Need Help Designing A Computer For Recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Jul 6, 2003.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    It looks like I'll be getting some money as a wedding present at the end of the month, and I'd like to get a PC that has a focus on multitrack recording. The budget would be around $1500 (+ or - a couple hundred is fine). I can navigate around computers fine, but I know almost nothing about hardware, so I basically need advice on what kind of sound card, programs, mixer/input device, type of computer, all that stuff. The only recording experience I've had was using Cubase (forgot which version), and it was pretty easy, although it was a Mac version, so any advice on that is welcome as well. Should I have it build by a big company like Dell or Gateway, or should I get a local computer business to build it? Any and all help would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Mandobass


    Nov 12, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    if you don't know a lot about computer restoration and repair, then i'd suggest getting a computer from a company with a reputable warranty.
    dell is a great choice. besides, the only hardware you will be swapping is the soundcard, so what does it really matter?

    as for soundcards, it depends on how many inputs you want. you can spend ~140 on a 2496 M-audio audiophile and be served well, or you can spend 750 on an Aardvark Q10 and be severed even better.

    two harddrives are key(7200 PRM, 8 MB chache). harddrives go about a gig/dollar today, so having 100+ gig computers is not only ideal, but feasible.

    invest in a good mic.

    mixers are optional, but give you more inputs/mic preamps than most soundcards.

    as for programs, choose whatever you feel works the best. there's tons to pick from, and i've heard good reviews of all the big names.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I second the Audiophile.
    If you have pro/multitrack ambitions take a look at the bigger M-Audio Delta cards
    The best cards are RME though.

    I second two disks, one for the OS and programs and one for audio.
    Get as much ram as you can. 512+, 768 or more are better.
    Get Windows XP Professional.
    Get a big monitor (at least 19" CRT or 17" LCD), preferably two.
    Get a multimonitor video card.

    On the software side I recommend Cubase SX.
  4. soularis


    Jul 3, 2003
    Illinois, USA
    Hey, JMX, who sells the RME digi96 cards online and how much do they usually cost? I checked out Audiophille and am looking for somewhat in that range. Thanks.
  5. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    go mac all the way!!!! i like macs the best for video and audio..

    you can get a nice one on ebay

    get a g4 tower..a nice big flat screen or lcd..

    or a new imac works great also....(i have experince with both of these)

  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    Sorry, not interested in a Mac at all. I was looking at the M-Audio Delta 44 and 66 cards...they look great but I'm not sure if I'd be better off getting the Audiophile 24/96 and a mixer. Is the sound card itself of better quality in the Deltas, or are you just paying for the outs/ins?

    Also, it doesn't say they come with a driver for XP but I figured they must work with it and there's a driver for them somewhere-am I correct in assuming that?
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The chip is the same in all Deltas (the Audiophile is a Delta too), you pay for ins/outs and of course the breakout box of the highrange Delta 66 and 1010.
    The XP drivers are great - they're the same for all cards btw.
  8. Johnalex


    Jul 20, 2001
    South Carolina
    -2 hard drives is a definant.
    -AMD's are good for audio, but it is all personal prefrence.
    -Definantly XP if you are running audio.
    -Get quite fans, especially if you are planning on recording in the same room as the computer.
    -M-audio all the way, look into the Delta 1010.
    I would get the 1010, and nice 8 channel mixer with good preamps.
    -A large monitor would be ideal, maybe even dual monitors. You want to fit in as much as you can.
    -As far as programs they are all good, I prefer Cakewalk Sonar.

    Good Luck
  9. int


    Jan 21, 2002
    Phoenix, AZ
    If I got to build another machine:

    - Either Windows 2000 or XP, Professional
    - I'm an Intel man myself. Too many driver issues with AMD - no point in unknowingly limiting yourself if some sort of upgrade is necessary. I regretfully give that advice. I've seen too many people struggle with drivers that don't work with AMD systems. Granted, with my recommendations I don't thinks you'd have many problems, if any.
    - 2 hard drives, both at least 40 gigs, 7200 rpms, and a large cache - no scrimping here on performance, although size is subjective - jsut go as big as you can for your audio drive and put your OS and apps on the main drive.
    - At least 256 megs of RAM. More if can be afforded.
    - Reputable video card, like a Matrox G450.

    That'd be a start. I prefer a laser mouse for accuracy (as opposed to a wheel) and ASUS or ABIT motherboards.

    I picked up a Delta 1010 earlier this week as a temporary solution since my Tascam DM-24 is in for repairs. Killer sound from the 1010 - highly recommended.

    If you don't need that many channels, I'd hook up something with mic preamps. M-Audio will have a solution that works. Echo has a couple options as well - but for a better price to performance ratio, I'd still opt for the M-Audio gear, given my experience with both brands.

    There are some great sounding little mixers from Mackie and Soundcraft/Spirit (m8, for example) that can double up for PA duties, if you end up looking at mixers.

    Something like a Delta 1010 with a Mackie VLZ-Pro would be a great setup to start.

    One thing to think about - If you decide you really enjoy this recording stuff down the line, you're going to want to upgrade. If you decide to leave it to the pros, then you'll probably want to be able to sell your gear for a decent price. So don't scrimp on the soundcard if it means better sound and you won't have to waste money on better gear later. However, if you decide you don't like it, don't scrimp on the soundcard if you think another card will have a higher resale value (just remember, we're talking about PC gear here and you will ultimately lose money on the purchase, in general).

    Point in sum: get a reputable soundcard that doesn't suck. If you want to sell, people who are jumping into the art, on the cheap, will be interested in quality gear. M-Audio has this market, imo.

    That aside, I'd go with Dell for the support and warranty alone, unless you personally know a PC builder that will help you out.

    Heh, that was a lot of words for this time of night, so I apologize ahead if anything is unclear...
  10. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    It seemed pretty clear to me, and all of you guys have been very helpful so far. I checked out the Carillon systems, and they look great and can be easily customized, but it'll probably be too pricey to get one ($2000+). Now if I was to get a small mixer to attach to the soundcard breakout box, wouldn't it be better to save some cash and get the Delta 6/6 rather than the 10/10, as the mixer would provide the additional imputs anyway?

    Dell also seems like the route I may be going at the moment, as I'm not familiar with any computer techs at the moment, unless some extra $$$ appears allowing me to go for a Carillon.