In search of…a quiet PC DAW

Well, this is not Csound related…at least directly.

I’ve been using the same PC for almost 5 years. I actually built it from parts. It’s proved extremely reliable and relatively powerful. (It has a 2 GHz Pentium 4 CPU, and a couple of 60 GB hard drives.) Since I do all my production “in the box” now, and don’t really have a need for live recording, it’s worked out well.

Originally, I only ran Propellerheads Reason. Those of you who are familiar with it know it’s extremely light on the CPU usage. When I moved most of my work to Ableton Live, the load increased, but I was still able to stream out a good 10 or so tracks of audio simultaneously, depending on the soft synth and effects usage. It’s actually been a good discipline, trying to create pieces that sound interesting without just stacking a bunch of loops and samples together.

Part of the reason I built my own system was that I wanted to rackmount it. At the time, I don’t think there were any places that would custom build a rack mount DAW in the US, but now there are several. So far, the places I’m researching are the following.

endpcnoise

wootcomputers

velocity micro

sonica

Sweetwater

Full Compass

So far, all these places’ systems range from about US$1500 and up. I’m sort of conflicted now about buying one of these vs. building one, or even looking at tower systems again.

The big problem with dealing with an online vendor is that there is no way to know exactly how quiet their “quiet” systems are.

Another question is: get a high performance duo or quad Intel CPU, or a fast AMD model which might save some money.

If I was really planning to use 100% Csound for my compositions, all this would be moot. Csound is so efficient that it can run on practically any vintage system. But I sometimes only get a few minutes a week to write music and am hooked on the real-time, instant gratification.

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