- Band Management
- Home Recording
- Live Sound
- Best Instruments
- New Music & Video
We met up with the folks from Slick Audio back at NAMM in January, and were excited to see a company focused on making great PCs aimed squarely at the audio market. For too long, home studios and even commercial spaces have had to piece together systems, or make do with off-the-rack components that sometimes worked well together, and sometimes didn’t. When you want to focus on your latest session, worrying about fitting together a powerful system to run your DAW is the last thing you probably want to worry about.▼ Article continues below ▼
Out of the box, we were impressed with the rugged, tank-like construction of the Slick Audio T2000 tower we got on loan from Slick Audio. We had a chance to speak with CEO Jim Slick several times on the phone during the course of our evaluation, and there are a few things worth noting about this particular unit. For starters, even though we didn’t test these features, the OS itself has been optimized by Slick’s team specifically to run DAW applications smoother and to handle core audio functionality and processing. It must also be mentioned that these machines are Windows-only, so if you have a certain affinity for a DAW that runs on Mac, or if you’ve invested heavily in Mac software, take that into consideration.
The processing power of the T2000 was robust enough to handle a number of killer tests that usually break our office’s Mac mini. Tons of plug-ins? No prob – in fact no slowdowns to note, at all. Lots of tracks? Like, LOTS of tracks? Got you covered there, too. At NAMM, we saw Slick run up to 100 tracks of audio smoothly in their DAW demo. While we didn’t process quite that many tacks at once, it was clear even after a few dozen that the machine was built to laugh at our attempts to break it. Dare we say it’s the Ivan Drago of audio PCs? Even our secret weapon “dark MIDI” files were no match. Which is a shame, really, because we kinda like seeing them blow up our Mac’s brain.
We also learned from the folks at Slick that the tower version we tested is also available in rack form – just something to keep in mind depending on how your particular studio is set-up.
“The rack and tower differ slightly in that the rack systems offer hot swap drives when running the RAID card, where the tower does, but, must be opened to do so. Other than that, they are identical,” says CEO Jim Slick. Good to know.
As far as the guts are concerned, since everything is pretty customizable, from OS to RAM to CPU, from cooling to RAID options, we won’t really say too much about specs since yours will be different than ours (heck, our demo machine only came with 16GM of RAM, which still powered our DAW and plug-ins effortlessly, though we urge you pack us much in as you can afford, with 32GB being our minimum recommendation). After all, it’s up to you how you customize your system from the factory. What we will say, however, is that the I/O options are incredibly robust, offering every iteration of USB you can imagine, plenty of display port options, as well as audio ins and outs (in addition to what your interface will offer). The whole casing itself seems to offer sound dampening, which in a studio environment where every nuance of a mix is being scrutinized by highly trained ears, is a completely welcome addition. You don’t want your computer’s fan overpowering your ability to hear the mix, do you?
Staring at around $2000, the machines aren’t cheap, but then again they aren’t meant to be. If you want cheap, head to a big-box store and talk to a blue-shirt. If you want a real workhorse computer to power your recording studio, you owe it to yourself to make the proper investment and do it right from the start. The computer is the heart of most modern recording set-ups, and we’re pretty surprised at how little thought often goes into its purchase. We were impressed with what we saw from Slick Audio both at NAMM and in our demo machine. And we think you will be, too.
T5000 / R5000 (announced formally at Summer NAMM 2016): Dual processor machine, tons of memory, 7 full length PCIe X16 slots, major video card options … this is a killer of all PC’s.
T4000 / R4000 – Similar to 2000 series but more CPU, video, and memory options
T1000 – ‘Wii’ style PC (size and form factor), super quiet, 1 PCIe slot.
M500 – Very small, fan-less PC. Dead quiet. Ethernet, built in wireless, and USB only
powerhouse CPU, customized OS for recording, silent, incredibly customizable.
starting at $1980