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SSD PCIe and DAW Setup

I build my own DAWs for my home recording studio (25 + years now), and always have used SCSI for the drives (1 drive for OS, 1 drive for Apps, 1 drive for samples, etc). I am looking to do a new build and am considering using SSD PCIe drives - is my drive configuration of using separate drives for OS, Apps and storage now outdated with these SSD PCIe drives? Should I be using 1 large drive partitioned instead, or is there still a benefit to having separate drives in the config?

If having multiples is still a good thing, any suggestions on a mobo that would handle three of these units (50GB, 50GB and 120GB)? I want to use an i7 for the CPU with 6 - 8 GB RAM...
Thanks in advance for any feedback!

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  1. I've built my own DAWs for years as well.

    Just an FYI... my SSD freaked out with Protools installed. I don't know if AVID's changed things since, but I was trying to run Protools 8 on Windows 7 64 when it was still in the beta stages in this environment. I think it's something to do with the fact that Protools has its own set of disk drivers it installs and they weren't ready for SSD at the time.

    The good thing is Protools works great even with a couple of WD Black Edition drives on SATA II ports.

    With most recording software, you need to install your recording/production application(s) on one drive and your recorded data (music) will go on its own drive.

    If you're going to try it with an SSD, make sure the software you're recording or producing with will run with one.
  2. Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated! Any suggestions on a mobo, based on the other componants I referenced (i7, 6-8 GB RAM)?
  3. It all depends on how many instruments you'll be recording simultaneously and how elaborate you're going to get during production. I've successfully recorded and produced entire songs with ProTools 8 on a Pentium IV 2.8GHz machine. I had to dedicate its entire soul to the cause (following all the optimizations from the ProTools install manual), but I made it work and it worked fine.

    Knowing my own short-comings with this setup, though, what I would suggest is much different, though. I'd still make the DAW its own thing. You want it isolated and off a network with no virus scanner running. When you get the DAW running and everything is working great, the only thing you need to worry about ever upgrading is your recording and production software; no OS updates, no driver updates or anything. DAWs should not be multi-purpose machines if you want them to run consistently and predictably. For example, you don't want your acrobat software or virus scanner popping up to let you know there's an update in the middle of a recording session. You don't want a virus scanner slowing down any part of the process or scanning your VIs while they are working to produce sounds for you. This is why it should be an isolated machine.

    That being said, if you're a one or two instrument at a time guy (like me), and you're using drums from your VI toolset, I would suggest no less than a dual-core processor at 2.8 GHz or above.

    i7s are more than ideal for a DAW.

    i7-9xxs are great if you're going to run 64-bit or 32-bit recording/production software because you have 8 threads available for processing effects and virtual instruments. This also helps when processing during your mixdowns. You can pick up an i7-950 at microcenter for $200 these days. You could go with either a mATX or ATX X58 motherboard.

    RAM is key and relatively cheap. The amount you need depends on the recording setup. Until recently (July-ish 2010), ProTools wasn't even officially supported in a 64-bit Windows 7 environment. So since 32-bit OSs only "see" a theoretical maximum of 4GB (in reality when you check available memory in Windows 32-bit you'll see from 3GB to 3.5GB max), the recording/production software you run and the supported environment (32 or 64-bit) will determine the amount of RAM you need. Most X58 boards will let you run with 4GB with no problem. If you're running in a 64-bit environment, you could start with 6GB and just add as necessary.

    You don't need much video capability. You need an OK $40 or $50 video card.
  4. We're on the same page, it looks like... ;-)

    The one I am going to retire is a Pentium 4 2.8 as well. Mine are always dedicated machines - never use it for anything else and pull all updates, patches, etc., to another machine and then dump them to the DAW (no Internet connection on the DAW). I have a Microcenter by me and have been watching the price drop on the i7 950s ($198 now), that is what I think I am going to go with.

    I will be putting the MOBO in an existing Antec P180 (love that case!) with an existing Zalman silent PS and silent fans. I use an Echo Layla 3G for sound and MidiSport 4x4for midi (running into and through an Digital Music Corp MX-8 midi patch bay). Roland JV80 for controller, ARP DGX pro through CV to midi converter and old DrumKat FlatKat digital drum pads (12) running through Alesis DM5. Also use a Sonuus B2M pitch to midi converter for my basses (sweet piece for under $100). All patched through a Carvin 16 channel 4 bus mixer and 2 Alesis RA 100 power amps with old Sony studio monitors. Believe it or not, I have always used Acid as my recording tool, and with great results. With midi recording/editing now in 7, I love the tool (ver 8 will be out sometime this year - x64). The only thing I was not up on was the mobo choice, given i7 cpu, ssd and high RAM.

    Thanks for the pointers. We should try a collaboration project sometime... ;-)
  5. Best answer
    That is quite the set of tools you have there! I should look into Acid. What kind of virtual instruments are included? Does it work with M-Audio input devices? I'm considering ProTools 9, though it seems the pricing kind of stinks now that Avid's gotten a hold of the product.

    Gigabyte and Asus are the brands I would suggest for motherboards. I have used both for years. They have not failed me yet.
  6. Here's the link to the software - gives a full overview of what's included: . I think you might be impressed, and I hear that ver 8 is going to be even better!

    I've always used Tyan and Asus, have not worked with Gigabyte yet - I'll look into those...

    Thanks again for all your input, very much appreciated!!!

    (Hard to believe I started doing this stuff in DOS, using Cadenza - 1985!) :)
  7. I'll check it out.

    I never did any work like that in DOS, though I did have start on a standalone Roland sequencer, Soundcanvas and Fostex 4 and 8 track recorders.
  8. Best answer selected by mr_melvis.
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