[LAU] Box under £400

Robin Gareus robin at gareus.org
Wed May 30 15:58:51 UTC 2012

On 05/30/2012 03:09 PM, Sciss wrote:
> hi,
> I don't know if this is the best place to ask, as it's more of a hardware question...
> I will need to get a good + cheap + reliable machine to sound installations. I can invest _max_ £400 (EUR 500) and I need to get hold of the machine latest by August. Unless a miracle happens and a new Mac Mini model is announced, dropping the prices of current models by at least £150, I am looking for something comparable of the i5 2.3 GHz Mac Min, Linux based.
> It can't be desktop size, it really should be a portable thing, size factor/ weight not much larger than first gen Mac Mini.
> The nettops seem all underpowered for computation expensive realtime apps. I came across this : http://www.zotacusa.com/zbox-giga-id72-plus.html -- but seems like a new model or so, can't find any retailers or pricing info, at least not in the UK.
> Minimum specs would be i3 2 GHz, 4 GB RAM, 100 GB HD. Will be audio only, so I guess graphics card doesn't matter. And of course, it needs to run Linux audio -- my stuff will use SuperCollider and various things on the Java VM.

ASUS EEEbox comes to mind.

If you like bare-bones: search for "Advantech Single Board Computers".
They come without HDD, w/o power-supply and w/o case (it's not a "box"
per se), but there are powerful models available that meet your specs
and even with PS, HDD and case will be within in your budget.


I'm just setting up an installation using a PCM-9363D-S8A1E (Atom CPU
64bit, 1.8GHz, 2 cores [4 w/hyperthreading], 4 GB RAM) + USB2-Audio
Presonus 1818VSL: 8 channel audio I/O -- jackd runs stable at "-p64
-r48000 -n2"  ~6ms round-trip latency with debian/wheezy's RT-kernel.

> How about audio interfaces? I guess there is no chance I can connect a MOTU 828 Mk II to any of these boxes? 

Firewire is rare these days. Besides: "MOTU is hostile towards Linux"
[http://www.ffado.org/?q=node/63] :)

How many channels do you need?

> The Z-Box looks interesting saying that it has 8-channels digital audio output via HDMI. I have no clue how to get that to 8 analog line signals, but maybe there is a cheap way? Will there be a problem getting Jack to talk to this kind of interface?
> Thanks for your suggestions, I hope it's not off topic!
> Best,
> .h.h.

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