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Cost effective PC for home practice organ

Buying or building computers for Hauptwerk, recommendations, troubleshooting computer hardware issues.
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rswift

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Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostTue May 04, 2021 6:29 am

Please can I have some advice on a cost effective PC for use with a home practice organ.

I live in the UK am looking to run Hauptwerk with the St Anne's Moseley organ so I can practice at home. I have a homemade organ console (2 keyboards and a 32 note pedalboard) which is currently using an old Microsoft Surface laptop (Windows 10, i5-33170 dual core processor with 4Gb RM), a Behringer UMC404HD audio interface providing MIDI input from the pedalboard encoder and driving headphones/2 x Behringer Truth 2031A studio monitors) and a single Iiyama ProLite T2252MSC touch screen monitor).

I have seen that there are a number of topics on the forum about PC/MAC recommendations, but a lot of these are aimed at high end set ups with large organ samples and multiple audio channel outputs. At the moment my requirements are for a PC that can support organs with stereo audio output and 2 touch screen monitors for stop jambs and therefore I'm looking for recommendations around an Intel/AMD based processor together with memory sizing and a suitable graphics card for 3 monitor (main screen and 2 screens for stop jambs/organ controls). The PC will be dedicated to running Hauptwerk (with the necessary internet connection for the iLok cloud licensing).

Many thanks,
Richard
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mdyde

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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostWed May 05, 2021 4:27 am

Hello Richard,

My brief thoughts, in case they're useful:

- It's very worthwhile having a PC capable of handling sufficient polyphony with Hauptwerk v6's higher-quality audio engine options (higher-definition pitch-shifting and 96 kHz) enabled, since they potentially make a significant and audible improvement to audio quality. With both enabled achievable polyphony is likely to be about 25% of that without either. Hence it's worth having plenty of CPU power, even for small/medium-sized organs.

- Even if you only plan to use St. Anne's at the moment, PCs usually have a usable lifespan of 5-10 years, and you might well decide that you also want to use some other sample set(s) during that time, so it's worth allowing for at least some future-proofing.

- RAM: the very least I would consider at this point in time would be 16 GB. (32 GB would be better for future-proofing.)

- SSD/HDD: I would go for an SSD of at least 1 TB, since they aren't very expensive these days and SSDs (even basic ones) allow organs to load much faster than hard-disk drives. You don't need one of the recent extremely fast types of SSD -- any 1+ TB SSD will do. (A 2 TB SSD would be better if it doesn't add much cost, for future-proofing.)

- Intel CPUs: I would get one with at least 6 CPU cores, and a *base* clock speed (not max/turbo speed, which is largely unimportant for Hauptwerk purposes) of at least 3 GHz, and one that was released within the last couple of years (since you generally get considerably more CPU horsepower with more modern CPUs, all else being equal). Something like an i5-10600K ( https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... 0-ghz.html -- 6 cores, 4.10 GHz base clock speed, 12 MB CPU cache, released 2020) looks to be reasonably cost-effective but I would expect to be sufficient for smaller organs. i7 models are a little more powerful, all else being equal, but also more expensive, so i5 models are often a good balance of cost vs. computing power. Faster base clock speeds and/or more cores are of course definitely better still (but add cost), all else being equal:
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... ssors.html
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... ssors.html
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... ssors.html
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... ssors.html

- AMD CPUs: I don't have experience myself with recent AMD models, so I can't meaningfully make useful recommendations for those.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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mdyde

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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostWed May 05, 2021 4:28 am

P.S. I see Ed also started a thread on cost-effective PCs here: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=19735
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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srw647

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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostWed May 05, 2021 10:11 am

I've bought our last few desktops from pcspecialist.co.uk - essentially you design it and they build it. Their builder also gives you a decent idea of how much extra you need to spend for

10 years ago I spent about £700 on something which was adequate for running HW (mainly St Anne's) for about 10 years. That computer died, and I spent far more on a Mac for bigger HW sample sets.

5 years ago I spent about £350 on a workhorse office machine which was fine until Win 10 came along. We've just junked that and spent about £700 on a replacement workhorse office machine - 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, i5 processor.

They have the advantage of bulk purchasing power, and depending on how you cost your own time (mine is expensive!) might well be cheaper than buying your own. As a test I found a random Acer from John Lewis and built the same spec - PCSpecalist came out about 10% cheaper.
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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostWed May 05, 2021 1:24 pm

Hi all,

Many thanks for your replies and suggestions. I will do some more research, but so far having looked at uk,pcpartpicker.com, pcspecialist.co.uk and the UK based Mesh Computers website, I think the Mesh Computers pre-built PC based on the i5 10600KF processor and marketed as a graphics workstation looks a decent price for the specification. Might be overkill on the graphics card as it supports 4 x 4K monitors, but has the processor, memory and disk drives I think will be ample for my current (and future) Hauptwerk needs. Priced at £1,099 and couldn't match this price for same/similar components via the other two web sites. The link is:

https://www.meshcomputers.com/professio ... design-i5/

I am also considering upgrading to the i7 processor for an extra £132 and a 1TB SSD drive. I will probably add more RAM when (if?) prices come down in the future.

Thanks again for your help and I'll update with progress and share some photos of my very home built console using an IKEA desk as the console table, home made keyboards based on the M-Audio Keystation 61 (I hear real organists shudder) and a lovely matching reclaimed pedalboard and stool with Midi Boutique encoder and reed switches on the pedalboard. I've even made a prototype swell pedal from scratch as I'm too stingy (erm, 'cost effective') to order Kimber Allen swell shoes which appear to be the only available proper organ shoes to buy new in the UK.

Regards,
Richard
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IainStinson

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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostWed May 05, 2021 2:00 pm

Hi Richard
I hope you don’t mind some comments about the PC.
I think the graphic card proposed is now end of life and replaced by a Version 2 model. I think it is rather overkill for HW. It is also quite expensive (almost £200). Something like a 1GB NVIDIA GEFORCE 710 - DVI, HDMI, VGA runs two monitors and is fine for HW, it is also quite inexpensive (£50).
The motherboard only as two memory slots, the optional upgrade board has four slots - having more slots would allow memory expansion for the future.
I would personally go for one large ssd connected via the m.2 bus (2TB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2) and add ordinary ssd storage for backup.
The larger power supply is probably needed for the graphics card, you might save a few pounds with a smaller power supply.
You might do better with a custom built machine.

Iain
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dhm

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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostWed May 05, 2021 4:19 pm

We have Windows PCs custom-built and optimised for Hauptwerk.
We also have some pre-owned PCs of various age and specs.
See here: http://en.midi-organs.eu/index.php/shop ... uchscreens
and here: http://en.midi-organs.eu/index.php/shop ... ed-ex-demo
Or call us for a chat.
Douglas Henn-Macrae
Authorized Hauptwerk Reseller
http://www.midi-organs.eu
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rswift

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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostThu May 06, 2021 6:33 am

Hi Iain,

Thank you for your observations and I have taken them on board. I am now looking at the custom build option (including building the PC myself if I can source the components cheaper).

Regards,
Richard
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engrssc

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Re: Cost effective PC for home practice organ

PostThu May 06, 2021 9:00 am

rswift wrote:At the moment my requirements are for a PC that can support organs with stereo audio output and 2 touch screen monitors for stop jambs and therefore I'm looking for recommendations around an Intel/AMD based processor together with memory sizing and a suitable graphics card for 3 monitor (main screen and 2 screens for stop jambs/organ controls).


If you can live with 2 touch screens for stop jambs, (without possibly needing a main screen?) you can use the build I suggested without a graphics card. If you find you really need a 3rd monitor in the future a graphics card could easily be added (in the future) when prices for graphics card come down to a realistic level. And they will.

If that is your plan, I would suggest installing a larger PSU right away. Making any changes or additions are much easier and mostly less expensive with an Intel system.

Rgds,
Ec

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