

But be aware that this is controversial. I've never had a problem and most people who do this do not. But some people have. Just google Large Address Aware and you'll have a ton of reading!

Anyway, those Zalman coolers are worth it. They do a good job and are quiet. They're fairly quiet, but not so much at full speed. You can get into the BIOS and set the fan at medium speed. Monitor the CPU temp, but it should be just fine. That's where I have mine. A CPU temp in the neighborhood of 75-90 is just fine. Of course the cooler, the longer the life. I'm just babbling on about the thermal because that's what I do!

Steve

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Tekker    1

Hey solidwalnut,

The power I would need for my projects would be used up by VST plugins rather than Samplitude itself. The main VST plugin I use for a majority of my effects is Nebula by Acustica Audio and back on my old system (AMD Athlon 4800+) just one reverb used up over 50% of my CPU. The other effects like EQ and compression used less, but still very high for an EQ/compressor. So even with a Quad, I'm sure I'll be able to bring it to its knees. ;)

At this point I'm more interested in keeping costs down, so I think I may go with the Core2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz. The processor is a little cheaper and there are many more motherboard options.

The problem I seem to be running into now is that all of the motheboards on the Gigabyte site that I have looked at so far only have one IDE connection and I have four IDE devices that I would like to keep. I may end up having to get a PCI card (or PCI Express preferably, so I don't use up a PCI slot) to add more IDE connections.

-tkr

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carol m    64

I did a google search for i7 because I didn't know what it was.....

"We looked at their very first chip based on the Nehalem architecture, the Core i7 965, which was clocked at a stock of 3.2GHz and had an unlocked multiplier - as well as a launch price of almost two grand.

The new Core i7 975 chip is the successor to the older 965, which is being killed off on the fourth of September this year. It's nowhere near the price of the other one, but is a still-hefty $1695."

from a review in Aus. Core i7 975 3.33GHz CPU - CPUs, Motherboards & RAM - Build - Reviews - Atomic MPC

That is quite a lot for a chip..

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Tekker    1

Two grand??? Wow, that is a lot for a processor. The i7 processor I was looking at was the 920 2.66GHz and it was only $280, which is a lot more reasonable.

Just wait a couple weeks and those processors will be down under $300. LOL I guess that's the price you pay to be on the "cutting edge" of technology. ;)

-tkr

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carol m    64
Two grand??? I guess that's the price you pay to be on the "cutting edge" of technology. ;)

-tkr

If it's the price you have to pay for being on the cutting edge of technology, I guess it means it must be harder for us down here. :laughingg:

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skinnybloke    4

Solidwalnut's answered the P5K question.

As far as RAM is concerned I use Kingston because of the reliability factor, I'm sure there are many other brands giving just as good reliability, but I haven't tried them.

You may be up against the wall re 4 IDE devices on a current (inexpensive) M/Board, so at $20,the PCI Express>IDE option is valid.

That's a good PSU.

Consider overclocking, using a Zalman CPU cooler.

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Tekker    1

I just found the Asus P5K SE/EPU on Amazon and it costs $400 new! :ohmy: I think that may be a bit out of my price rang.

One of the Gigabyte boards I was looking at was about $150 and with the IDE controller card would put it at about $175.

So the choice of memory is more for reliability than performance? Both Corsair and Kingston have warranties for the life the product, so it looks like either one would be a reliable product. I actually had a Corsair memory stick go bad on my old system and they replaced it quickly at no charge.

-tkr

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solidwalnut    5
Hey solidwalnut,

The power I would need for my projects would be used up by VST plugins rather than Samplitude itself. The main VST plugin I use for a majority of my effects is Nebula by Acustica Audio and back on my old system (AMD Athlon 4800+) just one reverb used up over 50% of my CPU. The other effects like EQ and compression used less, but still very high for an EQ/compressor. So even with a Quad, I'm sure I'll be able to bring it to its knees. ;)...

Wow, I don't get it. But I'm new to computer audio architecture design, so I need educated: With Pro Tools, you can instantiate HUNDREDS of simple DVerbs (their inexpensive reverb plug, RTAS/AS) before bogging down a processor. The verbs aren't bad, but I wouldn't call them top tier. How could one 'verb VST plug take up that kind of CPU load? Maybe that's just the age of your processor (and...uhmm...the brand ;) !).

It'll be interesting to see how much CPU this 'verb takes up with your new processor. Let me know.

As far as the amount of virtual memory and RAM that a program might take, it's a different memory from tasking a CPU. A CPU and it's associated cache memory is tasked for math and logic operations, operating on the problems given it by the user/program. The program itself and it's code is loaded into RAM when opened. Some programs are small enough that all of it's code resides in RAM, but some programs are huge and can become overwhelming to RAM as the user requests new functions. The user calls up functions, knowingly or not, from the HD or CDROM/DVD. The program usage in RAM actually grows. When you have Samplitude open, check Task Manager to see how much memory it is using. That will be very interesting!!

Steve

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Tekker    1
Wow, I don't get it. But I'm new to computer audio architecture design, so I need educated: With Pro Tools, you can instantiate HUNDREDS of simple DVerbs (their inexpensive reverb plug, RTAS/AS) before bogging down a processor. The verbs aren't bad, but I wouldn't call them top tier. How could one 'verb VST plug take up that kind of CPU load? Maybe that's just the age of your processor (and...uhmm...the brand ;) !).

The CPU usage is from the plugin, it's very CPU intensive. It isn't a typical plugin (like ProTools or other VST effects) because you sample actual hardware (or other software) and it records many samples of the unit. Then when you add this effect to your tracks it sounds just like (or very, very close) to the original unit that you sampled.

If you've heard of convolution reverb plugins this is a similar concept except that convolution is static and only takes one snapshot (like a picture) where as Nebula is dynamic and takes many, many samples (like a movie) so you can sample pretty much anything such as reverb, EQ, compressors, tape decks, etc... and get "THAT" sound from the unit. They are working up to be able to record guitar amp distortion (it takes a lot of power to sample high gain distortion) and I'm seriously looking forward to that happening! :)

There are still some problems and limitations with it, but they are constantly providing free updates and they have come a long way just since I've been using it. The interface also isn't very user friendly for the most part, but if you can get past that and the high CPU, it sounds AMAZING.

It'll be interesting to see how much CPU this 'verb takes up with your new processor. Let me know.

I think they have recently improved performance, so I should be able to use more instances, but I haven't had a chance to test it yet (still waiting to get my PC issue sorted).

When you have Samplitude open, check Task Manager to see how much memory it is using. That will be very interesting!!

I just opened up a project (16 tracks loaded with effects) and it took about 400MB of RAM. This project wasn't using Nebula at all, this was all Samplitude effects and free VST effects.

-tkr

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skinnybloke    4

tkr

There are cheaper P5k SE options out there.

But, if you've got good feedback/reviews on the Giga board...go with it.

They are both solid boards, historically, Gigabyte has a reputation for stability, Asus for fleetnees of foot.

Both companies make boards that crossover that stereotype.

I'd still recommend the Kingston Ram.

I hope this one all goes well for you.

Skinny

Steve is a wealth of info!

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Tekker    1

Actually I think I may have been looking at the PSK-E not SE. I can't seem to find any on newegg or Amazon... Do you know of a reliable company where I can get one (on the cheaper side)? If you say that's a good motherboard then I'd certainly like to get it as I trust your opinion.

Here's one that looks good from Gigabyte that I found:

Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-EP45C-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards

Can the P5K SE be found around that price?

-tkr

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solidwalnut    5
The CPU usage is from the plugin, it's very CPU intensive. It isn't a typical plugin (like ProTools or other VST effects) because you sample actual hardware (or other software) and it records many samples of the unit. Then when you add this effect to your tracks it sounds just like (or very, very close) to the original unit that you sampled.

If you've heard of convolution reverb plugins this is a similar concept except that convolution is static and only takes one snapshot (like a picture) where as Nebula is dynamic and takes many, many samples (like a movie) so you can sample pretty much anything such as reverb, EQ, compressors, tape decks, etc... and get "THAT" sound from the unit. They are working up to be able to record guitar amp distortion (it takes a lot of power to sample high gain distortion) and I'm seriously looking forward to that happening! :)

There are still some problems and limitations with it, but they are constantly providing free updates and they have come a long way just since I've been using it. The interface also isn't very user friendly for the most part, but if you can get past that and the high CPU, it sounds AMAZING.

I think they have recently improved performance, so I should be able to use more instances, but I haven't had a chance to test it yet (still waiting to get my PC issue sorted).

Wow! That sounds like THE 'verb plug. There's a ton of them out there, and they all seem to have their 'take' on how they do their math and logic calculations, but this one sounds like the grandaddy of them as far as HW sampling in a dynamic sense.

I see what you mean about the architecture behind this being of the convolution concept. I didn't know how convolution was done, and thanks to you I got a good picture of both. Great explanation!

I just looked at the Acustica Audio site. I wish Nebula was RTAS/AS so I could give it a try. From your description, it sounds amazing. Let me know if they ever go that route.

I just opened up a project (16 tracks loaded with effects) and it took about 400MB of RAM. This project wasn't using Nebula at all, this was all Samplitude effects and free VST effects.

I'll bet you won't even need to investigate the 3G switch. I guess Pro Tools must have more code involved. Actually, after learning more and more about it on their forum, I'm sure it does. Digidesign has been cobbling together code that has become Frankenstein's monster. The LE version is a patch work of the original HD version. The HD version relies on a series of PCI-like cards plugged into a special backplane. The LE version relies on 'native' resources instead. The nightmare of upgrading the software, making the native version universal with all the different hardware out there plus maintaining backward compatibility has just swamped Digidesign.

Many say they're losing out because all these other native programs aren't encumbered by Digidesign's architectural history. They don't have to maintain Frankenstein's monster. Digidesign says they know that in the future they need to re-create from the ground up in order to be competitive in the project and home studio market segments. Native solutions moving forward will eventually clip the high dollar HD product. Some say they're already on the doorstep. They are apparently going to have to give up some of their legacy ideas in order to move forward. How they get there is the 64 million dollar question.

But all in all, many users really love Pro Tools and are die hards. I am one of them so far. It will be interesting to see what comes up in the future.

Good luck on your new computer build!

Steve

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Tekker    1
Wow! That sounds like THE 'verb plug. There's a ton of them out there, and they all seem to have their 'take' on how they do their math and logic calculations, but this one sounds like the grandaddy of them as far as HW sampling in a dynamic sense.

Nebula is the "everything" plugin. Since it's a sampler it can sample just about anything.

Here are some samples someone posted of the a Roland chorus echo that they sampled. You can hear the original Roland unit, the Nebula representation, and also the UAD equivalent of a similar sound. The Nebula sample is nearly perfect to the original unit, it seems to lack just a little bit on the high end, but that's nothing a little EQ can't handle.

%20Roland%20CHORUS%20ECHO%20RE-501.wav'>Roland Chorus Echo

Nebula

UAD

I just looked at the Acustica Audio site. I wish Nebula was RTAS/AS so I could give it a try. From your description, it sounds amazing. Let me know if they ever go that route.

You could always try it out in Reaper or another program. They have a free version of Nebula also.

Many say they're losing out because all these other native programs aren't encumbered by Digidesign's architectural history. They don't have to maintain Frankenstein's monster.

Sounds like an overhaul is necessary for Digidesign. lol Magix overhauled Samplitude during version 9 and completely re-designed the audio engine from the ground up to allow for new features to be added. Their original audio engine was built with high latency and a lot of the features people were asking for required a low latency engine. So they fixed it and actually quite brilliantly, as you can now have both high latency tracks (for lower CPU and more stable playback) and low latency (for recording, real time monitoring, effects monitoring,etc) tracks in the SAME project.

But all in all, many users really love Pro Tools and are die hards. I am one of them so far. It will be interesting to see what comes up in the future.

I probably wouldn't dislike Pro Tools as much as I do if they weren't so proprietary. You are forced to user their hardware to run the software, they don't support the essential VST format, they over charge for their special RTAS plugins when there are VST plugins like Nebula which stop all over them and cost just over $100 for the full version... and even the FREE program Kristal Audio can use it, so why can't the "industry standard"?

So yeah, I've got a few issues with ProTools. ;)

Good luck on your new computer build!

Thanks. I think I'm getting close to a purchase! I can't wait to finally get a working PC again and get back to recording!!! :claping:

-tkr

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solidwalnut    5
Nebula is the "everything" plugin. Since it's a sampler it can sample just about anything.

Here are some samples someone posted of the a Roland chorus echo that they sampled. You can hear the original Roland unit, the Nebula representation, and also the UAD equivalent of a similar sound. The Nebula sample is nearly perfect to the original unit, it seems to lack just a little bit on the high end, but that's nothing a little EQ can't handle.

%20Roland%20CHORUS%20ECHO%20RE-501.wav'>Roland Chorus Echo

Nebula

UAD

The Nebula sample sounds very similar.

You could always try it out in Reaper or another program. They have a free version of Nebula also.

True there. If I get some experimental time, I'll give that a shot.

Sounds like an overhaul is necessary for Digidesign. lol Magix overhauled Samplitude during version 9 and completely re-designed the audio engine from the ground up to allow for new features to be added. Their original audio engine was built with high latency and a lot of the features people were asking for required a low latency engine. So they fixed it and actually quite brilliantly, as you can now have both high latency tracks (for lower CPU and more stable playback) and low latency (for recording, real time monitoring, effects monitoring,etc) tracks in the SAME project.

Ah, Magix. I use their Movie Edit Pro for the timeline editing of my video lessons. I had no idea they took over Samplitude, cool. It really sounds like they were smart to take Samplitude from the ground up. That's a stroke of brilliance to have both high and low latency engines available on tracks. This is another reason why you won't like Pro Tools. :yes: While HD inherently has Automatic Delay Compensation, LE does not! The only recourse is to set the playback engine for a lower sample rate during record and back to a higher one and a more stable playback during mix. A lot of users are up in arms about this and are petitioning for ADC in LE. Digi says that ADC for LE is in the works (but soooo much is in the works...) :whistling

I probably wouldn't dislike Pro Tools as much as I do if they weren't so proprietary. You are forced to user their hardware to run the software, they don't support the essential VST format, they over charge for their special RTAS plugins when there are VST plugins like Nebula which stop all over them and cost just over $100 for the full version... and even the FREE program Kristal Audio can use it, so why can't the "industry standard"?

So yeah, I've got a few issues with ProTools. ;)

Don't blame ya in the slightest. They really are in a different class, coming from the higher-dollar market and reaching into the middle- and lower-dollar markets. Digidesign fully recognizes this and knows they are in a fight for their lives. The decision they have to make is to either stay in the higher-dollar market or start again from the ground up in order to compete. My guess is that they want to compete. Pro Tools is on Version 8.0 as of today (that's what I have). It is a radical gui change and a change in capabilities, though not as radical. They may come out with subsequent v8.xs, but they had better be saving v9.0 for a fully native product that can compete with Samplitude, Logic, Cubase and Cakewalk or users will begin leaving them in droves.

Thanks. I think I'm getting close to a purchase! I can't wait to finally get a working PC again and get back to recording!!! :claping:

Isn't that what it's all about and the bottom line!!

Steve

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