I’ve mentioned in several posts I’m having a lot of trouble with my setup.
1. the problem(s)
Every update of Windows, but also Reaper and sometimes installing a plugin (in particular Waves) it changes everything. Suddenly Reaper becomes sluggish with pops and crackles and substantial latency. My custom setup reverts to some much older setup. I lose (and find!) plugins. My custom plugin folder (my selection of EQ’s, compressors, virtual instruments etc. from the 1200 or so plugins I have in my plugin folders…) is gone. It takes hours just to reselect those plugins. I know part of the solution to that problem is to throw out 80% of my plugins, but that’s not the point. I hardly do any real recording because I’m constantly trying to fix things.
On the Reaper forum I saw quite a few similar threads, one of them from our own Dan the Man. It seems to me that the real problem is still unclear. Is this a typical Reaper problem, and if so in combination with which hardware? Same applies to Focusrite interfaces (as also in Dan’s case).
To be honest: I’m fed up!
2. my needs
I don’t have all that much time for recording as it is, and it seriously causing me to ask if I shouldn’t just spend my time making music instead of fixing computer related problems I have no hope of understanding. The answer of course is still: NO! I want to record, produce! My question now is: how can I do that without spending 3000 euros (or whatever). The cheapest solution by far would be to finally get what I have to work (a desktop Windows computer with 4t gen i7 processor and 8 gig of memory) without problems, but I’ve been trying that with little real success for years.
My needs are not that huge. I record real audio when I can. I use a few virtual instruments (drums, piano, maybe a synth or an organ, maybe a string or horns section). I tend to craft tracks with EQ and compression, but use mix busses and FX busses when I can. I either record Midi tracks to audio or use the freeze function when the mix grows too big. I don’t mind. I rarely record more than 2 tracks at a time (though I might want to be able to record my band at some time - not high on my whish list). I don’t need the latest and greatest in computer technology. I JUST WANT SOMETHING THAT IS STABLE AND REMAINS STABLE!!! Is that so hard to ask from developers of hard- and software? I don’t know of any other product with so much downtime. Just imagine if you went to get your car repaired, and while driving away the car doesn’t go any faster than 30 km per hour, because the repair has caused another problem. An when you get this fixed, the former problem comes back again - and your window wipers unexplainably start wiping (actually, my car does that…).
So I’m looking for stability and reasonable performance, specially regarding latency. I don’t need to play games or whatever. Just recording music.
3. the interface
The first thing I might want to try is replacing my Focusrite Sapphire pro 24 DSP. What I read is that you get by far the best stability and best latency with an RME setup. These tend to be expensive, but you can buy their stuff second hand: two Ebay examples:
- RME Hammerfall DSP 9632 for 159 euro’s. This is an older type PCI card, not PCIe would that be a problem for a new computer? Is it still good enough for recording? I could couple all inputs and outputs via ADAT to an interface with ADAT out and mic pre’s. I’m thinking the Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 would do: it has 8 good mic pre’s and I don’t need to use the USB connection. Question is if the outputs of the Behringer could be used to send the audio out to my speakers and headphones? Total costs about 360 euro’s
- RME Fireface 800 for 450 euro’s. This has 4 mic pre’s. If I want to record a band I could easily add an ADAT mic pre (again Behringer would do fine). This is however firewire and I don’t know how long that technology will be supported in computers (maybe not a problem). 450 euro’s now, maybe another 160 later.
A new variation: RME HDSPe RayDAT (B-Stock at Thoman) for 500 euro’s. Again I would need to couple it to an interface like the Behringer via ADAT (with the question I have concerning using the audio outs of the Behringer for my speakers), so in all it would cost about 700 euro’s. My feeling is that this interface is overkill for my needs. But it is newer.
I can still sell my Focusrite Sapphire pro 24 for about 120 euro’s.
p.s. any other stable, fast and affordable options (second hand included) that I should consider? The thing is: only RME makes really good windows drivers for their hardware. Other interface manufacturers seem to consider developing stable drivers for Windows to be of less importance (internet opinions which I’m repeating obviously, what do I know). Can’t some of you computer geeks do something about it? If anybody could deliver excellent third party drivers for some of the major interface products like those of Focusrite they would be rich in no time, I’m sure.
3. the computer
With a stable and fast interface, completely re-installing Windows (maybe revert back to a stable version of windows 7 and leave Windows updates off line ?) and Reaper as well as a SMALL SELECTION of my plugins I hope all my problems are solved. If not my conclusion can only be: the computer’s no good ( I bought it second hand privately for 450 euro’s , it was only 6 months old at the time with great specs, so it seemed a fantastic buy…). In that case I’ll sell it to somebody not trying to run an audio studio on it. And buy something else. Now that would be the hard part. I don’t have all that much to spend (maybe 1000 euro tops). I need stability more than super speed. I hesitate to go the refurbished route unless it’s maybe second hand pro audio computer. They’re hard to come by though. Apple is supposedly more stable but has other drawbacks (including quite a few of my plugins not working) and is much more expensive. So not a great option. Or is it?
Do I need a dedicated audio PC from a specialist? Does that really help stability? Or is there a brand of (Windows) computers that are also reliable with a standard setup (except maybe extra drives and memory)?
4. the DAW
Dare I question Reaper? I spent a lot of time understanding this DAW, and after the steep learning curve have started to appreciate the adaptability. But to be honest with my present DAW skills another program might do fine as well. If this helps my stability issues I might consider reverting to - say - Studio one. Draw back is that its an expensive option.
A lot of questions. I’m on holiday now, but have been spending days roaming the internet for answers. Maybe some of you can help me with your experiences? It would be much appreciated!
And if Dan is reading this: are all your problems over (just the Computer/ Reaper/ Focusrite/ Waves ones will do)?
Thanks for reading this, I hope you can help!