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Thread: PC Build advice; enter DAW domain from completely analog.

  1. #1
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    PC Build advice; enter DAW domain from completely analog.

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    Hey folks, I've got a studio that has been exclusively tape machines and analog for about 4 years now, and I'm just now taking the step to utilizing the digital realm. I've got nothing against digital other than I don't understand it as much. Tape machines and analog work flow make more sense to me, but, I'm leaving money on the table by not being able to utilize what I've got as a tracking facility that can stem out to be added to or mixed elsewhere, or do remote mixing from different bands out of the country who can't afford the travel here, etc etc..

    Anyway, I've got the Universal Audio Apollo 16 MKII(NOT the newest X series) to accomplish this, as my multi-track machine is 16 track. I don't know much about computers these days but fortunately my brother-in-law is a huge gamer/virtual reality guy and gifted me the
    Z370 AORUS Gaming 5 motherboard with the Thunderbolt 3,
    a 500GB hard-drive,
    a power supply, and the case.

    So as far as I know, I'm in need of a processor, RAM, & Graphics Card. The Motherboard accepts 1151 socket size, so this is what I'm looking at to fill those needs:

    PROCESSOR:
    $329.99
    Intel Core i7-7700 Kaby Lake Quad-Core 3.6 GHz LGA 1151 65W
    Intel Core i7-7700 Kaby Lake Quad-Core 3.6 GHz LGA 1151 65W BX80677I77700 Desktop Processor - Newegg.com

    MEMORY:
    $61.99
    G.SKILL Aegis 8GB 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2666 (PC4 21300) Desktop Memory Model F4-2666C19S-8GIS
    G.SKILL Aegis 8GB 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2666 (PC4 21300) Desktop Memory Model F4-2666C19S-8GIS - Newegg.com

    GRAPHICS CARD:
    $12.99
    VisionTek ATI Radeon HD 4350 512MB 64 bit 2560 x 1600 GDDR2 SDRAM PCI Express x16 Video Graphics Card 4350DMS512
    Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more - Newegg.com


    Besides obvious keyboard/mouse/monitor and such, what else could I need? Is all of this compatible with one another? Since I do literally nothing on the digital side of things right now, my intention is to use this computer only as a DAW/media storage. I'm never going to use a plug-in on it, I'm never going to be adding tracks to the 16 tape tracks, it will never be on the internet, never hold family photos or videos or anything else, only task is music. It's really just a way to transport the media from one medium to the other at the highest quality. I need it to record 16 tracks at the same time no problem and playback 16 no problem, even if at 192kHz.

    So like I said, I know virtually nothing aboot computers these days so I'm seeking advice from the digitally minded audio community to see how this would shape up, just being used as a recording/playback tool.

    With all of that information does this look like a good build, or is anything overkill? Can I get a cheaper processor that will still do just fine or should I look for something else? I'm getting external hard drives so the 500GB hard drive shouldn't be a problem.

    Thank you guys for any tips or insight you can provide,

    Chip Double-You

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Whitley View Post
    Hey folks, I've got a studio that has been exclusively tape machines and analog for about 4 years now, and I'm just now taking the step to utilizing the digital realm. I've got nothing against digital other than I don't understand it as much. Tape machines and analog work flow make more sense to me, but, I'm leaving money on the table by not being able to utilize what I've got as a tracking facility that can stem out to be added to or mixed elsewhere, or do remote mixing from different bands out of the country who can't afford the travel here, etc etc..

    Anyway, I've got the Universal Audio Apollo 16 MKII(NOT the newest X series) to accomplish this, as my multi-track machine is 16 track. I don't know much about computers these days but fortunately my brother-in-law is a huge gamer/virtual reality guy and gifted me the
    Z370 AORUS Gaming 5 motherboard with the Thunderbolt 3,
    a 500GB hard-drive,
    a power supply, and the case.

    So as far as I know, I'm in need of a processor, RAM, & Graphics Card. The Motherboard accepts 1151 socket size, so this is what I'm looking at to fill those needs:

    PROCESSOR:
    $329.99
    Intel Core i7-7700 Kaby Lake Quad-Core 3.6 GHz LGA 1151 65W
    Intel Core i7-7700 Kaby Lake Quad-Core 3.6 GHz LGA 1151 65W BX80677I77700 Desktop Processor - Newegg.com

    MEMORY:
    $61.99
    G.SKILL Aegis 8GB 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2666 (PC4 21300) Desktop Memory Model F4-2666C19S-8GIS
    G.SKILL Aegis 8GB 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2666 (PC4 21300) Desktop Memory Model F4-2666C19S-8GIS - Newegg.com

    GRAPHICS CARD:
    $12.99
    VisionTek ATI Radeon HD 4350 512MB 64 bit 2560 x 1600 GDDR2 SDRAM PCI Express x16 Video Graphics Card 4350DMS512
    Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more - Newegg.com


    Besides obvious keyboard/mouse/monitor and such, what else could I need? Is all of this compatible with one another? Since I do literally nothing on the digital side of things right now, my intention is to use this computer only as a DAW/media storage. I'm never going to use a plug-in on it, I'm never going to be adding tracks to the 16 tape tracks, it will never be on the internet, never hold family photos or videos or anything else, only task is music. It's really just a way to transport the media from one medium to the other at the highest quality. I need it to record 16 tracks at the same time no problem and playback 16 no problem, even if at 192kHz.

    So like I said, I know virtually nothing aboot computers these days so I'm seeking advice from the digitally minded audio community to see how this would shape up, just being used as a recording/playback tool.

    With all of that information does this look like a good build, or is anything overkill? Can I get a cheaper processor that will still do just fine or should I look for something else? I'm getting external hard drives so the 500GB hard drive shouldn't be a problem.

    Thank you guys for any tips or insight you can provide,

    Chip Double-You

    I would look at the sites that explain how to set up a pc for music use.
    You might even consider buying from one of those that sells custom made music oriented PCs.

    While I have worked with PCs and hardware to some extent, I would not feel good assembling my own box on my own.
    I would at least get a plan from a music magazine for their ideal music PC if I tried it. Not put together parts and hope they would all work.
    They will need to work with the opsys, and the DAW and the drivers you need for the DAW and other stuff you have.

    you should not even think of using it for anything else but music. so you got that right.

    More ram is good. You will need more HD space too. And ways to back up huge files.
    A HD dedicated to tracking would be better than sharing it with the opsys. Then you could scrub it between uses and defrag it to avoid issues.
    External usb HD would be good for temporary backup.

    Verify that your DAW can do what you want. And do it easily for you.

  3. #3
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    Plug all of this into Pick parts. Build your PC. Compare and share. - PCPartPicker and it'll let you know of any incompatibilities.

    My main advice for an audio PC is to think about cooling. Buy chassis fans that are designed for quiet operation (Noctua, Be Quiet, etc.) and learn how to set their speed-vs-temperature curves in your BIOS. This will ensure they are quiet yet still effectively cooling.

    You'll want an after-market CPU cooler. The stock Intel cooler is going to struggle to cool a 7700. If your chassis can accommodate it, take a look at the ubiquitous EVO Hyper 212 or similar and buy a Noctua NF-F12 PWM to replace the included 120mm fan that comes with it.

    That mobo supports up to 64GB of RAM. You'll have to buy 16GB DIMMs if you ever want to max that out. 8GB DIMMs will work fine, but just pointing that out. It's unlikely that you'd ever need 64GB or RAM, but you never know.

    I'd advise against that graphics card. Your system will be fine without it. If you end up needing a discrete GPU, then get something more recent than a graphics card that's still branded as ATI. AMD bought ATI ages ago, so anything still bearing that logo is ancient in computer years and may not still have driver support in modern operating systems.

    Grab a cheap solid state drive to use as your OS drive, and grab a cheap HDD as your mass storage drive. That 500GB HDD will do for now, but you'll almost certainly outgrow it before long. A 1TB HDD can be had for $30 nowadays, so no reason to skimp on storage space.

    that's my computer nerd 2 cents, at least
    Last edited by Tadpui; 04-09-2019 at 17:41.

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  5. #4
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    Hi Chip, I too am no computer guru but I have built a couple of modest systems.

    Cheaper CPU? Yes, an i5 would serve your immediate needs I am sure but if you can go better.
    Ram: again, 8G is fine for now but get 16G and you will almost never need to upgrade again.

    DEFFO! get an SSD to run the OS* and DAW (which will be?) look upon the 500G drive as an emergency backup (keep an image on it)
    Since you have TB3 look at a caddy and install an external 1TB SSD for storage and backedupbackup! If your work is valuable to you save it on the SSD and put the drive in a fireproof safe at the end of the day. Boot stuff up to a cloud as well.

    *This will have to be Windows ten and I strongly advise you get the Pro version as I understand it has better update options than the Bog S OS?

    One saving you can make? You can get a stonking 32" + FSTV to use as a monitor (VIA HDMI) for a lot less than a PC monitor and a LOT,LOT less if you trawl the second hand and charity shops! The picture quality, especially action scenes, may not please the gamers but for slow to static DAW screens, fine.

    Dave.

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    The key with using 'TVs' as monitors is to make sure the resolution is high enough. HD isn't enough. You want 4K. Also check out Newegg's monitors. They sometimes have nice deals on 32" monitors with solid resolutions. 1 Tb solid states are coming available. Go 16Gb RAM and sacrifice a little on the processor, the older i7s are cheaper than the newer ones and the i9s.

    Also, (and I'd like input from others here) consider a QNAP file server as bulk storage. It will connect via cat6 cable and could be 300ft away. Can be noisy, but can also provide cheap raid protected storage. Easy setup from a browser on your main box. The QNAP needs power and cat6 - no monitor, keyboard or mouse. $600 would get a 4x 4Tb job which gives you 12Tb + one insurance drive. Typically, you can start with a single HD and add more as finances allow. Maybe $400 to start.

    Nice thing with the QNAP is that you can upgrade your workstation and the 12Tb storage remains in place.

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    Why Can’t You Use a TV as a Monitor?

    ^ Gives you the full SP. In practice, for DAW work a standard 1080 TV is fine. Son and I have used a 22" FSTV for years and in my living room I run a PC into a 42" smart JVC of about 3 yrs old via VGA. The picture quality is perfectly good enough for my needs. I guess if I were a manic gamer, no but for most other PC duties I find TVs just fine.

    While we'ere here? Bit of a tip. You can find a PC connected to a TV via HDMI (or Display Port adapter) does not work? Try powering down the TV and re-connecting.

    Dave.

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    I wondered about this too. I've had a change around here - I have moved my video edit suite into my audio studio. The system with two monitors running Cubase is right next to my video editing screens running higher quality monitors and higher quality video cards. The reason was because more and more projects are linking the two systems and going back and forth between rooms was getting annoying. With the sound computer, the screens are just as easy to read. Cubase has a new hi-res mode, but I have no need to use it.

    There is an important feature to consider on displays though. Many 4K, and even HD TVs are optimised for their highest setting, and everything below this is up-converted to it and this can really soften the picture. You rarely find this out until you try. I've got a great HD TV spare, but it is rubbish connected to my sound computer - the picture is mangled and text in the mixer window impossible to read. On paper, it should be fine. It is not!

    People have mentioned video cards, ram, rom, processor chips - but don't forget you need a fast storage medium. Most backlogs and glitches in your audio computer come from the disk drives being unable to keep up. External drives on USB 2 are normally speedy enough now, but check the data throughput in the spec on any drives you intend using, internal or external.

    I loved your statement.
    my intention is to use this computer only as a DAW/media storage. I'm never going to use a plug-in on it, I'm never going to be adding tracks to the 16 tape tracks, it will never be on the internet, never hold family photos or videos or anything else, only task is music. It's really just a way to transport the media from one medium to the other at the highest quality. I need it to record 16 tracks at the same time no problem and playback 16 no problem, even if at 192kHz.
    I would bet that knowing your system could do something, but you haven't taken advantage of it, will change your mind. I think most of us had in our heads the notion of simply replacing one medium with a modern one was all we needed. I did it with 3 ADAT machines. I went totally computer with my Soundcraft mixer - using it as a clever tape machine. Now, I simply can't imagine doing this. The Soundcraft is still in the studio. Two input faders are up, and the output fader is up. If the phone rings, I pull it down. Then shove it back to where a bit of tape stops it going too far. Once you have your music in the box, then so many annoyances can be solved.

    That one vocal note that's just a tiny bit early. That one wrong note in the bass track. That little guitar fill that requires you to push a fader an inch every time because the compressor softens it too much. That perfect first chorus and the less good same line in the second. The problem with the stereo field you can't quite work out.

    Your computer can fix all of these things. It's just crazy to not use it. I know you want to preserve your way of working and the 'history' maybe - but it's a very emotional thing to cross that line - but if you do, your end products will be better and your stress levels lower - ONCE you get your head changed. Purists always have this initial hangup. It's human. It's like having that special amazing antique tool in your toolbox, but not wanting to use it because you could damage it. You carry on with your old well worn one, and having the other one in your possession is enough.

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    If you are going to be recording in the same room as the computer get a very good quite case. I use the Fractal R5 but, the R6 is out now. Very quite case, I can use a condenser mic fairly hot in the same room and not pic up any computer noise.

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