Old 01-09-2017, 12:03 PM   #1
OldTascam
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Hey All. First post here. The last time I did any real recording was with a Tascam 4-Track Cassette, so I'm a little behind the times.

I think I have decided on using Reaper and maybe a Focusrite 18i20 interface. I have lots of physical instruments, amps, and mics from back in the day, so I'm probably set there.

What I think I need advice on is in building a dedicated computer. On another forum, I saw a recommendation like this:

i5-4590 CPU
120GB SSD (for OS + software)
2 x 1TB 7200RPM HDDs (for storage + backup)
8 GB RAM

I'd like to avoid hardware performance issues right off the bat if possible. What are the hardware keys to avoiding things like latency, dropouts, pops, clicks, etc? Would a faster processor help? Multiple processors? If so, what kind? More RAM? Any special specs to look for in an SSD and in HDDs?

Any sage advice would be appreciated. TIA!
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Old 01-09-2017, 12:33 PM   #2
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Do a little research into the reliability of ASIO drivers available for the focusrite and any other interface you might be interested in.
Those drivers really are the key to getting good smooth performance. Native Instruments Kontakt 6 and a coupe of the steinberg interfaces get good marks but you may not have enough inputs/outputs if you plan on recording a whole band in one go.
When in doubt buy too much if your budget allows.
I wound up with a desktop i7 4770 processor and eventually 16gb of ram - I deliberately got a 4 slot motherboard and bought 2x8gb initially.
Make sure you get a decent power supply. The difference between a so-so one and an 80% bronze one is not that big.
I have three hard drives which I bought one after the other.
All three are regular 7200 rpm WD Black drives and have been utterly reliable.

My laptop which goes with me when I am travelling has an i5 quad core and 8gb of ram and a Samsung 850 Evo 500gb ssd drive.

Main box has an old RME HDSP9652 feeding ADAT to a focusrite octopre and the laptop has a RME Babyface USB / ADAT interface.

It all works and I get silly low latency right up to the point here I have simply added too many "icing on the cake" tracks and plugins.

Hope this gives you food for thought.
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Old 01-09-2017, 02:21 PM   #3
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ivansc..

quick q if i may, would one be wise to get an rme babyface (not the pro) these days?

looking for 2 good pres, adat possibility and an element of 'just works'..
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Old 01-09-2017, 03:57 PM   #4
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best tell me it was a good idea as its too late now ..
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Old 01-09-2017, 04:51 PM   #5
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You can't go wrong with RME...

Not because their hardware is superior, but because they are the only ones that seem to have a plan for driver development.

And that results in the same driver model used throughout their entire range, resulting in very old hardware still using current drivers. Can't think of any other manufacturer that is equally smart. They all seem to think in generations, making their hardware obsolete much faster.

And then we're not even talking about driver stability...
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Old 01-09-2017, 04:57 PM   #6
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Thanks ivansc. Follow-on question for you, or for anyone...

Which CPU would be better...

i5-6600, 3.30 GHz with 8 GT/s Bus Speed
i7-4770, 3.40 GHz with 5 GT/s Bus Speed

I guess what I'm asking is... is internal processor speed more important than bus speed or vice versa?
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Old 01-09-2017, 06:49 PM   #7
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One tip: The integrated Intel network adapters on many current motherboards can cause DPC latency problems. Realtek is actually the better option at the moment. I ended up recommending a lower end motherboard for a friend, because all the higher end ones had the Intel NIC.

https://communities.intel.com/thread...t=255&tstart=0

Google search intel nic dpc latency
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Old 01-09-2017, 07:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumphil View Post
One tip: The integrated Intel network adapters on many current motherboards can cause DPC latency problems.
Hmmm. Is this still a problem if the NIC is disabled?
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Old 01-09-2017, 07:45 PM   #9
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Thx for the link to the Intel fora.

The question if this is an Intel bug, or rather a Windows bug, is relevant. But seeing that:

Quote:
Now i´am trying to switch to this new machine, i terrified because i (also) detect skipping or stutter but even during a "simple" Radio Webstream (!!) 192kbit/s (audio output via Realtek onboard) while the Software BattleNet is updating Starcraft2 15 GB.
Is not happening on Linux. You might also want to ask if there might be some user problem

In general, the performance of Intel Ethernet chips is around 40% better than some others. I don't know about the release talked about, this is just a general observation.

Hpwever, with the "Intel 82579V" there seem to be other funny problems too:

https://sourceforge.net/p/e1000/bugs/46/

And these seem to be only resolved by a BIOS update or -very radically- changing to other mobo's.

So disabling the Intel ethernet in the BIOS and installing any other should do the trick. But look for a BIOS update first, it's the obvious thing to do. And perhaps the only thing if you're on a laptop...
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Old 01-09-2017, 07:50 PM   #10
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And this is a good brief:

Quote:
First, I owe the Intel NIC driver an apology. It was not the cause of my symptoms. Not directly, anyway.

I was fighting a driver conflict. I suspect that this came about when I used SlimDrivers to update 16 drivers at the same time. I've since deleted that little devil. I suspect this could have happened even if I had updated my drivers manually. But if I HAD updated my drivers manually, rebooting after each one, I might have known immediately which one caused the conflict.

In my case, high DPC latency was identified as being caused by ndis.sys. Of course I faulted the NIC driver. I played the version-switching game after all, in spite of complaining that it was too much work, but with no results. Then one day, in desperation and after a week, I uninstalled the Intel USB3.0 driver and rebooted. Voila! My DPC Latency chart went to small green blobs at last. I almost couldn't believe it. I imaged the machine immediately, just in case.

I've never fought a driver conflict before. It's the most difficult troubleshooting problem I've ever had. Judging by how many people have these same symptoms, and how many years these issues go back, driver conflicts must be more common in Windows than I realized. They can begin with a seemingly harmless driver update, and may not show up immediately.

Is it a coincidence that in my case, both drivers involved were Intel drivers? Mebbe yes, mebbe no.
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:05 AM   #11
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I've got a machine that's got the DPC latency problem, and it doesn't matter how you do things. It's always there, at least in windows, and that's what matters for the software I run. There may be bios fixes, or whatever, but this problem means you are rolling the dice if you get a motherboard with the Intel NIC.
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:20 AM   #12
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It doesn't happen to ALL machines with that particular NIC...

As with most Intel related problems lately.
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:29 AM   #13
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I'm no expert, but I'd be tempted to either copy what specs audio pc-building companies are using, or just buy a custom built pc from one of them, depending on how much of a mark up they're charging vs buying the parts. At least you have some comeback if it doesn't perform properly, and any half decent company will be testing every unit and probably avoid driver conflicts, and will be aware of what the current problems are.

Dunno which part of the world you're in - but, for example, Scan UK at least seem a decent bet in the UK, although that's not a reccomendation as I've never used them (but am probably going to rather than self build). They claim to do a 24hour burn-in test before shipping, and if they're any good they won't want the hassle of returns or bad reviews.

You could start by tallying up your shopping list, then checking what price their nearest specced custom built one is. That's what I'm intending to do anyway, along with double-checking online for any problems with the parts they use ... if possible

Anyway, good luck!
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenK-msx View Post
ivansc..

quick q if i may, would one be wise to get an rme babyface (not the pro) these days?

looking for 2 good pres, adat possibility and an element of 'just works'..
Depends how cheaply you can pick u a used one! I bought mine for 300 UK pounds used about 6 months after it launched. They were WAY more new at the time & frankly more than I could afford.
Several years on it is still working perfectly and offering stellar performance via the still-current and updated RME ASIO drivers.
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTascam View Post
Thanks ivansc. Follow-on question for you, or for anyone...

Which CPU would be better...

i5-6600, 3.30 GHz with 8 GT/s Bus Speed
i7-4770, 3.40 GHz with 5 GT/s Bus Speed

I guess what I'm asking is... is internal processor speed more important than bus speed or vice versa?
It will depend mostly on what socket & mobo variety you decide to go with.
I made my decision on the desktop buy looking for a current socket board that also had a pair of onboard legacy pci slots. Because my RME interface was PCI and there was no way I was replacing it for no good reason.

Not sure if the i5 6 series offer hyperthreading or not but I would be inclined to take that into consideration.
And remember that 6600 is TWO generations newer than the 4 series.
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:21 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
Do a little research into the reliability of ASIO drivers available for the focusrite and any other interface you might be interested in.
Those drivers really are the key to getting good smooth performance. Native Instruments Kontakt 6 and a coupe of the steinberg interfaces get good marks but you may not have enough inputs/outputs if you plan on recording a whole band in one go.
When in doubt buy too much if your budget allows.
I wound up with a desktop i7 4770 processor and eventually 16gb of ram - I deliberately got a 4 slot motherboard and bought 2x8gb initially.
Make sure you get a decent power supply. The difference between a so-so one and an 80% bronze one is not that big.
I have three hard drives which I bought one after the other.
All three are regular 7200 rpm WD Black drives and have been utterly reliable.

My laptop which goes with me when I am travelling has an i5 quad core and 8gb of ram and a Samsung 850 Evo 500gb ssd drive.

Main box has an old RME HDSP9652 feeding ADAT to a focusrite octopre and the laptop has a RME Babyface USB / ADAT interface.

It all works and I get silly low latency right up to the point here I have simply added too many "icing on the cake" tracks and plugins.

Hope this gives you food for thought.
Cool setup, what music do you make?
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:58 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
Depends how cheaply you can pick u a used one! I bought mine for 300 UK pounds used about 6 months after it launched. They were WAY more new at the time & frankly more than I could afford.
Several years on it is still working perfectly and offering stellar performance via the still-current and updated RME ASIO drivers.
Cheers, you got a good deal then.. obviously a slight risk in the age department as that what put pay to my other interface, but figured 250 was decent value despite age for something so well regarded and the driver performance/support aspect is a big plus going forward.

Age also put pay to one of my monitors so Santa has belated sent me a pair of avantone mixcubes (passive) which were a definite bargain and quick test though a cheap amp in the house are "wow"

Elvis is literally over there singing.
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:21 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by BenK-msx View Post
Cheers, you got a good deal then.. obviously a slight risk in the age department as that what put pay to my other interface, but figured 250 was decent value despite age for something so well regarded and the driver performance/support aspect is a big plus going forward.

Age also put pay to one of my monitors so Santa has belated sent me a pair of avantone mixcubes (passive) which were a definite bargain and quick test though a cheap amp in the house are "wow"

Elvis is literally over there singing.
I have question, i got audiobox vsl22 presonus interface, its this budget interface, but when i turn knobs , audio is crackling, i wonder what interface would be good buy in 2017 in terms of money and quality, around 200- 500 euros, i dont know about dollars how much its.
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Old 01-10-2017, 11:10 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Germps112 View Post
I have question, i got audiobox vsl22 presonus interface, its this budget interface, but when i turn knobs , audio is crackling, i wonder what interface would be good buy in 2017 in terms of money and quality, around 200- 500 euros, i dont know about dollars how much its.
I've been on tiresome Google research mission last two weeks, and it really depends on your needs, I was torn between many but less-good inputs and outs or to have a couple of very good ones and some expandability later, hence why the rme with adat capability appealled.

I came closest to getting the audient id22 ,or its cheapest cousin id14..

That or the various focusrites that everyone seems very happy with these days.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:17 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenK-msx View Post
I've been on tiresome Google research mission last two weeks, and it really depends on your needs, I was torn between many but less-good inputs and outs or to have a couple of very good ones and some expandability later, hence why the rme with adat capability appealled.

I came closest to getting the audient id22 ,or its cheapest cousin id14..

That or the various focusrites that everyone seems very happy with these days.
I had same tought about these units, also the Roland seems to bang out good stuff, but does roland models dont have monitor controller onboard octo quad , and it also has RME type model, Rolan UA something.
Namm might brings some news
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Old 01-10-2017, 04:17 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumphil View Post
One tip: The integrated Intel network adapters on many current motherboards can cause DPC latency problems. Realtek is actually the better option at the moment. I ended up recommending a lower end motherboard for a friend, because all the higher end ones had the Intel NIC.
What board did you recommend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by viscofisy View Post
I'm no expert, but I'd be tempted to either copy what specs audio pc-building companies are using, or just buy a custom built pc from one of them, depending on how much of a mark up they're charging vs buying the parts. At least you have some comeback if it doesn't perform properly, and any half decent company will be testing every unit and probably avoid driver conflicts, and will be aware of what the current problems are.
I'm in the USA. Anyone know what companies are building audio PCs here? I tried Googling, but I must be doing it wrong, as all I can find are things like package deals with a wimpy computer plus an interface and some crippled software.
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Old 01-10-2017, 10:09 PM   #22
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Asus H110M-E. But that choice was made on a very constrained budget. If there had been more money to spend I would have tried to find something with an M2 SSD slot on it.

The Gigabyte B150M-HD3 looks ok. Or the ASUS Z170M-E D3. There are probably a stack of options that have realtek lan and an m2 slot, but to figure out exactly what those options are can be a pain, and then more of a pain to choose between them. Unfortunately there is no easy way to generate a list of every LGA 1151 motherboard that has realtek lan and M2.

Also, why 2 1TB drives? Why not one 2TB drive? Less noise that way. Even less noise again if you go with 5400RPM drives. I'd get a bigger ssd, and a single larger 5400RPM drive.

Last edited by drumphil; 01-10-2017 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 01-10-2017, 11:38 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumphil View Post
The Gigabyte B150M-HD3 looks ok. Or the ASUS Z170M-E D3. There are probably a stack of options that have realtek lan and an m2 slot, but to figure out exactly what those options are can be a pain, and then more of a pain to choose between them. Unfortunately there is no easy way to generate a list of every LGA 1151 motherboard that has realtek lan and M2.
I run the Gigabyte B150M-D3H with i5 6600K (no hyperthreading, but per core it's bitchin fast and perfectly fine for vidya games and me-sized Reaper projects) and can report, zero DPC problems. At least on windows 7. I don't use the ethernet port though, only wifi.
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:42 AM   #24
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Cool setup, what music do you make?
My own stuff is, for want of a better title, Americana.
Grew up listening to and playing New Orleans style traditional jazz in the UK and have stuck pretty much with the whole of the gulf coast as my main influence ever since.
When I was working at it for a living, I did everything from country western through AOR and old 50s rockabilly to briefly playing electric bass in a raga group! Oh and touring with the prehistoric equivalent of a winning Britains Got Talent band!(Helen Day & Catch) That one was a right soap opera!!!
(what pays the rent I guess)

Nowadays I am working mostly on my own tunes and helping out on recording friends` stuff.
Currently reworking some songwriter demos fromn the 1970s for some pals in NZ and ther UK plus finishing off an album of original songs for the singer in my 60`s band.

And in my spare time, I....

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Old 01-11-2017, 09:55 AM   #25
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Do not get a premium motherboard with SLI, they cost far more and have an expensive graphics feature useless to DAW musicians.

Get a Mobo with 4 memory slots. if you buy 8-16GB populate one or two slots not all four, otherwise limiting upgrades (though 16GB spread over four slots will be more than enough for most for years to come). Suggest 16 or 32GB.

Get SSD, at least for main drive.
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