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Setting up new PC for recording...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by drumandstage, Mar 10, 2019.

  1. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Still way more fiddley than need be. IMO. And he wants for it to be for use as his regular machine too if I read his first post correctly. So he’s going to be mapping his virtual web/audio/video/storage IO. Not every Windows app plays well with that arrangement. I’ve seen some popular financial apps get a little weird running in a VM. Also the same for apps with a lot of disk write and buffering activity. If the VM writes to the virtual HD and that doesn’t eventually get correctly pushed to the physical HD, you can get data corruption when you shutdown the VM. The giveaway is when you open an app in the VM and it immediately asks if you want to repair its database almost every single time.

    Drives are cheap, and muti-booting just seems easier and less subject to bad surprises to me when it comes to home use. In an enterprise environment where you’re running full virtualization on a Type-1 hypervisor with hardware and software failover, VMs are the only way to go. But for home use and a non-geek user, I think they’re still not quite the everyday solution they’re claimed to be.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  2. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I meant put the DAW OS on the host and put his "internet" installation on the VM.
    Robb Fesig likes this.
  3. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    I have to disagree. Our current computer is an off-the-shelf Dell that's almost 10 years old running Windows 7, and it runs Cubase just fine. But I'm an IT guy, so one of the first things I did after getting it was uninstall all of the bloatware we didn't need.

    FYI, Windows 7 will be out of support in January of next year, so I'm buying a new Windows 10 one this month (quad-core with 16 GB of RAM).
  4. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    The problem I've run into with Pre-mades is the motherboards are often proprietary and therefore hard to find drivers for. As you noticed, you have to wipe them to remove the bloat ware, but then you don't have a true OS CD, just an image they have hidden somewhere, so you need another copy of Windows anyway. I'd rather just build my own PC.
    Windows 7 is fine. I think the upgrade to 10 was unnecessary, but then so has every update to Office since 2000. MS has to make money some how, right.
    The OP didn't really lay out what kind of recording they are doing. If it is simple solo project stuff where they are recording one instrument at a time, you don't need a crazy system for that. If this is something they want to do Pro, and are doing 12 channels of drums at once, and then dumping 48 tracks to a master, you might need something with a little more horse power.
    MonetBass likes this.
  5. Tommy V

    Tommy V

    Feb 19, 2019
    If you really want separation of church and state, two completely separate systems are your best bet.
    StatesideRambler and seamonkey like this.
  6. akrachanko

    akrachanko Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    Western Pennsylvania
    IT guy here. +1 for this.

    All software getting used daily should go on SSD, and all actual files (documents, audio files, videos, etc.) should go on HDD. 500 GB is a decent amount of space when considering your data files will be elsewhere, so you could probably even put all your VST plugins and such on the SSD as well.

    Also, make sure you implement some form of backups. It's devastating rebuild a computer, even if all of your data is still in tact on spinning disk. Takes time, and can relatively cheaply and easily be avoided.
    Richie Se7en likes this.
  7. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Got it. But see my post to Rob Fesig above yours for my comment about VMs for general use. That’ll help explain better where I’m coming from. :)
  8. Robb Fesig

    Robb Fesig

    Mar 14, 2015

    The problem I have with multi-booting is that the drives of one OS are seen by the other OS (if you assuming the person is using Windows for both Operating Systems). So if the Internet PC gets a Cryptolocker variant, it will happily encrypt the data from the other OS as well. Sure it's easier and cheaper, but it's also not as safe.

    Someone else said it best, use two different machines and that's the best way.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Bit of a stretch scenario since getting your drive bit by ransomware is something fairly easy to prevent if you exercise some common sense. But I guess it is a possibility.

    I suppose you can always run DISKPART or use PowerShell (or otherwise create a script) invoking DISKPART to put the drive(s) you're not using for the current Windows instance offline if you’re really worried about it. But it hardly seems worth it.
  10. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Windows does not let you separate things out like that. All OS and user files must be on the boot drive. You can, however, move the Documents, Desktop, Download, etc, special dirs to another drive. (You just can't move the "Users" dir to another drive.) You may be able to install your audio applications on a non-system drive. However, many components will still end up on the system drive. (I've tried this and don't recommend it.)

    I think the VirtualBox suggestion will get you closer to where you want to be. You will need another Windows license for the virtual machine. The other users would still log onto the host machine. Then they would launch the VM. Then they would have to log onto the virtual machine. This is not a typical user scenario for Windows. The reality is that Windows is not really a multi-user system.

    Regarding other comments about using an off-the-shelf system like Dell, in my experience, it is really hit or miss. Dell does not build for audio recording purposes, so things that matter to audio production are not necessarily on their radar. The big thing to pay attention too in the audio world is interrupts. Interrupts means dropouts. I have a DELL XPS 9550 that I bought for audio work. The DPC's were through the roof. I turns out to be a poor quality wifi card and driver. Despite having a fairly powerful system, I was getting drop-outs with only a handful of midi/audio tracks and a modest size buffer. I recommend running DPC Latency Checker on your system to see if you will have similar problems. Even if you do find latency issues, finding the culprit can be a very long and arduous task. Also, AMD graphics cards are better for audio than NVidias. The latter have a more aggressive driver profile that causes more interrupts. The AMD cards not so much. That is why Nvidia cards are generally preferred by gamers cause they want faster graphics. Audio production does not need fast graphics cards. They want cards that stay out of the way of audio processing and streaming.

    I just built a system using a Gigabyte z390 Designare, (built-in Thunderbolt 3, yeah!), and a 9900k. I am hoping this will work out better for me.
  11. Richie Se7en

    Richie Se7en Presently distractivated Supporting Member

    I'm not exactly a whiz but I agree with this much. Plus, these days you can grab a 4TB external HD for under $100. SSD for tasks and HDD for storage. :thumbsup:

  12. Apparently you have some experience on this subject... Have you ever tried a virtual PC kind of solution? VirtualBox, Hyper-V or any of those solutions? It would avoid having to reboot to surf the web, while keeping the AUDIO Host Computer clean, no?
  13. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    It really depends on what you are doing. Do you have a really big sample library? Those sample should go on the big HDD's along with backups. Are you using a lot of plugins? You need a powerful CPU.

    There really is no reason to separate OS/App from data anymore. A single SSD of even moderate capability is so much faster than HDD's that there is little of no advantage to separating out data from the OS/Apps except for managing space.
  14. Richie Se7en

    Richie Se7en Presently distractivated Supporting Member


    Oh, and if at all possible, build it yourself or get some who knows to help you do it. In the long run you'll have a better system that's expandable (at possibly less cost) than a high-end 'off the rack' model.
  15. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I've used Hyper-V and VirtualBox. For personal computer use, I like VirtualBox. Sure Hyper-V will give you slightly better performance, but VB is far more user friendly. Hyper-V and other type 1 virtualization systems are better for server applications.

    However, in both cases you will be logging onto your host OS, then launching your virtual OS, then logging into that before you actually get to surfing the web. That is cumbersome to some users.
    diegom likes this.
  16. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    One thing I suggest is creating a profile in Windows for audio work. The profile will change how OS features work. For example, you will likely want to disable HDD parking while working with audio files. So you can setup the default profile for general purpose use, then switch to a audio production profile when you want to do that work.
  17. akrachanko

    akrachanko Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    Western Pennsylvania
    I'll weigh into this conversation again with my IT knowledge, and also my DAW knowledge. DAWs tend to be power hungry (CPU and RAM), and low latency is absolutely key, so as I think has been said numerous times, do not make your DAW run on a virtual system. The idea of using a virtual machine of some kind for your other stuff is still an acceptable approach, but it can be tedious to move things back and forth, and working in a VM usually means using only a subset of your available hardware, since the host system still needs to function. This isn't necessarily an issue. Also, unless running an open source operating system on the VM, you'll need to get another Windows license. I think all of this was said already.

    Dual booting, in your case, I think is unnecessary, as a virtual machine for your personal stuff would probably do the trick. Dual booting, while avoiding most of the potential issues with running a VM, I don't think would be worth the effort, especially since you'd have to reboot every time you want to switch.

    Now, your best option, should you really want to keep everything separate, would be to just get 2 machines. I'm not sure what your personal workload entails, but you don't need that much horsepower in a computer for basic tasks; email, word processing, internet browsing, etc. An off the shelf system with maybe the simple upgrade of a Solid State drive would tackle most generic tasks without breaking a sweat. (I buy upwards of 70 computers a year for the company I work for, and I benchmark before buying, and I can tell you that just because a machine is $3,000, it doesn't mean it will do the job 6 times better than a $500 one. Now, there are a lot more considerations here than just cost, as hardware types and configuration is important, but generally, don't think expensive is better.) Now, if you have more intensive tasks to do on the personal system (photo/video editing, gaming, etc.) then you may need a beefier system than some cheaper laptop or workstation.

    Lastly, I'd like to give you my opinion as someone who has worked with computers for years, and worked with DAWs for years on all kinds of computers. I don't know how important the separation is to you, but just running everything on one installation of Windows should work just fine. I've run Pro Tools, Cubase, Ableton, and several other DAWs on many systems over the years, and I've never encountered issues, SO LONG AS you are cognizant of your hardware's limitations. I have a buddy who runs Pro Tools on a Mac that crashes every 15 minutes because he just tries to run too many plugins at once. I don't think there is a 'silver-bullet' computer out there that can handle everything you could possibly imagine to throw at it; Macs included. Using any software on a computer that has potential to eat up a lot of computer resources (CPU + RAM) should be a learning experience, in which you learn what the software is capable of doing given your hardware's limitations. Just watching the performance information in Windows Task Manager to see utilization of resources can be extremely useful. That being said, I hope you got some useful information from all of us computer geeks, and good luck with your new PC! I'd be happy to clarify anything I said that may not be clear. I'm goin to apologize if I made any typos, because life's to short to proofread forum posts. :D
    Robb Fesig and theretheyare like this.
  18. Depends on your needs, but if you're already running Linux, have you tried Ardour?
  19. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Reaper runs on Linux IIRC.
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I have. I found PC VMs handy for ocassional light use or running a legacy application under an older version of Windows. But I’ve been less impressed with them overall.

    There’s basically two types of VM environment.

    Type-1 is what’s called a “bare metal” environment. Instead of an OS acting as supervisor you have a very lean “hypervisior” which is basically a stripped down OS whose sole function is to run and manage multiple “instances” of operating systems. Each instance is what we call a virtual machine. And this approach works extremely well.

    Type-2 VM environments use a normal operating system (like Windows) to be the host of a separate instance (the host itself is already one instance) of another operating system. VirtualBox, VMware Workstation, and QEMU are examples of a Type-2 VM environment.

    Hyper-V is a little different in the way it works compared to a classic Type-1 or Type-2 hypervisor. Instead of being above the OS like a Type-1, or underneath it like a Type-2, Hyper-V sort of runs alongside the OS for lack of a better way to put it. But without getting into too many nitty-gritty details, if you’re going to run a VM hypervisor under Windows, you want to use Hyper-V. It has the best Windows integration and fastest performance of all the workstation grade hypervisors when run on a fairly new new x86 machine that has support in hardware for virtualization. (The new Intel chips do.)

    Best way to find out if it’ll work for you and your software is to try it out. I’ve found that when you have a sufficiently provisioned machine, it works very well.

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