R/E/P Community

R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Brad Blackwood => Topic started by: breathe on August 20, 2004, 04:33:45 am

Title: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: breathe 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
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: Viitalahde 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
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: matucha 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.
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: bblackwood 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...
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: bloodstone 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.  
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: OTR-jkl 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...
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: MASSIVE Mastering 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.
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: breathe 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
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: OTR-jkl 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
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: PP on August 21, 2004, 06:59:04 pm
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: genericperson 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.
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: Rob Darling 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.

Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: bloodstone 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.
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: Ronny 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.
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: Rob Darling 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.

Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: Ronny on August 24, 2004, 11:16:32 pm
robdarling@mail.com wrote on Tue, 24 August 2004 10:29

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.





I did change it.

As far as windows organizing audio files, when you can show me how to drag a .cda song from D drive cd player to C drive Windows hard disk, instead of just getting a shortcut and without having to go through a DAE program, let me know. I like the old Windows where it treated audio .cda as just any other file that Gates didn't think that I was too stupid to organize myself. You can forget about changing file names to full path, that does nothing, the shortcut still shows and that's all that will drag and drop. XP Pro is setup for a consumer, not a professional, but we all know how easy it is to stick the term Pro on piece of shit software. I'm going with a Carillion next time.
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: bblackwood on August 25, 2004, 09:03:19 am
Ronny wrote on Tue, 24 August 2004 22:16

I'm going with a Carillion next time.

I'm curious, what does Carillion do to access/address audio files that you can't?
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: Ronny on August 29, 2004, 05:23:52 am
bblackwood wrote on Wed, 25 August 2004 09:03

Ronny wrote on Tue, 24 August 2004 22:16

I'm going with a Carillion next time.

I'm curious, what does Carillion do to access/address audio files that you can't?



Can't really say about the file thing, Brad as I don't have that much information on the Carillion. My complaint is with the whole XP system. From what I've been hearing about the Carillion's, if true, they are a much more stable platform for audio apps. Maybe I just got a lemon, not sure, but I didn't have near the problems with Win 98. I'm still running my Dell Win 98 for some apps, but the processor is much slower. Also some of my newer audio apps won't run on the old Dell, so I'm a bit stuck with XP. Many people love XP, but my stand alone editors are much more stable than both my XP and 98 DAW's are and I'd like to see the same reliability/stability in a PC platform. I was expecting more from XP as I went 5 years from the last upgrade and don't see anything that is better.
Title: Re: cheap Dell for mastering?
Post by: TotalSonic on August 29, 2004, 02:15:29 pm
I'm a big proponent of rolling your own for DAW's.  One of the big reasons is that you can choose all of the individual components to make sure that everything is quality and fully compatible with your pro sound card - and that the OS is configured so everything is as streamlined as possible - so that performance is reliable and glitch free.  Obviously the needs of a multitracking or virtual instrument machine are a lot more than just a mastering DAW - but if you actually want to be able to do some heavy lifting with your DAW roll your own is the only way to go as far as I'm concerned.  The other reason is that by building a custom box you really learn what's going on with the guts of the thing making trouble shooting a lot easier to do than if you have to rely on an outsiders "tech support".  Of course - OMMV.

As far as Win98/Me - I don't think this is a good choice for a DAW at all this OS does not handle threading priorities correctly - in fact it's not really a true 32bit OS but a 32bit shell over a 16bit OS (btw - those bits I'm referring deal with buss throughput and have nothing to do with audio bits).

XP has one major thing that disturbs me: the activation scheme.  To me when I turn on my computer I want it to work - period.  The idea that after I've swapped my C drive 3 tmes I have to make a phone call or go online for an activation code(and I think the best policy is to  keep DAWs completely off of the net) just rubs me completely the wrong way. Even though this is a "tiny inconvenience" if I have alternatives - I'll use them.  For this reason I've stuck with Win2k for all my DAW boxes.

For apps like Sonar, which depend on the Windows Kernel Mixer then you'll get better performance from XP - but for the app I use, SAWStudio, I did a test with a dual boot Win2k/XP system and found absolutely no improvements in it's performance whatsoever from using XP.  I'm sure at some point there will be a reason for me to actually want to "upgrade" - it just hasn't happened yet -

Best regards,
Steve Berson