This week, I’ve been burning in a new computer for the recording studio.  For the record, this is probably my sixth scratch-built audio workstation since the mid-80s, though the first few couldn’t really handle audio – they merely provided MIDI sequencing while synced to outboard multi-track tape recorders.  And outboard mixing consoles.  And outboard effects devices.

My last DAW, while capable of mixing, couldn’t handle more than a few dozen effects simultaneously, so this is a liberating experience – a computer with sufficient horsepower to run just about any volume of tracks, effects, and virtual instruments – all at high-resolution (e.g., 24 bits / 96 kHz) and low latency – without barfing.

Here’s the build in glorious time-lapse fashion (cuz I knew you’d ask):

What’s in the box?  Nothing too crazy.  I’m too impatient for the bleeding edge anymore, so my PC scratch-building strategy is to find the very best components from, say, a year ago.  It’s not glamorous but reliable, and if you close your eyes and pretend you forked out twice as much cash just twelve months earlier, it feels pretty good.  Now, take your savings and go buy a synth.

So, I guess this doesn’t qualify as The Audio Workstation of Penultimate Doom after all, but certainly one of the lesser dooms.  The bargain dooms.  Sorry for the false advertising.

The only technical difficulty I encountered was in maintaining backwards compatibility with my older components – namely, a Lynx AES16 PCI digital audio card.  It took some digging, but I wound up grabbing an Asus P9X79 LE – an Intel i7 “workstation” motherboard with solid gaming specs and a couple extra PCIe bus slots, just in case the future happens.

Now, here’s the sad:  This is probably the last purpose-built computer I will ever build.  Thanks to Moore’s Law, by the time this box craps out – I’ll give it six years – any off-the-shelf PC – hell, any cell phone – will have the horsepower to push out hit records.  And every teenager on the planet will be a self-proclaimed “producer.”  Won’t that be fun.