WiFiSunset

Computers for Composing

Recommended Posts

I'm going to start looking for a desktop computer for making music, because my laptop's CPU bottlenecks when I have more then 12 tracks in my DAW.

 

What type of processing power is best. This is something I'll get far off in the future, but it's good to know now.

 

I was looking at these 2 desktops, and was wondering why the price difference when they offer the same things mostly.

 

http://www.walmart.com/ip/43392492?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227031310199&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=56034899936&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=100114971176&veh=sem#about

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883798508&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-PC&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-PC-_-pla-_-Desktop+Computers-_-N82E16883798508&gclid=Cj0KEQiAsZayBRCrioKRkYetvc0BEiQAI70-A3mXN8PBZrmUQlgeGju-5Sdr2AkLYmOsw5UUf3cmmY8aAk2a8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

Thanks for the help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's not really a difference between those two. There might be differences between manufacturers in terms of warranty, build quality, etc. (and I can tell you that Dell builds all of their computers very solidly, you can't go wrong with them right now), but really it's going to boil down to what's the best deal you can find at the time you decide to buy. 

 

Or you could save even more money and get something purpose-built by doing it yourself. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, thanks for letting me know that :) !

 

Or you could save even more money and get something purpose-built by doing it yourself. :D

 

How would I build something on my own?

 

I know the main things I'm looking for are: 

 

1TB Drive

8GB Ram

i7 Processor 

And a DVD Drive

 

(Not sure about soundcards and how that affects everything tbh).

 

but how would it be cheaper to do this purpose driven?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The wal-mart one is 140$ more because of the graphic card while the newegg bundle has none (but has one integrated).

That means the processor has a smaller work load = better for you when gaming. I'm sure you can find a better deal cause that card is not worth 140$ lol (around 50$). I wouldn't go with Windows 10 !

 

Either build will slam any studio session on the wall, and you'll be able to with any 200 tracks project, I'm sure.

http://www.game-debate.com/gpu/index.php?gid=1438&gid2=887&compare=intel-hd-graphics-4600-desktop-vs-geforce-gt-720

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Usually, building a computer yourself is more expensive.

Windows 10 is the way to go for the best compatibility with the most DAWs, and is much cheaper than a Mac, so I'll disagree with Metal Man on that front. Getting Windows 10 out of the box is better than an "eligible for a FREE upgrade to Windows 10" Windows 8.1 installation, as performing that upgrade doesn't always work as planned.

Also, that Dell listing is missing a lot of important specs (RAM and HDD speed). The Lenovo also has 802.11ac WiFi, a cheap but relevant feature, so it looks like the clear winner to me.

A question for the peanut gallery: Is 8GB RAM enough if you want to load lots of tracks with high-quality samples? I use only free samples, mostly small ones, and have 16GB RAM, so I have no relevant point of comparison.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For all my mixes I used a refurbished gateway with 2.5ghz processor and 4GB (later upgraded to 8GB) RAM. All the power of having multiple tracks is from the ASIO drivers for the Saffire Pro (upgraded from an Alesis io26 which is poo)

 

If you're gonna record live audio don't make the same mistake I did and have a computer fan louder than a lawn mower. I'll be upgrading some day

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A question for the peanut gallery: Is 8GB RAM enough if you want to load lots of tracks with high-quality samples? I use only free samples, mostly small ones, and have 16GB RAM, so I have no relevant point of comparison.

 

Ram does play a role when it comes to the quality of samples, but imo the influence of ram is not as important as the sound card you currently have (or the sound driver that your DAW has provided) and the strength of your processor. Ram is simply a data cap for sampling while the sound card and processor are the ones actually doing all the heavy lifting as far as strength and limitations of said samples and it's effects. If all you're using are free sample plug-ins, chances are they're not expensive on the amount of data being used and could possibly be worked with even with just 1 Gb of ram. 8 Gb is probly more then enough even with high quality samples since most high end samples are around 200 Mb of data per track.

 

in my personal experience I have 32Gb of ram ( for other editing programs like maya, Unreal development kit, premiere and after effects) and yet I can't have no more than 6 kontakt tracks or else it will start bottlenecking and glitch out.That reason is because I have yet to upgrade my processor. In my screen it tells me I have plenty of room to place more tracks, but my processor tells me other wise lol. So just to re-iterate, its not ram that ppl should be worried about, its the sound card/driver and your proocessor. Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your RAM needs will depend almost entirely on what samples you're using and the way you're using them. You'll likely be fine with 8 if you aren't loading lots of articulations on several large multi-mic libraries at the same time. If, however, you're trying to build something like an orchestral template out of high-end libraries, you'll want as much RAM as you can get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

8 Gb is probly more then enough even with high quality samples since most high end samples are around 200 Mb of data per track.

 

I'm not sure what "high-quality" libraries you're using, man, I frequently max out my laptop (8GB) with just a couple instances of Spitfire Albion. Things like Ilya Efimov nylon straight up take 1GB.

 

I was live arranging on the How to Remix panel at MAGFest using my laptop and I had mistakenly forgot that my page file was set off. My computer crashed TWICE and needed reboots during that panel because I kept smacking it with sample libraries. I have 32GB on my main computer and I have way more breathing room. For "high-quality" samples, I recommend no less than 16. I work in sample libraries, so trust me on that. :P

 

Additionally, there's some really bad misinformation about building computers here. Building computers is much cheaper than buying pre-built ones. They're more reliable, they last longer, and they're more upgradable, which translates to insane savings down the road. If you can't build it yourself, there are people you can ask, as well as local tech shops and even online custom build companies.

 

There's no one on OCR who can give you better computer advice than prophetik (also called prophet). I'll ping him to swoop down here. He does custom builds and you can order from him. He does good work, picks the best parts, thoroughly tests the computers and does very good cable management and ventilation and all that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have 16GB of RAM and I do fine, but I'd feel a bit cramped with only 8GB of RAM. I frequently use samples like Embertone's Friedlander Violin(which is 1.25GB on it's own) and often have to pair them with lighter samples(Kontakt or COC's orchestral samples) to stay within bounds.

 

If you're going to be using loads of samples I'd suggest at least that along with an i5 processor and a reasonable fast HDD. I have a smaller SSD that holds most of my samples. If you plan on using a lot of samples it might be worth looking at simply for the speed, but it's not really necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm heeeeeeere! neblix shot me a pm pointing out that i have info for people who need it =)

 

in short, if you're willing to spend 700 or 800 bucks, build your own, or have someone do it for you. you'll get roughly the same numbers for your CPU and RAM, but you'll get *way* better quality in the mobo, PSU, etc. that's the parts that let the system run for years and years without a hiccup.

 

the primary difference between these two machines is the discrete card in the dell, along with the dell having bluetooth, and the xps name itself (which is still a pretty respected name in big-box machines, dell dude aside). i would disagree that either'd be able to handle a big session, though, as 8gb is not much when you get into bigger sample sets. i can max out 8gb pretty easy doing any orchestral track, and the last time i did a rock track i ran that over pretty fast too with a few instances of guitars and the drums.

 

building a computer is rarely more expensive for the same level of quality (it's usually vastly cheaper). W10 is not the daw i'd be using right now (W7 is, still, although from a perspective of W8 vs W10 I'd go with 10). having an external audio interface is super nice (i had a saffire pro 40 when i was doing a lot of mixing), but not required.

 

i disagree with virtually everything supercoolmike said - sorry, i think you're still super cool =( RAM is one of the most important things at allowing your system to scale to bigger projects, arguably even more than CPU since you can always bounce tracks to wav and just load them after you've got them iced. additionally, raw straight-line speed on a cpu isn't as important as a good multicore setup, although this is less of an issue nowadays with everything being quad at a cheap price point. the thing is, RAM's cheap enough that you can just drop in piles of it and it doesn't matter. the cpu's the thing that's hard to upgrade if you don't plan ahead with your choice and what is offered in the slot you pick.

 

here's my requirements for a good mixing pc:

-discrete OS drive

-8gb ram *minimum*. buy it in 8gb sticks so that you can expand easily...the bonus in speed from dual-channel 4gb sticks ain't worth it for the loss in potential slot use

-big quad for the CPU. plan on spending as much money up-front on this so that you don't have to upgrade later

-a good cpu cooler, since you're going to stretch the cpu most of the time

 

newegg's site's having an issue right now with searching for components, but if i was spitballing it, this's what i'd see.

 

cpu: i7-4790, 310$ (might as well pick what those machines you looked at had). 30$ more gives you a 4ghz cpu with an unlocked multiplier.

cpu cooler: hyper 212 evo is my go-to, 35$

case: cheap micro-ATX like the tx-381, 40$. and a sweet handle, too! =D

mobo: H81-based micro ATX mobo, 75$ range

psu: corsair CX500, 45$

ram: 40$ for 8gb is standard

os drive: either a samsung evo or a kingston v300 (evo for performance, v300 for cost), roughly 120gb is good for an OS drive on a pure music machine. figure 80$ for the evo or 50$ for the v300

sample drive: 1-2tb internal drive - i only buy WD, usually a Black model. 70$ for the 1tb and 120$ for the 2tb.

 

going with the v300 and the 1tb internal, and 8gb of RAM, that's 665 or so for the parts for a machine that's got waaaay higher quality parts in it than those bigbox versions, and it's got a lot more features (like the aftermarket CPU cooler, the OS drive, and a better sample drive). you'll just need a flash-drive with the windows install disc on it is all, or drop another 20$ for a dvd burner.

 

if you want to talk specifics for a custom system, ping me and we can chat. i can just about always make a system work for a good price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also to chime in: I'm using FL 12 on Windows 10 (fresh install, NOT upgraded) with zero stability issues. W10 is my personal favorite OS Microsoft has ever put out--it's clean, fast, and is definitely the way forward. For longevity, I recommend it, since Windows 7 will lose support within a few years, and Windows 10 will be the one that keeps getting updated for quite a long time.

 

To be clear: don't actually hit the Windows upgrade button on your PC, since that could introduce a whole host of issues. However, if you're going to get a new PC, get it with Windows 10--that's my recommendation right now.

 

Here's the thread for the last one I built, if you want to see it. Granted, it's packing a whole lot more power than you'll probably be able to afford or even really need right now, but still.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i recommended w7 since it's the last one i've got extensive experience on. i use w10 for my gaming system, and it's all right, but there's some wonk there that i'm not a huge fan of. w7's still the most widely supported OS at this point, so i don't see a reason to go for 10 yet unless the alternative is a version of 8 - in other words, buying new should be 10, building or buying old should be 7, at least right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

here's my requirements for a good mixing pc:

-discrete OS drive

-8gb ram *minimum*. buy it in 8gb sticks so that you can expand easily...the bonus in speed from dual-channel 4gb sticks ain't worth it for the loss in potential slot use

-big quad for the CPU. plan on spending as much money up-front on this so that you don't have to upgrade later

-a good cpu cooler, since you're going to stretch the cpu most of the time

 

newegg's site's having an issue right now with searching for components, but if i was spitballing it, this's what i'd see.

 

cpu: i7-4790, 310$ (might as well pick what those machines you looked at had). 30$ more gives you a 4ghz cpu with an unlocked multiplier.

cpu cooler: hyper 212 evo is my go-to, 35$

case: cheap micro-ATX like the tx-381, 40$. and a sweet handle, too! =D

mobo: H81-based micro ATX mobo, 75$ range

psu: corsair CX500, 45$

ram: 40$ for 8gb is standard

os drive: either a samsung evo or a kingston v300 (evo for performance, v300 for cost), roughly 120gb is good for an OS drive on a pure music machine. figure 80$ for the evo or 50$ for the v300

sample drive: 1-2tb internal drive - i only buy WD, usually a Black model. 70$ for the 1tb and 120$ for the 2tb.

 

going with the v300 and the 1tb internal, and 8gb of RAM, that's 665 or so for the parts for a machine that's got waaaay higher quality parts in it than those bigbox versions, and it's got a lot more features (like the aftermarket CPU cooler, the OS drive, and a better sample drive). you'll just need a flash-drive with the windows install disc on it is all, or drop another 20$ for a dvd burner.

 

if you want to talk specifics for a custom system, ping me and we can chat. i can just about always make a system work for a good price.

 

Thanks for the reply's everyone, I learned a lot more about the things I'd need. Didn't know 32GB of RAM was a thing tbh o-o.

 

In the long run, that amount of ram is probably what I'd need, seeing as how I'd use Orchestra samples in the future.

 

One issue I definitely want to avoid, is having my CPU bottleneck again.  I'll definitely PM you about all of this prophetik :) !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm heeeeeeere! neblix shot me a pm pointing out that i have info for people who need it =)

 

in short, if you're willing to spend 700 or 800 bucks, build your own, or have someone do it for you. you'll get roughly the same numbers for your CPU and RAM, but you'll get *way* better quality in the mobo, PSU, etc. that's the parts that let the system run for years and years without a hiccup.

 

the primary difference between these two machines is the discrete card in the dell, along with the dell having bluetooth, and the xps name itself (which is still a pretty respected name in big-box machines, dell dude aside). i would disagree that either'd be able to handle a big session, though, as 8gb is not much when you get into bigger sample sets. i can max out 8gb pretty easy doing any orchestral track, and the last time i did a rock track i ran that over pretty fast too with a few instances of guitars and the drums.

 

building a computer is rarely more expensive for the same level of quality (it's usually vastly cheaper). W10 is not the daw i'd be using right now (W7 is, still, although from a perspective of W8 vs W10 I'd go with 10). having an external audio interface is super nice (i had a saffire pro 40 when i was doing a lot of mixing), but not required.

 

i disagree with virtually everything supercoolmike said - sorry, i think you're still super cool =( RAM is one of the most important things at allowing your system to scale to bigger projects, arguably even more than CPU since you can always bounce tracks to wav and just load them after you've got them iced. additionally, raw straight-line speed on a cpu isn't as important as a good multicore setup, although this is less of an issue nowadays with everything being quad at a cheap price point. the thing is, RAM's cheap enough that you can just drop in piles of it and it doesn't matter. the cpu's the thing that's hard to upgrade if you don't plan ahead with your choice and what is offered in the slot you pick.

 

here's my requirements for a good mixing pc:

-discrete OS drive

-8gb ram *minimum*. buy it in 8gb sticks so that you can expand easily...the bonus in speed from dual-channel 4gb sticks ain't worth it for the loss in potential slot use

-big quad for the CPU. plan on spending as much money up-front on this so that you don't have to upgrade later

-a good cpu cooler, since you're going to stretch the cpu most of the time

 

newegg's site's having an issue right now with searching for components, but if i was spitballing it, this's what i'd see.

 

cpu: i7-4790, 310$ (might as well pick what those machines you looked at had). 30$ more gives you a 4ghz cpu with an unlocked multiplier.

cpu cooler: hyper 212 evo is my go-to, 35$

case: cheap micro-ATX like the tx-381, 40$. and a sweet handle, too! =D

mobo: H81-based micro ATX mobo, 75$ range

psu: corsair CX500, 45$

ram: 40$ for 8gb is standard

os drive: either a samsung evo or a kingston v300 (evo for performance, v300 for cost), roughly 120gb is good for an OS drive on a pure music machine. figure 80$ for the evo or 50$ for the v300

sample drive: 1-2tb internal drive - i only buy WD, usually a Black model. 70$ for the 1tb and 120$ for the 2tb.

 

going with the v300 and the 1tb internal, and 8gb of RAM, that's 665 or so for the parts for a machine that's got waaaay higher quality parts in it than those bigbox versions, and it's got a lot more features (like the aftermarket CPU cooler, the OS drive, and a better sample drive). you'll just need a flash-drive with the windows install disc on it is all, or drop another 20$ for a dvd burner.

 

if you want to talk specifics for a custom system, ping me and we can chat. i can just about always make a system work for a good price.

 

You are awesome.  I'm planning on building a new machine this winter.  Going to try making it a 32gb machine which will be a huge difference from my current 4GB one.   :P

 

EDIT: does anyone have any recommendations for a case around 100 bucks that would be mid tower sized and quiet? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

EDIT: does anyone have any recommendations for a case around 100 bucks that would be mid tower sized and quiet? 

 

Jesus am I getting old? The Storm Scout and the Antec 300 are nowhere to be found on Newegg anymore but also the site seems broken right now? The latter was just a generally solid popular case, and the former is my case that I've had and loved for the last 4.5 years, especially with its handles and the cool-ass warped window shape.

 

Anyways, the HAF is a solid choice that seems to still be around :P, and super popular.

 

Thanks for the reply's everyone, I learned a lot more about the things I'd need. Didn't know 32GB of RAM was a thing tbh o-o.

 

Most commercial composers have machines with either 64GB or 128GB, along with slave machines hooked up over ethernet with VE Pro serving them samples that are processed off the main computer but (whose output audio is) still transferred back fast enough for real-time playback. Don't get confused either, VE Pro is by Vienna Samples, but it's not just for their products. It's a networking host system that you can load VST's in and set up the MIDI communications over network.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why's that?

 

Upgrading an OS is generally always less clean of a process than starting from a blank slate. For the people more intent about maintaining their computers, it's actually kind of silly since they're so used to backing up and reformatting anyway that doing so for a new OS just seems like some extra dessert to add to their next deep clean (and upgrading is a messy task to deal with in light of knowing that a system wipe is incoming down the line anyway).

 

I vote another for Windows 10, it especially improved Studio One performance for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most commercial composers have machines with either 64GB or 128GB, along with slave machines hooked up over ethernet with VE Pro serving them samples that are processed off the main computer but (whose output audio is) still transferred back fast enough for real-time playback. Don't get confused either, VE Pro is by Vienna Samples, but it's not just for their products. It's a networking host system that you can load VST's in and set up the MIDI communications over network.

 

 

Dang. That sounds like a major set-up. 

 

 

Upgrading an OS is generally always less clean of a process than starting from a blank slate. For the people more intent about maintaining their computers, it's actually kind of silly since they're so used to backing up and reformatting anyway that doing so for a new OS just seems like some extra dessert to add to their next deep clean (and upgrading is a messy task to deal with in light of knowing that a system wipe is incoming down the line anyway).

 

I vote another for Windows 10, it especially improved Studio One performance for me.

 

So you mean it's better to start out as Windows 10? My only thought with this is, what if certain VSTi's aren't compatible with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I admit, I upgraded from W7 to W10 and it went OK. No compatibility issues and I do use almost all major plugins...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Most commercial composers have machines with either 64GB or 128GB, along with slave machines hooked up over ethernet with VE Pro serving them samples that are processed off the main computer but (whose output audio is) still transferred back fast enough for real-time playback. Don't get confused either, VE Pro is by Vienna Samples, but it's not just for their products. It's a networking host system that you can load VST's in and set up the MIDI communications over network.

 

We had an independent horror film company come in to work a short time ago and I was able to talk a bit with the guy who did all the filmscoring for them.  He had one of these beast of a machines and said that he also edited the raw video while he composed the score.  Pretty much gave him the freedom to do anything he wanted but the time it took to render it all was huge.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are awesome.  I'm planning on building a new machine this winter.  Going to try making it a 32gb machine which will be a huge difference from my current 4GB one.   :P

 

EDIT: does anyone have any recommendations for a case around 100 bucks that would be mid tower sized and quiet? 

 

nice, let me know when you do it and i'll try to help out where i can. re: cases, if you don't care about size, the HAF 9XX models (912, 922, 932) tend to be pretty nice for their cost. i was really impressed with the last one i encountered. they have big fans, and cooler master makes them quiet to begin with. i didn't even bother putting yate loons on them since they were pretty quiet already.

 

yeah neblix, now that the storm scout's gone, my go-to is missing =( i loved that case, but my new one (carbide air 540) is better for what i needed now.

 

it's better to work with a clean slate for windows in general than do an upgrade if you can avoid it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I admit, I upgraded from W7 to W10 and it went OK. No compatibility issues and I do use almost all major plugins...

 

I mean, yeah, I also upgraded. W8.1 to 10. I still would recommend people to just start fresh, since the problems that can arise from upgrading gives people a false impression that Windows 10 is broken. Then we get people running around saying "STAY ON WINDOWS 7 THERE IS NO FUTURE FOR US"

 

So you mean it's better to start out as Windows 10? My only thought with this is, what if certain VSTi's aren't compatible with it.

 

Almost all major VST's are compatible with Windows 10. I use Komplete products, Omnisphere, Zebra, Serum, Diva... actually, that's all I use pretty much. Got rid of PLAY, tried the Composer Cloud and just didn't want to spend the money for instruments I rarely used. I used to use a lot of small throwaway plug-ins but I ended up wanting to be in favor of smaller sets of bigger plug-ins. It's easy to work in-the-box and remember what to install on a new computer if it's just "Komplete, Omnisphere, and my other synths" rather than a bunch of small synths, ep's, harpsichordds, etc. Come to think of it, I'm due for a reformat to get all that extra stuff off!

 

But as for smaller VST's, from indie developers, it's not guaranteed, yeah. What smaller VST's are you concerned about? You can send them to me and I'll try them out on Windows 10 and I'll let you know what breaks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen multiple computers where the Windows 10 upgrade introduced weird driver issues (for instance, I couldn't actually install my Intel USB 3.0 drivers on the new machine, as detailed in that link I posted a while back), one person had their start menu quit working completely, etc. Just too much of a risk for me.

 

This is the case I built the new PC in, and there are many variations on it with different colors and with or without side windows that you can usually find floating around. Favorite case I've ever built in at this point, and it looks classy as hell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.