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which laptop is best for recording?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by discoboo, Sep 9, 2004.


  1. discoboo

    discoboo

    Dec 25, 2002
    charleston, sc
    Hey there out in TB'land...My 8 track finally crapped out on me the other day and I want to purchase a laptop. Any suggestions? I'm leaning towards a Powerbook, but if I can get something a bit cheaper that would be great.
    What to do, what to do...
    I appreciate and welcome all advice and suggestions.
    Thank you and have a great day...
     
  2. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I'd definitely go the PowerBook route, but that's because I have one. :D

    Apple has taken us music types under consideration and has APIs built into the OS (Core Audio / Core MIDI) for software developers to use. Because of this, you don't have to worry about if your card has ASIO drivers or WDM drivers or whatever because if it's Mac compatible, it'll come with Core Audio / MIDI drivers and will be available in all of your software.

    Same thing goes with software effects, Audio Units is part of the Core Audio spec.

    Beyond that, the PowerBook comes with GarageBand so you can start recording tunes the second you get your PowerBook turned on. While this is a simpler program (can only record one stereo track at a time) it will get you involved with audio creation / editing lickety split. It took me about 10 minutes to know what the heck I was doing. While you are stuck recording one track at a time, you can add as many tracks as the CPU can handle, and they can be audio (line in / mic) or MIDI generated. MIDI editing is a bit painful, but the ability is there, so if you play a sour note, you can go in and change it to what it should've been without re-recording the whole track.

    When you're ready to move beyond GarageBand, you'll need a multitrack I/O box (either Firewire (IEEE 1394) or a PCMCIA card, I wouldn't use USB unless you aren't recording over 2 tracks at once) like the M-Audio or Edirol devices. I'm positive the M-Audio units come with software (Reason Adapted, Live LE, stuff like that) but I'm not sure if the Edirol devices come with software.

    If not, there are a bunch of software options. You can get Logic Express for $299 (149 if you're a student, you can also get a discount on the PowerBook if you're a student as well), Bias Peak or Deck, Ableton Live, and more.

    Beyond audio, there's video editing (in case you want to make a music video) with iMovie which shouldn't take you more than 10 - 20 minutes to figure out how to use well. I kid you not, Apple's software is quite intuitive.

    Not only that, but everything 'just works' on the Mac. Plus you don't have to worry about the latest virus / worm / exploit floating about attacking Windows computers.

    Also, the email program has built in SPAM filters that learn as you identify junk mail that slipped past the filter. Honestly, about 1 email a week gets past the SPAM filter so I find it relaxing to not have to prune 10's of SPAM messages every day.

    It took me about 3-4 months of using my first Mac to get it. The OS slips out of your way and lets you do your work. It wasn't until I hadn't had any driver issues or whatever for some time to realize that I wasn't fighting with my computer anymore, I was using it.

    I'm sure other Mac users on this board can enlighten you about working with audio + general computing on the Mac, but the above is my opinion, coming from a recent CS graduate who's been using PCs since '93 and moved into the Apple universe in 2001.
     
  3. Josh Ryan

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

    Mar 24, 2001
    If you want to save money you can get a capable PC machine, but do your research first! You can really get burned if your not careful. For notebooks Apple really is the easiest out of the box solution. Plenty of upgrades too!
     
  4. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    The funny thing I noticed about Macs is the word "love".
    As in the phrase - "I love my Mac", which every mac user I speak to uses! :)

    Anyway, I bought a powerbook last December, and it has been a very useful tool for me. The iTunes, Garageband, and other programs that come with the iLife suite are great! I use Sibelius and Logic almost everyday.

    The new iBooks are as powerful as my mac, so they are a great deal. The only real difference I can see, is that the iBook keyboard isn't quite as nice, and the external monitor will only mirror your laptop's screen.
    LM
     
  5. discoboo

    discoboo

    Dec 25, 2002
    charleston, sc
    thanks y'all for the input...this is why i love TB'land!!!
     
  6. NJL

    NJL

    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    disco, i just bought a new laptop yesterday.

    make sure if you plan to use protools le, check the digidesign website - they are a little picky on laptops.
     
  7. You can go cheap and then pay for it down the line. I'm leaving my Intel-based laptop to the dogs, and moving over to Mac
     
  8. discoboo

    discoboo

    Dec 25, 2002
    charleston, sc
    thanks again...a friend told me that the processor speed is the most important factor in choosing which way to go and to not rule anything out. i'm pretty happy with my dell pc, but damn if those powerbooks don't look enticing. mmm...enticing powerbook...
     
  9. NJL

    NJL

    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    and don't forget to bump up the RAM as much as you can
     
  10. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    BTW Get your ram from Crucial.com It's way cheaper than Apple ram, but works great. In fact, the Apple customer rep I talked to sent me over there.
     
  11. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    An added benefit is Crucial.com RAM is made by the last US RAM manufacturer still alive today.

    Of course, you can always check www.dealram.com or www.ramseeker.com if you're looking for the most rock-bottom prices.
     
  12. NJL

    NJL

    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    i have used Crucial as well - first rate stuff and way cheaper than most others.

    :)
     
  13. I've got a PowerBook G4 that is about 3 years old, and it works great. I use GarageBand for now. I actually just bought the M Audio Quattro and it works great -- AND AMERICAN MUSICAL SUPPLY HAS THEM BRAND NEW RIGHT NOW FOR $99.95!!!!!!!!!! It was a great way to get into doing some recording. Mac is definitely the way to go.
     
  14. NJL

    NJL

    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    is the Quattro firewire based or USB 2.0?
     
  15. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    It's USB. Here's the link to the product page: --> http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/QuattroUSB-focus.html

    Here's probably the most interesting specs:

    USB recording:
    • 16-bit/44.1kHz > 4-in/4-out
    • 24-bit/44.1kHz > 4-in/2-out or 2-in/4-out
    • 24-bit/48kHz > 4-in/2-out or 2-in/4-out
    • 24-bit/96kHz > 2-in or 2-out
     
  16. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I'm pretty sure that hte quattro is USB 1.1 not USB 2.0, since it's not exactly a new product, and USB 2 is only a few years old.
     
  17. One of the main reasons I don't buy a Mac is the lack of widely avialable illegaly cracked software. That recording **** is expensive! It's priced for people that will be using it to make records that make money. Thousands of dollars of software for a typical setup of recording master program + a billion plug-ins you'll never use, + a mastering program, etc...
    Now with windows, this is all free. Not to mention programs you need to edit a photo here and there, make a flyer, etc.... A lot of S/W (although none of the stuff I mentioned) is available free under a license that says "this is free to use as you like as long as you don't make money off the product."
     
  18. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Wow, so you don't use a Mac because you don't think you can steal software? :scowl:

    I guess that's why companies like Mac users. Even though Mac sales are roughly 3% of the world market (depending on who you believe), Mac sales make up 25% of Alias sales, and close to 40% of Photoshop sales, among other programs. Maybe that's why developers like us, we pay for the software we use.

    I don't know where you get your pricing either. You can get Logic Express for $299. That is NOT a high cost for the functionality you get.

    Besides, who are you gonna call when your cracked PC software doesn't work 100%? Ghostbusters? Windows software isn't free, you just choose to steal instead of pay for your use of it.
     
  19. ApeIsHigh81

    ApeIsHigh81

    Aug 24, 2004
    CA
    What about recommendations for a Windows based laptop??? I need to get a Windows laptop and at the most have like 300-500 bucks for a good recording program. Thanks in advance
     
  20. Josh Ryan

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

    Mar 24, 2001
    Watch out for notebooks that stupid things like some of the Dell models used to, eg the fan turning on would freeze the system. As far as software goes, You can afford Cubase, which is the equal of anything at this point.