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Computer for music production

Violinist

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Someone I know recommended I get a dual core Xeon something. Basically he said it would be 2 processors, so that the workload gets shared.

I will be using mainly Reason 3.0 and Cubase, both very powerful programs that are very demanding.

A a site that deals with this kind of stuff they said I should consider getting lots of ram, and one of those 10,000 RPM hardrives, and a fast processor.

I also know Macs are really great but I don't like them.

What do you think?
 

GQgeek

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Almost all of the processors Intel produces are now dual core. That means there's two processors on one die.

Get the regular Core 2 Duo chip. There's no need for a xeon as they're meant for business servers. They have double or more the cache on-die which won't help you b/c you won't be putting the processor under server-type loads. While your app may stress the cpu, they respond to different types of workloads differently. In the same way, gaming isn't really helped by purchasing a super high-end server chip.

My recommendation for the price would be a Core 2 Duo E6600. It has 4MB of onboard L2 cache, clocks at 2.4Ghz, and can be easily overclocked to 3GHz+ if you buy the right motherboard and ram. And don't misunderstand me and think that this is a value chip. It is extremely fast. It's just in the sweet-spot of intel's offerings on a cost/performance basis imo.

Stay away from apple. Anything you can do on a Mac you can do on a PC. You might also want to look at a professional soundcard, depending on what you'll be doing exactly.

And how big are the files you'll be working with? My minimum recommendation to anyone these days is 2GB of RAM.

Oh and for the hard drives, 10k rpm drives aren't a bad idea, but you're doing audio and not video, which is a lot less demanding on the disk sub-sytem. I'm pretty sure that if you get enough ram you won't have to worry about the computer swapping to the hard drive too often (writing back and forth to disk because it runs out of physical memory). A full CD ripped in .wav format (uncompressed) is 600 megs. I can't imagine that your audio apps will require more than a gig of ram. With 2GB you'll have plenty. 10k RPM drives are loud and annoying. I like my systems to be as quiet as possible. 7200 RPM drives also have much higher capacites and are cheaper. You might consider mirroring them so that if one dies, you have a redundancy in place so that you don't lose any date. Mirroring means that any time you write data to one disk, it rights it to the other as well. This gives you an up to date backup of everything in the case of disk failure (it doesn't help with viruses and worms).

When you buy your PC, make sure you get a coupon for the upgrade to Windows Vista. It's a huge improvement over XP.
 

Toiletduck

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What kind of music production are you trying to do? What kind of actual operations? My friend does recording and editing on this computer he bought from Dell. He just added a better soundcard for recording and more ram and switched for a better hard drive. Works good enough for him
 

skalogre

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Originally Posted by GQgeek
Almost all of the processors Intel produces are now dual core. That means there's two processors on one die.

Get the regular Core 2 Duo chip. There's no need for a xeon as they're meant for business servers. They have double or more the cache on-die which won't help you b/c you won't be putting the processor under server-type loads. While your app may stress the cpu, they respond to different types of workloads differently. In the same way, gaming isn't really helped by purchasing a super high-end server chip.

My recommendation for the price would be a Core 2 Duo E6600. It has 4MB of onboard L2 cache, clocks at 2.4Ghz, and can be easily overclocked to 3GHz+ if you buy the right motherboard and ram. And don't misunderstand me and think that this is a value chip. It is extremely fast. It's just in the sweet-spot of intel's offerings on a cost/performance basis imo.

Stay away from apple. Anything you can do on a Mac you can do on a PC. You might also want to look at a professional soundcard, depending on what you'll be doing exactly.

And how big are the files you'll be working with? My minimum recommendation to anyone these days is 2GB of RAM.

Oh and for the hard drives, 10k rpm drives aren't a bad idea, but you're doing audio and not video, which is a lot less demanding on the disk sub-sytem. I'm pretty sure that if you get enough ram you won't have to worry about the computer swapping to the hard drive too often (writing back and forth to disk because it runs out of physical memory). A full CD ripped in .wav format (uncompressed) is 600 megs. I can't imagine that your audio apps will require more than a gig of ram. With 2GB you'll have plenty. 10k RPM drives are loud and annoying. I like my systems to be as quiet as possible.

When you buy your PC, make sure you get a coupon for the upgrade to Windows Vista. It's a huge improvement over XP.


I second what GQGeek mentioned. Also, make sure you get a pro-level dedicated soundcard, preferably with some good hardware DMA and encoding on board. It will make the whole CPU issue even less important.
As for Vista, pretty soon you won't have a choice anyway. I'd personbally avoid it until maybe SP1.
 

GQgeek

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I wouldn't wait for SP1. That's like a year off. Once you try vista you'll never want to go back to XP.

I do both my compiling and gaming on a vista machine. The release build is very stable. I'm sure there are still drivers out there that need some work, but I think most companies have their drivers working pretty well.

Performance-wise vista is great. I thought i was going to take a big performance hit in Everquest 2, which is a huge resource hog that will use every bit of the 2GB and CPU power i've provided it with, but subjectively it still runs the same.
 

skalogre

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I have been working on Vista for a while now also at work. Which is why I don't trust it. Maybe that is just the software tester in me
biggrin.gif

Have not tried it for gaming though.
 

Tokyo Slim

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Originally Posted by Violinist
What's SP1?

Service Pack 1. A common thing for windows is for Microsoft to release a bundle of updates, patches, and tweaks in a "service pack" every four to six months or so after the release of an operating system to address any issues that come up with the new program, or to add things that make sense.
 

matadorpoeta

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if you plan on sharing your files or collaborating with others on their computers, i suggest you go with pro tools instead of cubase, as it is the industry standard. then again, you can probably convert the files for sharing.
 

Violinist

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Ok, another thing... not that I won't get one because money isn't the main issue, but I just want to know the purpose of a high end soundcard? All my recording is done on another medium, then transfered to the computer via some USB device. I don't really do any line-in stuff... is it still important to get a great video card?

And this dual processor you mentioned, can one find it on a place like newegg? I'm told it's a good website to buy parts from.

Also, is it wise to get more than 2gb of ram? I heard that Windows Vista requires a lot of it. Is this true?

Thanks
 

skalogre

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Originally Posted by Violinist
Ok, another thing... not that I won't get one because money isn't the main issue, but I just want to know the purpose of a high end soundcard? All my recording is done on another medium, then transfered to the computer via some USB device. I don't really do any line-in stuff... is it still important to get a great video card?

And this dual processor you mentioned, can one find it on a place like newegg? I'm told it's a good website to buy parts from.

Also, is it wise to get more than 2gb of ram? I heard that Windows Vista requires a lot of it. Is this true?

Thanks


The higher end sound card will take over some work from the CPU, as well as speed up transfer of data to subsystems. Will also give you better reproduction quality when listening/editing.
As for the RAM, ell, there is no such thing as too much RAM. Realistically the suggestion for 2GB is a good one. Just make sure you have enough slots to augment this later on if needed.
 

Violinist

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How fast is a duo core processor compared to the style I'm more familiar with of just one chip? I've been told it's not 1+1=2... can someone give me a Coles notes version of why it's beneficial to have this type of processor as opposed to the fastest one on the market?
 

Lamo

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can someone give me a Coles notes version of why it's beneficial to have this type of processor as opposed to the fastest one on the market?
actually, core2duo is just about the fastest chip on the market. It's wicked fast, dual core or not. They're also fairly energy efficient. Don't be fooled by the megahertz numbers in the labeling system as they mean virtually nothing. Even the 'lowly' Core2duo E6300 will outperform most AMD chips. They're also very cheap. The better question would be, why not?

and yes, do skip the xeons. It's probably not worth paying the premium for the 10'000 rpm drives either.
 

Violinist

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Thanks this is all incredibly helpful.

Also, I want to ask about a video card. I know I need one, but I don't really do any video editing or things like that... what's a cheap one that gives me everything I need?

Also, how expandable are most motherboards? Do they only have 2 slots for RAM? What if I want to eventually go from 2gb to 3? Will that be a problem?
 

Lamo

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Originally Posted by Violinist
Thanks this is all incredibly helpful.

Also, I want to ask about a video card. I know I need one, but I don't really do any video editing or things like that... what's a cheap one that gives me everything I need?

Also, how expandable are most motherboards? Do they only have 2 slots for RAM? What if I want to eventually go from 2gb to 3? Will that be a problem?


i think almost all motherboards have 4 slots or more. most of them utilize dual-channel so theoretically it's better to upgrade to 4 gig rather than 2. I wouldn't worry about that though.

As for a video card, there's plenty of options. If you don't game at all, anything from a 7300GS(about $60) on up is sufficient. 7600GT is about $140, 7950GT is about $260 or so depending on ram.

Do you intend to build the computer yourself? If so, www.newegg.com is your friend. if not, check out http://velocitymicro.com/. It's a little more customizable than Dell and has a few perks here and there. Avoid HP at all costs though.
 

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