Great service. Flexible options. Reliable
workmanship. Top-end components.
Tested for audio applications.
Pricier than your average home or
$2,499, plus additional charges for
extra OS options, pcaudiolabs.com
What you don’t see in the standard-looking desktop form factor is that the
RokBox is significantly quieter than off-the-shelf PC towers we’ve worked
with. Swappable OS drives let you work in multiple Windows versions.
When it comes to computers that run
Windows, my needs are definitely not mainstream.
Since you’re a musician too, your
requirements for a PC might be a little off
the beaten path as well, depending on
what creative endeavors you undertake.
These days, off-the-shelf PCs are certainly
beguiling, with their impressive processor
speeds and reasonable prices. Often, however,
such bargains lack features we in
creative professions need, such as hard
drives that are large, fast, and reliable; lots
of connectivity options; and rugged construction,
to name a few.
PCAudioLabs specializes in creating and
configuring PCs for audio and video professionals.
While they do have particular models
that consist of certain cases and configurations,
they’re more a service than a retailer.
You call them up, tell them what kind of work
you do, and they’ll come up with options that
may or may not be on the price sheet.
I did just that. I described my typical
workload, of which this month is a great
example. One of my big jobs involves the
soundtrack of video that must be edited
with a program that runs only on Windows
7 (W7) — the 64-bit version. Another task
is to design a website using a program that
also requires W7; the virtual server program
I prefer for hosting my staging site is
not yet ready for 64-bit operation, so I also
need W7 32-bit. One of my recording jobs
for the month involves multitracking, but
being that I’m in mid-project, I haven’t yet
updated my ASIO audio interface and
DAW program of choice to Windows 7
operation, so I need a machine that runs
Vista. Then there’s my favorite audio editor
that I just plain love to use, but which I’ve
neglected to upgrade for some reason. It
runs only on Windows XP.
In response, PCAudioLabs sent me a
RokBox Elite with some Custom Shop modifications
for my specific needs. It has swappable
system drives for the OS and program
data (I don’t have room for one additional
computer, much less four), large and fast
internal drives (one to host large sample
libraries and one to accept newly recorded
audio and video, 465GB each), plenty of
connectors for FireWire and USB2.0 (I hate
crawling around to the back of my desk
every time I have a new device to install), a
healthy amount of RAM (4GB base), and
screamin’ processing (eight-core, 2.93GHz
Intel Core i7). The biggest deal, though, is
the attention they give to the OS installation:
They strip out anything that’s not absolutely
necessary for the optimal performance of
audio software. Off-the-shelf home and
office computers, by contrast, are often
encumbered with huge amounts of
How has the RokBox performed in my
OS-swapping workflow? Nearly flawlessly.
The first drive bay locked the drive with a
key, and the drive connectors were a little
unreliable. I called PCAudioLabs, and the
next day, I had a new tray, with a locking
knob, rather than a key, which has
performed great ever since. Its operation is
quiet, though I do need to cover it with baffles
when I track solo vocals in the same
room, in case the fan comes on. With USB
and FireWire ports front and back, it’s as
easy to reconfigure my studio as it is to
change the OS drive; which is to say, fast.
Multitrack audio recording and editing,
video ingest and editing, serious website
programming with lots of Photoshop and
Flash editing — on every one of my jobs,
and on every version of Windows, the
RokBox has rocked!