Help Me Build a New Protools Computer!
February 28, 2014 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I need help designing a new PC for Protools 11.

I'm starting to exhaust my computer when it comes to Protools 11. I keep running into CPU errors and it's time for me to make an upgrade.

Currently I'm running Windows 7 on an AMD Athlon X2 255 3.10, with 16gigs of RAM. Using a cheapo Komplete Audio 6 external interface.

I'd like to build a new computer myself, which i know how to do, i'm just not very knowledgeable when it comes to knowing which hardware is more suited for my needs.

I'm thinking that I'd like to run a dual CPU mobo, with at least 16 gigs of ram and a very high RPM HDD that's quiet. I've got my files on an external USB 2.0 drive, since i've read that you get better performance that way.

I'd love suggestions on mobo/CPU combos, external interface suggestions (looking to get a nice 8 channel tube one) internal sound cards, quiet hdds, powersupplies and heatsinks.

I've budgeted 10 grand for my new studio. I was planning on spending 2k for the comp, 1-2k for the tube interface (rack), compressor (rack) and the rest on some VIs i want (EWQL) and mics.

Any suggestions or references to material that might aid me would be greatly appreciated.
posted by hiddenknives to Technology (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
A multi-cpu setup will limit your CPU and motherboard choices and my experience has been that affordable multi-socket motherboards can be more flaky than single socket motherboards. If you need a lot of cores, you can get a 4 Ghz, 8 core AMD cpu for less than $400, and with all the cores on a single die you'll get better performance between them.

I'm not sure where you heard that keeping files on an external USB 2.0 drive would be faster, but that's pretty much wrong. My desktop uses a Velociraptor 10k drive and it is great. Not as fast as an SSD but much more storage space per dollar and very reliable. You probably should consider building a RAID array to avoid losing work between backups.

You might also want to browse around and even ask the same question on reddit.
posted by Poldo at 2:36 PM on February 28, 2014


Okay, there's a lot of different things at play here. First: The PC.

You don't want a dual CPU system. Trust us on this. Get a single, fast multicore CPU. You can get the Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz for $330 or so. An ASUS Z87 mobo will do you fine. Sabertooth series maybe.

16GB of ram is fine. You're honestly probably never actually going to use that much but it's cheap and YOLO so go for it.

'Quiet' and 'High RPM' very rarely go together. And there's really no reason at all to go with a quiet-ish high RPM drive for your OS and apps when you can get an SSD which is totally silent. Something like a Samsung or Crucial 256GB. Then, get a Hitachi Ultrastar 2TB 7200RPM SATA drive for all your samples and music storage. You will not get better performance via USB2. You will get much worse performance.

A RAID array is mentioned above but RAID is not a backup solution and if you should not use it as such. Use an online backup system like Crashplan that will mail you a 1TB 'seed' drive to start your backup with, and will do automatic online incremental backups from there.

For a case get the Fractal Design Define R4 or a similar case that is not a 'gaming' case but is actually design to reduce vibration and sound. You might want to replace the case fans with something a bit quieter. You'll want a quiet PSU also, Fractal R3 or Seasonic Platinum. 600W should be fine.

That should all come in under $2000.

Now for the interface:

You don't want a tube interface. You really don't. The point of an interface is to accurately record and transmit audio. A tube interface that 'warms up' your music is colouring the audio which defeats the entire purpose. It'd be like getting monitor speakers that have Sony Xplod Megabass. That's not what monitor speakers are for. That's not what an interface is for.

If you want an 8-channel rack interface, maybe look at the MOTU 8pre or 828mk3 Hybrid, depending on exactly what you're going to be using it to record. You might not need a lot of preamps or you might need a lot of optical connections or whatever. Both of those are well under $1k.

I know you didn't ask, but how much have you spent on your room? You're spending a lot of money on gear which is fine, but if you're spending $10k you should consider putting 10-20% of that towards making sure your room has all of the bass traps, diffusors, and whatever else it needs.

The Gearslutz Forums have a subforum dedicated to studio computers, and you can get a lot of great advice on builds there.
posted by Jairus at 4:18 PM on February 28, 2014


Basically came here to say everything Jairus already said in regards to the PC part of this equation, that is, get a single, fast multicore CPU, plenty of RAM, an SSD and a large internal drive for storage. Also, USB2 is quite possibly the worst-performing data link you can use in this day and age. You might find your current setup is improved (barring the CPU errors) by moving your stuff onto an internal SATA drive.
posted by Aleyn at 4:25 PM on February 28, 2014


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