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Master/slave network for audio work


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Currently, I use a Core 2 Duo XP SP3 laptop w/ 2 GB RAM (maxed capacity), and I am looking for ways to expand my computing power on the cheap. This is for the purpose of sample library access and nothing else. I am exploring the possibility of grabbing an older system (or two) off of craigslist, putting 3 or 4 GB RAM in it/them, and linking everything to the laptop with FX Teleport or something similar.

Does anyone here use this sort of master/slave setup for audio work? Does it work well, or do you think I'd be better off just buying a new system to replace the laptop?

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In my opinion, it's far more of a headache to integrate multiple computers into an audio setup than it is to just shell out $800-900 for a high end new machine. I use a Wolfdale Intel quad @ 2.66ghz (one generation before Core i7) which is now something like $130, and I pretty much never have CPU problems ever, even with gigantic projects. If you get 4-8gb of RAM and upgrade to a 64bit OS, then use jBridge, you won't have memory problems either.

If you want to use multiple computers, here are some of the things you need to consider.

* FX Teleport does not play well with everything. It does work, but it is infrequently updated. The other option is the new Vienna tool which acts like FXT, but that too doesn't work with every plugin on every host.

* Latency will be an issue. Expect an increase in latency of up to 2 or even 3x what you have now.

* This actually does use more CPU than just running the plugin on one computer - the very act of streaming across the network will overall be less efficient per plugin.

* You have to authorize the plugins on multiple machines, typically, so forget about doing this with dongled software.

* If you use a pure audio/MIDI routing solution (ie. can't render offline, must record everything in realtime) expect another host of problems.

I would just go to an i5/i7 processor, get 4-8gb of RAm and upgrade to 64bit. This won't cost more than $800 in all likelihood, even for a new machine.

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I figured it would be more complicated than it sounded. I'll have to give it some further thought. Latency isn't a big deal to me. I'm not sure about VSL, but the language used in the Play manual makes it sound like you can run on a network with a single license. ("If you are running the PLAY System on a network and a library’s files are on a different computer than the PLAY Advanced Sample Engine accessing those files, then the iLok key needs to be in a USB port of the computer where the PLAY Engine is running.") Or does the FX Teleport way of networking require that both computers access the libraries in a way that requires a license? (EDIT: Rereading the documentation for Play and FX Teleport, this looks like its the case -- the Play manual is probably just referring to accessing the library files on a shared network drive rather than through something slaved to the DAW via FX Teleport or what have you. Needing multiple licenses effectively scuttles my interest in trying to go the network route.)

The biggest issue may be that I'm running a 32-bit OS (and would presumably be running 32-bit on anything I bought used, unless I upgrade). An article I read put the RAM footprint of VSL SE loaded in its entirety at around 5 GB, which means I probably wouldn't be able to concurrently load on a 32-bit slave all of the VSL instruments I'd want to use, anyway.

Probably best just to wait until Windows 7 is supported by everything I use and get a new computer then.

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I am using a master/slave configuration currently, as I built my studio set-up pre-64bit, and I've since transitioned to 64bit on my slave.

The following is a tutorial I wrote some time early last year, maybe late 2008 for setting up a multi-computer configuration:


It was originally posted at the GANG forums and on the Soundsonline-forums and you cna see where it's out of date since I didn't talk at all about bidule or bidule like programs.

I sometimes wish I had one monster computer, and I've looked at arranging some kind of super-dream one computer setup that would satisfy all of my needs. It can be done now where it couldn't before, but you minimize expenses where you can when you're trying to run a business.

For me, my chokeholds are still CPU and Drive Streaming--I never worry about RAM. I would have similar concerns with a one-computer arrangement, but even moreso since I wouldn't have multiple CPUs and the number of drives is mobo-limited.

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