Be forewarned, this is an overwhelming and lengthy post. The great thing about this forum is that it is frequented by lots of knowledgeable and talented people who are willing to give their time, opinions, and assistance for free. It also contains many great problem solving minds, and I hope that there are a few problem solvers out there who could lend me a hand in making some decisions. Operating under the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing (and I have a little knowledge), I’m looking to find someone with a lot of knowledge, so that I don’t go off and make a mess of things and end up spending lots of money buying or building something that won’t suit my needs, or won’t work. Thanks in advance to all those that reply.
I’d like some help. I pre-ordered GPO before EWQLSO (Silver) was announced, but I may end up buying EWQLSO (Silver), too. I’d like some advice on whether I should upgrade my present system, buy a new one, or take the plunge and build a new one.
My objective is twofold:
First, I want to run as many instances of GPO and/or EWQLSO (Silver) as is required to realize large orchestrations in real time (I’m talking an orchestra the size of the one employed in Stravinsky’s “The Rites of Spring”) and capture the performance to .wav or any other format that will allow me to burn a CD of the finished composition.
Second, I want to convert my old Akai, EMU, and Kurzweil sound libraries to Kontakt or Giga format, so that I can sell the hardware sampler I own.
Third, of course, I’m also looking for the cheapest way to get the job done.
Here’s my present system:
Dell Dimension 8100: P4 1.5 Ghz, 400 FSB; Dell motherboard with Socket W (it is only upgradable to P4 2.0, and Dell “recommends” it not be upgraded); 256 MB Rambus PC 600 memory (two 128 MB sticks); M-Audio Audiophile Delta 24/96 soundcard; DVD and CD-RW drives, and ATI Radeon Rage 6 graphics card w/ 32 MB ram; Windows ME.
My sequencer is a dinosaur: Cakewalk professional 3.0. I haven’t had a use for DAW. The sequencer functions are more than enough for me, and the application itself takes little memory to run. I have been using my computer purely as a sequencer, triggering an EMU E-Synth keyboard and recording the outputs of that to tape when I finish compositions. I’ll be selling my E-Synth shortly.
I just installed Gigastudio 160 on my computer, but have not played with it too much yet. I understand that it has a capture to .wav function so that you can turn your real time compositions into .wav files and then convert them to burn your music onto CD. I haven’t tried this feature yet.
The way I see it, my alternatives are as follows:
The first alternative is to upgrade the RAM in my present system to 768 MB for $172 by buying two sticks of 256 MB and installing them along with the two 128 MB sticks in there now. This is the cheapest price I’ve found, and the memory has to be replaced in pairs. Alternatively, I could spend $344 and buy four sticks of 256 MB to upgrade to 1 GB, but I’d be wasting the sticks in there now. I could also replace the processor to a P4 2.0 GHz for about $120 if the one I’ve got now won’t do the job. All told, I’m looking at $172 on the low end here and $464 on the high end. But I don’t know whether upgrading my present system will bring it up to a point that it will do what I want to accomplish.
The second alternative is to buy a machine and network the two together. I’m not sure what is involved in this. Do I need to install network cards on the systems, or is there another way to do this? I also do not know what I should be looking for in a new system regarding system requirements for accomplishing what I want to do. I’ve read that GPO will run well with 1 GB of RAM and a P4 2.0 processor, but is this enough to realize a large orchestration? My thought was that I could buy a cheaper system (just the computer), run GPO or EWQLSO (Silver) on one and Gigastudio 160 on my old system. I’ve got a Sony dual input monitor, so both machines could be displayed. If I networked the machines, could I then use the same keyboard controller (thinking about getting an M-Audio Radium 61), same keyboard/mouse, and same speakers/soundcard?
The third option is to build a system. I have never done this before, but feel capable of doing it. I’ve done some research, and it seems that Athlon processors (like the XP 2600+ Barton Core) give you more bang for the buck than P4 processors. I’ve also read a lot about the ASUS A7N8X Deluxe motherboard, which everyone seems to like.. If I build, the components come out to something like this: ASUS mobo: $110; Athlon XP 2600+ Barton: $120; DDR RAM (what kind do I need? How much of it? 1GB; 1.5 GB; 2.0 GB); case, fans, and power supply; HD; DVD drive (because EWQLSO- Silver only comes on DVD); CD-RW drive (or combo DVD CD drive). I won’t need a sound card or video card because the ASUS has onboard sound and video, which I understand are good. If the machines were networked, would I not even need to install a DVD or CD drive? Am I talking about merely building a machine that consists of a motherboard/processor/RAM and hard drive?
I’m not sure what this system would cost to build, because I’m not sure what components I’d need. However, I estimate it has to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $600-700, without the $100 it would cost to get Windows XP. I could have this system dedicated solely to running GPO and/or EWQLSO (Silver) and use my current computer to just surf the web.
Of course, the fourth option is to build a scaled down machine with a less expensive motherboard and slower processor and have both the new machine and the Dell networked to achieve the result I’m looking for.
Added to all this, my understanding from reading the posts on the NS forum is that the version of Kontakt that comes with GPO and EWQLSO (Silver) does not allow one to load, edit, or “tweak” the sounds. Does this mean that I would need to buy the full version of Kontakt if I want to import and edit my old sample libraries? If so, this appears to be another $399 expense. If I just keep GigaStudio 160 on my old Dell system, I could import the sounds there and edit them with the Giga-Editor. I do understand however, that the synthesis engine in Kontakt is supposed to be much more extensive than Giga.
While we’re on the subject, what would be the best program to convert Akai, EMU, and Kurzweil sounds to Giga and Kontakt format: CD Extract or Chickensys Translator? I’ve heard good things about both, and they seem to be evenly priced at about $130 to $140.
What would you recommend?
What would you do? Build, buy, or upgrade? If the answer is build, please help me out by specifying the components you would use and the software you would buy, given the objectives I have set forth above.
There’s my \"dilemma.\" Probably way too many questions for one post, but they are all things I am considering. For anyone that has read this far. Thanks for reading. If anyone wants to tackle all or some of the questions in this post, I’d love to hear from you. I imagine that the post is relevant, since GPO, EWQLSO, and VSL have now opened the doors to realizing orchestral music to many people like myself: hobbyists with limited time and a limited budget who feel overwhelmed by the choices and extremely excited by the possibilities. Thanks again to all those that reply.
Okay, there is a lot there, let me tell you what I can.
I also have a DELL, I have a custom built Dimension 8250 Pentium 4 2.4Ghz w/ 533Mhz FSB, 768MB of RDRAM PC1066 with two enormus hard-drives, DVD+RW and lots of other fun toys (I\'m a Graphic Designer when I\'m not composing so I also have latest video cards, Flat-Panel LCD monitor and all that other garb.) The point of all that is that I got all of the above a year ago from DELL for $1500... you could probably get a lot more for less right now, so I would not upgrade your currant system as you could buy new for a lower cost and lower annoyance level.
I would link the two systems, and run GIGA on the older system as it sounds like you want to run GPO and possibly EWQL Silver more often than not, these should go on the new then... Can you currant version of Cakewalk access VSTi\'s?
I haven\'t tried to system link yet, so hopefully someone else can chime in to help you out there, but I have seen a lot of cheap solutions (FX Teleport, Steinberg\'s VSTack).
You should be able to get a good feel for the price of a system that you\'re looking for by customizing one from dell.com, but then call and order and play ignorant to the price, keep the one from online in the back of your head and compare with what they give you on the phone, they usually will cut you breaks when you talk to them in person. Just make sure you\'re getting what you need...
Even the lower models from Best Buy and that should suit GPO and EWQLS just fine, yo\'ll just need to plump up their RAM supply...
You can run large orchestrations using GPO with 1GB of RAM.
I reckon you\'d get the best bang for the buck by building a new system and adding some RAM to your old system then using FX teleport to split the load. I don\'t use FX teleport but many people here swear by it. Either way, your machine is okay; just a little more RAM to take it to 768 MB will enable to do lots of stuff. Networking means you won\'t need another sound card and you can network with a five dollar crossover cable.
You could just upgrade to 1 Gig on your old machine, but when you start adding new mobos etc, it starts to look expensive for a \'swap\'.
You\'ll have to get on the EW board and possibly post there to get Silver requirements. Always best to get the most that you can but I\'d expect a 1GB RAM machine would work fine for silver as well.
Remember that you can run large ochestrations in GPO in RAM. Switch on DFD and you can run even more.
I\'m not sure about actually tweaking any of this stuff outside of the interface that comes with each package; but you can do an awful lot of tweaking in the Kontakt/Kompakt based players.
Ideally (or maybe sub-ideally) you might want three hard disks; one for apps, one for streaming, and one for audio. But hard disks are very cheap right now (get one with the 8MB cache; they\'re usually around the same price anyway).
I think AMD is a very good buy right now. They\'ve released their 64-bit chips so prices for the rest are coming down (beware though, the high end 32-bit stuff is almost as expensive).
Regarding \'Rite of Spring\' dimensions; again check on the Garritan and EW boards in case there are \'player\' limitations. If this is the case then you might be better looking at one of the \'full\' NI apps.
You should be able to get a couple of 512MB \'name\' sticks for around $150-160 (maybe cheaper if you want to risk generic memory).
I don\'t think these suggestions are quite the cheapest, but this way you leverage what you\'ve already got (which isn\'t too bad at all).
You can get an AMD Barton 2800 (around 2.0GHz I think) for around $125-$150.
On DDR speed. I don\'t think it\'s that big a deal. Sure you can get the fastest stuff, but there are great deals nearer the lower end. Really you\'re after capacity rather than raw speed (it\'s always a $$$ tradeoff).
So 768MB in your old machine and 1GB in the new machine and you have a very powerful setup without even changing the chip or mobo on the old machine (you can always do that later when you know exactly where the weaknesses are in relation to your needs).
Look for quiet fans if you\'re building (you can look at quiet cases as well but I suspect there could be heat issues).
If you network, indeed, you can save a bundle on peripherals. XP will virtually do it for you (although it\'s best to learn a bit about it as well, in case things go amiss later - and automatically assigned IP addresses can take forever for machines to find.)
No idea on the translator. There is a forum here for it. Kontakt translates also but I can\'t comment on anything except a giga to Kontakt that I did and it worked flawlessly (again, so many variants to think about but another opportunity to save/spend money).
I\'m also a fan of the multi-PC approach. Upgrade the RAM on your current machine and use it to it\'s fullest, then take your time in building buying your next one. If you run out of horsepower, get the 2nd computer sooner.
A good money saver is to get a KVM. That way you don\'t need another keyboard, mouse and monitor. And you can access both computers from the comfort of your favorite chair.