Building DAW & home studio : Questions

I am helping my nephew build a home studio using n-track. Construction is almost complete, so it’s time to start thing about gear. I will be building the DAW and have some questions. The DAW specs will be:
AMD Athlon XP 2000
512 MB RAM
Windows XP
40 GB ATA133 for OS
80 GB SATA drive for n-track

DAW questions first:

Do I still need to format the n-track drive (D:) in Fat-32 as was recommended in older DAW specs?
Is 512 MB of RAM enough? (will have 8 input tracks)
Any other DAW considerations?

Audio gear:
He already has a Behringer UB2442FX mixer. We are planning to buy the Behringer ADA8000 and the Terratec EWS88D.
Gear questions:
Is the Terratec a good card?
We plan to connect the ADA8000 to the computer via ADAT, and the mixer’s 8-outputs to the ADA8000’s inputs. All instruments/mics would input to the mixer. Does this sound redundant? Should we eliminate the mixer or is there a value to having it in the input chain? I know he likes to use some of the mixer’s effects.

Lastly, any recommendations for good monitors, under $250.??

Please keep in mind that we are trying to get the studio up and running without a lot of money to spend. He plans to upgrade gear one piece at a time after that.
Thanks for all your help.

Do I still need to format the n-track drive (D:) in Fat-32 as was recommended in older DAW specs?


I don't think it matters any more. The slight over head that NTFS adds is far outweighed by the reliability of the NTFS file system. I would go NTFS with your hardware.

Is 512 MB of RAM enough? (will have 8 input tracks)


Unless you are going to load a ton of samples into RAM, 512MB should be fine.



Is the Terratec a good card?


Yup.



We plan to connect the ADA8000 to the computer via ADAT, and the mixer's 8-outputs to the ADA8000's inputs. All instruments/mics would input to the mixer. Does this sound redundant?

Maybe, the key thing is preamps here. If the mixers preamps sound better than the ADA8000, then use the mixer and run into the ADA8000s line inputs which bypass the preamps. Other wise, just run stuff directly into the ADA8000 unless you want to use effects or something like that. HOwever, the mixer effects will be permanent on the track. You may want to consider recording the tracks clean and then add effects later with plug ins.

Lastly, any recommendations for good monitors, under $250.??

I assume you mean montiors as in speakers and not a "TV" for your computer. In that price range, there are a zillion options. Hit the stores and see which you think sound best.

I would personally add some more RAM. 512 seems like a lot but windows is using more and more, and once you get into using effects, that extra umph will really come in handy.

I would run the recording instruments into the ADA8000 and run the outputs of the ada8000 into the mixer’s line ins, then you can use the mixer to make monitor mixes with eq and effects in real time, while still leaving the recorded parts dry. which will provide zero latency monitoring with effects and such.

the mic pre’s in the ada8000 are supposedly the same as the newer behringer mixers so sound quality will be virtually identical.

if you want studio monitors, I’d have to suggest the Behringer Truth monitors. they’re probably the better of the inexpensive powered monitors. They’re a copy of some good monitors, don’t remember if they’re the mackies or the genelecs. obviously they won’t sound as good, but in all honesty, if you don’t try and flatten out your room with acoustics, your less than perfect monitor response won’t make much difference.

I think you should definitely keep the mixer, not only for the option of monitor mixes, but also for expandability. if you still have the mixer, if you find you need more than the ten inputs, you can swap out your soundcard for the plethora of cards that will run adat and 8 analog inputs, and you’ll already have 8 pres and such to plug into the 8 analog ins.

it’s an easy way to jump to 16 channels.

I would personally add some more RAM. 512 seems like a lot but windows is using more and more, and once you get into using effects, that extra umph will really come in handy.


Hrm, I don't have a DAW with less than 1GB of RAM on it. More RAM can't hurt. I use mot of the RAM with the big sample I use. I might wait and see if it really is necessary. Not that guitars69 is wrong, it just may turn out to be a "nice to have" rather than a "have to have" if budget is an issue. And the mixer for real time monitoring is a swell idea!