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Computer Hardware Audio interfaces, MIDI interfaces, control surfaces, MIDI controllers & USB MIDI keyboards (not motherboards or system components)

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  #61 (permalink)  
Old 17th September 2009 , 10:28 PM
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Default Studio PC on a tight budget

Not sure if I should have started a new thread for this.
Anyhow I hope someone can help as I am a bit of a studio novice. I have a profire 2626 but it does not seem compatible with my current PC, I suspect because it has VIA chipsets. I have come to the conclusion that I require a PC that is totally dedicated to audio recording. I have 200 but could stretch to 300 may be a bit more if absolutely necessary. I can put the PC together myself but I need suggestions as to what components are most compatible with the profire 2626. Basically what mb, processor, ram, hard drive or drives, power supply, case etc.

I intend using cubase but not sure which version, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. PC is for a small home studio, so I would not expect to record more than 8 tracks simultaniously, but I may want to play back quite a few more when mixing down.

Any help / advice much appreciated.
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  #62 (permalink)  
Old 18th September 2009 , 10:00 AM
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If you're mixing internally, then you can have as many tracks as your DAW will allow.
Something I learned from this thread is get a decent motherboard, make that the priority. Asus P5Q, is what I was recommended by JAYDMF. At over 100, its quite shock when you're used to paying 30-35 for a motherboard, but now I have it, I understand why.

The processor depends on how you want to record. If you're doing mostly audio and using a few basic VSTs, then an Intel Core 2 starts from about 35 used on an auction site. If you want to use more powerful plugins though, you'll need something more powerful.

HDD again depends on how want to record, how much space you'll need, how many plugins you want to run e.t.c. You can pick up a brand new 320GB/16mb/7200 SATA drive for 30 now. With yer P5Q mobo, you can add more if/when you want more.

Kingston 4GB DDR2 1066 RAM is about 55.

The PSU is also more important than you think, from around 30. Case doesn't really matter at this stage, you can get a cheap one.

So for the hardware, you can do it under 300. If you have a good motherboard, you can upgrade everything else as & when you need to. :-)
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  #63 (permalink)  
Old 20th September 2009 , 07:05 PM
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Thanks for your reply, I will mainly be recording audio, guitars, mics etc. and using midi drum pads and maybe a keyboard with midi. I'm not familiar with all the terminology but are VST's virtual instruments where the sounds are created with your software and the various notes are triggered by a midi keyboard or pads?

Anyhow to get back to the PC subject, I will have a look at where I can source the Asus P5Q and try and figure out which would be the best processor in my price range. In the past when I have built PC's I have normally used AMD processors as they seem to do pretty much the same thing as Pentium but at a much lower price. The thing about the power supply and the memory, does the name on it make much difference, I think sometimes we may just be paying a high price for a prestigious name. I have in the past used cases that come with a power supply already fitted for around 20. I think I may be able to get one with a 500w supply for under 30 would this be a bad idea in your opinion and if so, why?

Again with the memory I think you recommended Kingston but is that better than some lesser known brand which may be half the price?

With hard drives I know I should go for 7500rpm but are there any other things I should look for in a suitable hard drive. Also would it be good practice to put your recording software cubase etc. on one hard drive but the tracks you record on another?

Sorry I know I ask a lot of questions but hopefully the answers will benefit other people as well as myself.

Acorn.
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  #64 (permalink)  
Old 20th September 2009 , 07:32 PM
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In that sort of budget your going to be limited but AMD is more likely to be your friend than Intel. Had a quick butchers and this is what id do looking at either. With the intel build a bit more money would get you a much better board but you need to jump to like 80/90 really to make a marked difference which is why i havent included a full p45 board on the intel spec as itd push the prices too high. The AMD would pip the intel set up for the money due to DDR3 and Phenom II giving more performance per . but you can go either way really.


To the mods this is from a well known site that i got the prices i apologise if this breaks any board rules just drop me a line and i wont do this again
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  #65 (permalink)  
Old 20th September 2009 , 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
Thanks for your reply, I will mainly be recording audio, guitars, mics etc. and using midi drum pads and maybe a keyboard with midi.
If its basic home recording, you'll do just fine with a basic Althlon or P4 powered computer. I ran Cubase VST 5.1 on a pentium 4 2.4ghz, 2gb DDR400 RAM, IDE hard drive, cheap Asrock mobo and cheap case+psu for years and happily recorded away with no problems. You can pick up a Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon cpu for the price of a couple of beers these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
I'm not familiar with all the terminology but are VST's virtual instruments where the sounds are created with your software and the various notes are triggered by a midi keyboard or pads?
Yeh, plugins, software synths & signal processors e.t.c.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
Anyhow to get back to the PC subject, I will have a look at where I can source the Asus P5Q and try and figure out which would be the best processor in my price range. In the past when I have built PC's I have normally used AMD processors as they seem to do pretty much the same thing as Pentium but at a much lower price. The thing about the power supply and the memory, does the name on it make much difference, I think sometimes we may just be paying a high price for a prestigious name. I have in the past used cases that come with a power supply already fitted for around 20. I think I may be able to get one with a 500w supply for under 30 would this be a bad idea in your opinion and if so, why?
TBH, I don't really know too much about PSUs I just bought what was recommended to me, but I think someone has explained it on this thread somewhere. I got the P5Q Deluxe from ebuyer.com for 119. I'd still say it would be worth getting one of those, even if you don't need anything so powerful at this stage because you'll be able to upgrade the other hardware easily if you want to and another bonus is that DDR2 RAM is much cheaper than DDR1 RAM for some reason.
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Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
Again with the memory I think you recommended Kingston but is that better than some lesser known brand which may be half the price?

With hard drives I know I should go for 7500rpm but are there any other things I should look for in a suitable hard drive. Also would it be good practice to put your recording software cubase etc. on one hard drive but the tracks you record on another?

Sorry I know I ask a lot of questions but hopefully the answers will benefit other people as well as myself.

Acorn.
I just use multiple hard drives to store data from plugins for performance, but for the audio, I still always use the system drive. I'd always put at least 2 hard drives in anyway so I can keep a backup of anything important in case anything ever happened to the system drive.
I always went for Kingston RAM because the price difference isn't that much and I've never had problems with it. I have had problems with cheap RAM before. I honestly don't know why, I might just have been unlucky, but a lot of people recommend it and it has served me well.
I got Western Digital WD3200AAKS 320GB SATAII 7200rpm 16MB Cache Hard drives, they're 32. Good drives for the money.
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  #66 (permalink)  
Old 20th September 2009 , 11:25 PM
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Thanks for your honest answers and opinions, that's very helpful. I now have a good idea of the sort of items I need. I'm still a bit uncertain about the power supply, firstly do I go for 400w or 500w. JAYDMF, both the systems you recommend use a case with a seperately purchased PSU. If I went for a case with a built in PSU at a much lower price, would the main difference be the PSU sound level and temp controlled fan instead of a constant speed fan.

If the make / model of PSU does not make much difference and I took the cheaper option of case with built in PSU, would the money saved bring much benefit being spent on another 2Gb of memory.

Acorn.
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  #67 (permalink)  
Old 22nd September 2009 , 09:29 AM
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I have been looking at some of the specifications on the above mentioned components. I notice that quite a few of the Asus mobo still use VIA chips, often for the audio and in many cases for the firewire controller. In the past I have been told to steer clear of VIA chipsets on firewire cards, as they will most likely conflict with the audio interface, is this still the case?

JAYDMF, the Asus M4A785TD-M has a VIA audio chip, is this likely to cause problems. I would think this would be dissabled when using my profire 2626, so I'm thinking it should not be a problem but would like a second opinion.


Thanks
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Old 22nd September 2009 , 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
I have been looking at some of the specifications on the above mentioned components. I notice that quite a few of the Asus mobo still use VIA chips, often for the audio and in many cases for the firewire controller. In the past I have been told to steer clear of VIA chipsets on firewire cards, as they will most likely conflict with the audio interface, is this still the case?

JAYDMF, the Asus M4A785TD-M has a VIA audio chip, is this likely to cause problems. I would think this would be dissabled when using my profire 2626, so I'm thinking it should not be a problem but would like a second opinion.


Thanks
Acorn.
Yes unfortunatly Asus have gone back to using Via for audio and some firewire chips but all the via audio cards i have used as of late (mostly on asus M4A/N series) have been fine. Firewire would be more of a problem and if your going to use a firewire audio/dsp card i would suggest tagging in a TI PCI-E card something like the lyecom firewire card that scan sell. its only about 25 and works well.

yes more ram would be a good idea especially if your going to run under vista but as its ddr3 and has more bandwidth it would be a suck it and see situation on if you need more. personally i would have thought that 2gb of ddr3 running at 1333mhz would be fine.

i did some work on my AMD machine running 2gb ddr2 800mhz whilst my main machine was down and encountered no problems. in terms of quantity we are only seeing people using much more in stock machines because ddr2 is cheap. Having said that it is now back on the rise in terms of price as 1066/1333 ddr3 is beginning to fall quite dramatically.

As for PSUs i would always pay more for a PSU as starving your machine of power is potentially the worst thing you can do and can be the cause of BSODs and other power related problems. you can get away with cheap supplies but ive always found that in the event of surges etc cheap supplies have more of a tendency to blow out and take the board with them whilst more expensive ones will tend to sacrafice themselves and leave all your other components in tact (there are obviously exceptions to that rule).

The silverstone one i spec'd is a pretty good supply for its price. it doesnt have any funky braiding or modular connectors so you know the money is spent on quality components. Theyre not noisey either. Im using the 350w baby brother in this computer right now and it makes for a quiet machine.

Antec i think do do a version of the 300 with one of their own supplies so its worth a look in as it may save you a little. The 300 is a very good case for its price point tho. not the easiest of cases to work with in terms of cable management but it offers very good cooling and the fans preinstalled are antecs tricool type which have switch for setting fan speed. this is good if you wish to keep your machine running cool whilst not being intrusive.
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  #69 (permalink)  
Old 22nd September 2009 , 08:18 PM
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I intend using XP professional 32 bit as I have heard some people have problems with some software at 64 bit. Plus the profire 2626 does 24 bit recording so I am assumming there is no need to move to a 64bit operating system, my thinking may be completely wrong as I am no expert in this field.

Also I read that there is not much point in going above 2gb RAM as 32 bit XP can only use between 2 & 3gb.

My main concern is that I have been unable to get my current set up to work properly due to drop outs, sound becomming distorted etc. I can only put this down to my mobo having VIA chipsets. My FW card is TI, processor AMD sempron 2400+ 1.67 Ghz, 1 gb of RAM. I have been trying it with cubase SX3. I've tried a Moto 8 pre as well as a profire 2626 interface, but still the same problems. It's been nearly a year now that I have been trying to get my home based studio operational. Money is a bit tight but I am now in a position to build a better PC than the present one. I am just worried about spending 200 to 300 on a machine if I am going to have the same problems. That's the reason I am dubious when it comes to VIA chips, even if its just audio which would be dissabled when using the profire 2626.

I am considering your suggested AMD based build apart from the case and power supply. Using a standard Gladiator case with built in 500w PSU and 3 fans, the whole thing comes in at around 250. Hopefully I will be able to record something and play it back without the drop outs and distortion.

Thanks for your help so far, I may need more advice yet. I will let you know how I get on with the new set up when it's built.

Regards
Acorn
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Old 22nd September 2009 , 10:56 PM
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Your Via audio chip should bear no relevance to drops in audio when using a different card as the profire is doing all the work. unless the FW buss is being starved the only problem i can see is that fact that your are using a laptop processor and effectively only have 512mb ram(of your 1gb 512 is required to run XP if you are using sp2 or 3, not taking into account any used to power onboard gfx) free for supporting audio tracks and dealing with audio apps and additional hardware. The sempron is probably bottlenecking the whole system to be honest.

I used to run a 3.2 p4 with 1gb ram and would experience similar problems with the processor pushed hard and a lot of audio running under sx2 with a edirol fa101 (using my da2496 i found this to be less of a problem probably due to the fact that it was running on the PCI bus which requires less CPU power effectively) and the only way around this was to continually bounce tracks and keep as many instruments offline as possible. unless parameters needed tweaking.

As for the build even if you choose a different cheaper case say something like a coolermaster elite 330 (25 from most places) spend out on the PSU its one of THE most vital parts of your system, the phenom II is a nippy processor for the money and it would be a shame to spoil what would be a good system for a saving of 30/40 even if money is really tight. personally i tend to make sure that mobo, memory, cpu and PSU are the best possible components even if that means getting a cheap case, cd drive and a slower HDD with less cache+storage space.
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Old 23rd September 2009 , 08:05 PM
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Thanks JAYDMF, I have decided to take your advice on a quality power supply to be on the safe side. My local computer supplier does not stock the SilverStone, so after much thought and reading of specs, I think I will go for an OCZ modxstream pro 500W.

I have also been giving a lot of thought to the mobo and have come across the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H this has realtec audio, T.I. firewire and AMD north and south bridge chips, no VIA chips that I can see. Its in a similar price bracket to the ASUS and it is also mATX.

The Antec 300 case which includes a couple of fans looks smart for the money, so I have decided I will go for that. My only concern is that the specs only say it will support ATX, it does'nt say anything about mATX. Am I correct in thinking it will still have fixing points for mATX even though mATX is not specified.

Anyhow here is a list I have come up with for a studio PC. I have gone way over my intended budget, but it should do me for a few years. If there are any items in the list you think are not compatible, please let me know. I am intending to use windows XP pro with cubase 5 and a Profire 2626 audio interface.

1 x OCZ modxstream pro 500w
1 x Antec 300 case
1 x Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H mother board
1 x AMD Phenom II x 2 545 sok AM3
1 x 3gb (3 x 1gb) corsair xms3 DDR3 PC3-10666
2 x 320gb Samsung HD322HJ SATA 3gb/s 7200rpm
1 x Samsung SH-S223B/BEBE 22 X DVD+R

Come to 381.04 from my local supplier.

Regards
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Old 23rd September 2009 , 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
Thanks JAYDMF, I have decided to take your advice on a quality power supply to be on the safe side. My local computer supplier does not stock the SilverStone, so after much thought and reading of specs, I think I will go for an OCZ modxstream pro 500W.

I have also been giving a lot of thought to the mobo and have come across the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H this has realtec audio, T.I. firewire and AMD north and south bridge chips, no VIA chips that I can see. Its in a similar price bracket to the ASUS and it is also mATX.

The Antec 300 case which includes a couple of fans looks smart for the money, so I have decided I will go for that. My only concern is that the specs only say it will support ATX, it does'nt say anything about mATX. Am I correct in thinking it will still have fixing points for mATX even though mATX is not specified.

Anyhow here is a list I have come up with for a studio PC. I have gone way over my intended budget, but it should do me for a few years. If there are any items in the list you think are not compatible, please let me know. I am intending to use windows XP pro with cubase 5 and a Profire 2626 audio interface.

1 x OCZ modxstream pro 500w
1 x Antec 300 case
1 x Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H mother board
1 x AMD Phenom II x 2 545 sok AM3
1 x 3gb (3 x 1gb) corsair xms3 DDR3 PC3-10666
2 x 320gb Samsung HD322HJ SATA 3gb/s 7200rpm
1 x Samsung SH-S223B/BEBE 22 X DVD+R

Come to 381.04 from my local supplier.

Regards
Acorn.
Good decision it will pay off. Should all be fine. The 3gb kit you have on that list looks like its an i7 kit but the gigabyte should still support it in dual channel config if you wanna save a lil cash then you can pick up just a dual 2gb kit but as i said should be fine with 3 sticks if you wanna max out XPs RAM handling capabilites. its worth making sure the machine runs in dual channel as it gives some performance increase over single in the same way that triple does over dual (although how much of an increase is still a widely debated subject).

The antec does have standoff points for micro atx boards so you'll been fine there. it is indeed a solid case for the money. so far i havent found many cases in the same price range that are as well built and provide good cooling.

The one thing i would say is just keep an eye on the gigabyte bios updates, the 785 chipset is the newest in AMDs line up and gigabyte are a bit renowned for putting out a lot of bios updates early on in a board such as this lifetime to fix low level problems (usually that overclockers get nigly about and most people dont need to work) but its always worth while keeping an eye on what the bios updates do or fix. This can be said of any good board manufacturer tbh but gigabyte seem to put out more in the early stages of a board than say asus/asrock or MSI etc.

You'll have a nice solid machine there to see you good for a fair while, My 550 BE is far outstripping my e6600 in multitasking and has really opened up my gaming machine and reaktor synth building but at the same time runs cooler than the 6600 and even a friends 8400 (although i am using a geminii S this is not as extreme as his thermalright 120 ex) and its quiet enough to watch films. If you need more help just message me or of course post
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Old 23rd September 2009 , 11:15 PM
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It may be a week or two before its all up an running but I will let you know how it goes. Thanks again for all your help and advice.


Regards
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Old 16th October 2009 , 02:16 PM
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Some1 mentioned Asus pq5 mobo. The new one PQ6LE is better( no difference in price ).
I do have a pc and here are my specs: pq5 asus mobo, 8500 cpu, 2X2gb ddr3 Ram, 2x 320 gb 7400 hdds, 512mb-ddr5 grafix, 1000w antec psu, 1200 Antec case. As i don`t use it that much i won`t buy a sound card.
Try to get a cpu at 1066
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Old 30th November 2009 , 06:16 AM
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