Welcome Guest! To enable all features please Login or Register.

Notification

Icon
Error

Forum Jump  
DAW Plus / XI Machines - Review
Last post Wed, Apr 24 2013 by DAW PLUS, 8 replies.
Options
Go to last post
Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2013 16:30
by mpower88
Joined on Thu, Aug 12 2004, Posts 727

Hey everyone, just wanted to put up a review of an amazing computer I bought a few months back. I've waited until I had used it quite a bit before reviewing, but I knew when I got it out of the box that it was something special! It will go without saying to anyone who knows me here that I have no financial interest in this company, nor did I get any incentive whatsoever to write this, simply I want to promote things that I believe in. I want to share my experience with something I find to be truly *exceptional*. When you buy a boutique / custom DAW you really hope for your money you will get something special that delivers, and we always have that worry that maybe whoever we are buying from despite earnest sounding promises will somehow let us down and deliver us something less than excellent. Well in this case I was not disappointed in the slightest. This thing is not a Bentley (yuk), or a Rolls (boring), it's a twin V8 quad turbo Bugatti Veyron with custom interior... and it smokes the latest Ferrari with aplomb...

First of all the case I got was an upright version, with a 2897W Intel 8-Core processor, 64Gb's RAM, and Angelbird SSD's throughout (no hard drives). I got the extra acoustic insulation. The system is running Windows 7, and they got me a video card so I could hook up my 30 inch Apple cinema display - the 8 core 2007 Mac is now relegated to all other duties other than music ;) and I have the PC running purely Cubase / VSL etc. It's not even plugged into the internet, except for the odd quick serial number / registration process. I do my USB sticks etc, internet, email and all the rest on the Mac.

Where to start? Well this thing is gorgeous. From the outside, simple, clean and really cool. No flashy zig zaggy lights and bizarro world jazz. It's just cool, and elegant. I am a huge mac fan, but I did the math, and hardware and software wise PC's have a massive edge dollar for dollar on performance right now - you cannot beat it. It's not a matter of opinion folks so please no mac versus pc arguments I dislike MS as much as the next person, but the fact is technically they're doing the right thing for music to happen and the Macs aren't matching that right now. You can't run the same project on a PC as on a Mac with the same hardware, and, on a mac, that same hardware is either not yet available, or it's twice the price. If it was the other way around I would be as strongly advocating the Mac. I don't care either way, I'm objective about track count! So anyway I treat it like what it is, a machine to make music.

Now when I say this thing is gorgeous, I mean I think even Steve Jobs himself would have said that, and been so impressed with the internals of this thing he would have gotten a meeting with his MacPro engineers that day to discuss. I won't post photos, because there is some proprietary stuff going on in there, and I don't want to help Leon's competitors! He deserves the business! But let me say, when I got my 8core MacPro in 2007, I was well impressed with the internals, very well designed, put together, and just overall super impressive especially in it's time. I thought then, "No PC could ever match this kind of engineering and design". I was wrong! The XI Machines design, the parts and workmanship that Leon and his team have put together here is just simply awesome and a huge one or even TWO up on the current MacPro. I can honestly say I have far more confidence in this machine than I did when I first unboxed my new very expensive Mac Pro in 2007. They are really using top quality parts and cables etc in this thing. the PSU, the fans, etc. I repeat, top notch. Of course, it came with the obligatory set of Angelbird Master SSD's which are simply part and parcel of the rest of the standard of this thing - absolutely exceptional - so they are right at home in this machine. I wish I could post photos! For now you'll have to trust me about the looks and build!

It's silent - it's blazingly fast, I mean I can do *at least* 10 times (LITERALLY) more live low latency work with MIR and everything running than I ever could on my mac - without freezing tracks. Even with the latest MacPro I estimate I would get not better than (at best) half that for double the money. (Read that again I'm not exaggerating). Only on the largest projects lately have I had to freeze one or two instances of Kontact since it seems to be much less efficient than VI Pro. If you run your VI's mostly in VEPro, then performance is very high indeed even with Kontact and other VI's. It's extremely professional, I mean, it just works beautifully. I've had no problems (other than my own user errors), for example I had one mistake I made where I was shutting down the PC before VEPro had finished quitting, and eventually I lost some preferences, which were easy enough to fix up, before I learned you should let apps quit before shutting down on Windows. That's a Windows thing I guess. Apart from that very minor issue of my own doing, All VSL software (VI Pro, VE Pro, Suite, MIR) Cubase, and Windows itself have been extremely stable throughout the last four months I've been using this. Cubase runs almost flawlessly. I'm on V6 right now waiting for V7 to arrive. Of course, I keep this machine very clean. No supurflous software - none at all in fact, just the bare essentials. No internet, no other "jobs" just purely music. I can highly recommend this way of working folks. Worry free!

I keep backups of all my stuff on external drives, and the USB3 port on this is a real time saver, VERY fast. I am hoping to get one of Angelbirds external SSD's that look amazing when I have some budget. This machine has LOADS of ports. There's plenty of USB ports to plug everything into. I was able to get away without using any USB hubs, and still have about 3 ports free for hard drives, usb sticks etc including USB3. I have quite a few dongles as well, I have the SSL dongle, Waves, Cubase and VSL which I put on the one dongle quite a while ago, and an iLok. It has no firewire, which I don't need and am glad is not there. Simplicity is king! I have a 2882 interface, which is Mac only firewire, but it has AES/EBU ports, so I bought an RME AES card for the PC, and that sends digitally to the 2882 which feeds my monitors. Since I'm only in 2.1 right now, it works fine. If I want to go to 5.1 (or up to 7.1) I can buy a new interface, or buy ADAT > AES convertor box and use the ADAT lightpipe (8 channels) on the 2882 with the AES cables on the RME. There are I think 16 stereo channels of AES on the RME card which is awesome, I can hook up any AES external digital gear I need with room to spare, even if I went to 5.1 or more.

I tend to work at low latencies whenver possible, since I perform all my parts it always helps especially with string parts and other instruments with an already delayed attack to have very low latency so you can really hear what you're doing, and this thing does it with NO problem, and it was always an issue on the mac, the best I could get was 256 buffer in Cubase with a 1X buffer in VE Pro, which is too slow to perform it at your best IMO. I'm sure there are much more accomplished keyboard players out there who have "read ahead listening" haha, but after a certain point, certain material is impossible to play properly at larger latencies espescially fast material, especially if you want to record the best possible performance you can do. If you are using VEPro to host your instruments our of Cubase or whatever you're using (which I highly recommend) then you'll be able to get a HUGE live voice count on this thing especially with SSD's.

Anyway the beauty of this is there's not much more to say except that I think this has to be the absolute pinnacle of music production available today when it comes to DAW's. XI machines + VSL / VE Pro / Suite / MIR is the king of audio production and I don't only write orchestral material. I can't think of anything better and I looked at many options, including much more expensive options (no names!) they frankly and honestly didn't even come CLOSE to being deserving of standing in the same *sentence* as this machine. I would have the same confidence buying any other configuration from these guys.

Dealing with the company itself was painless, honest, and efficient. I can't recommend them highly enough. I don't live in Europe so it had to be shipped, and they handled that very well also. If I lived somewhere far away like Antartica, and there was a custom PC shop around the corner from my Igloo... I would still order from DAW Plus / XI Machines. If you're really serious about your music, this is where you want to go for your next DAW. The only way I could be happier is if this thing had a flux capaciter and could travel through time...!

Edit: I just realised that although the machine is called "XI Machines" And they are a hardware company the custom build was done and purchased through a company called DAW Plus.

XI Machines 2687W, 64Gb Ram, Win 7 SP1.
Angelbird SSD's. VIPro, VEPro/MIR,
Full Vienna Collection.
Steinberg UR22mkII USB
Posted on Sat, Apr 20 2013 18:07
by Cyril Blanc
Joined on Thu, Dec 19 2002, Paris France, Posts 2664

Do you want to a test with the "From the new world" of Anton Dvorak,

I can send you the midi file

The goal is to have it played with MIR in 5.1 and 7.1 without click and pops

All tremolos are made with notes so it is a cpu killer

MacPro 2010 12 core 2.93 ghz 64 GB Mac OS X 10.11 2722 Rocket Raid Sata III card with 8 x ssd
VSL lib on a Raid 0 of 4 x 256 GB ssd Sata III - Raid 0 of 4 x 64 GB for other libs
System on a 1 TB ssd
Audio Motu PCI system 84 ins / 64 outs
Kbd : P80 Yamaha, S88 and S25 Komplete Kontrol, DX7
I-Controls Pro, 2xMidi expression pedals
Synth : many....
---
Macbook pro Retina 2.7 ghz 16 GB
---
Mac Mini server 10.10 (server, Itunes, WEB, and Backup )
--
Logic X , Dorico, Band In A Box, ORB Composer
VSL : MIR PRO, Appassionata Strings I, Solo strings , Wind and Brass Complete, Dimension Brass, Big Band Orchestra series
Kontakt, Omnisphere, QLSO, QLSC, CS 80, Arturia V5, Maximo, Realivox Blue. CS 80 V3, The Orchestra 2, Art Conductor 5, Genesis Children Choir, Lunaris, Lacrimosa

Final Cut pro
Camera full HD
Posted on Mon, Apr 22 2013 02:34
by mpower88
Joined on Thu, Aug 12 2004, Posts 727

Hi Cyril, I don't really have time for that right now, but you can verify my claims on peformance just on normal PC's (not the custom job I have) anywhere online. Maybe later if I have a chance I'll give it a go :)

XI Machines 2687W, 64Gb Ram, Win 7 SP1.
Angelbird SSD's. VIPro, VEPro/MIR,
Full Vienna Collection.
Steinberg UR22mkII USB
Posted on Mon, Apr 22 2013 05:09
by Cyril Blanc
Joined on Thu, Dec 19 2002, Paris France, Posts 2664

Each time I have proposed to test this song every body has decline it too scare to be wrong

I have gave the song to VSL too, never had a feed back !

I have tried it with Notion SLE the result was a catastrophy

So until somebody can give me the proof of the contrary I will always said the Macpro with a sata III card and ssd is the most powerfull solution for VSL users

People with I5 and I7 are claiming to be more powerfull than a Macpro 12 core ! and each time I propose to test this song, they are so scare that they say wrong !

se also http://community.vsl.co.at/forums/p/34315/215139.aspx#215139

MacPro 2010 12 core 2.93 ghz 64 GB Mac OS X 10.11 2722 Rocket Raid Sata III card with 8 x ssd
VSL lib on a Raid 0 of 4 x 256 GB ssd Sata III - Raid 0 of 4 x 64 GB for other libs
System on a 1 TB ssd
Audio Motu PCI system 84 ins / 64 outs
Kbd : P80 Yamaha, S88 and S25 Komplete Kontrol, DX7
I-Controls Pro, 2xMidi expression pedals
Synth : many....
---
Macbook pro Retina 2.7 ghz 16 GB
---
Mac Mini server 10.10 (server, Itunes, WEB, and Backup )
--
Logic X , Dorico, Band In A Box, ORB Composer
VSL : MIR PRO, Appassionata Strings I, Solo strings , Wind and Brass Complete, Dimension Brass, Big Band Orchestra series
Kontakt, Omnisphere, QLSO, QLSC, CS 80, Arturia V5, Maximo, Realivox Blue. CS 80 V3, The Orchestra 2, Art Conductor 5, Genesis Children Choir, Lunaris, Lacrimosa

Final Cut pro
Camera full HD
Posted on Mon, Apr 22 2013 06:53
by woy
Joined on Sun, Oct 31 2004, Monaco, Posts 41

 I agree with all your comments regarding the speed and quality of these products. I have been so impressed that I have bought a second machine from XI_Machines with AngelBird SSDs for my second studio. These products -like VSL - are  simplyin a different class. Since I getting this equipment, I don't worry about latency/RAM/ or indeed anything else to do with the hardware which is actually what I wanted to achieve. Not being "a techy" I am more interested in using equipment simply as a means of making music-not an occupation in itself. The power and speed "is sufficient" to do everything and that is all I ask or want.

Regards,

woy

Posted on Tue, Apr 23 2013 21:14
by DAW PLUS
Joined on Wed, Nov 16 2011, Posts 9
Thank you Miklos, for your review. The team is really happy it has exceeded your expectations. Thank you as well, Roy!


But why anybody would be "afraid to give feedback" to a file might have to do with the fact that it is not a competition.

Most users here are to make music and make a living with that. I know Miklos has tons of other things to do, and as long
as our workstation is doing its job, he has no need to waste his time with benchmarking.



Regarding the benchmarking: other than synthetic tests, it is hard and time intensive to do honest comparable benchmarking, especially between different operating systems.

There are lots of parameters to set, the host has to be the same with the same settings, and the plugins of course as
well.



Probably the most fair benchmark would be using ProTools with VEPro on the same system, since it is the only cross-

platform DAW which shows similar performance on Mac and PC, but only if the buffer is not lower than 256 samples, which is
too high for most composers in the writing stage.





Regarding the fastest system: the dual E5-2687W is currently the fastest "normal" system which is available for composers,

and frankly, it is way ahead of the dual X5670 which is in the MacPro 12 core 2010 (or even the X5690 for that matter) because
those chips are 2 generations newer - and Intel made a huge performance jump with it.


Also, you might have heard of www.dawbench.com, which shows that OSX does usually not perform better. In fact, on the exact same MacPro, every cross-platform application shows (much) better low latency results on Windows than on Mac. The only situation where an application runs better on Mac is Pro Tools, as long as the buffer is set to 256 samples or higher.



But that is not the point. OSX and Apple are very popular, a lot of things are working really well, lots of audio people are enjoying it for lots of years. Because of this I am not trying to push people into one direction. However, when it comes to low latency performance, Apple is far behind at this moment.
Leon
Project Manager Audio
www.xi-machines.com
Posted on Wed, Apr 24 2013 02:00
by Cyril Blanc
Joined on Thu, Dec 19 2002, Paris France, Posts 2664
DAWPlus wrote:
T

Those bench mark are dated from 2010 with 2009 Macpro and 10.5.8 and 10.6  !!!!!!!!

Also Cubase is knowed not to be very well written on Mac

The only solution that I have proposed MANY times is to play that song with Logic and MIR on Mac and Cubase and MIR on PC

As MIR and this song are both CPU  and I/O killers 

MacPro 2010 12 core 2.93 ghz 64 GB Mac OS X 10.11 2722 Rocket Raid Sata III card with 8 x ssd
VSL lib on a Raid 0 of 4 x 256 GB ssd Sata III - Raid 0 of 4 x 64 GB for other libs
System on a 1 TB ssd
Audio Motu PCI system 84 ins / 64 outs
Kbd : P80 Yamaha, S88 and S25 Komplete Kontrol, DX7
I-Controls Pro, 2xMidi expression pedals
Synth : many....
---
Macbook pro Retina 2.7 ghz 16 GB
---
Mac Mini server 10.10 (server, Itunes, WEB, and Backup )
--
Logic X , Dorico, Band In A Box, ORB Composer
VSL : MIR PRO, Appassionata Strings I, Solo strings , Wind and Brass Complete, Dimension Brass, Big Band Orchestra series
Kontakt, Omnisphere, QLSO, QLSC, CS 80, Arturia V5, Maximo, Realivox Blue. CS 80 V3, The Orchestra 2, Art Conductor 5, Genesis Children Choir, Lunaris, Lacrimosa

Final Cut pro
Camera full HD
Posted on Wed, Apr 24 2013 06:33
by DAW PLUS
Joined on Wed, Nov 16 2011, Posts 9
The discussion around these benchmarks have evolved to a point that there has not been a significant change in either OS performance to claim a major difference from these results.


Cubase indeed performs worse on Mac, so does every other cross-platform DAW software. That is some kind of indication if you ask me.


Logic has a fantastic hybrid engine which uses a high playback buffer as long as no tracks are record enabled and actually performing, which means that on playback, you get an amazing performance since even though the buffer is set at 32samples, it actually uses a buffer of 1024 samples - a value I haven't used in 6 years. A great workflow improvement, but this also confirms my point on why benchmarking is so hard to do.


Feel free to send me an email with some files, screenshots and buffer settings so I can show you what various of our systems perform, but note that this is time consuming and not very high on our priority list, so don't expect a quick reply.


Note that Í still don't see this as a competition. Many people love Mac/OSX and will never change, which is fine. But please respect that fact that many people (especially professionals) are not interested in a competition regarding voice count or MB/s of their SSDs. Either a system does the job, or it doesn't.
Leon
Project Manager Audio
www.xi-machines.com
You cannot post new threads in this forum.
You cannot reply to threads in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.