Any suggestions on builds for a PC primarily for audio recording purposes?

TommattTommatt Registered User regular
*edit* just saw the pc build thread, can not see a delete thread option.

So me and a friend are doing some recording with some of the music we're creating. Our laptops work, but we've thought about building a desktop for the sole purpose of recording. I figure we can skimp pretty much everywhere except ram. Current gen mobo and proc of the lowest speed, or maybe even last gen depending on cost, but we might want a lot of memory. HD space would be the biggest thing I'm guessing.

Any ideas on what I should skimp on and focus on spending the money on? I figure sound card onboard would actually be fine, as we already have a pre-amp that plugs in. So we have external devices for audio interfacing. It's just the pc itself.

This is what we're using as a preamp, audio interface to the pc
http://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-6i6

Tommatt on

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  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Tommatt wrote: »
    *edit* just saw the pc build thread, can not see a delete thread option.

    So me and a friend are doing some recording with some of the music we're creating. Our laptops work, but we've thought about building a desktop for the sole purpose of recording. I figure we can skimp pretty much everywhere except ram. Current gen mobo and proc of the lowest speed, or maybe even last gen depending on cost, but we might want a lot of memory. HD space would be the biggest thing I'm guessing.

    Any ideas on what I should skimp on and focus on spending the money on? I figure sound card onboard would actually be fine, as we already have a pre-amp that plugs in. So we have external devices for audio interfacing. It's just the pc itself.

    If you've got a good-quality mic pre-amp that plugs in, then whatever basic soundcard that has the type of mic input you want should do the trick, and the rest of the p.c. can be a basic model. How many channels of audio do you want to record simultaneously? Are you going to want to do audio production on the recording unit, or is this just for like home recording that you will then take the digital files to a mixing studio or something?

  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    Right now we're doing everything in house. We gave a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 preamp, which has 6 inputs and 6 outputs. This seems to be able to do everything we've wanted to do so far, although the drums might be difficult.

    At most we'really looking at wanting 8 channels Simultaneously. He's been doing all the research into the recording side of things. I'm thinking any bare bones pc would be fine, maybe a nice big HD for only recording files, and a healthy amount of ram, but thinking it probably won't need much processing power.

    Sound card is where I'm not sure. Since we have a nice pre-amp, and are running that to the pc, I think even onboard sound would. I assume onboard video will be fine for this.

    I don't mind spending some Money on this, but if I don't have too, there's always strings, mics, drumheads, etc... to be bought.

    Tommatt on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    You might find onboard to be a bit noisy for recording. I agree that skimping on CPU will likely work (you don't seem to plan to do any real-time effects), but it might be worth investing in some kind of external recording interface. Both for higher quality than onboard, and possibly to give you a couple different input channels (beyond the stereo line-in), so you can do some multitrack work and still remix after the fact. Maybe some sort of decent quality 4-track input.

    As long as you don't intend to do a bunch of post processing, bits and hertz don't matter much there, 16/48 or 24/48 is fine.

    chrishallett83
  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote: »
    You might find onboard to be a bit noisy for recording. I agree that skimping on CPU will likely work (you don't seem to plan to do any real-time effects), but it might be worth investing in some kind of external recording interface. Both for higher quality than onboard, and possibly to give you a couple different input channels (beyond the stereo line-in), so you can do some multitrack work and still remix after the fact. Maybe some sort of decent quality 4-track input.

    As long as you don't intend to do a bunch of post processing, bits and hertz don't matter much there, 16/48 or 24/48 is fine.

    We're using a 6 channel pre-amp to plug into before the PC, or did you mean something else?

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    You want a ADC (audio to digital converter) that's not built into your computer, because a motherboard's 3.5mm microphone input is a crappy $1 chip. Any soundcard, any external USB based ADC, will be a ton better than a motherboard's mic input.

    This ADC sits between your computer and your pre-amp.

    iTNdmYl.png
    mcdermott
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    hsu wrote: »
    You want a ADC (audio to digital converter) that's not built into your computer, because a motherboard's 3.5mm microphone input is a crappy $1 chip. Any soundcard, any external USB based ADC, will be a ton better than a motherboard's mic input.

    This ADC sits between your computer and your pre-amp.

    Right. No matter what you have in front of it, you're running all your audio through the cheapest ADC the mobo manufacturer could shoehorn on there. And it's in the middle of an electrically noisy environment to boot (inside the PC). The line in on a PC is generally intended for hooking up a microphone to Skype. It works, but quality was not a design consideration.

    There are any number of USB audio interfaces out there for under $100 that will provide a much better result with either stereo or possibly even quad inputs. Haven't looked at them lately.

    If you were building a gaming rig you'd not consider using onboard video. For an audio recording rig you really shouldn't be sticking with onboard audio.

    chrishallett83
  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    Ah ok, I understand now. I thought since our preamp would be doing all the real audio work, everything else would just basically be a wire carrying the information. Any suggestions on brands or models to look at? I've only ever built gaming PC's, where it's mainly about finding the right video card for Your budget

  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Tommatt wrote: »

    That guy looks solid. You don't need anything fancy, almost anything dedicated to the purpose will do. Just hook it up USB, not analog.

    Also I'm guessing you'll want to download the proper drivers for it. Most interfaces like that one will have HID class compliant drivers or whatever, so they'll go straight plug-n-play, but you usually won't be getting the full featureset that way. You may get better quality with the proper drivers.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Had I read closer I'd have realized that the 6i6 you mentioned was a USB preamp/interface. That's my bad. Yeah just use that for both your input and output, and you'll be happy. I just saw the mention of onboard audio and was like "noooooooooo!" ;)

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    I'll second mcdermott. That Scarlet 6i6 already has a ADC, no need for anything more.

    iTNdmYl.png
  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    I'm over at newegg, and while I haven't looked at parts yet, they have some pretty cheap DIY PC's. All the parts in a box, with a discount, that you put together. I normally like Asus motherboards, but I'm thinking something like this would probably fine, maybe a seperate HD for the OS.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.2253150

    I'm thinkin 8GB of Ram should be fine, although I may look at 16gb.

    They have some nice little boxes too, but the RAM seems low in a lot of them.

    *Edit* I guess this thread has pretty much served it's purpose and further questions should probably just go in the pc thread. My main question, about if I needed anything special, has been answered.

    Tommatt on
  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    Generally speaking, for audio or video editing, you want lots of RAM, like 32gb if you can, with a big SSD and a big normal HDD.

    The working pattern is to have all the music files related to your current project, on your SSD, and when you are done, move them off onto the HDD.

    You'll be generating too many large files to keep them all on the SSD, unless you're rich. But you'll be annoyed at the slowness of the HDD to do all your work there.

    iTNdmYl.png
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