Need anything special for a recording Pc?
Alright, My buddy is getting me to piece him up a computer for recording music. I have built many computer including mine for Video Editing/Gaming. My question for you is does a pc made for recording music need any special hardware that isn't really in a video editing/Gaming pc?
You will want a decent audio interface, that's basically a sound card designed for recording. Usually they are external via USB or more commonly FireWire though. Other than that, you would just want a multi core CPU with plenty of RAM. I would get a fairly large SSD for programs and for bouncing audio etc and use external drives or a NAS for storage personally. That's the way I do it, it works out a lot quieter than multiple fast hard drives spinning away.
What is the budget? I can suggest a full build.
What is he likely to record? As in type and number of instruments, or is it more electronic stuff?
Is he recording with microphones or direct input?
Will he want to be burning CD's?
How often/intensively is this system to be used?
Is he likely to want to overclock?
Does he already have studio monitors/computer monitors and peripherals?
Ok so pretty standard rock/indie/metal stuff? Will he want to record an actual drum kit with microphones or an electric kit? Or just drum software? Also is everything to be recorded separately or the whole band playing in a room together all at once? Sorry for the interrogation, I just want to be able to provide the right suggestions.
Any PC of this kind will need a decent CPU and plenty of RAM. Pretty much any multi core CPU and 4GB+ of RAM would be fine for most people. For this build in particular, there won't be many tracks or software heavy instruments or effects so it would be wise to shift some of the budget away from CPU/RAM and towards the interface and some decent studio monitors. Dual monitors (as in screens) is very helpful as well.
An AMD FX-8 would be viable in this kind of build but I would still for for an Intel CPU to be honest. They have much lower TDP's, meaning there is a lot less heat to have to deal with in the case. Also, the new Ivy Bridge CPU's have great integrated graphics which will be very useful since you will probably be using them. A graphics card would be a waste of money for this kind of build. It would contribute a lot of noise as well and most people want these builds to be ultra quiet. Especially if you're recording with microphones.
For storage, most people would suggest a RAID 0 array of large mechanical hard drives because high quality recordings can easily fill 20MB per minute of recording. This method can make the PC quite noisy though, and that's the last thing you want for this kind of PC. Also, no matter how fast the hard drive is and how many you have in RAID, a SSD will be faster. I would suggest that he use a fairly large SSD in the system and just use an external drive or a NAS for storage. Keeps the system faster and quieter and gives more portability.
This build would be a bit overkill for the usage but it would last a while and be ultra quiet. Comes way under budget at ~$1050 as well. That leaves plenty of room for a decent interface.
2x8GB Corsair XMS3 1600Mhz
Intel BOXDZ77BH55K (One of the few IB boards I could find with Firewire. A lot of high end audio interfaces are firewire.)
Onboard Intel HD 4000 Graphics
Samsung 830 Series 256GB
SeaSonic SSR-360GP 360W 80 PLUS Gold PSU
Antec P280 (Very quiet case, pretty big though)
Scythe SCMG-3100 (Quietest cooler I could find. Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo would be equally quiet and cheaper, not quite the same cooling capacity though)
Lite On DVD Burner
Total - ~$1050
You could definitely get something that would do the job cheaper if required, I would't spend any more than this on the system itself though.
If your friend doesn't already have good studio monitors and dual computer monitors, I'd definitely try to save a bit of cash on the system and get those. You could get an FX-8120 with 8GB of RAM for half the price of the i7/16GB and it would still perform fine, in that case you might want to buy a very basic graphics card to run the monitors though. If he does need studio and computer monitors, this cheaper build would still be great:
2x4GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600Mhz
ASUS M5A88-M AM3+
HIS Silence HD 6570 1GB (Passive) - (This is just to run dual monitors nicely)
Samsung 830 Series 256GB
COOLER MASTER GeminII M4
Fractal Design Core 1000
Lite On DVD Burner
Total - ~$700
Would still give great performance but would leave room in the budget for dual monitors and some decent studio monitors. There would be a bit more heat to cope with in this one but nothing crazy.
With audio interfaces, I don't have much experience with higher end ones as mine was the equivalent of $100. But, you will want something with:
- Plenty of XLR mic inputs for drum recording. 4 would be your bare minimum, I would aim for 8.
- A good, high quality line input with a good preamp for electric guitar recording.
- Something external is better for easy access and portability.
Less important things for you would be:
- MIDI input. You probably won't need this for rock/metal recordings, it's not too important. I suppose 1-2 wouldn't hurt but I doubt it would be used.
- Hybrid mixer/interface. If you are not all playing at the same time, this isn't too important. I would just use a software mixer and a standard interface. It wouldn't hurt but I wouldn't pay too much more for it.
There's a lot more to it than that I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, perhaps ask in a dedicated forum for audio. Sound on Sound perhaps.