ideal mac notebook for recording?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by pooch0072, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. pooch0072


    Sep 27, 2005
    I'm looking for a good laptop for recording, stocking my music collection (about 25 gb and growing, but not a priority, since I have my I-Pod)and and for heading out to college (though not in music). My #1 priority is to be able to run pro tools and garage band. I don't need the latest and fastest, but I want something that gets the job done well. Not to mention bang for $... Which Apple notebook would you suggest?
  2. Personally I wouldn´t buy an Apple notebook right now, but rather wait and see what the Intel switch brings along. The current ´book lineup is somewhat dated, G4 processors instead of G5 etc. That said, I am satisfied with my 12" Powerbook (1.5 Ghz, 1.25G RAM) and current iBooks are pretty good bang for the buck.

    In the end you don´t necessarily need a top notch machine for recording, it depends on what kind of projects you are planning to do. Personal projects or bands? Audio or MIDI? External or software synths?

    Multi-track recording in itself isn´t very demanding, years ago I could easily record up to 20 tracks (16/44.1) with 350Mhz Pentium II. But when you start to play with real-time plugins and software synths, the system load increases rapidly. However, with careful track economy and sensible use of plugins (using less processor-intensive plugs for secondary tasks, assigning them to groups rather than individual tracks etc.) you can manage quite large projects with surprisingly modest rig.
  3. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    also, most recording software has some version or another of a freeze function, which puts the track with plugin on to disk, takes the load of the processor. you can unfreeze to edit. I know this is true with Steinberg and assume it's similar with PT.
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Wait a week. There is a big apple event that people are expecting upgraded iBooks and possibly powerbooks at. Significant upgrades too.
  5. D.A.R.K.


    Aug 20, 2003
    when you do buy, spend as much as you can and buy the best possible thing in your price range, taking into consideration maxxing out the ram
    and having a superdrive for burning backups of mass data. also, i strongly suggest a model that has a pcmcia cardbuss slot, and fw800 port. applecare is also always a good idea. once you purchase try not to think about or plan on buying another machine for 3 years....there's always going to be some upgraded machine coming out, but remember plenty of artists still get great mileage out of the old titanium books.
    i use 12" and 17" models for music and touring, if i had only one it would be the 15" for overall features and portability.
    for deals also check out apple factory refurbs, they come with the same standard one year warranty and are completely rebuilt or mint machines.
    one of my bandmates has bought two over the years and they have been perfectly reliable.
  6. pooch0072


    Sep 27, 2005
    Thanks for the feeback guys!

    Yeah, I'd mostly use it for band stuff (Hard rock/metal), no MIDI, I will use plugins but not much more than compression and reverb really. I really just want to produce (relatively speaking)high-quality demos and eventually albums. I also want to get some editing and mastering experience under my belt.

    About the new macs, I don't intend on purchasing for a little while, so I want to see how the Intel-based ones fare.

    Alos, what interface would you guys recommend for getting my mic or DI signals to the computer? Is the new line 6 toneport any good, or should I look towards the more proven firewire stuff?
  7. Since you intend to record bands, you should get something with more inputs. IMHO four inputs is the bare minimum for live drums (kick, snare, two overheads). If you are starting from a scratch, a Firewire mixer like Alesis MultiMix could be a good choice.
  8. pooch0072


    Sep 27, 2005
    Thanks, I looked up that series of mixers, it looks good and it has Cubase LE too. Do you think I would need more than 8 channels if my band is a power trio format (though I wish I had the vocal/bass chops of Geddy Lee). For someone with limitted recording experience (but I've done my share of mixing with Cool Edit Pro, so I already know how to multitrack) would you suggest it rather than say Pro Tools ( I can get both for the same "price" from a source ;) )?
  9. Eight inputs is plenty for just about any home recording. With a trio you could even record the whole band on one take: for example 6 tracks for drums and one track each for gtr and bass. Although to be honest, generally it is easier and less stressful to record each instrument separately, unless the band is VERY well rehearsed. The bigger the band the less chance for successful live takes.

    All in all I´d say 4 is the bare minimum, but more than 8 is in most cases overkill. One application where more channels can come in useful is recording live gigs, I´ve done some 12 track recordings using the direct outs from FOH desk. But that´s really the only time I´ve used more than 8 inputs.
    Pro Tools is the industry standard, but in the end it comes down to personal preference. Some people like Cubase, some (like I) prefer Logic. Despite small differences in the user interface and features, all audio sequencers are basically pretty similar. From home recording point of view, all major recording suites give you all the tools you´ll ever need and then some.