laptop vs pc for recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by groovking, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. i know the answer must be pc, its what i use for at home recording, a very beefy one with a dedicated hd for recording programs and os, then an external for recording compilations. i laso use a laptop for on the fly. i generally use cubase.
    my singer wants to get a laptop, but he really doesnt have a great desktop that he can work with so i suggested a desktop first,.but he wants to be mobile with it. i explained the difference in harddrive speeds etc in laptops.
    i currently use a toshiba a75s229 which has an 80 gb hd, 1gb ram upgrade, pent 4 ,3.2 ghz, radeon 9000. 15.4 screen. the thing is a screemer and works well.
    1 do you folks think he should just have a laptop as a primary pc, or
    2 if so with a laptop, what can he get away with that you folks are having good luck with. any deals out there at this time.

    any help on 64 bit systems with recording would be helpful also. thanks all!
  2. I am using a laptop to record. It only has a 5400 rpm hard drive. Or hell, it might even have a 4200. But the cache is so big and the bus is so fast, it doesn't much matter anymore. Every week I play a jazz trio gig. I put two room-mics and a DI from the bass amp (so 3 tracks) into it at 24 bit, 44.1kHZ, and it is problem-free, recording for an hour or more at a time. Some tests with eight inputs suggest that's no problem either.

    It's great for live recording. And if I wanted to make a full studio recording, I feel confident I could do that as well. Plus laptops come in handy for non-musical needs.

    I record via firewire (with a firepod). I archive the wav files on an external usb hard drive. I haven't tried recording directly to the usb hard drive, as there seems to be no need.

    I have a Toshiba Satellite I bought a few months ago for about $850 at Circuit City. It's a $1250 computer normally. Don't know what deals there are now, but I just kept my eyes open for a few weeks before I bought.
  3. frankosaurus


    Feb 27, 2002
    San Jose
    Definitely PC (i.e. desktop) for recording... Reasons:

    1) Power management on laptop processors is frequently flaky and can cause skips in recording.

    2) Laptop hard drives are often slower than desktop ones.

    3) It's easier/cheaper to add an extra hard drive internally into a desktop model. The extra hard drive can be used just for saving audio files, so it doesn't have to compete with the system drive.

    4) Desktops are cheaper and more expandable.

    As someone who's multitracked with Cubase on a laptop, I can definitely say that a desktop model is in my future. The only advantage of the laptop is the portability-- I have a friend who does shows with Ableton Live on his laptop, with great success. But for multitracking, mixing, etc., I think desktop is the way to go.

    Another good reason to have a dedicated computer for recording is that you can disable a LOT of non-essential services (in Windows anyways) so it will run faster. Use the laptop (w/ wireless, etc.) for sitting around, web browsing, etc.
  4. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    I think both of the above posts are perfect examples of what you can expect out of either setup. It really depends on what he plans on doing with it. If he simply wants a fancy means of getting ideas down, or messing with arrangements or even sequencing I would say a laptop. If he needs some serious recording and mixing power, get a desk top.
  5. at home i use my desktop pc, and i agree its pretty glitch free, using a dedicated harddrive for the os and recording programs is great wheras i have cut down alot of non essential background processes.
    im going to try to get him to use a pc, and if he wants to work on existing studio projects i can just disconnect my external usb/firewire harddrive and let him work with it.

    ps/ i use the presonus firepod at home with the central station and i love it. ive had several other interfaces that stunk.

    i just recorded an outdoor gig using the record out of my yamaha powered mixer straight into the toshiba laptop. not too bad but the signal coming in was a bit hot. i guess i havent figured out how to reduce the signal without reducing the master volume on the pa. but again , it wasnt bad, but i should have possibly brought my firepod, but oh well.

    hey thanks all for the ideas and input.
  6. New laptops are perpetually like the computers of two years ago, just in a little box. Two years ago, you could record major multi-track projects just fine on a desktop-->now you can record major multi-track projects just fine on a laptop. Only get a laptop if portability is important, since they cost much more, but don't worry about where desktops have gone in the last two years. They were already good enough for professional recording, and any advances are fluff.
  7. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    I'm sort of wondering how tough it would be to put together a PC for recording and then rackmount the whole deal in a case that's pretty easy to move around. Extra space could be used to house the interface, preamps, cables extra mic's etc. It might cost a little more but I bet it would sure work good.
  8. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Check these out, if you are interested in rack mount stuff. Pretty nice computers actually, I can vouch for them.Carillon
  9. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    The rackmount idea's been done, by several people. I've had two computers from this guy:

    You may (or may not) have to get an extra-deep rack case to accommodate the computer. My first one, which I ordered in a rack case, was too long for the garden-variety SKB, and my second one isn't a rackmount.
  10. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
  11. stevo4


    Jun 6, 2005
    if u can get a laptop that can run cubase and record well enough then go for it. when my band records we use cubase and my friends desktop. We did try once to use a laptop so that our drummer wouldnt have to move his set but while recording the rate at which it recorded skipped causing the final sound bit to be messed up and not of any value. im my opinion unless u can get a super good laptop, desktop is ur best bet.
  12. Rav

    Rav Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL

    If you build a rackmount pc be aware of one potential caveat. Most rackmount PC cases are extremely deep. 34-40 inches deep usually. Make sure you get a shallow pc rack case thats 30 inches or less or it will not fit into most portable music racks.

    Other than that it will work perfectly. Might be a bit on the heavy side so keep that in mind also.

  13. Tames


    Dec 31, 2002
    Decatur, IL, USA
    Get a Mac.

    As far as "upgradeability" a desktop will ALWAYS surpass a notebook.

    If he wants mobile, the choice is basically dependent on how badly he really wants to be mobile.

    I mean heck I could always disable a home desktop setup and take it wherever... becuase literally I can pick it up and take it. The question is do I want to?

    You could have him be set in a really nice Apple Powerbook for around $1600, but then if he wants to really dig in, all components would have to be external. If you don't want to deal with the OS being on the same drive as projects, use an external HD.

    Remember notebooks and desktops are in leagues of their own. One being designed for power and workstation use, the other mainly targeted at mobility. With that said, there's no sense in dropping $2000+ on a HUGE notebook that just emulates a desktop (i.e. 17" display, P4 or Athlon and massive HDs) Always look at small and remember if you need it bigger you can add. You can add anything bigger you want to a notebook... keyboards, mice, displays, hard drives. You CANNOT shrink a massive 15lb notebook though.