Author Topic: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of  (Read 1444 times)

Offline untitled73

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Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« on: September 22, 2020, 09:37:16 PM »
Hi guys.... I'm an electronics recycler that works for an IT company that has been implementing apple-based setups since the early 90's...

I built a largely analog studio myself and I'm fairly electronically inclined. I'm pretty sick of using my duet (it's insanely buggy, I have to do pr-ram resets constantly, maestro is the worst and shittiest piece of software to have, it's too light weight and people knock it off the table constantly, and the spaghetti breakout cable is super low quality and I have it re-soldered and cobbled together as it is) and want to take my Mac Pro 4,1 home and throw a nice GPU in it.

What I basically need is a 2+ input (I wouldn't hate more) balanced input interface with sweet ADC's and the ability to bypass preamps.. I feel like there MUST be some older options that were world class at the time, but are cheap as hell now...

I have a bunch of older computers that I've gotten up and running:

1. Mac IIfx, 32 mb ram, 250 gb HDD + ethernet card

2. iMac G4 1.25 Ghz

3. Mac Mini... forget the specs inside, but I think this is the most powerful G4 I have...

4. PowerBook G4 6,2 w/ 1.25 gb ram (I installed OS 9.2 on this and the GPU (GeForce 5200) didn't work too well

5. G4 Cube

And of course, I have the cheese-grater modern 4,1 that is relatively maxed out for audio purposes as it is.

I also have a comically maxed out windows 98 machine that I never use. I literally save this stuff from getting melted down at the yard all the time.

I'm not really sure where to start or what the best option or OS is for this purpose. I have absolutely no problem doing something wacky and I'm mostly doing this because I think it would be hilarious if it worked just as well as what I have, so the more "outdated" I can go the better as far as fun factor is concerned. We mostly use tape so it's not critical that the interface/setup is bug free, especially after dealing with the Duet in High Sierra for the past 3 years. 

I just have no idea where to start when sifting through all the nubus and PCi hardware and how all the old software runs.

Offline IIO

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2020, 10:33:45 PM »
that is not an option for the macmini, but the best (while still common and widely compatible) multichannel interfaces for MacOS9 are the hammerfall PCI solutions.

i would fix the G4 tower (by using a GF 4) and use this.
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Offline refinery

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2020, 08:46:17 PM »
you're gonna have a hard time finding *anything* nubus audio related at this point in time, and the other macs you listed are all gonna be usb/firewire solutions since no expansion slot.
your best bet IMO besides tracking down something really exotic would be a early MOTU firewire unit, and then have it modded by the folks at BLA:
https://www.blacklionaudio.com/product-category/modifications/motu/

MOTU 896 can be had for cheap, are very reliable IMO, and also you get an AES digital IO pair, so you can hook up a fancy external pre-amp if you want to at a later point. driver support is also excellent... I have a Hackintosh in my studio and im using a PCI-424 (yes, the PCI version) with 4x interfaces running 10.14 Mojave. works like a champ, still.
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Offline untitled73

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2020, 07:31:13 PM »
you're gonna have a hard time finding *anything* nubus audio related at this point in time, and the other macs you listed are all gonna be usb/firewire solutions since no expansion slot.
your best bet IMO besides tracking down something really exotic would be a early MOTU firewire unit, and then have it modded by the folks at BLA:
https://www.blacklionaudio.com/product-category/modifications/motu/

MOTU 896 can be had for cheap, are very reliable IMO, and also you get an AES digital IO pair, so you can hook up a fancy external pre-amp if you want to at a later point. driver support is also excellent... I have a Hackintosh in my studio and im using a PCI-424 (yes, the PCI version) with 4x interfaces running 10.14 Mojave. works like a champ, still.

Well the nubus stuff really isn't that hard to come by actually. The worst part is finding the cabling IMO. There's a board from Hungary for 20 bucks on ebay with a broken IC leg. Since I already spend a lot of my day soldering motherboards it's not much extra time. Of course, then I need the quad box and cable.

Which puts me over $100 in the hole, but I don't really know how that stuff sounds, and what the prevalence of old electrolytics is like on the old protools stuff. So it is a risk. I would hate to spend a $200+ on a fully recapped NuBus system only to find out it sounds like shit.


Then looking at the Hammerfall suggestion, it seems as though the converters are fairly universally loved  no?... Does this card work with the Sawtooth G4's? I have pretty steady access to those. I come across one every couple of months that hasn't been parted at all, etc. Why would the MOTU be a better solution than this... are the converters only good if they're modded?

Offline IIO

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2020, 07:56:49 PM »
yeah, besides their very good converters (i.e. sound) that is the benefit of the hammerfall productline: they have very good drivers. you might not need need linux or beos supprt, but that says something about their attitude.

their 2005 pruducts still come with ASIO for MacOS9 and their 2000 products still run in 10.15.

motu firewire for example has recently dropped for 10.15 (which is still very good). man products expire after 8-10 years.

about your nubus idea; you might like them for some reason, but you should be aware of their specs when you want to use them for protools & co: there are no realtime plug-ins, no synths and samplers, there are no 2k monitors, there are no firewire cards, no SATA cards and no nothing for such an old system.

we are talking of 1990 in comparison to 2000 - that´s 40 internet years difference. i would always prefer an 8-track casette recorder over a nubus mac.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 08:24:04 PM by IIO »
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Offline untitled73

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2020, 08:26:59 PM »
besides their very good converters (i.e. sound)  that is the benefit of the hammerfall productline: they have very good dirvers.

you might not need need linux or beoas, but that say something about their attitude.

motu firewire for example has recently dropped for 10.15 (which is still very good).

about your nubus idea; you might like them for some reason, but you should be aware of their specs when you want to use them for protools & co: there are no realtime plug-ins, no synths and samplers, there are no 2k monitors, there are no firewire cards, no SATA cards and no nothing for such an old system.

we are talking of 1990 in comparison to 2000, that´s 40 internet years difference. i would always prefer an 8-track casette recorder over a nubus mac.

I don't necessarily like them. If you mean, I may like their 'sound' (or their lacking of distinctive characteristics, perhaps)... oh nice.

The only thing I would need real-time plugins for are 'analyzers' and the like. It is tough to pinpoint standing waves in snares with the parametrics on my board.

More or less, I only NEED 2 tracks that sound very good so I can dump my bounces (otari mtr-90 16 tk to otari mtr-12 2 tk 1/2") to digital.

Would I love to take all 16 tracks from the board all at once? Yeah, for those rare occasions when someone actually wants that. Even if I figure out how to get 16 tracks running for cheap, that's quite a bit of space to store on drives from that era (I do have like 15+ SCSI drives though lol). So I don't really want to go NuBus. I just noted that it seems to be the cheapest options for my bare minimum requirements.

Plus, apparently people used to get the tape machine clock slaved to the racks and do all sorts of wacky tricks with that. I haven't encountered much info on how to do that though.

So you seem to think that both the MOTU or RME routes are very good. It's kinda funny... the Duet is actually a really old FW 400 interface itself now that I think of it. It probably wouldn't be much younger than most MOTU's I'd buy.

Offline IIO

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2020, 08:45:05 PM »
hammerfall pci is of course also the most expensive beside mykerinos. motu mkII would be my bread and butter suggestion, i use them myself. yet i do not need to record classical guitar for broadcast with them.

macmini G4: 40 €
SSD for mini: 40 €
motu 828: 50 €
wuxga monitor: 50 €
== recording studio with 50+ tracks, 5-10 better plug-ins, 8 in 8 out, 1 midi in 1 midi out, various audiofile editors and CD burner.
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Offline untitled73

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2020, 08:59:13 PM »
hammerfall pci is of course also the most expensive beside mykerinos. motu would be my bread and butter suggestion, i use them myself. yet i do not need to record classical guitar for broadcast with them.

It's funny you say that, because I'm a classical guitarist and we have a juiced up part 15 radio transmitter with a base loaded vertical antenna that reaches the outskirts of my town  ;D

But sure. If I need to mod them to be up to par with the RME option, then it seems like the RME option might be a better choice. Very cool, that I really can just use either option on my cheesegrater if I would like, or just grab a sawtooth/quicksilver and run them on OS9.

Offline Architecture

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Re: Choosing which computer to build DAW out of
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2021, 08:45:13 AM »
hammerfall pci is of course also the most expensive beside mykerinos. motu mkII would be my bread and butter suggestion, i use them myself. yet i do not need to record classical guitar for broadcast with them.

macmini G4: 40 €
SSD for mini: 40 €
motu 828: 50 €
wuxga monitor: 50 €
== recording studio with 50+ tracks, 5-10 better plug-ins, 8 in 8 out, 1 midi in 1 midi out, various audiofile editors and CD burner.

I got really lucky getting a DIGI 9636 for $60 bucks around the time this was posted. They are great interfaces.
PowerMac G4 2002 Quicksilver, 120GB/240GB HDDs, Delta 1010, RME Digi 9636 Connected to Allen and Heath ZED R16 via ADAT channels.

G4 MDD (1.25 Single/Dual). 2GB Ram, GeForce Ti 4600 Mac.

 


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