Optimize Your DAW Computer for Your Home Studio

sCLg8kM

New member
need a little help to specific hardware choices for a mid-tower or tower build build?

i want to move from my ASUS notebook to a mid-tower desktop type. just joined here so i could get some advice on this build as i don't have a lot of experience. want to stay with windows. ~1700.00 budget?

would like to stay with an ASUS mobo, an i7 cpu, min 16GB ram, graphics card, sound card, two samsung ssd's, cosair 850 PSU, cosair obsidian case

that's about as far as i've gotten in general. specific mobo, cpu, sound card, etc, i'm stuck.

tia
 

Chili

Site Moderator
Recording audio doesn't take a lot of cpu horsepower. $1700 is wayyy too much to spend on a computer for audio recording. If you're truly starting from scratch, expect to spend about $600 on a computer. Then you have $1100 to invest in the rest of your studio. Put most of your money in your monitors and acoustically treating your room. Then think about a couple of mics and an audio interface. Then software/plugs/etc... $1100 will go a long ways.

There is someone earlier in this thread who said he still uses a P4 computer. Audio doesn't need a lot of CPU horsepower. (Yup, I said it twice because it's true!!!)
 

Mr Clean

AKA Teddy Wong
There is someone earlier in this thread who said he still uses a P4 computer. Audio doesn't need a lot of CPU horsepower. (Yup, I said it twice because it's true!!!)

Another P4 user here. HP Compaq, P4, 2.8GHz, 4 Gb RAM. Win XP Pro (x86) Cost £89 from eBay. (Refurbished office repossession)

I got this in 2009. You can get a lot better refurbished PC's out there now.
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
Pedant here...

Recording or even playing back audio doesn't take a lot of processor power but, as soon as you start using plug ins THEN the processor use can go sky high and you want the most power (and the most RAM) you can afford.

Also, be aware that DAW software is gradually migrating to a 64 bit architecture. If you want to future proof yourself, I'd be looking for hardware and an OS that can handle that.
 

PDP

There once was a note
CPU power also depends on how many Virtual Instruments you want to use. High Quality VSTi's use about a core per instrument. (Including lots of plugins etc.) My quad core runs 4 VSTi's and another 24 tracks of audio which is fine for me.

I definitely would go 64bit at this point. Its also nice that software has gotten a lot better, Windows7(64) and Cubase 7 runs way better than when I ran Vista(32) and Cubase 5 on the same computer system.

and, as the title of this thread is: Use a good optimization guide, makes a huge difference.
 

sCLg8kM

New member
Yeah I have to chime in as I've been building computers for quite a bit!

I would say that in optimizing computer for any software that uses multithreading is to get as many cores (I think 4 cores is the minimum for this) as you can into the machine (and you hjave to go into your computer registry and change it that the computer uses all cores at all times...allthough some people say this can be quite straining to the computer I have never had any problems with this). Get a 64 bit operating system (xp 64 can handle up to 128 Gb of RAM.) Get good internal hard drive. Get at least 6 Gb of RAM. Get good external hard drive for backing up your stuff. Get a decent video card, it doesn't have to be the kind that one would use for extreme gaming but one day you will want to get a second monitor so you'll need a video card that supports such an option. Get a good sound card (this is usually solved when you'll buy an audio interface).

To my experience with using the prices in Finland at the moment it would be apporoximatelly 500 - 600 euros (650 - 750 $) to build a maching like this (excluding the audio interface).

I know nothing about MAC's though... Never used them and never will use them... Apples are for eating.

useful info, thanks
 

sCLg8kM

New member
CPU power also depends on how many Virtual Instruments you want to use. High Quality VSTi's use about a core per instrument. (Including lots of plugins etc.) My quad core runs 4 VSTi's and another 24 tracks of audio which is fine for me.

I definitely would go 64bit at this point. Its also nice that software has gotten a lot better, Windows7(64) and Cubase 7 runs way better than when I ran Vista(32) and Cubase 5 on the same computer system.

and, as the title of this thread is: Use a good optimization guide, makes a huge difference.

i'm gonna go with win7-64. i don't have the funds for a Mac machine. i7-4770k is the cpu i decided on or wait a few weeks on the i7-4790k
 

Chili

Site Moderator
Pedant here...

Recording or even playing back audio doesn't take a lot of processor power but, as soon as you start using plug ins THEN the processor use can go sky high and you want the most power (and the most RAM) you can afford..

Another pendant here.... It really depends on which plugs you're using. Reverb plugs can definitely chew up resources. But compressors and EQ's don't use a lot. Before I bought into UAD, I was using a lot freebies plugs on my P4 machine. They sounded okay and didn't choke my computer.

I will still agree about getting as much computing power as you can for the money. Especially RAM.


Also, be aware that DAW software is gradually migrating to a 64 bit architecture. If you want to future proof yourself, I'd be looking for hardware and an OS that can handle that.

Yup.
 

jimmys69

MOODerator
There is also something to be said about what runs with what. I still have no use for an older UAD card because Steinberg (Cubase) and the developer never figured shit out as far as compatibility. It sits there waiting. Though, I am enthused to try them out some day, I do not have the need to run a separate card for effects. Though I recently just ran into a bottleneck as far as system RAM using SSD4 and 32 bit Cubase. It may be time to install the 64 bit stuff. That will likely take 8 hours to update all of the plugs I have purchased.

Oh, so much fun.... lol
 

sCLg8kM

New member
Recording audio doesn't take a lot of cpu horsepower. $1700 is wayyy too much to spend on a computer for audio recording. If you're truly starting from scratch, expect to spend about $600 on a computer. Then you have $1100 to invest in the rest of your studio. Put most of your money in your monitors and acoustically treating your room. Then think about a couple of mics and an audio interface. Then software/plugs/etc... $1100 will go a long ways.

There is someone earlier in this thread who said he still uses a P4 computer. Audio doesn't need a lot of CPU horsepower. (Yup, I said it twice because it's true!!!)

if i already have an audio interface then i don't really need a sound card do i? its a usb 2.0 roland quad-capture interface.
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
You don't need an internal interface but there are times when it can be useful--not for any serious audio work but simply when setting up so you can hear the bings and bongs and warning. As an example, I have three different interfaces I use depending on what I'm doing but can also use the onboard for the typical "quick playback" rather than hooking up one of the proper ones. The basic Realtek or similar is often on the mother board anyway and costs peanuts to have there.
 

sCLg8kM

New member
You don't need an internal interface but there are times when it can be useful--not for any serious audio work but simply when setting up so you can hear the bings and bongs and warning. As an example, I have three different interfaces I use depending on what I'm doing but can also use the onboard for the typical "quick playback" rather than hooking up one of the proper ones. The basic Realtek or similar is often on the mother board anyway and costs peanuts to have there.

thanks for your reply. i didn't think of that so to speak. so i went an order a mobo, asus z97-a and it does come with sound built in. an affordable mobo for me at this time. glad you folks and this forum is here
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
Oh dear! Here we go again.

The fact is that both Mac and Windows can produce excellent results and the preference is purely down to what you know and like (and, sometimes, the software you want to run since not all DAWs run on both systems).

I've used both and have a personal preference for Windows--but that's mainly because I've been using Windows since version 3.1 and know my way around it. Others more used to Mac would have the opposite opinion.

Go with what you like and know best. Both do the job just fine.
 

GtrGtrGtr

New member
Another query ...
:thumbs up: In reading further it finally occurred to me some of this info may be outdated ? That said, I as some.. am also starting from scratch as an older fella used to older ways so ...here is my computer question and my latest ebay search.. All in Ones? can these also be used to record in comfort of not worrying about it slowly taking the fun out of itself? I am looking at an i7/8GB Ram/ 5400rpm/ 1TB /8GB SSD.. Ok now can these SSDs be built larger and would that be beneficial to the process? This computer will be dedicated to just this process no other . Thanks to all who help in advance ;) seems every time I ask I get help so Kudos to this forum and its members-Steve
 
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Chili

Site Moderator
My wife has an All in One and I wouldn't trust it to for anything more than Facebook. Maybe Skype, but it sometimes has issues. Of course, I don't think the processor in that thing is an i7. Probably some Core2Duo from yesteryear.

Recording audio does not require a lot of computing horsepower. Straight up audio with a few plugs is easy for just about any computer. You start loading up the resources when you use cpu intensive plugs (like reverbs) or sample-based VSTi's.

In your case, the i7 is more than adequate. The 8GB of memory is good; more is better but not necessary. The 5400 rpm hard drive will limit your number of tracks. It might not be an issue, but then again. If you can find a 7200 rpm, you wouldn't have a problem. I guess it depends on what you are recording.

The SSD has me confused, I'm not sure I've seen an 8GB SSD. Most on the market start at 90GB and go up from there. Maybe you made a typo. I've got two SSDs in my computer; one for the O/S and one for my sample based libraries. Works good.

The only thing that I would worry about with an All in One is the data busses. Those computers are meant for email and internet surfing and may not be up to the task even for audio. The chipset and architecture might not be designed for continuous data flow. In my day job, I see customers using cheap-o Dell OptiPlex for advanced imaging analysis and it just doesn't work, even if they have an i7. But if you're doing straight up audio, you shouldn't have a problem. I guess it depends on what you are recording.
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
The SSD has me confused, I'm not sure I've seen an 8GB SSD. Most on the market start at 90GB and go up from there. Maybe you made a typo. I've got two SSDs in my computer; one for the O/S and one for my sample based libraries. Works good.

Hybrid hard drives are a standard platter/sata with a SSD drive built into it. It acts as a cache to speed up read/writes. IMO, kinda useless with the price of actual SSD drives plummeting.

People get the hybrid drives confused all the time since SSD is in the name/model of the drive and show up in search results with the rest of the SSD drives, usually at a lower cost than a comparable size SSD.
 

MrUserNameIV

SenselessActsOfCreation
Hey you guys!!! Which is preferred? MAC or Windows?

Depends on what suits you. Sounds like a snarky response, but it actually isn't. I'm on mac because it works great how I want it to work, and it seems to have very few significant problems even though I abuse my machine sadistically, but there's times where Windows has some stuff that isn't on mac that would be nice. One big however. . . however . . . is that if you get a mac, you can also install windows via bootcamp, so if you can afford a mac, it may be the best choice.
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
Lol! You've just replied to a question from 2014 so I assume he's bought something already! :)
 
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