Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ebox ver 2.0 - Digital Audio Workstation

After the long awaited time for an upgrade since December, I have finally got the parts I needed thanks to Tipidpc.

Some specifications:

Asus P5wDH Deluxe
Intel E6600
Team Xtreem DDR2 800 4-4-4-12
Gecube Radeon x1950PRO 512MB
HEC 550w
Thingbell Casing (from KOREA!)
EMU 1820M

These are what I purchased from the good people of the site. There is another blessing to the upgrade though. A product that I have been drooling over for a long time is the EMU 1820M. It features the EMU 1010 card (which is like a mastercard), a daughter sync card, and the much coveted AudiodockM breakout box.

During it's first product release, the package I got was the EMU 1212m. It featured 2 balanced / unbalanced inputs, midi-in, midi-out, and the same mastering-grade chip that the 1820m featured. So it's basically an 1820M with no AudiodockM, and no daughter sync card.

Thanks to the 180 degrees music team, I have been able to acquire this item! Kudos to Russell Simons and wife Ramona Simons for such a nice item. Off topic, I have designed and still presently maintaining the website for the music and missions team.

My Dream Machine Ver 1.0 (Ebox ver 1.0)

About this same time last year, around November to February, I have dreamt of building a workstation for only one purpose: Digital audio processing. Having purchased a professional sound card 3 years ago, I finally had the resources I needed to built a machine just for this one.

Alas, my needs grew. My current system cannot go further to regions I wanted it to. It can, but I had to deal with the stutters and glitches which I cannot tolerate during live performances (I am a keyboardist / guitarist by the way). During this time, dual-core processors were out in the market. The upgrade itch is at it again! I scratched.

My Dream Machine Ver 2.0


Needless to say, I never got to document the first dream machine I already have. It's not at all sluggish, heck, it's way faster than my office computer! Now I'm wondering when will that get upgraded!

Anyway, on with the details! I've been wanting this since Christmas but due to some uncontrollable instances like budget constraints and all, I have been forced to wait.

Motherboard

The image on the left displays the Asus P5W DH deluxe edition. And yes, that's a receiver over there for the remote control. Finally, I would have a working remote control for my PC. The board too is colorful, which of course will be sealed up inside a case anyway, but nonetheless, aesthetics adds up to overall vanity experience even for a machine like this!

Some spec details are just a bonus for me, but what I do like about this is the native Crossfire support (2 x pci-express running at 8x) because of the i975x chipset.

No, this is not a benchmark review.

Some more specs:
  • Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
  • LGA775 socket for Intel Core2 Duo, Core2 Extreme
  • Intel 975X +Intel ICH7R 1066/800MHz
  • Dual-channel DDR2 800/667/ 533 max 8GB
  • 2 x PCI-E x 16 / 2 x PCI-E x 1/ 3 x PCI
  • Support ATI CrossFire graphics cards
  • Intel Matrix Storage technology
  • Dual Gigabit LAN
  • Dolby Master Studio technology
  • ASUS EZ-Backup
  • ASUS Digital Home features
Click here for Official Asus specs on this board.
A good review can be found here.

Processor

Intel's E6600.
2.4GHz, 4MB, 1066MHz FSB, LGA 775

4MB Cache. Does a lot. Costs a lot.

The quad core processors would be "Does a lot more. Costs a lot more." And I'm not kidding.

I'm beginning to think if there really are real-world applications that would take advantage of these technologies. Of course, there are benchmarks, but they exist in order to push limits of these hardware to applications that are alien to me. Except for the usual mp3 encoding, video encoding / conversion, and others.

However, dual-core still has its advantages. I'd assume you know that already though.

Memory

Team Xtreem Dark DDR2 800MHz CL 4-4-4-12
1GB x 2

That 2 gigabytes of RAM in total. Sweet. Kills latency for audio processing I hope.



Some info from their site:
  • Available in 1GB and 2GB Dual Channel
  • PC2-6400 800 MHz 4-4-4-12
  • 64x8 DDR2 FBGA Chips
  • 240pin, Non-ECC, Un-buffered DDR2 SDRAM DIMM
  • Aluminum Heat-spreader
  • 8 Layers Ultra Low Noises Shielded PCB
  • Retail Package
  • 2.2V - 2.35V
  • Lifetime Warranty
I also got this because it had blue heatsinks...hehehe.

Link from their site? Click here.


Video Card

RADEON X1950Pro 512MB GDDR3, HDCP Edition

I had this card since last November 2006 I think. I never got to use it though. I plugged it in my sister's computer just to make sure it worked. She got to use it but I felt like her computer didn't give much justice to the card. No pun intended.

It's my first PCI Express card too by the way. And it has Native Crossfire support. I've been wanting a crossfire setup ever since the technology came out. Just couldn't affor it then. Not that I could afford it now!

What's this got to do with audio processing? Well, none. But given such power of the computer I am building, why not?

Some more specifications:

  • Powered by ATI RADEON® RV570 GPU
  • A 80-nanometer process GPU, a new ultra-threaded core 3D processing architecture
  • 256-bit (512-bit Internal Ring Bus) 512MB GDDR3
  • 36 parallel pixel pipelines
  • PCI Express x16 lane native support
  • Dual DVI (Double Dual-link) + HDTV + D-sub + HDCP DVI to HD(MI) TV support via HD Video Dongle.
  • Crypto ROM build-in key with native HDCP decoding for Blu-ray and HD-DVD applications @1080i video quality.
  • ATI’s Avivo™ technology connects to home entertainment devices and creates true-to-life image reproduction, and the smoothest video playback ever offered by ATI. Get high image fidelity with CRT and LCD displays, TVs, rear projection and plasma TVs, and projectors.
  • New ultra-threaded core 3D architecture with ATI’s revolutionary Avivo video and display technology to drive performance to new heights with incredible speed and intense 3D graphics.
  • The native Radeon® X1950Pro CrossFire™ is ready; Ready to deliver multi-GPU gaming performance.
  • Shader Model 3.0
  • New High Dynamic Range features visual effects, and enhances realism with adaptive anti-aliasing and lightening fast performance.
  • Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX,WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding.
  • CATALYST™: Full Windows Vista LDDM support including Aero Glass visuals.
Site link here.

Power Supply Unit (PSU)

HEC WIN POWER 550w
The HEC 550w loads my whole system. No more generic brands for me for this kind of setup.

Some more specifications:

Key Features:

  • ATX12V Ver 2.0.1 supports Intel ATX 12V, EPS 12V and AMD ATX-GES
  • Dual +12V rails provide plenty of power sources to support the high end system
  • Compliance with Energy Star and Blue Angel delivery environmentally-friendlier power
  • Excellent protection functions provide maximum reliability
    1. OVP (Over-Voltage Protection)
    2. UVP (Under-Voltage Protection)
    3. OPP (Over-Power Protection)
    4. UPP (Short-Circuit Protection)
  • Dual 6Pin special power connectors for PCI express graphic cards and support SLI technical included
It has a blue fan by the way. hehe. =)
Site link here.

Casing

I was strolling around the pc shops area in Sta. Lucia East when I stumbled upon on a store that sells refurbished items from Korea. Items were pretty much of the same kind you see on refurb shops, except this had a more decent look (and probably more expensive!) since it is inside a mall. I saw this case and thought about buying it. And I did it. The experience I got there wasn't the most pleasant since one of the guys there isn't the most humble person you'd meet. I bought the casing anyway. There are missing parts though as opposed to the site. I asked them about t and apparently all of their units lacked exactly the same parts mine did.

Missing parts (in comparison to what is document in the korean site):

HDD tray
120mm fan
40mm fan



More info here (korean site)








Sound System (at long last!)

EMU 1820M

As EMU would describe it, it is their flagship! And indeed, it is. Featuring 6 analog inputs, 8 outputs, and even more! This monster can record 6 separate tracks at the same time, of course given your computer can handle it.

Unfortunately, due to environmental hazards and standards, this product is not RoHS compliant so EMU stopped manufacturing this one. I only got mine through Ebay and was fortunate enough to get hold of one. I got it through the love and kindness of the Simons of course.

Let me post some more specifications to let you know more about this:

Digital Audio System

The E-MU® 1820M is the flagship of E-MU's line of Digital Audio Systems, delivering everything you need to produce audio on a PC with professional results- 24-bit/192kHz converters (the same A/D converters used in Digidesign®'s ProTools® HD 192 I/O interface), hardware-accelerated effects and mixing, comprehensive sync options and seamless compatibility with your favorite PC audio/sequencer software. No other audio solution available offers the performance, flexibility and value of the E-MU 1820M.

The E-MU 1820M features:
  • Mastering grade 24-bit/192kHz converters - the same A/D converters used in Digidesign's flagship ProTools HD 192 I/O Interface delivering an amazing 120dB signal-to-noise ratio
  • Hardware-accelerated effects - over 600 standalone and E-MU Power FX VST plug-in effects with no CPU overhead
  • PatchMix™ DSP zero-latency hardware mixing and monitoring - with super-flexible patchbay - no external mixer needed
  • Comprehensive analog and digital I/O plus MIDI and sync - 18 inputs and 20 outputs, two sets of MIDI I/O, Word Clock, SMPTE and MTC Sync, plus FireWire port
  • Two TFPro™ studio-grade preamps with Mic/Line inputs via Neutrik connectors, 48V phantom power and 40dB of gain - plug microphones, guitars and keyboards straight into your system
  • Compatibility with most popular audio/sequencer applications - ultra-low latency 24-bit/192kHz ASIO 2.0 and Stereo WDM drivers
  • E-MU Production Tools Software Bundle - includes Cakewalk SONAR LE, Steinberg Cubase LE and Wavelab Lite, Ableton Live Lite 4 for E-MU, IK Multimedia AmpliTube LE and T-RackS EQ, Minnetonka diskWelder BRONZE, SFX Machine LT, plus E-MU's Proteus X LE Desktop Sound Module - everything you need to create, record, edit, master and burn is in the box
I/O Configuration:
  • Two TFPro Mic/Line/Hi-Z preamps (w/48V phantom power)
  • Six 1/4" Balanced Inputs
  • Eight 1/4" Balanced Outputs
  • Turntable input (w/ground lug and hardware RIAA preamp)
  • 24-bit/192kHz ADAT In/Out (switchable to S/PDIF)
  • 24-bit/96kHz coaxial S/PDIF In/Out (switchable to AES/EBU)
  • 24-bit/96kHz optical S/PDIF Out (switchable to AES/EBU)
  • Two sets of MIDI In/Out
  • Four stereo 1/8" Speaker Outputs (configurable from stereo to 7.1)
  • Stereo Headphone Output
  • Firewire® Interface
Sync Configuration:
  • Word Clock In/Out
  • SMPTE In/Out
  • MTC Out
E-DSP Hardware-accelerated Effects, Mixing and Monitoring:

E-MU's Digital Audio Systems feature the powerful E-DSP chipset, which features a hardware-accelerated effects processor with over 28 effects plug-ins (over 600 presets). This effects architecture is fully expandable, allowing you to add more effect plug-ins to your system as needed. E-DSP also provides zero-latency, hardware-based mixing and monitoring via the included PatchMix DSP mixer, delivering unmatched flexibility in routing audio between all of your physical and virtual (ASIO/WDM) inputs and outputs- no external mixer needed.

All Digital Audio Systems ship with the following Effects Plug-ins:

Stereo Reverb
Lite Reverb
Compressor
Leveling Amp
Chorus
Flang
er Phase Shifter
Frequency Shifter
Distortion
Speaker Simulator
Rotary Speaker
Auto-Wah
Vocal Morpher
1-Band Para EQ
1-Band Shelf EQ
3-Band EQ
4-Band EQ
Mono Delay 100
Mono Delay 250
Mono Delay 500
Mono Delay 750
Mono Delay 1500
Mono Delay 3000
Stereo Delay 100
Stereo Delay 250
Stereo Delay 500
Stereo Delay 750
Stereo Delay 1500

It's a pretty long detail, this info can also be found here from the official site.

_____________________________

As for the Hard drives, I got some old 2 80gigs, and a DVDRW to put in there. It's not at all a SATA II solution, but it helps me keep the budget in control.

I have taken actual pictures of the items and the assembly and will be posting them soon. Right now, I have Windows XP Professional SP2 installed and Cakewalk 6.0

It's a lot of improvement in performance compared to my older system. Right now, I can hit a 2ms Latency using ASIO in cakewalk with Native Instrument's Akoustik Piano. I have not yet really loaded anything more than that yet, I will be posting some more once I do.

On the side, Need for Speed Most Wanted and Underground 2 runs like a charm! hehe.

5 comments:

jannette said...

A toast to Ebox ver 2.0!

Gone through all the trouble and headaches just to build your dream machine.

Anonymous said...

does dual/quad core benefit piano vsts such as Akoustik piano (ivory or any others).

I can hit 2ms latency on laptop with ASIO4all, but with rubbish buffer, what important is being able to have 2ms latency and still able to throw down Rach chords and full of sustain!!

Im gonna build a system soon, and need to know if multi core with slower clock speeds is better than higher clock single processors? There would be now point if acoustik piano sits alone on a core of its own in a quad core system, if it cant be threaded across all cores!

O.

Neil said...

Hi there. Yes, and it does help a lot. I can hit 2ms running Akoustik piano as a VST in cakewalk. But remember, a lot of factors are also taken into consideration for your digital audio workstation. Memory is a big thing so you can avoid depending on your hard drive too much. Thanks for your comment. =)

e said...

What's your say on KORG OASYS?

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