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Author Topic: cheap Dell for mastering?  (Read 2839 times)

breathe

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cheap Dell for mastering?
« on: August 20, 2004, 04:33:45 am »

I'm looking to get a cheap Wavelab rig up and running to augment (probably replace) my Masterlink.  I've heard Lynx makes the most legit soundcards, so the big money will go there.  Any other suggestions on AES/EBU cards would be appreciated.  My main question is if I can purchase the cheapest Dell PC for this application and not tear my hair out with crashes etc.

Thanks,
Nicholas
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Viitalahde

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2004, 05:16:41 am »

Don't have experience with Dells.. But I believe in quality everywhere. A few months back I also specced and custom computer around a Lynx TWO-A (which was the only thing I installed myself).

The machine had no hip or powerful components to that day's standard but I did a lot of research and asked questions and found out a combo that would work. Good mobo (asus), good memory and definately a good and over-rated PSU. The psu thing was the one I concentrated very much on and settled down to a quality brand I can't quite remember right now. It had lotsa juice, good filtering and it also did some gimmicks to minimize the interference back to the mains.

No crash to this date.

Maybe someone else can tell about Dells. I know nothing.  Cool
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Jaakko Viitalähde
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matucha

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2004, 06:15:25 am »

I have 2+ years old machine (precision 340) with 2.26Ghz P4... and so far no complains. It just sits under the desk and do the job. It is quiet (compared to PCs I had), only in the really hot summer night the ventilators start to annoy me.
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bblackwood

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2004, 07:44:44 am »

IME, Dell makes good machines, though they typically come loaded with tons of extra crap (media players, software trials, etc.) that you'll probably want to go through and remove. Other than that, it's a good way to get a solid, inexpensive DAW...
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

bloodstone

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2004, 12:48:55 pm »

FWIW, I recently got a Barebones Kit from Tiger Direct 256megs of RAM, AMD 2600 processor, 120gig Seagate EIDE HD, TDK DVDRW drive, Invidia video card, floppy drive, Biostar tower, Invidia motherboard (recommended as good for audio PCs) etc.  After rebates I think it only set me back about $500.  I'm using CD Architect, Wavelab lite & plugins from Waves with an EMU 1212M card, Windows XP Pro.  I haven't had any issues.  It's working great, but I'm not doing any multitracking.  I'm using an old monitor I had lying around.  
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OTR-jkl

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2004, 02:16:04 pm »

Quote:

and definately a good and over-rated PSU. The psu thing was the one I concentrated very much on and settled down to a quality brand I can't quite remember right now.

I've heard that Zalman is one of the best. Mine is an Antec True.

Quote:

Wavelab rig

Why not try Samplitude...?


I used to use a Dell Dimension until I got my new box. The Dell was stable and quite a bit quieter.....Sad.....but the new one has like 3 fans...
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J Lowes · OTR Mastering
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MASSIVE Mastering

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2004, 02:20:46 pm »

Dell makes good, solid units and their customer service is amazing.  

Just make sure that the piece you're looking at is expandable enough for what you're using it for - Some only have 2 PCI slots, on-board video, etc.  Be certain it'll handle what you need to throw into it.
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John Scrip
Massive Mastering - Chicago (Schaumburg / Hoffman Est.), IL - USA

breathe

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2004, 03:45:36 pm »

Thanks for all the feedback!  On the OS front... I have a spare  XP license laying around.  Don't know what OS would be included in the computer.  I understand there are a few businesses that will 'optimize' Windows for audio use, which seems like a good idea since Microsoft loads up so much useless shit into their programs.  Is this something I could do myself, or does anyone know someone in the Bay Area who would do this on the cheap?

Also...If I got a Dell, would the power supply definitely be something to upgrade?  Anything else take priority?

Thanks again,
Nicholas
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OTR-jkl

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2004, 04:02:03 pm »

Quote:

On the OS front... I have a spare XP license laying around. I understand there are a few businesses that will 'optimize' Windows for audio use

www.musicXP.net
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J Lowes · OTR Mastering
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PP

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2004, 06:59:04 pm »

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genericperson

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2004, 02:11:13 am »

here's the most important thing to remember:
make sure the chipset on the motherboard gets along well with your intended soundcard (Lynx, Protools Accel, etc.).

the chipset is not the processor. it's a different chip component that is the "data traffic cop" of the computer, determining which component gets time on the cpu at any moment in time.

so if you can squeak it out of dell, find out what the motherboard is on the computer you are interested in.  then go to that motherboard's website and find out what the chipset is.  then contact the soundcard company and see if your intended soundcard gets along with that chipset.

there was a time when Via chipsets had a bad rep with soundcards.  but that's old news.  Via has gone through about 3 or 4 generations of chipsets since then.  

what's the best chipset?
one that gets along with your soundcard is the "best"
one that doesn't is the "worst"

512 meg ram vs. 1024 ram, 80 gig hd vs 120 gig, 2.8ghz cpu vs 3.2 ghz....these are all small potatoes compared to the chipset compatibility factor.
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Rob Darling

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2004, 09:00:32 am »

You're probably overthinking this one.  A mastering machine is only playing back a couple of tracks at a time and doing a few edits.  An album of mastering edits could fit into a few bars of a multitrack rock record.

A Dell will be fine if you don't want to mess with building your own machine.

I will second the vote for Samplitude. The ability to have separate insert chains for individual audio snips makes mastering ridiculously easy, and you can burn from within the project window.

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bloodstone

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2004, 10:51:04 am »

robdarling@mail.com wrote on Mon, 23 August 2004 14:00

You're probably overthinking this one.  A mastering machine is only playing back a couple of tracks at a time and doing a few edits.  An album of mastering edits could fit into a few bars of a multitrack rock record.

A Dell will be fine if you don't want to mess with building your own machine.

I will second the vote for Samplitude. The ability to have separate insert chains for individual audio snips makes mastering ridiculously easy, and you can burn from within the project window.




All good points.  I started out thinking all I was going to do was print mixes in 24 bit and do a little editing/mastering.  But the more I got into it and saw the possibilities, I'm moving closer to the idea of mixing in the box, at least for very complicated mixes that need lots of mute automation.  So he might want to plan at least for the ability to expand to something that could handle such duties in the future when the need arises.
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Ronny

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2004, 10:06:24 am »

MASSIVE Mastering wrote on Fri, 20 August 2004 14:20

Dell makes good, solid units and their customer service is amazing.  

 



I wish that I could say that, John. I own two Dell's and find customer service, unless it's gotten better recently, to be one of the worst around. Always put on long hold, trying to reach the tech department. Waited 45 minutes one time only to have the connection cut off, called back and waited another 30 minutes for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes hold time before I reached anyone. The first one I had Dell custom make for me for audio. I paid for the extended 3 year same day home service contract, it was a 450 with Win98. Runs like a champ still and didn't ever need to have the service guy come out. The second one, I bought with XP Pro 2.66GHz and had them boost the RAM to 1 gig, didn't get the home service 3 year deal relying on the previous Dell's record and the new Dell isn't near as stable as the older one and may be due to XP. I simply hate the way that Gates feels that I need him to arrange audio files for me and the interface in non classical mode reminds me of a Fisher Price toy.

To answer the posters question, the old Dell Dimension T-450 was the most stable computer that I've owned, it would great if you could find a used one, but some of the newer programs won't run on it.
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Rob Darling

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Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2004, 10:29:44 am »

I'm at the flip side on Dell- I recently was setting up a client's system with a couple of Dells and had excellent customer service.

As for the toy appearance of windows- just change it.

As for the windows organizing audio files- just tell it not to and to not ask again when you pop in a cd.

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