Building an audio computer workstation: DAW

Building an audio computer workstation: DAW

Building an audio computer workstation: Knowing the crucial computer parts for audio and the way they interact with each other ’s are of prime importance in a good working workstation.

Basically a pc is a box, a power supply, a motherboard, a CPU, memory, disk drive, graphics card, data external readers and cooling system.

The motherboard

The motherboard is where every computer part is attached. It is the ground on which all the other pieces of hardware are connected. Data should move all around without bottleneck.

Usually, Intel chipset architecture is conceived around the north and southbridge. The CPU and memory are connected to the north and all others to the south. For optimum performance, all data from the PCI bus, the disk drives, the graphic cards connect directly to the southbridge on an efficient motherboard and not in a chain. This insures good data streaming.

Fast disk drives

Fast disk drives are also needed. Today’s SATA drives running at 7200 rpm with 8mgs of memory are fast enough for audio and sample streaming. Although you may need one for .wav data and one for sample data. In case of extreme performance, SCSI drive offers less access time with higher rpm at the expense of noise and higher cost. A raid system could be considered. It consists of 2 drives that share the same data so the system can read faster. Another consideration is the noise factor. Seagate drives spin on liquid bearing and helps make a quiet computer.

The graphic card 

The graphic card plays a role in this game. You do not need a super-fast game card, but a fanless one with decent memory who will not use the resource from the system. Matrox cards work well with the audio.

The noise factor

The noise factor for a musician is important. A big powerful computer will make noise because they need to be cooled. Noise is coming from the power supply fan, the CPU fan, the graphic card fan, the disk drive spinning, and the case fan. How can we minimize the noise from all of them? First a good case. Antec is making one with high-quality fans and noise-dampening insulation.

Then the hard drive

Then the hard drive. Seagate drives are very quiet and long-lasting.

CPU cooling

There are different options with the CPU cooling, starting with special highly efficient fan and heat sink to liquid cooling. But everything comes with a price.

And then there is the CPU. AMD or Intel? Both have strengths and weaknesses, but good stable system can be built with each. Again answers can be found with

users and audio computer workstation companies.

Daw configurations change rapidly with the development of the technology. I put these guidelines that are constant over the years.

As for summer 2005, I propose this configuration:

Motherboard: Asus p4c 800 e deluxe
CPU: 3.2 GHz
Disk drives: Seagate SATA
Graphics card: Matrox
Case: Antec

One last thing is the OS. Winxp needs optimization for audio pc. It consists of tuning some functions to free up resources.

 Windows XP optimization

The goal is to have a trouble-free computer which lets you produce music without letting you that he is there. Adequate and high-quality hardware parts are a must, but it is a kind of utopia. Pc workstations are a capricious and unstable machine. If you know a little about what is inside and how it works, maintenance can be easier.