Jump to content
Ludwig Bouwer

Real-World "bench test"... 238 audio tracks.

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I do a lot of location recordings. Music, mostly. I've often nervously wondered what it would take to make my system fall over as my mobile rig is pretty humble.
Specs are:
HP ProBook6565b (i5 1.6Ghz) laptop
8GB Ram
1 x SSD Kingston 400 for OS
1 x internal Seagate HHD 1TB for Audio
Win 10 Pro. 
RME Fireface800 Asio driver @256Samples Buffer
Recording done at 48k, 24bit.

I just finished tracking three choirs for a project and it was all recorded in layers on location, totaling 238 audio tracks (pic attached).
Recording was done 2 tracks at a time with no plugins on any tracks.
Each of the 10 subgroups of voices was routed through an Aux with Breverb running for on the fly playback mixes, so that's 10 x Auxes and 10 x Breverb.

Well, the bottom line is the system had a few dropouts towards the last session when I was jumping around a bit too quickly between takes, but it never had an audio dropout or even a pop or crackle during tracking. It felt solid and would probably be solid for another 20 or 30 tracks, if not more. I may well clone the tracks to see how far I can still push it.
Disk performance hovered between 15% and 50% depending on the amount of tracks in that section of the production.

I thought the info might come in handy to someone, somewhere :) It's good to know CbB is up there (and in my opinion ABOVE) some of the "pro" DAWs..
 

OBR Mobile Choirs.jpg

Edited by Ludwig Bouwer
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 2
  • Great Idea 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished building my location recording rig a couple of weeks ago, just using gear I already had but don't get much use of:

Dell Vostro 1500 laptop (2GHz core duo, 4GB RAM) with 256GB SSD
Windows 7 Pro 32 bit
SONAR Platinum 32 bit (last released version)
Yamaha 01X mLAN mixer/DAW controller (with 8 analog inputs)
2 x Yamaha i88x  8 channel interfaces with ADAT I/O
Behringer ADA8000 ADAT converter

This gives me 26 simultaneous tracks of 48Khz/24 bit recording (it should be 32 tracks, but the PCMCIA Firewire 400 card bandwidth can only manage 26).  I've set the ASIO buffer size to 256 just to make it lighter on CPU, but it also works fine at 128.

This is enough for a 6 piece drum kit, 2 x guitars, 2 x vocals, 2 x stereo keyboards & a bass guitar.  The guitars & bass are set up for recording both DI & 1 mic on the amps.

The Yamaha 01X is set up as a Mackie Control, so I can control SONAR as well as having dynamics & 4 band EQ on up to 24 of the input tracks.

Initial tests show that it copes fine with 26 tracks at once, without any dropouts... waiting for lockdown to finish before I try it in the field!

  • Great Idea 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 3/20/2021 at 2:32 PM, msmcleod said:

I finished building my location recording rig

That your location recording rig? I don't dare think of your studio installation! 😂 😂

 

 

Edited by Cristiano Sadun

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have use a 2008 Duo core Sony Laptop with 4GB RAM and a 120 SSD drive to record 16 tracks of live band  four times 45 -60 min sets. Probably have 100 hours of this and it never once failed me. That was using a very basic Tascam us1641 and sometimes in WDM mode so I could add 2 more tracks from a Yamaha USB mixer. That's not even close to what you did but I think you can  push a bog standard USB interface past 40 tracks or so at 44.1/24  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Cristiano Sadun said:

That your location recording rig? I don't dare think of your studio installation! 😂 😂

 

 

My studio is way less complicated than it was now that I've repurposed the Yamaha gear.  

I use an RME Digiface USB ( 4 x ADAT in/out), connected to the outputs of 3 x Fostex VC-8 ADAT converters and the ADAT output of my Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (which was my main interface until a few months ago).  The Focusrite is set up so I can use it just as a pre for the RME, or I can use it as a main interface if I want. It's also the wordclock master for my whole rig.

For pres, I've got an Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ3 16:2 with each of the 16 channel outs going to two VC8's, with the ADAT outputs going to the RME.

The remaining 8 channels are individually switchable between my Alice 828 8 channel outputs, and  4 x TFPro P3's (basically JoeMeek MQ3s) , 2 x Golden Age Pre 73's, and the L/R mix of the Alice - all going into the remaining VC8.  The ADAT output of this VC8 goes to both the RME and the Focusrite.

The A&H is a really nice clean sounding mixer. The pre's are great and the EQ is pretty transparent - great for shaping sound on the way in, or just leaving it clean.

The GA Pre 73's are Neve 1073 clones, and the Alice 828 / TFPro P3's are just full of character... they colour the sound in a BIG way... great for some things, but they don't work well on everything.  The P3's can sound great, but are difficult to work with, so I tend to have each one with specific settings for a particular instrument.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It just goes to show me: Cakewalk all by itself is pretty sippy on resources. As long as you don't insert any plug-ins, it seems like you can run it on Salvation Army computers. I think many would marvel at the notion of useful DAW work getting done on a Core 2 Duo with 4G of RAM.

Somehow I suspect you guys aren't mixing these projects on your Core 2 Duo systems? Although I am pretty sure Ludwig is with that dang magic laptop of his. "Yes, I'm running 85 instances of Trackspacer on this collaboration between the Mormon Tabenacle Choir and the Vienna Boys'. I'm just careful to freeze tracks."

I'm looking at this project where I'm using 18 tracks, half of them muted, and I have to crank the latency up on my i7 with 16G of RAM. But. I just counted and I have 40 plug-ins inserted on various tracks and buses. When I hit that FX button to turn them off and record another track, it works just fine at 4ms latency. But good heavens can it grind to a halt when I'm trying out FX. Oops, left the latency on 4....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could get an insane amount of tracks out of my M620 dual core with 8GB of RAM and actually did a fair bit of mixing on there. It was a struggle at times with bouncing groups down to stems (partly also to keep things manageable too - juggling 200 tracks of vocals is crazy during a mix), and a lot of times it involved freezing things off or bumping the latency up considerably once you start loading up the plugins.

Would I trade my new machine for my old one? Hell no! HAHA! But it's pretty amazing what a low spec machine can actually do when it's set up well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Lord Tim said:

I could get an insane amount of tracks out of my M620 dual core with 8GB of RAM and actually did a fair bit of mixing on there

Maybe it was you I was thinking of. Category: Cakewalk dudes whose names start with "L" and who tear it all up on  "the computer they let mom keep when she retired" class notebooks. Much respect. Some Jim Roseberry thread ripping rocket sled, well, sure you can do DAW work on it, or the latest hot gaming notebook, but to do it on "the sales staff all got upgraded and they asked us if we wanted these for our kids to do homework" computers is tuff.

That's where my "mobile rig" came from, an office sale of retiring road warrior notebooks, my friend snagged a couple for his kids and I guess the kids were due to be gifted better systems, so I wound up with my Dell Inspiron(?) E6410. Now with 8G of RAM and an i7 CPU, dawg. It gets warm and the battery life is krep, but it Cakewalks pretty good. It gets a little hectic with the Track View and the Console or PRV open so it forces me to think in a more organized fashion about the stages of a project. And since I enabled SpeedStep, it now actually overclocks itself when under a heavy processing load. With SpeedStep off it would never go over its rated clock speed. The computer that my friends kids couldn't use for school a few years ago. I dropped it on concrete once and thought it was done, but nope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the big thing to keep in mind is while people like Ludwig can do incredible things with something that's basically a beefed-up toaster (and that seriously is amazing stuff!), even aside from the limitations I mentioned trying to mix with such a low-spec machine, the chance of something going horribly off the tracks increases exponentially.

My crappy old machine was super streamlined, it was solid hardware when it was new and had very well researched components added in as I went along (doubled the RAM, swapped out the HDD for a SSD, etc. but I was very deliberate with what brands I got). On paper, even a fairly modern i3 would leave it in a cloud of dust without breaking a sweat. And yet there's heaps of far more capable machine that are either set up poorly, or just not spec'd to guarantee anything useful for real-time applications like audio. I can think of my video company partner when he was setting up his home studio last year. His machine that, again on paper ate my old one for breakfast, had no end of trouble and couldn't get anywhere near the track count or plugin count I could do on mine. I finally talked him into dropping the money on a custom machine and it's been entirely trouble free ever since.

For that reason, I'd always suggest #1 either getting someone like Jim to make you a machine that you know will be great for audio work, or #2, erring on the side of caution and over-spec'ing your hardware to give you headroom for when things aren't necessarily the best fit hardware-wise, especially on a laptop.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 3/20/2021 at 3:32 PM, msmcleod said:

I finished building my location recording rig a couple of weeks ago, just using gear I already had but don't get much use of:

Dell Vostro 1500 laptop (2GHz core duo, 4GB RAM) with 256GB SSD
Windows 7 Pro 32 bit
SONAR Platinum 32 bit (last released version)
Yamaha 01X mLAN mixer/DAW controller (with 8 analog inputs)
2 x Yamaha i88x  8 channel interfaces with ADAT I/O
Behringer ADA8000 ADAT converter

This gives me 26 simultaneous tracks of 48Khz/24 bit recording (it should be 32 tracks, but the PCMCIA Firewire 400 card bandwidth can only manage 26).  I've set the ASIO buffer size to 256 just to make it lighter on CPU, but it also works fine at 128.

This is enough for a 6 piece drum kit, 2 x guitars, 2 x vocals, 2 x stereo keyboards & a bass guitar.  The guitars & bass are set up for recording both DI & 1 mic on the amps.

The Yamaha 01X is set up as a Mackie Control, so I can control SONAR as well as having dynamics & 4 band EQ on up to 24 of the input tracks.

Initial tests show that it copes fine with 26 tracks at once, without any dropouts... waiting for lockdown to finish before I try it in the field!

Look, I would not try to mix that sort of track count on anything but my i7 studio machine, but it is cool to know what an old lappy can do. My Lenovo dual core can track a fair amount of source as well. Plugin-processing however does change things a bit.. As we all know!

Edited by Ludwig Bouwer
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, msmcleod said:

My studio is way less complicated than it was now that I've repurposed the Yamaha gear.  

I use an RME Digiface USB ( 4 x ADAT in/out), connected to the outputs of 3 x Fostex VC-8 ADAT converters and the ADAT output of my Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (which was my main interface until a few months ago).  The Focusrite is set up so I can use it just as a pre for the RME, or I can use it as a main interface if I want. It's also the wordclock master for my whole rig.

For pres, I've got an Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ3 16:2 with each of the 16 channel outs going to two VC8's, with the ADAT outputs going to the RME.

The remaining 8 channels are individually switchable between my Alice 828 8 channel outputs, and  4 x TFPro P3's (basically JoeMeek MQ3s) , 2 x Golden Age Pre 73's, and the L/R mix of the Alice - all going into the remaining VC8.  The ADAT output of this VC8 goes to both the RME and the Focusrite.

The A&H is a really nice clean sounding mixer. The pre's are great and the EQ is pretty transparent - great for shaping sound on the way in, or just leaving it clean.

The GA Pre 73's are Neve 1073 clones, and the Alice 828 / TFPro P3's are just full of character... they colour the sound in a BIG way... great for some things, but they don't work well on everything.  The P3's can sound great, but are difficult to work with, so I tend to have each one with specific settings for a particular instrument.

Yeah, was just kidding. My location rig is usually a couple channels of DSP interface (currently a UR28M) so that I can give confort reverb to singers when needed, a few mics I think will work on the session and an old laptop with Cakewalk. For drums in special places, I use either an old Alesis USB 16 mkII with its 8 preamps and a couple of external pres. Either case, the biggest items are the mic stands :D

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...