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Hello everyone!

So here's the thing. Through a series of mishaps and questionable purchases, I find myself in possession of no less than three decently powerful computers, two of which are custom built desktops and the remaining one being a new Toshiba C50-C laptop. They each have 8gigs of RAM and are all packing multi core processors (also, 2 are running Windows 10 while one desktop is still on Windows 7). I've been doing fine with just the one desktop for a number of years now, but I've lately found myself using more and more higher quality sample libraries along with more cpu-intensive plugins. Alone or in simple projects there's no issue, but I've noticed things starting to get pretty cramped in mid/large size projects and workflow/inspiration is starting to get stifled because of it. 

My question to y'all is this: Are there any effective ways that I can somehow link all these computers together to combine their powers? Or at least take advantage of them in someway so that I don't have good computers just sitting and collecting dust? I've heard of using Vienna Ensemble to link computers to make use of extra RAM and processing power, but the program is pricey and after last year's messes I'm a bit gun-shy on dropping another 300+ dollars if I can avoid it. Do any of you use this program? Would you say it's worth it? Are there any alternatives?

For more info, I'm currently using one main desktop with a dual-monitor setup (and I've got 1 spare, shitty monitor). I primarily work in Reaper/FL (depending on what I'm doing) but I also own Bitwig, which I've tinkered with a little. I've messed with some linking functions that Reaper has, but found that they only work for Reaper's own plugins, so it's not really of use to me. Any thoughts are welcome, feel free to stream your conscious at me.

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1 minute ago, Neblix said:

 

1 hour ago, Senjin said:

I've heard of using Vienna Ensemble to link computers to make use of extra RAM and processing power, but the program is pricey and after last year's messes I'm a bit gun-shy on dropping another 300+ dollars if I can avoid it. Do any of you use this program? Would you say it's worth it? Are there any alternatives?

 

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My bad. I missed that snippet.

Yes, Vienna Ensemble Pro is used by many, if not all, professional composers. It's very powerful software and essential if you want to create DAW slave set-ups.

I will say, however, you can gain a ton more power out of these extra computers if you optimize them for audio first. This is a bit of a process in basically manually crippling your operating system on each slave machine to squeeze out every last drop of computations to remain free for use in audio. Here's some tips to give you an idea:

http://www.tim-carter.com/index.php?t=Optimize+Your+PC+For+Music+Production&Menu=1&SubMenuId=22&ItemId=9

If you optimize your slave computers, and use a good VE Pro template, that's basically the best you can do for using multiple computers.

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NBD

There's a lot of stuff in that optimization article that I didn't think of or even know about, will definitely be putting some of that to use pretty quickly. Thanks for the help and feedback, looks like I'm gonna be making another big purchase pretty soon here....

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23 minutes ago, Flexstyle said:

I don't know if this will end up being helpful, and as I recall it's still 32-bit only, but this might be worth looking at as well: http://www.fx-max.com/fxt/product.html

Interesting... It's a shame that support for it has been discontinued. Some basic googling seems to point to it being fairly unstable in W7 as well (which means W10 is probably out of the question entirely). I also found out about something called Wormhole, though it looks to be equally neglected and unviable. It's a bit odd to me that there are so few options for doing this kind of thing, despite it being a seemingly fairly common practice.

Oh well, VEPro it is, I guess. Thanks for the info though.

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The music tech sector is fairly barebones as far as productivity tools. Lots of smart musicians contributing their own private solutions and hacks (TransMIDIfier, loopbe, rtpMIDI), but not really a lot of established teams of software developers making competitive stuff. VE Pro is stable and reputable, and nothing has really challenged it because no one has felt the need to.

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Depending on exactly what bottlenecks you're running into, you may find that putting more RAM into a single machine is a more cost effective solution than VE Pro. 8 gigs isn't that much if you're doing a lot of heavy duty stuff.

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It *is* a shame that FX Teleport was discontinued... I remember using it, back in the day, to run Gigasampler INSIDE VMWare Workstation, and then talking to that from a DAW running on the host OS, simply because of how many BSOD's Gigasampler tended to trigger. True story.

My advice is this: don't do it unless you really have to...

This applies to all multi-computer setups, whether it's Vienna or another solution...you are complicating your environment and your project setup, and in doing so, you are causing potential compatibility issues down the road, making your setup more difficult to reproduce, etc.

If you NEED the extra horsepower, that's one thing - we're talking 75+ tracks, tons of sample libraries loaded, doing some sort of full-symphonic scoring, etc.

But if you simply want to take advantage of the extra processing power "because it's there" and it would seem like a shame not to, I'd advise against it due to the overhead/complexity it introduces into your environment & workflow.

@zircon may have some thoughts...

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1 hour ago, djpretzel said:

It *is* a shame that FX Teleport was discontinued... I remember using it, back in the day, to run Gigasampler INSIDE VMWare Workstation, and then talking to that from a DAW running on the host OS, simply because of how many BSOD's Gigasampler tended to trigger. True story.

My advice is this: don't do it unless you really have to...

This applies to all multi-computer setups, whether it's Vienna or another solution...you are complicating your environment and your project setup, and in doing so, you are causing potential compatibility issues down the road, making your setup more difficult to reproduce, etc.

If you NEED the extra horsepower, that's one thing - we're talking 75+ tracks, tons of sample libraries loaded, doing some sort of full-symphonic scoring, etc.

But if you simply want to take advantage of the extra processing power "because it's there" and it would seem like a shame not to, I'd advise against it due to the overhead/complexity it introduces into your environment & workflow.

@zircon may have some thoughts...

all of this

Though I would also say you might want to take apart the computers and put together a better one using the best of parts. If they both use the same RAM and have extra slots, just shift all the RAM to one computer.

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I agree with DJ P. A multiple machine setup is quite a hassle and really only worth doing if it's absolutely necessary. If you organize your projects properly, you really shouldn't need more than a powerful modern computer with lots of RAM. My quad i5 iMac with 16gb of RAM still serves me well with everything that I throw at it including decent sized orchestral projects. I use mostly Vienna stuff with that sort of thing and their software does a great job of handling memory. 

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3 hours ago, djpretzel said:

My advice is this: don't do it unless you really have to...

This applies to all multi-computer setups, whether it's Vienna or another solution...you are complicating your environment and your project setup, and in doing so, you are causing potential compatibility issues down the road, making your setup more difficult to reproduce, etc.

If you NEED the extra horsepower, that's one thing - we're talking 75+ tracks, tons of sample libraries loaded, doing some sort of full-symphonic scoring, etc.

But if you simply want to take advantage of the extra processing power "because it's there" and it would seem like a shame not to, I'd advise against it due to the overhead/complexity it introduces into your environment & workflow.

True words, if I had followed this advice last year (instead of constantly convincing myself I "need" new things) I would be in a much better spot now. No use lamenting poor past decisions though, just gotta suck it up and learn from my mistakes.

I definitely need more power in some form, but I was also trying to get it in a way that made use of what I already have. Unfortunately, as others mentioned, it would be simpler and more cost effective to just upgrade the RAM in my main computer (can't combine what I have, unfortunately). I can quadruple the available memory of one machine for about half the price of VEP, with the benefit of also not having to worry about moving licenses around and such (which would undoubtedly be a headache by itself). I'd lose out on the extra CPU power, but I don't think that would really be a problem (haven't paid as much attention to my CPU usage compared to RAM, though I do know it's not really an issue).

It kills me a little to have a brand new computer sitting around being useless, but that might just be something I have to deal with. The laptop is still plenty useful for when I need to travel outside of my apartment to do recording work, but the second desktop was just a bad purchase, I think. I guess I can always just upgrade the RAM of one computer and see how that works out, and if I decide It's somehow not enough then I can reconsider VEP as an option.

EDIT: Also, thanks everyone for all the thoughts so far, it's been very helpful!

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10 minutes ago, Senjin said:

It kills me a little to have a brand new computer sitting around being useless, but that might just be something I have to deal with. The laptop is still plenty useful for when I need to travel outside of my apartment to do recording work, but the second desktop was just a bad purchase, I think. I guess I can always just upgrade the RAM of one computer and see how that works out, and if I decide It's somehow not enough then I can reconsider VEP as an option.

There are plenty of things to do with an extra computer that don't involve slaving it in your DAW. Hook it up to your TV and use it as a media server. :D

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10 minutes ago, Neblix said:

There are plenty of things to do with an extra computer that don't involve slaving it in your DAW. Hook it up to your TV and use it as a media server. :D

Heh, not a bad idea (even though I've got a million consoles under my TV already competing for that position :roll:). There might be some crazy use for it yet though.

6 minutes ago, djpretzel said:

@Senjin As a sidenote, I may have missed it, but I didn't see you mention storage anywhere, and upgrading to SSD is one of the best things you can do in general, and even better for larger sample libraries. Something else to consider!

I didn't mention it, but right now all of my sample libraries are crammed onto a 1TB external HDD which is plugged into a USB 3.0 port. I've been wanting to upgrade to SSD but larger ones are still pretty pricey... I do have a 250gb one in the new desktop I built though, and I know I've got a spare HDD sitting around. Maybe I'll try to migrate the OS of the new computer to my spare HDD so I can use the SSD for my more commonly used samples... 

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