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Building a PC for music - Help?

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MetalRenard
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Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 04:58 AM Reply

Hi guys. I'm looking into building my own PC (in the UK, so prices are in £) for music composition and production. I already have the right specs in mind for my budget, I'm just wondering what all this talk about the differences in how you build a PC when it's for making music compared to other kinds of things.

Here's what I plan on buying. Suggestions are welcome.
PROCESSOR
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP-391-
IN&groupid=701&catid=6&subcat=1672

MOBO
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB-414-
GI&groupid=701&catid=5&subcat=2174

RAM
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY-018-
AR&groupid=701&catid=8&subcat=817

STORAGE
SSD for software and OS: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HD-010-
CR&tool=3

HDD for everything else: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HD-257-
SE

Then of course the case, cooling, graphics (I already have a graphics card) and power supply as well as screen and keyboard (I have a mouse). Those I don't need to worry about since they're kind of standard.


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MetalRenard
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 05:01 AM Reply

I forgot to mention that I already have a sound card in mind (Xonar_Essence_ST) so no need to worry about that either.


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The-iMortal
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 05:25 AM Reply

That'll be a great rig for production. May I suggest though, that instead of getting 4 x 4GB sticks, just get 1 x 16 GB or 2 x 8GB. Reason: only 4 RAM slots in motherboards, and if you do decide you want to stack some more on (unlikely, but possible), you'll have the option to.

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 09:20 AM Reply

At 11/12/12 05:25 AM, The-iMortal wrote: That'll be a great rig for production. May I suggest though, that instead of getting 4 x 4GB sticks, just get 1 x 16 GB or 2 x 8GB. Reason: only 4 RAM slots in motherboards, and if you do decide you want to stack some more on (unlikely, but possible), you'll have the option to.

you also don't really need any more than 8 gigs.

<---running 3 years strong with 4 gigs.


lel

Jewelz123
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 09:54 AM Reply

At 11/12/12 04:58 AM, MetalRenard wrote: Hi guys. I'm looking into building my own PC (in the UK, so prices are in Ã'£) for music composition and production. I already have the right specs in mind for my budget, I'm just wondering what all this talk about the differences in how you build a PC when it's for making music compared to other kinds of things.

Here's what I plan on buying. Suggestions are welcome.
PROCESSOR
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP-391-
IN&groupid=701&catid=6&subcat=1672
MOBO
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB-414-
GI&groupid=701&catid=5&subcat=2174
RAM
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY-018-
AR&groupid=701&catid=8&subcat=817
STORAGE
SSD for software and OS: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HD-010-
CR&tool=3
HDD for everything else: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HD-257-
SE

Then of course the case, cooling, graphics (I already have a graphics card) and power supply as well as screen and keyboard (I have a mouse). Those I don't need to worry about since they're kind of standard.

Looks pretty solid to me! If you wanted to save some money you could cut down the ram to 8 or 4gb like the other guy suggested. The hard drives look solid aswell. I'd recommend you look into a decent pair of monitors and headphones. That's my next planned upgrade (the monitors) as the sound produced by them is apparently better for mixing and mastering.

dem0lecule
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 10:16 AM Reply

Since you have enough budget for all these, why not get SSD instead of HDD? In fact equivalent capacity of a SSD to HDD, the SSD is cheaper.

Hm, funny, you got the same Seagate drive as I have.

What comes around goes around...

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NickPerrin
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 10:20 AM Reply

At 11/12/12 10:16 AM, dem0lecule wrote: In fact equivalent capacity of a SSD to HDD, the SSD is cheaper.

Where is this ever true? Normal HDDs are so incredibly cheap they're a steal at any size. SSDs will cost you.

dem0lecule
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 10:26 AM Reply

At 11/12/12 10:20 AM, NickPerrin wrote:
At 11/12/12 10:16 AM, dem0lecule wrote: In fact equivalent capacity of a SSD to HDD, the SSD is cheaper.
Where is this ever true? Normal HDDs are so incredibly cheap they're a steal at any size. SSDs will cost you.

Depend on what brand you are gonna get.


What comes around goes around...

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Megamannt92
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 10:29 AM Reply

An i7 is overkill for a music rig. I'd get a i5 2500k to save some dough.


Hey check out my music! Its guitarlicious or something.... Pirate Metal! | Rock with guest Female Vocalist

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 11:01 AM Reply

At 11/12/12 10:29 AM, Megamannt92 wrote: An i7 is overkill for a music rig. I'd get a i5 2500k to save some dough.

This is the best advice. Save some money, and buy a setup based around a i5 2500K instead. Also, the Asus Xonar Essence is NOT an audio production card. It is more of an audiophile card. A M-Audio Delta 44 or Delta 66 is much better suited for music production. I have owned both of these cards and can attest to the better latency responses of the M Audio card.

MetalRenard
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 11:35 AM Reply

Here's my reasoning behind what I have decided to buy, to explain my choices further:
I will need all the gigs of RAM I can get since samples use up a lot of it. I don't make electronic music like lots of you do, I deal with classical and symphonic power metal which needs a LOT more RAM and often more processor power. I also want to build a PC that I won't have to reinvest in any time soon. I hope this one will last me at least another 3 years (or more). Next, I'm getting an i7 so that if I wish to expand later I can, it has to be able to cope with the extra RAM if I decide to get it and not be a choke point.

As for the sound card, I compared it to m-audio and it beat their cards in every aspect I could find. When I record I use a different interface anyway, one I have already. I want something to work with sound efficiently and to the highest quality I can get for that price, and that card is the best in that price range.

All opinion of course, I prefer to spend more now and save later.


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sweet21
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 11:37 AM Reply

As far as making music goes you may be overkilling abit, you only really need 4 GB of RAM and as mentioned above an i7 is overkill. Still if you wanna go the extra mile you can get a video card and have a primo 'hobby' rig to go with your music rig....irrelevant, maybe...it is, nevermind.

Damn fine rig I say. Go for it man.


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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 11:42 AM Reply

To be honest, I think having the i7 and 16gb of RAM is a 'great' choice if you're into music production for all kinds of genres. Apart from the suggestion made by The-iMortal, I'd keep it the way it is! I'm not sure about the sound card though. Why not get a regular audio interface?


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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 11:44 AM Reply

At 11/12/12 11:35 AM, MetalRenard wrote: All opinion of course, I prefer to spend more now and save later.

Not bad reasoning, not bad at all. As far as that goes this rig will last you a good 5 years or longer so long as you take care of it.

is that a yes on the video card :3

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 12:41 PM Reply

I have 4gb of RAM now and I use it COMPLETELY with just basic tracks. Even 8gb will be limiting. Like I said, I use samples and they load directly into RAM. :)

I have a decent graphics card already. Not "new" but it can handle BF3 on medium to high graphics settings. I'm not much of a gamer anyway, my most awaited game of this year is Starbound, so you know what I mean when I say the graphics card isn't my biggest focus. Hahaha

Thanks for the reassurance and suggestions everyone. Even if I disagree with some, you all gave me food for thought. Challenging one's ideas is the only way to be sure they are good, or know if they need to be changed.


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MetalRenard
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 12:46 PM Reply

Oh and I forgot to mention this too - I do this professionally. This is not a hobby, this is investment in my career. :)
I really need a machine I can call "professional".


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BrokenDeck
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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 01:48 PM Reply

At 11/12/12 12:46 PM, MetalRenard wrote: Oh and I forgot to mention this too - I do this professionally. This is not a hobby, this is investment in my career. :)
I really need a machine I can call "professional".

I'm still using a Core2 Q6600, and it doesn't cap off very easily even then. 4 gigs, is pushing it, but 8 gigs will be good enough for any full Wagnerian style song you put together.

The ASUS sound card is fine if you're planning on doing most of your composition via the MIDI roll / piano roll, but ASUS cards in general have a long latency if you ever play your orchestral instruments live via a MIDI keyboard/ interface. ASUS also has a history of dropping support for legacy products entirely (such as the D2X). The Essence has a real possibility of not working with future versions of windows (Creative has a similar modus operandi). That, and the Essence was not designed as a professional card at all, but rather as a music listening card.

If you're looking for an actual professional card, look at manufacturers such as RME, or M-Audio. A card with a breakout box / rackmount works great because you have access to a professional TRS or XLR plug-in, which consumer level cards (such as the Asus line) won't.

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 02:42 PM Reply

Ok thanks, I'll look into other cards, though M-Audio is out of the question because of bad specs (unless you can point me towards a good one...?).


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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 02:46 PM Reply

At 11/12/12 02:42 PM, MetalRenard wrote: Ok thanks, I'll look into other cards, though M-Audio is out of the question because of bad specs (unless you can point me towards a good one...?).

I don't see where you get bad specs from.?

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 03:29 PM Reply

At 11/12/12 11:35 AM, MetalRenard wrote: As for the sound card, I compared it to m-audio and it beat their cards in every aspect I could find. When I record I use a different interface anyway, one I have already. I want something to work with sound efficiently and to the highest quality I can get for that price, and that card is the best in that price range.

lol, you want an card specifically meant for production because of the latency and ASIO drivers. Without a card meant specifically for low-latency tracking your ability to use a decent amount of CPU at a low latency will suffer greatly.

At the very least buy a Lexicon Alpha.

Also, don't buy an expensive 256gb SSD drive. Buy two sata III 128gb SSDs and then do a raid 0 of them (gives you twice the read speed of a single drive, which is no small boost). Use that config for the OS/programs/and raw plugin with maybe a of your small highest used sample banks (if you have a rompler that you use a lot for example). Use a 1tb 7200rpm conventional hard drive for storage for everything else.

I personally would recommend the FX-8350 in terms of cost/performance for multithread usage (the latest gen high-end AMD chips actually outperform the ivy bridge stuff in a number of multithread specific benchmarks) with a decently rated AM3+ mobo. Make sure the mobo has sata III support (you want at least 3 ports that are sata III).

You always want two identical sticks of ram so you can take advantage of dual-channel architecture. Don't ever just do a single stick even if the timing is technically better. The difference is huge.

The ivy bridge stuff is awesome, no doubt - they use less wattage than the AMD bulldozer/piledriver chips and offer the very top tier of speed on pretty much every benchmark, especially single-threaded. The price can be prohibitive though.

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 03:42 PM Reply

At 11/12/12 02:42 PM, MetalRenard wrote: Ok thanks, I'll look into other cards, though M-Audio is out of the question because of bad specs (unless you can point me towards a good one...?).

I don't know what "specs" could possibly matter in this type of case. This is similar to the headphones bunk marketing that you run across it's become so rampant. "Specs" nowadays for most any manufacturer is some bullshit totally unverified and honestly pretty much totally made-up set of numbers. When you see a $15 set of headphones advertise: "Bandwidth: 8hz to 35khz", yeah that's pretty much total bullshit lol.

Oh look, the a-weighted noise spec is -108db !!! DAMN. That means it's totally BETTER. lol

No, not really. Where the hell did they get that number? That's the real question. Oh, your jitter rate is down in the hundred pico-second range? Right, I'm sure your engineers even know how to use equipment that sophisticated in a way that would even provide a reliable number on that front. Seriously, it's a bunch of marketing bullshit. I worked for a company that made up stupid-ass numbers like that all day for their products. Beyond that, basic specifications often mean absolutely nothing. Did you know that the Behringer 2031a active monitor has nearly a totally flat frequency response curve per their own provided data-sheets which are unique to each monitor? Except, the Mackie HR-824 is also slated to be one of the flattest monitors available as well... which should mean they should sound identical! Right?

Totally wrong. A single measurement like 1/3 octave resolution frequency response tells you fuck-all about how the speaker will actually sound. I've owned a number of m-audio interfaces and they have all been fine. The real things you should be concerned about are details like, how powerful are the built-in headphone amplifiers? Are there a lot of cases of poor drivers causing system instability? How low can you get the latency while near full load on your processor? How much gain do the built-in microphone pres provide? Do the mic pres sound like shit? Do the onboard converters sound subjectively good?

Stuff like that is way more important.

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 03:52 PM Reply

One more thing. Another reason to consider the ivy-bridge stuff over bulldozer/piledriver is the availability of triple-channel ram architecture. Definitely something to consider and it will certainly make a difference.

Also, make sure you either get a pci-e firewire card or that your mobo has built-in firewire as really you'll want to try to stick with an interface that is either usb or firewire. Do not by a pci-based interface unless you're talking something like RME that has a good breakout box. You don't want to have to futz with the back of the computer everytime you need to change a connection of some kind. I've gone this route and it is a huge pain in the ass. Get a decent small 5u rack and patch everything from the back of your interface into a decent patch bay. Label each patch with one of those nifty electronic labeller devices.

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 07:39 PM Reply

Thanks for the detailed answers. :)


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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 12th, 2012 @ 08:32 PM Reply

At 11/12/12 03:52 PM, joshhunsaker wrote: Do not by a pci-based interface unless you're talking something like RME that has a good breakout box. You don't want to have to futz with the back of the computer everytime you need to change a connection of some kind. I've gone this route and it is a huge pain in the ass.

I know what you mean. That's why I avoided the M Audio 192 and picked the M Audio Delta 44 (which IS a PCI card, but uses a break-out box). Would have gotten the Delta 1010, if only it wasn't so damn expensive lol

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 15th, 2012 @ 12:12 AM Reply

Looks like a great rig to me. The link you provided for the RAM says it's unavailable on that site, so I can't comment on that. However, I'm entirely in favor of the i7 and 16 gigs of RAM. Make sure the timing on whatever RAM you get matches up with the capabilities of your MOB. I'm set up with an AMD Phenom II X6, which is a fantastic processor. Though, if I had to do it over again I would most likely go Intel. They seem to have the edge, but AMD's prices are quite attractive. Good choice with the i7.

My sound card is wrapped in my interface (I use an M-Box). What DAW do you use, and what interface? I use Pro Tools, which currently is a 32-bit program (so I can only use 4 gigs of my 16 available in RAM). Consider that when you're looking at RAM, it won't matter unless your DAW can use it all (it must be a 64-bit program). That being said, there are some programs like Reaper and jBridge that allow you to host additional plug-ins outside of the DAW, though this only works for certain plug-ins (I don't think RTAS works, if I remember correctly).

I applaud your decision to professionally write on a PC. For 1/3 of the price you can have the capabilities of a Mac Pro (which is what I did as well). My apple-loving musician friends ridiculed me at first, but now I have the same computing capabilities and was able to purchase a ton of awesome virtual instruments as well.

Oh, and if you're recording live audio, you may want to invest in some good cooling equipment. Once you start running hot, you don't want a fan buzzing in all of your recordings.

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Response to Building a PC for music - Help? Nov. 15th, 2012 @ 12:21 PM Reply

Thanks for the tips, I'll double check on the speed of the RAM and MOBO.
I use REAPER so it's 64bit. No issues there. Also I record live audio already using my Line 6 UX2 (guitar, bass and vocals). I have a quiet fan and I plan on getting a case that isn't too loud. :)


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