Recommended systems

3XS Audio Workstation - EZ490

TZ490

Offering a value orientated i9 system; this Intel is a great mid-range performer. With the capability to fit 128GB of RAM and up to eight drives, it is a capable solution offering plenty of expansion for anyone working on smaller scoring projects.

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3XS Audio Workstation - PX470

TX570

The most powerful of our AMD’s solutions, offering a lot of performance for the price point. Connectivity has a potential of 128GB of RAM support, as well as eight drives, making it a strong performer and most capable when working on mixed projects with library playback and sound design in equal measure.

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3XS Audio Workstation - TZ490

FWX299

Intel’s high core count chips are supported by a platform that offers up to 256GB of RAM, as well as eleven storage drives allowing the highest available selection of both M.2. and SSD options. Offering the greatest degree of expansion flexibility, it is a strong contender for anyone wishing to work with high track-count projects dealing with large audio libraries.

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System guide for composers and orchestration

This overview will be looking at what makes a well-rounded setup up for compositional work. The demands for working with large sample sets mean that we have to ensure that we have fast storage, plentiful amounts of RAM and a strong processor in order to get the most optimal setup.

Processor

The requirements for processing the large amounts of audio generated by your sound library plugins requires plenty of CPU performance to power it. With less concern for achieving the sort of low latency levels required for real-time recording and processing, instead we can work with CPU’s that offer more overall performance at slightly more relaxed ASIO buffer settings.

A high core count here allows us to process more channels full of plugs in and effects overall and where scoring requires a multitude of sound generation to be carried out, it makes both the Intel X299 and higher-end AMD Ryzen chips strong contenders for the task.

Memory

When it comes to working with large sound libraries, having enough RAM to hold your projects is key, as this will ensure we are not waiting on information being cached to the disk.

If you are coming from an existing setup, we recommend opening up one of your biggest existing projects and seeing how much RAM is being used and let this guide you to your choice with any new system. If you do not have a current baseline, we would advise a minimum of 32GB for lighter workloads although machines for composition work involving larger projects may benefit from far higher quantities of RAM.

The AMD platform benefits from having memory that is closely matched to its internal bus which is rated to 3733MHz. Whilst 3733MHz kits are not common, we find that good quality 3600MHz RAM with tight timings is more than adequate for our needs and far more readily available for us to offer.

Intel by comparison handles well with lower speed kits, which can be populated with higher capacity RAM sticks across its eight slots. This offers us options allowing up to 256GB of RAM to be used, possibly making the platform more suited to anyone running larger projects.

Storage

Our systems feature a small M.2. drive as standard to host your Windows OS and applications. With speeds of around 6 times a regular SSD, these super-fast drives allow for a snappy and responsive setup. Systems will often feature an additional one or two M.2. connection ports, with their high-speed performance being ideal for anyone wishing to ensure quick load-times for large files and being particularly suited for your largest sound libraries where loading times can be prove disruptive to your workflow.

However, M.2. drives once you pass 1TB models can prove costly, and a good value larger SSD or two might prove worthwhile for hosting the rest of your smaller libraries. With careful consideration, you can choose the optimal drive for the relevant files, ensure quick load times, and smooth patch auditioning.

We still offer larger mechanical drives in most of our systems as backup and archival drive solutions although with their slow speeds we advise keeping your streaming audio away from these for the best experience. These are optional, as we understand that many users will choose to migrate older drives over to any new machine and many people will still have a number of these to hand. To allow for this we always aim to ensure plenty of expansion capabilities where possible, although do contact us for details should you have any requirements in your build to allow for a specific arrangement

Case and cooling

Our systems focus heavily around the Fractal and be quiet! case models. Both ranges have great acoustic design and their own strengths. The Fractal cases often feature heavier, denser panels with thick sound treatment and some low noise, although averaging in performance stock fans. The be quiet cases we offer tend to have less physical treatment, although the trade-off is they include the great performing be quiet fan range as default and due to that they offer great value and performance. Our recommendation to anyone looking for the very best low-noise, high-performance combination is to match the Fractal case with the be quiet! fan upgrade in order to attain the best of both worlds.

We also often work with be quiet! coolers and PSU’s, where they use the same great low noise fans across the range of supporting products, helping us to ensure a low noise floor in your studio. Alongside those are the ever popular and higher performing Nocuta’s as an additional upgrade choice, although with higher top speeds these will run slightly louder, they do offer increased airflow for anyone looking to cool a packed system full of add-in cards.

Graphic Card

This varies slightly between the ranges, with Z490 platform featuring a built graphics chip that performs well for audio applications. With many boards, offering two display outputs many users find that this is perfectly adequate for running their studio screen arrangement, although there are other additional benefits of using an add-in card instead. These can include an increase in how many monitors that can be attached and additional support for video editing packages for multimedia producers.

The X299 platform and AMD’s solutions do not currently feature on-board graphics and will always require a suitable graphics solution adding. When choosing our card options keeping a low noise footprint remains important and we always look to use cards with the “0db” or “3d active” feature set, where the fan may spin down or totally switch off entirely under light workloads. This helps us ensure it remains uninstructive whilst you are recording or mixing.

Networking

All of our system feature Ethernet connections as standard, with many boards offering Wi-Fi as an optional add on. Wi-Fi has a history of being disruptive in audio systems and we offer a number of pre-validated options that have proven to be trouble free in our testing environment. Whilst there are a number of options, each price point offers newer and faster supported Wi-Fi standards. If you are unsure of the best card to pick, we advise checking to see the maximum speed your router supports and aiming to match or exceed it with your choice of Wi-Fi adaptor.

Thunderbolt

As Thunderbolt continues grow in popularity with PC users, some of the earliest adopters of the standard have been studios looking to leverage its great low latency performance. At this time, we find that the market for Thunderbolt has largely focused on higher I/O count interfaces, designed more for multi-track recording or group scenarios. This plays to the standards strengths as its high-speed connection to the rest of the system when matched with well-written drivers, can achieve superb latency whilst offering plenty of bandwidth.

Whilst a large I/O selection may not be required by many composer setups, we do find some of the high quality interfaces from the likes of RME, Antelope and MOTU focus more around high-end sound quality and great driver performance over a high track count, which are certain to hold appeal appeal to many. As the technology, progresses and more choices continue to appear these will continue to become ever more popular in the studio. In order to support this an option in the future a mainboard needs to have Thunderbolt support included within the BIOS as well as at a physical level with a dedicated header for any future expansion. Where possible we aim to include this support with our systems, although this may not apply to every model and please do contact us for more information.