Laptop studio?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Satch, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Satch

    Satch Contributor

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    Can anyone point me in the direction of a laptop that will work well as a studio? I don't want to go crazy here, or buy a Mac, but I want to be sure I can multitrack with ZERO latency.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Dive-Baum

    Dive-Baum Bite Me Fan Boy!!

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    I have seen lots of software out there. I recently bought a mag from the UK called future music. It had all of the new gadgets and software bundles listed in there. It depends on how much you want to spend. There are several programs from Cakewalk that seem to have everything you want.
     
  3. Mykie

    Mykie Fatal Havoc

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    Any MAC
     
  4. Chris

    Chris metalguitarist.org Forum MVP

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    He said he doesn't want a mac.

    Two things cure latency problems in my experience. Lots of ram, and a fast hard drive. 7200 or better laptop drives are pretty cheap nowadays, but if you buy a new machine (say, a Dell) do yourself a favor and max the memory in it.
     
  5. SILENT FACTOR

    SILENT FACTOR 7's are Metal! Contributor

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    You can also avoid latency problems with something called "punch recording". Instead of monitoring through your ASIO program which chows all your memory up, you monitor through your soundcard. The sound going in is sent directly back out and mixed with the sound your program is sending out while recording. If you think you can send sound into an ASIO program and add say reverb while you are recording it you will run into a whole mess of problems. Usually when people have clicks, stops, jitters, etc. it because they are directly monitoring through their program.
    Oh but on the laptop thing, unless you can get a laptop with 2 drive bay's then I wouldn't go that rout. You (in theory) want 1 drive to run your program (for me Cubase) and 1 drive to record the audio that is coming in. This is the "slave to two masters theory". You don't want the program to be writing code (the .WAV file) and reading it (the program) from the same drive at the same time.
     
  6. Jeff

    Jeff Banned from Reality

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    Whoa hold on there buddy! First of all, a modern laptop will have no problems with traditional monitoring through the application, so you can here reverb, delay, etc. I do it all the time with my lowly Athlon 2500+, and that's far from state of the art. 2nd, while I agree with the 7200rpm sentiment from Chris, I record all the time on my laptop with a 5400rpm drive. It can be done. This is before even worrying about a second drive.

    Lastly, you don't need two drive bays, but rather a single internal and a firewire external.

    Ideally, I'd say get:

    Dell Latitude 620m widescreen, with 1.83Ghx Core Duo, 1gig RAM, 7200rpm drive (about $1400 or so)

    OWC Mercury To Go pocket drive, 7200rpm

    Couple that with a Presonus Firebox or MOTU Traveler, and you got a killer package that comes in close to $2000 and fits in a backpack.

    I do recordings all the time on a seriously downgraded version of the above (1.33Ghz PIII laptop, 768MB RAM, Tascam US122) and it works fine. I get 12 tracks @ 24/44.1 in Tracktion before I have to start freezing, and that's with reverb and EQ on every track.
     
  7. DSS3

    DSS3 Banned

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    You want to make sure you can multitrack without any latency or problems, but you don't want a Mac?

    Honestly - I grew up with PC's. I work in IT, on PC's. I fucking loathe PC's.

    Mac is the way to go - especially for recording.

    Get a MacBook at 1100, slam 2 gigs of RAM in, and you're still at 1260. Get a Firepod or MOTU 828mkII, as mentiond above, and have a killer setup for 2 grand, while staying away from PC's.


    Never record to the internal drive of a laptop, though. Even if it's spinning at 7200, it's still going to have your system folders on it, which I would never record to. My LaCie 500G at FW400 screams, is reliable and robust as hell, and handles all of my recording with ease.

    Also, do yourself a favor and stay the hell away from Dells. Worst PC brand ever.
     
  8. Jeff

    Jeff Banned from Reality

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    I work in IT too. don't spread the FUD dude. PC's are fine these days, provided the user and/or admin is competent.

    6 years ago, I would have agreed. Don't get me wrong; I like Macs. But it's not the only viable solution anymore.

    Don't forget the Apple Care with those new MacBooks. Lots of problems on them coming in. First generation stuff from any company generally sucks, and Apple is no exception.

    I've never had an issue with internal recording, though obviously an external would still provide overall higher track count. But since I never need more than 32 tracks, it's not an issue for me. Internal recording was an issue in the Win98SE days, but with XP it's fine.

    Every IT guy says that about {insert brand here} and thinks that they have the be all end all opinion on the matter. I used to say the same thing as you, until I worked with Dells and their support. My company has over 100 clients, all on Dell equipment (servers, workstations, laptops, printers, switches).

    I can't stand Thinkpads anymore, ever since Lenovo bought them. But that's not because the laptops suck; it's because if you do have a problem, their service has thus far sucked.
     
  9. DSS3

    DSS3 Banned

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    PC's work fine, for sure... I just really couldn't imagine going back to XP for my personal use, or any Windows OS, after using OS X.

    Not the only viable solution, but I'll still say Macs are the best solution. Simply put, if you want to be taken seriously in the industry, you need a Mac. Aside from that, they're rock solid, and easy to use.

    Posting from my week old MacBook right now - no problems with any of the MB's released in the past month or so... the teething period was pretty bad, yeah, but all problems have been sorted out, aside from the occaisional lemon every company has.

    My problem with internal recording is only when you're recording to the drive that the OS resides on... It has always resulted in more jitters, clicks, pops, and on the rare occaision, crashes, for me.


    I'm supporting a company of about 85, all on Dell's as well (aside from the server and switches, Cisco and Linksys respectively), and some of the problems we have are fucking genius.

    Did you know that if you don't install the drivers in a certain order, you can corrupt the registry? I understand how this works, but you could code around it, easily, or at least give them the order in the box or something.

    That said, Dell does make very, very good workstations, at good prices, with awesome support. I just could never recommend them to someone for personal use. Before I started in IT, I had a bunch as personal computers... the support was quite lackluster. Now that I'm with a company that buys from them regularly, they love to help me out.


    Oh god... Thinkpad's. I'm looking at one right now - but this thing is ancient.

    Not as bad as the Toshiba Portege next to it, though.
     
  10. newfinator

    newfinator The LORD OF BYRON

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    I've got a Dell Inspiron 9400 with a 2 Gig Dual Core, 100 Gig hard drive, a couple of USB drives and 2 Gigs of RAM. I use it with a PreSonus Firebox and a variety of software. Works Like a charm. With the 256 Meg NVIDIA GeForce 7800 it even makes a pretty nice gaming machine as a bonus. :)
     
  11. Jeff

    Jeff Banned from Reality

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    multiple that by 100, and that's what I am exposed to. So statistically I see a lot less problems than you probably do, due to larger exposure.

    Never had an issue with anything I've ever built, or any brand I've worked on, including Dells. Afterall, it's generally Intel NIC's, Intel or nVidia AGP, and sound.

    And the not being taken seriously if you're on a PC isn't entirely true anymore either; it has to do with the DAW you use, not the platform. It's not like Logic is the standard, Pro Tools (unfortunately) is.
     
  12. Vince

    Vince Contributor

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    I'm going to back up Jeff on the hard drive thing. One time, in a professional studio in Phoenix, we recorded a drummer doing 13 tracks at once on Vegas Pro 4.0, using a 5400 rpm drive. I agree with Chris, though, too... I'd never chance it and always uses at least a 7200 rpm drive.

    RAM, RAM, RAM, I can't stress that enough. I'm not even worried about processing power, I've recorded a ton of music on a PIII 1Ghz machine and never experienced any latency issues.

    Also, some cards have a built-in latency they don't tell you about. My Delta 1010 has a MIDI in/out, but it has a latency of around 30-40 ms for MIDI. No latency for standard audio, but for MIDI, it sucks. My cheap Soundblaster Audigy 2, on the other hand, has a latency of 2 ms for MIDI, which is basically perfect.

    Bottom line: Have a ton of high-speed RAM in the machine, & know your audio cards. MOTUs come to mind for high quality/zero latency. They make a firewire input rack unit too, perfect for laptop recording.
     
  13. darren

    darren Decibel Guitars Forum MVP

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    We've recorded all three of our releases (third one is in progress) using Sonar, and while i'm very pro-Mac, the absolutely HUGE array of sofware and plug-ins available to Windows users opens up a massive amount of creative options for everything from compression and EQs to mastering and "special effects". It's the end product that counts.

    For my own home recordings, i'm currently using GarageBand and an M-Audio FireWire Solo.

    Hard drives are key. As is using FireWire vs. USB as your interface. It's just better.
     
  14. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    +1 to what Jeff said - I've had absolutely no problems so far with the Dell I picked up just about a year ago to record on. Sure, there are better options, and I do at some point want to up my RAM a bit, but so far performance has been great.

    [action=Drew]really hopes he isn't jinxing himself, lol[/action]
     
  15. Mykie

    Mykie Fatal Havoc

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    My studio PC. AMD Dual Core, 4 gigs of ram, 2 250gig HDs. Turns on via wireless keychane remote.

    I don't like other PCs, so I made my own. I also rock a MAC
     
  16. Elysian

    Elysian Banned

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    i'd be inclined to go mac for a laptop myself, if its main purpose were to be a recording setup... if only i could get osx running properly on my system :lol: i'm working out the kinks though.
     
  17. newfinator

    newfinator The LORD OF BYRON

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    You turn your computer off? I have eight computers at home that haven't been off since built or purchased. The laptops, obviously, get turned off while being transported.
     
  18. Rodney

    Rodney SS.org Regular

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    You can also look for a card that ha it's own input monitoring and elimate the latency worry. A good cheap example if you dig POD kinda stuff is the toneport.

    You can monitor your sound on the way in and not bog down your system by having t record your track and pass your signal through at the same time.

    Having a second drive just for your audio will make life alot easier too. I have a laptop with dual drives, and a external firewire for heavier work.

    Never run out of power.:hbang:
     
  19. Chris

    Chris metalguitarist.org Forum MVP

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    Heh, I'm the same way. I turn mine off if I'm gone for a few days, but other than that I just leave 'me on.
     
  20. Chris

    Chris metalguitarist.org Forum MVP

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    I have great luck with Dells as well.
     

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