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Rob(QG)
27th July 2004, 11:39
A mate of mine is looking to put together a new PC for making music.

His current set up is:
K7S6A mobo, XP1700+ CPU, 512MB PC2100 CL2.5, Audigy 1, single IDE hard drive (5400 rpm)
He uses Reason 2.5 and controls it from a MIDI keyboard.

The problems that he needs to overcome are latency (ie in some cases it can take a second for things done on the keyboard to actually happen within Reason). Also there is a limit to how many instruments can be played at once.

Any suggestions on what sort of kit he should be looking at? He's looking to replace the soundcard, and if it would help, the motherboard, hard drive system, memory, etc.

edit: corrected mobo

Dr Mordrid
27th July 2004, 12:17
Bandwidth, the use of a single HDD and high device latency are the usual suspects.

In terms of PCI and Northbridge/Southbridge bandwidth the SiS chips from the SiS 735 onward (this is what's in his system) have gobs of it, so if he gets everything else in order things should improve considerably. In fact the SiS 735 has more bandwidth than most because the North and South bridges are on the same chip.

A key to avoiding audio bottlenecks is to first select an audio card with low latency and high quality drivers. Creatives have a long history of not being so. If I were looking for a replacement for his Audigy I'd start with the M Audio Revolution 7.1;

Firing Squad review: http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/m-audio_revolution_7.1_review/default.asp

Product page: http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.main&ID=0ed0405324041d8025a955aa6ae2db1c

Otherwise things that improve video editing performance will do likewise for audio editing. These include a faster CPU, more memory (I use 1 gig in most of my systems) and especially a separate HDD for his project and audio softwares temp files.

Having his files on the boot drive as is the current case can cause LOTS of problems. What happens is if the OS decides to read or write to the swapfile or a system file while his audio software is trying to do a R/W to the same device they will contend for the resource, causing a hang.

I'd certainly add the project HDD first since it's an essential change that should be made anyhow, quite possibly resolving a lot of the issues all by itself. Once installed he should, if possible, set the audio software up to use that drive for all its files.

Also key is to put the new project HDD on the Secondary IDE cable as the Master drive (CD can go to Slave). Putting it on the Primary IDE as the Slave to the boot drive would negate any potential benefit as it would still have to contend for that cable.

If there are remaining issues I'd then go for the other changes.

Dr. Mordrid

Rob(QG)
27th July 2004, 12:38
Oops - just noticed something I got the mobo wrong :(
He's got a K7S6A - sis 745. Does that make any difference?

Thanks for the info. He's up for using RAID and or SCSI or SATA, if they would make a difference.

Any recommendations for a soundcard, as that is a definite for changing?

Wombat
27th July 2004, 12:49
RAID or SCSI or SATA might help, but it would cost. The K7S6A is a good motherboard, but has none of these features on board. A large 7200rpm IDE drive with a decent cache will cost him $100-$150 dollars - implementing any of these other options will cost him significantly more, for a questionable return compared to putting his money elsewhere.

Dr Mordrid
27th July 2004, 12:57
The SiS 735 or 745 (or 748 for that matter) are good chipsets.

Adding a humongous IDE HDD is the most effective use of his initial expendatures, just as long as he installs it to that Secondary Master position.

Re-check my original reply as I added a soundcard recommendation while you guys were posting :D

Dr. Mordrid

SpiralDragon
27th July 2004, 14:11
I agreee with the Doc. especialy about the audigies latancy problems... however i would recomend a Creamware Luna II sound card instead of the M-Audio... its not as sheep but it is defentivly more verile... and comes with its own 3 dedicated dsps... however i think they changed the name of the luna to scope home or something like that... check it out http://www.creamware.com

i have two of those babies in my system and they worl like a charm..

i would sugest taking the SATA aproch .. although a PATA HDD is suficent on its own but i like to keep my drives on seperate chanels... you dont need raid for audio... not even if you are doing multiple streams of 96KHz... on cubase i have gone as far as 20 audio tracks 20 midi tracks 2 fully loaded halion VSTis Virtual guitarist, two drum machines, and the Xfraze VSTi... loads of inserts and send effects + master effects... all at 48kHz .. all fine and no latencies till i added a few more effects and tracks :D ...

and like the doc said... ALWAYS keep your projects on a second drive and on a seperate chanale if posible


my system is a P IV 2Ghz with an 865 intel board and 1gb of DDR-400 RAM.. 2x120GB sata software RAID...

Lucid
27th July 2004, 16:12
Does he know about the kX Project drivers..? AFAIK, they offer better latency and more control than Creative's drivers.

http://kxproject.lugosoft.com/

SpiralDragon
28th July 2004, 00:08
i tried those out... if he is a serious musician however he should dump the aydgy compleetly.... even the KXP drivers dont cut it and casue other problems... been down that road befor... the best way to go is to get a good pro sound card with real asio drivers and suport

zb1979
31st July 2004, 21:51
being that i'm an audio engineer my help maybe bias. for the music creation i'd bin the pc (well use it for pc stuff) and buy a mac g4 or g5 with a digi design sound card. i personally have 2 computers one is a pc (which i have constant probs with) for my pc stuff and a g4 for making, recording and processing music and video (which i have never had any probs with). i run reason, qbase, protools and many other applications on my g4 and all run extreamly well.

Rob(QG)
1st August 2004, 05:00
Cheers for all the help.
He's still not made his mind up :rolleyes:
As for the Mac suggestion - that was an alternative he was thinking about. He's quite a fan of Macs.

zb1979
1st August 2004, 06:06
if he's quite a fan of mac's (and i can't see why he wouldn't be) that is the best way to go i can asure you. i mean there's no reason behind almost every buisness world wide use macs for sound, graphics, video and other processing and developing is there? i have worked all over the world and although sometimes the writting is different it all comes back to being a mac and the same programs. i have a studio at home if he would like some tips.