Upgrading my studio, need interface suggestions

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by mmd, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Hi. I am getting ready to bring my studio to a more "up-to-date" era. I am currently running an OLD version of ProTools HD. Everything is connected via PCI accelerator cards. I have never experienced latency issues or monitoring issues. I looking to move forward with a bulletproof system that is not PT HD. Realistically, I can't consider it because it is beyond my current budget.

    Here the basics of my new workstation:

    i7 7700K processor
    64GB RAM
    512 GB SSD
    (2) 6TB 7200 HD for storage
    Win 10 Pro

    I am considering these two options. Not sure which is going to "better". I pretty much only record myself, and a couple of times a year I will take on a project from a band or a singer/songwriter. I HAVE had to record up to 20-24 tracks live when bands insist on recording together. I try not to take those projects on because it's a lot of moving stuff around and the results are never too stellar considering I don't have a huge facility to make it "right".


    Option 1:

    Presonus Quantum interface with (2) DP88 preamp modules added

    Option 2:

    RME HDSP 9652 or the HDSPe RayDAT card with 2 DP88 (or comparative) preamps

    Which is going to get me the easiest, low to ZERO latency performance like I experience now?

    The DAW choice is still a toss up between PT 12 of Presonus Studio One 3.5...

    Thanks!!
     
  2. KP11520

    KP11520 Senior Member

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    After using PT since 2006, I'm not changing. I know where everything is and what to expect.

    The only thing that bothers me about PT 12+ is paying annually. That's BS. Otherwise, I'd have no beefs for the most part with this platform.

    Now about your PC. Build it yourself and make sure you employ a MB with Thunderbolt 2. That's where the lowest latency future is and maybe even better than your HD system without the big bucks for HD. Seriously, now is a good time to do this. Or maybe TB3 if that will be the final platform that all manufacturers agree on.

    I'd use two SSDs. One for the OS and PT and the second for all the stand alone Plug-In and VST Libraries.

    The Focusrite Clarett AIs are putting out incredibly low latency numbers using TB2. And the drivers are supposedly rock solid. I'd add this to your considerations. Nothing to sneeze at here.

    Hopefully other coveted high performing AI and ADA Converter manufacturers will jump onboard right behind them. A whole new paradigm and way more affordable. And you won't need a fork lift upgrade. You'll be ready.

    When building your PC, 10K rpm HDDs are a luxury (WD Velociraptors 1Tb). Supposedly 7200 rpm HDDs will still keep up. Nothing slower.

    Pioneer DVD, Blueray, CD burner

    Silent Case, PS and Processor Cooler (or at as quiet as possible) and fans.

    A very decent Video card with two ports so you can run two different view screens if you desire. (Both Mix AND Edit windows in PT)

    I like the MS Sidewinder X4 keyboards because they are very reliable, have different configurations via a click and are illuminated.

    Preamps? LOL That's personal.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  3. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Cool. Workstation is done, it has Thunderbolt which is why I am looking at the Quantum. I also have up to 4 displays (there are two NVIDIA graphic cards). Still leaning toward the RME since it's internal like my HD system. Having 3 ADAT in/out is awesome too because it'll give a lot of input options....

    BUT, using the DP88s will allow me to utilize DB25 connectors and incorporate my 24 Channel analog mixing console. It has direct outs per channel and bus outs. It also allows for 2 separate monitor mixes, and provides me with an entire mix control center. I use it now to a lesser effect, but I am trying to get the best of both worlds.

    My big concern is deciding whether to go TB or PCI/PCIe. I can do either. I have gotten spoiled with PT HD, and don't want to spend money to have "backwards" problems I currently don't have, lol. People have me freaking out about "latency" and speed issues and giving me numbers I don't understand!!! Now, I turn on the system, open/create a session and off I go. It's been ROCK SOLID since 2004.

    A friend has the Focusrite Clarett....I'll have to go check it out. I will say there are just too many options now!!!
     
  4. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    My mistake.....the workstation only has 1 NVIDIA card. It was the Lenovo that could hold 2. We didn't order that one - it was overkill, lol.....

    We order an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X graphics card.

    Still waiting on it to arrive. It's in shipping now.....anticipation!!!
     
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  5. KP11520

    KP11520 Senior Member

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    Wow, it seems like yesterday Win PCs weren't a TB2 option and now a bunch of options are on the table.

    I don't think any of the three you posted will be anything but a pleasant surprise. There is no mistake. Maybe the only difference is the workflow and your preference on what feels more intuitive to you.

    Check out the Clarett, but it looks to me that the Presonus came out ahead on helpful usable features. Nice offering!

    RME is a different animal but as you know, great bang for the buck and in the real pro houses for eternity. Something to say about them.

    Please let us know how it all goes. Talk about a VERY robust recording setup at a price that's not so cost prohibitive. Just know if you leave ProTools, the whole plug in and vst libraries will wash out. If you stay with PT, maybe you can negotiate a deal to upgrade to the new format at a discounted cost. 64 Gb of fast RAM will let you employ a lot of goodies without coming anywhere near crashing!

    I'm excited for you! This really is a thrill. Not a cheap thrill either. LOL

    Hopefully you don't get a hardware Jones at the same time. LOL
     
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  6. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Thanks man....as I am doing more research today it looks like I am kinda freaking out for no reason. The PCIe or TB options seem to have a lot of "praise" for low latency.

    I REALLY want to stay PT....still leaning that way too - no sense in learning new software too!!
     
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  7. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Last night I ordered the RME card. I figured that is going to give me the most options all the way around. Still have to get some preamps - not rushing there. My current system will be great until I get all the new gear together.

    My wife is pumped because she can get in there now and start doing her video editing. She has a travel vlog and has been editing on her laptop. It was her needing a better editing space that pushed all of this to happen. She was making me wait and wait, lol.....but now since she can benefit, it was a go!!! I am not complaining - she pretty much lets me do whatever I want....

    Despite her experience with AVID and Final Cut, she liked Vegas. That was easier on me, really, because specing the workstation was easier around Vegas than AVID or Final Cut (which I THINK is Mac only?). So she's excited....instead of editing on a laptop, she's using a 32" monitor....MUCH easier!
     
  8. KP11520

    KP11520 Senior Member

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    Yeah, I sold my old Mac and decided on PowerDirector for Video editing because of its value! Pretty robust for its price!

    If you stay with PT, I'm sure you know about the DUC, right? Here, just in case: http://duc.avid.com/
     
  9. DarrellV

    DarrellV Derl Ver.... ERMAHGERD!.........It's a Nerlin! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Just an FYI on those 10K drives. I have a set in my workstation and I made a surprising discovery that I wanted to share with others considering using them in a build.

    You would be better off going with a SS Drive. The price points are coming down to being more competitive, and the speed gains are real and noticeable.

    What WD did with the Velociraptor series was, in my experience, play on the marketing hype of faster = better. Nothing more. Sad really, because I bought into the promise as well.

    Sure, the disks spin faster than a 7200 rpm drive, but the actual data I/O is virtually unchanged between the 2. Read and write speeds are almost the same! How can that be?

    Simple.... WD pulled a sucker's trick and shrank the diameter of the disks in the Velociraptors!

    Anyone who is familiar with vinyl knows that the best area for quality sound is on the outer edges. The needle is moving across the vinyl faster there than at any other place inward on the disk.

    It has more to do with how much more surface area passes under the needle than it does RPM.

    The whole record is turning at say, 33 RPM, but the amount of groove passing under the needle per second drops dramatically near the center of the disk.

    The same is true with the Hard drives. Read and write speeds are directly related to how much magnetic medium goes under the head per second.

    But since they shrunk the disk size when they increased the speed, the actual amount of media passing under the heads per second didn't change by much!

    So for real time sequential I/O like music or video, no great speed gains would be had over the larger disks in a 7200 RPM drive.

    However the smaller disk area puts seek levels through the roof! That's where your gains are.

    If you are running a data base or something similar with a lot of seeking for small bursts of data, these drives would be the bomb!
     
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  10. KP11520

    KP11520 Senior Member

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    Thanks Darrell!

    The reason I use HDDs for writing PT audio files rather than SSDs , from what I've read, SSDs don't do well over longer periods of writing and rewriting over the same storage areas. HDDs are way better suited for this! So SSD's are better for library and App and OS files. As far as the Velociraptors being a waste of extra money, that may be. I use the 1Tb and they aren't even breaking a sweat. LOL
     
  11. Norton

    Norton Senior Member

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    SSD is not a joke. Claims of blazing speed due to a thunderbolt cable on an interface are. As in completely obfuscation bs. If splurge for an SSD for your OS at minimum.

    Interfaces:

    The preamps on any ad/da interface in a reasonable "prosumer" price zone are going to be essentially equivalent. Nothing special, but not horrible. They do tend to have a bit of their own sound, but it's really minor and I'm guessing that difference has much more to do with the ad/da conversion than the actual preamps.

    I've had more interfaces than I care to remember. Longevity is a big deal. Being forced to get a new interface due to cancelled support is a reality.

    I went with motu to avoid that issue specifically. They still support and write drivers for their very first interfaces.

    Sounds comparable to the RME it's paired with.
     
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  12. DarrellV

    DarrellV Derl Ver.... ERMAHGERD!.........It's a Nerlin! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    This was true several years ago. You are correct. SSD had a known issue with cell re-writes over time causing failure.

    That has been improved upon in recent years to the point I have given them a try at my office.

    All of our outside sales reps have been re-fitted with SS drives and their older laptops have literally doubled in speed!

    I have been using one in my workstation PC for over 2 years now without issue.

    They have addressed it with newer materials and smarter internal location algorithms. Most contain an on-board memory controller that oversees where stuff goes internally.

    They are also over-built in that they have extra capacity on chip that is not visible to the user, but the on board memory manager can use it to shift data from cells that may be failing before it is noticeable.

    They would be ideal for streaming applications since the data is written sequentially and stored as a file.

    OS usage is the hardest on the drive with constant swap file and system I/O going on.

    But it's also where the speed gains are.

    On my workstation I have a SSD for the OS and a RAID array of conventional disks for storing my permanent data files and programs.

    That way if the SSD does crap, I only lose my OS and some program files.

    Gains are seen below. The Windows scale only goes to 7.9
    performance.jpg
     
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  13. spitfire

    spitfire Senior Member

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    SSD's use wear leveling algorithms to automatically spread the use over the entire storage space. Also, I did some calculations a few years back on a typical drive and it seemed to me it would have required a long time of constant re-writes before it would have hit it's limit. By long time, I think it was many months of constant writing. I'm talking writing to the drive at max speed 24/7. Something completely unrealistic for just about any use.

    I think wearing out a modern SSD is just a complete non-issue. But if you care, there are some steps you can take to reduce the issue in a PC. I don't remember all of them, but it had to do with disabling some background operations and things like constantly updating log files. Again, I don't think it's an issue at all these days.

    Size matters as well. A larger SSD, has more space to spread the wear over than a smaller one. They won't just keep re-writing the same small area. So since most of us don't fill our drives, at least not for a few years, this also reduces the issue a lot.

    SSD's are so much faster and more reliable (no moving parts), that they are the only thing I would consider putting in a PC. Obviously if you need a lot of storage, like you are a pro film editor, then sure getting terabytes of regular HD's make sense.

    A good 500 GB SSD is in the range of $150. And sure a regular HD is a lot cheaper, but $150 doesn't break the bank and 500 GB is enough for a typical user.
     
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  14. DarrellV

    DarrellV Derl Ver.... ERMAHGERD!.........It's a Nerlin! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    And, duh, to the OP, I use a couple Focusrite Saffire Pro's through Firewire into Studio One.

    So last year I know, but it works.

    My VST's are all from Plugin Alliance / Brainworx.

    My workstation is an old HP z200 quad Xeon processor with workstation graphics cards by Nvidia.

    Rendering is never over 35% CPU load

    I've disabled all unneeded services and don't do updates for Windows.

    Not even a network cable plugged in.
     
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  15. KP11520

    KP11520 Senior Member

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    Gentlemen,

    Thank you for the educational refresh! My plans moving forward have now been updated as well! Always looking for the best practices to come up with a decent plan.

    Now I'm getting an itch. LOL

    Thanks again!
     
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  16. DarrellV

    DarrellV Derl Ver.... ERMAHGERD!.........It's a Nerlin! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Exactly why I use a RAID array of conventional disks for my long term storage! :thumb:Cheap, redundant, easy to replace and rebuild!:dude:
     
  17. DarrellV

    DarrellV Derl Ver.... ERMAHGERD!.........It's a Nerlin! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Good luck! Oh, and have fun!:thumb:

    :photos: would be nice......:laugh2:
     
  18. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    I am about 90% there. I decided, for now, to utilize a Focusrite system via Firewire 800. I still have the RME 9652 installed, and I have some killer plans for it, but I am looking at the best option....

    Ultimately, what I am planning is to use the RME for is to route my mixing desk into the computer. That'll give 24 analog ins and outs. I have been offered some projects where the ability to track live was essential. I still have an Alesis HD24, and when the money is good enough, I'll track to that and then do the whole project on it. I want to be able to incorporate the computer for editing and mixing.

    So, here's where I'm at.....

    * Dell Workstation
    * Pro Tools 12 (perpetual license)
    * Harrison Mix Bus 4
    * Focusrite Sapphire Pro 40
    * Focusrite Octo Pre Dynamic MkII
    * RME HDSP9652

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I figure over Thanksgiving I'll start making the switch-over. Still have to start getting my plug-is. I have been going through my projects and looking at what I use most often. It'll be a little painful at first, but I have a plan to get started quickly.....
     
  19. DarrellV

    DarrellV Derl Ver.... ERMAHGERD!.........It's a Nerlin! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Love the Saffire Pro 40's! I have 2 of them.

    I also have 2 ADAT tape units for times when you can't trust a computer isn't going to bomb out on you for some stupid reason!

    They have lightpipe digital I/O right on them and can handle all 8 ADAT tracks at once through one optical cable.

    The option for sp/dif or ADAT input is a toggle choice.

    I'd have to look up the HD 24 but it would seem if you had 3 you could track the whole HD 24 right into your daw.

    Of course it may already do that....
     
  20. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    I'm all up on the ProTools perpetual licence, good choice. 1 down.
    shouldn't be to hard to get current versions of your favourite plugins. 2 down
    Computer & interfaces, done. 3 down.
    Good to go!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017

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