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Need a PC system for Cubase 5 (complete noob) Audio Interfaces
Old 16th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Question Need a PC system for Cubase 5 (complete noob)

Hello guys!

I'm new to this forum. I just started learning Cubase in my laptop - it's not been a good experience. Too many audio glitches and high latency. So, I need a better computer where I can learn the software and get some work started. I also use Finale for writing music. Right now, I don't know anything about building PC systems or computer music. So, there's still a long way to go. But, I need a stable system that can be updated with technology.

For Cubase, I'm thinking about working mostly with VSTs. I might do some audio work after a while. Will I need an external soundcard for this?

I need a ready-to-go system below $1000. Just a basic system to start with. I'm a total noob so any links/ suggestions are more than welcome.
Old 16th December 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Assuming that your laptop is fairly current, I think adding a decent sound card to your laptop will solve most of your problems.

There are about a dozen options for a USB sound card. M-Audio might be a safe bet for inexpensive with good drivers.

~Jay
Old 16th December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

You will need an external soundcard and a decent but not over-the-top computer.

For the audio interface I'd recommend either RME or Yamaha/Steinberg MR816.

As for the computer, a decently clocked Intel quad-core will do with 4 GB RAM and 2-3 hard drives.
Old 16th December 2010
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay M View Post
Assuming that your laptop is fairly current, I think adding a decent sound card to your laptop will solve most of your problems.

There are about a dozen options for a USB sound card. M-Audio might be a safe bet for inexpensive with good drivers.

~Jay
Thanks for the reply. I have a hp dv5-1002nr; 2 3/4 years old laptop. The specs are:

  • Processor AMD Turion X2 mobile processor RM-70 / 2.0 GHz (Dual Core)
  • Cache 1 MB
  • RAM 3 GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Hard Drive 250.0 GB - Serial ATA-150 - 5400.0 rpm
  • Graphics Processor / Vendor ATI Radeon HD 3200 Shared video memory (UMA) Total Available Graphics Memory 1406.0 MB
  • Soundblaster pro soundcard
Do you think an external soundcard will fix the issues I have? Do I need to upgrade my system?
Old 16th December 2010
  #5
Gear Head
 
CappuCCino's Avatar
 

I agree with jay & stereo: get yourself an audiocard. The specs of your laptop seems 'ok' : it is not the bottleneck for cubase but it will be the bottleneck once you get cubase running with loads of VST's and/or plugins.

Focusrite has a few reasonable audiocards aswell. USB or FW

:-)

NB. If you're going to buy a new PC anyway, you might even consider a PCI audiocard
Old 16th December 2010
  #6
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Thanks cap. I don't need a PC if I can make my laptop run Cubase. I looked around for a USB audio interface. For my budget, there are: Tascam US144mk2, M-Audio Mobile Pre, Focuswire Saffire 6, Emu 0404, Presonus Audiobox.

I have to connect an old yamaha keyboard with midi output. Later I might need to connect my guitar and a mic to record other instruments & vocals.

My OS is Vista Home Premium 32-bit. All of them look good to me; emu, however, isn't usb powered. I'm inclining towards Tascam as it's only $119 at amazon. Any suggestions? I also need a good pair of monitors (sth cheap) to go with?
Old 17th December 2010
  #7
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The problem is your laptop's processor is not very capable of handling VSTi's. That's why I'd recommend getting a decent, new computer.

And firewire interfaces are generally better/more reliable at lower latencies than USB.
Old 17th December 2010
  #8
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Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmusic View Post
Thanks cap. I don't need a PC if I can make my laptop run Cubase. I looked around for a USB audio interface. For my budget, there are: Tascam US144mk2, M-Audio Mobile Pre, Focuswire Saffire 6, Emu 0404, Presonus Audiobox.

I have to connect an old yamaha keyboard with midi output. Later I might need to connect my guitar and a mic to record other instruments & vocals.

My OS is Vista Home Premium 32-bit. All of them look good to me; emu, however, isn't usb powered. I'm inclining towards Tascam as it's only $119 at amazon. Any suggestions? I also need a good pair of monitors (sth cheap) to go with?
The Emu is actually the best performing one of the lot. Is there some reason you need a buss powered interface? Whatever you do, don't get the M-Audio, the interface and it's drivers are absolute junk.
Old 17th December 2010
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmusic View Post
Thanks for the reply. I have a hp dv5-1002nr; 2 3/4 years old laptop. The specs are:

  • Processor AMD Turion X2 mobile processor RM-70 / 2.0 GHz (Dual Core)
  • Cache 1 MB
  • RAM 3 GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Hard Drive 250.0 GB - Serial ATA-150 - 5400.0 rpm
  • Graphics Processor / Vendor ATI Radeon HD 3200 Shared video memory (UMA) Total Available Graphics Memory 1406.0 MB
  • Soundblaster pro soundcard
Do you think an external soundcard will fix the issues I have? Do I need to upgrade my system?
This should be able to handle smaller projects to start with, but the shared memory graphics tend to drag performance down. You will certainly need a decent audio interface (EMU, Focusrite, M-Audio build affordable ones) so try it out with that. Then tweak Windows on your laptop, search for tips in here - there is a massive thread about Windows optimizing. Then see how your laptop handles your projects. If you still have issues, and tired of tweaking, then go for a decent PC. Note that there is more to a PC then just performance, you want it to be quiet and cool too.
Old 17th December 2010
  #10
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Thanks guys for the input. I'm a bit confused now though. Stereo, do you have a specific system in mind? If I get a new PC, I'll get a firewire interface. For now, is there anyway I can add firewire to my laptop, so I can test it with it and see how cubase does. Then, I can think about the PC. I agree that a new PC would be great, but I would do it only if it's absolutely necessary.

Or, do you think tweaking the windows, like DAW said, would do the job with a USB 2.0 interface? If it doesn't work, I don't want to get a new firewire interface for the new PC. That would dry me up guys!

What about previous versions of Cubase? Would they work better? Versions like LE, SX?
Old 17th December 2010
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Everyone has his own work flow, to conclude your laptop is "capable" or "not capable" is some what not fair in your situation.

Say, if you are a newbie for the whole thing, the laptop can offer you a chance to apply what you've learn about making music with computer. certainly not ideal, but under good setting and pair with a decent asio sound interface, you will be happy take your first step.

Once you get hands-on everything, you'll probably use more virtial instruments, record more audio tracks or mix a bigger project, you certainly need a faster pc tower.

I would suggest get a pc tower to start if your budget is not super tight. Any $4-500 Dell or whatever can do a nice job.

Sound card wise, I don't believe that FireWire vs USB makes all the different in your case, but if you get a USB sound card, you can utilize that with your laptop as well as any pc for the future, so why not?

Cheers
Old 17th December 2010
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmusic View Post
Thanks guys for the input. I'm a bit confused now though. Stereo, do you have a specific system in mind? If I get a new PC, I'll get a firewire interface. For now, is there anyway I can add firewire to my laptop, so I can test it with it and see how cubase does. Then, I can think about the PC. I agree that a new PC would be great, but I would do it only if it's absolutely necessary.

Or, do you think tweaking the windows, like DAW said, would do the job with a USB 2.0 interface? If it doesn't work, I don't want to get a new firewire interface for the new PC. That would dry me up guys!

What about previous versions of Cubase? Would they work better? Versions like LE, SX?

Cubase version, LE is free with some sound card bundle, while cubase is the higher end full version. There are also cubase essential and cubase studio version, go Home*:**|*http://www.steinberg.net/ to get more info.

Thinking like if your project is focus in audio recording, less then 48 tracks, and you've already own some VIs like kontakt, you can certaintly go with LE, while, you got nth in hand but want to have some more basic VIs and processing plugs, go for the studio version at least. Now it cubase 5, and there is a rumor cubase 6 is coming in the next few months.
Old 18th December 2010
  #13
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Thanks Ray. That helps a lot. I think I'll get a firewire interface and a new cubase dedicated PC. I've heard you get a lot better performance if you don't browse the internet or run other programs, while running cubase.

I've not heard good things about off-the-shelf dell or hp. So, now I need suggestions for a system that can run cubase 5 well and doesn't have to be updated for the next 3-4 years or so (note: I'm just a beginner, so I won't be doing any serious stuff for a while; and i'm in school so I won't be doing many big projects) . I just need suggestions on the parts. Something for like $600-$700 would be awesome.
Old 18th December 2010
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmusic View Post
Thanks Ray. That helps a lot. I think I'll get a firewire interface and a new cubase dedicated PC. I've heard you get a lot better performance if you don't browse the internet or run other programs, while running cubase.

I've not heard good things about off-the-shelf dell or hp. So, now I need suggestions for a system that can run cubase 5 well and doesn't have to be updated for the next 3-4 years or so (note: I'm just a beginner, so I won't be doing any serious stuff for a while; and i'm in school so I won't be doing many big projects) . I just need suggestions on the parts. Something for like $600-$700 would be awesome.

Getting a firewire interface is a mistake, IMHO. As many people have reported, they could be troublesome if the right chipset is not used. A USB sound card is perfectly fine for a noob or pro. Just get a good one. I use the VS 100 and its fantastic. With a good audio interface, what laptop you use is much less important, as any modern one will more than likely be fine.

As an example, I have an i3 ACER laptop. Cost me $500. I play in several bands with it. AS well as produce and create and pretty much do everything on it.

With one band, I play my eardrums connected to the VS 100 and triggering ez drummers and SS drumms. I also have a midi keyboard with two VST's (wusikstation) and Reason running with five combinators and a kong that the singer plays. And all this while recording the singer on one channel/track, the bass on another, the guitar on another the entire mix off the board on another two (5 audio tracks total). And I have a compressor and reverb on the singer, and guitar rig 4 on the guitarist.

All this is done and recorded in real time at 96 sample buffers. Last week I recorded us for and hour and a half with not one hitch.

So for what you are stating you want to do...you can certainly do that with any laptop. You just need to tweak it right. And doing that is not that big a deal. Basically just turn off a few things and some services.
Old 18th December 2010
  #15
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Thanks Hugh! That's a relief!! I'm gonna upgrade my OS to Windows 7 32-bit, tweak it, get a EMU 0404, and get started. It should take a while. I'll be back if there are problems. Thanks to all of you guys for your help!
Old 18th December 2010
  #16
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Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmusic View Post
Thanks Hugh! That's a relief!! I'm gonna upgrade my OS to Windows 7 32-bit, tweak it, get a EMU 0404, and get started. It should take a while. I'll be back if there are problems. Thanks to all of you guys for your help!
Excellent plan!
Old 18th December 2010
  #17
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filipv's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmusic View Post
I'm new to this forum. I just started learning Cubase in my laptop - it's not been a good experience. Too many audio glitches and high latency.
Try ASIO4ALL software before you buy external audio interface. It's free and can transform your laptop into a fairly useable music machine.

I have an old Celeron laptop with jus 1GB of RAM and on-board sound, but I find it very useable. I've been tracking and mixing with it in several occasions, always with good results.

http://tippach.business.t-online.de/...10_English.exe
Old 18th December 2010
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Hardware:
gigabyte motherboard with intel i5 CPU, 6Gb ram, 2 seagate HDD, cooler master chassie with 450W power supply.Whatever Nvidia display card fits your budget.

Seriously, I recommend USB sound interface, so you don't leave you laptop behind. M-audio mobile pre is not a bad choice with your budget, avoid tascam thing, their driver never get stable.
Old 18th December 2010
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmusic View Post
Thanks Hugh! That's a relief!! I'm gonna upgrade my OS to Windows 7 32-bit, tweak it, get a EMU 0404, and get started. It should take a while. I'll be back if there are problems. Thanks to all of you guys for your help!

If you go with win7, 64bit is more likely the way you go. You won't get much memory left if you stay with win7, in 64bit OS, you can use more than 4 Gb memory, where 32bit OS only utilize less than that.

That's make the different when you employ some better VIs like kontakt, loading abbey road drums....
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