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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => LAB Lounge => Topic started by: Matthias McCready on February 07, 2018, 01:41:47 pm

Title: FOH Computer
Post by: Matthias McCready on February 07, 2018, 01:41:47 pm
So I am looking to get a FOH computer. I realize part specific questions are better found on a computer forum however as to general solution what would you recommend?

Its primary duties will be to host Waves plugins and to do multi tracking.

Note: I will be running this in conjunction with a Waves Server One, which should be doing most of the heavy lifting. The computer needs to be able to run two touch screens (If I correctly understand 3rd party payed software is necessary for Mac Mini's). I also would not mind having a rig that is capable of running Protools HD and my UAD stuff (thunderbolt). Of course the computer needs to be as stable as possible and I have preference towards windows.

There are three options as I see it.

1) Mac Mini's can be purchased quite cheaply. Would perhaps buy two (one for multi-tracking and one for plugins). As they are cheap I could purchase immediately and if I want something more powerful down the road perhaps one of them would become a Smaart rig in the near future. However I am thinking these are not as beefy as I would like and the touch support is dubious at best. Thunderbolt is native.

2) Intel NUC. Could theoretically get something as powerful as I need (even for Protools), however once RAM, storage, and mounting is considered it is only a few hundred cheaper than my favorite option. Thunderbolt is native.

3) Custom Rack PC build. This is my current favorite option, however there are better things for money to be spent on for the moment and I would love to be able to use the Waves stuff now. After speccing out parts it would probably be about $2k for case and parts. I also see this as a longer term solution. Thunderbolt in this case meant a significantly more expensive mobo, but would work.

What would you do/have you done?

Thanks!
Matthias

Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Helge A Bentsen on February 07, 2018, 03:30:06 pm
Lenovo X250 or 260.

I'm using a X250 for FOH duties (Waves/Smaart/Lake etc) and it runs smooth as silk.

Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Roland Clarke on February 07, 2018, 04:54:15 pm
Unless something has changed that I’m not aware of you can’t run touchscreens on macs.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Matthias McCready on February 07, 2018, 05:37:39 pm
Unless something has changed that I’m not aware of you can’t run touchscreens on macs.

You cannot, however through http://www.touch-base.com/ you can. More than I would like to pay for that though...
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Andrew Hollis on February 07, 2018, 06:06:27 pm
. . . I have preference towards windows.

There are three options as I see it.

1) Mac Mini's . . .

If my preference was Windows and touch, I would not consider a Mac, which doesn't satisfy either.

Also, in the pro audio space, the ratio of Windows-to-Mac development is at least 20:1, which is why you'll find more Windows than Mac control options (offline software, etc). You mention Thunderbolt but no reason for it. I've never needed it. You don't need beefy to multtrack these days.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Jeff Lelko on February 07, 2018, 06:22:20 pm
I think you need to base your hardware selection on your software selection - not the other way around.  If you must have touch and strongly prefer Windows, then yes, a Windows machine will probably serve you best unless your software choice mandates Apple’s OS. 

Why do you need touch though, especially on a non-tablet workstation?

I recently went the opposite direction with my business.  I’ve used Lenovo ThinkPads for the past 10 years.  Some had touch, some didn’t.  Between having poor luck with hardware lately coupled with my reliability issues with Windows 10 I converted my company to Apple (iPad Pros and MacBook Pros).  So far no complaints and I don’t miss or desire a touchscreen on the MacBook Pros like I thought I would. 
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Matthias McCready on February 07, 2018, 06:36:26 pm
If my preference was Windows and touch, I would not consider a Mac, which doesn't satisfy either.

Also, in the pro audio space, the ratio of Windows-to-Mac development is at least 20:1, which is why you'll find more Windows than Mac control options (offline software, etc). You mention Thunderbolt but no reason for it. I've never needed it. You don't need beefy to multtrack these days.

Good to know on the Windows stuff. The thunderbolt is for running the UAD interface that I have. Down the road this should probably be a separate computer, but might as well kill two birds with one stone for the moment.

Why do you need touch though, especially on a non-tablet workstation?


The goal with touch screens is to have seamless integration of Waves plugins at the console, essentially eliminating the need for a keyboard and mouse. I will be utilizing the touch screens with a nOb control.

The nOb control is what makes the difference here, without it I would have no desire to use touch screens, but I think together it should be a potent combination.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: William Schnake on February 07, 2018, 06:36:32 pm

1) Mac Mini's can be purchased quite cheaply. Would perhaps buy two (one for multi-tracking and one for plugins). As they are cheap I could purchase immediately and if I want something more powerful down the road perhaps one of them would become a Smaart rig in the near future. However I am thinking these are not as beefy as I would like and the touch support is dubious at best. Thunderbolt is native.

We decided two years ago to move to a Mac Mini for our front of house systems.  The ones we have are Late 2012 with 2.5 ghz I5 processors and 500 gig Samsung SSD.  We run Paralles for our Crown/dbx software.  At the same time we can record 48 tracks off of our Dante setup with no issues whatsoever.  I like the Mac and it suites our needs.  I think we paid roughly $350 for them used in late 2014 early 2015.

Bill
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Matthias McCready on February 07, 2018, 06:41:52 pm
We decided two years ago to move to a Mac Mini for our front of house systems.  The ones we have are Late 2012 with 2.5 ghz I5 processors and 500 gig Samsung SSD.  We run Paralles for our Crown/dbx software.  At the same time we can record 48 tracks off of our Dante setup with no issues whatsoever.  I like the Mac and it suites our needs.  I think we paid roughly $350 for them used in late 2014 early 2015.

Bill

I am not a Mac fan, however the price point is the attracting factor. My business partner works with software and can get them for pretty cheap new/used. While not my preference I feel that due to the performance to price ratio I would be foolish not to atleast consider it the idea...
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Jeff Lelko on February 07, 2018, 06:53:18 pm
I wouldn’t call myself a Mac fan either, but there’s a reason why you see so many Macs being put to use in our industry, and the AV/production industry at large. 

One thing that may pose a factor to what you’re trying to do is how well your touchscreens actually respond.  One of my ThinkPads would need to you tap the screen first to enable touch mode versus mouse mode - if that makes any sense.  Depending on how your nOb works this might be an issue.  My light console (running Windows 7 Embedded) does not have this problem and can handle touch and mouse simultaneously.  I still rarely use touch though.  Between sweaty dirty hands and accidental gestures causing problems I only use it as needed - not something I’d build a road rig around outside of the occasional tablet mixing.  Just my two cents though and good luck!
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Art Nadelman on February 08, 2018, 04:18:11 am
What type of computer footprint do you want -- laptop, all-in-one or computer/monitor setup.  All of the ones you considered in your post were all computer/monitor. 

If I was going that way, I'd do as I did when I set up LV1 initially -- I'd use a Mac Mini running windows.  It's a terrifically powerful computer with a small footprint and of course, gives you full touchscreen capabilities and multi monitor capabilities.  I used 24" touchscreen monitors with LV1.

However, there are also terrific touchscreen laptops and touchscreen convertible laptops.  I switched to a 15" Toshiba Convertible.  Much more convenient having everything in one space.

All-in-one computers are great for this too.

You might also find one of the newer i7 Microsoft Surface Pro's to your liking.  Terrific little system.  You can add a dock to it and have everything you might need.  Except the screen might be a bit small.

But if you want to make sure it runs every night without issue, the Mac Mini is the way to go.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Gary Weller on February 08, 2018, 06:50:08 am
You'll need a hefty Windows computer to run Pro tools HD12, here'e the requirements:
Intel® PC with Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate 64-bit Editions), Windows 8/8.1 (Standard and Pro 64-bit Editions), and Windows 10 (Home, Pro, and Enterprise 64-bit Editions)
Please find version specific qualifications in the Windows OS Compatibility Grid below.
Intel® Xeon® processor
16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended)
Internet connection for installation
15GB disk space for installation
USB-port for iLok authorization (iLok 2 or iLok 3 required)
PCIe slot for HDX or HD Native card (incl. one power connection on motherboard) or ASIO-supported audio device
Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools

MAC requirements:
Intel® Mac with Mac OS X 10.8.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.5), 10.9.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.8), 10.10.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.8.2), 10.11.6, 10.12.6 (only supported with Pro Tools 12.8 and higher) or 10.13.2 (only supported with Pro Tools 12.8.3 and higher)
Please find version specific qualifications in the Mac OS Compatibility Grid below.
Intel® Core i7 processor
16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended)
Internet connection for installation
15GB disk space for installation
USB-port for iLok authorization (iLok 2 or iLok 3 required)
PCIe slot for HDX or HD Native card (incl. one power connection on motherboard), Thunderbolt-port for supported PCIe-chassis or CoreAudio-supported audio device
Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools

You'd be better off with Standard Pro Tools.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Matthias McCready on February 08, 2018, 11:05:21 am
What type of computer footprint do you want -- laptop, all-in-one or computer/monitor setup.  All of the ones you considered in your post were all computer/monitor. 

If I was going that way, I'd do as I did when I set up LV1 initially -- I'd use a Mac Mini running windows.  It's a terrifically powerful computer with a small footprint and of course, gives you full touchscreen capabilities and multi monitor capabilities.  I used 24" touchscreen monitors with LV1.

But if you want to make sure it runs every night without issue, the Mac Mini is the way to go.

The computer will be in a shock road case (need the case already for the Waves Server One). For the Mac Mini did it run the touch screen native or did you need to purchase the 3rd party software?


You'll need a hefty Windows computer to run Pro tools HD12.

You'd be better off with Standard Pro Tools.

Point taken, however if I am building the parts I have specced out would handle Pro Tools HD. It is expensive though.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Tim McCulloch on February 08, 2018, 11:47:29 am
Dell and Lenovo make "mac mini" sized computers, too. 

Currently on sale (http://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/desktop-and-all-in-one-pcs/optiplex-3050-micro/spd/optiplex-3050-micro/s019o3050mffus?prg=1&VEN1=12383016-227502-a595af59-88f3-4ee7-99f8-1e109e651178&dgc=BF&DGSeg=BSD&cid=198376&lid=45675&acd=12309198376456750&VEN3=110504262907005244) for $559 with a coupon code (SAVE35) is the micro form factor OptiPlex 3050 w/ 8gb RAM, i5 7500 quad core CPU, 500gb hard drive, Win10Pro.

I've got a similar Lenovo with an older i5 CPU that I keep as a backup to my main desktop machine that I purchased as a reburb for ~$200.

My laptops have been Lenovo ThinkPads for a long time and I've been very happy with them.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Geert Friedhof on February 08, 2018, 11:51:52 am
The BGA proccessor interconnection is very sensitive. With today's ginormous coolers it is very easy to damage, especially when the motherboard is vertical. So limit the size of your cooler, and transport horizontal.

Still, i would look for a laptop with the new i7-8 series Intel, and maybe leave Protools at home.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Art Nadelman on February 08, 2018, 02:06:35 pm
For the Mac Mini did it run the touch screen native or did you need to purchase the 3rd party software?


I ran it as a Windows computer (completely formatted it and installed Windows 10 Pro from scratch).  Since you're going to rackmount it, the Mac Mini in a Sonnet RackMac is a terrific way to do it.

I think it was my favorite Windows computer ever!

Now it's been re-purposed and reinstalled with Mac OS running Multirack Soundgrid.  But I didn't ever plan on using that with touchscreen.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Roland Clarke on February 08, 2018, 03:34:09 pm
You'll need a hefty Windows computer to run Pro tools HD12, here'e the requirements:
Intel® PC with Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate 64-bit Editions), Windows 8/8.1 (Standard and Pro 64-bit Editions), and Windows 10 (Home, Pro, and Enterprise 64-bit Editions)
Please find version specific qualifications in the Windows OS Compatibility Grid below.
Intel® Xeon® processor
16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended)
Internet connection for installation
15GB disk space for installation
USB-port for iLok authorization (iLok 2 or iLok 3 required)
PCIe slot for HDX or HD Native card (incl. one power connection on motherboard) or ASIO-supported audio device
Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools

MAC requirements:
Intel® Mac with Mac OS X 10.8.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.5), 10.9.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.8), 10.10.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.8.2), 10.11.6, 10.12.6 (only supported with Pro Tools 12.8 and higher) or 10.13.2 (only supported with Pro Tools 12.8.3 and higher)
Please find version specific qualifications in the Mac OS Compatibility Grid below.
Intel® Core i7 processor
16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended)
Internet connection for installation
15GB disk space for installation
USB-port for iLok authorization (iLok 2 or iLok 3 required)
PCIe slot for HDX or HD Native card (incl. one power connection on motherboard), Thunderbolt-port for supported PCIe-chassis or CoreAudio-supported audio device
Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools

You'd be better off with Standard Pro Tools.

I run my PT 12 on a system nearly 5 years old with no real issues.  Since 64 bit computing was introduced on pc I’ve found that the only significant upgrade I’ve done was to install an SSD system drive, it might be a different issue if I was using a lot of midi instruments, but I’m not.

Obviously ymmv.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Gary Weller on February 08, 2018, 04:48:16 pm
I run my PT 12 on a system nearly 5 years old with no real issues.  Since 64 bit computing was introduced on pc I’ve found that the only significant upgrade I’ve done was to install an SSD system drive, it might be a different issue if I was using a lot of midi instruments, but I’m not.

Obviously ymmv.

PT 12 is not the same as PT 12 HD
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Jerome Malsack on February 08, 2018, 08:17:50 pm
Temperature ranges.  Do you plan to stay in total climate control.   Computers outside in the south running for festivals also take some special considerations. 
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Jean-Pierre Coetzee on February 09, 2018, 05:07:58 am
PT 12 is not the same as PT 12 HD

Unless something has changed since 11 and 10 they are the same software with some features disabled?
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Gary Weller on February 09, 2018, 09:05:11 pm
Unless something has changed since 11 and 10 they are the same software with some features disabled?

Here's the minimum requirements for PT12:


 

 
Minimum System Requirements:
Mac:
Intel® Mac with Mac OS X 10.8.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.5), 10.9.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.8), 10.10.5 (only supported below Pro Tools 12.8.2), 10.11.6, 10.12.6 (only supported with Pro Tools 12.8 and above) or 10.13.2 (Pro Tools 12.8.3 and above).
Please find version specific qualifications in the Mac OS Compatibility Grid below.
Intel® Core i5 processor
16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended)
Internet connection for installation
15GB disk space for installation
USB-port for iLok authorization (iLok 2 or iLok 3 required)
USB-port, FireWire-port or Thunderbolt-port for CoreAudio-supported audio device
Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools
 
Windows:
Intel® PC with Windows 7 64-bit (Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate Editions),
Windows 8/8.1 64-bit (Standard and Pro Editions) or Windows 10 64-bit (Enterprise, Pro, or Home Editions)
Please find version specific qualifications in the Windows OS Compatibility Grid below.
Intel® Core i5 processor
16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended)
Internet connection for installation
15GB disk space for installation
USB-port for iLok authorization (iLok 2 or iLok 3 required)
USB-port or FireWire-port for ASIO-supported audio device
Supports 64-bit AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools

Much less than PT 12 HD
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Roland Clarke on February 10, 2018, 09:36:17 am
PT 12 is not the same as PT 12 HD

I have HD, not the light versions.
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: Matthias McCready on February 14, 2018, 02:06:29 pm
Since you're going to rackmount it, the Mac Mini in a Sonnet RackMac is a terrific way to do it.


That Sonnet RackMac looks pretty cool.

Temperature ranges.  Do you plan to stay in total climate control.   Computers outside in the south running for festivals also take some special considerations. 


Currently most stuff is indoors, however this is probably something to consider. I would imagine, even if going for the same parts, this would be another reason to get a larger rack computer.

What do you do for events that have high ambient temperature?

I am quickly sensing that perhaps I should not be designing this to be a protools HD rig. Realistically that is an afterthought and should be a different rig anyways.

Thanks for the input!
Title: Re: FOH Computer
Post by: William Schnake on February 14, 2018, 04:33:34 pm

What do you do for events that have high ambient temperature?


Matthias, we use the Mac Mini.  We keep it in a 6 space rack with some other stuff, mounted on a rack shelf with slits in the bottom.  I have two fans mounted in the back of the case for drawing heat away from the Mac and the other equipment.  On the same shelf we have a Focusrite  Pro24 for playing back tracks and recording.  Sorry I degrees.  We have never had a problem with the system keeping cool.

Here in the great Midwest we go from 106 in the summer to -10 in the winter and it works every time.

Bill