How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Configure and optimize you computer for Audio.
ataribravo
KVRer
8 posts since 12 Feb, 2020

Post Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:00 pm

I just built a new PC (i9-9900k, Aorus Ultra MB, 16GB Corsair RAM, 1TB Samsung EVO+ M.2 drive) and want to create a dual boot solution where I can, at startup, select Audio Production or General PC usage. The AP boot would route audio through my Focusrite Scarlett 2/2 to my monitors and disable the internet connection, while the GPC boot would route audio to my onboard sound to my PC speakers and enable the internet. Perhaps there is an easier way to accomplish this than by dual booting? All advice is welcome... Thanks!

ataribravo
KVRer
8 posts since 12 Feb, 2020

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:09 pm

Anyone?

Meffy
Skunk Mod
20862 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Pony Pasture

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:14 pm

Hi and welcome. If you do go the dual-boot route I can't imagine you'd run into problems. I've not done it so can't offer any guidance there.

Your system should be plenty powerful enough to run music software and ordinary computing stuff either together or separately. My music computers aren't dual-boot, but if I bothered it might squeeze out a few percent better sound / speed / etc. But aside from the minor inconvenience it couldn't hurt to dual-boot.

The only weak area I can see is storage. If you use samples you'll probably want another terabyte (SSD) or more (SSD or HDD) of storage for them.

Caveat: I'm a PC and Mac user, but not a computer-building or -configuring maven. KVR has plenty of them, and if one or more say I'm wrong about anything, you should probably take their word for it.

ataribravo
KVRer
8 posts since 12 Feb, 2020

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:42 pm

Thank you for the response! I neglected to mention an additional drive: Samsung QVO 2TB SSD for samples. :-)

Meffy
Skunk Mod
20862 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Pony Pasture

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:02 pm

There ya go. *thumbs up*

robotmonkey
KVRAF
2364 posts since 20 Jun, 2012

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:24 am

ataribravo wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:09 pm
Anyone?
Don't mess with Dual Boot, not worth it. Install Virtualbox and do all your general computing, internet and testing stuff in a virtual machine.

That way you can keep your DAW and gaming stuff clean from the rest.

I have been doing it this way for ever and it has worked great. Before switching to Win 10 recently my Win 7 install was running at least 5 years, maybe more, without any problems and it was as clean and stable as it was when I installed it.
No signature here!

ataribravo
KVRer
8 posts since 12 Feb, 2020

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:37 am

Thank you RobotMonkey! I was hoping an alternative method would be proposed. Great idea! :-)

ataribravo
KVRer
8 posts since 12 Feb, 2020

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:55 am

@robotmonkey,
I watched a video on VirtualBox. A couple of quick questions since you are familiar with it: 1) Is this a permanent solution (e.g. when you turn off your PC and back on again, is the VM still there or do you have to set it up each time)? 2) Can the VM use the same OS if you are not using a different OS (e.g. Linux) or do you need two instances of Win10? 3) Can you switch between the VM and "real" PC or is a reboot required? 4) Is it possible to run both at the same time (e.g. play a YouTube video on VM while working in your DAW)? Obviously I'll look up the details on my own, but these answers will help determine if this it the correct route for me. Thank you for your time!

Meffy
Skunk Mod
20862 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Pony Pasture

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:04 am

Virtual Box is excellent stuff. I use it to run Linux on the same hardware as Win10. It's provided by big, evil Oracle Corporation, which I don't much like, but it's hard to complain too much about something they give away for free.

A couple of caveats — programs running in Virtual Box will run slightly slower than in the main OS. With the specs you posted that's likely not going to be much of an issue. You also might not be able to access every device in your system, though that's less of a problem these days than in years past. Getting the full power of a fancy gaming display card might be difficult or impossible, depending on circumstances. You could always install the demanding games in the "real" machine rather than in a virtual machine.

Also, you might find that some software that's licensed only for one, two, however many systems consider the virtual machine to be a separate system. This probably won't be much of an issue since you'll be putting different software on each "system", but something to keep in mind.

One very big advantage to VB is that it's sandbox-like, meaning what happens in VB stays in VB. With the exception of shared drives, nothing you do there can damage your non-virtual main system. I wouldn't recommend using dodgy software that might contain malware, but even if you delete your Windows directory in the virtual machine, you could delete that VM, make a new one, and continue where you left off.

As with any computer, keeping regular backups will protect you from a multitude of potential disasters.

Good luck!

Meffy
Skunk Mod
20862 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Pony Pasture

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:08 am

I can answer some of your questions to robotmonkey.

The virtual machine maintains its contents from one session to the next. Assuming you properly shut down the virtual machine rather than just killing the task, when you reopen the VM, files will be the same as they were when you left.

I don't know whether you can use the same copy of, say, Win10 in a VM and on the real PC. Might take two licenses. Haven't tried it.

It's no problem to run a virtual machine at the same time as you work on the real machine. You can go full-screen and use hotkeys to switch, or run the virtual machine in a window. I sometimes put a Linux VM on one display while Win10 gets the other.

ataribravo
KVRer
8 posts since 12 Feb, 2020

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:21 am

Thank you Meffy... good info!

robotmonkey
KVRAF
2364 posts since 20 Jun, 2012

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:23 am

ataribravo wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:55 am
@robotmonkey,
I watched a video on VirtualBox. A couple of quick questions since you are familiar with it: 1) Is this a permanent solution (e.g. when you turn off your PC and back on again, is the VM still there or do you have to set it up each time)? 2) Can the VM use the same OS if you are not using a different OS (e.g. Linux) or do you need two instances of Win10? 3) Can you switch between the VM and "real" PC or is a reboot required? 4) Is it possible to run both at the same time (e.g. play a YouTube video on VM while working in your DAW)? Obviously I'll look up the details on my own, but these answers will help determine if this it the correct route for me. Thank you for your time!
Some good answers from Meffy above already.
1) Yes, virtual machine behaves exactly as a regular machine. As a bonus you'll get the ability to take snapshots of the machine. That means you can save a state of a machine in a certain point of time and then easily go back to this state with a click of a mouse. Good for testing out stuff - if you screw anything up, then just revert to previous snapshot.
2) VM can run the same OS as the host machine (the physical machine) or a different one (like Linux etc). You can run different virtual machines at the same time without any problem. I often work in a Win 10 VM and a Linux VM at the same time. Often I even run 5 or more machines at the same time when learning and testing stuff.
3) Virtual Machines run like other programs - in their own windows. You can make them full screen or run windowed. It's up to you and it's easy to switch. You can also easily copy files between your VM's and host machine.
4) Yes. I often do this. I might have a DAW or graphics software open while also surfing the net, downloading stuff and watching videos in a VM.
No signature here!

Meffy
Skunk Mod
20862 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Pony Pasture

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:25 am

robotmonkey wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:23 am
Some good answers from Meffy above already.
Thanks — never hurts to have more than one viewpoint. I've got things wrong in the past and will do so again, I'm sure!

ataribravo
KVRer
8 posts since 12 Feb, 2020

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:37 am

Well... sounds like a silver bullet! Are there any negatives to be considered? Windows 10 Pro is supposed to have a built-in VM, would using that have any benefits over a 3rd party?

codec_spurt
KVRAF
4033 posts since 21 Sep, 2005

Re: How to set up a new system for audio production AND general PC use

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:40 am

ataribravo wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:00 pm
I just built a new PC (i9-9900k, Aorus Ultra MB, 16GB Corsair RAM, 1TB Samsung EVO+ M.2 drive) and want to create a dual boot solution where I can, at startup, select Audio Production or General PC usage. The AP boot would route audio through my Focusrite Scarlett 2/2 to my monitors and disable the internet connection, while the GPC boot would route audio to my onboard sound to my PC speakers and enable the internet. Perhaps there is an easier way to accomplish this than by dual booting? All advice is welcome... Thanks!

Sure, you could do that.

Sounds like you got it all worked out.

But really, unless you are putting on different OS's, say Linux and Windows, then it's more hassle than it's worth.

If you were doing development in Linux and wanted (or needed) to use that one very same computer for general purposes (including audio) - it would be the way to go.

But for an 'audio production' machine and a 'surfing the web' machine? Nah, not really.

There is nothing special about audio production, it's just general computing, just like surfing the web or checking a spreadsheet.

Audio Production or General PC usage

Audio production IS general PC usage.

Alan Turing explains it pretty well:

This special property of digital computers, that they can mimic any discrete state machine, is described by saying that they are universal machines. The existence of machines with this property has the important consequence that, considerations of speed apart, it is unnecessary to design various new machines to do various computing processes. They can all be done with one digital computer, suitably programmed for each case. It will be seen that as a consequence of this all digital computers are in a sense equivalent.


https://academic.oup.com/mind/article/L ... 433/986238


You've made the distinction yourself when you boil it down: you want a machine for doing audio and a machine for surfing.

You talk about blocking internet. Great. But at some point some software will want to connect. I realise you probably know this, but unless you are hell bent on this kind of setup, it will get old quickly and be a pain.

It's easy to just use a computer connected to the net and do audio production on it, just by, ah, not surfing the net.

You can easily block the internet if you really want to make sure that there is absolutely no connection. Scripts are one way to quickly switch of your network settings so it's impossible for ANY information to flow. I don't bother with that. I use a VPN and I set it so that if the VPN is not running it is physically impossible for my machine to connect to the net.

So if I just want to do strictly audio stuff, I just don't start my VPN. If I need to connect to the net I just start it and 5 seconds later I am connected. Easier and more elegant solution again compared to using scripts (especially if you aren't a nerd - though someone could help you out to do this, it's extra work).

I made a long post about doing something similar here:

viewtopic.php?p=7655983#p7655983


I talk about general computer security and using Virtual Machines and Linux.

You can use Linux from within windows perfectly well. Just set up a Virtual Machine. Not difficult.

I also talk about sandboxing. That is like light virtualisation and is an easier option again. Sandboxie is free now and you can just surf from there and if you get a virus/ransomware it will be contained. Just clear out your box regularly so bad stuff don't build up.

Use some browser hardening all the same. It's not the virus writers and criminals you need to be watching out for half the time, it's the small (and large) developers that for some unknown reason (probably because they are analytics junkies) fingerprint your machine. The implications of this from a security standpoint are truly mind-boggling. Sandboxing won't help with that.

It's good practice to use a VPN these days as many ISPs log everything you do and scan your emails (as well as listen in to your phone calls - but not much you can do about that). Use some kind of fingerprinting obfuscation. Lots of information out there about all this.

This is where the real battle is. And dual booting is not going to help you with that either. Unless you have a very good reason to do it, it's not worth it.

I'm building a machine at the moment that will have 4 or 5 operating systems on it from a multi-boot: Linux, WinXP, Win7, WinX etc. etc.

And I've used multi-boot for Linux and Windows systems in the past, but for what you say you want to do, I wouldn't bother.

Finally, make sure you have a strong backup regimen; and these days there is no excuse for not having your audio stuff synced up to a cloud backup service as well.

By using a Virtual machine and/or sandboxing you won't even really need to use an anti-virus as well which will slow your machine down.

The goalposts of computer security have moved the last few years and few people have bothered to keep up. If you are asking 'what is the best anti-virus for my DAW?' in 2020, then you're subscribing to an out-moded paradigm.

If you are asking the question 'why are all these devs fingerprinting my machine and following me around the internet?' then that might be more pertinent.

The problem is, it's easy to not get a virus, or mitigate against it if you do; but it's virtually impossible to stop websites forensically fingerprinting and tracking you.

Having said all that, even though the internet is pretty much broken now in 2020, there have been many behind the scenes security developments; and browsers, whilst tracking you and selling your profile, also provide built in security these days. I just got a pop up alert for a small dev that gives away a very popular plugin. They were fingerprinting my computer. I had a pop up from my main plugin and I also had one from inside Firefox which I didn't even know it had. By the way, that dev would not allow me to even view their site without disabling my ad-blocker.

I won't do that because it's well known that ads are a major vector for infections, apart from being a pain. Joke's on them anyway as I was about to make a small donation to them for the plugin I use quite a lot.

What's that saying? Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer...


TL;DR: Just use a script or program or VPN to disable the internet connection as you so wish. No need for dual boot. It works in exactly the same way and just as effectively. With dual boot you will need to actually install 2 discrete Operating Systems and with that kind of setup comes more problems than it's worth oftentimes.

Here's the thread where I blah on one more time if interested:
viewtopic.php?p=7655983#p7655983

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