MY DAW etc died - need upgrade advice

I apologise in advance if this turns out to be a long post, but it is really important to me (of course) and I thank you all in advance for your advice and time spent in replying.

My existing pc has as good as died and it’s time to catch up with the modern world.
My existing rig is as follows:
Pentium R4 3.6 Ghz with Windows XP
4Gb of Ram although XP only recognises 3.25Gb
Dual 21” monitors
250Gb Main Drive (7200 Sata) with a 1Tb secondary drive (7200 Sata)
No idea of the graphics card on it and I’m totally ignorant about chipsets!
Soundcard/audio card is Creamware (Scope/SonicCore) Pulsar II PCI – amazing “ DSP studio on a card”, but 12 years old and I think it died last week (can’t tell ‘cos the PC & graphix card died)
On the Pulsar II card I use midi in, stereo audio in and stereo audio out (more on this later) and I also have a Korg NanoKontrol on USB.
Cubase 4.5 plus other applications such as Recycle.
VST’s mainly are Spectrasonics (all of them), Kontakt3, Vanguard, Superwave bundle, Mtron, Garritan Personal Orchestra and EWQL Symphonic Choirs plus other VST synths & some 3rd party effects such as OhmBoyz.

It’s time to upgrade and so I’m seeking your advice on getting all the right components to give me a stable rig (as far as Cubase can be stable, but I love it anyway)
I’m not a techy, so I’ll be getting a computer shop to assemble and support the pc for me. Simple answers for me will be great.
I’ve had a look at the DAW components section on the Steinberg site, but it’s last update was 2011 and some bits are too technical for me!
I’ve also had a look around the forums (confusing), but found it interesting to see what other members have listed as their equipment at the bottom of their posts.

I’m a bedroom-studio hobbyist, so I don’t want the ultimate expensive rig that is overkill. Using VST’s, effects, samples etc I like to write trance (huge fan of Above & Beyond Group Therapy podcasts), dance, urban, Berlin School (Tangerine Dream style ambient), choral and orchestral, then mix the tracks down. I love the composing & learning to produce better results. And at 60 years old, I’m not the slightest bit ambitious, but a bit of future proofing would be useful to get me to 70 plus!!! :smiley:
A couple of recent track examples can be heard – search Neil Buxton on Soundcloud (if you’re into self-torture).

As stated above, I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, but at the same time, I don’t want to try to do it on the cheap. It’s a big part of my life, so a good stable rig that’s capable of handling the stuff I’ve mentioned above at a sensible price will be ideal.

Onto the Upgrade then:
I’m moving to Windows 7 & Cubase 7.5. I’ll have 2 * 1Tb drives & dual monitors.

Soundcard/Audio Card: I simply cannot stay with SonicCore. To replace my Pulsar II card would require an Xite box and I cannot justify £2500 approx for something that is way above my needs. So, I have to take a decision to go purely on the VST route with Cubase and perhaps buy some better components.

Question one: What is a good soundcard for my needs?
I have a M-Audio 88es keyboard with midi out to a Kenton Control Freak Controller. This in turn is midi out to the midi in of my soundcard.
I also have a Korg NanoKontrol as a USB input (works like a dream with Spectrasonics).
I have a mini-mixer (preamped) to audio in of my existing soundcard and audio out to Spirit Folio mixer, then amp & Spirit Absolute 2 speakers. Headphones are on the folio mixer.
I would like to keep the same functionality, but I believe that some sound/audio cards now don’t have midi, but use USB. I’d prefer a midi in and out but I’m open to advice

I suppose a sub-question here is what is a good midi to USB converter box/cable for my workflow?
And another sub-question is do I use an external audio card or internal and where to externals plug into anyway?

Question two: Which processor would best suit my needs, given the details above?
I wish to maintain dual monitors. I’d like a quiet(ish) DAW, although I don’t use any mic recordings. It’s just that my current rig was quite noisy.
I know nothing about dual core, quad core, hyper-threading or anything, so keep it simple please.

Question three: Chipsets?
The Steinberg Daw Components page mentions these. I’m clueless – please advise!!

Question 4: How much RAM?
Now, I know that XP would only access 3.25GB, but I believe Windows 7 is different.
Should I run in 32 or 64 bit mode? Why?
Does Windows 7 access more RAM depending on 32 or 64 bit modes?
Can you have too much RAM? (i.e it has a knock-on effect on other things)
When I last upgraded my pc to Pentium R4 & Win XP the loading time of one patch in Atmosphere went from 70 seconds to 2 seconds!! Can I expect such noticeable improvements again? Speed isn’t the issue so much as stability.

Question Four: Graphics Card?.. Damn I put 2 question fours - make this one 4B :smiley:
Again, I’m clueless on these, so good advice for a stable rig with 2 monitors and good speed will be welcome.

Question Five: Cost?
Just a ball-park figure (UK) based on your recommendations will be fine.

Question Six: Anything else?
Please share with me any other tips, pitfalls to watch out for or anything else that can help me get this rig ordered and up and running would be appreciated.
Bear in mind that this computer will be used ONLY for music/Cubase
As the new DAW will need to be on the internet, are there any anti-virus packages to avoid due to conflicts (I currently use Panda on other PC’s but may be changing to AVG.
How about Asio considerations, latency etc etc.???

Finally, thank you so much to anyone who has waded through this mighty tome and a bigger thank-you to all those that I hope will reply. I owe you a virtual single malt whisky or two! :smiley:

Don’t apologize, mate. If anyone thinks it’s too long a post, there are plenty of one-liners out there in the world wide web. :wink: We all have concerns which one would hope others would be willing to help out with.

Q1. I think this is a personal choice and depends highly on how much money you are willing to spend.

Q2. I am not a CPU guru by any means. Others can hopefully help out better with this question.

Q3. I have never used anything but Intel (right or wrong, but I have also never had any problems with my computers). As far as specifics? Again, I am not a chipset guru, so this would be up to others to help out with.

Q4. I would go with at least 16 GB, but others make do with 8 GB or 12 GB and so on, and are absolutely fine with that. As far as 32- versus 64-bits…

A 32-bit architecture can address as much memory (in bytes) as the max number that 32 bits can hold. I.e. 32-bits can hold a number up to a max of four billion, so using 32-bits to address a memory location, a CPU can “reach” up to four billion bytes, which is the same as 4 GB.
(Bytes in other common computer units can be thought of as 1000 (KB) x 1000 (MB) x 1000 (GB) = 1,000,000,000.)

A 64-bit architecture can address… a lot more. LOL
However, Windows 7 has sales limits, Home Basic = 8 GB, Home Premium = 16 GB, etc…

Q5. Well now… :slight_smile:

I would say that you can build a fantastic hobby studio computer for anything between $1,000-2,000 (US dollars). But you can of course build something cheaper and still have a decent computer. It also depends on what components you can and/or are willing to reuse.

I am about to order parts for a new computer myself, from, and it will cost me rouchly about $1,4000 depending on rebates and drives they are running (they are big on that stuff). It will have an ASUS Sabertooth Z87 board (doesn’t have a fire wire port, and I have an MR816crx that I was thinking of reusing, so I need a separate card, which I already have) and an Intel i7-4770K CPU (combo) with 16 GB RAM (can be expanded to 32 GB if needed). I am getting a beefy 4 GB video card (EVGA GTX 760) so that I don’t really have to worry about it for a while. I am putting it in a Fractal Design R4 case (which has cable management on the back of the case back plate, so you don’t see the cabling) with a Corsair AX 760 power supply. The OS (which will be W8.1 as I’ve been using for a good while now) goes on a SSD drive, probably Samsung or Intel but we’ll see. My audio drives are all in external casing and managed separately from the computers. This way they can easily be copied to other computers and are continuously backed up to other drives.

I don’t profess to be a computer wiz or anything, but I do care enough about my situation to learn and use methods that keep me sleeping at night, and keeps my sanity throughout the day. :smiley: I want to enjoy using computers, not diddle around with them. (Though I love, live and breath software development.)

Q6. Take your time. It’s worth researching and asking questions. There are so many people out there (and in this forum) that understand all about this stuff. Just do a bit of searching here, and you’ll find that some are very good it, and others are just blowing smoke. Not lying or anything, but it’s just knowledge, not understanding. And, to keep the flames at bay, I do not claim to be a know-it person and I never have, I just speak my mind (which is by coincidence also my opinion).

If you want additional help and think that I could be of use, or if you just want to shoot the breeze, please let me know.

Thanks for coming back so quickly Elektrobolt - I appreciate it.

Took your advice and made a few phone calls, looked at your links and did some (or plenty) of looking around the web.
I must say that when I looked at some of the questions on this forum and some of the topics on the Cubase 7.5 forum, I was horrified with the problems being experienced and the sheer complexity of doing the upgrade that I planned.
Plus all the stuff about old VST’s not working in 64 bit, and so on. I think I’d be left with Omnisphere, Trilian & Stylus RMX and not a lot else!!!

So, lots of mulling and really you’ve helped me with your reply to come up with my solution.
I’ve chickened out :smiley: :smiley: Seriously
I really can’t cope with all that with everything else that’s going on at the moment. You didn’t scare me off by the way :smiley:

Been in touch with my computer shop and I’m going to have a new pc, but put XP on it and install my Cubase 4.5 again.
In this respect I’ll be back to how I was, minus my Pulsar 2 card (can’t prove if that is dead yet).

So I think the best thing to do is to close this thread and open another one based simply on the bit about the soundcard.

Seriously, thanks for your help from an ageing Luddite!

preferably, upgrade to ivy bridge that will run winXP/7 32 bit and also 64 bit win7/8 give you loads of cpu power for the future and all at the same price, an added bonus is that these motherboards have PCIe on them as standard with dedicated bandwidth, look at my sig and build yer’ own, or get the shop to for your requirements, if you want Xite 1 you need a system to go 64 bit.

As I wrote above:

“I really can’t cope with all that with everything else that’s going on at the moment”, and elsewhere I’ve hinted at x-ite in the future when money and other circumstances allows.

I’m sure you’re trying to be helpful, but you’re missing the point too.
As someone advising me to look at Planet Z (where I have over 1500 posts) I’m sure that you’re aware that Gary B is the guru there. Windows versions? 32 or 64 bit? Scope versions?
Have a look at some of the comments in this somewhat related thread (one of many):

I don’t have the time, resources or whatever to wade through this minefield at the moment.
I had a stable system. It crashed. I want to get back to writing, recording, composing etc ASAP and if the best way for ME at the moment is to stick with XP, 32 bit Cubase 4.5 and leave my lovely Scope stuff alone for 12 months, that is my choice. Struth, some folks are still using VST32 and enjoying their music. It isn’t all about latest versions, flashy systems etc. It’s about the music.
I’ll deal with the rest, the upgrades etc in my future.
But thanks for trying to help.

I apoligise if I am trying to be trite here…but… an Ivybridge system will run what you want, without problems, it’s all about the music, I’m just giving you an option to upgrade with minimal outlay, your choice.

Apology accepted. :wink:

Go with a Haswell processor if you can…if not, any i7 is perfect for your needs.

Since you don’t use heavy VI’s, go 16GB Ram with a MOBO that can handle more later on if you need it.

Video card? Most cards now have dual outputs and will do the trick. Heck, you can get a good card for around $100 that will suffice.

I highly recommend Win 7 Pro, running 64bit. That being said, you should also run C7 in 64bit, Omnisphere will love you for it.

I highly recommend a Steinberg UR22 interface as you “soundcard”, it just plugs into a USB port. Mine is awesome, and it is a great unit for $150. And believe it or not, I work professionally with this interface.

Just keep your samples on a secondary drive. In your case, 7200’s will suffice. SSD’s come in handy if you start getting into larger, complex sound libraries like Hollywood Strings, etc.

Go with at least a 600W power supply! It is the lifeblood of your system.

Including the inerface, you should be able to have the system built for well under $1500.

thank you so much for that reply - just what a non-techie needed.

Since earlier posts, I’ve got my computer shop sourcing gear, spec’d by my local music shop.

Looking at an i7 Gigabyte card (couldn’t get hold of an Asus with Haswell, but reviews suggest it’s comparable) with Intel Z77
Video card is a Gigabyte/Nvidia GTX650
Power supply is 750W
Xstation X11 case - cool case.

Audio/Soundcard wise, we’re looking at a Focusrite with midi ins (needed) but usb connectivity.

None of this has been ordered yet, but what you have done for me is to reassure me that we’re on the right track.
So I am really grateful (so stressful isn’t it!!)

Initially, I’m going to reinstall back to my XP with Cubase 4.5 (I know, I know) for many reasons, but this will be future proofing, and in say, 12 months time, move to Win 7 & Cubase 7.5

Had a demo of one of these beasties the other day too - you may be interested:

Many thanks again

Not sure what you mean by an “i7 Gigabyte card”. The i7 is tha actuall processor that will sit on the motherboard…two separate components. Your tech guy will know all that stuff :slight_smile:

Regarding XP, you might have a difficult time finding the drivers for your new system. I also heard that the new Haswell stuff doesn’t work with XP (?). If you’re building a nice system, do yourself a favour and go Windows 7 Pro or Win 8. You tech can probably get you a cheaper OEM version. And PLEASE, upgrade to C7, you are missing out on a great DAW!

Gigabyte is the make of motherboard with i7 Intel processors on it.
And yes, it is an xp compatible board.

As I’ve said in previous replies, I AM sticking with xp & Cubase 4.5 for up to another 12 months (many reasons) and yes I will go to win 7 & Cubase 7.5 at a later date - promise.
The rig I’m getting is future proofed for this.

I KNOW I’ll be missing out on C7.5 features for a while, but I can deal with that - what you’ve never had, you’ve never missed and it gives me something to look forward to :smiley:
Every new generation of computer music lovers want the latest version and want others to have it too. I remember the same when VST 32/5.1 came out, when 4.0 came out and so on. In fact I go back way further than that with Cubase.
I think my first version of Cubase had a hamster running around a wheel to power it up :laughing:
It’s all come a long way since my first synth (Korg 700) before midi (I’m a young 60 year old). To me it’s about the music, not the latest synth or features or gaining 1 second loading time for a big Omnisphere patch or whatever.
But I WILL be upgrading and I look forward to it when the time is right for my circumstances

Very grateful for your input

so for all of you who contributed to this post:

I am currently eating humble pie and I thank you all for your input in making me think.

It really wasn’t a perfect solution to stick with XP and Cubase 4.5.
I’m not going into detail, 'cos I write too much anyway. Basically it was false economy over a short timescale.

Needless to say, I’ve ordered the following:

but with 16Gb Ram, 2 Tb drives and an additional 7 port pci usb thing

Soundard/audiocard/midi - Focusrite Scarlett 2i4. I need midi for my keyboard & control freak

I shall be upgrading from Cubase 4.5 to 7.5
I’m sure I’ll need a lot of help.

Thanks again

Very nice! Others may argue, but I’m a big fan of getting a system built by people that understand the needs of a musician. I think this is a good choice.

-PS, you won’t have issues learning C7.

Not learning C7.5 Wolfie - the help will probably be needed in configuring, 32 bit bridging and all the other things I’ve been reading about that I don’t understand.
Just hoping I can get all my legacy 32 bits running.

Good luck with the transition!
There’ll be plenty of knowledgeable peeps around here if (when?) you get stuck

What will you be bridging in 32bit? Perhaps they can by updated?

So far very few problems using 32 bit plugs in C7/7.5 - most established ones have been updated anyway.You can always install both your 32/64 bit cubase on same machine until you complete the transition. Scope Pulsar II runs perfectly in 64 bit with Scope 5.x software, fabulous system, for long term and can be used in the new 1150 chipsets.

Good luck with your upgrade, you’ll love C7.5 most issues have been resolved, it’s extremely stable but can crash sometimes when tweaking kontakt, but that’s a NI issue not Steinberg’s.

Have fun!

Wolfie too:

32 bits will be:
My trusty Vanguard - still love it. Can’t remember what version I’m on, but I believe it’ll be okay
Kontakt - currently on version 3 but I’ll upgrade to latest (5?). May as well go the whole hog
Garritan Personal Orchestra - again, I’m on version 3 (hard to say with a dead pc and the other one not arriving until New Year). I’m sure that this has an upgrade path
East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Choirs - this will need an upgrade
For the previous 2, they use NI Players so I’m sure there’ll will be an upgrade element
Superwave bundle - Trance-pro, Performer & Professional.
Adventus synth
Mtron - very old version
I’m also going to install my trusty Atmosphere & Trilogy again - purely because of the number of patches I created in them. Anyway, I’m still very fond of Atmosphere :smiley:
No effects, 3rd party or freebies, except for OhmBoyz - I’m going to start with the Cubase 7.5 ones, & once I’m back to my Scope stuff, I’ll use the Scope ones anyway. Oh, I’ll probably buy Camelspace but that will be okay anyway.

Until I’ve built my new rig (see previous posts), I can’t be sure if my Pulsar 2 card is dead or not.
To get up & running, I’ll use the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 as my “soundcard” for midi & audio out for the time being.
Once the Cubase/VST side is sorted, I’ll try my Pulsar 2. If that is dead, and it may well be, then I’ll have to save up for Xite (no intention of having Pulsar 2 repaired). That may take 12 months at least and a lot of bribing my missus :smiley:
So that is why I’m going to build the rig with the Focusrite initially.

All you guys are being really helpful & I’m grateful. For some reason (probably age related) I don’t handle stress & trauma the same now, so when my trusty, stable, old rig died I had mega panic attacks and a big fear of replacing it all (and building it). You’ve all been a help and I’ll certainly need you in the New Year when I start installing.
I’m off to the mountains in a day or 2 for Christmas, so have a good one, all of you.

Neil, the good news is that if you upgrade to Kontakt 5, you can use the old NI EastWest libraries in 64bit. It works a lot better than the old “Kompakt” interface. Garrtian Personal Orchestra probably has a cheap (or free) 64bit upgrade. I’d pay the $99 (I believe it’s $50 until the end of the year) upgrade to the Play version of Symphonic Choirs. Wordbuilder is built right into the Play interface, so it’s a lot easier to use.

Kontakt 5 is typically half price ($200) around Christmas, keep an eye on the NI site!

You really are doing more towards this than I seem to be at the moment :laughing:
Thank you SO much.
It’ll be a rash of online orders as soon as I’m back from the mountains.