View Full Version : help

26-08-2003, 15:11:38
I've got a half music half tech question which I posted in the music forum:
It's regarding soundcards.

Help me!

26-08-2003, 15:26:32
Soundcard Review-Toms Hardware (http://www6.tomshardware.com/video/20030821/index.html)

As to the other...what are the hardware specs of your current computer?

No longer Trippin
26-08-2003, 15:27:09
I know the Audigy 2 Platinum ex has the port, don't know about the other ones. Hit up creative labs site. On the acrd I have it's a fifteen pin MIDI / Joystick interface header. I'm sure some of the cheaper models have it as well.

26-08-2003, 15:29:56
How do you find out you specs?

26-08-2003, 15:31:56
Although it says Pentium II below it is a Pentium III.

Microsoft Windows 98 4.10.1998
Upgrade using Full OEM CD /T:C:\WININST0.400 /SrcDir=D:\WIN98 /IE /NF /IZ /IS /IQ /IT /II /NR /II /C /U:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
IE 5 6.0.2600.0000
Uptime: 0:03:12:49
Normal mode
On "O8H4Y6" as "susan"

GenuineIntel Pentium(r) II Processor Intel MMX(TM) Technology
69% system resources free
Windows-managed swap file on drive C (825MB free)
Available space on drive C: 825MB of 9529MB (FAT32)

26-08-2003, 15:54:15
Yup...you need a faster processor and more RAM and more empty space on that hard drive.
When was the last time you defragged that puppy? When you work with large files like video or sound you need lots of orderly hard drive space

26-08-2003, 16:59:30
hmm. Defragged recently. I need more memory and a good soundcard then. How do I go about getting more RAM and memory for cheap?

26-08-2003, 17:23:23
If you want a good, yet cheap, sound card with midi - Look at the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz.

26-08-2003, 17:25:53
RAM is memory. Hard drives are cheap, buy another one to go with your first one.

K_G has bought some stuff from a really cheap online pc/tech site but I can't remember what it's called.

Your computer is running out of legs to run the latest software now really.

26-08-2003, 17:29:12
I'm going to need help it seems. Can you advise me next time I see you?

26-08-2003, 17:32:28
Yeah. We need to find out what kind of RAM your computer takes. Anyway to find out what your motherboard is?

26-08-2003, 17:32:55
Oh and I need some info for your new site. See e-mail.

26-08-2003, 17:57:11
This free program will give you a good idea of what you have on your computer.

Belarc (http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html)

No longer Trippin
26-08-2003, 18:58:57
You need a heavy amount of ram, plenty of harddrive space and a good processor, none of which you have. The card that I just mentioned is worth more than your entire comp.

How to find out specs? Go to Creative's site, click on the products, then on the specs... if it says MIDI/Joystick interface, then it has it. The audigy 1 platinum should have it, the ex 1 for sure... don't know about the rest of the audigy series though.

To really do editting you might want to bring the computer into the current generation. Your two (going on three) processor generations behind, up to two (soon to be three ram generations behind), your hdd is way to small and running at ATA66 on a 10 gig drive. If your really serious about this, basically tossing that computer out the window is in order.

Protien, how do you know it was falsly billed as a P3... That wouldn't be the first time. I don't even know if a p2, if that is what you truly have would be able to handle the card.

Your programs aren't going to run smoothly until you put down an investment in a new system. A p3 you can get by with very small editting and the like, a p2, your really pushing it due to current compression algorithms.

You can build a new comp minus monitor for around 250-300 not counting soundcard or video, but onboard sound and video can come at that price. Rather good audio can come at that price - Soundstorm, it's better than an Audigy 1, but an Audigy 2 platinum is better... so it's about on par with a regular audigy 2 in terms of quality of sound, a little lacking maybe. Also with soundstorm, the EQ actually works for everything, and its a 9 band one, support for 5.1 setups, analog or digital. Right now until you get something with more horsepower, a new soundcard won't matter. Your systems just on it's last legs.

If you have a fast connection, download SiSoft Sandra (use google), a slow on, AIDA (again, google) works rather well. AIDA will even give you your windows CD Key, though it isn't nearly as thorough as Sandra. WCPUID (google it) will just give you your processor info... your bios is just going by the megahertz speed. If you were sold it overclocked, then your seeing a p3 as that may be the speed rating of one, but in terms of performance, it's behind a p3 by a good bit. P4's and XP's just blow P3's away, can't imagine a comparision with a P2.

Hardware cost aren't going to go down much anytime soon as there is no reason for them to at all - the hardware is still ahead of the software in the consumer market for the most part. The Althon64 is going to be grabbing the upper end of the market on release and for a while after that, Intel may wind up ditching the prescott due to heat issues and highly limited scalability - 4 ghz finally top end range at 100+ watts going by intel. Also DDR2 will be an expensive item. So you have a good year to catch up to current technology which will be more than fast enough for everything pretty much... only places where you'll need more power in 2 years would be gaming and high end workstation work truthfully. With games you'll just be at recommended or safetly above minimum for a couple years. This is just a time right now when PC's are just radically changing. 64bit interface, onchip memory controllers, DDR 2, PCI- Express, SATA 600 mb/s (that's gonna render SCSI obsolete even), and of course, even faster vid cards that do even more stuff.

27-08-2003, 09:46:55
He hasn't got the money for a new computer though. I think he needs more RAM and a hard drive because those are two things he can do cheaply which will help a lot. Basically what he wants is suggestions for what he can do for under $200 to improve the PC. Any tips for second hand stuff, cheap upgrades etc would be welcomed I expect.

Apparently it's a Intel Pentium III 733 and the mother board is a Compaq 0688h. He's got 2*64 meg RAM and a slot free, the HD is only 10 Gig.

27-08-2003, 11:06:17
I can run programs on my computer as it is but when I get more than three or four audio tracks running my computer hiccups. A new sound card and RAM would fix that wouldn't it?

27-08-2003, 11:16:14
The sound card looks like it's a bit shit but it says it's integrated, not sure how easy that is to replace, that's beyond my knowledge.

Ram will help loads and is fairly cheap.

27-08-2003, 11:18:53

This Ram might do?

27-08-2003, 11:25:42
Would that make my computer faster or have bigger space for things?

27-08-2003, 11:30:17
In very basic terms (and I'm sure some of the nerds will correct any of this I get wrong). RAM is where your programs are stored when you are using them. The more RAM you have the more programs and data you can access without loading from the Hard Drive. Accessing the data from RAM is much, much, much faster than from the hard drive, so the more you have, the less you have to load and the faster things go.

Bigger and newer hard drives also tend to be a lot faster than smaller older hard drives so that could be another speed boost.

Cheap RAM sites:


27-08-2003, 11:34:04
I think I'm going to spend about 150 on a sound card so I wont have much left for other stuff. Because I don't know anything it would be better if I was told exactly what I needed in terms of RAM.

27-08-2003, 11:42:39
in the end though it does come round to processor speeds. more memory and a harddrive space might help, but the raw processing speed would be no faster.

27-08-2003, 11:45:46
That first link was the right one I think.

The sound card won't speed up the programs as much as the extra RAM I don't think but improving the sound card would improve the sound you get out. If the sound you get out is OK, get the RAM first then see what happens.

27-08-2003, 11:51:57
Can I improve the processor too? I need a sound card for midi connections anyway.

27-08-2003, 11:59:33
If you do you'd probably need a new motherboard. If you need to improve the RAM, Processor, HD and soundcard you are starting to look at a whole new machine.

27-08-2003, 12:00:46
Originally posted by Nav
in the end though it does come round to processor speeds. more memory and a harddrive space might help, but the raw processing speed would be no faster.

True, basically he's trying to run stuff on a machine that can't cope with it.

27-08-2003, 12:43:08
Reason runs fine. I'll spunk off Cubase until I'm rich then. I'll just get a sound card for now.

27-08-2003, 13:12:52
Originally posted by protein
Can I improve the processor too? I need a sound card for midi connections anyway. You'd have to find out the maximum speed processor your machine can take, even then I doubt it would be much more than what you've already got (so not really worth it), not to mention the fact that the processors would be hard to come by.

You can buy decent barebones system for very cheap nowadays say 300 ish, might be worth looking into that. You don't need the latest, fastest, etc, you just need a significant improvement over what you've got. say 1.5ghz or something.

27-08-2003, 13:21:10

If you look at this model and configure it so you don't get anything you don't need (take out monitor etc.) It's just over 300 it would be well over twice as fast as your current machine (it's a lot faster than my current machine). You can add in a soundblaster live 5.1 for 25 as well, not sure if that meets your needs though. Review here:


27-08-2003, 13:28:15
Evesham are very good as well.

My Dad just bought a new uber-PC from them. It had the bloody latest Radeon in it as well. Bastard. (He doesnt even play 3D games..) :(

27-08-2003, 13:56:45
My last two machines have been Eveshams. Both have been great. I'm happy to recommend them.

27-08-2003, 14:18:57
Soundblasters are for gaming rather than semi-pro studo set ups.

Nightmare. I'll just have to forget this idea then.

27-08-2003, 15:00:11
Yeah, that's what I thought. Most of the studio quality ones seem to cost a fortune.

Maybe you should follow Bob/Vincent's advice and go for a hardware solution.

No longer Trippin
27-08-2003, 20:07:33
Yeah protien, even the audigy 2 platinum isn't a real professional card, but it does a good job with gaming and the occassional audio work it still comes out fairly good to great, but not professional, that is for sure (106 signal to noise is great, most CD players are in the 90's in terms of signal to noise for an example) The cards just lack of really good sound handling hardware on them to keep them in a decent budget for what an decent sounding entry level card to audio file fucking around should cost and still support games fully) - just that if your looking for professional sound you need a true professional audio rackmount "card" (card only serves to connect the comp to a true rackmounted audio processor). The computer is just too full of "noise" that fucks stuff up and that's why the audigy's don't sound like professional cards along with a few other things - mainly cheaper parts, but you get greater compatibility with games, that is the tradeoff. They moved SOME stuff outside the computer, but a decent bit is still on the card, thus more noise - that's why they are maybe a third of a rackmount if generous, and not nearly as deep as most I've seen. They do stuff decent to well, but if your looking for close to or of professional quality, keep on looking and open up that wallet, as I've looked at some. Some are near that price range, others, WAY above it.

27-08-2003, 20:14:07
I think I'm going to just keep mixing on my 16-track for now and leave virtual mixing until I am being paid good money for music. I'm going to buy a cheap sound card so that I can sequence stuff easier (I am programming entirely with a mouse at the moment).

Does anyone know how much a USB keyboard is?

27-08-2003, 20:44:31
Originally posted by protein
I think I'm going to just keep mixing on my 16-track for now and leave virtual mixing until I am being paid good money for music. I'm going to buy a cheap sound card so that I can sequence stuff easier (I am programming entirely with a mouse at the moment).

Does anyone know how much a USB keyboard is? Why the heck do you want a USB keyboard??? standard PS2 ones are fine

btw how does gettting a cheap card stop you using your mouse! Please explain! :)

27-08-2003, 21:09:29
X-fear and own goal?

OK. My sound card doesn't have midi connections. I am programming songs in a computer program called Reason using my mouse. If I can connect a music keyboard to my computer my life would be easier. There are three main options:

1. buy a new sound card and standard midi keyboard.
2. buy a USB midi keyboard
3. buy a USB midi keyboard and a new sound card to decrease latency.

28-08-2003, 09:48:51
I would buy a MIDI keyboard (not an USB keyboard) because you can use it for any kind of MDID tone generators like expanders, sequencers, drum computers etc. as well.
In general I made very good experiences with USB hardware, but the con is it's only usable with a computer. I use a Roland (now Edirol) keyboard, it's OK for editing.

I'd buy a new soundcard with MIDI ports and a MIDI keyboard.
Another idea is a USB MIDI-interface (no sound generator). If you plan to control a lot of external devicec like a multi track recorder, FX, synths etc, I recommend that variation. use a MIDI interface with multiple MIDI outs in that case

28-08-2003, 09:52:56
I think your probably right. This is going going to cost me.

28-08-2003, 09:57:36
Doesn't everything?

I wonder if Gareth has any old stuff he doesn't need anymore.

28-08-2003, 10:11:21
Like a sound card?

28-08-2003, 10:14:58
Or a keyboard or anything. I can ask him if you want, he might be willing to sell some off cheap.

28-08-2003, 13:05:23
And since your computer uses an older memory type, you may be able to scrounge some for free or dirt cheap from some one who has upgraded.

28-08-2003, 15:09:13
I think I got a terrible Terratec audio card somewhere. Was very expensive but shit. Never had the right drivers.

28-08-2003, 17:17:09
Originally posted by protein
X-fear and own goal?Sorry being stupid on both counts. Didnt mean to quote, didn't even think in a music related thread you were refering to a keyboard not of the qwerty kind. :)

28-08-2003, 19:12:01
Originally posted by Vincent
I think I got a terrible Terratec audio card somewhere. Was very expensive but shit. Never had the right drivers.
Wanna post it to me?

29-08-2003, 05:14:24
That would be a waste of money and time. They don't support Win2000/XP (the drivers don't really work) and it's an ISA slot card IIRC, which doesn't work on my latest computers
for details
And it's in my hardware box on the attic, so I'm not sure if it still works.

29-08-2003, 05:26:56
"we experienced some timing problems in Cubase VST when using this card"
"you hear this 'prrrtt...' every time your computer does something"
"it's confusingly complex"

That*s exactly what the problems are. I never managed to fix it 100%. Especially the timing problems (using external MIDI and internal audio) and the noises were pretty bad. Note that the card cost a $500 years ago.
The SB Extigy I use now is an external USB device. No humming noises, because it's not inside the computers case. That's an excellent solution. It gives yo also easy access to all the in- and outputs. and it only costs $150.
If you are looking for a professional setup, I recommend
* a multi MIDI interface
* an external sound generator
* a TFT monitor
CRT monitors are very annoying becaus they cause humming noises when using guitars. The electromagnetic field causes problems with the pickups, especially on single coil pickups (for example on Fender guitars) up to a distance of 3-4 m, depending on the angle between guitar and monitor. It sounds like a chainsaw.

29-08-2003, 05:29:09
Here's some more info

29-08-2003, 05:32:42
I wasted a lot of time and money in the past trying to get a computer based studio running.
If you are interested you can contact me at music@loudmedicine.net

29-08-2003, 09:34:08
Do you wear tinfoil on your head to stop eletromagnetic interference from your brain ruining your recordings?

29-08-2003, 09:44:43
I think Vincent's expert advice has put a stop to my "mixing on my PC" ideas. I'll get myself a cheap card for now. If I do get this job (composer for games) I'm going to have to invest a little.

29-08-2003, 10:15:56
That's a good idea, I think. Personally I got 2 strategies now:

1. I'm not sure
Get the best of the cheap category. You get an idea what you want and you usually won't burn too much of money
2. I'm sure
Get the cheapest of the best. Or at least good.

29-08-2003, 10:22:48
To be fair the mixes you are getting of your 16 track are sounding really good. (samples at http://www.bleeding-ear.co.uk a loudmedicine (http://www.loudmedicine.net) hosted website. ;) )

29-08-2003, 10:27:42
I guess a studio and your experiences are always evolving. You learn a lot from the desasters you caused and find your own way of using hardware. It's like with any instrument, some people prefer vintage equipment, others the latest high tech stuff. But in the end it's not the equipment that counts, it's purpose is to make you feel better. The common listener wouldn't notice

No longer Trippin
29-08-2003, 20:52:58
Later Creative cards can work (wouldn't want to wing it on a 5.1, but...), just they aren't the best, but none of us can afford or if we canm we don't want to pay for the best if we can afford not to. There are so many things other than the soundcard that I can see why Vincent just uses an Extigy - You only sound as good as your weakest link. Even if the Extigy is the weakest link for him, and with everything he has, that's a lot of very high end hardware to be purchasing for home use. So from what I gather he uses it for, it doesn't make for much of a weak link as the noise cieling and dynamic range are better than the average reciever that people use to listen to music and that seems to be all he uses it for is to assist slightly with audio, not to do all the content creation on it's own. No need in exceeding that unless you just have to absolutely have your shit sounding as great as possible and you only are aiming for the audiophile market to not even notice the recording methods other than the inevitable bitching about format that the old vinyl purist will always harp on you about..

30-08-2003, 08:13:23
Remember with any good recording software you don't need the soundcard for recording when using virutal instruments or FX. You only use it for monitoring. In fact only the quality of the A/D converters are relevant - or all the inputs, if you use them - because you won't use the output for other cases than monitoring. If you go for PROFESSIONAL equipment you pay far more for each component than for your complete PC. In that case I'd recommend Mark of the Unicon equipment at http://www.motu.com/
However, I only use the PC for mastering and use stand alone equipment.

02-09-2003, 06:18:46
Same here at the moment.

My local computer shop sold me the card I needed for 10.

They can boost my maching to a 2 gig processor with loads of RAM for 250. I'll be doing that soon I think.