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Topic: Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

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  1. #1

    Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

    As another Mac user about to take the PC/Giga plunge, I am hoping to clear some of the webs of confusion enveloping me at the moment. I humbly beg the group's indulgence.

    I spent more than an hour on the phone with a Sweetwater rep, trying to put together a workable system. I needed aspirins afterward.

    First issue: the computer. Obviously I want a real good computer for the job. Sweetwater recommended one called Music XPC which was "specifically designed" for music use. The price was $2,700. Without going into the specs, is that, just on its face, a ridiculous amount to pay? I know some of the forum members build their own. Not gonna happen here.

    Next issue: I run Digital Performer on my Macintosh. I will be using the PC with Gigastudio 3 and a sound card to be determined (perhaps M-Audio Firewire 410). I will use Giga for, among other things, Garritan Orch Strings, and, as appears necessary, Kontact for Garritan Personal Orchestra. The PC would be used as an external sampler. It would be used just like any other external sound module, controlled from, and recorded back into, DP. Are there any special issues I should be aware of in this regard?

    I've been told that Giga Studio and Kontact, though different platforms, can be compatible on the same PC with the same sound card. But since Giga and Kontact are separate applications, how do I use them efficiently on a project that requires both GOS and GPO? Will the soundcard allow this? Would I need to be constantly switching between Giga and Kontact? Would this be more trouble than it's worth?

    Regarding the sound card: I'm looking for one with great audio quality, GSIF 2 compatibility, and, apparently, multi-client ability(?), hopefully in the $400 price range. Any suggestions?

    Neither I nor the Sweetwater rep were entirely clear on how the various aspects of all this can be made to work together harmoniously. Any help, insight, or direction would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

    Richard

  2. #2

    Re: Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

    Quote Originally Posted by remmet

    First issue: the computer. Obviously I want a real good computer for the job. Sweetwater recommended one called Music XPC which was "specifically designed" for music use. The price was $2,700. Without going into the specs, is that, just on its face, a ridiculous amount to pay? I know some of the forum members build their own. Not gonna happen here.
    you can build a computer for a lot less than that, but part of what you are paying for from one of these companies is an out of the box "turnkey" solution (hopefully). for my first giga pc, i researched the parts and had a local computer shop assemble it for the price of the parts. this machine is still chugging along fine. for my second one, i tried this again, and had nothing but trouble with the machine, and basically ended up replacing the mobo/ram/processor. fwiw, i built a machine awhile back (being careful not to scrimp on parts) and it's working perfectly. so basically, you can do it a lot cheaper, but that route is fraught with peril, especially if you don't know what you're doing and/or have deadlines looming.

    Quote Originally Posted by remmet
    Next issue: I run Digital Performer on my Macintosh. I will be using the PC with Gigastudio 3 and a sound card to be determined (perhaps M-Audio Firewire 410). I will use Giga for, among other things, Garritan Orch Strings, and, as appears necessary, Kontact for Garritan Personal Orchestra. The PC would be used as an external sampler. It would be used just like any other external sound module, controlled from, and recorded back into, DP. Are there any special issues I should be aware of in this regard?
    will your connections be analogue or digital? one of the things you want to look for in a sound card is low latency driver performance. i don't know if a firewire solution will give the best performance in this regard. i'd stick with a tried and true card like a wavecenter pci or and rme card.

    Quote Originally Posted by remmet
    I've been told that Giga Studio and Kontact, though different platforms, can be compatible on the same PC with the same sound card. But since Giga and Kontact are separate applications, how do I use them efficiently on a project that requires both GOS and GPO? Will the soundcard allow this? Would I need to be constantly switching between Giga and Kontact? Would this be more trouble than it's worth?
    i've never tried this myself, but i'm certain you wouldn't get optimal performance with both apps running simultaneously. they're both demanding on system resources. this sort of thing is also inviting trouble imho.

    hope this helps,
    john
    John DeBorde

    Composer of Music for Film, TV and Interactive Media

  3. #3

    Re: Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

    Thanks very much for your response. Regarding sound cards, is there a general consensus that firewire cards offer lesser performance than PCI cards?

    Richard

  4. #4

    Re: Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Blaske
    If you've got $2,700 to spend, and you're not game to roll up your sleeves and immerse yourself in the PC world to see what it's really about, buy a screamer G5. Either that, or find yourself a local guru to build and maintain your machines. Making a "music" PC for GS isn't THAT mysterious. Get a fast P4, an ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe MOBO, two SATA drives in RAID 0 configuration (hook them up to the ICH5R bus on the ASUS, and get big drives if you plan on guying lots of libraries), one IDE system drive (80 GB should be fine), a DVD-R drive, 2 GB of memory, a video card, a nice rack-mount server case, install Windows, do the tweaks in the Dave Casey .pdf (on Tascam's site) and you're golden.
    Wow! Thanks Lee! I originally intended to get a young tech guy to build this for me, but as soon as he asked "How do you want it built and what EXACTLY do you want in it?" I had no good answer. So I appreciate this roadmap. Is there anything else of a specific nature you can think of that I or the tech guy will need to know? For instance, what type/brand of video card, cd and dvd rom drives, etc? XP Home or Pro?

    What would you estimate is a reasonable price for doing it this way?

    At some point I'll replace my old Mac with a top of the line model, but that's for another time.

    Thanks again.
    Richard

  5. #5

    Re: Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

    In reply to #6:

    Lee - The computer Sweetwater recommended is listed here:
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PCCS34T/

    Richard

  6. #6

    Re: Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

    Lee Blaske gives some good advice, though I'd certainly opt to buy a PC so that you could take advantage of both platforms. My mixing engineer is a Mac guy running a G4 with a G5 for VIs, etc. and he is currently very excited about getting a PC to run GigaStudio since there are many libraries that are only avaible in that format or are availbe in that format earlier. Keep in mind that you have a lot more choices on the PC in terms of competing vendors than on the Mac for several of the system components. Your instincts seem fine as far as a soundcard though.

    I've had a fine experience with the lower-end M-Audio Audiophile 2496 and from what I hear you can expect similar performance with certain advantages from the 410. You pay a premium when you get an external soundcard as opposed to a PCI one but at this point performance differences aren't really an issue the vast majority of the time.

    As for your other question, I've had no problems running GigaStudio and all sorts of VIs on my system (e.g. Kontakt, EXS-24, etc.) using only the above soundcard so it's entirely viable. The thing to keep in mind is that everything you run at the same time will use up resources so you will be able to load fewer instruments in each application than you would if you ran them seperately. This doesn't deter me personally. I have lots of projects where I run GigaStudio 2.5, Kompakt and Atmosphere at the same time without any problems.

    As far as $2,700, you can spec a system that will meet your needs for less if you get a knowledgable tech (probably a high school or college student) to do it for you, just like Lee said. If you are willing to pay the premium though, a site like www.truespec.com can also handle your needs, configure your system to run effectively before you lay a hand on it and they have experience with exactly the kind of issues you might run into since so many of their clients are score composers. As I said, they definetly charge premium for it but if you don't want the hassle of dealing with it yourself then it can really be worth it. Also, look into a "host" for running your non-GigaStudio applications, like V-Stack. You can find a lot of info. about that on the site if you aren't familiar with it already.

    I hope that this helps.

    Sincerely,
    Per Lichtman
    VP
    Beyond Belief Music Inc.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Greenhorn from Mac-land needs help!

    I would certainly steer clear of that Sweetwater machine. Way too much money for too little.

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