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Eric Steffensen
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Eric Steffensen

8/20/2019 5:21:06 PM

Recording setup on a PC
So I've finally decided that I need to make the switch from an Apple based recording setup to a PC setup. Mostly this is because the online performances I've done over the years have utilized virtual worlds like Second Life, and those all seem to be headed in a direction that allows users to use a Virtual Reality setup....Mac isn't well supported for VR and not available at all on one of the platforms I want to use, hence I need to build a good PC that's great for multi-track recording and VR Graphics.

For those of you who do recording on PCs, do you find that the stock sound chips that come with most PCs are good enough to drive an external audio interface and handle low latency, multiple tracks, plugins, etc all at the same time? If an upgraded soundcard is needed, what should I be looking for?

Also am I crazy to think I can run multitrack recording software and a VR program (like Sansar) all at the same time if I have enough RAM and a good solid state drive?

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Two Silo Complex

8/20/2019 9:33:42 PM

"For those of you who do recording on PCs, do you find that the stock sound chips that come with most PCs are good enough to drive an external audio interface and handle low latency, multiple tracks, plugins, etc all at the same time? If an upgraded soundcard is needed, what should I be looking for? "

That depends if your only looking to mixdown and not record then the onboard soundcard of most modern PC will handle at least 20 tracks with plugins for mix down ONLY. I mix down with only my on-board sound card and it works just fine with pro-tools HD.

For recording first off you won't be able to record multi track at once with onboard your limited to left right channel on board sound will not handle the latency of recording more than 1 track at once.

For recording look into USB audio interface. There are many but in my opinion I would lead you toward: Focusrite Scarlett 18i2 for recording. Its under 500 and has decent mic pre's.

"Also am I crazy to think I can run multitrack recording software and a VR program (like Sansar) all at the same time if I have enough RAM and a good solid state drive?"

You should be able to use the audio out of your usb interface to broadcast just set your guitar and mic tracks to record so you can hear yourself. I will say in pro-tools once you start a protools session it hogs your audio device and it can't be used for anything else while protools is running.

Larree who stops by around here once in a while does a lot of live performance in second life or at least he used to. I have no experience with VR but if your talking about just doing a "live performance" in that case I think from some conversations Larree had awhile a go you could broadcast in VR second life with a standard audio device and just use the mic channel.

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Eric Steffensen

8/20/2019 11:51:43 PM

I did a lot of live performance in Second Life from my Mac and was able to use Logic as my live mixer, bring in 5 channels of live audio and run Second Life and also in some cases stream live video at the same time.

I want to be able to run Sansar, which is essentially the next generation of Second Life and I’m hoping I can do it all from one PC

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Two Silo Complex

8/21/2019 12:16:31 PM

I'm not familiar with Sansar or other VR platforms. In general on PC a onboard soudcard latency will only hadle 1 channel of recording and you might still have latency. You can use a software called "aiso for all" that will allow real time with onboard sound but I'm not sure its going to give you what you want.

If you want to brodcast live 5 tracks at once you will likely need an USB audio interface.

PC does not multitask well. Its not really comparable to MAC.

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Eric Steffensen

8/21/2019 7:04:59 PM

Oh, yes the external USB audio interface is a must. My question is do I need an upgraded soundcard to drive it.

That's discouraging about the multi-tasking. I may need to run two computers for VR applications or to broadcast 3D video. :(

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Two Silo Complex

8/21/2019 10:50:16 PM

I don't understand your question when your using the USB interface both input and output is being produced by the interface you don't use the onboard sound to drive anything because the audio is being handled by the interface.

I don't do video so I don't know what kind of bandwidth the video will take up but in general PC is just awful at multi tasking.

For what your suggesting I think you would need need intel i7 at least 24 mb ram and preferably dedicated GPU not on board video.

Then you can hope and pray your applications play nice together at the same time.

PC is not comparable to MAC. I don't have a MAC but I am aware of PC limitations and for what I do the PC limitations don't interfere with what I do.

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Eric Steffensen

8/21/2019 11:40:51 PM

Yes, the plan is for 32 GB RAM, 8-core AMD processor, separate video card, CPU cooler all with components and a case designed to run as quietly as possible. Thanks for your help, based on some other artists I found that can drive all of these apps from a single PC I do think this is going to work

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8/22/2019 1:26:06 AM

First things first. Todays, generation of Macs can utilize the PC format by creating a partition. I run both sides of my MAC. This is mainly due to the fact that I was previously a PC guy and built a large library of "PC only" compatible recording software and plug ins. When I want to use some or all of those tools I go to the PC side of my MAC. But the majority of the time I stay on the MAC side because my MAC runs recording software so much smoother than any PC I have ever owned. Pro Tools, Logic and Reason all run flawlessly on my MAC but on the PC side I have encountered constant problems. I also have several PC's that I no longer use. They are mainly for archival storage of projects I did many years ago. When I arrived to Recording Engineering school in 2002 I was told (by my professors) that for recording applications the PC format is inferior to MAC. It took me several years in college to finally agree that they were right. With PC, for some recording software, you get lots of screen freezes and software bugs. It makes the creative process no fun at all when you are constantly trying to fix problems. I wouldn't go back to PC if they were giving them away free. Too many problems and hassles to deal with. But thats just my humble opinion. The Mac vs PC debate will rage on into recording engineering infamy for sure. Everyone claims to be right. I just claim to be happier with my MAC than I was with my PC's.

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Two Silo Complex

8/22/2019 10:17:32 AM

I agree with Stoneman if you dual boot your mac and run Windows OS on a mac it will be a better result than a dedicated pc can be.

While today's computing power has come a long way a windows PC will never compete with what a MAC will do.

To get what you want in PC your likley to spend about 2k why do that when spend a few hundred bucks buy Windows OS and dual boot your MAC?


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8/23/2019 6:07:05 AM ---- Updated 8/23/2019 3:12:01 PM

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Eric Steffensen

8/23/2019 4:54:10 PM

Well in my particular case, my Mac has become not usable as a recording tool because my audio interface hasn't been supported by MacOS updates for at least a couple of years, and because the Mac is too old to even be upgraded to the latest version of MacOS.

While it used to work great, I can't even record a track in Logic anymore without it bombing out about 30 seconds in. And I can't upgrade Logic to fix the problem. So there's a need to already buy a new computer (and new audio interface apparently) and I'm gonna have to spend 2k anyway whether its a Mac or a PC.

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Paul groover

8/24/2019 8:46:41 PM

Did you know you can slave computers together for audio production. So it does not matter what you got as long as you have a router and the same daw running on both machines. So i would keep your old one and buy a new one and use audio networking. So you have the best of both worlds. The amount of computers you can use is only limited by the ports on the router. As long as the computer can run your daw i use Reaper it's free to use. I think most of the daws has got this now. I have an i5 16gb and a mac pro 2.1 32gb. Networked together gives me 12 cpu cores and 48 gb of ram split between them. Which is enough for anything really. The early silver box mac pros are becoming cheap they can be upgraded cheap i bought mine for 50 and it cost me 50 to upgrade it to a 8 core 32 gb ram. Because they use xenon processors server ram and so forth. They all run on outdated server hardware so are cheap to upgrade. Corporations computers have to be upgraded at some point same hardware it becomes available in abundance. When they upgrade what ever is being replaced is almost dumped ebay is your friend If it is not sold with in they dump it. Still has value in the recycling. Not as much value as someone on here doing something

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8/29/2019 3:24:07 AM ---- Updated 8/29/2019 8:04:25 AM

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Eric Steffensen

8/29/2019 2:42:20 PM

Paul, I'll look into that but I think I got enough horsepower in my new PC to handle anything I throw at it. Hopefully I can find a DAW that I can install on MacOS that's about 2-3 years behind :)

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