February 11, 2007

Vista Fiesta, Rnd. 2...

by Chris Randall

Went and got a squeaky clean hard drive from PC Club today, and installed Vista on it. The installation was actually a bit less painful than a normal Windows install. Of all the odd hardware in my PC, the only things it didn't recognize right off the bat were the Lynx AES/16 (which I knew would happen) and my SATA RAID. In the former case, I installed the WinXP driver, which appears at a cursory examination to be working, and in the later, I was able to get beta Vista drivers from the manufacturer's website, which work fine.

I installed my existing versions of Photoshop and Nuendo, and they appear to be fine. Then I spent an hour or so on the initial stages of tuning it. This is where I've made some nice discoveries. There are many features that can be controlled out of the box in Vista that required, say, TweakUI or something similar in XP. Almost everything I would normally tune has a control panel in Vista. It may be five or ten clicks deep, but it's there. The layout of things is also a bit more logical. I haven't had to hit Google yet to find something.

Once I turned all the Aero bullshit off, I'll make the initial note that Vista appears to run a bit more, uh, what? Firmly? Quickly? Dunno. But I do like the general lay of the land at this point. I'll continue tuning tonight, and take the initial foray in to getting the audio fine-tuned (I'm a bit nervous about that, as it doesn't feel right) but I'll run a qualified "it's all good" banner up the flagpole at this juncture.

Caveat emptor: I'm a very old hand with PCs, having used them since there was "PC." I've been building my own for 20 years. And I'm a software developer. So don't think because it's easy for me, it'll be easy for you. And I would strongly suggest you follow the old axiom that if it ain't broke, it don't need to be fixed. There is nothing in Vista that would make an audio PC better that I can see. The only reason I installed it is because I had to, and I would strongly caution any audio user that uses Windows against doing the same. But if you have to, it's doable, if your system is in good shape to begin with.

EDIT: Got all my plugins installed and everything tuned, and all seems right with the world. Dev environment next, but it seems to be swell. Things are a bit faster overall; I think they did some work on the snappiness of windows and such. Nuendo loaded cold in about 45 seconds in XP; it takes about 30 seconds in Vista on the same computer. Nothing doesn't work that I can tell.



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Feb.12.2007 @ 12:09 PM
Did you install vista 32 bit or 64 bit? I am looking for more people working off of 64 bit machines to bounce findings off of :]

I recently rebuilt my project studio from the ground up to start on the new PTI effort.. The system is build off of xp pro 64 and a motu 828mkii. To date all of my software has worked fine and the computer runs like a dream. The only issue I have found is that killing the ableton live process from the task manager when the motu 828 is on causes the computer to reboot instantly... pretty lameo.


Feb.12.2007 @ 7:41 PM
Chris Randall
I installed 32-bit, as I don't have any real reason to do 64-bit at this point. I'll probably man up and do the 64-bit when all the drivers I need are available for that version.



Feb.14.2007 @ 3:03 PM
Chris, can you tell us more about your system hardware. Processor? RAM? Video?

Feb.14.2007 @ 6:10 PM
Chris Randall
CPU: AMD Athlon64


Video: Nvidia Quadra FX 3000 (using both heads; I don't use the 3D goggle output, which is technically two more heads, but it's there and showing up as a display option in Vista)

Audio: Lynx AES/16 (I'm using the XP driver, as the Vista one isn't done yet. However, it is working fine.)

MIDI: Remote ZeroSL and M-Audio Midisport (both USB)



IDE main drive (250GB)

That's about it for pertinent info. Note that I'm having severe problems with Nvidia's beta drivers for the video card. This is ironic considering it's one of their top-line 3D workstation cards, and not some silly gam3rz card. The Vista drivers from Nvidia won't load at all. However, the built-in Nvidia driver that ships with Vista works fine; I just can't access some of the heavy lifting features of the card at this juncture. Since the only people that use this card are professional users, I expect the problem to be solved fairly quickly. It doesn't drastically affect my workflow at this point, as the main thing I need it for is hardware-accelerated 3D rendering, and I'm not doing any of that for a couple weeks. The next Audio Damage UI is largely Photoshop, not 3DS Max.



Feb.14.2007 @ 7:20 PM
Thanks Chris. My fresh install of Vista Business was much like yours - smooth and fast. No NVIDIA and Delta 1010 drivers yet.

Some more questions below, if you don't mind.

- You boot from the IDE main drive?
- Wait tyoe of RAID?
- Why both IDE & SATA RAID and do they have their own cards?
- Are the RAID drives purposed for Audio data?
- What about PC noise or is that not a factor?


Feb.14.2007 @ 8:30 PM
Chris Randall
Yes, I boot from the main IDE drive. My motherboard has both SATA and IDE RAID controllers on it, and I use both of them. No cards. Both RAID are Type 0. For what it's worth, Vista had a built-in driver for the IDE RAID, but I had to hunt one up for the SATA RAID. In Vista's defense, it told me where to go for it, which was kind of cool.

I use one for audio and one for graphics. Noise is not a factor. My PC is quiet.



Feb.14.2007 @ 10:58 PM
My apologies, but my curiosity is taking over!

You stripe your drives and I suppose thats for the performance gain. So the next question becomes: how do you handle backups?

Is the audio or the video on the SATA channel or does it even matter these days?

A couple of more hardware questions and I think I'm done!
- Whats your mobo?
- What Brand/Model are your drives?
- Power Supply?

Thanks again from a long time time lurker/fan.


Feb.15.2007 @ 12:18 PM
Chris Randall
The type 0 RAID is for both performance and safety. If one goes bad, I just slap in another one, restripe, and I'm good to go, with no data loss. A Type 0 is, e.g., two 500GB drives in a mirrored array.

My mobo is Gigabyte. Drives are Western Digital. Power supply is Thermaltake.



Feb.15.2007 @ 1:03 PM

RAID 0 does not provide fault tolerance and no redundancy. Perhaps your have RAID 1 which is a true mirrored array (with a disk wrtie performance cost).

This is why I asked about backup. To have critical data on a RAID 0 array with no backup can be painful.

From Wikipedia: "A RAID 0...splits data evenly across two or more disks (striped) with no parity information for redundancy"

link [en.wikipedia.or...]">link [en.wikipedia.or...]



Feb.15.2007 @ 2:37 PM
Chris Randall
I meant type 1, obviously. I typed that right after I got up. You really have too much time on your hands, if you don't mind me saying so. Why is how my computer set up and built so important? (Never mind the semantics.)



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