Want to build a PC for Music Production in 2020? We show you how…
Music production is a specialized aspect of digital media processing. To set up a home studio for music production, you need a comprehensive guide on how to build a PC for Music production in 2020, the audio hardware components you must get and also software options.
Music producers including DJs, studio engineers, and recording professionals all need specific PCs that will handle the audio processing satisfactorily. This requires knowledge of the right PC hardware for the best results. This guide gets you up and running in no time if you follow it faithfully. So let’s dig in.
- Want to build a PC for Music Production in 2020? We show you how…
- Budget for a Music Production PC
- The most important components you need to build a PC for Music production in 2020
- Recommended Music Production PC Builds
- Other Important Audio Equipment you may need
- External Digital Audio Converters & Amplifiers
- USB Audio Interface
- What about Software?
Budget for a Music Production PC
One of the major factors that will influence the type of configuration you will go for is your budget. Even if you desire the best configuration available, your budget must come into play. That’s why we’ve made provision for every category of builders – the budget builder, mid-range and high-end.
The budget category is those who are
cash-strapped and want something basic. They lay much emphasis on getting the
most basic hardware that will still get the job done, without having to pay a
premium price. In this category are students, newbies in music production, and
casual music hobbyists. The cost range is up to $700.
The mid-range category is those that have extra cash to spare. This group includes those that have some experience in the business, students, and enthusiasts. They are not enthusiastic about the latest hardware, but will rather buy previous generation components because of lower prices. They want the best performance but don’t want to buy the highest rated components. Budgets in this range stand at 700-$1500. For the high-end category, money isn’t an issue. They want the best rated and best-performing hardware and are prepared to pay for it. Budgets in this category are from 1500 and above.
For the purpose of this article, we actually recommend AMD processors over Intel because AMD processors offer the best in terms of performance and price. This is not to say that Intel processors aren’t good enough, but when you look at the price-to-performance ratio, you’d realize AMD is your best bet. We are going to be providing our recommendations for both platforms. It is left for you to make your choice of hardware for your music PC build. After all, there’s such a thing as fandom.
The most important components you need to build a PC for Music production in 2020
Audio processing is CPU intensive, just like similar processing workloads like video editing. Here are some guidelines you need to know about the processor when you need to build a pc for music production. Modern CPU’s are more powerful and provide better performance in apps. Since you want to build a PC for music production, you must be aware that the CPU is the most important component. It must be at least a 4-core chip. However, 8-cores or more is even better.
This is because modern music software and synthesizers are programmed to take advantage of the extra cores available to speed up your projects. Therefore, depending on the complexity of your projects, the more cores you can lay your hands on, the better. Modern music synthesizer software such as Fruity Loops, Cakewalk Sonar, Reason, Pro Tools, Acid, and Cubase all benefit immensely from a multi-core CPU for processing the audio beats and mixing.
The 2nd most important piece of hardware is RAM. This is because the responsiveness of your PC is dependent on how fast your RAM is. Also, you can load multiple projects simultaneously if you have loads of RAM. You need as much RAM as your motherboard can accommodate. This is true whether you want to build a PC for music production, or for other media-related stuff. On the budget category, at least 8GB of RAM is enough for most tasks. High-end builds will take as much as 64GB of RAM for maximum multitasking and processing speed.
As much as your RAM capacity matters, your RAM speed is also an important factor. Music processing and heavy multitasking need loads of fast RAM, at least in the 3000MHz speed range. Just be sure that your motherboard can support the speed specification of your choice RAM.
though optical drives are going out of fashion, thanks to a preponderance of
online media streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, good old DVD’s and Blu
Ray discs are still an invaluable method of data storage and archiving for
music production professionals.
is especially important given the long shelf life of optical discs. However,
you can still use optical discs to deliver projects to your clients. So we
included optical drives for each of our recommended builds.
have basically 2 options.
- Primary storage
In this category, there are SATA SSDs and NVMe SSD drives.
SATA SSDs are limited in speed to a maximum of 550MB/s. However, NVMe drives
can achieve speeds as high as 3,500MB/s. It’s quite clear that NVMe drives are
the way to go for super-fast storage, though they are more expensive than SATA
For your boot drive, obviously, an SSD is more than adequate for fast processing and file handling. You can use a SATA SSD or an NVMe SSD for your boot drive. You can also use any of these for your cache drive (this is a special drive you can use for application caching).
- Secondary storage
The good old traditional mechanical hard drive is the only option in this area. You don’t need the fastest hard disks for this purpose, so a spinning hard drive is quite adequate. Your secondary storage is the drive where you store your user files, which include ongoing project files and completed project files. You need lots of storage space to store your beats, as WAV files can eat up a lot of storage space. You also need a large traditional hard drive for storing your processed music files.
users might want to use RAID configuration because of its better data
protection advantage, in which case traditional spinning hard drives are pretty
much handy for this purpose.
Most motherboards have good audio sub-systems built-in. This is not adequate for most users. A dedicated sound card is preferred in most cases. The motherboard must also support plenty of SATA ports and USB ports to enable maximum connectivity options. Avoid anything other than full ATX boards, because you may be restricted as per connectivity options.
graphics card doesn’t play any role in music production, because it is mainly
designed to handle pixel processing, and then relay the same information to the
monitor for output. In most of our recommended builds, we stick with integrated
However, if there is no option for integrated graphics, we recommend a low-end graphics card that is just adequate for normal Windows operations, nothing fancy. Unless you want to use your PC for other things such as gaming, apart from music mixing and beat synthesis, then you can go ahead and get a graphics card of your choice.
You obviously need a sound card. There are various options available. Stick to our recommendations in the table below. Follow the table below for budget, mid-range and high-end music production PC build options. Each column holds a list of components for each build; this is to guide you properly. All links point to Amazon US.
Please note that qualifying purchases earn us a small commission. This is to support the work we are doing.
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Recommended Music Production PC Builds
Take your pick from 3 options – Budget, Mid-range and High-end builds
BUDGET AMD MUSIC PC BUILD
MID-RANGE AMD MUSIC PC BUILD
HIGH-END AMD MUSIC PC BUILD
Take your pick from 3 options – Budget, Mid-range and High-end builds
BUDGET INTEL MUSIC PC BUILD
MID-RANGE INTEL MUSIC PC BUILD
HIGH-END INTEL MUSIC PC BUILD
Other Important Audio Equipment you may need
External Digital Audio Converters & Amplifiers
Your PC sound card is quite adequate for audio processing, depending on the features and specifications. However, you might want to install external digital audio converters because of the simple fact that your internal sound card is subject to interference. These pieces of equipment are indispensable if you want to build a PC for music production in 2020.
We’ve selected a range
of the best DACs for this purpose and here they are.
This is an affordable yet powerful DAC for the budget music producer. Don’t be fooled though by its diminutive size and cheap price; the Q3 is loaded with features any decent producer would appreciate. It can connect to just about any device, from smartphones to TVs.
In addition, it can process up to 24-bits and 96KHz with a high signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion. It is also USB powered with a low power footprint.
The Modi Multibit DAC delivers outstanding features in a little package. It features Schiit’s unique digital filter which delivers an “analog-sounding” audio. It has good dynamics, a wide range, bass with some “length” and resonance, clean, sparkly highs, plus a well-defined midrange.
options include Coaxial SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, and USB inputs, and single-ended
The Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus gives you world-class digital-to-analog conversion, without a hefty price tag. It is powered by Twin Wolfson 24-Bit DACs for superior audio processing.
It’s built to work with
any kind of rig. Besides, it’s got both coaxial and optical digital inputs, so
you can take the digital output of your interface, or you can hook it right up
to your computer via USB and take the feed straight from your DAW.
The controls come quite handy for just about any type of fine-tuning you want, from the big volume adjustment knob to the power button and input switching button. In addition, it can connect wirelessly to your PC.
USB Audio Interface
You are going to need this piece of equipment if you are going to be recording your own audio on your PC before editing it. Here’s our pick.
Budget USB Audio Interface
Just about anybody wanting to record audio on a PC can easily get a USB mic. But if you’re a serious music producer, it’s best to settle for something more. The Behringer U-Phoria is a nice budget option. It comes in 4 variants, 1-channel, 2-channel, 4-channel, and 8-channel.
It features 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution and output that gives the more expensive brands a run for their money.
Mid-Range USB Audio Interface
The 8i6 has superb sample rates and frequency response. It comes in 3 variants and has a quick start tool to get you up and running in no time. An add-on you might appreciate is the bundled Pro Tools suite of software.
High-End USB Audio Interface
The Apollo is pricey, we know, but the price tag is justifiable.
It’s loaded with a host of features you’d need to make premium audio recordings on your PC. Besides, it can work on both Windows and Mac, thanks to its Thunderbolt interface. It also comes with 14 UAD plugins and other features that enable you to produce classic analog sound.
If you want the best,
go for it. You won’t regret it.
For beginners and those on a tight budget, this is a great choice that can compete with more expensive models in terms of performance.
Audio Technica’s AT2020
is a nice mid-range option, at just a hundred bucks. It delivers better audio
fidelity and also has better sensitivity, thanks to the fact that it is a
This top of the line mic is a solid performer any day. It continues to be the preferred choice of serious studios at under 500 USD. It delivers legendary sound and unmatched performance, albeit at a hefty price tag.
At this point, you pretty much have all you need to build a PC for music production in 2020 and set up your studio. You’ve assembled the components and purchased additional hardware as we recommended above. So what next?
The next thing to do is to plug them all in together to get your music production PC up and running. You can follow this link for a step by step guide on building your own PC. Other build guides worth checking out include Photo Editing PC build, Graphic Design PC build, Gaming PC build, and Video Editing PC build. You can also try our PC Build Calculator
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