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  #1  
Old 03-02-2021, 07:08 AM
KerryCalvert KerryCalvert is offline
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Default After 15 years, need an upgrade

I have a question about how to best provision hardware for using Protools because I do not fully comprehend the signal workflow to make the best decision. Here are the issues:

I have a Digi 003 audio interface that I am using for recording guitars and keyboards with Protools 2020. It needs to be replaced so I am looking at options.

I am leaning towards an interface that has Thunderbolt 3. I want low latency, but cannot justify the huge price bump to go with Avid HD hardware.

Going to Thunderbolt requires a replacement of my PC motherboard, which opens another block of decisions.

My questions regarding Protools is this. What about a Protools recording session puts demand on the host interface such that a 40Gbps (Thunderbolt) delivery will be clearly better than 800Mbps(Firewire). Or are those speeds untapped for a recording session with 1-4 active inputs?

With my 003, just enabling recording to test the sound with a single guitar input will often have audio drops. I have am unclear on whether this is a function of the I/O processing on Firewire, D/A conversion issues on the 003, or CPU processing cycles in Protools on the PC.

The common consensus on the topic of Protools CPU processing is that the more cores, the better. Is that true when there is a single input, or is it more of a factor when there are multiple inputs being processed? I suspect Protools does not break a single input into parallel processing workflows which would benefit from multiple cores, but that is an assumption.

So one theory I have is my audio drop outs are because my CPU (a 10 year old 4 core i64) cannot handle the Protools processing load. I have monitored CPU usage, and it hangs around 50% when running Protools. So it is not clear that CPU is the issue.

My hope is that upgrading I/O and CPU resources will give me a stable recording platform, but that is what I thought 15 years ago when I bought the 003, and the dream was not realized.

Without understanding the division of labor of the processing on the audio signals from instrument to speaker, it seems like whack-a-mole to determine where to invest in hardware to get the best results.

So where would you invest $2500 to upgrade the hardware to get sound quality and stability with Protools in this home studio use case?
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2021, 08:53 AM
Obsidian Dragon Obsidian Dragon is online now
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

Your system is quite old and technology has moved forward far beyond those times. Perhaps the best way to solve the performance issues would be a new computer and interface. If you are comfortable with computers and hardware, going with a Windows on an Intel i7 or i9 is more cost effective. If you prefer to have an easier setup that has less variables, an Intel-based Apple Mac might be a better option. The M1-based Mac's are not officially supported yet.

As for the interface, any modern interface should work fine. For a single input (or just a few at the same time) USB3 interfaces are fine. If you need a lot of inputs and outputs at the same time (8 in/8 out or more), then Thunderbolt may make sense

These are just general ideas and not specific recommendations for any particular brand or model.
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Model Name: MacBook Pro
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Last edited by Obsidian Dragon; 03-02-2021 at 11:57 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-02-2021, 11:40 AM
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The Weed The Weed is online now
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

Check the i7 thread, (much) later posts, at the top of the Windows forum for PC builds that work well with Pro Tools.

I have an over 7 years old PC using Windows 10 Pro latest, that has been upgraded a few times. 4th generation Intel Quad Core i7 (Intel is at 10th generation currently), 32 GB of RAM, two 500 GB Samsung Evo 970 Plus NVMe M.2drives, separate graphics card and an 850 watt power supply. While I don't record guitar, my normal largest session is for Described Video. A DV session has a video, its soundtrack, a voice track and a track for a remote direction producer. Typically these sessions will be around 3.5 GB in size. Disk Cache is at 4 GB. I also have Processor Affinity set to 2 cores less (hyperthreading is on).

My interface is an RME UFX, which is USB 2.0. While some will state USB 2.0 is too slow, RME writes their own USB drivers, which are some of the best, if not the best. I record at 64 buffer with no issues, even with a video in session. USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2 or 3, as long as the drivers are solid, will be better.

$2,500 USD should get you a decent, custom built computer and a decent, low priced interface. Do not be fooled by some of the low prices for today's budget interfaces. They are as good as or better than your 003. What you will pay for a modern interface depends on how much I/O you need and what you can spend. Do not cut costs on the computer hardware.
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  #4  
Old 03-02-2021, 11:45 AM
daeron80 daeron80 is offline
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

Firewire is more than fast enough for recording if you have a good interface. If you feel the need to get latency below 2ms, yes, you want Thunderbolt, and it's going to eat your budget and then some. But if you can live with 3 or 4 ms, Firewire is fine.

I'm using a refurb HP Z440 with 64 GB RAM, and a Focusrite Saffire. Both are now a couple years old, but they handle everything I can throw at them with elegance and without hiccups. I can run a full orchestral template plus several hungry synth VIs and still add guitars with a HWB of 64, no problem. The secret is, the Z440 (and 660, and and 880) have Xeon chips rather than iN core. They're built to handle multiple heavy loads at once.

Meanwhile, make sure you open Task Manager and uncheck processor zero in the Affinity settings. You have to do it every time you run PT, after the session finishes opening. Why PT doesn't do it for us automagically, I can't imagine, but it doesn't. If you don't want to have to deal with silly workarounds like that, you just have to cough up the dough for a Mac. There are good used ones that will do what you want.
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Last edited by daeron80; 03-02-2021 at 11:47 AM. Reason: clarity
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  #5  
Old 03-02-2021, 11:55 AM
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The Weed The Weed is online now
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by daeron80 View Post
Meanwhile, make sure you open Task Manager and uncheck processor zero in the Affinity settings. You have to do it every time you run PT, after the session finishes opening.
You can use a command switch in the Pro Tools Shortcut Icon to start PT with whatever Processor Affinity setting you want:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e565VSxdVhY

And here's a Hex Calculator:

https://bitsum.com/tools/cpu-affinity-calculator/

HTH
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  #6  
Old 03-02-2021, 01:10 PM
daeron80 daeron80 is offline
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Weed View Post
You can use a command switch in the Pro Tools Shortcut Icon to start PT with whatever Processor Affinity setting you want:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e565VSxdVhY

And here's a Hex Calculator:

https://bitsum.com/tools/cpu-affinity-calculator/

HTH
Ooo, thanks, good to know. The threads about affinity on the DUC that I've seen didn't include such instructions.
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  #7  
Old 03-02-2021, 03:09 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

Firewire is going the way of the dodo, so I would not invest another dime on that(and if you have FW drives, by all means, copy everything onto modern USB3/USBc or Thunderbolt drives(for working). USB3 and NAS storage are both fine for backups(I use both because; if it doesn't exist in 3 places or more, its NOT backed up). I am still getting solid performance with my fairly old intel i7 3930K/Asus Sabertooth X79 mobo/32GB of quad-channel RAM with a fast SSD for the C: drive. If I were building today(or buying), TB3 would be part of it(whether I need it or not, I want to have it). This same thought process is ALMOST enough to get me to buy a Mac(to get AVB), but not quite
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  #8  
Old 03-02-2021, 06:01 PM
philgrab philgrab is offline
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

I think last year when I upgraded, to get ahead of the technology curve, it was something like $950 for the Asus MB with TB3, an i9 Intel Chip and a bunch of ram. Then I went with a Lynx Aurora (n) 16 channel. Depending on your ego and where you have your sights set, the interface should not be skimped on. If I had been ITB then an Apollo rig would have been the path with a bunch of UA plugins, since I was already hybrid and had a lot of outboard gear, I went Lynx.

If you are going to be ITB, you should be good.
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  #9  
Old 03-02-2021, 06:59 PM
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DetroitT DetroitT is online now
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

“...so I would not invest another dime on that(and if you have FW drives, by all means...”
A tame budget may require bang-for-the-dinero. FW 400-800 work well here on a side system.

on the other hand I agree with the best part above.
“(and if you have FW drives, by all means, copy everything onto modern USB3/USBc or Thunderbolt drives(for working). USB3 and NAS storage are both fine for backups(I"
Can’t have enough back up.

003 to 2020.12 pro tools nice btw.

Focusrite, mini i7 16gb , perpetual or subscription are todays normal. all within budget. 4 TB ports.
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  #10  
Old 03-02-2021, 08:42 PM
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JCBigler JCBigler is offline
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Default Re: After 15 years, need an upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by DetroitT View Post
“...so I would not invest another dime on that(and if you have FW drives, by all means...”
A tame budget may require bang-for-the-dinero. FW 400-800 work well here on a side system.
You'll spend more on a PCIe Firewire card or Thunderbolt adapter/hub with Firewire these days than you will on a modern computer that comes built in with USB 3.1 G2 (USB-C) or Thunderbolt 3.

Use your old computer to copy your Firewire drives to a USB drive and forget about the Firewire stuff. It's 100% obsolete these days. And modern SSD external drives are going to provide many times the bandwidth throughput of an aging 5400 or 7200 RPM Firewire HDD.
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