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Thread Should I upgrade?

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1 Should I upgrade?
I just got a new HP pavilion zv6000 laptop with an amd athlon 64 processor at 2 ghz, 512 ram, and an 80 gig harddrive.
I wish to record mostly one track at a time, but sometimes two or three using a USB interface (I am thinking the m-audio fast track pro)
and I also wish to use real time effects and a midi keyboard to play/record a midi instrument at the same time as recording a live instrument
such as a bass or guitar. It doesn't need to be perfect quality, it will be mostly for my own ears and some friends, but I would like to be able
to do a few things at once in real time.
Although programs such as ableton live and cubase say 512 ram is recommended, almost everyone on this and other forums say you should
have a gig.
So here's the big question...
Is a 2 ghz amd processor and 512 ram enough for decent audio production?
Should I return this laptop while I still can and fork out an extra $200 for an amd athlon processor at 2.4 ghz, a gig of ram, and a 100 gb hd?
Any input will be greatly appreciated.

If you can afford the extra $200, I would. Here's the thing- you ask if this computer willmake a "decent" recording. The quality of the recording will depend on the sound interface, and to a much lesser degree, the software, not the computer.

Where the computer specs matter is in terms of how many things you can do at once- how many tracks you can playback and record at the same time, how many effects plug ins you can use at once, things like that. So what you're buying in a computer is audio processing capacity, not quality.

Another choke point for what you want to do will be the USB interface. USB is not all that fast. If you want to do multiple instruments AND realtime effects, I'd probably opt for the faster/more memory computer AND a Firewire interface.
The Axeman (##(===> Cuts From My New Blues CD
I've kind of wondered about the whole Firewire/USB debate for recording. The older USB (USB 1.1) is rated at 1.5 Mbps (mega bits per second) whereas most Firewire is rated at 400 Mbps (1394 standard). There is definitely a speed problem with USB 1.1 compared to Firewire here.

Most newer computers now support USB 2.0, which is rated at 480 Mbps. That beats current Firewire speeds. The question would be, then, if the recording devices are supporting USB 2.0 or USB 1.1? I haven't looked into any of them very closely yet to know (if I look, I'll want to buy, and I can't do that).

The next generation of Firewire using the 1394b standard supports up to 800 Mbps. I think (but I'm not sure) that this is new enough that maybe not all new PC are it. The new Mac G5 has one 800 port and two 400 ports.

The generation of Firewire after the 1394b is supposed to support 1600 Mbps.

One other thing that I have heard is that the Firewire will only run as fast as the slowest device connected to it. So if you use the 800 Mbps, but also connect something rated at 400 Mbps, even if you have something else connected that can handle 800 Mbps, the highest throughput will be 400 Mbps on the entire Firewire circuit.

Ok. That is what I understand. I'd like to know if I'm correct and how that affects the Firewire/USB debate for recording.

Edit Added: I don't know if there is any slow-down issue with USB 2.0. If you plug a USB 1.1 device into a USB 2.0 hub that has a USB 2.0 recording device also attached, does it run at USB 1.1 speed?
Firewire is something to think about for sure.
Anyone have any favorite/recommended firewire interfaces?
Thanks for the input axeman.
USB 1.1 runs at 12Mpbs the 1.5Mbps was never commercially taken up.
USB 2.0 runs at 480Mpbs.
You will have difficulty getting more than one stereo pair of audio thruogh a USB 1.1 channel.
You will have more difficulty getting a USB 2.0 audio interface because apart from the (now discontinued) Edirol there aren't any out there. The manufacturers have all gone Firewire. End of debate.
Finally, Firewire (2) may be rated at 800Mbps but your computer (and mine) will simply not be able to provide a data stream at that rate. They can not go faster than the FSB speed.
Here's some copied info that might help ....

In terms of compatibility, USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 are interchangeable. The USB system will run each device at its optimal speed. However, the speed of the USB controller on the computer will determine the overall speed. For instance, if you plug a USB 2.0 device into a computer that is USB 1.1, the USB 2.0 device will run at 12Mbps and if you plug a USB 1.1 device into a computer that is USB 2.0 compliant, the device will run at the USB 1.1 speed (12Mbps). However, if you plug a USB 1.1 device and a USB 2.0 device into a computer that is USB 2.0 compliant, each will run its maximum speed (12Mbps for the USB 1.1 and 480Mbps for the USB 2.0)
Cool for me! That was just the kind of info I was looking for. I did not realize there was a low and full speed USB 1.1, not that it matters here. If the manufactures are going Firewire, then that's the direction I'll be looking.

Thanks correction and info, ambientlive.
Me too, actually :)