Computer for recording in 2018

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by eayottes, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    Hi, I'm the guy who's been plaguing the beginners forum with questions about USB audio interfaces for the last week or so. I'm back with questions about recording computers. I'm currently the owner of a Win10 PC which dates back to 2013. I'm thinking about updgrading my audio interface and possibly also my PC, mainly for recording needs. I'm tired of Win10 driver issues restricting my choice of audio interface. I'm also tired of my old motherboard which prevents me from updating to Thunderbolt 3 without changing it.

    Here's my question: in your experience, what computer do you recommend for recording in 2018 ? What would be the bare minimum, recommended and optimal computer in your opinion ?

    Here's where my reasoning is currently at.

    RAM: recommended 16 GB/optimal 32 GB (for loooots of tracks + VSTs + etc.)
    Processor: recommended i7-quadcore @ ~3GHz
    Hard disk: 1+ TB. Is SSD necessary for recording ?
    OS: my preference here would be MAC. I'd possibly migrate from Reaper to Logic.
     
  2. silverabyss

    silverabyss

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    As someone who’s been a windows user his entire life just save yourself the headache and get a Mac, you don’t need a super high end one, if you’re using the pc purely for music the Mac will be a lot easier on you. Idk what’s been up with MS for last last year or so but I’d stay away from windows 10 for now since that botched spring update.

    I know apple has been up to pretty hokey anti consumerist practices themselves but professional grade macs are still mega solid, even in the used market
     
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  3. Synllip

    Synllip Syn

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    I would also recommend a Mac for recording, you can get really low latency and it will save you lots of headaches also Logic is optimized like butter and easy to use.
    SSD is always better for a faster disk writing so while you record there won't be any waiting times.
     
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  4. groverj3

    groverj3 Biologist/Guitarist

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    I'm going to say no on the mac thing. Call me contrarian, but they're totally overpriced and you're crippled if you ever want to upgrade most hardware in the future. They have a habit of selling several years old hardware at a price that should be reserved for brand new stuff. It's all the same components, built by the lowest bidder (like Foxconn) regardless. Apple doesn't have magic hardware.

    If I was starting a new build I'd probably go the AMD route, actually. Ryzen 5 2600 would be my best bang for the buck bet. It's unlocked and will overclock high without the need for aftermarket cooling (the new AMD CPU fans are actually good), but on stock frequencies you'll actually be fine anyway (boosts to 3.9 ghz). That's i7 performance with 6 cores/12 threads for i3 money. 16 GB of ram is probably sufficient, but 32 would always be better for future-proofing.

    SSDs are not necessary for recording, and without knowing your budget I'd probably just suggest an SSD boot/OS drive and store your recordings on a large HDD. However, if you have the budget it's never going to hurt.

    However, if you just *have* to have MacOS then I guess you're buying a mac :lol:
     
  5. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    No actual benefit to Mac really but you said you prefer the OS, so that's an important enough reason to justify spending more if you are happy to do so.
    As for specs, I'd say you're right on. For harddrives i would recommend:
    Small 250GB SSD for OS
    250 SSD for projects. No need to spend money on a larger size as they really are very expensive. Just move your finished/archived projects off to a backup HDD/usb and the cloud. 7200RPM HDD will do on a tighter budget, you really aren't going to have any issues with one.
    1TB SSD for samples if you are heavy on the orchestral libraries and such. Whatever you need really. Might be a lot less. 7200RPM HDD will do if you are loading them all to RAM and are patient enough with loading times.
     
  6. NosralTserrof

    NosralTserrof SS.org Regular

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    If you like the MacOS, consider going the hackintosh route. Essentially, you provide the parts, and install MacOS onto a windows based computer. It's the plan if I ever go desktop again. You can def get more performance compared to buying prebuilt from Apple.
     
  7. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    Thanks a lot for your answers. I have a lot to ponder. What is the minimal SSD hard disk size you'd recommend ? 512GB ?
     
  8. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    128g is plenty for an Ssd as long as you have a spinning disk to put everything but the OS and a few key programs on. But don't fret too much over ssds. They will make stuff load faster but you can still process and record the same without one.

    If you get a laptop get a Mac.
     
  9. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    @groverj3 : thankd for the suggestions. I would mainly go for a MAC not for the hardwware, but for the fact that their OS doesn't generally cause headaches because of driver issues.

    @NosralTserrof: isn't there a risk of having to manage a lot of OS problems when going the "MAC emulated via Windows" route ? I agree that would be appealing in terms of price.

    @Winspear: I'm not significantly more fond of MAC OS than Windows in strict software terms. I've been a Windows user all my life. That being said, I really like the fact that there are almost no driver problems on MAC and that as a consequence my options for changing gear (e.g. audio interface) would not be restricted by OS compatibility/bugginess issues. Thanks for the tip on SSD and external drives. I'll definitely try to follow your advice.

    Sidenote: I am also not aiming for a laptop, although my decision on that is not final.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  10. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Absolutely get a Mac. Everything just works. Software is super stable too.

    And they are FAST - beyond what is written on the spec sheet. My 2013 MacBook Pro has an SSD which still hits more than 1GB per second read speeds. An SSD is an absolute necessity in 2018 IMO. I know the 2017 MacBooks are hitting more than 3GB per second now, which is insane.

    As others said, you can get more specs for the money with a PC, and even more when building it yourself. But if budget isn't your biggest concern, just buy a good Mac and you quickly end your fussing and comparing and worrying. Professional studios and businesses all over the world are running Macs for good reason. Apple is the largest revenue company in the world for good reason.

    You can always get a laptop and plug a monitor into it. You don't necessarily need to buy the big iMac, although the screens are beautiful and the whole package is elegant. Personally, I'd pick up a MacBook Pro and plug into whatever monitor you have already.

    IMO, you want the largest SSD you can afford. I just downloaded GetGood Drums. The library is 20GB unpacked. Other virtual instruments will eat up space, as do your recorded files. 128GB isn't enough unless that computer is dedicated only for music production.

    As others mentioned, you can transfer old projects to an external disk later. But things like sample libraries you definitely want on the SSD so that they load quickly.

    I'm still getting by on 16GB RAM. Even large Logic sessions don't really use it all. And the SSDs are so damn fast that caching to the hard drive isn't really a problem.

    I highly advise against Hackintosh approaches. Yes - many software and driver glitches can result. Only do that if you're prepared to spend time fiddling.

    A little story: I took my Apogee to a friends house to jam. Plugged it into his Win7 PC. Didn't work. Need to go find drivers on Apogee website, download, install some bloated software package. Then have to fiddle around in Reaper getting inputs configured. We still couldn't get two guitars working nicely with different plugin chains, so he got out his old MacBook Air. Plugged in the DUET, opened GarageBand, and it works. Jamming within minutes. Once you've used a Mac for a while, going back to Windows feels incredibly burdensome.
     
  11. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    In my experience, recording on Mac platforms is much more hassle free than using Windows. I use a 2012 iMac that still runs plenty fast and never hitches up during recording. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a Mac either, it’s not like You need a fully specced Mac Pro or anything. I’ve used Windows machines with specs superior to what my Mac has but I still vastly prefer using my iMac for recording.
     
  12. Lukhas

    Lukhas SS.org Regular

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    What I love to say is that going with a Mac is like going to a hooker: you get limited amount of stuff available, and you have to pay huge premium for anything extra. But what little you get is very well taken care of with no hassle whatsoever. Going Windows is like having a girlfriend/wife: you have to negotiate and compromise, but it also will on its end and you can have a fulfilling relationship. Going Linux is like masturbation: you have to do everything yourself. But hey, as we say in France, "you are never better served than by yourself". :rofl: Don't go Linux for audio production though.

    I'm a Windows guy, and it's pretty hassle free to me. That said, I'm biased as everyone here because I'm also a PC gamer. :lol: Also, regardless of your eventual choice and considering SSD prices I would not go with 128GB at all, there's no benefit to it and it fills up lightning fast. Go with at least 256GB or even 512GB and forget about it. I suggest a HDD as well due to the size of audio files. Consider some backup solution as well: it's way too easy to lose a project due to absolutely anything, and no OS is safe.
     
  13. groverj3

    groverj3 Biologist/Guitarist

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    I wish linux/FOSS was a real serious option for audio production. I don't think there is a real DAW that's open source though. Never mind getting any sort of decent interfaces to work under linux :lol:. I'm a linux user for work, and when I don't want to spend money on a copy of windows (for media center/media server stuff, etc.).
     
  14. groverj3

    groverj3 Biologist/Guitarist

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    I don't know anything about these mythical "driver issues" people speak of under windows compared to macs. You install a driver for something, and it works. In my experience driver headaches haven't been an issue (for me) since Windows Vista, and Windows 10 is perfectly fine. Maybe if there's some sort of legacy hardware that only have drivers for XP then you might run into problems. However, the question should be asked why you're still using hardware that's that old. In most cases, the old drivers will also work with Windows 10, too.
     
  15. groverj3

    groverj3 Biologist/Guitarist

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    I agree completely with this sentiment. If you're just going to use the SSD as a boot drive then you'll still want more like 500GB. It's 2018 and OS installs can easily balloon over time.
     
  16. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    It's great that you haven't had any issues (I'm not sarcastic here), but I doubt you have tested every combination of hardware/software with every Windows build (I haven't).

    For me personally, Windows 7 behaved very well but I've had a string of Windows 10 problems for music related tasks (on different computers, some old, some new), namely after Win updates.

    For Windows music related work, I've had 3 people I know have driver problems with Win10. One of them (a BiasFX user) contacted Positive Grid and did some troubleshooting with them; they could reproduce his issue and concluded it was an audio interface driver problem. He then contacted said audio interface company which told him to sit tight for another driver update. I've had a similar experience with a Line6 product under Windows 7 - in that instance I chose to conclude that it was a Line6 problem, but who knows.

    Maybe the sample of people I know who use Windows to make music is not representative, but the wall of complaints/returns about Windows related issues I see when I consider buying certain gear (namely audio interfaces) in proportion the the same complaints for MAC makes me eliminate certain good product options based solely on OS related problems. Am I right to do this ? I have no clue, but I'm a bit tired of this. Moreover, the time I spend troubleshooting OS related problems for music has reached its threshold under Windows.

    Again, I'm not generalizing, I'm talking about my personal experience.

    That being said, I'll continue using a Windows computer for other activities for which it is very stable (in my 15+ year experience as a satisfied Win customer), like occasional gaming and work (which includes programming and numerical computations).
     
  17. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    I'm going to suggest something if you're not opposed to Windows.
    Put the budget that would have gotten you a Mac, towards an awesome interface instead. Like RME. They have a reputation for the most solid drivers in the industry, best of the best. And you'll have audio quality and latency benefits there too. Get one with an internal connection via the internal HDSP interface. Feel free to PM me or Reply tag me to discuss interface choice and setup, it's a bit less obvious and straightforward than your usual plug and play USB stuff. Let me know exactly what you need from an interface.
     
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  18. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    I'm a Unix fanboy so Mac will always get my vote. Windows past 7 has just become unbearable even as a technical power user.
     
  19. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    I think really you need to better specify what your needs are.

    Are you just jamming with some plugins? Guitar only? Serious recording? Do you use tons of plugin chains, virtual instruments etc?

    If you have a decent PC as your main computer, you could get away with a used MacBook Pro, a decent mid-range interface, and some studio monitors for your guitar playing - done.
     
  20. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    I always see people against the idea of using Mac based on price, how much exactly do You guys think it costs to get a Mac setup? Because honestly in my experience it’s never been much (if any) more than if I’d gone with a comparable Windows solution.
     

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