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Old 01-31-2002, 09:35 PM
Allen Hallada Allen Hallada is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sun Valley, ID
Posts: 6,686
Default Best Desktops for Pro Tools LE

Updated: 2/6/07

The new AMD processors have achieved over 100% better performance than Mac G5 and P4 systems on PTLE. With rock solid stability, they easily push past the 32 track/160 effects limit and currently provide more processing power than the current HD-3 core cards. These are all top quality components proven to work with 001, MBox, MBox2, 002, and 002R. PTLE 7.0 is needed to take advantage of dual core processing features. Thanks to Shane and fellow DUCers for all the research that went into this one. Nothing out there can touch this beast!

The Allenstein "Quadzilla" Machine

CHENMING CMUI-601AECB-U Charcoal Black 1.0mm SECC Server Computer Case 55.99

OCZ PowerStream OCZ520ADJSLI ATX, BTX, EPS12V 520W Power Supply 134.99

Asus K8N DL Server Motherboard 177.99

AMD Dual-Core Opteron 270 Italy 1000MHz HT 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket 940 Processor - Retail 259.00 x 2 = 522.00

CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM ECC Registered DDR 400 (PC 3200) Dual Channel Kit System Memory = 297.00

ATI Radeon X1900GT 256Mb DDR 16X Dual Video Card 154.99

Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM 8MB CACHE Hard Drives 58.00 x 2 = 116.00

Lite-On DVD/CDRW Dual Drive 39.00

Total = approx. $1500.00 US

* Alternative motherboard is the Tyan Tiger K8WE (recommended for those adding more audio cards)

* 4 GB of registered ram recommended for this system for optimal performance (4 sticks of 1GB each PC3200 DDR400 ECC) and bios upgrade to 1008.

Western Digital Raptor 10,000 RPM Drives - Highly Recommended

Prices taken from www.newegg.com and www.pricewatch.com

*Onboard firewire on the K8N-DL is compatible with 002, 002r and does not require firewire card.

* For Dual VGA Monitors, purchase one DVI to VGA adapter for this video card.

*For questions on optimizing and setting up this motherboard visit this site http://forums.amdmb.com/showthread.p...postid=2167438 or see Shane's excellent Allenstein Quadzilla thread for more information on setting up Quads for PTLE.

*PTLE 7.0 and above required for full functioning of this system

*Disable RAID in the Bios.

*On duals with anything below 7.0 you have to assign one processor to PT LE. See this post.

*Optimizing Windows XP: http://www.musicxp.net/tuning_tips.php

Alternative Systems

The Original Under $600.00 System (Digi Approved)

Aspire X-Dreamer II case with 420W PSU 54.00

A8V motherboard for 64X2 processors 65.00

Athlon 64 4400+ Dual Core Processor 295.00

Corsair Dual Channel Ram 1GB = 69.00

ATI Radeon 9600 128Mb DDR 8X Dual Video Card 54.00

Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM 8MB CACHE Hard Drives 51.00 x 2 = 102.00

Lite-On DVD/CDRW Dual Drive 39.00

Total = approx. $600.00 US

* You can swap this motherboard with the A8N-SLI with built in firewire for the 002. You will need to swap the video card for the ATI X700 video card from the specs at the top. I recommend the A8V for anyone planning to add more PCI audio cards or for the 001 card.

Best Laptop for PTLE

I highly recommend the MacBook Pro or MacBook laptops with dual core Intel processors. Click on title above to see current discussion of the "Best Laptops for PTLE" with the most current tested and proven list of laptops.

Digi Approved Laptops with Mbox, 002, and 002r
(click on title for most current list tested by Digi)

Resources for Building an Ultra Quiet PC
Building a Quiet Computer
PC Power and Cooling
Quiet PC (Zalman and Nexus PSU and Fans)
Nidec -Highest Quality Replacement Fans on the Market (Used in Macintosh Computers)

Digi Approved Firewire Cards

Upgrading System
For those who want to upgrade the above system, the case can be upgraded to suit your recording needs as well as the video card, hard drives, etc.. Here are some suggestions:

Computer Cases
Acoustic Treated Case from Quiet PC (Highly Recommended!)
Black Rack Mount Case
Koolance Water Cooled Desktop and Rackmount Cases

Dual Video Monitors (not supported by Digi)
The listed card will work for dual video. It comes with one VGA and one DVI output. For dual VGA setups buy the DVI to VGA adapter from www.newegg.com . See Swaphappy's thread on using dual video with PTLE. Use the free innovative WindowPlacer software with this video card for best dual monitor function.

Another great option has been the Matrox G550 card which has allowed users to set up dual flat panel monitor positions in PTLE without any software. Matrox Millenium G550 Dual-DVI

Best Backup and Transport Systems
DVD is the best price/performance winner in this category and shares a universal format with Mac computers making Mac-PC or PC-Mac file transfer a breeze. Another great way to go is utilizing an external firewire hard drive enclosure and putting the WD 8MB cache drive listed above in it. Incredible performance at a great price.
Lite-On DVD/CDRW Combo Drive 113.00
DVD Burner Mall
ADS Pyro 1394 Drive Kit
ADS Dual 1394/USB2.0 Drive Kit - Oxford 911 Chipset
Apple iPod
Oxford 911 Chipset Firewire/USB External Hard Drive Enclosures
Bytecc ME-720U2F USB2.0/1394 HD Enclosure 65.00 (Best Deal on Oxford 911)
Bytecc ME720 1394 3.5" HD Enclosure 45.00 (Best Deal on Oxford 911)

I highly recommend using the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer (get the USB version with a P/S 2 adapter. Connect to the PS/2 port on the computer. This mouse will make your recording experience so much easier with shortcuts and fast accurate pointing and grabbing.

Any Microsoft PS/2 keyboard will do the trick depending on your size requirements. USB keyboards are best hooked up with PS/2 adapters.

I prefer the LCD flat panel screens , especially when setting up dual monitors. 15-21" works great for dual monitor setups or just get one big 72" plasma screen.

Need A Longer Cable for Digi001?
The Digi001 I/O cable has a rare SCSI-2 connector known as a "micro-centronics 50" (sometimes called a "mini-centronics" or a "HPCN50"). Contact CS Electronics at (949) 475-9100, or www.cselex.com or sales@cselex.com. Thanks to our friend English Jim for the great find.

Installing Win XP
I recommend using Standard PC setting while installing XP for best performance.
How to Install WinXP

Configuring Your Hard Drives
You will need at least one ATA100 7200rpm drive for Digi 001 and two drives for 002 when recording at 96k. On one drive systems both the system and audio files are on the same drive. On two drive systems, one drive is for system (Windows XP and Programs) and the other for audio files.

One Drive System
For the above motherboard put your system drive on the motherboard's primary IDE on its own cable, and CDRW/CD/DVD devices on secondary IDE channel. In bios be sure that CD is at the top of the boot sequence. Install WinXP from CD and format this drive NTFS. Then install PTLE.

Two Drive System (using IDE channels)
On the back of your hard drives, make sure your system drive is set to master(jumper). Set your audio drive to slave(jumper also).
It is best if the hard drives are at the end of their own cable. If this isn't possible on your motherboard then follow this. Hook your system drive to the last connector on the ribbon cable. Hook your audio drive to the middle connector of the same cable.
Start your computer, and go into control panel/administrative tools/computer management/disk management.
You should be able to see your new drive and partition and format it.
If you are relying on just the motherboard for your IDE channels, leave the drives hooked up this way, and put your CD-RW on IDE channel 2.
If you have the Promise ATA100 TX2 or ATA133 TX2 Controller card or Promise channels on your motherboard, put your audio drive(s) on it after they have been formatted, and your system drive on IDE1, CDRW/DVD drives on IDE2 of motherboard.

*DVD, CDRW drives should go on the secondary IDE of the motherboard and never share cable with your hard drives.

Configuring Your IRQs
Start with putting your 001 card in slot 3 of the above motherboard. Go into Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Info/Hardware/IRQ and print your settings out or copy and paste them to the DUC for having others help you configure your IRQs. Digi should be on its own IRQ with the exception of ACPI if you are using that feature. For removing the devices listed, you will go into your bios at startup of the computer and remove anything you are not using including USB, com and parallel ports, firewire etc.. You may need to remove the drivers in Device Manager also. Here is a great explanation of what to remove.

Davec Performance Test Test your new system and compare to performances of other systems.

Who The Heck Is Going To Build It for Me?
Many people build their own systems. If you are uncomfortable with building your own system here are some suggestions:

Professional Local Computer Builder
Print out this list and take it to a professional computer builder. They should provide tech. support and give you at least a one year warranty (in writing) on the system.

Fastest Computers On The Block

Do It Yourself
For those wanting to build their own system here are step by step directions for building your own computer. Remember to ask questions on the DUC if you run into any problems.
Building Your own Super DAW

Transfering Sessions from PC to Mac and Back
Before starting any session, be sure to select PC/Mac compatibility option. Transfering sessions from Mac2PC or PC2Mac using a DVD is a breeze because it uses a universal standard language across all platforms. Here are some tips if you are using other methods.

PC Exchange for Mac OS
Windows to Mac Fixes
Mac to Windows Fixes
Mac Opener for PC
CD Everywhere for CD Compatibility
MacDrive for PC

Best RTAS Plugins for PTLE
Waves Platinum and Gold
Most Comprehensive Up To Date List of All Plugins Available for Windows XP

Best Mastering and CD Burning Software
Music Match Jukebox -Wav to MP3 Converter and Burner (FREE download)
Nero CD Burning Software
Steinberg Wavelab Full Mastering Suite
Roxio CD Burning Products (Already included in WinXP)

Upgrading Sound System
One of the most common questions on the DUC is about adding external preamps and AD/DA converters. This section is for clearing up any confusion about adding external preamps and converters. The Digi 001 pres/converters are good for the money and home recording hobbyist, but to get to a pro level sound I suggest you upgrade them both. This will also add to the number of I/O you can use up to 18. You can bypass the Digi converter by using an external AD/DA converter via SPDIF or ADAT lightpipe. So your prechain would look like this:
Mic>Preamp>Converter>SPDIF or ADAT Lightpipe>Digi 001 or 002 I/O box>PTLE
Some preamps also come with converters built in.

Best Preamps for Under 1K
Summit Audio 2-BA 221
FMR Really Nice Preamp
Great River ME-1NV
Grace 101
Digimax LT 8 Channel Preamp

Best Preamps over 1K
Great River MP-2NV
API 3124+
John Hardy M-1
Brent Averill 1272
Phoenix Audio DRS-2
Vintech Audio 473

Best Converters for under 1K
Lucid 9624

Best Converters over 1K
Cranesong HEDD 192
Benchmark AD 2402-96
RME ADI-96 Pro
Swissonic AD8

Multi-Channel Pre-Amp/AD/DA Combo(for Gear Addicts only)
Cranesong Spider
Manley Slam
Focusrite ISA 428 Pre Pack
Apogee Mini-Me
Digimax 96 8 Channel

Here are some preamp listening tests with various sources and mics:

Recording Tips and Tricks
Acoustic Guitar Miking Secrets

Have fun and enjoy the process!
Hope that helps out the newbies here and those looking to upgrade. Now get making music and post your songs here and get famous!

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