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  • #31
    Nightpick, you were trapped in a spam filter and I didn't see your post had been moderated until tonight. I approved it so it's visible now.

    I agree whole-heartedly that PCAL is being very generous with their help here. Of course, it's to their advantage too because it's obvious they know that they're doing...as you say, if you want a hassle-free computer experience, that's indeed their expertise. In fact, I'd say the paramount difference with the new machine is that it just kind of melts into the background, both literally (noise levels) and figuratively (to quote another company, "it just works" ). It's interesting to go to the Sonar forums and see people complain about how Sonar crashes, is unreliable, etc. Then a whole bunch of posts follow from people who basically say "I have no idea what you're talking about, I don't have any problems" and then you see they're using a custom integrated computer, not something off the shelf. All I can say is that ALL my programs mysteriously became vastly more reliable when the Rok Box MC64 set up shop in my studio! I guess it has good diplomatic relations with software.

    Anyway, I don't know if this thread is really about "how to build your own PC" so I would certainly understand if Fred would politely refrain from going in that direction. However, I do think your questions are a great springboard for him to answer why PCAL made the design decisions they did - e.g., Intel instead of AMD. Now, some of that might get into politics - Fred doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would ever want to trash a company - but I'm sure he'll answer to the extent that he feels is appropriate, and I respect any limits within which he needs to operate.

    I think that the simpest way to look at it is that obviously, PCAL has the recipe down for how to make a Windows machine that's trustworthy and cost-effective. So I think the main value would be if they can elaborate on particular decisions they've made that have allowed this to happen, without of course revealing any trade secrets. I know some of what makes their machines what they involves operating system-based decisions, like mentioning that the machines ship with system restore off. That kind of advice is invaluable, as is the info on backing up and such.

    It's good to be home and participating again, but it's even better to be popping the Frankfurt Musikmesse videos out with such ease. Maybe I'll even get to sleep a few hours this time around
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    • #32
      Stupid question: I was curious if the computer had a USB 3.0 interface. So, I looked in Device Manager, and there was an entry for Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 Host Controller. But I gotta say, one USB port looks pretty much the same to me as any other...is there some super-secret identifying mark that indicates which ports are 3.0 and which aren't? Or are they all 3.0?
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      • #33

        I was curious if the computer had a USB 3.0 interface.


        I'm still wondering what kind of worthwhile 3.0 peripherals are even out there. The first computer I had with usb on it was in 1997 or so, but I don't remember having anything to use with it till about five years later.

        I wish I could get behind ssd, but I can't... yet. I can't accept the price (compared to my choices for spinning drives), don't quite understand the concept of trim, and REALLY don't like the concept that when the ssd drive dies, it dies like NOW. with absolutely no warning. A mechanical drive can die like that too, but for me, it doesn't often happen that way.

        Is water cooling another way to get quieter operation? I have six or so pcs down below, all the sides off, central quiet fan blowing across all of them, and whatever low noise there is, I'm used to it.

        But I've wondered about water cooling. Only for gamers? Are water systems quieter yet? Necessary or useful at all for the newer fast systems like Craig has?

        I'm all for having a quiet environment. I could move the computers over one room, but it's a hassle.

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        • #34
          The main reason I asked is because I just received a USB 3.0 portable drive, a client needs uncompressed videos and they would be way too big to transfer online. So I'm going to bounce to the hard drive, and wanted to make sure I was using the right port.

          Hopefully it will be faster and overall More Wonderful, although if it has to throttle down and transfer at 2.0 speeds, I'll cope.

          I do remember trying to transfer a video using USB 1.1. I started sometime during the French revolution, and it ended just about when the Berlin wall fell. It was sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooower than wi-fi at a Motel 6.
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          • #35
            The main reason I asked is because I just received a USB 3.0 portable drive, a client needs uncompressed videos and they would be way too big to transfer online. So I'm going to bounce to the hard drive, and wanted to make sure I was using the right port.

            Hopefully it will be faster and overall More Wonderful, although if it has to throttle down and transfer at 2.0 speeds, I'll cope.

            I do remember trying to transfer a video using USB 1.1. I started sometime during the French revolution, and it ended just about when the Berlin wall fell. It was sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooower than wi-fi at a Motel 6.


            USB 3.0 ports are typically blue. USB 2.0 ports are either black or red. Intel has yet to integrated USB 3.0 into their chipset, which is why there are a number of 3rd party USB 3.0 chipset manufacturers. I expect USB 3.0 audio interfaces to hit the market when Intel integrates them into their chipset (my guess is Q4 2012 or Q1 2013). USB 3.0 is best for hard drives, keyboards and mice. I don't recommend USB 3.0 ports for dongles or audio/MIDI interfaces.

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            • #36
              USB 3.0 ports are typically blue. USB 2.0 ports are either black or red.


              Wow, you know all the secret handshakes, don't you?!?

              USB 3.0 is best for hard drives, keyboards and mice. I don't recommend USB 3.0 ports for dongles or audio/MIDI interfaces.


              Your post was just the answer I needed. I've now shifted the right peripherals to the right ports. Thanks, Fred!
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              • #37
                So...time for a USB 2.0 vs. USB 3.0 test. It's somewhat unscientific, but you'll get the point.

                I used two separate external hard drives, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0. Both are Western Digital 7200 RPM drives. The test was rendering part of a Vegas video file to disk (about 10 seconds of uncompressed AVI, or 2.33GB).

                The USB 2.0 drive took 53 seconds, and the USB 3.0 drive took 34 seconds. I think that pretty much tells you all you need to know
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                • #38
                  A USB 3.0 anomaly: When I booted up the computer, it didn't see the drive. I re-started...no go. Went into Device Manager, and there was the dreaded exclamation point and it said the "service couldn't start."

                  I disabled the USB 3.0 Host Controller then re-enabled in, and it worked fine. Go figure.
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                  • #39
                    Hey Fred - got a question for you. Even though I've installed a lot of programs, the Rok Box boots up much faster than previous machines, especially my XP one with the eight cores. I'm curious as to why - it can't just be the speed of the machine, can it? Do you disable things that make for a faster boot? Do you have any secret mojo tricks for faster booting? Or do MS really get it together with Windows 7?
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                    • #40
                      Hey Fred - got a question for you. Even though I've installed a lot of programs, the Rok Box boots up much faster than previous machines, especially my XP one with the eight cores. I'm curious as to why - it can't just be the speed of the machine, can it? Do you disable things that make for a faster boot? Do you have any secret mojo tricks for faster booting? Or do MS really get it together with Windows 7?


                      The fast boot-up time is more a combo of the speed of the machine and Windows 7. But, our secret mojo tricks optimize Windows 7 for audio performance.

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                      • #41
                        Ordered a PC Audio Labs machine because I saw that Craig A. spoke so highly of them. Arrives soon, and I'll be glad to share my experiences. I use it for commercial purposes and am reasonably rough on machines.

                        I wanted to add that in mastering circles the rumor is SSDDs can't take the constant write/erase/re-write that audio systems employ. The rumor is we would burn up a SSDD many times faster than a "normal" user. Can anyone confirm/deny that? Thanks, GH

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                        • #42
                          Ordered a PC Audio Labs machine because I saw that Craig A. spoke so highly of them. Arrives soon, and I'll be glad to share my experiences. I use it for commercial purposes and am reasonably rough on machines.

                          I wanted to add that in mastering circles the rumor is SSDDs can't take the constant write/erase/re-write that audio systems employ. The rumor is we would burn up a SSDD many times faster than a "normal" user. Can anyone confirm/deny that? Thanks, GH


                          I've asked Fred to weigh in with an expert opinion, but here's my take and bear in mind some of this may already be out of date...SSDs face their greatest challenges with recording, not playback. Hard drives with decent-sized memory caches can deposit data on a disk very rapidly—several hundred microseconds for typical 4 kilobyte random writes (without caching, it’s several milliseconds). SSDs are limited to two types of technology: dynamic RAM and flash memory. Dynamic RAM is fast, but expensive both in terms of initial cost and power consumption. As a result flash memory is the preferred technology for SSDs, and this immediately brings up two bottlenecks.

                          The first is that flash memory cells have to be erased before you can re-write to them. Normally this wouldn’t be a big problem except that erasing is done to blocks of RAM, not individual cells, and this takes time. I first noticed this phenomenon when I recorded to a brand-new USB stick with nothing stored in it, and it recorded plenty of tracks. Over time, operation seemed to slow down and I couldn’t figure out why—until I realized that all the memory had been written by that point, so anything I recorded had to first erase existing data. There are ways around this, like “cordoning off” part of the flash as a sort of buffer reserved for high-speed writes. Another technique employed in Windows 7 is to “know” when files are deleted, whereupon it can erase the SSD pages holding the files and return them to virgin condition (it also does this when formatting an SSD; in fact, Windows 7 has multiple tweaks and optimizations to accommodate SSDs).

                          The second bottleneck is that flash requires error correction to compensate for the slippery nature of flash-based storage, and error correction takes time. There’s really no way around this until/unless the fundamental nature of flash memory physics changes.

                          Another problem involves reliability. While we’re used to thinking of solid-state devices as having an almost infinite life, flash memory cells wear out. The SSDs that last the longest avoid re-writing to the same cells over and over, and instead distribute the writing over different cells at different times. This is not a trivial task, and even if done perfectly, you really can’t expect an SSD to last more than several years (then again, hard disks don't last as long as they used to...). However, given that I believe most SSDs are rated to read and write millions of cycles, you're probably set for a while
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                          • #43
                            Ordered a PC Audio Labs machine because I saw that Craig A. spoke so highly of them. Arrives soon, and I'll be glad to share my experiences. I use it for commercial purposes and am reasonably rough on machines.

                            I wanted to add that in mastering circles the rumor is SSDDs can't take the constant write/erase/re-write that audio systems employ. The rumor is we would burn up a SSDD many times faster than a "normal" user. Can anyone confirm/deny that? Thanks, GH


                            SSDs do wear out from constant write/erase/re-write faster than a 7200rpm drive would, assuming standard wear-and-tear on both.

                            The majority of our customers use SSDs for the OS drive and for storing a particular sample library that takes a long time to load up on a 7200rpm drive or 7200rpm RAID.

                            The questions I like to ask is:

                            1. Do you want your audio files to load up really fast in your mastering program?

                            2. Do you mind that an SSD might wear out faster than a 7200rpm drive (assuming standard wear-and-tear)?

                            3. Do you have the funds to purchase an SSD and will the speed of an SSD allow you to work faster, thus making more money in less amount of time?

                            4. Does the type of audio work that you do necessitate the use of fast SSDs?

                            Having said all that, I have an 80GB SSD for my OS install. It makes the system feel very responsive to mouse clicks, and that's what usually counts at the end of the day. Most SSDs come with at least a 3 year warranty if they break down, so don't forget to invest in a backup hard drive as well.

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                            • #44
                              Ordered a PC Audio Labs machine because I saw that Craig A. spoke so highly of them. Arrives soon, and I'll be glad to share my experiences. I use it for commercial purposes and am reasonably rough on machines.

                              I wanted to add that in mastering circles the rumor is SSDDs can't take the constant write/erase/re-write that audio systems employ. The rumor is we would burn up a SSDD many times faster than a "normal" user. Can anyone confirm/deny that? Thanks, GH



                              And lastly, if you use your computer to earn a living, the computer you purchase today will most likely not be the same one you're using in 3-5 years.

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                              • #45
                                Hey Fred - If I wanted to add Firewire 800 capaibilities to my system, what's the best option in terms of adding a card? Would that be the way to go?
                                CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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