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View Full Version : New self-built PC (with very specific needs/wants)



Olero
05-10-2012, 11:54 AM
Hello all,

My dad wants a new PC, and I volunteered to built one for him (which I really like to do, so no worries there).
I've got most of the parts sorted out (without knowing the budget yet, so I have multiple options). However, the one specific thing he definitely wants is audio. And to be more specific, he wants:


multiple INput channels
multiple (separate) OUTput channels


He wants to create art-projects with sound, and be able to record multiple things and play different sounds / channel (at least 5). Will any soundcard + speaker set with 5.1 surround suffice for the latter? And what can be used for the former? And does anyone of you have experiences with / recommendations for good products in both categories?

QuantaCat
05-10-2012, 11:56 AM
hm. what kind of output channels?

Also, it may pay off checking reviews and internet sites that sell hardware generally, but more specifically sound hardware. does he want to record instruments or synths or...?

Because then its a whole different game. It used to be so that you need a specific card, with a specific board and cpu, so you get the best recording quality possible, and no "fritzing".

Jesus_Phish
05-10-2012, 12:05 PM
Sounds like something that might be better suited for some external hardware rather than within the pc? You can get home mixing desks that will interface to a pc which would have what he's looking for for inputs. Some will have outputs too. A VA and musician I know uses a M-Box 2, it has 4 analog inputs, 6 analog outputs and supports up to 32 simultaneous audio tracks. I'd recommend something like that over something inside a pc.

For outputs, a 5.1 soundcard would do, but it'd be up to him to determine what audio goes on what channel so it get's routed out of the correct speaker.

QuantaCat
05-10-2012, 12:13 PM
Sounds like something that might be better suited for some external hardware rather than within the pc? You can get home mixing desks that will interface to a pc which would have what he's looking for for inputs. Some will have outputs too. A VA and musician I know uses a M-Box 2, it has 4 analog inputs, 6 analog outputs and supports up to 32 simultaneous audio tracks. I'd recommend something like that over something inside a pc.

For outputs, a 5.1 soundcard would do, but it'd be up to him to determine what audio goes on what channel so it get's routed out of the correct speaker.

That would of course work as well, but I was thinking more about M-Audio PCI cards; I know there is one with 2 IN and 2 OUT, I think 2 of those are XLR as well. And generally, you can still use the sound bit of your motherboard as well as that card.

Sakkura
05-10-2012, 01:42 PM
5.1 soundcard? Plenty of motherboards have 7.1 codecs installed on-board.

mashakos
05-10-2012, 02:39 PM
Get this:
http://www.asus.com/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_D2X/

Has optical output and input so you can record digital spdif audio, which will give you absolutely clear audio since optical recording does not get affected by electrical interference. In addition to that, the card has EMI shielding and isolated power (the card uses a floppy drive power connector as a power source, not from the pcie slot itself) so regular audio recording has minimal interference (much MUCH lower than regular built-in audio).
In addition to that, you get 3 analogue 3.5mm input jacks (Mic in, CD in, Aux in), 3.5mm to RCA cables for each jack, 2 digital input ports (coaxial and optical SPDIF), a separate MIDI port board with two MPU-401 MIDI ports (you also get the MIDI cables).

What interested me in the card, in addition to Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect, was is it's amazing ASIO 2.0 support which I experienced when I originally bought the PCI version in 2008. Basically, ASIO bypasses the Windows kernel to give very low latency sound output and input. It was pretty amazing to get 6ms latency from this card without bogging down the CPU which allowed for a lot of cool stuff. You can't get this level of low latency from Creative soundcards. It's quite important for recording as well, check this for reasons why:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr99/articles/letency.htm

EDIT: You also get a nice selection of full version audio tools including Ableton Live and Cakewalk Production Plus.

This card is not easy to find, in fact I had to spend a premium $250 to get it from the UK, but it offers the most flexibility for playback and recording. It's also cheaper than a good external firewire or thunderbolt recorder.

Shooop
05-10-2012, 02:46 PM
The only requirement then is to get a good soundcard.

Look at ASUS soundcards as they make some which are aimed at professional audio creation instead of gaming. Or you could buy external audio recorders.

It all depends on how serious he is about recording. You could easily spend more on that than the base computer itself.

mashakos
05-10-2012, 03:05 PM
5.1 soundcard? Plenty of motherboards have 7.1 codecs installed on-board.

no digital or MIDI recording support.
no ASIO support, so live monitoring is out of the question.
Electrical interference is too high for pro audio requirements.

Sakkura
05-10-2012, 03:48 PM
no digital or MIDI recording support.
no ASIO support, so live monitoring is out of the question.
Electrical interference is too high for pro audio requirements.
Meh, you can get shielding for motherboard audio too. Plenty of MIDI recording support of course, you just need software and an input device.

Jesus_Phish
05-10-2012, 03:56 PM
It all comes down to his (or his fathers in this case) needs.

MOBO codecs and shielding might not be enough for his case. Works fine for me cause all I do is play games and use a mic. I wouldn't use if for audio recording of anything though.

An ASUS card as recommended or external recording device would be best. Since you said you want to make a computer, I guess you don't want another box, so get the card above.

mashakos
05-10-2012, 03:57 PM
Meh, you can get shielding for motherboard audio too. Plenty of MIDI recording support of course, you just need software and an input device.

you can get shielding on the cables, which reduces interference from a monitor or power plug, but how would you shield the DAC chip and audio ports on the motherboard itself?
If you get a MIDI to USB converter you bypass the built-in audio entirely.

Sakkura
05-10-2012, 04:11 PM
you can get shielding on the cables, which reduces interference from a monitor or power plug, but how would you shield the DAC chip and audio ports on the motherboard itself?
If you get a MIDI to USB converter you bypass the built-in audio entirely.
Oh, say, with shielding (http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Gigabyte-G1Sniper-M3-Motherboard/1557/4)?

mashakos
05-10-2012, 04:15 PM
Oh, say, with shielding (http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Gigabyte-G1Sniper-M3-Motherboard/1557/4)?

what, are you trolling? Get serious.

Sakkura
05-10-2012, 05:20 PM
what, are you trolling? Get serious.
That's the codec chip with shielding around it. You asked for it, you got it.

QuantaCat
05-10-2012, 05:50 PM
what, are you trolling? Get serious.

I honestly think that was a proper reply. Counterreply please, Id like to know. (not that I would do it this way, but maybe it is a possibility)

mashakos
05-10-2012, 06:04 PM
I honestly think that was a proper reply. Counterreply please, Id like to know. (not that I would do it this way, but maybe it is a possibility)
It's trolling. The pic is of a motherboard with emi shielding on the audio capacitor. So basically he's saying the best approach is to buy a n completely new motherboard with emi shielding or if you're building a PC consider only the motherboards that have EMI shielding on the audio capacitor - regardless of the merits of said motherboards.

Sakkura
05-10-2012, 06:18 PM
It's trolling. The pic is of a motherboard with emi shielding on the audio capacitor. So basically he's saying the best approach is to buy a n completely new motherboard with emi shielding or if you're building a PC consider only the motherboards that have EMI shielding on the audio capacitor - regardless of the merits of said motherboards.
No, it's EMI shielding around the codec chip, the very piece of hardware you were referring to (well, you said DAC chip, but codec is just DAC combined with ADC).

mashakos
05-10-2012, 06:23 PM
No, it's EMI shielding around the codec chip, the very piece of hardware you were referring to (well, you said DAC chip, but codec is just DAC combined with ADC).
Post something more than a small pic and we'll know you're not rolling.
The round cylindrical things are capacitors BTW.

Sakkura
05-10-2012, 07:02 PM
Post something more than a small pic and we'll know you're not rolling.
The round cylindrical things are capacitors BTW.
I posted a small pic you can click to make larger. I also posted a link to the review site it was from, where they describe the feature (it's shielding the whole audio area on the motherboard, including the front panel audio header).

QuantaCat
05-10-2012, 07:05 PM
I posted a small pic you can click to make larger. I also posted a link to the review site it was from, where they describe the feature (it's shielding the whole audio area on the motherboard, including the front panel audio header).

Sounds good, yeah.

mashakos
05-10-2012, 07:11 PM
I posted a small pic you can click to make larger. I also posted a link to the review site it was from, where they describe the feature (it's shielding the whole audio area on the motherboard, including the front panel audio header).

So you were being serious. You didn't answer my question: if you have a motherboard with no EMI shielding, how can you ensure that onboard audio hardware is shielded? Besides buying a new motherboard of course.

EMI shielding on motherboards is nothing new, I have it on my motherboard as well. Then again, my motherboard is the Asus Maximus Formula - purchased for $475 at launch. Not exactly a budget solution. (and onboard audio still sucked without proper support for digital surround and ASIO)

Sakkura
05-10-2012, 07:18 PM
So you were being serious. You didn't answer my question: if you have a motherboard with no EMI shielding, how can you ensure that onboard audio hardware is shielded? Besides buying a new motherboard of course.

EMI shielding on motherboards is nothing new, I have it on my motherboard as well. Then again, my motherboard is the Asus Maximus Formula - purchased for $475 at launch. Not exactly a budget solution. (and onboard audio still sucked without proper support for digital surround and ASIO)
He's buying a new motherboard. He can choose to buy one that comes with shielding. The one I linked to a review of costs $149.99 at Newegg (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128551).

mashakos
05-10-2012, 07:35 PM
He's buying a new motherboard. He can choose to buy one that comes with shielding. The one I linked to a review of costs $149.99 at Newegg (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128551).

limit your choice of motherboard purchases on a solution that is terrible for quality audio recording. Smart.