StoneWave Pro Studio i7 Workstation PC

Complete|Mobile Systems
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October 12, 2009 by Mike Chin

Product Pro Studio i7
Workstation PC
Manufacturer StoneWave Productions
MSRP Starts at US$2,250

StoneWave Productions is a US system integrator focused exclusively on Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and other electronic products for digital audio recording. Digital Audio Stations dominate audio recording studios today, whether they're based on PCs or Macs, or monster racks of dedicated electronics that only huge commercial studios with mega-stars can afford. Analog audio recording with LP vinyl records as the final output is probably the only non-digital niche to survive in this industry. In amateur home recording studios, run mostly by musicians and their friends, Macs and PCs rule. Considering the current state of the commercial music industry, it's likely that this decentralized "cottage industry" is the growth sector in audio recording.

What exactly is a DAW? It is a system to record, edit, and play back audio recordings using digital processing. In general, a DAW is a combination of multi-track recording software and high quality audio hardware — especially analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters — in a PC. Serious software and soundcard suitable for DAW use began appearing for Apple systems in the late 1980s, with equivalent products for Windows PCs coming a few years later.

The Pro Studio i7 sample that StoneWave Productions sent for us to review cannot be accurately described as a DAW because it came with no audio-specific software. The PSi7 also did not incorporate any audio recording hardware, other than the usual sound card integrated in the motherboard. This practice of calling a rack chassis PC a DAW is not uncommon among vendors of digital audio PC gear, however. To StoneWave's credit, the hardware is serious enough for the machine to be considered a workstation. Cakewalk Sonar pro audio production software and hardware are also offered as preinstalled options on the order/configure page for the PSi7.

As its moniker makes clear, the Pro Studio i7 has an Intel i7 CPU— and a high-end motherboard from Gigabyte at its core. The PSi7 is promoted not only as a powerful platform for audio recording, but also for being Energy Star approved, eco-friendly and extremely quiet.


A 44-pound 4U box with rack mount handles, the Pro Studio i7 is a big PC by any standard.

StoneWave Productions Pro Studio i7 Feature Highlights
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
First DAW to be Energy Star approved (category C, workstation), 80 Plus Bronze Certified and RoHS compliant
None of these qualifications are unique. There are 47 products on the ES approved workstation list, at least 100 power supplies have 80 Plus Bronze efficiency approval, and most internationally distributed electronics are RoHS compliant, mandatory in the EU and parts of Asia. It's only StoneWave's claim of the PS i7 as a DAW which allows the use of the word "first".
Sleek, intelligent design with aluminum doors and steel SECC heat dissipating chassis built for the toughest of road and studio conditions
It is a nice looking, sturdy chassis. Unless the hot components are clamped directly or via heatpipes to the chassis, however, heat dissipation will come only from forced airflow.
Able to maintain a silent noise level due to its 0 dBA graphics card, 10 dBA Noctua fans and some of the quietest hard drives. We'll find out.
Heart of the system is an Intel quad-core i7 cooled by a direct touch heatsink with dual 10 dBA Noctua fans, running an audio tuned XP or Vista OS.
OK, but an "audio tuned" OS sounds like marketingspeak.
StoneWave Eco-Certified to ensure long lifespan (min 5.7 years), less heat and greater efficiencies, saves you hundreds on your electric bill, and helps the Earth by reducing waste, hazardous materials and lowering carbon emissions.
The green claims are based on Energy Star approval, which require everything else. The product is not EPEAT registered.
Ultra Silence Kit - Fanless power supply and HDD ecnclosures
This is an option added to achieve the lowest noise.

StoneWave Productions Pro Studio i7 Specifications
CPU
Intel Core i7-920
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R
Chipset Intel GS45 Express (ICH9M-E)
Graphics
ATI HD4350
Memory
6GB DDR-3 1333Mhz RAM (3x2GB)
Storage
- OS: 500GB WD GreenPower
- Audio: 1TB WD GreenPower
- Both drives in noise-reduction enclosures (part of Ultra Silence kit)
Optical Drive DVD±RW/CD-RW w/LightScribe
Chassis
Aluminum Doors, Industrial Steel SECC Roadworthy Chassis
Cooling
Xigmatek "Direct Touch" CPU Heatsink with SureLock mounting and 2 Noctua Silent fans at 10dbA. 2 Noctua Case fans at 10dbA
USB Ports
11 Total (8 Rear, 3 Front)
Firewire Ports
3 Total (2 Rear, 1 Front) TI Chipset
Expansion Slots
2x PCIe x16, 2x PCIe x1, 2x PCI, 1x PCIe x4
LAN
High Speed Gigabit Ethernet (on motherboard)
Card Reader
3.5" Combo Card Reader and I/O Bay
Operating System
MS Windows XP
Power Supply*
Fanless ATX (part of Ultra Silence kit)
Operating System
Vista Home Premium SP1 or Windows XP 32-bit
(Free Windows 7 Upgrade)
Dimensions & Weight* (amazingly, not provided; we measured)
w/ handles: 19"W x 21"D x 7"H
w/o handles: 16.75"W x 21"D x 7"H
44 lbs as delivered
* These items were not explicitly detailed in StoneWave's documentation at time of writing. More details will be provided after we get under the hood.

NOTE: There may be discrepancies between the specifcation details reported here and the specs at StoneWave's web site, because the company was making adjustments to the product even as the testing and review was being conducted.



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