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Topic: Does CPU speed really matter?

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  1. #1

    Does CPU speed really matter?

    I'm a "low-level" composer, meaning I'm in university and can't afford anything right now. Recently I got some money and was going to buy just a sound card but I decided that maybe I should upgrade some other things in one big swoop instead of grappling for things slowly and slowly.

    My computer right now isn't good for music at all but I struggle to make it work. For instance I only have 256mb of ram, so to combat that I composer for specific instruments and use low-size samples to cover the rest, then mixdown my first half and then re-assign the other instruments, mixdown them and combine them together. I'm thinking of upgrading my ram to 512mb or 1gb of ram, and getting an audiophile 24/96 for my soundcard.

    My processor though is 1.7 ghz. Does the processor's speed count a lot in this case? Will it make much of a difference in music composition? Can I manage having 1gb of ram with a 1.7 ghz machine? I'm not too technically able in this area so I need some help.

    Also, I've noticed when using EWQLSO samples on my current machine there is a delay between pressing the keys (in the cubase sequencer) and hearing the sample. I thought this was because the samples themselves are large and take a short while to play for that reason. Is this a fault of ram or cpu?

  2. #2

    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    The delay you hear is latency and has nothing to do with the CPU or the RAM, but is centered around your soundcard.

    In Cubase you can try to adjust the latency, but you may only get so far, depending on what type of drivers you are using and what kind of soundcard it is.

  3. #3

    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    Yes, CPU is pretty important when using sample libraries. RAM is equally important. More processing power means more polyphony and the ability to get better latency..

    Also, I've noticed when using EWQLSO samples on my current machine there is a delay between pressing the keys (in the cubase sequencer) and hearing the sample. I thought this was because the samples themselves are large and take a short while to play for that reason. Is this a fault of ram or cpu?
    This issue (latency) has to do with the configuration of your audio drivers. You should try to get ahold of asio drivers if you don't already have them. A good, free set is "asio4all". Regardless of the drivers, however, your sequencer will let you choose a buffer size - this is inversely proportional to CPU load. A very low buffer size (eg. only a few hundred samples, or 3-8ms latency) will result in very low latency (hitting the key = instantaneous playback, just about) but it will also tax your processor more. A taxed processor means that when playing your project, you may get audio glitches, pops, and skips. Conversely, a large buffer size (2000-3000 samples or about 50-60ms) will increase your latency but significantly reduce the strain on your computer.

    My suggestion would be to use small buffers when you are recording something or sequencing. Then, when you are arranging parts and you need to hear the big picture, you can increase the buffer so you can hear everything in realtime more easily.
    Zircon Studios - Original music for media, electronica, sound design, and synthesis.

  4. #4
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    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    First off, in answer to your question, yes - CPU speed is important. But, as stated earlier, so is RAM. EWQL recommends 2 gig of RAM, and here you have 256 meg. Yes, that is the minimum requirement, but minimum requirements never cut the mustard.

    Quote Originally Posted by http://www.soundsonline.com
    EASTWEST recommends using a fast processor and up to 2 GB of free RAM to optimize the performance of this sound module.


    I know money is an issue - believe me I understand this, but I would say that if you want to get serious about composing, you start saving your dough.

    Best of luck.

  5. #5

    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    Latency.....I thought latency referred to the delay between entering notes on a MIDI controller and them inputting into the sequencer. Well, at least I learned something here today.

    I know 256 megs is horrible, but as I said I manage with it for all this time. I think when you like doing something that much, it doesn't matter how tedious it is to keep re-assigning instruments and mixing them down. Of course it does help.....

    There's no way I'm going to afford 2gb at the moment, that's why I thought of getting 1 gb or 512. I know plenty of people who can get around on 1gb or 512, and beside, I have EWQLSO silver, and I don't think they will hog as much as say, Gold+.

    Now, my next question is, for a person with 1.7ghz processor, what is your reccomendation (keeping in mind I am not a millionare) for decent, workable upgrade?

  6. #6

    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    I would recommend RAM - your 1.7 cpu is perfectly useable. Both things are important, but generally you run out of ram long before maxing out the cpu. The Audiophile soundcard is a good choice both for price and quality. The cards that are much more expensive are only needed if you are going to do other things involving automated/integrated mixers, live recording, or surround sound monitoring (some examples).

    If you shop around, you might be able to get 2gb of ram - prices vary wildly, so look around carefully.

  7. #7

    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    jc5; I completely disagree. I have a 3ghz P4 processor and I ALWAYS max out my CPU before my RAM. With DFD and 2gb of RAM, I don't think I've ever run out of RAM in any project. I constantly get nailed on CPU. I could never work with a 1.7ghz processor and get anything done, and I work at a latency of 50ms!!
    Zircon Studios - Original music for media, electronica, sound design, and synthesis.

  8. #8

    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    It all depends on what your PC is used for. I can only max out the CPU by running lots of plugins (eg reverb), but can quickly fill up the memory. that is why many of us have multiple computers ion our set-up. It is important to think what the main thrust of your use will be before you make any decision about chip speed or RAM.

    D

  9. #9

    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    256 is simply not enough for any kind of serious work.
    RAM is very cheap right now. Go to pricewatch.com and see for yourself. It's the best investment you can make.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Re: Does CPU speed really matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by XanaX
    RAM is very cheap right now.
    Err, depends on the type of RAM - have you seen the price of Rambus RDRAM?

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