Which CPU for audio workstation? (extreme live performance)

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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psyndrome
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Which CPU for audio workstation? (extreme live performance)

Post by psyndrome » Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:33 am

Hi there!

I need help with purchasing decision the correct CPU (Intel Xeon).

Maybe a little background: the computer in my mind will go on the one hand serve only as a live performance workstation and in the studio as a workstation on the other hand. My live setup consists of cello & laptop (and audio interface (RME Fireface UCX), a lot of MIDI equipment, etc.). I play ambient, long spaces, many plugins and channels. Here reverbs and delays there is not the end of the game. Their parameters gets live edited via midi from already cello recorded tracks. "Everything" should be possible with minimal latencies (my momentary global latency is around 5ms) for the listener as well as my headphones too while performing live. My current single computer is a laptop (MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2012 i7 Quad Core 2.7GHz, 256 GB of flash memory, 16 GB RAM, OSX 10.9.4)). The device is raised the limit (simple recording, effects, a smaller version of my live setup etc.). You can not put everything in reality you have in your head, but it's certainly quite a bit, which was regarded as entirely illusory a few years ago.

Now for the scenario: I often play outdoor in summer. The MacBook dislikes even smaller sun rays and getting hot as hell. The ambient heat in summer gives the very thin MacBook the rest. I must say that I drive an Ableton Live Set, in which almost reach all 4 cores of the i7 ivy bridge to the border. The laptop fan is always at maximum, disturbing. Every 4 weeks I clean the dust off the box, because there is always a bunch of dust in shortest time. A switch to a mobile worksation, for example a Lenovo Thinkpad (Workstation) is not in question. The next new computer should have explicitly more power than the MacBook and to have mobility is no criterium for me. The system must be stable and I don't want to reach the limit too fast. However, the OS should be OSX. If hackintosh does not work, I would live with worst case running Windows 8. (Reasons are special VST Plugins, Apple's internal MIDI bridge etc., synchronization, Core Audio, etc.). My personal experience is also that audio software on OSX is significantly more stable than Win XP / 7 running. I'm still working with the preinstalled OSX since laptop purchase of 2012 - thinking back on bad Windows-times. At Least under windows every six months you have to reinstall everything and after short time everything was drastically slower with time, even if you used CCleaner and related software, defragmentation was used too or running a SSD. But this is probably subjective.

My live performance set is relatively complicated:

Audio Interface: RME Fireface UCX
Ableton Live settings: (for performing live and record the session live too) 96 kHz / 24-bit, low buffer (64 samples)
Ableton Live * -Set *:. 2 input channels with tons of compressors, EQs + min * 80 * channels (there are more and more ... (8 loop channels per loop channel 9 effect subchannels, where each one is assigned effect, especially delay and reverb trails without end and whose parameters depend on several LFOs)
Monitor: at least 27 ".

(At the moment there are only 8 Looper-channels and 2 input channels, bypasses and master channel). For the calculation of the LFOs my i7 is simply too weak.

As far as the maximum budget for the processor: It would be secondary. However, € 2,000 would be the absolute maximum I'm willing to spend. If there is a more expensive processor, the ingenious xy? Offers% power, I would also be interested. Cooling of the PU and housing will be done by professionals. Power consumption is not relevant. It's just alone to the right processor. Maybe a dual CPU is recommended?

What is more important: more megahearts, L3 cache, or rather more cores? Or some other factor?
Can you give me possibly eventually a buy recommendation (Intel Xeon) do?

PS .: I hope that was not now too much and too concrete.

Thank you very much! And sorry for the poor english.

TomViolenz
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Re: Which CPU for audio workstation? (extreme live performance)

Post by TomViolenz » Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:58 am

Since you already have the top of the line mac laptop, I think the only other thing could be a MacPro. They are quite portable cosidering they are workstations, I hear. But I don't know how much more power you could get over the MBP for only 2000 bucks.

But, just last weak there was a thread here, that talked about some new product from Waves, where they sell computer servers that only do plug-in work and which could in principle out source the plug ins from the general computer running Live.
They are apparently also working with other vst vendors, so it will not be a closed Waves environment.
These servers start around 700 USD, I think, and go up to about 2000 USD. Waves plug-ins, or some that would be compatible not included though.

Just an idea, could be something for you.

fishmonkey
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Re: Which CPU for audio workstation? (extreme live performance)

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:36 am

my first question would be: do you really need to perform live at 96 kHz? is it because you are recording that you are working that high?
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

psyndrome
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Location: Magdeburg (Germany)
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Re: Which CPU for audio workstation? (extreme live performance)

Post by psyndrome » Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:57 am

TomViolenz wrote:But, just last weak there was a thread here, that talked about some new product from Waves, where they sell computer servers that only do plug-in work and which could in principle out source the plug ins from the general computer running Live.
Thread here. Indeed interesting. Thanks for this hint. :) Universal Audio UAD-2 Octo Ultimate 2 could be a solution too.

fishmonkey wrote:my first question would be: do you really need to perform live at 96 kHz? is it because you are recording that you are working that high?
Good question, okay. It's not 100% necessary, but I want to record new album tracks of live concerts. 48 kHz would be okay too.

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