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Yet another new DAW advice thread

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by pfschim, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Hey TB, I am looking to get back into using a DAW for various recording needs (personal, several bands, possibly other stuff too ...)

    I have used Ableton Live 9 in the past, and got fairly confident with it .. BUT, Ableton has seen fit to not update Live 9 for Windows 10 (at least as far as I can tell) .. it also raised the price of 10 Live past what I'm willing to pay, no matter how nice of a DAW it is.

    I am looking for advice on a full system; Laptop (want it to be mobile), DAW software and Interface (USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt)

    For hardware, I have a fairly recent (2016) Dell XPS 13 (7th gen i7, 16GB ram, 500GB m.2 SSD, USB 3.0 ports). But I have read in a few places that the smaller XPS 13 may pose some issues in the DAW role.

    For an interface I am considering Focusrite (Claret 8pre for Thunderbolt or the Scarlett 18i20) and Presonus equivalent boxes. I would like to have at least 8 preamps in the interface I choose.

    I am looking at new DAW software too. On Mac I could easily use Garage Band for my needs or Reaper. On Windows I am likely to go with Reaper.

    I am looking at a MacBook Pro 15 ( 7th gen i7, 16GB ram, 500GB SSD) or a latest model Dell XPS 15 (8th gen i7, 16GB ram, 500GB SSD).

    I know that Mac has core audio that makes it a solid platform for Audio production. Post Christmas, open box sales make it pretty affordable
    The Dell XPS 15 has a bit better specs (8th gen i7) and better dedicated graphics, again post Christmas sales and open box deals make it just a bit more affordable than the Mac.

    So, any thoughts to help me get this going for 2018 ?
  2. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    ok, so I'll start by offering answers to my own questions.

    Laptop - seems to me both modern Win 10 and Macbook Pro laptops will work fine, considering they both have USB 3.0 (and/or USB 3.1).
    I'm a little hazy on Thunderbolt support though if anyone can offer some clear, experienced thoughts about it.
    DAW - already pretty set on Reaper which runs on both OS platforms. Or I think I could also use the latest v of Garage Band for much of what I will do to start.
    Audio Interface - So many good choices, so I probably can't go too wrong with any of them. Just would like 8 mic pre's and expandability via SPDIF or optical/ADAT

    anyone else have anything to add to help guide me here ?
  3. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    anyone have any thoughts to share about USB 3.0/3.1 and or Thunderbolt ?
    I'm also interested in hearing about Laptop/interface and DAW configurations that known to work well
  4. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    so, is this just an overdone topic with tons of posts with all the advice I need. Or is it just not a particularly well asked set of questions ?
    maybe I am more used to the Basses or Amps and Caps topics where there is, typcially, tons of interaction/responses.

    oh well, Happy New Year :thumbsup:
  5. There’s a LOT of information on this site, and well organized:

    The Guide
    From your posts, this may be beside the point, but
    I hope this is some help.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
    pfschim and Bassist4Eris like this.
  6. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    pfschim likes this.
  7. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    It all depends on your workflow and how much you want to expand and spend.
    I would start first by looking at interface and DAW specs to see what is required, and go from there.

    If cash is no problem, get a MAC with the latest and most powerful specs.

    If DAW function and speedy workflow with complex tasks is your priority and you want to expand your PC in the future check out DAW Studio One 3.5 pro, or get the Artist version free with a Presonus interface like the Quantum 2.

    Or, if you want the most for your cash, you can use your current PC or Mac and just get a DAW like Studio one 3, I use it with an old 3rd generation i5 gaming PC from 2011 and Windows 7. No problems with speed, no latency, and no lockups or freeze up problems.

    For more info do a YouTube search for "Why I switched to Studio One".
  8. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Thanks. been to the Focusrite site and they have specifically called out the XPS 13 as a problem when dealing with Thunderbolt interfaces.
    OTOH, they show the XPS 15 as a known good device .. so, good news as thats one of my possible Laptop options.
    I have a Focusrite 18i6 USB 2.0 device and it works ok with the XPS 13, but the latency for monitoring is not very good and keeps me from using it very much.

    After doing some reading, it would appear that the smallest Windows/Intel based ultrabook format laptops (like the very slender XPS 13) sometimes have an issue with how they implement the internal PCI channels that can cause some interrupt issues with the USB 3.1/Thunderbolt ports.

    homework seems to be key here before I jump in a drop the cash.

  9. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I misunderstood your initial query. The XPS is perfectly capable of running a DAW, it just won't work with the interface you're interested in.

    Have you adjusted the latency on your current interface? I have a different interface, but I use a higher latency setting when live tracking multiple sources, then switch to a lower latency setting when I overdub one or two tracks.
  10. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I was using Ableton Live 9 in my old i5 Win 7 set up. I had that system tuned up pretty well, but there was still monitoring latency above 8-10ms that was annoying. That system was decommissioned about a year ago and I have not done any personal recording at all (other than a few small things using an iPad and Garage band) for that time.

    With the XPS on Win 10, I can't use Ableton Live 9 anymore and I am not going to pony up for the Live 10 version.
    So, I will try loading Reaper on the XPS 13 and reconfig the Focusrite 18i6 and ASIO for buffers and such, then see how it goes.

    Ultimately I want more mic pre's than the 2 on the 18i6 has anyway, and I would like to use Thunderbolt for the lowest latency possible going forward.

    I am aiming a getting a dedicated laptop for recording and will keep my XPS 13 as my general use machine (its a great ultrabook machine).


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