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The Legendary Zoltan

I want to build a music making computer

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Just a thought... Maybe get a Mac? Just throwing that out there... I have a 22 minute mix of hifi orchestral tracks and other samples and synths (25 simultaneous tracks in total) running with Reason+Record package. 3-year old MacBook (not even the Pro) handles it just fine... No telling how much better today's Macs are for this kind of stuff...

I used to have a PC for music and it just plain sucked. Talked to some pros and went for a Mac, best decision ever.

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Just a thought... Maybe get a Mac? Just throwing that out there... I have a 22 minute mix of hifi orchestral tracks and other samples and synths (25 simultaneous tracks in total) running with Reason+Record package. 3-year old MacBook (not even the Pro) handles it just fine... No telling how much better today's Macs are for this kind of stuff...

This is just about the worst compelling argument I've seen in favor of Mac. :<

PC's have processing horsepower Macs can't even touch without going over a $3000 pricepoint (with the PC counterpart staying happily around $1200)

I used to have a PC for music
Yeah, yeah, then you took an arrow in the knee, right?

Don't leave out context. When did you have it, what brand, etc.?

Any decent custom-built rig today will blow a Mac out of the water in terms of price vs. performance.

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i know macs get better drivers for rme, digidesign/avid, and uad hardware (lower latencies) but beyond that i dont think there is much difference in regards to performance

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Just a thought... Maybe get a Mac? Just throwing that out there... I have a 22 minute mix of hifi orchestral tracks and other samples and synths (25 simultaneous tracks in total) running with Reason+Record package. 3-year old MacBook (not even the Pro) handles it just fine... No telling how much better today's Macs are for this kind of stuff...

I used to have a PC for music and it just plain sucked. Talked to some pros and went for a Mac, best decision ever.

Reason is 100% cross platform. There's virtually no difference except a few shortcuts. I don't know how something could be "much better for that kind of stuff" if we consider this. Your interface does the A/D conversion, it's a logical signal from there.

But Macs run Logic & Finale and I'm sure those are the best tools for audio/video, which is probably why pros recommand them. Coreaudio is probably a nice thing when using the computer live.

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This is just about the worst compelling argument I've seen in favor of Mac. :<

PC's have processing horsepower Macs can't even touch without going over a $3000 pricepoint (with the PC counterpart staying happily around $1200)

Yeah, yeah, then you took an arrow in the knee, right?

Don't leave out context. When did you have it, what brand, etc.?

Any decent custom-built rig today will blow a Mac out of the water in terms of price vs. performance.

I'm not a Mac fanboy per se, but many professionals will tell you their design is more fit to audio, video, science and other such (non-gaming) applications. What it seems is that for the same processing power, the Mac just seems to "use it better" for the lack of a better term. This may just be personal preference, but seems like most of the industry is on Mac. Perhaps there's a reason behind it.

In any case, I don't recall the exact specs of my previous Windows PC, but it was barely chugging along with Sonar 3 and Reason running together with as little as a dozen tracks (all mastering and effects included). I had to give up on my previously mentioned project because the computer simply could not handle it.

Oh and I only paid 900 for this rig and been working great for 3 years or better.

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I'm not a Mac fanboy per se, but many professionals will tell you their design is more fit to audio, video, science and other such (non-gaming) applications. What it seems is that for the same processing power, the Mac just seems to "use it better" for the lack of a better term. This may just be personal preference, but seems like most of the industry is on Mac. Perhaps there's a reason behind it.

In any case, I don't recall the exact specs of my previous Windows PC, but it was barely chugging along with Sonar 3 and Reason running together with as little as a dozen tracks (all mastering and effects included). I had to give up on my previously mentioned project because the computer simply could not handle it.

Oh and I only paid 900 for this rig and been working great for 3 years or better.

Macs do not use anything better. I own 4 Macs, 2 for music and 2 for video editing, I also own 4 equivallent PCs (meaning, same processor, same amount of ram, etc etc to their mac counterparts). I have benchmarked Cubase 4-6.5 and Protools 7-9 on all of them, and they all performed identically.

I have gotten a consistent latencies and ASIO loads:

Delta 1010 - 64 samples, 2ms

digi001 - 64 samples low latency mode enabled (inconsistent, much more stable on MacOS)

steinberg CI2 - 128 samples, 9ms

presonus firestudio - 8ms

echo audiofire - 6ms

ASIO load remains even among equally equipped machines. Only differences are with a few plugins (some load samples faster on the mac some on the PC) and generally windows seems to stream faster from HDDs for me.

I like Macs, and I like PCs, but neither is better. I don't know what you're trying to justify to yourself by claiming that macs are better, but give it a rest, you have a computer that's no better than it's PC counterpart. Deal with it. :)

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I'm not a Mac fanboy per se, but many professionals will tell you their design is more fit to audio, video, science and other such (non-gaming) applications. What it seems is that for the same processing power, the Mac just seems to "use it better" for the lack of a better term. This may just be personal preference, but seems like most of the industry is on Mac. Perhaps there's a reason behind it.

I am aware of the propensity to spend oodles of cash on a placebo-type effect that is prevalent in the industry, yes. :tomatoface:

By that I mean, Macs are popular simply because of fancy marketing and the notion that more expensive = better quality.

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I am aware of the propensity to spend oodles of cash on a placebo-type effect that is prevalent in the industry, yes. :tomatoface:

By that I mean, Macs are popular simply because of fancy marketing and the notion that more expensive = better quality.

Well, just relaying my own experience. The PC was by all means quite a bit older. If they are equivalent and just a matter of preference, so be it! Just saying they have worked well for me so far.

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What's more important today is smarter software. There are plugins that use the same samples from legacy products that were recorded in 2001, but almost 12 years later smarter programming of the onboard sequencing engines and articulation maps turn those old samples into incredible new instruments. Disc streaming has come a long way also, all of this stuff combined makes almost any modern system an ideal DAW. Sure it helps to get the best hardware you can afford (and generally avoid AMD) but overall you can't go wrong these days.

This all ties back to the sequencer/software argument that all the major DAWs out there do the same basic functions, and they all copy each other. Back when I started with computer music in 1997 the options were EXTREMELY limited and it's not till just in the last 3-5 years that the entire atmosphere changed and ease of use because paramount. So whatever, I'm rambling.

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What you need for a good music making computer is only unique in one aspect.

Instead of a killer graphics card you need a killer sound card.

Running your DAW will require big amounts of CPU and RAM. As has been mentioned the recommendation is at least an Intel i5 and 8gb RAM. If you can afford it an Intel i7 and 16gb RAM is a huge step up. The middle ground here is Intel i5 and 16gb RAM. Remember that RAM is a lot cheaper to upgrade later. Plan ahead! Dont buy 4 2gb sticks if you plan on upgrading your RAM.

Sound cards have been recommended by people and they're solid. As has been mentioned, don't get a Creative. I run this and I like that. I'm also unsure if this is actually a card or a mixer (Anyone who wants to weigh in is more than welcome to).

As far as Mac vs Windows goes. Doesn't matter. Yes you get more bang for the buck with a custom built PC running windows, but if you can't custom build you are shit out of luck anyway.

If you have more knowledge than cash, go Windows-PC. If you have more cash than knowledge, go MAC. Both of them do a fine job in any field.

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Well said. I've been using Lexicon Omega and been quite happy with it. With the add-ons aside, I find it perfect for home studio set up. Has USB which is perfect for portable set up with a laptop. MIDI in & out, SPDIF (does anyone still use that anymore?), 4 line ins, 2 line outs. a handy "instrument" (guitar/bass) port on the front, 2 XLRs, and individual knobs for each input and output. Plus it's pretty small, easily fits in a bag or briefcase. Oh, and the price is great too.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lexicon+omega&hl=en&tbm=shop&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&sa=X&ei=yoSIUKCGBIe69QSPtoHQBw&ved=0CA4Q_AUoBQ&biw=1177&bih=683

That Behringer is pretty cool, though seems to cater a little more towards live performance. Price is about the same. In a live setup the EQs, compressors and send channels, as well as multiple outs would definitely be a plus, but all modern DAWs have those built-in and more, so unless you use it for live performance all that stuff is mostly unnecessary.

EDIT: Old card was M-Audio Audiophile USB which constantly gave me problems. Staying away from M-Audio going forward.

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M-Audio is really hit or miss, and by that I mean their PCI cards tend to be good, and their USB interfaces tend to be bad. Every person I know who uses an M-Audio USB interface has problems with it, if that means anything...

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M-Audio is really hit or miss, and by that I mean their PCI cards tend to be good, and their USB interfaces tend to be bad. Every person I know who uses an M-Audio USB interface has problems with it, if that means anything...

I have an M-Audio Radium 49 keyboard that works occasionally. Funny enough, I now mostly use its "new" replacement, a 1986 Ensoniq ESQ1 which works like a charm.

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I have an M-Audio Radium 49 keyboard that works occasionally. Funny enough, I now mostly use its "new" replacement, a 1986 Ensoniq ESQ1 which works like a charm.

Yeah, I had a Radium 49 and the keys were always sticky and didn't register velocities accurately. I tore it apart and used its guts to make a MIDI organ pedalboard.

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M-Audio is really hit or miss, and by that I mean their PCI cards tend to be good, and their USB interfaces tend to be bad. Every person I know who uses an M-Audio USB interface has problems with it, if that means anything...

This. So much of this. I haven't yet had any truly good experiences with an M-Audio USB audio device (FastTrack series, MobilePre, etc.), but my Delta 1010LT PCI device is still going strong after five or so years now, and it's had a LOT of heat-related abuse in some past computer builds.

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Personally I would use cyberpowerpc.com or newegg.com and build a custom PC. 8 GB+ ram, Solid state hard drives (SSD), and quad core processors are your friends. I haven't tried any of them, but ASUS soundcards look really promising, and some of the high end models will come with a built-in head phone amp. I've bought ASUS products before, and they are all about quality.

An I7 might not be the most cost effective option depending on your needs. AMD actually released their 2nd generation APU's, which come with discreet level graphics (meaning you won't need to buy a graphics card, unless you're going for really high end settings on new PC games).

Cyberpowerpc has all sorts of crazy custom options like completely sound-proofing your PC case (desktop computers can get pretty noisy and screw with your mixing), so if you have the budget for it they're definitely worth it.

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+1 on computer noise messing with you during a mix session. My cheapo case starts to make this strange pitched vibration noise that's a few cents sharp of C# and it gets loud enough that it throws me off so badly sometimes....

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An I7 might not be the most cost effective option depending on your needs. AMD actually released their 2nd generation APU's, which come with discreet level graphics (meaning you won't need to buy a graphics card, unless you're going for really high end settings on new PC games).

OMG you mean the processor has GRAPHICS ON IT? AMD IS A GENIUS

tactical_facepalm.jpg

In all seriousness, an APU over an i7 is the worst recommendation I have seen. Why would you sacrifice oodles of processing horsepower for shoddy, intermediary level graphics? It is a MUSIC making machine. The integrated Intel graphics are all he needs.

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I think what Neblix is trying to say is that general and audio processing power comes first. If you have the money, then use it. In the computer hardware world, price is usually a good indicator of quality. Not always, but usually.

An i7 may not have integrated graphics (I haven't checked up on its specs like a moron), but that's not the end goal. If you're going for MUSIC, you don't really need GRAPHICS to go with it. You want processing power.

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Moreover, it would be better to have a separated graphics processor to offload the work from your central unit.

Audio production is processor intensive and unless you're using Protools HD or a UAD Card, you're going to need all the juice your CPU can pump.

Better to have a separate GPU, plus, you can run games and more importantly, Game Engines, if you're interested in working in Games at all.

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An i7 may not have integrated graphics (I haven't checked up on its specs like a moron)

The Ivy Bridge i7 and i5 chips have Intel HD 4000 graphics, more than enough for low resolution high setting gaming.

The Core iX chips have had integrated graphics for a LONG TIME now.

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By the way, if you buy a firewire interface, you really need to get a texas instrument chip on the FW pci card. I don't have that and pick up the noise from my computer so there's a subtile hum in my speakers. No hum on the recordings tho

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What's good? Here are my suggestions.

CASE: Antec, NZXT, Silverstone, Fractal Design, a few other companies I know of make some decent cases with noise reduction. Look into those.

CPU: Get an Intel i5 or i7 processor.

CPU FAN: Noctua or GLED

MOTHERBOARD: Currently there are two platforms that I know of right now: Z77 and X79. The Z77 is the mainstream and more cheaper platform and the X79 is more on the power user side of things. Go for either or depending on budget. The important thing is to match the CPU socket with the motherboard socket.

POWER SUPPLY: 600W minimum. Depending on how many video cards and peripherals you add you may need more.

RAM: Get at least 8GB of RAM. That should be plenty. GSkill, Crucial, and Cosair are good.

DISK DRIVES: I say have two minimum, but I recommend 3 disk drives. One for your Operating System (Windows) and programs; one for samples (ie. Kontakt libraries, drum samples, orchestra samples, etc.) and another for just your straight up recordings. As for SSD vs HDD, it's more economically sound to go for the HDD. That said, SSD are signifcantly faster in terms of loading. What you could do is get a SSD for your OS and programs and HDD for the rest of your samples and recordings. I had good experiences with Seagate for HDD as well as Western Digital. Crucial makes good SSD.

VIDEO CARD: Umm... if there is not gonna be any gaming or video editing, get a video card that is simple and fanless to reduce noise.

SOUND CARD: I had good experiences with RME. Focusrite is good too. Avid actually as some pretty good audio interfaces right now as well.

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