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Thread: Building new Computer for music production, which things to take care of?

  1. #1
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    Building new Computer for music production, which things to take care of?

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    So I am about to build a new computer for music production only, good old gaming time on the computer is over, for gaming Iīll stick to a PS4, anyways DDD


    I figured out 8 GB of RAM ainīt enough to handle big projects, gonna build up to 32GB first and maybe add 4 more units so Iīll end up with 64GB.

    My actual question here is actually, how crucial is the CPU?
    I know it shouldnīt be some 50-200€/$ trash, but how much should I really invest to make sure my bigger projects run without any issues and problems?

    As you all know, the more Plugins, Instruments, etc. you use, the more ASIO usage it takes. If you cross a line, the sound starts screwing up, some effects donīt even react anymore and youīll gonna have a super great time with your computer
    You can increase the buffer size to have more free space but if your ASIO usage is at max. while having a buffer size of 2048, itīs the end of the line :S

    Does it rely to the quality of the CPU or rather to the quality of the soundcard?

    Do you have something else to add which could be usefull investing to increase the quality of the whole system to produce music properly? Let me know!



    Thanks a lot for your answers and stuff, always appriciate your comments
    Last edited by Steve Sancteria; 05-27-2016 at 02:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sancteria View Post
    I figured out 8 GB of RAM ainīt enough to handle big projects, gonna build up to 32GB first and maybe add 4 more units so Iīll end up with 64GB.
    64Gb is most likely totally overkill. Unless you work extensively with large cinematic sample libraries, even 32Gb is probably something you won't use very often - but RAM's cheap, so however you want to spend your money.

    My actual question here is actually, how crucial is the CPU?
    I know it shouldnīt be some 50-200€/$ trash, but how much should I really invest to make sure my bigger projects run without any issues and problems?

    As you all know, the more Plugins, Instruments, etc. you use, the more ASIO usage it takes. If you cross a line, the sound starts screwing up, some effects donīt even react anymore and youīll gonna have a super great time with your computer
    You can increase the buffer size to have more free space but if your ASIO usage is at max. while having a buffer size of 2048, itīs the end of the line :S

    Does it rely to the quality of the CPU or rather to the quality of the soundcard?
    The CPU is what runs your plugins, not "ASIO usage" - ASIO simply is the protocol that pipes the audio from the DAW to the interface and vice versa, and in the context of working solely ITB, this is just the master channel from the DAW. Even if you'd have a hundred plugins on different channels, ASIO still only has to work with the two channels that come out of the DAW. So it's not "ASIO usage" it's CPU usage. You sometimes hear people say that the "interface takes the load off the CPU", which is completely bullshit as well - it doesn't, the CPU does all the work. The interface just makes sure the audio is channeled in and out consistently and with the smallest possible latency. DSP solutions like Universal Audio's platform are another thing entirely...but yeah, do get a proper CPU. Not too clued up what the best deal is these days, but there are probably plenty of articles on that.

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    wow, thanks a lot man seems Iīve been one of those people who thought the interface is taking all the stuff

    Iīll gonna make some more research on that, thatīs for sure but now I know I should focus the CPU thanks a lot

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    You're lucky!

    I built my own PC a few months ago, mostly aimed for music production (and a bit for gaming too).
    As for how your build is supposed to look like, that completely depends on how you use your DAW and your budget.
    For instance, if you're mainly using soft synths and oneshot samples, you won't need that much RAM (I've never exceeded 8 GB RAM, ever), but if you use heavy Kontakt libraries and such, then additional RAM may be needed (16-32 GB).
    Note that 64 GB is pointless unless you're into really heavy video editing with very expensive CPU and other gear. Even 32 GB can be overkill many times, at least for music production.
    I'd suggest going with 16 GB DDR4 memory, so you have some headroom.

    As for the CPU, it depends on your plugin usafe but most importantly your MIDI usage. If you're producing more monophonic styles such as Melbourne Bounce you don't need to sweat the CPU unless there's some really hungry plugins going on - but if you're into things like Progressive House, or EDM with tonnes of fat supersaws, then the CPU needs some high priority due to the high polyphony of styles like these.
    The main principle with CPU's and polyphonies is that the CPU handles very light and quick tasks - but tonnes of it. So your CPU needs to be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously = more cores are better rather than a few really fast ones.
    Many producers will always say "go with an i7", without knowing why - and the reason is hyperthreading which only i7 CPUs have (hyperthreading = 1 core act like 2 cores, so a quadcore hyperthreaded CPU works like an octacore - shortly put though, there's much more to it). Though that doesn't mean i7 is the only CPU to go with, AMD focus instead on 8 actual cores for the same price as they don't have hyperthreading, so don't forget to look at the red team.
    Anyway, Sound On Sound magazine did some research on what is the best i7 CPU, and it goes like this -> 4990k/6700k < 5820k < 5960X.
    I have the 5820k which is hexacore with hyperthreading = acts like a CPU with 12 cores. It's also overclocked to 4.2 GHz (more speed to come in the near future even as I'll overvolt it to 4.5 GHz) - and I've never encountered a buffer underrun during producing!! Despite doing insane things in my DAW just to test it.
    So I'd recommend this CPU as it's the best without having to pay more than $1000 for just a CPU (haven't tried AMD though).
    However if you're going for such a huge CPU and may be overclocking it, then you need to invest some money in good CPU and case cooling (aircooling should be enough unless you'll overvolt the CPU where you may need watercooling).

    I'd also recommend buying a basic multimedia graphics card so the graphics aren't handled by the CPU, even if you're not going to game on the computer - that will take the load off the CPU when it comes to the graphics.
    Also, make sure you invest in good PC case fans and such so your computer is nice and quiet for music production.

    What is you approach regarding SSD vs HDD?

    Remember to take your time when choosing the parts - so you actually can build the computer with them, and so that you don't get an error and the computer stops working properly.
    Please read this thread, this is back when I was asking questions regarding my build, and I realized a lot of things, thanks to that there are a lot of techies at KVR:
    http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewto...?f=16&t=455171

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    yeah Iīve talked to a friend of mine who also told me the new AMD production is coming october, so we can expect a prize decrease on the intel processors since the new AMD series should keep up with the latest intel ones (as the magazines and blogs on the internet tell so far ).

    Iīve been focusing the 5820k as well since a lot of people said the 5930 is "slightly" better but does cost 650€ instead of 400€ and I think with the 12 core multithreading we should be good to go.

    Since the 5820k supports RAM till 2133 MHz DDR4, I am not even sure if I should grab some DDR4 instead of using DDR3 but iīll do some research on that.

    Yeah the big Kontakt libraries thatīs my current problem so I really wanna go for min. 32GB so I wonīt get any stupid error messages anymore

    Got a SSD that is good enough I guess, at least Iīve payed 300€ for it and 1 week later I really thought like "is that small thing there really worth 300€? xD" but instead of waiting 5 minutes for a kontakt instrument, I only wait 10 sec or so for really big things , also loading the project file in Cubase is way better now

    I got a 670GTX, that should handle the plugin effects I guess hahha little sparkle here and there ^_^

    Iīll keep my focus on using Serum, which is really hungry, I donīt think there is a need for overclocking though.
    I am currently running an AMD bulldozer (F-8120) (that heats up in no time xD) and even this little 120€ CPU is handling my big projects very well, depending on the plugins and the amount of it, ofc .

    But thanks to your link Iīll rather pick a DDR 4 for the intel i7.

    then ofc picking the right motherboard with the proper socket and stuff you canīt glue anything together and hope itīll work, thatīs for sure

    The rest should be farely easy fo me, always build up my computers by myself or together with my uncle, so yeah I guess Iīve found the components
    Last edited by Steve Sancteria; 05-31-2016 at 03:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steffeeh View Post
    Many producers will always say "go with an i7", without knowing why - and the reason is hyperthreading which only i7 CPUs have
    Well, it isn't exactly an i7 exclusive thang - but suffice to say HT on i5s (for example) is somewhat of a rarity these days, so it's definitely the main differentiating factor. The CPU market is fairly confusing these days...compared to the golden days when you only had to take the one with the biggest number on it

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    If you want to go with 5820k you need to go with a DDR4 system. And don't go too far above 2133 MHz on the RAM (maximum 2400 MHz) unless you downclock the RAM as the CPU is built for 2133 MHz, and you can eventually run into compability issues with the RAM sticks suddenly being uninstalled from the system (BAM! bluescreen).
    I have both an SSD and an HDD (or well, and SSHD/Hybrid). On the SSD I've installed Windows and all programs except those really huge ones, then the HDD is for storage as well as those huge programs.
    It's not wether there's a need for overclocking, it's wether you want to overclock or not Trust me, the difference is like night and day when overclocking CPU - and you don't have to worry about warranty or harming the hardware since it's a k-model which means it's built to be overclocked (overvolting is a different thing though).

    As for the i7 thingy, once again there's more to it than hyperthreading like I mentioned, but I mean hyperthreading is the important part for a music producer when it comes to i7 processors vs the rest from Intel. i5 doesn't have this which means that a quadcore works like 4 cores and not like 8 logical cores.

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    I agree with Krushing, he makes the most real world suggestions, if you want the perfect tip top tech specs then go all the way to 64GB but the conversation has moved on since then so all I want to say is that Krushing points are the most realistic.
    How To Get Automatic (TARGETED) Soundcloud Traffic For Free: https://youtu.be/MN_sGThEoPM http://www.sellbeatsfast.com

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    Krushing is absolutely right, your processor has everything to do with how potent your computer is with audio, not your interface/soundcard. Many computer tasks, especially gaming, rely very heavily on single-threaded performance. Thankfully, audio is heavily multi-threaded. Your session will be able to use as many cores as you can throw at it.


    Understanding the Intel processor line-up:

    - HyperThreading adds one virtual core to every physical core. While this is nowhere near a doubling of performance, HyperThreading adds about 20% performance in most workloads. Since audio is so reliant on multi-threading, the gains are closer to 30-40% over a processor without HyperThreading.

    - Desktop i3 processors have two cores with HyperThreading. The price difference between various i3 processors comes down to clock speed.

    - Desktop i5 processors have four cores without HyperThreading. Price difference comes down to clock speed, though you can pay more for a K series which you can overclock.

    - Desktop i7 processors have four cores with HyperThreading. Again, pay for faster clocks, pay more to be able to overclock.

    - Desktop i7 Extreme processors are cut-down server processors designed for workstations. They can add server features earlier and reach higher core counts of 6, 8, and soon-10 cores, not counting HyperThreading. These processors lag consumer processors by a generation or more: we've had consumer Skylake processors for a while now, but the server/extreme market has yet to move to the older Broadwell platform. If you need more cores, aiming for a 6-core i7 is a good option for audio. The difference between the $390 model and the $580 comes down to 28 vs 40 PCI-Express lanes. That's important for people who want to use multiple graphics cards or multiple other PCI-E cards, but not relevant for the rest of us.


    AMD:

    - I wouldn't expect Zen before 2017.

    - AMD's Bulldozer architecture is getting pretty dated, and it wasn't nearly as great as they trumpeted when it was first released around the 2011-2012 time-frame. That said, they are quite affordable, and the one thing they don't suck at is handling heavily threaded workloads.



    Real world: I've got the i5-3570K processor in my rig, four cores without HyperThreading, lightly overclocked. That's three generations old, each generation good for 5-10% bonus performance at equivalent core count and clock speeds. My processor does a good job with a big session, but I want it to do a great job, so I can push latency super low, and/or build truly complex sessions without fear.

    I'd like an upgrade, but I don't need one, and I do run pretty big sessions as it is. Upgrading to the i5-6600K might fit the bill, but it's not such a tremendous upgrade to be worth it, considering I already have the i5-3570K. The clock speed advantage and HyperThreading advantage of the i7-6700K should be plenty. If I was still concerned, paying extra for the more dated i7-5820K would give me 50% more cores. But ... the generational lag and lower clock speed cuts into that 50% considerably.

    In my opinion, no bedroom producer or even semi-pro producer can justify paying $1,000 for Intel's 8-core, $1,700 for Intel's new 10-core, or higher still for Intel's server chips. But if you have money to burn...

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    As for the miscellaneous bits:

    - I see no reason to buy a dedicated GPU for an audio machine, unless it doesn't come with integrated graphics. The graphics card has no bearing on the quality of your audio in any way, shape, or form.

    - The difference between a powerful audio machine and a powerful gaming machine is a decent graphics card. Even $200 towards graphics should help you keep up on the latest games at a reasonable resolution, if you're interested.

    - DDR3 vs DDR4: DDR4 is superior, but you buywhat is supported by the chipset of the processor you choose. Most likely willbe DDR4.

    - Howmuch RAM? It wasn't that long ago that Pro Tools, the industry standard, cappedsessions and plugins to a combined max of 4 GB of RAM. 8 GB is the bare minimumfor audio. I run heavy sessions and I've never run into issues at 16 GB. Buy 32GB if you don't mind paying extra just to be safe. But 64 GB is truly overkillfor audio in 2016.

    - RAMspeed? If you buy faster RAM, generally it doesn't even run at the higher clockunless you specify in the BIOS. You can aim for super fast RAM, but memory ishardly a bottleneck.

    - Your computer's performance for audio comes mostly down to processing speed. Make sure RAM capacity isn't a bottleneck, then upgrade your storage if you want faster speed. I have one SSD for Windows and Pro Tools, another SSD for plugins and samples and virtual instruments, and a hard drive for storing sessions. I recommend this format.

    - The interface, for the most part, affects only the quality of the conversions into and out of the digital domain, and of course the microphone preamps if your interface has preamps.

    - If you choose to overclock your audio PC, be sure not to push it too far. Last thing you want is a random bluescreen during a good take because your processor is unstable at the voltage you're giving it. But a reasonable overclock is fine, as long as you have a good heatsink/fan combo on the processor.

    - If your computer is in the room with you, it's probably worth paying extra for a "soundproofed" PC case (not truly soundproof, of course, nothing is - but better than some). High quality case fans paired with a noise-dampening PC case will keep the fan noise down. But this isn't important if you keep your audio PC in an equipment closet off your studio space.


    If you have any questions, just ask. I've built numerous PCs, and I love keeping up-to-date on the latest in PC hardware.

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