Request for Recommendations On Migrating to Windows 10 for My Audio Production Needs

Configure and optimize you computer for Audio.
KVRer
25 posts since 1 Mar, 2018

Post Mon May 10, 2021 8:27 am

Currently, I use a MacBook Pro for my audio production duties. In the past, prior to recording "in the box", I used a Windows 98 machine (geez) to run a Logic MIDI-only sequencer, then owned by Emagic. I had no major problems with Logic, but the frequent Windows 98 maintenance and driver issues were burdensome. In fairness, I used the Windows 98 machine for other duties; it was not solely dedicated for Logic's use.

Fast-forward to several years ago when I invested in a MBP for use exclusively with my audio production software. Aside from judiciously upgrading its operating system at points in time where my software & plugins caught up with the latest OS X release, I never had any problems with MBP - certainly none as relate to operating system and driver maintenance. However, it's an "old" machine (mid-2012 Retina model) and simply lacks the horsepower to address some very CPU-intensive plugins, such as the amazing iZotope suite of software. I'm not singling out iZotope. It just happens to come immediately to mind as I write this post. To mitigate the CPU load issues, I invested in a Waves SoundGrid system and purchased a DiGiGrid IOX audio interface and SoundGrid Compact Extreme Server-C, the latter being a dedicated DSP processing unit for Waves and other SoundGrid-compatible plugins. At the time of this writing, I use it only for Waves plugins. iZotope, Slate Digital, FabFilter, etc., due not support SoundGrid. So, recording/mixing with plugins from those companies requires a different approach than simply lobbing on effects at will across multiple tracks.

My goal within the next year was to purchase a "decked out" iMac Pro, because it is not easy to modify it post-manufacturing. It's possible to do so but not recommended as a DIY project. This is in contrast with the Mac Pro, which is far more accessible by DIY-ers for modular upgrades to include CPU upgrades. However, the price point of a Mac Pro is much higher. I understand; quality comes at a price.

Needless to say, I was dismayed when Apple decided to drop the iMac Pro from its product line this past March. In an even bolder move, Apple is phasing out Intel processors in favor of its proprietary M-series ARM-architected processors. My guess is that within the next year to year and one-half all Apple products will run off Apple's M-series of processors.

I do not fault Apple for this move, but this has but a brake on my purchasing another Mac, mainly for two reasons. First, as with any new hardware product, it will take at least one or two years to iron out the kinks with the new processor and its chipset. Second, it will take just as long to tweak OS X in order to optimize its performance for the new architecture. I assume Apple will adjust OS X concurrently with its M-series processor development. Still, there will be a catch up period with OS X as Apple develops new M-series processors and chipsets for which, at-the-time, existing OS X versions may not be compatible. Then audio software and plugin manufactures will need to release updates or entirely new versions of their applications/plugins to run under the newer OS X versions. The larger manufactures will take six months at best to upgrade software and who knows how long if entirely new versions are required. Just look at the hornet's nest that was flipped over when Apple released OS X Catalina. Multiply this many-fold for OS X versions (if Apple will still call it OS X) that are optimized for entirely new processors and chipsets, let alone other third-party Apple hardware manufacturers that may need to overhaul their device drivers entirely to communicate with the M-series optimized OS X version(s). Lastly, let's not forget that both hardware and software often provide hardware acceleration capabilities to improve performance. Having to deal with an entirely new processor architecture is a game-changer and will require potentially massive changes to firmware and/or hardware acceleration codebases.

This is not a knock on Apple. In fact, I have nothing but high praise for the Apple products that I've purchased in the past, which over the years include several desktops, laptops and peripheral devices. With the exception of the original TrackPad, which conked out within a year's time, I give a big thumbs up to the Apple products that I purchased. Next, unlike Windows, I have found OS X to be more stable and more user friendly. I currently run OS X Mojave on my MBP. Lastly, to its credit, Apple has a fairly restrictive approach on accepting peripheral devices for use with Apple products, which is why I believe there is less of a hassle in dealing with Apple and third-party product lines in terms of getting things to work and upgrade & maintenance. On the other hand, Windows tends to be the "do-all for everyone". Anyone can jump on board. In my experience, this has made working with Windows cumbersome. Upgrading/maintaining Windows, peripheral devices and software is a challenge. Also, I would rather be stabbed in the eye than tinker with the Windows Registry.

That said, I may be forced to migrate my audio production needs to Windows 10-based systems. Why? First, the Apple M-series paradigm shift makes me uneasy for the reasons I previously stated. Second, with Apple eliminating iMac Pro, I cannot justify the expense of a Mac Pro for next level computing capabilities for my current audio production needs.

I presented the background for this post. Here is where I am going with this.

Windows 10 is by far the most stable operating system that Microsoft has ever developed. I've read many technical articles and reviews associated with using a Windows 10 machine for audio production needs. Truthfully, the feedback has been mixed, whereas most feedback on this topic generally is more favorable for Apple computers up to this point in time, prior to the M-series shift. It seems that a Windows 10 machine is up to the task for serious audio production and clearly is not as crash-prone as previous windows incarnations. Windows 10 machines are considerably less expensive than Apple machines, which means one can really beef up a Windows 10 machine at a much lower cost than Apple machines.

I am asking the community for recommendations on Windows 10 machines than can handle high load audio production recording & mixing sessions. Yes, I am aware of Alienware products, but I am gearing toward rackmountable Windows 10 machines. I seek high-performance machines and solutions for reducing heat and noise. I am thinking about setting up a primary Windows 10 machine for Cubase 10.5/11 Pro & Ableton Live Suite 10/11 and, perhaps, to run an instance of Vienna Ensemble Pro Server. Then I want to add two or more Windows 10 rackmountable machines to handle separate Vienna Ensemble Pro Clients. VEP is better capable of handling multi-threaded applications than is either Cubase or Live, and there are other advantages to using VEP. For the VEP clients and, maybe, for my primary rackmounted Windows 10 machine running Cubase and Live, I am considering the following, as an example:

https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/po ... ers?~ck=bt

Aside from the hardware, I would appreciate your feedback on how optimally to configure Windows 10 for my audio-production-only machines. Which Windows 10 services should I shutdown, and how should I otherwise tweaking Windows 10 for this use case? Also, I assume it is best to turn off Windows automatic updates and only allow Windows 10 to apply security patches until such time has updating other aspects of Windows makes sense.

By the way, I thought about purchasing powerful older Mac Pro machines at a discount, but the peripheral integration headaches and lack of Apple support pretty much squashed that idea.

I look forward to your recommendations. Thank you.

KVRAF
28486 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Mon May 10, 2021 8:31 am

TL;DR, to be honest. Think you should really overwork your post, and keep it short and simple. I doubt that you need such a wall of text for specific questions.

If you're looking for some tips on how to generally optimize your system for audio, I can recommend this: https://helpcenter.steinberg.de/hc/en-u ... ation-DAW-
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

KVRAF
2297 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Post Mon May 10, 2021 8:35 am

Why not buy from professional audio PC builder instead and not worry about any of this?
https://www.scan.co.uk/shop/music-and-p ... orkstation
chk071 wrote:
Mon May 10, 2021 8:31 am
TL;DR, to be honest. Think you should really overwork your post, and keep it short and simple. I doubt that you need such a wall of text for specific questions.
Agree, background info is too extensive and quite unnecessary, would start the thread with: "I am asking the community for recommendations on Windows 10 machines....." and mention I'm not interested in new Mac's, voila.

KVRAF
8096 posts since 6 Oct, 2004

Post Tue May 11, 2021 2:30 pm

A shrink and an Apple parole officer might be worth consulting. Going back to
windows jailhouse because the streets got a little tough? Good advice above,
but my friend at Best Buy says "the M1's are killin' it". :hyper:

KVRer

Topic Starter

25 posts since 1 Mar, 2018

Post Mon May 17, 2021 2:08 pm

TL;DR, to be honest. Think you should really overwork your post, and keep it short and simple. I doubt that you need such a wall of text for specific questions.

If you're looking for some tips on how to generally optimize your system for audio, I can recommend this: https://helpcenter.steinberg.de/hc/en-u ... ation-DAW-
Apologies for the post's length. In my experience, lengthy posts are sometimes necessary to provide a clear context. I appreciate the link, chck071, but I have read this already. I should have phrased that question better. I am interested in real user's optimization experiences, basically to see how the product owner's recommendations actually pan out in practice.

Why not buy from professional audio PC builder instead and not worry about any of this?
https://www.scan.co.uk/shop/music-and-p ... orkstation
I've checked several such sites, and this is certainly an option, just not the most economical one. I can put together my own networked system. I posted to this specific forum to acquire knowledgeable technical feedback, which explains my lengthy post.

A shrink and an Apple parole officer might be worth consulting. Going back to
windows jailhouse because the streets got a little tough? Good advice above,
but my friend at Best Buy says "the M1's are killin' it". :hyper:
LOL... maybe so. Fortunately, I am neither enslaved to OS X nor to Windows. All I want is the best solution for my audio production needs based upon the trade-space I laid out. I could care less about hype.

KVRAF
2297 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Post Mon May 17, 2021 9:08 pm

aspsa wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:08 pm
I've checked several such sites, and this is certainly an option, just not the most economical one. I can put together my own networked system. I posted to this specific forum to acquire knowledgeable technical feedback, which explains my lengthy post.
Buying Mac buys you peace of mind, even if you sometimes pay extra, same goes for buying machine someone tweaked and tested extensively for DAW use, actually think SCAN and ADK representatives are members of this forum, but unless they provide you their knowledgeable feedback, you are out of luck, there is another member called Pictus which is generous and helpful, your best bet I guess.

KVRer

Topic Starter

25 posts since 1 Mar, 2018

Post Tue May 18, 2021 5:45 am

Thank you, Passing Bye, for your feedback; much appreciated.

I was planning to buy a well-appointed iMac Pro. Alternatively, I was even considering a Mac Pro. However, based on the many articles and reviews I've read, I feel that spending a bundle on these systems while Apple experiments with its new Mx-ARM architected processors is simply too risky and, ultimately, will diminish the ROI. I am highly confident that Apple will pull this off over time with a great deal of success, but the stability across changing processor architectures, operating system catch-up cycles, software compliance to changing operating system versions, and hardware acceleration device driver rewrites as these changes occur simply is not worth the risk and cost. Within the past several years, Apple released several versions of OS X for its Intel-based machines. We all know what happened with Catalina. These cycles will repeat with the revised operating systems designed for Apple's Mx-series processors, and I suspect Apple's development cycle for its Mx-series processors will accelerate, as well. My guess is Apple's goal is to create an Mx-type processor that converges on both the M-series and A-series architectures so that all Apple machines are optimized to run some new operating system that combines the feature set of OS X and iOS. Moving to an ARM-based architecture is smart, because the footprint and reduced energy requirements for this architecture lines up nicely with the IOT, another huge market I suspect Apple will pursue.

In contrast, Microsoft has released new versions of the Windows operating system at a far slower rate than Apple and has focused upon developing a more stable operating system. This is not an "OS X" versus "Windows" debate. Each OS has its pros and cons. All I am saying is that Apple's recent radical shift will require two to three years before it reaps real consumer-usable benefits. Frankly, I do not feel like funding Apple's research with interim purchases that will become obsolete and unsupported by Apple in the short term. MAYBE, at some point I will buy an Mx-based Mac Mini, just for kicks and to add another computing resource to my audio production network. Otherwise, I think my money will be better spent on Windows-based machines in the near future, including rack servers, where I can set up my own network, make purchases in accordance with my audio production needs, tweak the machines as necessary, and extend my system over time without a hassle.

Down the road five or more years, who knows? I may end up buying an Mx-series Mac Pro. For now? I don't think so. By the way, I am open to purchasing Windows-bases machines & rack servers from resellers expert in optimizing them for audio production. It all comes down to cost versus performance. If I can optimize my systems to be close to 90% performant of systems developed by a reseller and do so at half the cost, well, then you can see where I am going with this.

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KVRian
753 posts since 7 Apr, 2019

Post Tue May 18, 2021 8:01 am

windows 7 home premium is the fastest choice, but finding support for M.2 pcie NvMe SSD's for OS files is the deciding factor imo, which will grant you triple the speed if you use Samsung Evo 500gb/1tb at 3k read and write speeds.
https://www.newegg.ca/samsung-1tb-980/p ... 6820147804

Next, if your other hd is a crucial ssd 2.5" you'll get peak speeds of 540 mb/s and finding a good price is not so hard, like here:
https://www.ebay.ca/itm/182981218239?ep ... SwmTddCsPX

With those and some decent ram you'll be running faster than Mac, but you need to get rid of windows 10 telemetry to notice any speed advantage, follow this tut to do so:
viewtopic.php?f=62&t=562801

Your speed will almost double right away. If you use a good GPU, you'll notice even more. I'd recommend a good, maybe older amd. Hard to find a good one, but the less telemetry and overhead the better, assuming you're achieving 70-80 fps, which is the deciding factor.

I like Mac but they release new OS's frequently and then software becomes redundant. If you're someone who relies on your software, it's really hard to just drop everything and choose software other than what you've relied on for years. It's the mindset of the younger, in-experienced youths imo.
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KVRer

Topic Starter

25 posts since 1 Mar, 2018

Post Tue May 18, 2021 10:00 am

Thank you, kingozrecords, for your recommendations.

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