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[P]
Building Rackmount Cases for Music

By willi in Culture
Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 12:00:12 PM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

Musicians face a multitude of challenges in this day and age, yet there are also many musicians who are trying to work towards the future of music distribution. One constant challenge in almost any profession is money. With CPU power continuing to advance at a rapid rate, many musicians are finding computer-based software synthesis and recording to be much more cost effective and capable than traditional hardware synthesizers and recording units. While some musicians are using laptops, the lack of expandability limits capabilities in terms of synthesis, multitrack recording, storage, etc. One could always throw more computers at the problem. But many users will no doubt find a good rackmount system provides a better balance of capability, expandibility, and portability, at a more cost effective price.


While I own a laptop, professional multitrack audio production on a laptop will often lead back to rackmount expansion via USB (a less than ideal solution due to a variety of factors such as latency and bandwidth), FireWire, or PCI expansion chassis. LCD displays have finally begun to drop in price, which of course save a significant amount of space and weight compared to a conventional CRT display. Combined with standard desktop components and large, locking wheels, a 19" rack unit could actually be more capable and cost-effective while remaining fairly portable. This unit would provide good performance for other uses as well, such as LAN parties or professional video production. Setup time is also minimized, since the whole unit is protected by the case and can be left 'ready to run'.

As such, what insights might the K5 crowd be able to provide towards building your own rackmount case? While it is easy to add some simple rubber grommets to any HDD mount, is it necessary to shockmount the entire rackspace? Are parts readily available, or are there any 'open-source' CAD files out there? Are there music-specific materials, designs, or tips to recommend -- or avoid?

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o challenges
o many musicians
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o future of music distribution
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o software synthesis
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o 19" rack unit
o building your own rackmount case?
o Also by willi


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Building Rackmount Cases for Music | 70 comments (47 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
Fragile (5.00 / 2) (#4)
by Blarney on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 03:38:31 AM EST

I took my computer out a few times to make noises with a realtime effects/looping program. Well, the last time I did that involved lugging it into a music room on a dolly, with a monitor, over a quarter mile of rutted sidewalk. Piece of shit wouldn't even fucking boot after that. When I got it home it ran just fine, as if to show me just who was boss. Just to teach me that it wasn't a laptop.

But laptops are limited. You can't just cram any old sound card or two into them - and good luck finding a laptop sound adaptor that works in Linux, has decent audio quality, and does full-duplex.

So my dream machine is a fucking luggable at this point. It's got a foldout LCD, the hardware of a PC with standard PCI slots and everything, and a comfy carrying handle. If it ends up over 40 pounds, wheels would also be cool. And, if at all possible, it should have full sized 1/4" jacks mounted in it so that I won't have to screw with tiny little adaptors and fragile little plugs. Maybe it shouldn't even be metal - maybe it should be nice thick plywood with rubber bumper corners just like your typical indestructable solid-state guitar amp.

Racks might be the coolest solution to this problem. Wonder why music stores don't just sell "musical" PCs?

I would look into an X-serve (none / 0) (#12)
by TheReverend on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 02:20:16 PM EST

YOu can get them custom designed with special video for graphics, you can probably get it done for audio as well. That way you can run protools, csound and all the rest for your electronic music needs.

---
"Democratic voting is specifically about minority rights" --Infinitera
lol
[ Parent ]

xserve is nice but spendy (none / 0) (#47)
by willi on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 06:04:30 AM EST

too spendy and not enough slots, unfortunately. I will be rack mounting my G4 PowerMac though :)

[ Parent ]
also VERY LOUD (none / 0) (#68)
by anagram on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 06:20:24 PM EST

The "fans" in the Xserve aren't called fans, they are called blowers. Seriously, that thing is loud. I would want one for my desktop I could handle sitting next to one for more than 30 minutes.

[ Parent ]
Just the thing... (none / 0) (#13)
by bsimon on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 03:38:22 PM EST

http://www.theportablepc.com/
http://www.stealthcomputer.com/portables_stealthbox.htm

Search for 'Portable PC' and 'lunchbox PC', and you'll find more like these. I think they tend to be a bit pricy, though - probably using a rackmount box would be cheaper.

Or, cheapest of all, you could just buy a micro-atx (or smaller) case and put a handle on it.

you have read my sig
[ Parent ]

lunchbox systems somewhat ideal (none / 0) (#48)
by willi on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 06:06:28 AM EST

in many ways a lunchbox/transportable/luggable system is ideal, but as you mentioned, the price is a killer. It's a nice form factor though. The only downside is that while it could accomodate PCI cards and full size HDD, you still need a rack for your I/O... :)

[ Parent ]
Shock mounting (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by localroger on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:04:26 PM EST

It is not necessary to shock mount the electronics, but you need to shock mount anything resembling a disk drive -- floppy, CDROM, and especially the hard drive.

Rolling a custom case to allow you to shock mount just the moving-part components will probably give you a much more portable and durable result than trying to shock mount an entire CPU case, unless you go with a really small form factor (and then you lose the expandability).

There was once a time when socketed components would have been a major consideration, but most socket and connector vibration problems have been ironed out over the years.

I can haz blog!

Shock & Vibration (none / 0) (#17)
by Bad Harmony on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:40:54 PM EST

Industrial PCs often have mechanical restraints to prevent cards and connectors from working loose from shock and vibration. A simple metal restraining bar across the top of the card cage will keep I/O cards securely seated.

5440' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

USB? (5.00 / 2) (#14)
by VoxLobster on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 06:25:03 PM EST

Sure, if you either (a) want extremely low quality audio or (b) have a lot of time to kill.
You should probably amend that to USB2.0, which is almost as fast as firewire if I'm not mistaken. USB1.0 is completely useless for audio applications. When it comes to shockmounting, the answer is yes, you should shockmount. It may take a little longer, but you'll get longer life out of your gear, especially if you have your HD-Recorder in the rack. If you can, try and mount and hard drives on their sides, that way, if there is some kind of shock from travel, the read/write arm will harmlessly skim down over the surface of the drive instead of slamming into it. +1 when this gets to the queue.

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar

added some comments, thanks (none / 0) (#16)
by willi on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:29:00 PM EST

I added a few comments about USB, as well as changing the firewire link to the MOTU 896. the previously linked digi002 does use the firewire interface but is not intended for rackmount application. thanks for your help. :)

[ Parent ]
no problem (none / 0) (#23)
by VoxLobster on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:11:09 PM EST

the MOTU 896 is a nice piece of hardware. I have a friend who uses it in his rackmount setup.

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

I don't understand... (none / 0) (#18)
by jjayson on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:41:16 PM EST

Is this a story about building a rack mount system or one for software syntehsis. I know nothing about the first (all this talk of shcok-mounting and what not is very confusing) and the second is fairly simple (get a good audio card and a fast processor).

Why do you need to build a rack-mount system? Most people that I know that use any form of softsynths, are just basic systems. Why do you need to trick the thing out?
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

hardware requirements (none / 0) (#21)
by willi on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:58:15 PM EST

Well, it is a matter of perspective to some degree -- some people make music just by singing, or with alternative instruments like a commodore64.  But the main reason for this system is because the hardware requirements demand it.  If a musician is playing in a band and wants to do a proper recording, it's much less than ideal to just dump the entire band onto a single stereo track.  You can't adjust the volume of the singer, or apply EQ or effects to just the drum track -- it's all on one track.  So to do good recording of bands you really need somewhere from a minimum of perhaps 8 tracks on up to hundreds for a large band with lots of percussion, perhaps a choir or orchestra, etc.  To record all these seperate tracks onto hard disk requires a lot of system power in terms of disk write speed, bus bandwidth, etc.

Some of this can be done on dedicated audio cards which maximize performance and minimize system load by using high-powered DSP to do processing and eliminate the necessity of passing large amounts of data over the PCI bus.  But you can't stick PCI cards in a laptop :)

So recording is one aspect, another is simple software synthesis polyphony;  the number of voices (sounds, samples, etc.) that the system can do at any one time.  Some musicians are relying on just the CPU and there are also dedicated DSP cards to do this with greater performance and less latency.  Overall, the main reason to build such a system is to provide a high performance box with a large degree of reliability -- I will be rackmounting my G4 in it and running off of mirrored RAID drives.

I didn't want to get to specific about my needs or desires for my system since I think that this information can apply to a lot of different people and uses.  But since a users needs will determine the hardware contained in the rack, I think the most relevant questions asked in the acticle have to do with construction of the rack mount/case/chassis itself.

Best wishes,
willi

[ Parent ]

What I have... (none / 0) (#26)
by jjayson on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:19:09 PM EST

I don't have a rack mount system and I still have no idea why anybody would want one, but I do soft/hardware synth music production. Along with a small hardware rack, my computer is fairly simple: a P4, 1GB memory, 3 SCSI drives (2 are stripped), and a very good Yamaha pro audio card (an overkill for what I use it for, but it was on sale).

I still don't understand the article, sorry.

_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

portability and ease (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by willi on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 12:52:56 AM EST

Hi, if you already have a rack don't you think it might be advantageous in some ways to have the rack be just a little bigger and have the PC in it? It seems for my uses this would be fewer things to carry around and fewer things to set up, since I could leave most of it plugged together. This should make it easier to transport and setup, but then maybe this wouldn't work for your uses. :)

[ Parent ]
Nice idea for an article (2.50 / 2) (#19)
by etherdeath on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:49:34 PM EST

but I abstained.  I'd think it would be in technology, not culture, and probably can be greatly expanded on.

I agree (none / 0) (#27)
by HardwareLust on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:39:34 PM EST

Nice idea, but it certainly is not Culture. I also have abstained. Resubmit this as Technology, and I'll be glad to give it +1FP.


If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (none / 0) (#61)
by bluefusion on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 11:01:33 PM EST

Place in Culture and expand a bit more.
+A for now.
--------------------------------------

"Real? What is real? If you are talking simply about what you can see, taste, touch, hear, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain."
[ Parent ]

I wanted to do something similar (5.00 / 2) (#20)
by unknownlamer on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:57:15 PM EST

I want to build a rack mounted mixer/effects/recording box myself. However, my car just died and I have about $400 to my name so I'm a bit screwed right now...

System Software. GNU/Linux using ALSA 0.9 (finally a stable released version of ALSA) and a kernel with lowlatency patches, or really just use 2.6 (I hope Linux 2.6 will be released before the end of a year...ten months is a reasonable timeline for designing and getting a rack box like this into production, if not a bit optimistic). On my 500Mhz K6-2 box with an SBLive! 5.1 I have latency that is less than 1ms (when using ecamegapedal; for some reason GLAME has huge amounts of latency). If you use a more modern system and a better sound card latency will be essentially gone.

Sound Hardware. You probably want to go with something from RME because they have great support under ALSA. The Hammerfall cards are a bit expensive, but they are really flexible and nice (you can get expansion cards to add more inputs to them even). There are probably some MIDI cards that someone sells that would be good, but I don't use MIDI right now so I can't comment.

Recording Software. There is Ardour, but you may not want to have a mouse attached to the system so you could use SND and add bindings for something like fbdev to Guile and then create a new interface to the SND backend that way. That way you could have a mouseless system and still have stuff like a graphical equalizer and friends.

I think the easiest thing to do would be to include actual knobs and sliders and have those update the on screen sliders and knobs. That makes life easier for everyone. SND provides a reasonable multitrack recorder and can do stuff like effects if you write the filters for it. And it can use any ladspa plugin, so you have a number of pre-built filters available. You may want to work up a filter network interface like the one that GLAME has (which is really quite nice) so effects can be linked together. Since Guile 1.8 will have threads, the filter network stuff should definitely use the thread system on the Scheme side so that effects can run on more than one CPU in parallel (making it easier to do stuff like apply different effects on different inputs). Snd also provides a reasonable mixer.

Just use whatever the cheapest graphics card with decent performance you can get is. You want to put more money into the audio components, not the graphics components. Once you get a reasonable audio rack, you can expand it to do video editing. But one thing at a time.

You want to use SCSI for the disks. Possibly in a RAID. Just get large ones and stuff like firewire drives or hot-swap SCSI for the audio drives. You should put the software onto flash so that the drives can be used entirely for recording and editing. 10,000 or even 15,000 RPM drives may be good, but 7200 RPM would be entirely reasonable for recording eight track ADAT audio (24-bit/48000kHz x 8). And you do want to have ADAT in and out so you can backup your audio onto cassete tapes.

You want to use SMP for this. Maybe wait for the x86-64 to be released so you can use larger integers for audio samples (this is one of the things 64-bit processors are useful for; you can store the result of applying an effect on an e.g. 24-bit audio sample as a 64-bit integer and then scale it back down giving you much more headroom during effects proccessing).

Insert standard stuff about being able to save configurations, transfer recorded audio over firewire to another machine, etc. I'd like to discuss this more, but I don't have the time at the moment to expand on my ideas (I will later, I'll clarify anything if anyone wants me to).



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
software on flash & my system (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by willi on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:15:34 PM EST

hmm, I have to run to the store really fast before they close so I can't comment as much as I would like to now, but this is very interesting.  For my uses at the moment I have a DSP card for synthesis and will be adding another card for multitrack recording.  I plan to mount my G4 Mac and hopefully use it's 7200rpm 8MB cache ATA RAID array -- hopefully performance will be adequate.  Anyways I thought one of your comments in particular was very interesting.  Talking about putting the software on flash would make these systems even closer to traditional synthesizers, which typically have a minimal boot time.  You go on to talk about rigging a mouseless interface -- you could also go further and use one of those small system mounted LCD for visual display, rather than a full LCD with GUI.  Very interesting!

Any thoughts about construction of the case itself?

Best wishes,
willi

[ Parent ]

For the case (4.50 / 2) (#28)
by unknownlamer on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:40:55 PM EST

See this for a quick guide on building a plywood rack case. Or you could by a PA rack like this one and put the lcd + controls on the mixer space.



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
-1 (1.00 / 1) (#30)
by davedean on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 10:32:38 PM EST

I really hate to see this being voted up, because it just doesnt make any sense. I should've caught it in the edit queue. I don't know why you want all this in a PC. I really don't. I've been running my P4 1.8 laptop for almost six months now, and it is perfect. I can still run any softsynth out there, and bundles of effects. I edit/mix/master all on my laptop with only one upgrade - external soundcard. (The Echo Indigo appears to rock heavily, so that's the next upgrade to that.) If you want more input/output, then get an exernal soundcard (the Prosonus Firestation is the current flavour of the month) and a firewire HDD enclosure. This will all still be much more portable than some stinking huge rackmount system. If you really want to record lots of things at once, then go buy a "portable studio" style box. These things are expensive for a reason. They are resiliant, sound great and have all the required hardware control to run them live. A mouse is useless as a control device when trying to mix more than two tracks at a time. On the other hand, if you want a more ungradeable laptop, I can see your point, but for anyone serious about music with PCs, stability overcomes "power at all costs". If you get your system stable and running how you like it, that's much more useful than a few extra mhz. In short, dont bother. -Dave
--
Dave Dean
Google loves me again! New Formula!
-1 (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by davedean on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 10:33:00 PM EST

I really hate to see this being voted up, because it just doesnt make any sense. I should've caught it in the edit queue.

I don't know why you want all this in a PC. I really don't. I've been running my P4 1.8 laptop for almost six months now, and it is perfect. I can still run any softsynth out there, and bundles of effects.

I edit/mix/master all on my laptop with only one upgrade - external soundcard. (The Echo Indigo appears to rock heavily, so that's the next upgrade to that.)

If you want more input/output, then get an exernal soundcard (the Prosonus Firestation is the current flavour of the month) and a firewire HDD enclosure. This will all still be much more portable than some stinking huge rackmount system.

If you really want to record lots of things at once, then go buy a "portable studio" style box. These things are expensive for a reason. They are   resiliant, sound great and have all the required hardware control to run them live. A mouse is useless as a control device when trying to mix more than two tracks at a time.

On the other hand, if you want a more ungradeable laptop, I can see your point, but for anyone serious about music with PCs, stability overcomes "power at all costs". If you get your system stable and running how you like it, that's much more useful than a few extra mhz.

In short, dont bother.

-Dave
--
Dave Dean
Google loves me again! New Formula!

hardware requirements...again (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by willi on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 12:31:40 AM EST

if you look at my previous post you can see that for a variety of purposes the hardware in a laptop is not sufficient. It's true that you can buy a MOTU 828 or 896 and use it over firewire, and get discrete I/O, and even buy a few and daiseychain them. But if you look at their 2408mk3 in comparison it provides more channels at a better price, via a PCI card. Now, if you can afford to buy the more expensive firewire I/O then thats great for you, but you aren't going to be able to run enough firewire disk I/O bandwidth over that same interface, and then you end up having all these pieces to connect and cables to pack and carry. Sure, you could add another firewire channel via a PC Card, or even SCSI, but it won't be as cost effective as using desktop components in a rack. etc etc etc.... why can't we discuss this again? Nice try with your previous post too, thanks a lot.

[ Parent ]
Anything rackmount is cool [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by the77x42 on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 02:37:57 AM EST




"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Some day (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by xL on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 04:03:45 AM EST

A bright entrepeneur will listen to my Secret Mind Control rays and build a profitable company selling 19" rack-mountable beer fridges and microwave ovens. Anyone who ever locked himself, willingly or not, into a studio or PoP for more than 4 hours, likely in the middle of the night, knows how badly this is needed. With a bit of luck this company will also be building on my other idea: An easily mountable device that interrupts power to any connected guitar amp when it receives the proper midi signal. This device, dubbed the StopRaggingTheFuckingStringsWeAreTalkingHere 2000 will boost productivity in the average band rehearsal manifold.

[ Parent ]
Heh (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by MX5 on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 11:45:46 AM EST

Perhaps you should be that entrepreneur yourself? ;-)

The band I'm in at the moment has the most amazing innovation - a drummer that you can turn the f*ck down. I know it's old kit, very eighties, but it saves nerves from becoming too frayed.

"Next week on the programme, bats. Are they really blind or are they just taking the piss?" -tfs
[ Parent ]

It's the mechanical things that get us (5.00 / 2) (#45)
by sty on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 05:27:21 AM EST

Interesting proposal,

while SW and CPU/boards are making it more accessible to use this technology in recording and performing, and size and cost is making it more practical to take it out and about, for me it is always the mechanical side of things that ruins the plan.

I'd be interested to know how to make this stuff rugged and accessible, while keeping costs down and flexibility up.

I remember reading articles about Peter Cornish (I think it was) making pedal effects boards for various guitarists to take out on the road, and it was a non-trivial excercise so I'm sure that while it seems simple on the surface to pop a CPU and some boards in a rack I bet it is non-trivial in real life.

and as been mentioned, I'm sure it is relevant to more than simply musicians
JOhn

LAN parties (none / 0) (#46)
by willi on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 05:45:30 AM EST

yeah I think this could make a pretty killer LAN party rig...just wheel your bad boy up, pull your LCD out of the drawer, plug it in to the power outlet and go! If you get heavy duty wheels you could even sit on it ;P

[ Parent ]
Laptop (1.00 / 1) (#49)
by SanSeveroPrince on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 07:24:40 AM EST

Why on earth are you trying to use a laptop for something that needs muscle? (or at least a professional sound board?)

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


uh I'm not...that's the point :) (none / 0) (#50)
by willi on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 07:27:15 AM EST

I don't want to use my laptop for it, for exactly the reason you mentioned. :)

[ Parent ]
So... (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by SanSeveroPrince on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 07:46:30 AM EST

what's the problem? I don't usually miss the point like this :)

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
how do you build a good rack case? (none / 0) (#52)
by willi on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 08:13:38 AM EST

Well, as I have explained below, the equipment inside the case will vary depending upon the users needs. That said, how do you build a good rugged, flight-ready, shockmounted case? What extra considerations might its design be given for a music-centric application? This can undoubtedly be done at a more cost effective pricepoint than a custom Anvil case. How do you build something equivilent?

[ Parent ]
More help (5.00 / 2) (#53)
by HomeBrewR on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 09:18:36 AM EST

This article really needs to be placed on the front page. Lots of eyes need to see this.

Even better question... (none / 0) (#56)
by RofGilead on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 01:50:26 PM EST

I'm using a UNIX operating system, currently a Debian Linux Distribution, and am trying to work with midi devices.

I have been waiting years for someone to write a program to do midi composition, midi recording, and midi playback to external devices.  Over this time, I even started my own project, but that sadly has a layer of dust over it's code.

I was using Muse, but it seems somewhat broken, as I no longer can get playback or recording going - the project's main programmer "Werner" is looking into it.  Anyways, Muse was the best that I could find, and it's never been particularly stable (its still alpha).

Are there ANY midi composition programs that can play/receive through ALSA, that are actually THERE?  I mean, at the level of usability?  If you have had any luck with any midi programs of this sort, please respond.  I've thus far refused to install Windows again to do music, but it has really sucked not being able to sequence my devices on my computer.

Thanks,

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon

Keep an eye on Rosegarden and Anthem (none / 0) (#58)
by NFW on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 03:49:31 PM EST

Of the two, Rosegarden seems to be closest to "there." Anthem has a ways to go (the back end is basically done but the UI is still a work in progress) but the guy behind Anthem has coding skills way above what I've seen in most OSS projects.

Not to denigrate the RG team though... they're on their way to a kick-ass product.

But, as far as I know, no Linux sequence is actually "there" yet.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Link to reasonbly-priced rackmount cases... (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by igor on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 03:49:17 PM EST

http://www.compute-aid.com/atxcase.htm

Now, if I could only find reasonably-priced racks... -jeff

Computer vs. Music rackage (none / 0) (#59)
by NFW on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 04:13:00 PM EST

"Industrial" computer rack cases are usually very deep as compared to rack-mount music gear. Industrial computer racks typically have support front and rear, while music racks only support gear from the front, and may not even allow something as deep as a computer rack case (mine would, but it would stick out the back about a foot).

IMO a music-oriented rack case ought to be about half as deep as a regular industrial computer case, and preferably not even as deep as your average tower or desktop case. I have yet to see such a beast, but I'm sure it's possible. Anyone know of one?


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Most Important aspect for music recording (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by SelectorSam on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 04:15:47 PM EST

I believe that the most important aspect of recording to be computer fan noise. I have a G4 and the fan noise is WAY to loud, I have been looking around for a quiet fan that will reduce the noise, but to no avail. If you know of any way to get a new fan - email me at nublu at yahoo dot com.

I'm not sure that having a rackmount computer makes that much of a difference, except as the author notes, it is more portable than a desktop, but also the case is more expensive. But not by much. A laptop with a MOTU 828 (firewire) makes a great remote recording rig. 8 - ins is usually enough to handle a simple remote job and you can carry it with you in a backpack. And with the soundcard and laptop you can do this for about 2,000 us dollars.

If you are a novice at music making, I would get a PC and not a Mac. Even though I use Macs, I say this because the hardware is much cheaper and a lot of the same software is available on both platforms with some notable exceptions. Acid (a favorite of sample based producers) is only available on PCs. Macs have some highend software that is only available on its OS. Get a nice pair of monitors. You want the sound that you hear to be as accurate a representation as possible. If you get a PC you can customize the hardware. Spend more on a powerful motherboard and CPU and you can skimp on the video card. Get a good burner and quiet fan! Also, a couple of big harddrives.

Another thing I recommend is having two computers. One to do your music on and the other to do everything else. I don't agree with the author about using your rackmount computer for LAN parties too. Games will reduce the integreity of your music making software and OS significantly. At the minimum, have dual partitions and that way you can boot into your music making OS. Once you have your music OS completely stable, ghost it or make an install disc that is easy to reinstall if anything goes wrong, that will save you time having to deal with OS problems. A backup system is a good idea, but I don't have one yet besides a CD burner, so any discussion on this would be cool.

I think a rackmount computer is a great idea for music because most external music hardware is rackmount too. That way you can have all of your gear rackmounted. However, if you can't do that, get a really long monitor cable and put your computer somewhere were you can't hear it, like a closet and it will help keep you sane.

peace, Sam
my website - http://www.geocities.com/nublu
have you seen g4noise.com ? (none / 0) (#67)
by anagram on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 06:14:06 PM EST

I believe that the most important aspect of recording to be computer fan noise. I have a G4 and the fan noise is WAY to loud, I have been looking around for a quiet fan that will reduce the noise, but to no avail. If you know of any way to get a new fan - email me at nublu at yahoo dot com.
there is a power supply replacement program in effect if you want to swap your loud power supply in for a quieter one.

Apple said that extra noise in their dual processor G4s is to be expected However, professional audio customers were very unsatisfied with their noisy macs.

Apple, always known for providing a good user experience, has posted a position for a senior acoustical engineer to make sure future models are better.

(I want a g4 for audio)

[ Parent ]

what do you mean (none / 0) (#69)
by auraslip on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 03:03:15 PM EST

Fan noise?

An electrical hum? or the actuall sound it makes. You could probally just eq our the electric hum, and maybe even the fan. I've cleaned out most of my recording on my new dell like that.
124
[ Parent ]

Fans, recording (none / 0) (#62)
by talnkyo on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 12:29:46 AM EST

Many laptops are fanless, especially Mac laptops. But anyway, all you need is a USB Midi interface and a Firewire audio interface. All the rest of your equipment is connected via one of these ports or to eachother.
----- This sig does not exist.
how to do shockmounting? (none / 0) (#63)
by willi on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 04:25:55 AM EST

I have read that you can do shockmounting with foam and stuff, also with springs. How would you shockmount the rack itself?

This can undoubtedly be done at a more cost effective pricepoint than a custom Anvil case. How do you build something equivilent?

Rack construction...but what about shockmounting? (none / 0) (#64)
by willi on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 04:29:01 AM EST

This is an excellent link that I was given in one of the comments buried below. This page has a great How-To on building a nice rack. But what about shockmounting? How would you shockmount the entire rack with springs or foam?

Don't shockmount the rack (none / 0) (#65)
by unknownlamer on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 11:10:05 AM EST

You don't shockmount everything. You just avoid dropping it ;-) But you want to mount your drives sideways and shock mounted. As long as the parts aren't moving, there shouldn't be much of a problem with vibration. This case has two 3.5" shock mounted drive bays. That is really all you need to shockmount (basically, if it is a fixed moving disc, shockmount it, otherwise lieave it alone).



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
onlocation daw recording what works well (4.50 / 2) (#66)
by classical observer on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 01:08:25 PM EST

been doing this for last 2-3 years . hardware requirements aren't so demanding. most important are a well built case - with good ventilation - no 1 or 2 space rackmount cases . best to use a 3 or 4 rack space case . good ventilation is important as is using all of the fasteners to make the case as sturdy as possible . also important is a good quality soundcard . i use rme audio hammerfall 9652 . an added benefit is the 3 pair adat lightpipe i/o which allows for electrical isolation between the daw and console(s) . for preamp / signal processing , i use a yamaha 02r console when i have room onsite or fostex vc8 8ch i/o . have used scsi , ata raid, and standard ide drives - all work equally well for less than 24 ch recording . for software i use samplitude v 5.9 . i suggest that use nt4 or win2k , but i do have a workststion running demudi that is usable. i suggest having 2 hd with your os on 1 a record on another ( ondisk memory cache helps too ) plus have a backup os hd in case you start to have problems onsite , just power down and switch hds and your up and running. cpu reqirements are minimal for tracking , but mixing is another story . you must however disable power mgmt and switch to a standard pc in the device manager for win2k to work well . as for display , lcds are nice but expensive and delicate , while crts are cheap and work quite well . which matters after you beak one while loading in /out . i have a small 9" pos monitor that works well when space is minimal . the 9 " monitor with a small barebones pc carefully optimized works well for small live recordings that i would have used a dat machine for . for the record, my current live recording pc is a standard tower case with foam rapped around it jammed into my rack. It only adds another 15lbs or so to it, a 9' monitor is less than 3 lbs . the biggest pita is the ups i lug with me . sorry for any grammar and or spelling mistakes , i just woke up . hope this helps some , if not please ignore .

Common problem (none / 0) (#70)
by Sawzall on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 07:04:18 PM EST

I build audio equipment as a hobby, just as much as I play with computers. Two things are often the most expensive parts - and only one of them makes sense. The first is power supplys. Big transformers and caps are expensive, so a big part of the DIY crowd is on a constant search for surplus parts. This makes sense however since these parts are expensive to build.

The second problem, and one that the computer crowd shares, is enclosures. Good ones can cost as much as the powersupply! Most of us end up making our own, which unless you have skills and a well equipped shop, look like they are homemade. They also do not offer the shielding and rugged structure that they should have... We put up with massive weight heat sinks because fans are not as quiet as they should be, so the noise gets in the way of the music. Not to mention the cost of these heatsinks.

I am actually looking at ripping the guts out of an ITX case since the formfactor is good, and it is well built. Doesn't make a great deal of sense, but it is the cheapest alternative that I have found.

Building Rackmount Cases for Music | 70 comments (47 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
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