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.So my computer is in the process of getting less and less useable. Therefore I'm thinking of getting a new one and now for the first time considering my music making needs in bying that. Since it's my first time with getting a computer especially for these needs, I'm pretty much a noob with the terminology, but from what i gathered a lot of ram seems to be important with hugely sample based music. But besides from that I don't really know, what I have to take into consideration, except also a big harddrive (or an external one for that matter) for the samples.

What are your experiences with pc setups and what has worked for you?

Also another question, while it might not be the right forum: I would like to record guitars, bass and vocals from time to time trough an extern Audio USB Interface. What do I have to consider in the parts of the pc to not always record the PC noises. Or is that cancelled out be using an extern Audio Interface?

Thanks in Advance
Viktor

PS: Might better belong into the Noob Zone considering my generell knowledge?
Also I'm using Reaper right now and Sampletank3 with Miroslav CE and all the classical freebies everyone is using. The projects I'm doing right now are usally around 50 tracks.
Welcome aboard, Viktor! Smile

As to computer hardware, a CPU that's an i5 or greater typically suffices, especially for conventional sample-based orchestral productions. An i5, in my experience, lets you run plenty of sampler instances and several reverb instances without breaking a sweat.

If you're running low-to-mid level libraries, your best bet is to focus on RAM over solid state drives. An SSD can be helpful, but most samplers load the samples into RAM on the fly so the benefits of faster disk access aren't that significant. If you're using libs in the tens or hundreds of gigabytes (e.g. EWQL Hollywood series, Orchestral Tools Berlin series), an SSD does help a lot, as such vast amounts of samples often won't fit into RAM at once and will have to be streamed from disk during playback and recording.

In any case, an external hard drive with a copy of REAPER, your sample libs, plugins, and project files backed up is a good idea. If your main computer breaks, you'll be able to pick up your work the moment you get a new computer. Smile

As to a USB interface, be sure to check out plenty of user reviews. Placing the interface box away from the computer helps with the noises in most cases, and your recording booth should in any case be some distance away from the computer. For a low-cost basic multi-purpose interface, my own recommendation is the Presonus Audiobox USB. It's fully USB-powered, has two DI/line/mic/phantom inputs and is fairly low on noise.

I wouldn't consider this a strictly Noob Zone topic. That forum is mostly aimed towards people who are just getting started in concepts such as MIDI and digital audio. Wink
I second Otto's advice with regards to the computer- an i5 is typically plenty fine for most semi-recent libraries. I also agree that RAM is probably more important than a SSD. I recommend having at least 8 GB of RAM minimum so you have room to expand. Also explore the possibility of buying the RAM separately if you are buying from a computer manufacturer as it may be cheaper.

In my experience, external drives are slower and not as quickly accessed as internal drives via SATA, particularly large "archive" drives that are intended for long-term storage. I also recommend keeping your samples on a separate drive from the operating system. A common configuration is to use a small (and therefore cost effective) SSD as the operating system and programs drive, then a larger traditional hard drive (or several traditional hard drives) to store all the samples. I personally have not made the switch to SSD yet so I cannot personally say how big the improvement is.

Noise when recording is always present, but certain steps can be taken to mitigate it. The first and most important step is using a directional microphone. Nearly all entry-level and vocal microphones (Shure SM-57 or Rode NT1, for example) are directional by default. Directional microphones are less sensitive to noises that are behind them, and thus using these microphones and pointing them away from a noisy thing (window overlooking a street, annoying neighbor, computer with loud fans, etc.) will reduce noise considerably. I go a little crazy with noise prevention- I often temporarily unplug electronics such as refrigerators, turn off any incandescent lights nearby, and very carefully place microphones to avoid noise sources. I've even been known to disable battery powered clocks to make sure the ticking doesn't get picked up. Condenser microphones in my experience tend to have lower amounts of "self-noise", or noise introduced by the microphone itself, and "large diaphragm" condensers are less sensitive to upper frequencies, so they tend to seem less noisy (for example, the Rode NT1 has very low self noise and as a large diaphragm condenser, it tends to pick up less noise than dynamic microphones and small diaphragm condensers).

A good pre-amp will help reduce noise, but only to a certain extent. Despite the technology dating back to the 30's, vacuum-tube based preamps are typically better at reducing noise in a signal than modern solid state or transistor-based preamps, and are still commonly made. For example, I often carry around a tube-based preamp made by ART called the Tube MP (it's about $49 here in the U.S.)- the microphone XLR cable goes in and a 1/4" (somtimes called a "patch" or "instrument" cable) runs from the Tube MP into my Focusrite Scarlett audio interface, I turn up the input as high as I can without getting too much "saturation", then turn down the output until it is comfortably reaching into the yellow but not the red on the input in my DAW. The idea is to have the Tube MP, which can produce more gain (increase in volume) with less noise than the solid state preamps in the Scarlett can, do more "lifting" so all the Scarlett has to do is a little "lifting" and then the conversion from analog to digital, which it is very good at (virtually all interfaces are very good at converting nowadays).

As an example, I was once using a ribbon microphone a friend lent me, but there was an awful ton of noise in the sound when I just plugged it straight into the Scarlett, but then we sent it through the Tube MP and the noise totally vanished. The important thing to remember is that it wasn't making the noise necessarily go away, it was simply avoiding the noise that resulted from using transistors to add gain, so the louder the source is, the less difference between the noise from a tube preamp versus a transistor based preamp.

Sometimes noise can be introduced as a result of electromagnetic emissions. For example, a nearby power transformer or a lot of tangled cables can result in extra unwanted noise. Never have coiled audio cables right next to coiled power cables when they are both in operation, and try to keep things like power transformers away from audio interfaces. Whenever using microphones, it is best to use XLR (three-pronged) type cables instead of 1/4" cables. If using 1/4" cables, use the shortest amount possible that safely lies with "slack" on the floor (so that it is not a tripping hazard or puts stress on connectors from being stretched).

Some people believe in gold cables or fancy high-end cables, but these only work if the entire signal flow (the path the audio signal takes from the microphone or pickup to the converters in the audio interface) is made using gold, which is not common, so this is typically not a particularly intelligent idea (although Radio Shack will make you believe it is- and charge 5x as much as a result).

The truth is, equipment only goes so far. Good recording technique and a good space to record in are much much more important. Learning to "treat" a room for recording by using rugs, furniture, bookshelves, and possibly wall hangings to absorb or deflect sound so it doesn't bounce and create unpleasant reverberations is the deciding factor between a professional recording and something no recording engineer would want to touch, as explained by voice actor RicePirate-
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/590285

Best of luck! Smile
I don't know if I'm qualified to comment on this as I've been on the same system since 2010, an Athlon II X4 with 8GB RAM, which still works great for my needs so I haven't really been keeping up with what's going on on the hardware front. The only real bottleneck on my system is the RAM, which I will be upgrading to 16 gigs sometime next week. I have also yet to get myself an SSD but if I can find some good Black Friday deal, I am planning on getting one later this month. These upgrades will hopefully get me a couple more years of use out of this machine, something which would have been unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago.

My point is, the days when you needed to upgrade your machine every two to three years are definitely over. Anything manufactured in the last five or six years that isn't some feature-cut, down-clocked, low budget thingy should have more than enough oomph to run even fairly complex projects. It's possible to find a fully capable DAW system for peanuts these days, if you consider looking on the used market. Computers in general have become so powerful that you don't have to worry as much about whether they will run X or Y as you used to.

But yeah, RAM is important. Get as much of it as you can afford even if you're not planning on running any huge RAM-hungry libraries. It's better to have too much than too little, who knows what you might need a couple of years down the line.

It should be mentioned that real time processing of audio (at least on Windows) is by its nature single threaded and can not be distributed over multiple cores. So if you're planning on doing a lot of live playing/processing -- virtual instruments played on controllers, amp sims and fx on live inputs etc -- it's advisable to choose a higher CPU speed over a larger number of cores. If you can afford having both then great, just a heads up.

Good luck with your computer purchase and please keep us posted Smile
An interesting side note, in regard to the power of modern computers: over the last couple of weeks I've been playing TES IV: Oblivion on my ASUS X401U notebook. Oblivion may be a 2006 game, but back when it was released it was really pushing the envelope in terms of graphics and was virtually unplayable on my stationary machine purchased in 2005. I could get like 12 FPS out of it on the lowest settings, if that. Nowadays I can play Oblivion on mid to high settings with a perfectly acceptable frame rate on a lowest of the low type of machine like the X401U. Come to think of it, Oblivion would probably run fine on my smart phone if it were ported to Android.

So yeah, hardware has come a long way in recent years. I don't think software -- not even games -- has really begun to tap into all that processing power. Whereas a decade ago it was the other way around; you needed to keep upgrading and upgrading to stay ahead of what was happening in software.
Wow, thanks to all of you for you're detailed answers and the warm welcome! There is a lot in whatyou guys have written and I feel like i have more an aiming point regarding mydecision. Though I got a bit more detailed questions.

Otto and Samulis, you guys both mentioned using a CPU like the Intel i5. After a bit of redundent searching it seemed to me, that there are really different generations of the i5 (seems pretty weird to me, since the i5 seems like a generationtag to begin with). So my questionwould be to which generation are you guys refering? Or if you're using such a CPU in your systems, which one do you use?

(11-06-2016, 01:56 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]It should be mentioned that real time processing of audio (at least on Windows) is by its nature single threaded and can not be distributed over multiple cores. So if you're planning on doing a lot of live playing/processing -- virtual instruments played on controllers, amp sims and fx on live inputs etc -- it's advisable to choose a higher CPU speed over a larger number of cores. If you can afford having both then great, just a heads up.

Damn, yeah, thats the kind of information, I'm searching for. Is that knowledge you just collected over the years or is there by any chance a neatly put together guide? I found a lot on the internet on that topic, but must of it, was really basic and more a list of hardware that was being recommended.

Thank you Samulis for giving really detailed description of a proper recording. I've been in bands for so long and still there is some basic stuff I never really came across, like puting a tube amp in front of the interface. (I really wish I would have come across that newgrounds video earlier, i knew that my records were messed up, but I could never pin down, why...) While I gotta say I will most likely make the most heavy use of the line in, recording the guitar direct and using Amp Simulators in the DAW as Mattias kind of described it. But that can't of course not be done with vocals, so I'm glad about that information. The Focusrite Scarlett striked me as nice and reasonably priced, from what i gathered so far, while I haven't heard anything about the Presonus Audiobox USB, I gotta take a look at that. I also heard M-Audio did put out a really nice interface lately. Reading a lot of reviews is probably the way to go.

Thanks a lot for the answers again, have a good one
(11-07-2016, 02:33 AM)Viktor Wrote: [ -> ]While I gotta say I will most likely make the most heavy use of the line in, recording the guitar direct and using Amp Simulators in the DAW

Actually, you're going to need an inteface with a Hi-Z instrument input. Unless your guitars have active pickups you can't plug them into a line in, there will be an impedance mismatch and terrible signal quality.

Of course, you could put a buffered pedal (anything really, it doesn't need to be on) between the guitar and line in jack. A good Hi-Z input is always best though.
As to i5, I'm not sure which generation would be a recommended minimum for MIDI projects. The system I use for music is an early 2011 MacBook Pro, so anything newer than that should probably have you covered. Smile