Worth upgrading from an 8350 for Audio Production?

Hey all, I'm thinking about upgrading my PC from an 8350 to one of the new Kaby Lake chips or possibly Ryzen. Which one isn't my question. I'm wondering if it would really be worth it to spend the near $700 it would cost to change my board cpu and ram. I understand the new chips are better than the 8350 but I are they that much better given the price? I've seen loads of benches for gaming and what not but there aren't any benchmarks for Audio Production. Any one with some experience in that wanna help out?

My main work load is focused on audio production and using virtual machines for things. I plan on keeping my 8350 system around (why throw out a perfectly good chip and 8gb ram) and use it as a linux system for fun and such.

Thanks in advance!

I think that it depends on how much you value doing audio production. I have a friend that upgraded from an 8350 to a Skylake for audio production and is pleased with the results.

1 Like

If you have pro tools, open it up and run the dverb test and report back with your results.

What kind of production do you do? Music; post?

Do you run tons of tracks and plugins?

Is your machine sitting right next to you while you work? Kaby lake is fast, but produces tons of heat, which means noise.

If you're happy with what you have (no problems), stick with it. Otherwise, I say grab a 5930k or an old Xeon for cheap. More threads are more effective in an audio workflow than higher clocks. Realistically, any CPU with 8+ threads from the last few years will handle 90% of what most people do in a DAW. if you're posting a 90 min film, get something beefy. Otherwise, you're probably good.

I dont use Pro Tools. As for types of production it's mainly Recording and Post. My personal sessions are dozens of tracks if not more. Loaded with plugins etc... I do have one problem with my current system and that's the 970 chipset causing lots of pops a clicks in some tracks, I guess that's a common issue with AMD stuff for audio?

And thank you I'll look into some Xeons and the 5930k. I likely wont be building anything right now, I'm going to wait and see if Ryzen ends up being good for my needs (or slightly cheaper). You also answered my main question as to what matters more, clock speeds or threads. I figured it was threads, thanks for confirming.

Thank you I'll keep that in mind.

if you are doing vm's then the more cores the better. just jump onto ryzen. same ipc with a few hundred mghz lower clock speed and twice the cores.

1 Like

That's why I'm waiting, I still do a little bit of gaming which is the only reason I haven't just jumped on the Xeon train. If the Ryzen chip is actually going to be priced decently I might end up going that way. I really can't complain about my 8350 at the time for $170 dollars it was real hard to beat.

If you have some large projects to mix down.
Then i suppose it might be worth upgrading to a cpu with more cores / threads.
But of course it will all depends on how you particular software utilizes multiple cores.

I've been having the same audio issue with my system using less tracks and I guess it's just the sound card that's not able too keep up with all the plugins and effects because my 4790K it's in the 15 to 20% usage at best during playback and general mixing, so it's doing more than well. Maybe is a way better investment buying a pretty powerful sound card for now and start to save up again until Ryzen is out and, if it's good enough, will take Intel's prices down too.

I think your audio stack is the main issue.

I use Reaper for most of my day-to-day work. It does work with multi-threading as far as I'm aware but some of my VSTs I'm not so sure about. I'd Imagine Waves and Toontrack plugins would utilizes the extra cores, but the other stuff might not. From the looks of my monitoring stuff I can see all the cores working when sessions are open.

As for my next CPU I'm looking at Ryzen or one of the 6 core 12 thread Intel chips. Like I said before I do a little bit of gaming on the weekends and such. I was really interested in a Xeon but I think my money would be best spent elsewhere.

The value proposition really, really depends on how software focused your workflow is. If you do a lot of software DSP, eschew hardware samplers/instruments, etc for VSTs and the like, or do stuff in csound or puredata, I'd say it'd be worth it with a few caveats:

Avoid processors with SMT, or disable it.

Go for the highest clockspeed that fits your budget and won't add a lot of noise to the ambient environment via cooling (intel stock heatsinks are bad for this reason)

Nvidia products are a no-no because of potential DPC problems introduced in their drivers.

But that's just my 2 cents.

also, note that FX chips are useless for gaming VMs if that is a potential use case for you, because they cause persistent micro-stuttering in any graphics-intensive game. same goes for older APUs. fine for other stuff though

Wow thanks, that is some good advice. Yes most of my work is digital, about the only thing analog is the few times someone sends me a guitar track that isn't just the DI. Otherwise I end up having to use loads of VSTs and all that jazz. It's not what I prefer but hey that's what they pay me to do. I'd love to get an actual recorded drum kit or something but typically it's just a bunch of MIDI and what not.

1 Like

As an EE-type nerd, I tend to value hardware solutions over software any day of the week, but Music is just a hobby for me, so I totally get the utility of the software side of things. I'd say unless you're interfacing with, like, a Harrison console or doing real-time spatial simulation, You won't get that much from more than 4 cores. Music stuff (with the exception of a vanishingly small few DAWs) is still almost exclusively single-threaded, and really only scales with single threaded clock and ipc. Go with an unlocked i5 or whatever AMD puts out without SMT for a cost effective upgrade. Built a few Production systems in my day for friends and myself, and a Haswell i5 is probably your best bang for buck at present.

I'm fairly certain that Reaper will use at least 16 Cores or threads but I've honestly thought about switching to pro tools in the near future. I'm also just interested in that for the longevity of my system. I'm not interested in upgrading all the time, So I'm probably not going with anything less than an i7. Price isn't really to much of a problem (although I'm not going to buy a $1,4k i7) I have all the stuff necessary other than the CPU, mobo, and RAM.

I do use some physical gear that isn't software as well, another reason I haven't looked at the i5. I plan on filing out my studio more this year with more gear etc etc, the computer being the first upgrade on the list. In fact I think I am going to be getting a second axeFX and other stuff. Until looking around the room right now I didn't realize exactly how much hardware I have... I agree with you on hardware solutions though, if the chance to use it is there I usually do something about turning physical knobs and pressing buttons just feels right ya know?

In linux, you typically use a pseudo-RT kernel these days. That means that your prime objective in terms of system performance is core count. The more the better. An FX8350 will outperform any intel consumer grade solution including kaby lake with great ease when it comes to audio production, because of the lower latency on a linux system.

Most people that talk about hardware for audio production talk about commercial software consoles, because there is still a lot of brand arse kissing amongst so-called creatives. Professional linux-based systems will even run on ARM boards no problem, the CPU isn't all that important for running plugins. Take a look at professional systems like Salzbrenner Stagetech and the likes. They don't require Kaby Lake i7's lol. In Linux, you can also scale cheap hardware from DSP chips to simple ARM SoC's, you can make an AMD GPU (and to a certain extent an Intel iGPU, but those are pretty worthless) work for you. Popular modern dedicated plugin hosts like for instance the MOD Devices Dual and Quad MOD, use a simple ARMv7 SoC, the Korg Kaossilator is a simple Android app, etc... even on an old Intel Core Duo you basically have all the horsepower you need for even pretty intense audio productions in Linux.

It's far better to spend that money on a better preamp, a dedicated strip, a better audio interface, or a real instrument or mic.

1 Like

I've never seen a post-sandy-bridge high end i5 get maxed out or cause issues on reasonable, sane workflows. also, the single threaded IPC difference between FX and skylake will be a huge boon, and with a platform budget of 700 I'd say get what you need, and not much more. if you interface with a lot of hardware as it stands, even budget newer intel chipsets blow 990FX out of the water for fast peripheral connectivity.

Also: note that SMT only causes issues for live or other real-time intensive edge cases, so a mainstream i7 is still a completely viable option if you aren't performing or doing emulation/simulation on the fly. I know reaper is multithreaded, but the VSTs it hosts etc are not. You generally do not need more than 4 threads for any mainstream audio application.

This is quite a rant mate. Everyone here knows about linux's role in embedded audio stuff, but we're talking about windows music editing/production on the desktop. Changing your entire workflow and software choices is not worth a bit more room on the latency front. You're right that DAW work isn't intensive enough to warrant anything outside of mainstream chipsets, but the rest just isn't relevant to the conversation.

1 Like

OP mentions use of linux though... what makes you think the OP isn't interested in upgrading to Linux altogether or isn't using Linux already like everyone should for production. Also under linux you have to change your workflow less than under software consoles, because in commercial software, compatibility and the need of commercial closed source software vendors to make you do paid upgrades, dictates a frequent breaking of users' workflow and hardware compatibility. On top of that, any and all music or media files that a user produces on a commercial software console like Windows, gets "tagged" by the operating system in conjunction with the Intel malware on the Intel CPU, and that's probably not the best way to go for content producers in general. Did you know that your beloved commercial software console and proprietary malware will prevent your own content from running on a non-malware-infected system? (proof of that can be found here: https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Linux-Tueftler-wollen-Intels-Management-Engine-abschalten-3596075.html, after removing the built-in attack vector malware code of Intel ME from the hardware, one of the frequent complaints was that owned and self-produced media under Windows wouldn't play any more). Still think it's irrelevant, mate?

1 Like

Ya I don't think I'll be maxing out the i5 but I don't like to upgrade my PC too often. Plus I'd like the extra threads for work with virtual machines (not audio related but work stuff). If I'm going to spend money I'll get the best stuff I can for what I have, if I wanted another budget PC I'd just keep my 8350 hangin around haha. I'll keep that in mind though, if I see a good deal on an i5 I may go that route who knows.