Hi everyone! New to this forum (an introduction)

Hi all!

My name is Jason Aquilina. I’m 48 years old, with over 25 years experience as a semi-pro producer and DJ. A number of factors over the past 5 years has constrained me to quit the music business and return to music making as a hobby, which is no bad thing at all.

Over the last three years, I had amassed a number of hardware synths, as I can’t hack gawping at a monitor again, except for arrangement/mixdown applications. However, I do miss only one thing, and that is U-He’s Diva VSTi, which IMO is the best VSTi on the market. I miss it so much that, over the past few months, I’ve been scratching my head as to how to incorporate it within my setup as a standalone synth of sorts. After a bit of research, I seem to have whittled it down to three items: an Intel NUC, a touchscreen, and Cantabile to run Diva - all of which I’m relatively ignorant about.

And this is why I joined this forum, because I could do with all your collective expertise about such questions as which is the most silent NUC to buy, minimum but essential requirements in terms of what the NUC should be armed with, a touchscreen with enough points within for me to be able to manipulate Diva’s parameters by hand in the same way you would with an iPad, and, once I purchase the best version of Cantabile for the job, how to use it and get the best results for my specific task. No DAWs, FX or other bells and whistles (those will be handled via hardware) - just a setup that allows me to run a U-He synth or two within my small studio.

As much as I plead ignorance over the aforementioned points, and as much as I’ll admit that I’m not some power user despite my experience, I tend to join the dots eventually once I’m guided through this dense jungle, so I could do with a helping hand here. Please feel free to point me out to some links within this forum if these matters have been talked about before, and I’ll quietly work my way through without repeating the same requests by posting incessantly - I’d like to keep this forum as friendly and mellow as it seems to be!

So until then, thanks for your kind attention, and thank you for letting me in. I’m very confident that I can get some very good advice over here, and in the process achieve what I set to do in this very crazy time we’re in whilst building new friendships.

Take care everybody, and stay safe!

Jason Aquilina (a.k.a. Woody Aki)
London, UK

Hi Jason

first of all: welcome to the community!

To address your questions, I’ll take a first stab at the hardware part of things: I’d consider NOT going for a NUC but for a different small form factor platform: I’ve built my live system around an ASRock Deskmini 310 and a Core i5 9600 (6 cores). Runs super-quietly and doesn’t seem to break a sweat on my Cantabile songs.The advantage of the ASRock is that it doesn’t run laptop CPUs but full desktop CPUs, allowing for better performance. And with a Noctua NH L9i fan, it runs quieter than all of my laptops.

The size of this little monster is neglegible - it’s about the same size as the power supply inside a “grown-up” PC.

Next, you’ll need a decent audio interface with minimum latency. Depending on your budget, I’d recommend (in decending order of cost):

  • RME Babyface - probably the best low-latency performance you can get
  • Zoom UAC-2 - great USB3 audio interface with very low latency
  • Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD - surprisingly good low-latency performance at an almost unbeatable price-point

All of these have MIDI interfaces on board, so you can simply connect them to your classic MIDI setup and play without fiddling with keyboard drivers.

To operate all this, I use a non-touch monitor; I rather use a wireless keyboard/trackpad combination or remote-control the mini-cube via teamviewer from my studio PC. Re touch-screen monitors, the current preference on the forum seems to be the GeChic range.
I’ll have to defer to the GeChic monitor users here on the forum to say if operating DIVA with a touchscreen is a realistic option. Might not be the best solution, given that DIVA has a number of smaller knobs and switches that might be difficult to hit with any degree of precision on a touchscreen.

Now re Cantabile, I’d recommend to work through @brad’s excellent videos, after which the guides section of the web site will help you understand the finer detail. Here’s also a post I wrote some time ago for someone taking their first baby steps in Cantabile: Live setup suggestions

And of course, we’re all here for you should you run into questions when building your own setups.




Hi @Torsten,

I meant to ask you earlier about this: You choose the I5 rather than the new AMD. Had you considered Ryzen? (They have t-shirts here in Austin that say, “Wouldn’t you like to work with a product called ‘Threadripper’?”) But, I guess the jury is still out.


Hello Torsten, and thanks for your reply - it was certainly an eye-opener! Admittedly, the limitations of an NUC setup did cross my mind, but I thought I’d ask, and I’m glad that I did. Furthermore, it seems like a cheaper option too - barebone Deskmini 310’s start at around £150 in this part of the woods, as opposed to £400 and over for a basic NUC barebone unit. Also, the size of the Deskmini 310 suits me perfectly, as does the fact that the Noctua NH L9i fan’s noise is that quiet.

Do you think that 16Gb RAM and a 512GB SSD will do the job, given how resource hungry Diva can be? Since I haven’t built a PC for the last six years, I’m so out of touch with which brands are top dog nowadays, or which RAM/SSD is considered the fastest/best, etc., so I’d appreciate it if you can direct me there as well. I’m also assuming that the onboard graphics should suit the task without resorting to buying a graphics card - correct me if I’m wrong here.

Regarding audio interfaces, that’s a no-brainer for me. As an owner of a RME Fireface 400 for the last 10 years without one single glitch, you can rest assured that that’s where I’m going again. As for touchscreen monitors, a quick flick through the forum did seem to indicate the popularity of the GeChic range, so I have to delve deeper on this. You’re right - some controls on the Diva can get fiddly due to the screen property combined with the resolution.

Once again, thanks for your input Torsten!

Hi Jason

My cube runs with 32 GB and a 1 TB SSD, but that should not make a difference with Diva - all Diva cares about is CPU power. I’ve just loaded up BS Beauty Pad, set the quality to “divine”, activated multicore processing and just leaned into the keyboard pretty heavy-handedly. Processing load (Cantabile load, not CPU load) reached about 30% - that’s pretty safe territory.

I use a 1000GB Crucial P1 NVMe M.2 SSD in my cube, with two 16GB Crucial CT16G4SFD8266 DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM units. Also, I added the Wifi option and the additional USB ports cable. All in, this cost me about 700 EUR (plus the Windows license).

@RackedBrain: I’m still in the Intel camp. There have been various reports on the Ryzen audio performance - some great, some not so great. With my i5, I know what I’m getting, based on past experience.

According to @brad’s insights, the number of concurrent threads appears to be less important for audio apps, since these are mostly about the floating point unit, so you just have more threads fighting for the FPU. That was the reason for going the i5 route instead of my usual i7 - performance-wise, this has worked out nicely!



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