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Topic: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Central Point, Oregon
    Posts
    262

    Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    I need to add a PC primarily dedicated to Kontakt as a supplement to my G5/Logic setup. Although my current PC is a custom model because I wanted an Asus motherboard, I've been extremely impressed with the reliability of Dell computers over the years. Now even their lowliest systems have ample specs for sample playback (with some attention paid to memory capacity), so is there still good reason for paying the extra money for a "boutique" computer? Anybody getting good mileage out of their OTS Dell or other brand name systems?

  2. #2

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    I am just a hobbyist, but I have a Dell workstation that runs GIGA and Sonar.

    From what I read there seems to be two aspects in creating a good "music computer:
    1) good hardware specfications (fast CPU, big and fast multiple hard drives, etc.)
    2) proper configuration (modification) of the Operating System

    I have had (and continue to have some trouble with my Win XP Pro System) but I assume this is because I have NOT done any of the "XP Optimizations" that are recommended. This is because I only have one computer which I use for everything.

    I think you could easily use an "OTS" system if you know how to "tweak" it for music applications. I assume the reason many buy "turnkey" music computers is to avoid the hassle of configuring the OS yourself.

    Given some of the problems I have, my next computer will probably be a "customized" one from someone like Carillon, VisionDAW, etc.

  3. #3

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    I have a 3 year old Dell P4 1.3 GHz with 768 MB Rambus memory, Win ME. I had major problems when installing an AP 2496 card 3 years ago, but somehow I managed to make it work, and it has work flawlessly now for 3 years, running Giga/VSL, Cubase, Kontakt. Rather efficient as well I must say.

    I did have to upgrade the BIOS to facilitate larger HDs, but that work fine.

    Cheers,

    Chris
    New music at
    www.calegy.com

  4. #4

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Hines
    I have had (and continue to have some trouble with my Win XP Pro System) but I assume this is because I have NOT done any of the "XP Optimizations" that are recommended. This is because I only have one computer which I use for everything.

    I think you could easily use an "OTS" system if you know how to "tweak" it for music applications. I assume the reason many buy "turnkey" music computers is to avoid the hassle of configuring the OS yourself.

    Given some of the problems I have, my next computer will probably be a "customized" one from someone like Carillon, VisionDAW, etc.
    I'd advise creating multiple XP installations on your computer. I've one for daily home use, one tweaked version for music work and one emergency installation in case I'm on stage and the others fail on me (never happened). I can do music on the daily version, but not as reliable as the music version.

    Tweaking is easy, just follow the instructions at www.musicxp.net.

    I have to say, my OTS laptop works without problems. Just look carefully at all the specs of the systems (don't forget the chipset) and choose one that's right for you.

  5. #5

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    My advice to you would be to choose one of the Shuttle barebone boxes and fit it with the cpu\ram\disk\soundcard you need. They're very compact, quiet, will take two hard drives (a third if you ditch the cd drive) & the latest model they have runs the amd-64s too.

    www.shuttle.com - have a browse there and see what best suits you.

  6. #6

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    I'm using a Compaq Presario and it works fine with Giga and other samplers.

  7. #7

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    I have a computer which costs a fair amount and is devoted to only music and an internet connection (too many program downloads and updates etc.) It took a fair amount of tweaking and experimenting to get it right. I think XP helped a lot, and 2000 was an improvment over 98 etc. Now, I'm happy.

    My piano teacher, who has recorded about 13 CDs and does a lot of recording for others got an "off the shelf" model to run Sonar and Sound Forge. He runs 2000 and never tweaked a darn thing. Works great for him. He does lots of studio work in it and uses it for all his audio now. For his purposes, the off-the-shelf PC works better than his Mac.

    Take Care

  8. #8

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    Quote Originally Posted by fisheye
    I'd advise creating multiple XP installations on your computer. I've one for daily home use, one tweaked version for music work and one emergency installation in case I'm on stage and the others fail on me (never happened). I can do music on the daily version, but not as reliable as the music version.

    Tweaking is easy, just follow the instructions at www.musicxp.net.

    I have to say, my OTS laptop works without problems. Just look carefully at all the specs of the systems (don't forget the chipset) and choose one that's right for you.
    That is un-necessary. In XP, just create seperate accounts, multiple installations will cause problems. Even if across multiple partitions or hard drives. Its not needed.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    69 Lois Lane, Metropolis
    Posts
    394

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    I personally wouldn't go with a Dell-like computer for pro audio. There's just too many different manufacturers that supply parts to these companies, some of them good, some not so good, and you never really know what you're getting. It's not a good idea to skimp on any single component if you want a reliable audio machine, and that's somewhat inevitable when you deal with a pre-built computer.
    On the flip side, it takes a bit of time to research what plays well with what, ie., which ram works best with your motherboard, which hard drives are less likely to crap out and/or make noise, what's the best burner for the money...but once you have that figured out, I can almost gurantee you'll never hear someone like me crying about hardware conflicts or boot up problems.
    Oh, and regarding the money, I always wind up paying much less for a custom computer than I would a Dell, though their prices are very reasonable. They tend to have really crazy markups for things like memory and hard drive upgrades when you can buy the same items for much less through reputable online stores.
    -Hudson

  10. #10

    Re: Success/Horror stories with off-the-shelf computers?

    Interesting thread.

    I've always bought made-to-spec computers from audio specialists, simply because I hate having to deal with technical issues. I know what they're capable of and don't cause me hardware problems. Its a nice situation.

    But, a while back I bought a modest Compaq NX9005 laptop purely for business. It just so happens I bought the EWQLSO Silver/Gold package at the time and thought I'd see if it could cope with running the library effectively via Cubase SX. I topped it up with 1Gb RAM, replaced the 4200rpm drive with a 7200rpm 40gb one and bought a nice little Transit usb audio card and evolution usb keyboard for mobile use. It works like a charm and I've yet to have any real problems with it. It runs Silver perfectly alongside a few other vstis - not bad for what was initially an office machine (yep, I still use it for tax and ebay!).
    Trev Parks

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