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Thread: Specific Laptop For Production Questions

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    Specific Laptop For Production Questions

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    Hi,

    I am a songwriter who recently got passionate about home production and engineering- I always thought I should just make demos, but embracing making a true quality product has changed my life.

    I have a powerful desktop from my work in video, but am planning to buy a laptop specifically for music production.

    As I am often singing improvisationally over projects in process that have a lot going on, minimizing latency and maximizing what the CPU can handle are very important to me. It's best to just imagine a computer that can do anything- As I play a lot of bass and guitar, and also like to make complex rhythm tracks by sequencing in ableton.

    For an audio interface I will be using the RME Babyface Pro.
    PC Only please.
    Ableton, Studio One (Running Melodyne), and Cubase.
    External will be a RAID0 ATOM 1TB, and a big 8TB myBook HDD.
    Windows 10 on the desktop,


    I am not looking to do this budget, but not get crazy (self-financed) so smart decisions to save money on inessentials and get the best components is the goal.

    If there's a stock 'go-to' production laptop, I'd love to hear about it. But so far I have found two companies that put together custom audio laptops- Proaudiostar and _______. Does anyone have any experience with these companies? I am not looking to build a computer from the ground up but can do basic installation so can install a hard drive or modify a kit in other ways. I'd prefer it be done in a single package and no risk, but if I save a ton of money and get the same product I can do what it takes or learn. Has anyone heard of PCAudioLabs or Slick Audio?


    So...

    Overall, what are the absolute necessities?

    I'm a big believer in more RAM where possible, so will be shooting for 16GB even though I know 8 is usually ok.

    Is there a specific CPU that really shines with these issues, like a brand or a speed at which you stop seeing problems in regular use? I heard that bringing up core amounts is confusing and debated, but if there's a clear answer...

    Seems to me an internal SSD would be an obvious preference though it may not be essential.


    Finally, what are the elements people often forget about? My desktop is loud and surrounded by loud shit, so I will certainly want this to be what I record sensitive quiet parts with, so will want it quiet too. Is that determined mainly by case and fan? Are there other factors to worry about?

    I will say that I also believe strongly in overdoing it to have a machine that lasts me a very long while. I kept a macbook pro alive since 2008, and this one will probably be used for many other purposes, so all purpose value is important. As I have no laptop now, I'm open to going into the 2000s range, but not interested in 'price doesn't matter' mentality, I like to spend money wisely but invest in quality components.

    I know this is a long post but thank you for your time, any advice at all, especially a specific machine, or if you support someone else's post, would be very appreciated!

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    With apologies to "Da management" ! I suggest you also post in the forum at Sound On Sound | The World's Premier Music Recording Technology Magazine They have a section iirc dedicated to peoples experiences with laptops. My ideas FWTAW?

    SSD: Deff' and the biggest one you can fit/afford.
    16G ram? I am no expert but more ram = more heat = more fan, fanning. Unless you intend to use vast sample libraries I doubt you will ever hit a limit with 8G.
    CPU: Top line i5, yes i7 is the dog's but then the heat equation comes into play again. Many modern laptops throttle CPU grunt when pushed and the function cannot be turned off.

    The above assumes you do not want to wring the last drop of performance from a laptop? You have a very powerful desktop for that?

    To give you some idea. My 6yrs+ old HP i3 (8G ram ) runs 20 tracks of Cubase no sweat and the demo of Samplitude Pro X 3 (lots of tracks and plugs). Latency? My NI KA6 will work down to 64 samples. RME will be even better.

    I would strongly suggest an email to Scan. The top man there Pete, is an almost daily contributor at sos.com

    Dave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blindspotlight View Post
    If there's a stock 'go-to' production laptop, I'd love to hear about it.
    Hi,
    It's not as tight as it used to be now.
    Pretty much any laptop with a modern mid-spec i5 or higher is going to sail through general home recording use.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindspotlight View Post
    I'm a big believer in more RAM where possible, so will be shooting for 16GB even though I know 8 is usually ok.
    16gb probably is a good number to aim for but. A lot of people think more ram is better just because more ram is better.
    If your most demanding task skips along using 5gb then 16 is not better than 8 but, still, 16gb is a good safe number.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindspotlight View Post
    Finally, what are the elements people often forget about?
    Noise, which you mentioned, and OS compatibility with the interface and whatever software is going to be used.
    Badges. People see i5 and think...Great, it's an i5; That's that.
    It's not.
    For any models your considering I'd find out the specific chip model then look it up at cpubenchmark.net.
    Yeah, it's just a number and yeah it's not a real world test, but it'll give you an idea of roughly how your chip compares, so you don't accidentally buy some watered down version with the same badge on the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindspotlight View Post
    Overall, what are the absolute necessities?
    Interface compatibility (OS and hardware/ports)
    For me, 16gb ram, internal SSD, additional large storage disk, and pretty much any mid-range intel i5 or better/equivalent..
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Thanks for the responses!

    I figured out a better way to say what I need-

    How can I get a new PC laptop with the most powerful processor currently available and two internal drive bays?

    Steenamaroo- Part of my desire was after running cpubenchmark comparisons and seeing how not all things that appear to be the same really are ideal, so appreciate that.

    Though I have a powerful desktop, I also travel a lot and want to be able to work at full capacity on the road. Overdoing it on the processor is future proofing knowing my tendency to push limits. The two internal drive thing is really what seems to be narrowing down the search...

    Any specific recommendations?

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    " The two internal drive thing is really what seems to be narrowing down the search" In that case why not go for a USB 3.0 external drive? It can be bigger and does not take battery power until you actually plug it in and it can carry an image and an incremental backup of your files. If the laptop ends up under a bus a backup drive in that will be of little use.

    I do however think you have to realize that although a laptop can be very powerful indeed, a good big'un is always going to beat a good lil'un.

    Dave.

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    Hope you don't mind me chiming in here, ok, new to the list, but my background is in computer design for pro audio, having been a Protools HD owner, studio engineer and system designer. In order for you to utilise a computer to it's best methods, you need to understand the differences in storage controllers. a modern laptop is only as good as it's mainboard / logic board and parts including the storage array controllers. For a laptop with 2 or more internal drive controllers, you're looking at developers like Lenovo's W series and Dell's Precision Mobile series as examples. they rely on two controller types. PCIE and SATA direct to board controllers. In order for you to get the kind of requirements of a system, windows based as an example, you'd be examining the logical structure of how you're writing and handling data. Say your system drive on PCIE channel, this contains your OS, Applications, Drive 2 for sample libraries suck as Native Instruments, etc, you'd then be looking at a third drive for recording media as it's best to keep the recording drive as just that, recording / project storage. With Thunderbolt including Thunderbolt 3, Storage controllers aren't so much of a worry now as the degree of data passthrough is much greater in terms of stability, but that comes at a price, mainly due to the types of storage media used such as PCIe from developers like OWC and a few others who's names don't pop off from my head yet. n

    Here's a scenario for you, this is how I'd look at a mobile recording system. please bear in mind that I'm a mac user only so this is how I'd examine it. also bear in mind that I am not currently in this setup:
    Option 1: Macbook Pro 2018 custom using 32GB ram and 4TB SSD. (Due to the storage controller, I would use this to host both the OS and applications as well as sample libraries and have done before. I would then use a thunderbolt 3 PCIE storage system for Recording media running Protools HD, then the interfaces needed for the job.
    Option 2: Macbook Pro siilar spec as before, but this time a change in process. using a Sonnet thunderbolt 3 chassis to hold Protools HD cards plus a PCIE controller for 2 X SSD's. SSD1 and 2 same size. SSD 1 for samle libraries, SSD 2 for Recording media, then back up to rotational drives for clients.

    This is only based on my experience and workflows I have run before, This would differ for your needs, but in this, you need to think about your requirements, budget constraints, storage media being used and on top of that, your data workflow. A lot of people I've worked with over the years have made mistakes in their setups which I've advised on changes, custom specs, etc to get them to the best positions with their budgetary constraints, it's a question of speed, efficiency and priorities.

    A client I worked for a few years back, brought me in to run his studio for a recording job. Protools HDX on a MacPro 5,1. The machine was reasonably set up, though some thought should have gone into controllers, etc as well as how the HDX system was routed. I put the system through it's paces and found some issues. discussed the faults and gave some solutions. After a temporary setup for this recording job, we discussed the best way of utilising his rig so that there was a full, smooth and efficient setup. The plan was based around a Magma PCIe Chassis driving the cards he had, rather than inside the MacPro, for cooling efficiency. We set up 4 SSD drives in the macpro, created 2 RAID rigs for the host. then an SAS environment inside the magma for a series of drives which could be accessed from the front and hot swapped if there were issues.. problem solved. The client still has this setup running now, ok, changed the console and a few other bits but the mac is still the same, still running strong as ever.

    Think about what your objective goals are about recording, what bit rate, frequency, channel count, etc, are you using tons of DSP, etc? are you using sample libraries, etc? all these things factor in to your design. Today's laotops are so much better than 15 years ago when trying to record music on laptop computers.

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