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Help Building A Dedicated Hi-Fi PC

Discussion in 'High resolution audio' started by vurbal, Aug 27, 2004.

  1. vurbal

    vurbal Administrator Staff Member

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    For the past year or so I've been considering building a dedicated PC for audio recording and playback. I think I'll be ready to build it in about 6 months, so I need to get started doing some serious research on specific hardware and software for it. Right now my biggest stumbling block is that I've never had the money to buy high end audio components, so I've never dedicated the time to learning what I'll need to know to pick out the hardware by myself. I've always had friends with good equipment that I could use for things like making recordings of my albums, but unfortunately none of them knows enough about digital recording or computers to be of any real help.

    Here are my basic requirements:

    1. I have albums that I want to record at 24/96.

    2. I'd prefer to go with a firewire attached device instead of a conventional sound card.

    3. I'd like to avoid spending more than $500 for hardware and software (not counting the general PC components of course), but I'm willing to consider spending more if it makes a big enough difference in quality.

    So far I've been looking at Terratec sound devices. The Aureon 7.1 FireWire (http://productsen.terratec.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=198&menu=115) seems to have all the features I want, and it looks like it would only cost me around $250.

    For software, I eventually plan on buying Wavelab 5, but even at the best price I can find it for it's more than I can afford currently. I've played around with a friend's copy of Wavelab 4 in the past, and I think he's going to sell it to me cheap (no more than $100) because he doesn't ever use it, and doesn't want to spend the time to learn. From what I understand I can work with 24/96 files using it, so it should do everything I want for now.

    So with all that in mind, I have 2 questions. First, does anyone have any coments about the hardware or software I'm already looking at? Second, does anyone have suggestions for different hardware or software I should be looking at?

    Edit: I forgot to mention that I also haven't decided anything about playback software, so any suggestions for that would be appreciated.
    _X_X_X_X_X_[small]Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue
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    Last edited: Aug 27, 2004
  2. wilkes

    wilkes Regular member

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    This sounds like a pretty well thought out system.
    It will definitely do you nicely.
    The external box idea is IMHO preferable to an all in one traditional soundcard as well. It seems that breakout boxes usually give you more options, and TerraTec are a very good make for the money. Not sure how they manage it.

    If, however, you are considering Surround you may want to rethink at one point but for 24/96 you are going to be just fine.

    Media players.
    There are a couple of them that are quite good - it all depends on budget really.
    WinDVD 6 Platinum will allow playback of just sbout everything you can throw at it, including DTS-CD and DVD-Audio, as well as DVD-Video discs.

    As for WaveLab, get v4 if it is cheap enough, and upgrade it to v% which will give you DVD-A authoring should you require it.
    If all you want to do is store everything to HDD and play back from there, you don't need DVD-A though.

    There is a freeware Madia player called VideoLAN, at
    http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
    which will also happily play back just about everything you can throw at it.

    You will definitely hear an improvement re recording your vinyl at 24/96, as the dynamic range of 24 bit audio is 144dB. The wider word really makes a difference.
    I'm not 100% convinced about 96KHz samplerates, as on most vinyl there is a limited frequency response and to be blunt - it just don't go up that high! To use 96KHz to my mind implies needing to reproduce frequencies at 48KHz, and I know of nobody who can reliably hear that high without perhaps spending many thousands of pounds on seriously specialist equipment. Then, of course, your amp & speakers also need to be 48KHz capable, or else the extra disc space is wasted. But this is just my personal opinion. I'd stick to 48KHz tops, 44.1 if you intend to write CD's.

     
  3. vurbal

    vurbal Administrator Staff Member

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    Great! My biggest concerns were about the TerraTec hardware because I hadn't seen anything else that has the features they provide for anything less than twice or three times the price. Once I can afford to get a copy of Wavelab 5 I'll have to start looking for a breakout box I can do 6 channel DVD-A backups with, but that's okay since I don't expect to find a single piece of hardware designed with both a phono pre-amp and suitable inputs for 6 channel DVD-A backups.

    I figured I'd do some testing of 48KHz vs. 96KHz recording. The research I've done so far seems to back up your opinion, and I won't have equipment that it could make a difference on any time soon (although I have a friend who might), but I may do it just on general principle just in case I have that kind of equipment at some point so I don't have to redo my backups to take advantage of it. Since I expect to be storing my initial backups as data DVDs, I'm not too worried about disc space.

    Thanks for the advice!
    _X_X_X_X_X_[small]Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue
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    Last edited: Aug 29, 2004

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