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This topic contains 13 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of [XAP]Bob [XAP]Bob 6 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #44976
    Profile photo of av8en1
    av8en1
    Participant

    Hi all,

    I’m going to build a new Win7 box to run Pro Tools 11. I’m interested in the “verbiage” a.k.a. sales “stuff” associated with the GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 motherboard. Reference:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128514&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=IGNEFL012915&nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL012915&cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL012915-_-EMC-012915-Index-_-AMDMotherboards-_-13128514-S0B

    If you read the description, it offers “higher capability audio solutions with 108dB Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) playback quality to deliver high-performance, multi-channel HD audio.” yada, yada, yada.

    Anyone familiar with this specification (audio wise), and appropriateness for building my QU16 / ProTools PC?

    Thanks!
    john

    #44977
    Profile photo of av8en1
    av8en1
    Participant

    To clarify what I’m up to: I’m not building a “gaming” PC. So all my young techie friends are no help. I’m building an audio processing PC. Any comments / suggestions very welcome.

    #44978
    Profile photo of cornelius78
    cornelius78
    Participant

    That audio spec is dealing with the analogue side of the audio. Any multitrack streaming/DAW control that happens involving your Qu/Protools will happen digitally over USB: so this spec of 108dB of SNR is irrelevant. The only time it would be relevant is if you plugged cans/monitors directly into the motherboard. Most people would be monitoring off the Qu though.

    #44980
    Profile photo of av8en1
    av8en1
    Participant

    Thanks for clarifying. I though that might be the case, so mobo processing of analog output of no real benefit…. I’m hoping to build a box with fast bus speeds? Pro Tools seems to crawl. I’m not sure what really matters for what we do. Numnber of cores? Core speed? I/O bus speed? Where is the benefit in hardware realized?

    #44982
    Profile photo of timhum
    timhum
    Participant

    Although not a computer expert, I have just ordered a 4 core 4GHz 16Gig RAM USB3 capable computer to address my audio needs. Speed and capacity are not particularly expensive these days. The total cost of the computer is £580. It has 120Gb of Solid state memory for the programmes and 1TB of HDD for the files. I specified an optical (SPDIF) output to isolate the computers electrics from the monitoring. Other than that it is not special, it does not even have a separate sound card although there is space for one later.
    The computer will be used for the number crunching, the analogue will get no closer than the input to the QU16 mic amps or the outboard optical DAC’s output.
    I only mention this because I have been going through the business of choosing a system for audio myself in the past few weeks and await delivery tomorrow!
    If I had confidence in building myself, I might have gone down the route of a fanless Haswell SSD, low power computer but they are expensive, double the price above and I couldn’t justify the price or be bothered learning Linux.
    However, as I mentioned in the first sentence, I am not an expert, far from it and the above solution should be blisteringly fast with no audio drawbacks. My present computer takes up to 4 minutes to render an EQ change and ages to load up a project and had to go!

    #44984
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    I would look at quietness as my main consideration – although the PC can be “next door” with a nice long HDMI cable running back for display purposes.

    USB length to the QU is the limit for how far away it can be…

    #45003
    Profile photo of av8en1
    av8en1
    Participant

    Bob, you are speaking to the sound of the cooling fans? Very good point!

    #45005
    Profile photo of Rev
    Rev
    Participant

    well in the build of a pc you really aren’t going to use more than 8 gigs under a windows pc platform. And as for audio cards, look at one that is not onboard, as in connected to the motherboard. The processing power of the cpu’s is always a major consideration; I would make sure that the cpu and mb are made for more audio processing than for gaming…As well, Pro Tools under a windows platform, just like Pro Presenter has a lot of issues including as you say speed of the program. It is a Mac proprietary software rewritten for the ibm compatibles, great software just awkward under windows.
    One more thing on noise, unless you are building an extremely large pc with “super” fans you should be okay. Always look for the better quieter ones and include that thought process when you choose a power supply as well as they have cooling that can be attenuated as well.

    #45013
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    Yes, I’m thinking of BTX class case, with acoustic padding on the panels.

    Large fans are quieter than small ones, passive cooling is obviously better where it can be managed. A closed loop water cooled CPU allow the CPU heat to be deal with by a single large fan and the heat not left in the case at all – these are becoming more and more mainstream nowadays (far more so than when I used to do water cooling).

    Frankly most halfway decent CPUs, chipsets and memory will be ample in terms of compute power nowadays (I feel like I’ve been saying that for a while now), so I’d be looking for “behind the bleeding edge” components (in terms of value) from suppliers with a reputation for stability – so Intel chipsets rather than VIA, Matrox graphics etc etc.
    Get decent monitors, I’d go for full HD IPS at the moment, a couple of them at least (but then I have a passively cooled quad DVI output Matrox card which I’d press into service).
    Get decent monitors, the audio kind, to run from the QU.

    You need good USB for the QU, it might be worth putting some cash down for a discrete USB card, but I’d put that on the “possible upgrade path” rather than the starting line up. A decent chipset should handle the QU happily – although you might want to note which ports are sharing bandwidth on the back.

    By far the slowest component of a rig will be the storage. An SSD for the OS and software is pretty standard nowadays, you’ll also want some decent speed storage for large audio files – that could be another (or the same) SSD, or it could be some high speed spinning disks. The issue with high speed disks is that the DAW is going to be reading/writing many files at a time, and that is where spinning rust can struggle (although it’s perfectly good enough if you get a 7200rpm or more 3.5″ disk, I’d steer away from 5400 or 2.5″). Additionally more spinning disks = more noise.
    I’d be tempted to get a large (possibly external) rust based HDD for bulk storage, and move files onto a SSD for working.

    Backups are the other thing to consider…

    #45014
    Profile photo of av8en1
    av8en1
    Participant

    I’ve been considering all the things Bob mentioned. Yes, most of it is old school.

    I’d like to build in a rack mount case. Be nice to be able to take the PC to gigs. Yes, a 4U rack mount PC is heavy, but the performance of PC laptops seems lethargic, at best. Has anyone done this? Rack mount cases for a PC seem to be not so readily available, at least not at the quality vs. price point of standard towers.

    #45016
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    Yes – you’ll want either 3 or 4u, and that’s actually quite alot of rack space.

    For the Theatre (so PC running in the auditorium) I specced a BTX rack mounted case, and when powered up it is, to all intents and purposes, silent.

    That machine must be getting on for 7 or 8 years old now, thinking about it… I overspecced it at the time, and left it with expansion options.

    4U is basically a “normal” tower PC on it’s side, as you get smaller you will find that some cards won’t fit, and of course the fans have to get smaller…

    Yes, the cases are expensive, but they are also generally VERY well built

    Something like: http://www.evercase.co.uk/KM4098.htm
    No affiliation, just the first google hit

    #45017
    Profile photo of av8en1
    av8en1
    Participant

    Bob,

    Thanks. A search of BTX led me to this in depth article:
    http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug07/articles/pcmusician_0807.htm

    john

    #45018
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    That article has got loads of good considerations – and it’s 8 years old, so anything they talk about in terms of PC performance is pretty much a given nowadays…

    You’ll want a graphic card (to get away from ‘orrible shared memory devices), so that’s a probable 3u lower limit in terms of height, although IIRC a “normal” PSU has to be mounted sideways at 3u, which is a tight fit, unless either the motherboard or PSU is mounted at the front… hence the more usual 4u.

    With the luxury of space in 4u you can be creative with cooling, and can mount HDDs in silent caddies (normally take a 5.25 slot instead of a 3.5 one, but with massive noise isolation). Metal panels can have damping materiel glued on to limit resonant responses etc.

    Length is the killer, many 4U cases are seriously deep!

    You might be interested in people like http://www.silentpcreview.com/
    There is a whole bunch of people who just want their PC at home to be completely silent (either home theatre types or bedroom PCs)

    #45052
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    Thinking about this further I had the bright idea of googling for “short 4u pc case” and got:

    http://www.xcase.co.uk/rackmount-cases/x-case-rm-404-v4-short-4u-rackmount-395mm-deep-49-00-x-case.html

    as an early hit – it’s only got 80mm fans, but a couple of quiet 80mm fans will move a serious amount of air.

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