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Hardware Thread, help with music room pc's in Technical; Our old music room pc's are still alive but really are a bit long in the tooth. (old p4's) Putting ...
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    RobG's Avatar
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    help with music room pc's

    Our old music room pc's are still alive but really are a bit long in the tooth. (old p4's)

    Putting in a bid for new pc's is not a problem, however I'm really not that up on sound stuff esp as it connects to actual music production.
    Cubase essentials 5 is the main bit of sftware used, with keyboards hooked in via midi to a sound card (cannot remember the exact make but they are C-media chips and have ASIO drivers

    To get around the issue of the cubase usb licence dongles, or them going walkabout, I fitted a USB pci card which has 3 usb sockets at the back and one internal socket, so the dongle can get plugged in inside the case so people cannot get to it.

    We had some custom front audio panels made up, it sits in a 5.25" bay with 3 standard 1/4" sockets these are just wired through the case, out the back and connect into the sound card via standard 1/8" jacks (two go to a single speaker output, so two people can plug in head phones from the front, and a 3rd socket goes to the microphone in socket on the sound card, so a powered microphone or even a guitar can be plugged in)
    The setup is not perfect but works, other than the general slowness of the pc's

    ideally we'd like to keep both the USB cards and custom audio connectors

    looking at a basic i3 2100, 4gb ddr 1333mhz, 250gb 7200rpm hard drive in a chifetec mATX tower
    But I'm really not sure what sort of sound card we should be looking at?
    There's potential we could reuse the current cards but I'm not sure if there's drivers for window7 64bit for them and even if there is 2 pci slots on the new motherboard (one for sound card one for usb card).
    The teacher has also asked about phantom power, which I understand is a powered 1/4" socket so you can plug a standard microphone in.
    I know most sound cards now don't come with midi ports, but we could use USB to midi adaptors, but which are good ones? which are reasonable cost? which are junk?
    What's a good sound card for ASIO drivers and performance?
    Last edited by RobG; 31st May 2012 at 05:24 PM.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    We use the pci version of this:

    E-MU 0404 PCIe Digital Audio Sound Card | DV247

    Ben

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    dgsmith's Avatar
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    This is a very interesting thread for me as we are in an exact position as you.. old P4 machines, showing signs of age, keyboards through midi etc and the new spec you're looking at (i3 2100, 4GB DDR3, 250GB HDD) is the exact one I am hoping we could upgrade to!

    Unfortunately for us, I think we have much more of a battle to get this progressed here. Out of interest, how old are the P4 machines you have running now and what spec are these currently? More importantly, what are your main reasons and justification for needing them upgrading?

    We have creative sound cards on PCI, but alot of sandy bridge motherboards don't support conventional PCI now, or have it in a position which makes it impossible for us to utilise the slot, so we are also looking at the Asus Xonar pci-express based cards (low profile) which seem very decent and not a bad price either. On the other hand, we may not need the sound cards if the latency on board is bearable (on board on a sandy bridge will no doubt be miles better than our onboard currently on 6yr old equipment).

    We have a handful of M-Audio USB fast track devices which act as a sound card in the sense that it's a single USB cable from the device to the machine and you can run all sound through the unit. Latency on a "test" i3 machine we have is about 8ms compared with 40-50 on the older P4 machines (it would seem the hardware spec of the machine plays a massive part even when using the same M-Audio device).
    Last edited by dgsmith; 31st May 2012 at 05:47 PM.

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    mdench's Avatar
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    we use edirol ua25 usb soundcards (i do belive these have midi ports) and if you can stick a 60gb ssd in the machine for OS and progs as it boots soo much quicker.

    We also use a central seperate share for all music / music tech project folders so that kids can work on different machines.

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    RobG's Avatar
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    Well it's not going on as yet, I need to come up with a rough costing so we can put it forward
    Current machines where bought back in 2005, pentium4 3ghz (not HT) socket 478 ram I upgraded so currently on 1gb DDR 400mhz IDE 150gb hard drives
    Network space is an issue for use atm and some of the music files get very large esp when they are being actively worked on (like video do, in fact one of the projects they've done is to make audio tacks for video clips so you've got both) for this reason we set up a folder on the local hard drive which gets mapped as X: when a student logs on, to make a "working drive" so they don't fill up the network.

    what are the "M-Audio USB fast track devices" like? I'm really not up on this side of pc's normally I just listen to stuff with onboard.

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    mdench's Avatar
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    personally i would try to add a small nas box if you can maybe a 2tb nas. This would then enable potential backup of the work

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    ideally we'd like to keep both the USB cards and custom audio connectors
    Could you just buy new motherboard / processor / RAM bundles and use the current cases?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    Well it's not going on as yet, I need to come up with a rough costing so we can put it forward
    Current machines where bought back in 2005, pentium4 3ghz (not HT) socket 478 ram I upgraded so currently on 1gb DDR 400mhz IDE 150gb hard drives
    Network space is an issue for use atm and some of the music files get very large esp when they are being actively worked on (like video do, in fact one of the projects they've done is to make audio tacks for video clips so you've got both) for this reason we set up a folder on the local hard drive which gets mapped as X: when a student logs on, to make a "working drive" so they don't fill up the network.

    what are the "M-Audio USB fast track devices" like? I'm really not up on this side of pc's normally I just listen to stuff with onboard.
    Wow.. even worse spec than we have! We got P4 3.2ghz HT, 1GB DDR2 and 200GB IDE and they're really struggling! I have been reluctant to allow any local drive access as inevitably it'll be the "only area where X files are stored and not backed up", and it'll just happen that we'll need, or choose to reimage the machine not realising, or not having any choice.

    With regards to M-Audio devices.. M-AUDIO - Fast Track - Record Guitar and Vocals on Your Computer
    They work reasonably well.. just a single USB connection gives you a midi port, connection for guitar and headphones and some adjustments on top (don't know the techie desc but I know as a unit it works well). We use Roland UM-1G adapters to connect Roland keyboards to the computer via USB again.

    In fact, I don't really think we utilise the sound cards to be honest. I guess in our case we'd either buy a load of M-Audio or Asus Xonar cards or perhaps enough to cover half then manage with on board.

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