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“Music Computer” or DIY?

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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Jim Gearfetish » Mon Oct 03, 2005 10:53 pm

I am a recovered Mac evangelist and built my own PC nearly a year from parts all sourced from Ebuyer (great online store - I tried shopping around a bit and always found Ebuyer to be the cheapest or very close each time). I have a £20 motherboard by PC Chips - dirt cheap (as chips) but very reliable. The whole PC (excl. XP, monitor, mouse, keyboard) cost about £240. There's a sort of snobbishness about goods that keeps people paying more than they need for stuff. Ebuyer do ready-assembled PCs too. The site has reviews by customers for each item - very useful.

The only thing I would get separately is the soundcard but these are very easy to fit. Also, my friend has just got Mac OS X working on a P4 so if I were to build another one, I would use P4 rather than an Athlon processor and run a dual-boot system.
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Smithee » Mon Oct 03, 2005 11:14 pm

Jazzyt wrote:I have used Music PC's and DIY, but once you experience Apple MAc's running and working, there is no comparison! They just work....

Or they just don't work as the case may be :) . I think Apple Macs are repectable machines in their own right, but lets not harbour any ridiculous notions about them being "bomb-proof" or never crashing. Mac OS X crashes just as much as any other OS, it just has a slightly prettier way of telling you. And hardware wise, a Radeon inside a Mac, is no more or less likely to "just work" than a Radeon inside an x86 PC.

Bilder wrote:I had a music computer made to the specs recommended in SOS about 4/5 years ago - it cost almost 3,000 Euros. Two years later I bought a computer off the shelf for 299 Euro which was much faster than my old computer. My recommendation would be to save your money.

You're simply describing the onward march of technology. Nowehere is it more obvious then in the increases made with processors, both CPUs and especially GPUs. Comparing a custom built section from one year, to an off the shelf system 2 years down the line is totally unfair. Especially when one is a special audio system from the pages of SOS, and another is a Wallmart esque beige box built from the cheapest far eastern components they could find being sold for 299 or your favourite currency.
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby ................... » Mon Oct 03, 2005 11:42 pm

sanders wrote:Hi guys.

My computer is getting a little old and worn out, so I’m looking at getting a new PC. I want to know if getting a “music computer” from someone like Phillip Rees or Carillon is worth it, or would I be able to get just as good a machine if I went down the DIY route? Ok, not totally DIY… I mean get one made to spec from a shop?
My last-but-one PC was made to spec, and I have to say it was fab for what it did, although it was a bit noisy. I had to entomb it in a box in the end... Recorded loads of stuff though, it was a great workhorse for 2 years. If I'd known more it would have quieter.

Smithee wrote:There's nothing that Phill Rees and his team, or the guys at Carillon can do, that an average Joe cannot. All you need is the time and expertise.
You could say that about most trades or expertise surely?
I can't speak for Phil Rees, although they do get a lot of bad press around here, even today I noticed a new thread.
I've had a Carillon for 2 years that I bought mainly for the 'quiet' factor, and the convenience of not having to do it myself :smirk:. It works great all day every day, I know a little about tweaking PCs and getting them to run well etc, but I actually haven't had to do a lot with this - just set up my own software, soundcard etc, made it how I like etc. It sits 3 feet away from me, quieter than a tape machine, fine to mix next to certainly. To record I move a few feet away it's true, but I have to say I've been really happy with it's reliability and lack of noise. Next time, I'll probably buy again, and no - I don't work for them although it sounds like it :boring:

My experience has been: it may be more expensive than buying the bits & building, but it's been reliable and worked very solidly since I first plugged it in. Definitely worth it in "time saved" alone. Depends what you need, I guess ;)
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby DavidW » Mon Oct 03, 2005 11:44 pm

Being the owner of a pre-built PC is fantastic and apart from the bios battery going, its not had a fault in 3years. I did pay a bomb for it, but having taken it apart several times to put bits in and play around with it, the next computer I buy will be DIY, so I can save some money for the software.

Having got my hands dirty (rebuilding several computers), I've got the bug and can't wait to have a brand spanking dual xeon with gigloads of ram ;)
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Prophet X » Tue Oct 04, 2005 1:09 am

GavC wrote:and the convenience of not having to do it myself :smirk:


Is that a convenience??? :blush:

I'll presume you don't know how to fix up your own machines for this one (I realise that you know some of the process!): If you don't know how to fix your machine and it ever broke down (I hope yours doesn't!) you could wait a fortnight for it to be repaired.

IMO, I consider the electronics, DIY, web design, artwork etc. to be part of the whole process, with regard to producing the end musical product. I feel that the knowledge, in these areas, moreso today than in the past, is just as valuable as knowing how to play a tune or write a lyric. Knowing your gear is a vital part of the process towards enlightened Zen self-sufficiency... er...
:headbang: ;) :D
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby ................... » Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:43 am

That's true enough Prophet, I know enough to take most bits in and out without any problems. I'm no expert, but I don't mind that - it's not my main focus, which is writing music. I don't want to know about the particular nuances or problems using motherboard type xxxx with soundcard yyyyy that only occurs when you try to do zzzzz, I'd rather leave it to someone who's really interested in that stuff. Leaves me cold :)
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Sle » Tue Oct 04, 2005 10:00 am

GavC wrote:That's true enough Prophet, I know enough to take most bits in and out without any problems. I'm no expert, but I don't mind that - it's not my main focus, which is writing music. I don't want to know about the particular nuances or problems using motherboard type xxxx with soundcard yyyyy that only occurs when you try to do zzzzz, I'd rather leave it to someone who's really interested in that stuff. Leaves me cold :)

As much as I respect your opinion, that notion is becoming out of date.. It's left over from the (Comparatively recent) days of Via/AMD being a big nono. This simply isn't the case any more, save some nForce teething troubles that affected both platforms. There are no "Turkeys" now, the only risk you run is not getting quite the power your money might buy you if you shopped around a bit.
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby ................... » Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:15 pm

Thanks Sle, I'm so out of touch since this PC runs so well :lol:
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Peter C » Tue Oct 04, 2005 3:32 pm

Smithee wrote:There's nothing that Phill Rees and his team, or the guys at Carillon can do, that an average Joe cannot.
...


True, but perhaps misleading.


I do build PCs and DAws for people, and I'm very conscious of how much time I spend trying to find the best combos, checking out the pitfalls and testing the machines.



DIY is the way to go provided you already have some expertise, and are interested in PCs per se.



All you need is the time and expertise.


And given the time you can do the research and acquire the expertise.

But it will take 100s, if not 1000s of hours starting from scratch...


[quote="Stevedog"]
If you actually spec a system to the level you actually want it, shop bought systems are often anything up to 500 quid dearer than a self build.
[quote]

£200, maybe. £500, no way.

£300 seems quite reasonable to me. For that someone else does the hard wark and takes responsibility for any problems and provides tech support and a warrenty.




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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby stormwatch » Tue Oct 04, 2005 3:50 pm

couldn't agree more pc!! :lol:
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Smithee » Tue Oct 04, 2005 5:46 pm

GavC wrote:
Smithee wrote:There's nothing that Phill Rees and his team, or the guys at Carillon can do, that an average Joe cannot. All you need is the time and expertise.
You could say that about most trades or expertise surely?
Yes to an extent I suppose you could. But because all the components Carillon use are readily available from major stores and online suppliers (bar Carillon's own custom case and mods here and there), it's very easy to get hold of the same hardware as everyone else. Plus the evolution of computers over the last 20 years odd, has meant now everything literally slots together. Don't get me wrong, there is a great deal of effort needed to put together a system capable of pro audio, but at the same time you don't need an engineering degree to put a CPU into its socket.
Compare that to building some other device like a CD player. You could assemble the bits if you knew where to look, but it would not be a case of just slipping the DAC into the right socket and pulling the lever. Perhaps not a great example, but you see my point.

But if a person has no interest in what makes their computer go, the by all means they should use the services of Carillon, Red Submarine, Inta Audio or whoever (perhaps not Phill Rees judging by recent postings). These companies do offer a peace of mind that you might not get with a PC you've built yourself, especially if it's your first build.
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby dubrichie » Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:43 pm

Sle wrote:
GavC wrote:That's true enough Prophet, I know enough to take most bits in and out without any problems. I'm no expert, but I don't mind that - it's not my main focus, which is writing music. I don't want to know about the particular nuances or problems using motherboard type xxxx with soundcard yyyyy that only occurs when you try to do zzzzz, I'd rather leave it to someone who's really interested in that stuff. Leaves me cold :)

As much as I respect your opinion, that notion is becoming out of date.. It's left over from the (Comparatively recent) days of Via/AMD being a big nono. This simply isn't the case any more, save some nForce teething troubles that affected both platforms. There are no "Turkeys" now, the only risk you run is not getting quite the power your money might buy you if you shopped around a bit.


sorry sle but i must digress, those days are still here, alive and bitching.

yes, you can save a lot of money and end up with a very powerful system.

yes, you can learn a lot along the way, which is empowering as you can fix your machine... because you have to. not to mention it being a useful skill to others on occassion.

BUT!

the pitfalls are there and very hard to find unless you have the knowledge and experience of what to look for and where to look for it on the massive interweb.

definitely get a good motherboard from someone like ASUS, but NEVER the newest flagship model with all the bells and whistles because it will be picky as hell with lots of components like RAM and PSUs.

never buy the cheapest VALUE RAM, but also never buy special Gamers RAM because your just paying for the flashing leds and such nonsense.

you will have to research what kinds of RAM work with your chosen motherboard, in what configurations and at what speeds in these configurations.

you will also have to check what power requirements the motherboard needs, ie how many Amps on each 12V connector as some can be really picky and need a crazy 20+ Amps, which is rare to get out of a PSU.

they are the main pitfalls that have plagued my life in the past year.

also check up on the manufacturers of the Firewire, USB and SATA controllers on the motherboard as some can act the mick depending on the version of Win XP (ie which service pack you install) and also may affect the operating of some audio interfaces.

get good quality hard drives, at least 7200RPM, SATA.

also check up on how many things run on the PCI bus, or how many share any kind of bus on the motherboard as this can throw up data throughput and therefore performance bottlenecks meaning sluggish, if not utterly handicaped performance form what should be a blazing fast system, particularly when youre running audio applications and trying to stream massive amounts of data to and from hard drives / firewire devices / pci devices all at once.

also consider that if buying from online retailers in order to maximise value, when something does turn out to be incompatible with something else (motherboard, RAM, PSU, etc.) the returns process can be very long-winded and hard fought. unless you absolutely NAIL it first time and evrything works together all happy families you could end up spending ages returning and returning again until eventually a system with essentially the same spec is cheaper from Dell!

so anyway, right now i would wait a little while until the price of dual core CPUs comes down a bit, and it wont be too long, to get one of them. go for an Asus motherboard, decide on it and stick with it, then pick out some RAM, a PSU and a gfx card and e-mail ASUS with as much detail about these components you intend to use with their board and ask them if they will work. i finally did and they said they would and they were right.

and thank god for that.

besides, what was top of the range and crazy prices a few months ago is pretty much half the price now.

and if it ran the stuff you wanted it to so bloody amazingly then why wont it now?
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby PWGLE » Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:50 pm

Jim Gearfetish wrote:I am a recovered Mac evangelist and built my own PC nearly a year from parts all sourced from Ebuyer (great online store - I tried shopping around a bit and always found Ebuyer to be the cheapest or very close each time). I have a £20 motherboard by PC Chips - dirt cheap (as chips) but very reliable. The whole PC (excl. XP, monitor, mouse, keyboard) cost about £240. There's a sort of snobbishness about goods that keeps people paying more than they need for stuff. Ebuyer do ready-assembled PCs too. The site has reviews by customers for each item - very useful.

The only thing I would get separately is the soundcard but these are very easy to fit. Also, my friend has just got Mac OS X working on a P4 so if I were to build another one, I would use P4 rather than an Athlon processor and run a dual-boot system.

PC Chips don't make good motherboards sorry!

Components make a huge difference, and the correct matching of components is also quite important.

I'm personally a fan of Asus gear, and tend to always use Cosair XMS RAM its reliable no doubt. Its the same as saying well that Maxtor HDD was cheaper than the seagate, yes it was but its made not as well, the balancing isn't as good, and as a result its more likely to break and is noisy.

Gah - Lau
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Sle » Wed Oct 05, 2005 12:02 am

You just went through the whole thing Mr Richie. That's about all there is to it. Buy decent components, avoid cutting cutting edge.

:D
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Sle » Wed Oct 05, 2005 12:04 am

Pirate Giant with Laser Eyes + Polly the Parrot! wrote:
PC Chips don't make good motherboards sorry!

I was going to say.. But if he has it working, then so be it :)
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