I tend to disappear once in a while when I'm really involved deeply in a composing project, but these last couple of months, I have been shutting myself down altogether on the forums because I was incommunicado for a different reason.
For the first time since 2001, I have designed and built my own computer system from the ground up. I was getting indications that my older equipment was on the verge of collapsing, and since I started getting Social Security checks in August, I have been saving up to buy a new computer system. However, when I shopped around and saw how much cheaper it was to build my own system again, that is the route I chose. By doing so, I have been able to save at least $300 over my budgeted purchase price for a new computer.
I now have the most powerful system I have ever built for a DAW. It is running XP Pro and Windows 7 in a box that has an AMD Athlon II X3 Triple-Core CPU running at 3.10 GHz with 8 GB DDR3 RAM and a 2-terabyte hard drive (with Win 7 on it), plus an older 160 GB hard drive (with XP on it). Under XP, I can continue to use one of my all-time favorite professional audio cards -- the Yamaha SW1000XG, which puts out superb audio quality with only a slight amount of hiss in the background, which is not surprising for a card that is at least 12 years old.
While some people may have much more powerful systems than this, it is the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken to build, and the price is unbeatable -- about $200. I already had a lot of the equipment on hand, just sitting around collecting dust, but when I inventoried it all, I found that buying a new off-the-shelf system would have cost more than two or three times what I spent and it still would not have been this powerful.
Composing with a complete Garritan orchestra plus any number of extras, is now at my command, and I have never had this feeling before. I wish everyone could do something like this at least once in their lifetime because it's a very educational experience in more ways than one.
But I'm back fully online now and I don't intend to pull any more disappearing acts any time soon. For those who have been wondering, that's all there was to it -- I just wanted to avoid any contact at all until the entire project was completed, and now that has been done. It has been the most wonderful Christmas I could ever have imagined before.
I want to wish everyone a most musical Christmas season and the happiest possible New Year's. Mine have not been so good in many years past, but that seems to be over with, at least for the time being, and I intend to enjoy every single minute of it.