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“Music Computer” or DIY?

For anything relating to music-making on Windows computers, with lots of FAQs. Moderated by Martin Walker.

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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby PWGLE » Wed Oct 05, 2005 12:13 am

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


yep my rule with motherboards used to be...

its gotta be DFI or Asus...

above 70 pounds... around 100 pounds.... no more than 130 pounds...

not the first revision! :tongue:
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Hobbes » Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:52 pm

Very interesting thread guys - thanks for the info. I'm in the market for a new audio PC and was thinking of going for the Carillion AC-1 just because of the noise aspect. I used to build my own PCs years ago but I'm out of the loop now on the technology - esp when it comes to motherboards, sockets and keeping it ultra quiet. So.... what would you recommend I spend £1,000 (inc Vat) on?

I already have a sound card - Berhinger BCA2000 (although something better would be nice)
I already have a 17" Compaq LCD (although a 19" would be nice - or a second 17")
I already have a new Philips DVD writer
I have all the audio software.

So basically I just require a fast and very quiet machine with 4Gb of Ram and at least one fast, quiet and large drive for audio. What components would you suggest?
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby The real musiclover » Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:43 am

Just to add....... DIY!

Hold on though.... You are doing, right? If so, bravo!
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby mattneighbour » Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:08 pm

If you really want a quiet machine it might be worth looking at processors designed for laptops, i.e. Pentium M and the new Intel Core Duo processor. I believe motherboards for the latter are beginning to filter through the retail channels. Also many people are warming to the idea of using 2.5" laptop hard disks because they are quieter (and 7200rpm versions are readily available now).

Useful websites are Silent PC Review and QuietPC .

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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby JSB » Mon Mar 20, 2006 9:34 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?


Well if it's any help, a friend of mine bought a second hand, ex-demo Hewlett Packard PC Pentium 3 with all sorts of rubbish on it. I mean, whatever piece of software there is in this world it is probably on this PC :D He uses it for games, internet - whatever. The hard drive has about 7 partitions on it with nothing inside them :shock: It is completely and utterly set up for nothing in particular, takes forever to boot ( I imagine because it searches all those partitions!!) It has Windows XP Home installed ( which is not the ideal OS I think!) and has a few wobbly connections round the back somewhere ( don't we all!!). Laughably, the odd pop-up window often appears when he is using live because the PC suddenly connects itself to the net. This is one helluva system believe you me!!!

And do you know what? He uses it 5 - 6 hours a day for recording and sequencing and it works a treat. The only problem with it is that very very occasionally it catches fire..... No! That's not true! Now and then it makes a whining noise but I think that's his soundcard and it doesn't affect the recordings.

Now you tell me.... If a secondhand mongrel like this can run his music software without problem what the hell are people actually paying for when they get these so called ' Music PC Specialists' to build them one?

It baffles me no end. I spend a lot of time in Asia where the parts are very cheap and I have been tempted to build a music PC myself because it fascinates me. I also believe it will broaden my knowledge of PCs in general. I've looked into it a bit and for a few hundred quid you can build a minimalist system that would be equivalent to a multiple Roland workstation set-up and that, I think, is good enough for most people in their bedrooms. Add in the sequencing and editing facilities and you have it all.

Why waste money? Do it yourself and learn something new. :smirk:
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Re: “Music Computer” or DIY?

Postby Smithee » Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:54 pm

JSB wrote:Now you tell me.... If a secondhand mongrel like this can run his music software without problem what the hell are people actually paying for when they get these so called ' Music PC Specialists' to build them one?

1) Noise Levels
It takes knowledge of what components to choose and how to place them in order to create a quiet computer. Although mainstream manufacturers like HP, Dell etc... have started to take noise levels more seriously recently, a typical off the shelf system will not be nearly as quiet as a properly treated PC.

2) Component Choice
When you're building a system for a specific purpose like audio, you can tailor the components for that task. An audio specific computer does not need a dual NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX SLI rig when the most taxing visuals it will produce is the Cubase score editor! Plus, by adding components that are not needed, you introduce the potential for complications/conflicts and pay a lot more than is needed.

3) Support
Perhaps this is less important to the average home musician who's just recording to impress their mates at the pub, but for many people, the support a company like Carillon can offer is worth the premium alone. If you phone up Dell and ask why your copy of Pro Tools isn't working with your new Mackie Control, they probably won't be of much assistance. A specialised music PC company on the other hand, will know intimately about your Pro Tools setup and have the knowledge and resources to help you out. For some of these specialist companies, you can talk to the actual engineer who contructed and configured your machine.

4) Configuration
Although Windows XP is pretty good out the box, there are still things that can be done to improve it for audio. On top of that, the installation and testing of your chosen audio software and/or hardware can be done at the time of construction where any bugs can be ironed out saving time and effort later.
A company like Carillon will tell you before hand whether there's a known incompatiblity between your chosen EMU card and PowerCore box instead of the user getting the card themselves, installing it and only then finding there's an issue after they've made an investment.

So, there's a couple of reasons. If you have the knowledge, time and resources to build your own systems, that's great. It can be very rewarding, increase one's knowledge and save some money as well.
If you don't, won't or can't put together your own audio system, these companies offer a service which will take the hassle away and deliver a nice shrink wrapped box ready to plug in and go. Leaving the customer to get on with making their music.

And thanks for resurrecting this thread. I thought it was dead, but 5 months later, it returns! :beamup:
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