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In fact, killing my computer would be too kind.  I want it to suffer the way it makes ME SUFFER!!!

I built (first mistake) my own DAW using the following components:
ASUS P5Q Motherboard (incudes SoundMax Audio integrated Digital soundcard)
8 Megs of RAM
Intel Core 2 Duo processor
ATI Radeon HD 3600 Video Card
C Drive: 150 GB Fast Drive (10,000 RPM) WDC WD1500 ADFD-00NLR5
D Drive: 1TB  For Programs & Files  WDC WD10EADS-00L5B1
   Sonar 8.5, etc

E Drive: 1TB VST's  ST31000340AS [EWSO Platinum, Play, Silk, Goliath, Fab Four, Choirs, Gypsy, etc)
Plus (4) external hard drives!!!
Windows XP 64bit

Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 I/O (This also constantly drops out or disappears and forces me to use the Soundmax)

It crashes constantly, reboots, Hard drives disappear and I cant even get a simple piano track (using Play, Goliath) without constant audio pops and dropouts.

Mixdowns on Sonar 8.5 are constant causes for entire system shutdown and reboot.

Can I get some help, ideas, an amen or a witness?  Or what works best...Sledgehammer or Caliber 50 Machine gun?

Thanks to all

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You're welcome Albert, I must admit, during the early dark days I used to imagine taking the thing up the garden and administering the mother of all chain saws... But I think you have it with the 50 cal. Good luck, I'm sure you'll get there, there's been some great advice from these guys.

Albert De La Vega said:
Thanks Russell, I will try this. I have actually "bounced" several Audio tracks into one (once the musical idea is fairly developed) to minimize dropouts and CPU usage

Russell Jalland said:
I use MAC and Pro Tools, so I don't know how relevant this will be, but maybe something will be of use to someone. I had all sorts of problems running a dual core laptop, particularly when I had the latency low in order to record. another issue was bus speed, and how quickly you can get the audio from your drive . I got into the habit of only using a low latency setting when recording, and then shifting up when mixing, this helped. Another really critical factor is how much RTAS you have running in the background whilst you're writing. By using your CPU monitor ( If you have one) You can monitor this. I found anything over 40% total CPU usage caused me to crash regularly. By bouncing tracks down to audio as a temporary measure, including a guide effect, then Parking the midi track and disabling the plug in, I gained loads of CPU back.
You can then reinstate the midi stuff with a higher latency setting later on to mix. I used to shut everything down that I wasn't using too ( Wireless, internet etc) Every bit of CPU power you can gain will help. If you're dual screening check that the video card you're using is as independant as possible ( memory etc)

Ultimately I had to go ton a Mac Pro Quad core and all is now as it should be, I can use as much of whatever I want, whenever I wish. Some RTAS programs eat CPU power without mercy. Particularly dedicated instruments, Grand Piano, Hammond plug ins etc.
This doesn't sound like a complete cure for you, there's more going on there... but CPU economy is pivotal (in my view)

Ray Kemp said:
Albert,

You just don't need all these lefty guitars. One could go surely, the Q6600 can't be more than $100.00 now :-)
Hey! Here are some new thoughts on this:

You should disable the soundmax on the motherboard in the BIOS. If that is impossible, disable it in the device manager. You will NEVER get good performance using it anyway. The drivers for it will not allow low enough buffer settings.

Get the latest drivers for everything else, of course. (Especially the vid, motherboard, and Saffire.)

Make sure you have the 64bit or 32 bit versions of software where appropriate.

Reboots could be because of the video card or ram even. Try getting a different video card, NVIDIA instead of radeon.

Always watch the ram check on boot up to be sure it is properly seeing all of your ram.

Make sure your PSU is OVERpowered - meaning has way more power than you need. Maybe think around 800 watts.

Report back here if it helped or not!
Thank you Chris!! I had disabled the Soundmax at the time you suggested it, but not in the BIOS. I also never properly tweaked my BIOS which may also be an issue?

I will try updating all software and eliminating any unnecessary crap, but I may just take my wife's computer...It has an ASUS P6T Deluxe with an i7 920...maybe that will fix everything!!!!

Thanks again and I will keep you informed.

Chris Merritt said:
Hey! Here are some new thoughts on this:

You should disable the soundmax on the motherboard in the BIOS. If that is impossible, disable it in the device manager. You will NEVER get good performance using it anyway. The drivers for it will not allow low enough buffer settings.

Get the latest drivers for everything else, of course. (Especially the vid, motherboard, and Saffire.)

Make sure you have the 64bit or 32 bit versions of software where appropriate.

Reboots could be because of the video card or ram even. Try getting a different video card, NVIDIA instead of radeon.

Always watch the ram check on boot up to be sure it is properly seeing all of your ram.

Make sure your PSU is OVERpowered - meaning has way more power than you need. Maybe think around 800 watts.

Report back here if it helped or not!
Hey Ray, how are you?

Your initial suggestion to switch to a Quad Core helped-a-plenty, but just found out today that my model of Seagate 1tb HD has a penchant for "self-bricking" or disappearing from the BIOS completely, although the disc still functions (audibly spins)!!!!

Guess what? It is the same drive in which I stored ALL of my VST's (Silk, Gypsy, EWSymp., etc), which gave me all of my initial headaches.

I am working on getting a replacement, so we'll see what happens...Thanks for the advice

Ray Kemp said:
Yes Albert, I think the i7 920 with a reasonable amount of DDR3 ram and Windows 7 x64 will go a long way in stopping glitching.

That's hardware is on my shopping list for later this year.
Hey Chris,

Believe it or not, your advice to check / download drivers led me to links describing the flaws of the hard drive itself (it just freezes and disappears). This may be the cause of everything.

Thanks you so much, your help was invaluable.

Chris Merritt said:
Hey! Here are some new thoughts on this:

You should disable the soundmax on the motherboard in the BIOS. If that is impossible, disable it in the device manager. You will NEVER get good performance using it anyway. The drivers for it will not allow low enough buffer settings.

Get the latest drivers for everything else, of course. (Especially the vid, motherboard, and Saffire.)

Make sure you have the 64bit or 32 bit versions of software where appropriate.

Reboots could be because of the video card or ram even. Try getting a different video card, NVIDIA instead of radeon.

Always watch the ram check on boot up to be sure it is properly seeing all of your ram.

Make sure your PSU is OVERpowered - meaning has way more power than you need. Maybe think around 800 watts.

Report back here if it helped or not!
Hey Ray, how are you?

NO I MOST CERTAINLY HAVE NOT SOLD ANY GUITARS!!!!! NOR WILL I

I like to look at them, they keep me centered and blissfully at peace. That and I got em' real cheap and I doubt that would get what I am looking for, I'd have seller's remorse, the world would stop turning, etc...

Ray Kemp said:
Albert,
Have you sold any of these lefty guitars yet? :-)

Many are talking about this baby.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136533
I don't have one myself but my next will be. My samples libraries are spread over 5 separate drives.
I hesitate to say it, but I've been quite lucky over the years with HD, Doh! I've gone and done it now.
Hey Chris, how are you? Thanks for your lengthy and insightful reply sometime ago on this topic.

Do you own the Barracudas/have them installed currently? I ask because my 1TB Barracuda which stored all my VST's (choirs, MOR, Silk, Gypsy, Goliath, etc) is what took a dump on me (self-bricked and now is not visible / disappeared, even in BIOS)

Granted it was a HDD and not an SSD but I couldnt fix it with the Utilities download Seagate has, because it had already self bricked...

What would YOU recommend if you were to install approximately 300-400G worth of VST's in (I dunno) at least (2) hard drives? Incidentally, my PROGRAM FILES (actual Sonar midi/audio files) are on a 1TB Western Digital Hard that has not given me any problems!!! Go figure.

Thanks again brother, I also have to remember to email you some long chain mail or "amazing pictures" file ;)

Chris Alpiar said:
I never use WD, as I had 2 crap out on me with not a lot of use, so I stick with Barracuda's (also because Barracuda just sounds so cool! lol) I want to have all 10k solid state drives tho *cry* Ray will you buy me like 16 of them please?

Ray Kemp said:
Albert,
Have you sold any of these lefty guitars yet? :-)

Many are talking about this baby.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136533
I don't have one myself but my next will be. My samples libraries are spread over 5 separate drives.
I hesitate to say it, but I've been quite lucky over the years with HD, Doh! I've gone and done it now.
I use WD 10k rom Raptor Drives. I have a 300GB one for my C drive, with all the programs installed there. I have a RAID array of 8 150GB raptor drives set up as my 'D' drive, where all of the samples are installed.

I guess for you I might recommend 2 300 GB raptor drives for your samples and a third 1TB drive that is set to automatically copy the other two drives every day or week. "Second Copy' is a great app for that.
Thank you pair of Chris's!!!! I will follow your advice and will get back to you. I gotta do some studying & research to learn how to partition the drives and set up a RAID array??

Also, BACKUP is key in both of your statements. Makes perfect sense, should have followed that advice.

Guys, seriously, thanks again. You may or may not know how immensely frustrating it is to have an idea & not be able to implement because of faulty equipment (and most of my stuff is sonar & vst's)

Chris Alpiar said:
I use Seagate Barracudas currently. On my mac I have:
Macintosh HD: 250G barracuda 7200
Projects (where I record audio to and where all my DP and cubase projects go): 500G barracuda 7200
Then I have my samples spread out over 10 partitions of 250G each on 2 barracuda drives, 1st one is 1 terabyte, 2nd is 1.5 terabyte

My PCs are similar setup tho no projects disc since the PCs are all slaves

If I had the extra dough I would definitely go with Chris Merritt's setup, the raid array with 10k drives is great! I personally stay away from WD because I have had several of them go south on me over the years, unrecoverable. If you have money to spend and want to really do it right, I would consider checking out an all GLYPH drive system. But 10k rpm and built out in a nice array, and BACKUPS

Since I rarely am changing my sample/VI slaves, I have 2 1Terabyte external e-SATA/USB2 drives that I have all my samples backed up on and then I have a 3rd one that I use for Time Machine on the MAC which I run once a week or so. (do not let time machine or whatever prog you choose to do your backups with run in the background, it will chew the processors up, but make sure you take time to do it manually, at least once a week when you go to bed)
Before you worry about a RAID array, just consider a couple of very fast drives with a backup. Maybe Raptors or SSD's with a 1TB drive backing them up.

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