Home Studio PC Build. Advice please.

Shake&Bake

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Wasn't sure if to post this in the hardware section or here.
But as I want to get the feel from a musician's POV, I elected to post here.\

What I do, musically:

  • Semi-Accoustic guitar
  • Electric guitar
  • Vocals

So the idea is to record those items listed via a Focusirte 2i/2o or I may even go for the Focusrite Saffire 6 USB interface.

Other instrumentation like Bass, Synths, maybe even drums to be added with VST's using Reaper or the like. (Not by me though :p You know who you are :D )
I'm likely going for Reaper, will trial first.

Anyway. I've built PC's before. But that was for gaming and media.
Need a barebones setup that'll handle DAW's and recording with ease - BUT - there's always a but right :p - I don't wanna spend the earth doing it.

So i5's and the like are out.

I'm sure I can still do this kind of thing with the older Quad Core CPU's, 8GB Ram and an older mobo that could handle those components.

So the idea is to scour through classifieds here, carbonite and the like and get what I need.

So my needs:

  • Quad Core CPU and Cooler
  • 8GB Ram DDR3 preferrably
  • Motherboard
  • PSU
  • Monitor
  • Soundcard?

HDD's, keyboard and mouse are no issue.
Got an old case laying around in the garage that I can salvage and out to use again.

Suggestions please?
 
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ponder

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Dunno if it's still the case but I knew people use to rave about the M-Audio stuff so maybe have a look at that as well.

PCI & Firewire based stuff apparently also have lower latency than USB based stuff and is more stable.
 
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tsume

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Soundcard wise go for an external usb. Saves you drama if you decide to switch workstations.
 

tsume

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Dunno if it's still the case but I knew people use to rave about the M-Audio stuff so maybe have a look at that as well.

PCI & Firewire based stuff apparently also have lower latency than USB based stuff and is more stable.
I once bought a firewire connector cause at one point that is what many cards/controllers used, to this day I haven't used the firewire port
 

DrJohnZoidberg

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What's the budget? I wouldn't be too stressed about processing power, modern multitrack recording software is quite advanced and manages resources well. I used to be able to do 30ish tracks with tons of VST plugins on a Intel dual core e6400 (2.8GHz). The main thing is having enough memory (at least 4gb, 8gb would be better). Modern hard drives also will manage just fine.

Ahh, I miss the days of my little home studio - wish I still lived in a house where I could make a racket :(
 

Shake&Bake

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If I can throw it together for under R2k, then I'd be good.
But I'm thinking I'd be hard pressed to do that.
Entry level aka kuk laptops are starting at R3k which have me thinking - but Core2Duo or Celeron's is not what I'm looking for.
And every other 2nd hand notebook seller still believes that his 2 year old i3 is worth R4500. :rolleyes:
 

Shake&Bake

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Considering the following, thoughts?

Case and components, no monitor, all almost totally unused except case and original SATA HDD.

Item: Coolermaster Mystique Case, i3-2120, MSI-H61M-P23, 2Gb RAM, Gainward GT520 GFX, 160Gb HDD and PSU ready to boot.
Age: A Couple months
Warranty: No
Packaging: Some
Condition: Excellent, case has some age, nothing bad... attractive case actually.
Reason: Collecting dust
Price: R2800 - the price has been dropped though by the seller to R2200.
That mobo only has 2 Ram slots - so that 2GB of RAM is gonna be worthless to me. Need 2x4GB modules at least.
Also the HDD, but can perhaps just use it for the OS.
Though I want this to be a fast PC and really wanna try Linux on it. Anyway - I digress.

The rig ^ decent and price mkay?
 
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DrJohnZoidberg

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Considering the following, thoughts?



That mobo only has 2 Ram slots - so that 2GB of RAM is gonna be worthless to me. Need 2x4GB modules at least.
Also the HDD, but can perhaps just use it for the OS.
Though I want this to be a fast PC and really wanna try Linux on it. Anyway - I digress.

The rig ^ decent and price mkay?
That PC should do just fine if you say you gonna get your own hard drives, I still would however maybe looking at getting new stuff even it is lower end stuff. Not having warranties on things can really be a bitch. You could probably put together a decent-ish pc from Esquire for about R2500.

As much as I love Linux (and use it on all my machines), building a DAW on Linux is going to take a lot more effort than running a Windows based machine. Not saying it can't be done, there is some great opensource software out there, but when it comes to hardware driver compatibility and plugin choices, Windows/Mac wins the race.


My 2c.
 

Shake&Bake

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That PC should do just fine if you say you gonna get your own hard drives, I still would however maybe looking at getting new stuff even it is lower end stuff. Not having warranties on things can really be a bitch. You could probably put together a decent-ish pc from Esquire for about R2500.

As much as I love Linux (and use it on all my machines), building a DAW on Linux is going to take a lot more effort than running a Windows based machine. Not saying it can't be done, there is some great opensource software out there, but when it comes to hardware driver compatibility and plugin choices, Windows/Mac wins the race.


My 2c.
Agreed on the Linux vs Windows debate.

Based on Esquire's current component specials:

Foxconn H61MXL LGA1155 Mobo - R400
i3 2100 3.1Ghz - R1003
Kingston Hyper X Genesis 4GB Ram (x2) - R456
Total = R1859

Prices are incl VAT.

RAM wise, if I really wanted to - I could save some dosh going 2nd Hand with Kingston RAM which has Lifetime warranty.
Does it really matter though - the price of a bread :erm:
If I could then get a relatively young, 2nd Hand Samsung monitor, then I'll be happy with that. As they have 3 year warranty.
HDD's I don't really mind 2nd hand either, as long as there's warranty.
Though HDD specials are also coming around quite often now.
Then there's still PSU... and perhaps GPU.

Not sure if GPU is really needed, but it's gonna come shy of R3k at this rate I think.
 
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copacetic

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I'd just make sure your drive is 7200 RPM, not the slower one.

If you get a firewire interface, keep in mind a (suitable) firewire card will be a couple hundred bucks.

If you are not doing a lot of stuff, then you don't need a super beefy PC, but if you do start using VSTs, you will start racking up CPU cycles very quickly, depending what you use.

If you need any help with Reaper, feel free to ask, it's a grand program, just not very noob friendly, due to its complexity.
 

sibcool

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For recording you're going have to spend - not the earth but at least a small mountain. I currently have a firewire focusrite saffire pro 14 but that's for both home and away. Before that I had an ESI maya44 USB that I thought was broken which prompted me into buying the focusrite but it turned out it wasn't broken. With the maya though I had also get a M-Audio DMP3 PreAmp for recording both vocals and guitar - but there is software based preamps if you're happy with the quality. This was over a span of a year though - acquiring all these items (and there are others), which is the nice thing about sound equipment - doesn't change at same rate as GPUs/CPUs - so that mountain goes a long way.
 

Moosedrool

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Focusirte 2i/2o and Saffire 6 are all audio interface devices so sound card would not be your problem standard MB's comes with 7.1 or 8.1 channel audio anyways. PC specs is 100%. GPU? anything supporting high resolutions aka 1080p and up cause it becomes a mission to work with VST's when running lower res. You'll move stuff around like a maniac on your DAW.

The problem with instrument recording is the digital world. To sustain quality the last bit of finalized audio needs to get recorded digitally then you can work on the VST synths etc... So I would suggest a pretty good mixing desk which will have a hefty price attached. Look at Allen & Heath equipment for what you might need.

Production earphones bleh, only for vocalists and drummers (Electrical). You'll need that and a great pair of studio monitors. KRK has a nice range with balanced audio. I bought the Rokit 8's. Each unit is amplified and has a simple 2 way EQ at the back. Haven't had a day of disappointment.
 

DrJohnZoidberg

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I'm looking at getting a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Anybody have any experience with these?
 

Shake&Bake

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I'm looking at getting a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Anybody have any experience with these?
I've got it.
Simplicity in brushed aluminium.
USB Powered, has phantom power (be getting an SE x1 condenser mic next month to make use of that) and the jacks which double as XLR and standard guitar jacks are awesome.
Real time feedback if you're recording over monitors.

I could go on and on - its a good buy, dependant on what you need.

Check with Soundworkx in Tokai.
Last I was there, I saw they got some more in.
I got mine for R1599. Think I saw the prices was a little up on that - but just ask them for a discount and they usually give you one.
 

DrJohnZoidberg

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I've got it.
Simplicity in brushed aluminium.
USB Powered, has phantom power (be getting an SE x1 condenser mic next month to make use of that) and the jacks which double as XLR and standard guitar jacks are awesome.
Real time feedback if you're recording over monitors.

I could go on and on - its a good buy, dependant on what you need.

Check with Soundworkx in Tokai.
Last I was there, I saw they got some more in.
I got mine for R1599. Think I saw the prices was a little up on that - but just ask them for a discount and they usually give you one.
Thanks. It is pretty cheap, saw one at the new Paul Bothners here in Table View and think I'm sold. Will pop by there tomorrow again. Damn, now I need a raise :D
 

FlatspinZA

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Check this site out for your audio input cards http://www.tuerkmusic.co.za/ - they normally sell with a sound card, but it is expensive. If I recall correctly it's Steinberg you want to be looking at. I am not sure if they even do that any more.

As for doing it on a budget, I'd pass. Rather build an i5 system and know that you have the capacity to grow 3 years down the line. The way you're looking at it now, in 3 years time if something comes out that you absolutely must have you have to start all over. At least in 3 years time you can upgrade your CPU, add RAM, and an SSD.

Another thing you need to consider is latency - I am not sure how the Muso's handle that, but I know it's a problem, especially when it comes to live scenarios.
 
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