Machine upgrade for n-T?


My main machine is in for an upgrade (n-T worthy, I hope! I’ve popped n into my laptop but because it can be out-performed by a GameBoy, I’m forced to be content with reading and tapping around - which is good. I understand that two HDs is a good idea, one for OS and prgs and another for recording wavs, any tips on config? Any other tips you guys have on tweaks for n-T would be cool. I’m trying to figure how to toggle the machine between n-T and domestic use without to much fiddling around. I might as well get these issues sorted first. Thanks people.

I would dedicate one machine to recording - most of us do.

I like to do all my tracking on my main computer then drop the files onto a 2 gig flash card and take that to my laptop to mix on for a few days or so. Gets me among the living more often anyway.

Two drives is cool. I like to record on the same drive as my system and use the other drive for storage and back-up along with DVD data burns of each tune. Whtever works for your workflow habits.

Biggest tip - Stay Organized - Tidy filing will be a great help. Develop that habit early.

Thanks, Poppa. Can I ask the spec’ of your laptop?

off the shelf walmart - Dell inspiron 1521 dual core AMD Turion / Vista home premium

Poppa’s shootin’ it straight. The only difference is on my big box where I can track 16 inputs at once, I have one drive dedicated for streaming audio to/from disk. When your track counts go up, your required disk throughput goes up and a dedicated, fast hard drive is a must. That said though, as an experiment I once tracked 16 channels to a USB 2.0 external drive for about fifteen minutes solid. It didn’t miss a beat but I was still nervous about it because of USB’s network structure. If another USB device had caused the host hub to poll devices or something stupid, I bet it would have hiccuped…

One man band stuff… you can usually run a buncha tracks off a laptop hard disk until it starts to choke. A nice, good sounding audio/midi interface with well written, efficient drivers is also a key point though and can make a LOT of difference.




A nice, good sounding audio/midi interface with well written, efficient drivers is also a key point though and can make a LOT of difference.

Yep - interfaces with good drivers can allow you to do sooo much more. Most come with their own ASIO drivers. (Tascam, line6 for me)

Cool! I got me a Mia midi card with asio:-)

Nice ‘break-out’ cable.

wow - no vista drivers for that yet?!

not good using a USB HD if the machine only has a USB1 port - needs the much faster USB2 capable port to get the USB HD to run correctly - on an onloan Sony Vaio laptop (USB1 only) i get delayed write errors and have to re-boot before the HD works again - as far as i can gather USB2 software updates cannot make a USB1 port faster -


‘Whoa there, dudes’. I’m not actualy trying to use this old craptop to work on. Just using it to get by on while I eagerly await the return of my main machine. Thanks, Dubious. Good to hear that streaming to a seperate drive is a valid config. Reduces bottle-necking and increases speed I presume?

To set your machine up for “normal” and “audio” use seperately you can use a dual boot system.

See below for a reply I posted on the Audiominds forum a while ago.

Yes, my “normal” boot XP has antivirus, Firefox, MS Office etc, and onboard sound and network connections , whereas my “music” boot XP has onboard sound and network disabled and no extra software other than n-track and Nero.

“Gag” has the option for a boot timer which I’ve set for 5 secs so when you turn on the computer the Gag screen appears for 5 secs then boots automatically to my “normal” xp to choose my “music” xp I have to press the 2 key during the 5 seconds.

I set it up by installing windows onto a blank hard disc and I gave it a partition size of half the hard disc, then just let it install normally. Then using this disc management software (it looks like there is a 30 day free trial), I made the xp partition inactive and hidden.
I then installed XP again onto the remaining unpartitioned space. I changed the desktop background on my music installation to a plain colour so I knew for sure which copy of XP I was looking at, as it can get a bit confusing. Then I played around with gag until it booted as I wanted, you can run gag off a floppy or a cd you need to have the gag option of hide other primary partitions ticked.

Although doing this is a bit fiddly once it works its very satisfying to know your music installation is stripped down and safe from the intenet etc. Until I did this I used to use separate pluggable caddies to seperate my music and normal operating systems.


Genius! Thanks Nick. It might be a bit beyond me but I’ll print this and take it to the engineer. Nicely

I’m not sure about Vista (Spa-tooey!) or XP Home but if you have XP Pro, you don’t need any extra software to setup a dual-boot system. My DAW at home dual-boots XP Pro and the only thing I used was Partition Magic to create a second partition on the hard disk. Had I not been lazy, that can be done with the tools built into the OS.

Dual boot is the ticket though. My audio partition is squeaky clean, no net, no anti-virus, nuttin’… The “general use” partition is getting kind of crappy and slow. It’s time to overwrite that one with a clean disk image. Which brings me to the subject of backing up your OS and software installations. Get a tool like Acronis Trueimage and “clone” your hard drive once the system is up and running smoothly and with all your softies. Image it to at least 1 external USB/FW drive and also to CD/DVD. If something gets hosed, a ten minute image restore beats the CRAP out of HOURS reinstalling the OS, all your software, digging around for reg codes etc… It’s the best piece of software I ever got as far PC utilities go. Worth every cent…


Hi Dubious,
If you dual boot using the windows boot loader are both partitions visible once Windows has loaded ? I used GAG as it has the option to hide any other primary partitions.


I don’t know Nick. I WANTED both of mine visible. That way, I can download software updates, new software or whatever on the “General Use OS” and just copy them over or install directly from that partition. The “General Use OS” has all the firewall, anti-virus hoo-hah happening and so far (knock wood) I have never been hit.


Hi, there are a couple of physical ways of doing it if you use two hard disks.

This one for sata.

This one for IDE.…artid=4

In my experience, one drive optimised just for audio can give plenty of tracks 50+ (24bit 44.1k) in my current setup.



That’s pretty cool.
I suppose you could add another switch and do a ‘slave select’ as well.
That way you could (if you wanted) select either disk as master OR slave.

Recently, at least where I live, 7200rpm notebook drives are now available. Most notebooks have a 5400rpm hard drives so getting the faster 7200rpm drives will certainly help. I recently bought a new Laptop, it came with Vista, and it was loaded with bloat ware, ran good, but for n-track it wasn’t up to the task. I have since taken out the 5400 rpm drive it came with, replaced it with a 7200rpm Western Digital drive and installed WinXP on it. N-track now runs great and dpclat.exe checker comes back all green, no yellow or red spikes, unless the wireless is enabled.

Hope this helps,