Pc build for music software - advice needed (noob!)

djjonig

Standard Member
Dear All,

I'm into Music production using various digital audio workstations such as Ableton and Reason (and hopefully Pro Tools if i can build a system which can handle it!)

I've only recently started to get an understanding of the technical side of computers, however, my knowledge is still fairly limited. My current laptop glitches continuously as is obviously insufficient and i was wondering if anyone could advise as to a combination of components which would be best to build a pc for my needs. From reading this and other forums im gonna take a stab at building my own pc (cant afford to pay for others to do it unfortunately!). Although not a cakewalk, if i stick to people in the know's advice im hoping i should be able to do it.

Thanks in anticipation of much needed advice!!

John
 

Berties

Banned
Shouldn't be too difficult, I guess dual core, with a fast hard drive, plenty of RAM, and most important of all a decent soundcard with full ASIO support.
 

Iccz

Distinguished Member
Ableton isn't hugely demanding as a rule, it's going to depend a lot more on what VSTs you are using and how many of them... for example a few simple square wave VSTi channels will not cause any problem, but a couple of full on orchestral VSTi channels will eat up memory and start to use the CPU a lot more.

Could you give us an idea on what kind of VSTs you're going to be looking at running and how much you're going to be throwing into a set on Ableton?

I would generally say you want at least 4GB if you're going to be doing some heavy production, if you're just going to be doing some simple mixing and sampling then 2GB of RAM should be enough.

An i3 processor will be able to do all you need just fine so that should keep the budget down, but again it's going to depend on how much you're thrashing it and are you going to be using Reason along side Ableton?

The next thing would be sound card - ideally you want one with an ASIO driver, something like this for example:
Scan.co.uk: Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium PCI Sound Card - 70SB088000000

I don't overly follow components at the moment but can give some advice if your needs are expanded a bit, then perhaps someone else who keeps on track with components can spec you a build :thumbsup:
 

djjonig

Standard Member
wow, thanks for VERY fast reply. i only joined this site 20 mins ago but i can see that im going to be a regular user and hopefully contributor in future!

Any particular processor you would recommend? money is an object but im keen to get as fast as possible so i dont need to upgrade again in near future. when you say fast hard drive do you mean 7200rpm or faster again? RAM i was thinking 12gb? I had 4 in my old machine but performance was poor. would you recommend any particular sound card? if my understanding is correct specific components wont necessarily work with others but if you had any suggestions id be much obliged.

thanks again, looking forward to doing my first build now!
 

djjonig

Standard Member
Thanks ICCZ

Im fairly new to Ableton, and to be honest im not sure what VSTs ill be using as my old laptop would crash and burn after very limited use of VSTs, however, the likelihood is that ill be using plenty VSTs, effects etc. Pretty much heavy production as you stated. I love my music!!

Based on my limited knowledge and research i had been looking at I5 processors - again, im sadly not an expert but reading others comments/reviews etc i got the feeling that was where my needs were heading. The budget is obviously always important but if it cost me a little more to have a system which could handle basically anything then id be happy enough to push the boat out. After continual crashes etc i just need a system which i can rely on always performing. I will be looking to have multiple DAWs like Reason and Ableton working in tandem.

Thanks for the souncard info, ill look that up.

Again, thanks very much, you are a gentleman. At last i will hopefully have a pc worthy of the name!!!

John
 

Iccz

Distinguished Member
An i5 would be a good processor to go for, the i3 would see you comfortable but the i5 would give you a little more in case you start to thrash it a bit with some heavier VSTs.

I would say go for 6GB of RAM if you're wanting to use a lot of VSTs and Reason and Ableton together as that's going to be a hungry set up, you'll want to use Windows 7 64bit to get the most out of the memory plus have 64bit support for any VSTs that may use it - I know certain East West and other big VSTs do.

As I say I'm not so great on builds but I'm sure someone can spec you a rig with an i5, 6 or 8gb of RAM and a good size/speed HDD and a solid sound card with ASIO support - I think you can pick up the M-Audio ones quite cheap now too, if you let us know what kind of price you're looking at.
 

djjonig

Standard Member
Thanks again. Sorry to ask more questions but i really am a noob!! Which RAM would you recommend - DDR2/3? And is there a RAM speed which you would suggest as a minimum? Depending on price, would it be advisable to get the max that the build could take? Sorry, 101 questions but im just keen to get everything right first time!!!

When you mentioned price did you mean for entire build? Not really sure, obviously as cheap as possible but theres definitely more importance on performance than cost (unless this tripled the cost or something!)

Cheers ICCZ
 

Berties

Banned
Check M-Audios drivers I've got a Revolution 5.1 and no longer supported. They may have a new line with Windows 7 support.
 

djjonig

Standard Member
thanks for your post Berties. Im just checking costs for processors online, is buying an almost new processor from a reputable supplier an option? or is this a no-no? just that there are some I7-950/860 processors on ebay for pretty cheap prices. if these were reliable (the sellers are typically power sellers with 100% feedback) id be happy paying a bit extra for the increased power (i am correct in assuming I7 are a higher spec than I5??!!)

Thanks
 

Berties

Banned
Second hand are ok if you know the person, otherwise you don't know if the person before has abused the CPU (sexually) :rolleyes: overclocked it and using stock fan (too hot) too much voltage, using the CPU as a carpet grip, bent the pins, dropped it in the loo, run over it with a car etc etc.

I think any dual or quad will be fine either way. As for RAM DDR2 is for older systems it's now DDR3 dual or triple channel. 4GB will cost about 60 quid, 6GB for 120 quid, 8GB 180 quid.

I don't know how much of music mixing actually uses CPU workload, I know video & audio encoding does so quad is useful in professional market. Also does your software use multi core CPU's?
 

djjonig

Standard Member
cheers Berties, i'll probably stick to new, if a jobs worth doing and all that ;-)

As for RAM, i actually upgraded my old laptop last year from 1GB to 4GB and recall that was DDR2 but i remember there were some other bits on the RAM board like eg PC2 6400 and then the speed. Am i correct in thinking that some RAM only fit specific motherboards and therefore i wouldnt know which RAM to buy until i know the motherboard? Which leads on to another query!!.... As im going with either I5 or I7 quad core, do u have any recommendations for a Motherboard to suit either I5 or I7?

The software im using has preferences whereby i can activate multi core processor setting so all good on that front.

Cheers again,

John
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Am i correct in thinking that some RAM only fit specific motherboards and therefore i wouldnt know which RAM to buy until i know the motherboard?

No, although there's occasionally specific incompatibilities between a specific stick of ram and a specific motherboard.

Intel have now transitioned to putting the memory controller on the CPU (AMD have been doing it for years) so it's now the CPU that determines what type of memory you need rather than the motherboard. I believe the i5 only supports DDR3 so that's the type you want. Speed generally doesn't matter much, just get whatever's cheapest (probably 1333 or 1600).
 

djjonig

Standard Member
Cheers Waves,

Ive learned more in 4 hrs today about computers than i had the rest of my life previously! Why didnt i stumble upon this site before, magic.

Would you be able to recommend a MOBO for I5 or I7?

Thx, John
 

djjonig

Standard Member
it will be pretty much exclusively for music production software Berties. anything in mind? cheers
 

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