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Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Featured, Hardware Articles |

This need to know when buying a PC to: Create audio and video

This need to know when buying a PC to: Create audio and video

Brian Lane Winfield Moore – Flickr (CC)

Create multimedia content has never been an easy task when not accompanying the team. Any computer can work as: retouching photographs, illustrations with Inkscape modify, edit and transcode a video in Sony Vegas, creating a song with multiple instruments, and so on. But the tasks are quite different from each other, each demanding more power in a component, while others focus on one in particular.

Depending on the needs of each, or the work that you need to meet, it is relatively difficult to determine what you need most when buying a computer to work seriously in creating multimedia content.

The issue is not so difficult

Let’s make the separation between edit and create. A task demands more than the other. In other words, create a theme in ableton Live, Pro Tools, Cubase, logic or fl studio is very different to edit the song and armed in audacity or Adobe Audition, for example.

Imagine the following workflow: a photograph raw (RAW) comes to be corrected in several areas, which must then be integrated into an interactive Flash animation with illustrations and audio, which will be part of a campaign of a website and DVD. The first thing to come to mind will be something like Photoshop, Flash, Soundbooth, Dreamweaver and Sony Vegas. Themselves are large programs that require much memory space to run, but the end result usually much smaller.

The advice follows the protocol: sue such programs as usual, thus a pretty good team it will all perform well especially when coexist simultaneously.

Is not that Adobe Photoshop uses the GPU ? Yes, but the contribution is relatively minimal. So, a good video card midrange improvement experience to handle the program and apply some filters, but the CPU is still responsible for much of the “other” job outside the program and the best investment in increasing the performance.

This need to know when buying a PC to: Create audio and video image 2

Adobe CS6 with some GPU-accelerated tools.

Back then, transcoding is very common. Taking captured material from another source to be transformed into something ready to digest the web and other devices using a common component: the processor. Imagine rip DVD to MP4 to be read on mobile, or extend an MP3 song to be integrated into a video. They are not easy tasks, and time consuming.

For this reason, a good processor is the Achilles heel in this type of tasks. Some applications support can also do the same faster (and better) with a GPU, but as dictated ExtremeTech article , are the opposite. In fact it is better to stick with Handbrake , which does an excellent job with the CPU only. Also, more memory means that programs will be more agile, and a good monitor lets you see in detail and comfort what you’re doing.

A further step is the creation of audio and video. It is literally another topic, another price, and other responsibilities.

High demand: Creating audio and video

With respect to create audio we mean from music to sound effects. Obviously this is ground for music producers with good hearing more than the rest of us are not big difference between hearing of USD $50 and USD $100. Had a stereo issues sessions with multiple tracks, different audio sources-and MIDI-, multiple instruments, software synths, large sample libraries, etc..

Did essential for all of the above? Achieve low latency of the overall system. This means that we need a machine capable of handling audio in real time without delays, and this is not easy to get, there are multiple factors that affect performance.

Depending on the need for the task to be, different sound cards can come out of a conversation. These allow us to replace the solution that comes integrated in our motherboard, allowing access to analog converter for digital audio because when we edit, we need to transform the signal, for example, an electric guitar, the virtual domain. If you do not have good converters will sound bad. Sound card also allow us to have low latencies, increase the number of input / output audio to our platform and in some cases, we will pre-amplifier signal for connecting professional microphones, capacitors even if the sound card is with Phantom power.

Some products promise to connect up the toaster, others say they will make up the match ball of your ears, and so on. Depending on your budget, you are among the classic m-audio Audiophile 192 (and others of the same brand) and betting more expensive, but more versatile, including external interfaces – ie, a box next to your computer that will connect everything that comes and out – and others with more inputs and options to control the sound. These external interfaces are nothing but sound card that connects via USB 1.1, USB 2.0 and Firewire, in most cases.

This need to know when buying a PC to: Create audio and video image 3

A similar Saffire 6 USB and can be a good choice to start with, but others consider gambling with more inputs.

Solutions such as delivering the brand we must not ignore. If we seek to create / edit audio seriously, we must refer to what specialized brands like Presonus, M-Audio and Focusrite, hopefully by USB 2.0 and Firewire, as the quality of our connection will affect the number of similar instruments we can connect, as well as the overall system latency.

Different case is when we consume audio only. This part is that you should keep an eye forced the ASUS Xonar series over the Creative X-Fi. Multiple network analysis point to a clear winner when playing content. Obviously they have a great interface for connecting devices, as their function is different.

You should also include in the budget good speakers or headphones. There is no point having a good sound card and audio airs does not play the same or better shape. How to buy a monster truck but wheeled tricycle ride.

Moreover, the video is also very demanding on a computer. Not only should be Oberol when the video is blank (RAW) with hundreds of gigabytes per hour. Edit this type of material, join it with other sources like special effects or other video, and transcoding to make it readable by the rest of the world is a feat that requires some time.

What most require only team in this case is a good processor. Currently there is great benefit in having a good video card, unless you’re talking about those with lots of connections. Professionals will be listening brands like AJA, Blackmagic Design, and Matrox for these demanding tasks.

With that, we have more or less the team we want profile:

  • That weight manage large programs simultaneously.
  • Enough storage available.
  • Very demanding when it comes to process and calculate.
  • Hearing or seeing the best results.

Sound card and video

The issue here is to a long conversation in our forums. Want something for amateur or novice production? Looking for professional editing components? Do you plan to see your work in stereoscopy, or mastering a musical production complete? And above all how much budget you have available?

This need to know when buying a PC to: Create audio and video image 4

DeckLink HD Extreme 3D promises to solve the problem in stereoscopic video editing.

I personally recommend always start from the floor, with components that are appropriate to what you order and avoid overpaying. Large expenses can always push for later, and when you have mastered the work platform. Maybe your next update is not a better sound card, but a laptop with an external interface to connect everything. Or a rack-mount with a video capture to meet all your needs.

The important thing here is to distinguish two kinds of products: those targeted for media consumption and production used to. Brands like ASUS or Creative clearly go towards consumption, while the E-MU Creative, Presonus, M-Audio, Focusrite, and several others, audio interfaces offer compact and high quality, ideal for mounting a production platform music and sound recording quite seriously, and for a low budget.

Peripherals (Monitor, Speakers)

Obviously all this have to accompany it with a good monitor, or good audio output. And we’re not talking about components middling, but things that are above average and you will surely find the niche market instead of an electronics store in general or within a department of audio and video retail chain.

The monitor will be used to display all the programs interface with which you plan to work, so the decision is to choose one that is large and high resolution, leaving a good point to consider the color calibration if yours is the visual . Do not expect this kind of peripherals around the corner, is known for imports of U.S. stores since here there is availability or the price is prohibitive.

For audio editing, the choice is more special. You have to know that when we create audio and/or recorded bands, it is essential to get the clearest possible audio without distortion. This is called “monitor” the audio, for which we must refer to no popular brands that do the opposite: adding sound dirty lower, etc. Again we find specialty brands to deliver “studio monitors” targeted towards that, as M-Audio, Sony (MDR line), or the legendary Sennheiser HD KRK Systems, the latter being the preferred choice of many “bedroom musicians” and also several professionals.

Go through headphones is also good choice if we walk short of money. But always remember: when editing audio and video, you have to know which are the best studio monitors, speakers not glamorous. Put aside the Bose, Skullcandy and several others.

Good processor

The decision is unanimous, there is another way to raise the team’s overall performance in the editing and multimedia creation that having a powerful processor. He is in charge of moving from one format to another audio files and video, in addition to processing the rest of the programs internal tasks.

In theory, the more cores and more speed you have, the better – many will be watching the overclock article in case . At this stage of life several programs are able to manage and exploit multiple processing threads.

Especially in creation of audio through virtual synthesizers, such as those included in FL Studio, and Reason, having more cores the better. Almost all tasks of this kind require a lot of CPU, and when we want to create audio, a good core chip will allow us to have many instances of synths simultaneously, without cuts or discomfort. This factor also helps reduce overall system latency, and we can reduce the number of samples to obtain better latency, taking additional CPU load. That is, a better CPU, you can access lower latencies.

Much faster and storage

Where do you plan to save it? Unfortunately the price of hard drives is still fairly prohibitive, but it is the most convenient option to measure the price by size. Depending on what you plan to do and the budget, the configuration can vary from a simple disc to RAID-0 array to increase storage by the speed at which data is accessed and written – in exchange for losing some “confidence “regarding safety.

If we talk about audio, usually resulting projects are not very compelling, but there’s another factor to consider: the sample libraries. For example, the factory library of Native Instruments Kontakt sampler takes as 60GB, depending on the version. Here we have full orchestras and world sounds. Furthermore, sample-based synthesizer (besides oscillators) have other libraries weighing 60GB. And we are adding. In this case we also need a massive hard drive, one that is fast, not enough to die waiting to load a library before it’s heavy RAM passed. Speaking of which …

Many memory

As we said, if you plan to work with audio sample libraries heavy, they pass to the RAM when executed. And the more we have, the better. For video editing, depending on the number of programs you may have open (Avid + Photoshop, for example) we will see how much RAM you need. In all cases, however, speak of heavy software.

On the other hand, if you feel you do not need much space to use that you will give to your computer, you can increase the RAM size safely, however when it comes to large files most likely do not want to suffer from “lack of space” for the convenience of only having to work a bit faster. One thing for another if the budget is tight.

How much RAM? The rule seems to be at least 8GB. With more memory, more agile programs behave with larger files, and disk access decreases both the Windows paging file. Not a bad idea to be a third point for a new team rather than something in the top of the list.

In summary

Bottom line: Good audio interface, Peripherals.
Consider: Good processor, storage, memory.
Price: High to infinity and beyond, over USD $1,200.

Although video or sound editing can make anyone on any computer, by far the best experience and final quality can be achieved with a team created for this purpose. It is always advisable to opt for the great responsibility of carrying out this task, as is the sound card and accompanying peripherals, rather than putting all the bills in Performance – the life of these speakers or monitors are much longer than 4 years.

It’s coming from someone who has their ancient M-300 for over a decade, and other speakers over 20 years.

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