Thursday, May 13, 2010

$160 Multi-Track Computer

You want to get into multi-track recording, but you can’t justify the cost of a new DAW or new software to add to your PC. Here’s a solution.

This PC was found at a yard sale for $60. It’s ugly, and it’s old, but it has a P4 3ghz CPU on an ASUS p800 board, onboard video and sound, a 40-gig Western Digital drive, 1 meg of ram and XP. It’s not great, but more than adequate for getting some music tracks down. Next, came a Samsung DVD/RW from New Egg for $25 and an older version of Cakewalk’s Sonar was found on Ebay for $45, along with a midi to USB cable for $30.

And there you have it. No, you’re not going to be able to run all of those new VST plugins, and you’re not going to have a myriad of effects on each audio track. But, after tweaking XP for best performance, and ASIO 4 All (a free audio driver that works with almost any soundcard and gives very low latency), was set up, this machine is capable of 6 tracks of simultaneous audio with reverb, along with 16 tracks of midi. And that’s pretty good for a hundred and sixty bucks.

Now that XP is 2 generations removed from the latest Windows, old P4’s with XP are turning up at prices that will appeal to the budget conscious musician. Just because the technology is dated, doesn’t mean you can’t produce quality music. Remember, this stuff was once cutting edge. It worked when it was new, and still works. So, go scrounge up one of these old PCs and make some music.


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