Building PC for live audio recording/playback

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Mike LS, Sep 20, 2003.

  1. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    I'm thinking of building a PC for use with my church sound system. It would be used primarily for live recording (single track), and music playback. It would also be used for Power Point and some DVD/video playback, and of course, some audio editing on the side.

    My biggest concerns and having plenty of storage space for tons of audio files, and DVD/CD burning capabilities.

    I've come up with....

    Shuttle AK38N MB
    Athalon XP 2400+ processor
    1gb DDR memory from crucial
    120gb Seagate 7200rpm HD
    Altel 52x24x52 CDRW
    Benq 4x4x12 DVD+RW
    Logitec cordless kbd/mouse
    Benq 15" LCD monitor
    GE Force FX5200 128mb AGP vc

    I have a guy that's donating a professional soundcard with the I/O connections I need.

    The total with other odds and ends thrown in is right under $1000. My budget limit is $1200.
    What else could I throw in here that would better suit it for the task? I'm not up to speed at all on video cards, so I really have no idea of the one I've included. It will be used for projection temporarily, but that's not the main concern. I just don't want to spend more than $150 on video.
    I also thought about using SCSI HD's, but that would put me so far over budget that I think I'll drop that off the wish list.

    Any suggestions from the recording gurus out there? I know there are machines that are made for this, but I want something PC based for familiarities sake. And for $$ sake, I don't want to get into too much professional or specialty equipment. Just something that I can make good single track recordings with and play back A/V files and DVD's.
     
  2. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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    Mike,

    Any reason to have both CDRW and DVDRW?
    DVD recorders can also burn music/audio/data CD's, so you shouldn't need both. That might save you $40 or $50.

    Also, I'm guessing the LCD monitor will run you about $250. You can get a 15" CRT monitor for about half that price, or a decent 17" CRT for around $175. This could free up some more $$$ for a faster processor or a bigger hard drive (or a second hard drive).
     
  3. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    I'm not decided on a DVDRW yet. That was kind of an afterthough, but since some of the lower and mid end drives have come down below $200, I thought it wouldn't hurt.
    As for having 2 drives....biggest reason is that the CD-RW would get used quite a bit, and most DVD/CD writers are fairly slow on CD burning. Of the DVD drives I've seen, about the fastest CD burning is 24x. For $30 I can get a 52 or 56x CD writer. I'd rather spend a few extra bucks and get a fast CD writer.

    As for the monitor, LCD is really a needed feature. The booth that I'll be using it in is very cramped, and a CRT monitor would take about half the free desktop space that I have available. An LCD could be hung on the wall and not take up any desktop space.
     
  4. JasonRuiz

    JasonRuiz Auditioning

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    I doubt any of the tasks you want it to do wouldn't suffice with 512megs DDR...of course with memory prices the way they are, it'd only save you $80-$140 (depending on the type of memory you buy (I like the Corsair XMS memory myself, it runs a bit more but it's extremly fast...I used to buy whatever generic memory I could find, when I built my new setup, I decided to splurge, and I could tell the differance fast memory made) Everything else seems pretty right in line. DVD-RW drives are nice but as you've observed they're extremly slow at cdrw tasks so it's good you added on in. I'd go to a site like Pricewatch.com if your building the computer yourself, it tracks th eprices from several vendors and you can find great deals there. You can get into a DVD-RW drive for a little over $100. If your dealing with a lot of uncompressed audio you might appreciate the extra capacity of DVD-R especially if the stuff your recording runs a long time. As you don't seem to plan on gaming on this machine, I think you might want to reconsider your choice on video cards. The GeForce4 MX doesn't excel at 3d duties as it lacks the pixel and vertex shaders found on the other cards, but in it's place it has a TV encoder and full MPEG2 decode processing engine with iDCT (generally only found on ATI cards). Geforce4 and 5000 series cards off load these duties to the CPU. For 2d applications and playing video these cards are great and can be picked up really cheap (less than half of what you've budgeted for video).
     
  5. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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  6. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Audio recording on a single track could be done on a Pentium 1, everything you have is essentially overkill. SCSI hard drives would be absolutely insane overkill.

    With the system above and a good card you could multitrack record probably at 16 tracks!



    There are MANY schools of thought that say if burning audio cds you should never burn this fast anyway.

    My biggest statement would be to cut corners where you can and add a second 120 gig HD, Office Depot has the Maxtor 120s with the 8 meg cache for $64!

    The horsepower for simple audio will be a non issue-- I have a system half as nice doing commercial recording production for multitrack recording and film-- to playback a stereo feed and record a stereo feed- this proposed system will be WAY more than enough!!
     
  7. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, I'd rather spend a couple of hundred extra $$ and have some overkill and have it be adequate for other tasks as well. What other tasks I don't know, but you know how you "figure" you'll never do this and that, and then you do.

    Plus, it'll be better suited for any future OS as well.

    I agree with not burning at 52x. I have a 40x personally, and the only time I've ever used that speed is with burning data discs. I usually use 24x for audio and have never had any bad discs or errors. I'd rather have the speed and not need it.

    I'm doing single track recording now, but down the road (once we're in a new building with a new audio system) I will be doing multi track. Nothing insane...maybe 6 or 8 tracks. Mixing instrument groups and vocals. But I don't see using it for much more.
     
  8. JasonRuiz

    JasonRuiz Auditioning

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    THe 5200 is a grest into gaming card, but if you aren't planning on doing gaming I don't see why you'd opt for a 5200 over an MX440 which has onboard hardware MPEG-II decoding w/iDCT. The 5200 offloads these duties to your cpu...which your cpu can handle, but why not save the cash and spend it on more HD space? or that DVD-burner...I also think you'll quickly find single track recording won't be very accpetable (my feeling is it's kinda like taking a cassete recorder, and hooking hooking a microphone to it0...multitrack recording isn't very hard once you learn the basics, and with the money you save from going to a 5200 to a MX440 and possibly cutting mem down to 512mb, you can invest it in setting up a multitrack recording system. The set-up you have is overkill, I can do everything you want to on my old overclocked celeron (927mhz) fine. The way you have it set up your wasting most of the machine anyway,which is kinda pointless with the way the computer industry is anyway. I bought my GeForce3 Ti500, despite it's relatively high, and it was obsolete within 6months. Sure it'll do a pretty good job doing 3d, but it's left in the dust by the 5200 which cost around 1/3 the price. Buy only as much machine as you need, if you find you need to upgrade in the future, do it then, there's really no way to "buy more now so you won't have to upgrade later".
     
  9. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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  10. Jeff Braddock

    Jeff Braddock Second Unit

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    RE: "Buy only as much machine as you need, if you find you need to upgrade in the future, do it then, there's really no way to "buy more now so you won't have to upgrade later."

    I agree with this to an extent, but remember, this isn't just his personal machine. I know some churches are reluctant, for whatever reason, to vote to spend money on things like this sometimes. Of course this may not be an issue at Mike's present church and/or they may have stuff like this budgeted in, but it is just something to keep in mind.

    Just my $.02
     
  11. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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  12. Jeff Braddock

    Jeff Braddock Second Unit

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    yeah, thats where it is good to have a good budget system, though even if they had x amount budgeted for technology or something like that, spending this much money would almost certainly require a vote. Getting the ok on this could be difficult, especially if there are many older people in the congregation. (Of course getting the pastor behind the deal would probably help too... :) )
     
  13. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    Well, I have the backing of the pastor and music minister, so I know they'll OK it. They just have to sell it to the budget committee.

    Thanks for all the help.
     
  14. JasonRuiz

    JasonRuiz Auditioning

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    Since chances are you won't be able replace the machine for years, your right you should buy as much machine as you can, but I still wouldn't reccomend the fx5200 video cared for the purposes you need, unless you plan on doing 3d work and/or gaming in the future, for your purposes, I'd look into either the Geforce4 MX440, or one of the ATI cards, the ATI cards will give you better perofrmance than the MX card, and it's got the onboard decoder and iDCT among other features that come in helpful when dealing with using it with a projecotr. You can pick up an ATI Radeon 8500 for under $100 or a Radeon 9200 for under $130...I really wouldn't get the 9000 because it's a stripped down version of the 8500...I'd allocate as much as you can for harddrive space, for a couple of reasons A) it's the most reusable of the componants, I've been able to reuse harddrives way after the rest of my componants were just too outdated, when you finally do get to replace things, you can stull find use for your harddrives (I've been able to find use for a 20gig harddrive I bought several years ago...even though it's kinda small by todays standards, it's still big enough to be useful)...b) you can never have too much harddrive space. Since you aren't going to be able to upgrade (at least in the forseeable future) you never know if you'll end up needing a massive amount of space for a project...I know you can always backup stuff to CD (or dvd) but, sometimes you need to be able to access stuff on a harddrive. I know 120gig may seem a lot now but in a year or so it may seem kinda crammped. When I first bought a 120mB (yes MB not GB) harddrive "back in the day", I thought I'd never need another HD, after all I had all this space, right??? well after a year or so I found myself needing more and more space, buy it now if you aren't going to be able to get more. c) unlike other parts, your HD space cannot be 'negotiated"...(I'm trying to figure the best way to word this...so forgive me for misusing words)...what I mean is, as your PC gets dated, it may or may not be able to run the newest software. Lets say the next version of "insert your favorite app" requires a P5 9ghz cpu (yeah I'm making that one up) you won't be able to use it but chances are you'll be able to make do with your current version, lett's say same app will run on your current configuration but you'll need 80gig of free space, well if you have a lot of HD space, you'll have the option of running it. Dated machines can still be useful if you don't run the most current version of software (I have an early p2-400 that runs fine with NT4.0 or 2000, Office 97, programs like photoshop5.0 etc....I don't need it because I'm able to upgrade, but if that wasn't a choice, I'd find it's entirely functional as long as I don't try to push the latest software (with thier bloated requirements) on them. As a long time user of Office, I can honestly say with things like MS Office, I think the newer versions are way too bloated. I really liked Office97, it did everything I wanted it too and more, as it got updated to Office2000 and now OfficeXP, the requirements it needs to run have risen sharply, and all it's done is make it so complicated, with so many useless features, that it's not even funny (I've been seriuosly considering uninstalling OfficeXP and reinstalling Office97, it seems as my computers have gotten faster, the bloated requiremnts have stripped them of all performance gains...Office97 loads faster on slower machines than XP does on my XP2000+ (actually faster than that 'cause of it's slight OC) Since I don't need all the new "features" many of which are a pain in the ... not to mention they're much more buggy than my older versions, why put up with them just so I can say I have the newest version???? So while your machine can still be useful in years running older software, it won't be if you run out of space on your harddrive(s). You can fiddle with a computers software configuration to keep it funtiontional on your hardware, you can't change the need for storage space. It's independent of your software. D)When you are able to upgrsde, your harddrive is the hardest part. Let's say three years from now you find you need a new feature found on a new videocard. Let's say you get permission to get it. Well you just get the videocard, and assuming thier stull using AGP then you just swap it out. No big problem. Let's say you need more memory, same deal....with most parts it won't be more difficult than a simple adding or swapping of hardware, but with your harddrvie, you'll find it's a big pain. You can only have "x" amount of drives usually 4 on an IDE system, 2 of those are taken by your optical drives one at least is taken by your current harddrive, and if you get a second harddrive then your full. or if you have one open you'll be able to add one drive. IF you are full you'll have to transfer all the contents from your current drive(s) to the new one, which isn't always the easiest thing. Out of all the taks associated with upgrading a PC I hate dealing with new harddrives the most. I think a good rhumb is think of all the hardrive space you'll think you'll ever possibly need, then double it, and that's the min. hardrive space you should get.
     
  15. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Hey Jason- try breaking your posts into paragraphs- makes it a lot more readable.

    -Vince
     
  16. Jeff Braddock

    Jeff Braddock Second Unit

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    Mike,
    I was not suggesting that the pastor wasn't behind the project. I was simply stating that many times reluctant congregations (or committees, whatever applies to you) are swayed largely if a pastor or other leader is strongly behind a project. Sorry for any misunderstanding.
     
  17. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    I notice that you haven't budgeted for software anywhere.

    If it takes pulling eye-teeth to get the church to approve spending on anything, you should budget some money for a CD burning program (e.g., the PC equivalent of Toast), and for sound editors (stereo, multitrack), from the start.

    I don't see mention of a printer anywhere here. There is an inkjet that can print to the surfaces of special CD-Rs or to paper; which might let you put something like a photo of the church and the date of the service on the CDs.
     
  18. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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  19. Jeff Savage

    Jeff Savage Second Unit

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    Try checking out this thread over on the Klipsch Forum Board. Dave Mallet has done lots of experimenting with live recording using a PC and would be a great resource for you. He is also a memeber of this forum but does not post much here.

    Link on Klipsch Forum

    Laters,
    Jeff
     
  20. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    I'll check that out.

    One more question....After recording a service, I'll wind up with a 30-45 minute wav file. It's no problem to burn the single file to disc, but it would be helpful for the end user to insert cue points say every 5 minutes, just to give a way to skip forward or backward without ff or rw. Any programs or burning suites that you can specify to insert a cue every X minutes?
     

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