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Turning a PC into a DAW


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#1 TragicTravisty

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 02:42 PM

So, I've got this hp pavilion a1600n, which has recently been replaced by a mac. I plan on turning the pavilion into a DAW (digital audio workstation) to make, record, mix, and master music on. to do this, it has to be running in real time. http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/hp-pavili...?tag=mncol;psum those are all the specs. Basically, dual core processor running at 2.0 GHz, 1GB of RAM installed of 4 available, and a 200GB hard-drive. Aside from running defrags, and uninstalling apps, where should I start? also, the pc is stock with XP, should i stick in this or install a different OS? thanks, and hello! (first post)

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 03:29 PM

LOL...I love the way these fancy names are given to basic functions which historically have been performed on PCs since the days of Duron 900s, et alia :thumbsup:.

What you call a DAW...is nothing but a computer with a given (I suppose you could use several) program that provides the capability for recording/editing audio.

The biggest thing I'd focus on...what program am I going to use to do these things...and why that program?

I have a program by Syntrilium (now acqquired by Adobe) which I bought years ago called Cool Edit 2K. You might want to Google it and see what capabilities a 9-year old program provided...and then start looking at what's offered today for more money.

I don't have to uninstall any apps when I edit music (I don't really capture any, I just edit what I have on CD or downloaded) nor should anyone. It's not that intensive a task and the main thing required by CE2K is hard drive space...the more, the faster things are processed. I currently have about 3.5 GBs of empty hard drive space available, but that much is not necessary.

Read user reviews of whatever program you decided on. Usually there is a forum...visit and see what types of issues become points of concern.

When looking at programs, consider both paid-for and free ones. Even better...start with a free one and write down all the things that irritate you about it...and you'll have a better idea of what you are looking for when you truly go shopping for a program or programs.

FWIW: http://www.oldapps.com/CoolEdit.php

Louis

#3 fairjoeblue

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 03:46 PM

I've been using Goldwave Sound Editor for a long time.

It runs with all I have installed on my computer.

It would work well on your Pavilion.

If you want to do anything to improve the performance of any sound efiting software I suggest adding another 1GB of memopry to match what is already in the unit.
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#4 TragicTravisty

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 06:16 AM

I'm leaning towards sonar 8 producer since i have a friend who can get it to for free, it runs on windows, and I use it in school, where i have had good experiences. I plan on recording, editing, and mixing, maybe running 4 or more mics at the same time, and then using lots and lots of plugins for effects and mixing programs. At school, the cpu's have freezed up or lagged when only running three midi tracks, and from all of the research I've done, audio takes up much more space/resources as well as the plugins I'll be running.

so you guys would say that adding ram for this computer is more important than a better cpu?

#5 hamluis

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 10:44 AM

System specs: http://www2.dealtime.com/xPF-Hewlett-Packard-Pavilion-a1600n

Software: http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/produ...ucer?sku=707024

<<...you guys would say that adding ram for this computer is more important than a better cpu?>>

I would...and so do the developers of this program.

RAM is cheap and is easily the most important (IMO) factor when doing tasks like rendering, editing, etc. A faster CPU might enable the task to be completed a bit faster...but more RAM will enable the task to be completed and provides more "workspace" for the system to perform its many tasks.

I would also find out (if you don't already know) if this program utilizes selected hard drive partitions for processing...my CE2K program does, just as some video-editing programs do.

It's hard to say that one thing is more important than the other (that's why we call it a system), but RAM is the only listed program spec that you don't easily meet, from what I see.

Louis

Edit: Get a larger hard drive, as a secondary drive on the system. You can use it for storage, etc. 1TB drives are now available for about $100, a good investment (IMO). More space is never going to be...too much. Tomorrow you may decide to edit video files and store them.

#6 Platypus

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 06:42 PM

If you want to run a fairly demanding application like Sonar with many plug-ins or VST instruments, use at least 2GB of RAM. XP is fine, and uses less memory itself than an alternative MS operating system like Vista.

"Free" in the case of commercial software generally means a less-than-legal copy, if that was the situation we wouldn't be able to offer any assistance to support its use. There are a number of low cost alternatives, for example some people really like Cockos Software's Reaper, it's very small and efficient, free to try out and not expensive if you like it. Or the British Computer Music magazine gives away a decent sequencer and free plugins on its cover disk. And there are complete Linux distributions dedicated to production, like dyne:bolic.

The Intel Core2 CPUs have a performance edge, but an Athlon 64 is quite acceptable for a DAW application. A 200GB 7200 rpm SATA hard drive will offer reasonable performance, although if you're going to do serious multi-track recording, its best to have a dedicated drive. If the recording drive has to break off to serve any other system purpose, you'll get lags & breakups as you've mentioned.

Your system has two Firewire ports, this could be useful as both an external drive and an external audio/MIDI interface could be run concurrently on Firewire if you wish. Firewire has advantages over USB in multimedia applications. If you want to use a more professional audio interface, they are often Firewire for this reason.

A quality audio interface will be provided with ASIO (Audio Streaming Input/Output) drivers to give high performance and low latency. Since ASIO drivers run as a Windows Service, setting the Performance characteristic of Windows to favour background services rather than programs usually works best.

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