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Build for a Silent Audio recording PC

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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-13-2017, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
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A friend of mine, Kevin, is a musician and wants a PC mainly for audio recording. Maybe some video recording/editing too. It will not be used for gaming. $1,500 budget, but if we could come in under budget that would be fantastic.

* No need for a keyboard or monitor.

* Would be devastated if his music collection was lost, since this is side of income for him on the side. He wants only SSD's. I decided on 2 SSD's in a RAID 1 array to protected the information on the PC.

* Will be doing most of the mixing from a mixing board (not at the PC's sound card). The music will enter his PC through firewire. This PC needs a decent sound card, but nothing too fancy or over the top. No need for RCA outputs, nor will the sound card need to drive high impedance outputs......that will be done at the mixing board.

* PC needs basic wi-fi capabilities. No need for 802.11 a/c or anything over-the-top.

* More USB ports = better.

* Wants the quietest PC that is practical within his budget.

* Doesn't care about colors or the aesthetics. It should be professional. No need for crazy lights.

* Has no interest is overclocking.

CASE: Factal Design R5 (Blackout with Window option) - Insulated with high density noise reducing insulation and ultra quiet fans. Also it has nice cable management.

SOUND CARD: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS - 7.1 channels, firewire, 192 khz 24-bit, PCI interface, gold plated contacts.

POWER SUPPLY: SeaSonic SS-520FL2 520watts 80 plus platinum - I chose this specific power supply over several others that were cheaper because this one was fanless which equalls quiet. Not to mention it is platinum efficiency and fully modular.

MOTHERBOARD: ASRock Z170-X1/3.1 LGA 1551 No comments here, it looks like it will do what I want.

CPU: i5-7500 Kaby Lake

GPU: XFX Radeon RX 460 DirectX 12 RX-460P4HFG5 4GB Fanless Video Card - This should be more than enough to drive any resolution monitor

RAM: G. Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 3466 - Nuff said.

SSD: TWO SAMSUNG 850 EVO 2.5" 500GB - Will use two of them in a RAID 1 array. I explained to Kevin that we could put Windows on a SSD and use HDD's in a RAID array for storage....but Kevin says he would prefer that I used only SSD's for the whole project. He says 500GB of storage will be sufficient.

WI-FI: Linksys AE3000-NP High Performance Dual-Band Wireless-N Adapter IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n

ACCESSORIES: USB 2 Port A Female to 9 Pin Slot Plate Adapter USB Panel
- I want to give Kevin as many USB ports as the motherboard will allow. :-)

ACCESSORIES: OKGEAR 18" SATA 6 Gbps Cable, Straight to Left Angle W/ Metal Latch, - Not sure of the motherboard comes with SATA cables, so figured I would throw some into the build.

Total Cost: $1278.82.

EDIT: CPU COOLER: be quiet! SHADOW ROCK SLIM Silent Wings CPU Cooler - Chose the slim over the "full size" due to complains of the full size not fitting around RAM. It doesn't need to perform much better than the stock heatsink since he won't be just needs to be quieter and I think this fits the bill.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-20-2017, 02:52 AM
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as someone with a gaming rig that curriently has only 2 moving parts in it on startup and then it goes down to one after the psu fan shuts down it is blissfull.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-20-2017, 05:46 AM
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I won't bother with doing a part picker for this build, just a few of my cents...

- If focus for this PC is audio work, he's going to want better than that soundcard which is really not for professional use and isn't much better than built in audio in most cases. I would look into external sound cards/DACs and amps. They have the advantage of being completely isolated from internal electrical noise as only digital information is leaving the PC chasis.

- video editing might suffer on the i5-7500 with that GPU. Make sure it's only very light video editing he wants to do.

- don't bother with the raid set up for ssd's. It helps mitigate loss by drive failure but this was more useful with mechanical drives that would be left alone in server for years. The problem with raid is that in the event of corrupted data it will be copied to both drives, making the raid useless. I think it'd be much better for him to either back up his data automatically to the cloud or an external hdd manually.

- if you can get the windowless version of the case, it will be quieter.

Hope this helps.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-22-2017, 07:11 PM
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For the CPU cooler, I would use a Thermalright HR-22 and run it passive. Then just have some low speed Noctua fans in the case.

I would limit the use of WiFi adapters, since they usually generate noise in audio.. I've had low end WiFi adapters and high end WiFi adapters cause this issue. My current Asus PCE-AC68 even does this. (it is subtle, but would ruin a professional audio recording experience I imagine) Run ethernet.

As mentioned, the sound card choice isn't all that great. If a sound card must be used, better choices come to mind for someone producing audio -- such as the Asus Xonar Essence STX, Onkyo SE-300PCIE, HT Omega Claro Halo, etc.. BUT, the best option would be to use optical in/out to a DAC and mixer board for audio production on the PC. I would avoid USB DAC's, since they often have poorly implemented grounding and a noisy USB bus to deal with. I've seen numerous problems, even with expensive USB DAC's when I was working in a TV studio.

For backup of his music, I'd suggest using cloud storage (ex: Backblaze) in addition to RAID. I would recommend running a SSD for the OS drive, then going with a SnapRAID volume for the music storage since it has bit-rot protection. For OS backups, just have a nightly/weekly/monthly backup plan that saves the image to the storage volume, then syncs with the cloud.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-23-2017, 09:06 AM
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a single fast nvme is really good enough for os and stuff to be edited, and then just have a nas box with spinning rust in it, in a different room. or a collecion of usb hdds+ offsite storage somewhere
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 10:45 AM
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If your using it for recording a PCI sound card is a really bad idea. For games PCI is fine, but for recording its pretty meh. Recording interfaces have all pretty much gone to USB. Depends on what you are recording though, but a USB interface like this is optimal. That way you have multiple inputs for mics/guitars and have the option of phantom power for condensers. If he is a straight guitarist line 6's POD farm interfaces are even better for that if micing an amp is too much hassle.

If its strictly not a gaming PC, even a 460 seems like overkill.

EDIT: Blah nevermind! Just read the rest of the post sorry. lol

Also...You can make any case quieter by lining the doors with acoustic foam. Works really well.

Feel free to correct me. I'm right just as often as I am wrong. Or wrong as equally as I am right at least. I dunno I could be wrong about that..

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-27-2017, 08:02 AM
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you want a professional audio interface. don't go with that consumer sound card. I personally use Parasound USB DAC (which is actually an consumer grade) but i got less interference by separating the DAC itself from the rest of PC components.

how much inputs do you need? I use DAC only because I don't need input (i only use my PC to edit / mix / master).

RX460 is more than enough if you didnt intended to do post processing

i also like to recommend to use NVMe SSD for both system and temporary work drive (partition them! never mix your sistem w/ your projects!)

(20 items)
Ryzen 7 1700X
Asus ROG Strix X370-F Gaming
TridentZ 3200C15
Hard Drive
Samsung 950 Pro
Hard Drive
Western Digital Black
Hard Drive
Seagate Constellation ES SAS
Hard Drive
Western Digital RE
Hard Drive
Western Digital Green
Optical Drive
Asus BW-16D1HT
Power Supply
Enermax MaxTytan 800
Delta FFB1212EH
Be Quiet! Silent Loop 280mm
Sunon Maglev
BeQuiet Dark Base 900 Pro
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10
Samsung C27F591
Logitech G402
Corsair MM300
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