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Subject: Mac user seeking PC experts opinions

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Original Message 1/3             13-Jul-06  @  09:00 AM   -   Mac user seeking PC experts opinions


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Hi all,

I was wondering if you Windows experts could answer a couple questions for me about your setup? (You can skip the background if you're in a hurry.)


I'm coming from the perspective of a professional studio that uses Mac + complete ProTools system.
In this scenario, most of the issues that you guys are experts on simply don't apply.
All the nitty gritty happens in the Protools cards and hardware. I don't have to worry about latency,
IRQ's, motherboards, conflicts, or anything else. Hurray! Except for one problem.
This system is a bit of a dinosaur, great for recording, but way too slow to run anything new and cool that uses the CPU, like BFD or Live or just about any VST synth.

So, I had a friend make me a custom-built Windows XP machine, optimized for music production.
I will use this computer to run all the VST synths, samplers, drum programs, etc., and probably record directly into my Protools system, via spdif or balanced outputs.
Unfortunately, to be honest, I've had nonstop problems so far, ranging from absurd latency, to network card killing audio output, to firewire dropping out, random blue screens, drives disappearing, etc. Too many problems for a simpleton like myself to fathom.

All I want to do is make this windows box a monster sound generator, and go spdif or balanced out into my protools system. If I can eventually someday use it as a complete standalone system, that's great, but not the priority now.

So here is my question to all you experts:


A. Does anyone out there actually have a rock-solid, hassle-free setup, where you can play VST synths from your external keyboard controller, with no noticeable latency, i.e. less than 2ms?
1) WHICH SOUNDCARD are you using?
2) What OS, how much RAM?
3) What VST-host and what VST synths do you use?

B. Which best describes you:
1) Professional Artist or Producer
2) Independent Artist
3) Hobbyist

C. Does there actually come a time in the Windows world where everything is sorted out and tweaked to optimum performance, so that you can forget about it and just make music, or would you say that configuring a windows-based music computer is a continuous process for PC experts only?

Thanks for your input,

lucas12 at

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Message 2/3             18-Jul-06  @  05:07 AM   -   RE: Mac user seeking PC experts opinions


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A. Yes. I can run down to 1.5 ms @ 44.1 no problem on my aging AMD's (1800 and 2800)
1. MOTU 2408 mk1
2. XP Professional, 1GB ram (get more for heavy synth work)
3. Using Sonar with Cakewalk's (formerly FXPansion's) VST wrapper. I've tried most of the major soft synths without noteworthy problems.

B. Professional Engineer/Producer

C. If you commit to several days worth of googling to learn the skills necessary to set up a proper audio PC (if you're coming from Mac land, it really is a whole 'nother world of involvement to set up), then it's certainly possible. There are fool-proof setups posted all sorts of places out there. I know the nuendo forum in particular has very explicit directions for setting up a proper system with that DAW. Once you set it up and everything works well, there are steps you can take to ease future maintenance duties. These involve (mainly) keeping your system files and program installs entirely on one partition or drive, and all user-generated data on another. This allows you to use a program like Norton Ghost to image your system drive so it can be recalled in perfect form at any time should a problem occur and you won't lose a step regarding your data. In addition, you'll need proper spyware/virus protection (which can be found free... adaware and avgfree). If your PC will be on the net, you WILL get bugs that eventually cause it to lose performance. But if you do it right, getting your system back to perfect running order is nothing at all.

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Message 3/3             03-Oct-06  @  02:46 AM   -   RE: Mac user seeking PC experts opinions


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didnt even see this one, well y'never know, he might have flagged it to his email

using an esp 1010 by esi-pro @ 44.1, 1ms in Logic for PC on amd2000 with 1db ram, has done various jobs inc film score/fx to video for major festival award winning films. records 8 tracks no probs at 1ms latency - audio score excellent in audio-analyser s/w, budget item, the 1820m while nice, is on the bench since the 1010 arrived. it's just an i/o device, that sall it does and it does it ok.

the e-mu can be more, a sampler etc, drivers mebbe not so robust shall we say? but even at 5-ms latency, live realtime playing of vst synth is a reality as is adding fx in s/w in realtime and monitoring thru the s/w as a whole as you work

the e-mu isbeing discontinued so they will drop in price i spose, sound good, but i cant get it down as low as the esp1010


for the film work the staples are fm7, kontakt, absynth, reaktor... lol, all NI, .. also Albino, Edirol Orchestral and Garriton, but to be fair to other brands, the film stuff is about strinsg and piano's and the classical elements interwoven with whatever unique sounds and the sampler is the main one and the orchestral softs... absynth and fm7 and albino are for touches and sounds and atmospheres

for other electronic stuff, anything goes, i have no brand loyalty particularly with plugins ...whatever has a sound can work, depend what music u make i spose. I'm really impressed with some of the arturia stuff tho, ABL is great, man there's so many

B. Which best describes you:
1) Professional Artist or Producer
2) Independent Artist
3) Hobbyist

all 3 i spose depending on which week it is

C. Does there actually come a time in the Windows world where everything is sorted out and tweaked to optimum performance, so that you can forget about it and just make music...

yes, all you need to do is manage the data, archiving and mantainance when disks get full, I hoover mine from time to time, get the crap out of the fans, using a hoover and paintbrush to dislodge the fluff.

You might have to change the cpu fan or P/S if it fails, or WAY more rarely a disk.

best advise is dont try and run a machine to death to squeeze every last grunt out of it, use what you have and work to it's capacity


I had an idea for a script once. It's basically Jaws except when the guys in the boat are going after Jaws, they look around and there's an even bigger Jaws. The guys have to team up with Jaws to get Bigger Jaws. I call it... Big Jaws!

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