Laptop for Virtual Synth/recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Cabazon, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Cabazon


    Jan 20, 2009
    Hey, I'm looking to get a new laptop for recording and for use as a virtual synth to hook up a Casio PX3 to.

    What I want to know is, what are the minimum specs I could have in order to minimize delay time for the synth program, so that it would be viable in a live band playing situation.

    I'm assuming that if it meets that requirement, it will be suitable for recording as well.
  2. Januszak


    Oct 31, 2012
    What's your budget?

    Things that will factor into performance:
    1. Your processor
    2. The amount of RAM you have in your machine
    3. Your soundcard/audio interface

    Something else to consider regarding Mac vs. PC: are the drivers for your piano available for either? If not, integration may be a PITA. The manual will probably indicate this.
  3. Cabazon


    Jan 20, 2009
    I'd like to spend no more than 1000 dollars, however, I will spend more if it's necessary. I don't want to buy something that ends up frustrating me with delay.

    I know that the keyboard works with Windows. I can hook it up to my windows desktop just fine. I have no idea about Macs, however. I usually don't look into mac stuff, as it seems they mark up the price way too much for no observable reasons.
  4. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    I would suggest getting a tower instead of a laptop. Towers are generally cheaper in terms of bang for the buck and they are much more upgradable down the road meaning that you wont aut grow in the month after you take it home. In addition to that, towers usually have more places to plug in external goodies such as midi controllers, outboard interfaces and that sort of thing.

    The best bet for minimizing latency, although not the most affordable option, would be a Muse Receptor. Its a 2 space rack mount external storage and processor. Basically you load up your virtual instruments and plug ins into the Receptor and use its DSP to handle the work, saveing your computer from trying to run all that plus your recording software. It's also road ready and lets you take your sounds with you to the show without having to drag a laptop along.

    Muse Box: (It's branded under Peavey but I have a feeling that has more to do with marketing and distribution than any design inputs from Peavey)

  5. Januszak


    Oct 31, 2012
    Mac is definitely marked up.... There's no significant performance compared to PCs with similar hardware specs. I'm not saying they're bad machines.

    I've done a bit of laptop repair in the past and the best PC laptops I have worked on are Lenovo ThinkPads. They're expensive but you could shop their outlet store and get a good deal (

    That being said, ASUS and MSI are also good.

    A couple custom laptop shops: |

    Avoid anything HP as their customer service and warranties are poor.

    What are you specifically concerned about regarding delay (I'm assuming you mean latency here, not the effect)? How will you be hooking this up to the laptop? I ask because it may be more important to focus on an audio interface/external soundcard.

    This article might be of interest:
  6. Chromer


    Nov 28, 2012
    If you're planning on running just one virtual instrument at a time you don't need a top-end machine. A Core i3 will be plenty. Hell, I make do with an old Core Duo and do OK.

    Latency is primarily going to be due to your interface, and secondarily be to the hardware & drivers in your machine. And the machine part is a crapshoot in the Windows world, unfortunately. My Dell Inspiron laptop had rotten & inconsistent latency under Windows XP and I had to disable the wireless adapter for reasonable performance. Under Windows 7 it all works fine. Haven't tried 8...

    Odds are though, once you get into it, you'll want to start mixing sessions, and running a lot of plugins and several software instruments at once. In which case the more CPU you can get, the better...

    If your Casio has a midi out, and your audio interface has a midi-in, you'll be all set on that front.
  7. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    there is a ton of very solid VST stuff... Do you want processing or "real time playing"

    Some of the VST stuff will allow you to play directly via USB... I've recorded tons of times firing just a tiny akai trigger going directly to a software program... headphone out to the recording interface...

    Live I commonly will just use the low end akai with an ipod... small... easy... not a ton of setup.

  8. Floridabwoy

    Floridabwoy Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2008
    Jacksonville, Fl
    a i3 w. 8 gig of ram will be fine.... get yourself a USB keyboard.

    Here is my MAC / PC argument.

    Mac's are made better. Period. You can get a way better PC in performance for 1/3 of the cost.

    Are you planning on keeping the computer for more than 4 years before upgrading the outdated technology.

    Probably not. So why spend $2000 on a computer that will be outdated in 4 years.
  9. jmain

    jmain Oo, Uhn't uh, Yes! Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    Unless you really need the portability, I'd go with a desktop PC for that price with a decent audio interface. You could do pretty good with your budget.

    I'd do an i5 or i7 with a Z77 motherboard, 16GB RAM, aftermarket cooler, two 500GB HDDs, 350w power supply and quiet case - if you're going to build. You can also find something similar already built for a goos price. Then your choice of converter and usb keyboard controller.