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LOUNGE => General Board => Topic started by: Erk on August 11, 2008, 12:27 PM

Title: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 11, 2008, 12:27 PM
   Hey guys, as you know, or may not know...I'm looking for a laptop in the 500-1000 range. Does anyone have some good suggestions? We can ultimately eliminate everyones favorite, the mac book pro..just too much money. Does anyone know why macbook pro's rule the recording world? The main purpose for this laptop is so I can start recording, and miking my drum set.

  I'm new to this whole thing, so does anyone know of a cheap mixer that I could by that wouldn't exactly be cheap...? Also, a nice software that I could buy or not buy. Protools is like 2000, and again I can't afford that. I keep finding out that cu base is free, and then sometimes i go to websites, and its like 500 to 400 dollars.  ?

Any help would be appreciated, thanks guys.

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: rebuskyle on August 11, 2008, 01:30 PM
I would HIGHLY suggest looking in to a refurbished macbook from apple.com. You can definitely get one under 1000 and it will do everything you need (and comes with some great apps). macbook pro's rule the recording world because of their power and size. I have a G5 that is like 4 1/2 years old and my macbook pro SMOKES it.

ProTools definitely not $2000.....If I were you I'd look into either a new mbox or a used mbox pro. You could use an external mixer and go in stereo to protools......OR.....you could get an interface and Logic Express. I haven't personally used Logic, but have friends that LOVE it. I absolutely detest CuBase, but that is just my opinion. It is certainly as capable (and some would say more capable) as protools, but I just don't care for the operation and user interface. 

Good luck!!
-Kyle
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on August 11, 2008, 03:38 PM
Will pretty much second Kyle's post.

I don't about MacBook Pros ruling the recording world specifically - but Macs in general do.  This isn't to say that PC's aren't able to do much (if not all) of the same jobs.

But over the past 15 or so years, the Mac platform has consistently the best supported in this area - by both the 3rd part manufacturers and their ability to better coax the needed performance out of the earlier operating system and now, ever since rolling out, by Apple its self with their excellent implementation of essential consumer through professional services from within the operating system.

So mainly it is about the platform sustaining the leading edge, since the outset of MIDI in the mid-80's - while the Windows market has had a spottier time of it over the years. And once pros get lock into a tool that works, that they know and they like - the whole "but you can do it a few bucks cheaper" argument falls onto deaf ears. Most are looking for the new development than saving $200.

So yeah - a macbook (not macbook pro) would be my suggestion as well.

And you do know that Macbooks come with Garageband (comes with, as in free) which allows you to record in exactly the same quality as Protools? The quality of your recording is going to be mainly dictated by your mics and audio interface. Plus if you add a USB MIDI controller, Garageband comes with a dozens of really, really good midi instruments (synths and sampler based) built-in.

As Kyle mentioned, Logic Express would be a bump from Garageband - really for the editing and more orthodox user interface.

But IMO, the absolute best bang for the bucks DAW software on the market currently has to be Logic Pro Studio - with all of its built-in keyboard instruments and world class effects, plus the first 4 loop/sampler expander sets (JamPacks) that used to cost $99 each which are all included for its $500 price tag.

As for an M-Box - I have one, because once in a blue moon I absolute have to open something in ProTools. Which is the only time I use it and then only while using a completely separate start-up drive. Digidesign's stuff is great - if you're going to just play in their sandbox. But as far as playing well with other's stuff - drivers, etc - they have a pretty horrible track record. So I've learned to just not mix Digi stuff with other stuff if I can help it.

But unless you're dead set on running ProTools software (which requires their specific hardware) there are plenty of other hardware choices available.

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 11, 2008, 04:58 PM
And you do know that Macbooks come with Garageband (comes with, as in free)
But IMO, the absolute best bang for the bucks DAW software on the market currently has to be Logic Pro Studio -

I agree.
I would start with free Garageband and only purchase Logic if you feel you need to.
I use Pro Tools, but I think it's something to think about getting into if you want to progress significantly with your recordings.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Nick on August 11, 2008, 08:56 PM
Lots of Mac love here, nothing wrong with that,  ;) but I do personally know a LOT of Pro Tools HD rigs that are running on PC nowadays, (I run two myself, my own personal HD2 Accel & a HD3 Accel in the main studio)... That’s not to say the majority of studios out there aren’t running mac’s but the percentage of PC PT rigs is steadily growing...  ;)

It’s not a price thing, it’s a greater performance & OS preference thing, we all have our own personal preferences which is cool and as it should be... (I even have a few friends that run Pro tools on a mac through XP using boot camp).

Just wanted to wave the flag for the other side for a second, in the interests of balance...  ;D

Having said all that, I think if you have to get a laptop (not that I am a big fan of laptops for DAW’s)  a Macbook would be ideal for EML...

Don’t for the love of dog buy a PC laptop for audio without doing a HUGE amount of research, and if you have any intention of running Pro Tools on it in the future, only buy a Digidesign qualified model, the chipset incompatibilities are a total minefield, where only the most knowledgeable and experienced should tread... In fact you would have to have a VERY good reason not to use a Macbook as a portable solution unless you really know your stuff...

If you decide against a laptop, then a PC can be a very viable option, but if you are going to run PT visit the DUC and read the recommended systems in the “Best Core 2 Series Desktops-Results and Specs” Very carefully, and DO NOT STRAY FROM THE PATH! There are some very, very fast, rock solid, stable systems there that have been running for some considerable time and are smoking the Macs in terms of performance... If you are not prepared to build the system EXACTLY to the specs and if you are not technically savvy... Buy a Mac, it might be slower/more expensive, but you will be opening up a whole world of pain if you go into the PC Audio route half arsed...

Also while we are on the subject of superb DAW software, check out Reaper:-

http://reaper.fm/

Simply stunning, it’s creating a huge buzz in the Audio community and if I had to stop using Pro Tools tomorrow, I would step over logic a thousand times to get to Reaper...

Cheers

 :)

N
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 11, 2008, 09:35 PM
Wow guys, you all seem to know your stuff. Ok, I was recently speaking to a freind, and he told me the if you get Macbook, its not going to be very good, because the screen is small.. The one I'm talking about is

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8703469&st=macbook&type=product&id=1199495905480

all the macbooks have small screens, 13". While the Pro comes in 15-17".

So is it true if the screan is small you cant view all of the software?

Also what is DAW?

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 11, 2008, 11:05 PM
Digital Audio Workstation.
It's becoming a shorthand way to name all the different software products that record audio and midi.
Laptops tend to be more expensive than regular computers, as you are paying a little extra for convenience and for power coming in a small package.
I've been looking at the iMacs.
They offer a bit more power and more screen for around the same price as the Macbooks.
You have to balance your power requirements against the price of the computer.
Most software has a minimum RAM requirement and runs more smoothly on a faster machine. Really it's a bit of a minefield trying to work all this out. I think it's best to rely on old hands for advice, such as some of the members here.
Screensize has it's pros and cons.
A 13" screen can be a compromise when you're trying to see what you are doing and have multiple windows open.
However, the larger laptops weigh more and can be more hassle to carry around.
The small screen laptops tend to have slower speeds too.
That can be a dead end, because if you buy something on the slowish side to begin with, pretty soon, and with some experience, you're going to wish you had more processing power.
More research required I would say.  ;)

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: elpol on August 11, 2008, 11:54 PM
MacBook w/ Logic Express user here.

Love it, though I will say that you do have to get used to working w/ the 13" screen. I'm going to buy a 20" monitor to use with it simply to save some time from having to constantly resize items so I can see them properly.

I agree with the others about starting w/ Garage Band: it's a very nice introduction to DAW's and, depending on your interface, can do more than many might realize. Also, fair warning as I had been given making the jump to Logic Express - The learning curve becomes very steep, very quickly. Logic Express 8 is no longer so crippled as was it's predecessor - It can do most of what Logic Pro can do, only minus some of the best plug-ins and extra software that comes with Logic Studio. But at $199 - it's very sweet. $499 for Logic Studio should more than tempt you too.

I have yet to run into ProTools/Logic battle issues. As others have mentioned - ProTools really does require you to play by their book. Avid (ProTools parent) has become quite ubiquitous indeed...

The only other DAW I'd take a serious look at is Ableton Live. I haven't met anyone who hasn't loved it.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 12, 2008, 12:07 AM
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8907944&st=hp&type=product&id=1213046785626

how about this guys? I could customize it more on HP.com

Just tell me what recording studio laptops require, please.

If not I'll just save up for the pro.

Or, I'll buy a pc. What PC would be recommended? I head the Dell 6400 is good for recording.

I'm just really, really excited about recording, and I just want to start real soon.

thanks guys

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 12, 2008, 12:41 AM

Just tell me what recording studio laptops require, please.

If not I'll just save up for the pro.


It's tough one.
Everyone is different.
It's like asking what drums to buy for recording.
Everyone chooses different brands and sizes.
Not to diss everyone else in this thread including myself, but so far I would go with whatever David Crigger suggests. He records at home and knows macs!


Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: elpol on August 12, 2008, 12:55 AM
From what I had learned during my research for Laptop/DAW - Configuring a PC based machine to be a reliable recording machine usually meant that it wound up costing close to or as much as a Mac that didn't require any mods at all. You could have a PC made for you optimized for recording, though by my understanding, that means that you really shouldn't use it for anything else but. :-\

if you go the HP route - even though USB 2.0 is so prevalent - Firewire is still faster and more stable overall. I would have a Firewire connection installed before even considering it...

make sure you look at buying - Quality, fast processors (AMD hasn't enjoyed a sterling rep for recording stability in the past... but now they might be different) Intel has a better rep. IntelMac has been more than holding it's own.

A fast hard drive for audio (I personally use Seagate Barracudas @ 7200rpm in what's called an "Icecube") Typical laptop drives run at 5400rpm - adequate but will bog down easily when processing large audio files. All of my recording goes directly onto the Seagate via Firewire.

Lots of RAM - load the unit up with as much as it can hold! And not the cheap stuff. Believe it or not,  decent RAM isn't so expensive anymore. The HP's 8 GB cap. is alluring...

I could go on - honestly, my head was spinning when I was shopping for my rig.

End of the day, what do you want to be able to do with your recording rig? Have you considered an interface yet? computer's important. so is the interface. how about microphones? and cables and stands. it's alot of stuff to get going. but once you've been bitten by that bug, it's really addictive and fun!

my .02? - get the refurbished MacBook Pro. Look closely at Presonus Firestudio or Firestudio Project (cheaper). buy Logic Express for $199. Several companies make decent drum kit mic packages that are very reasonably priced and sound quite good. Get yer cables and stands and you are ready to rock!
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 12, 2008, 12:18 PM
$5000 later lol. man i still have a lot more research to do, thanks a lot guys.


-eml.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: felix on August 12, 2008, 01:38 PM
Good thread.

Looking at a mac mini since they are pretty fast now.  Garage Band intrigues me.  Does Garage Band have automation?  That combined with mehbe a good mastering stereo suite would really integrate nice into my studio.  I would still have to mix with a mouse, but that's ok for now.  Easy editing and the ability to make acid type loops would be sweet.  Not sure about the hardware I would need for Garage Band.  Have seen a couple things tho' for it.

I'm not sure how my clients would react to that tho'  ::)  Seems like they might want the "pro tools" name.  I don't know... and typically have never cared, but as I get busier it might be an issue.

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 12, 2008, 04:39 PM
The only issue I've seen with the Mini is you have to add all the extras to the base price.
They may have upgraded them recently, but a year or so ago I read that if you added a screen, a mouse, more RAM and a hard drive to record your audio to, you might as well have bought a more expensive Mac in the first place.
I think they were initially designed to cater for word processing and iTunes duty.
But as I say, things could have changed. I'm certainly thinking about picking one up myself.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 12, 2008, 05:14 PM
Chris if you dont mind me asking, what type of Mac do you have?

Also what exactly is a macmini?

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 12, 2008, 05:30 PM
Dude, you gotta start letting your fingers do the walking.  ;)
Don't know what a MacMini is? Go to www.apple.com, or google it.

My studio has been in mothballs for a few years, but I own a G4 Powerbook.
I'll be buying a new Mac for my studio this year and am looking at all the Macbook, Macbook Pro and iMac options.

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Mister Acrolite on August 12, 2008, 05:59 PM


Also what exactly is a macmini?




    (https://www.drummercafe.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.keithcronin.com%2Fyeah_but_is_it_ART%2Fgoogle.gif&hash=07b93ff06af0f2feb6eed63f038ff7b7)


.
.
.

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 12, 2008, 06:57 PM
Dude, you gotta start letting your fingers do the walking.  ;)
Don't know what a MacMini is? Go to www.apple.com, or google it.

My studio has been in mothballs for a few years, but I own a G4 Powerbook.
I'll be buying a new Mac for my studio this year and am looking at all the Macbook, Macbook Pro and iMac options.




Yeah the G4 is a popular one. David Garabaldi uses one.

Sorry guys I'm just new to every aspect of music, my fault :-\

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 12, 2008, 07:21 PM
Don't tell me you are new to search engines?

The G4 is getting old now.
'They' keep adding functions to popular software, or tweaking the operating system.
The effect is you often need to trade up on your Mac every few years.  :-[
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: elpol on August 13, 2008, 12:02 AM
Dude, you gotta start letting your fingers do the walking.  ;)
:D :D
oh yes... I forgot monitor speakers. yes you could easily run up to $5K before you blink, but if you're cautious and shop around, you should be able to keep it under $3K for a very respectable rig.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Dave Sharma on August 13, 2008, 09:31 AM
i have a macbook (white) and a macbook pro, both running logic and a bunch of other stuff.  the MBP is pretty fantastic-- and fragile and expensive, which is why it stays at home now.  the macbook is totally fine for basic recording, etc (but USE AN EXTERNAL DRIVE).  it gets a little stuttery in high track counts but it's still better than cubase on my g4 from 5 years ago. 

i got my macbook used on craigslist for $500.  they're really easily upgradeable, as well.  get as mch ram and as big a hard drive as you can and read online about how to back up and install things.

if yr just starting out, a macbook & Garageband is more than enough to get going.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: felix on August 14, 2008, 07:58 AM
I have a mac keyboard and mouse now so all I would need is a 21" cinema screen

Fully loaded 2gig memory and dual core intel processor with the cinematic display is 1500 and some change.

Looking at the m audio boxes/presonus boxes and I also reviewed the garageband software which looks entirely capable.

I might be moving to smaller quarters so a really nice midi controller/keyboard (these m audio ones actually act as control surfaces now!) are very compelling.

Or I just buy nothing and save $2500 bucks LOL!  I keep coming back to that conclusion!

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 15, 2008, 05:35 PM
http://tech. yahoo. com/blogs/yoon/278


I think you guys need to see this, because appearently macs are the same as everything else...

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 15, 2008, 05:48 PM
Link didn't work.
http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/yoon/278

You'll always find naysayers.
The competition between PC and Mac has been fierce in the past. It's become a little tribal, with the two sides separated by strong opinion.
In the end, I think both PC and Mac have their strengths and weaknesses.
That's why I've been saying you have to do your research, you have to make the decision.
A couple of things to consider though.......
100% of the studios I've worked in have been running music software on the Apple Mac platform.
100% of the musicians I collaborate with use a Mac.
Those are just my experiences though.
It's not that Mac is better, although I think it's easier to navigate around, it's just that it's so widespread it's the standard.
That makes it easier to collaborate with other people, use other people's systems (like in a studio), and easier to keep up with new developments, and trouble shoot any problems.
Also, as has been mentioned, a new Mac comes with a pretty good music program already installed.


Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: eardrum on August 15, 2008, 06:39 PM
http://tech. yahoo. com/blogs/yoon/278


I think you guys need to see this, because apparently macs are the same as everything else...

-EML.


Yes, many of the hardware components are identical.  The processor is Intel.  Memory is memory. A hard disk is a hard disk.  BUT, they are NOT the same. What differentiates these, AND it is a HUGE difference is first, the operating system and second the software available.  As Chris said, both have their strengths and weaknesses.  If you want to run facility management software, you better not buy a MAC.  If you don't want a bunch of headaches, do not buy a machine with Windows VISTA - almost everyone I know that has VISTA is switching back to XP (unless they work at Microsoft and want to keep their job).  However, all the technical software applications that we use in our field run on Windows (either 2003 server or XP).  If you are going to dive into a field and need to buy a computer, you need to check out what others are using in that field.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on August 16, 2008, 02:25 AM
http://tech. yahoo. com/blogs/yoon/278


I think you guys need to see this, because appearently macs are the same as everything else...

-EML.


EML - no big news here. Keep in mind this is a party some of us have been dancing at for a very long time.  :-)

OK - we got a blog reporting on another blog - ok.  The big red flag here - the term ASP - or average sales price. Apple is never going come out on top in a comparison of average sales price because they don't sell in the bargain basement, low end tier - never have.

"But they compared specs of similar computers", you say. Well... maybe... but I doubt it.  

One real good rebuttal came on the original blog's site:

<<<John :
OK, put aside Apple products for the moment. I just found this at Nextag.
HP Compaq RM252UA 17.0" Notebook
2.2 GHz - Centrino - 2.0 GB RAM - 120 GB Hard Drive - 17" Display - Windows Vista
Price: $2,799.00 at Amazon.com
$2,629.99 at MacMall.com
So if the $700 laptops are so great why would anyone ever buy an HP laptop for this much?
?????>>>>

Because at the end of the day, after all of our bargain searching, there is still something to - "You get what you pay for"

Even in Apple's laptop line - and this is one I've fallen prey to - if you just go by the specs, it would appear the Macbooks are quite the deal compared to the MacBook Pros. But the reality is the Macbook Pro is just built better, it's not pushing components as hard heat-wise, and has proven to be a machine I can push pretty hard for hours and hours on end (as a replacement for a desktop machine) with greatest of confidence.

Is that to say there's anything wrong with the Macbook - absolutely not. Unbelievably great machine for the money - absolutely deserving of its praise and very frequent recommendation as the #1 choice for college students regardless of their field of study.

But it's not quite a Macbook Pro, almost but not quite.

Just as a $700 Dell is not the same as a $2700 HP or a $2500 Dell.

In a nutshell - there are three tiers of computer products  - low, mid and high.  And Apple only deals in mid and high.  So again ASP means very little.

But if you take the time to actually compare similar models...

Just went to dell.com and built a XPS M1330 to have as close as I could get to the same specs as a $1499 black Macbook - this meant upgrading the wireless card, the processor, and adding Roxio Creator (to stand in for Apple's free iMovie and iDVD) - I'm not sure how the DVD drives compare (Dell was unclear) - the Dell has 1 GB more RAM included, but is missing an equivalent for Garageband and iWeb (I assume Vista comes with some sort of basic photo editing software in place of Apple's iPhoto) And of course the Dell comes with Vista Home Premium which I assume is in some way less than Vista Ultimate  - there is only one version of OSX. So I don't know what that amounts to.

Anyway, bottom line.... the Macbook $1,499 .... the Dell XPS M1330 $1,587

So much for average prices.

But - just like any gear choice - it all depends on what you need to get your specific jobs done. This really applies to the whole thread - figure out what you need to get done, plan in a little room for growth and buy the appropriate tools.

And especially with technology, be careful "investing for the future". This stuff just gets better and better, and cheaper and cheaper with each passing month. So a future investment can end up being out of date before that future ever arrives.

Anyway, blah, blah blah - it's good and a billion times cheaper than it was 5 years ago.  Yea!!!

Anybody want to guess what I paid for my first external audio drive in the early 90's - it was a 1 gig SCSI drive. Right, one whole entire gig! Biggest drive you could buy, that you can now get as a $5 flash drive!!!

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 16, 2008, 02:42 AM
$2,000?

Anyway, thanks for the informative post. I'm going to be Mac shopping in the next few months too.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on August 16, 2008, 02:56 AM
$2,000?

Anyway, thanks for the informative post. I'm going to be Mac shopping in the next few months too.

Close enough - $1850  :-)
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 16, 2008, 03:32 PM
Ha, ha.
I remember buying CD Rom players and optical storage drives for similar money.
A 1 Gig drive was quite rare in those days though. I think the max memory in my sampler was 16mb.
 ;D
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on August 16, 2008, 11:11 PM
so can you actually make a decent and comfortable living at recording? Because it seems a lot of musicians are just doing it themself. However, there are still recording studios around.

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on August 17, 2008, 12:36 AM
so can you actually make a decent and comfortable living at recording?

Quite a sudden change of subject.

It's all in the luck of the draw, who you know AND what you know, being in the right place at the right time - and other well worn cliches.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Bart Elliott on August 17, 2008, 07:11 AM
so can you actually make a decent and comfortable living at recording? Because it seems a lot of musicians are just doing it them self. However, there are still recording studios around.

Yes, that is a subject matter for another thread ... which I would recommend you start if your interested in the topic. There are quite a few members here at the Drummer Cafe would do a lot of recording in their own studio or home studio. Some of this topic has been discussed in other threads in the past, so you can search for that or start a new thread.

Good luck with your laptop purchase!
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 02, 2008, 12:27 PM
Hey guys sorry one more question about this subject. Ok so I found a laptop that may be as good as a macbook pro, check this out

http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspn_6400?c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb

so guys is this conciderd as good as the macbook? One of my friends uses it, and he seems to be able to record just fine with it. Plus its 15.5 inches.



-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 02, 2008, 02:22 PM
Hey guys sorry one more question about this subject. Ok so I found a laptop that may be as good as a macbook pro, check this out

http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspn_6400?c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb

so guys is this conciderd as good as the macbook? One of my friends uses it, and he seems to be able to record just fine with it. Plus its 15.5 inches.



-EML.

Hardware-wise it doesn't appear nearly as powerful as either the MacBook Pro or the Macbook (you mention both and they are two different things). Seems to use a Intel "made for budget laptops" processor and has an older, less powerful graphics processor. EML, I think you really need to realize, there are no deals to speak of out there - no big pricing irregularities that make one machine a "hidden" value. This stuff, on both the Apple and Windows side, is all priced very tightly these days, meaning you pretty much get what you pay for.

That your friend "seems to be able to record just fine with it" doesn't surprise me. I don't believe there is a computer currently available that is incapable of recording audio (with working interface if necessary) to some degree.

But to what degree? There lies the rub.

What does "record just fine" mean for YOUR needs? Are you doing scratch pad demos? Recording band demos? Full orchestra sessions? Mixing CD's? Scoring movies? How many tracks typically in a project? 8? 24? 90-100?

The more tracks you use; the plug-in processing you use; the amount of higher end plug-in processing you use.... all these things determine the amount of horse power required to your particular work needs done.

If you don't know what your needs are at this time - then "at this time" they probably aren't that demanding and I wouldn't invest in more computer than you need. Since by the time you "grow into it", it will likely be out of date.

So yes everything will do audio to some degree - but no, I think you'll find these days that no $700 equals a $2000 computer. That doesn't mean you need a $2000 computer - most don't. But they are not the same.

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Bart Elliott on September 02, 2008, 02:54 PM
So yes everything will do audio to some degree - but no, I think you'll find these days that no $700 equals a $2000 computer. That doesn't mean you need a $2000 computer - most don't. But they are not the same.

Exactly.

EML89, I think you are trying to spend the least amount of money, which I get, but what you have to understand is you DEFINITELY get what you pay for when it comes to computers. In fact, you may get LESS than you paid for, but never more than you paid for.

As David points out, the bigger question is what do you really need to accomplish your goals? Once you determine EXACTLY what it is you need to do and/or would like to do, your choices of computers will narrow down VERY quickly budget wise.

As I mentioned to you in an IM weeks ago, you need to decide on the software you plan to use. Next check with the manufacture of the software to see what they state as "requirements" for their software. If you were to use Pro Tools for example, Digidesign spells out very clearly what the minimum requirements are, plus computers that they have tested and recommend for their product.

To be honest, you need to research and write down the features that you need. That narrows down your choices right there. Price should be the LAST thing you think of when making your final decision with something like this. Why? Because whatever features you need automatically puts you into a particular price range. Prices may vary slightly, but not much, and will probably be because of the software that comes with the computer and not the hardware itself.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 02, 2008, 04:46 PM
Good answers.  :)

(I'm learning too)
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 02, 2008, 10:00 PM
Well guys like i said before, all i want to be able to do is mic my drums, and record myself playing along to play along tracks(groove essentials). I dont need it to record a band or anything.

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 03, 2008, 02:23 AM
Well you can record yourself on an iPod, portable recorder such as the H2 or video camera.
If you are going to go all the trouble of buying a laptop, you'll want to use it for other purposes; word processing, net surfing, basic video editing and music software (composition).
I still recommend the Mac platform for those kind of uses.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 03, 2008, 02:41 AM
Well guys like i said before, all i want to be able to do is mic my drums, and record myself playing along to play along tracks(groove essentials). I dont need it to record a band or anything.

-EML.

Sorry - guess I lost trak of the original thread here... ;-)

There may be a parallel Windows suggestion for this, but I'm a Mac guy so a specific suggestion from me is going to be Mac based (as I my audio usage of Windows is limited for sure).

Anyway easiest solution for that using ZERO external hardware -

Take a Macbook (or Macbook Pro but it will be completely overkill) - Open Garageband (comes with the Macbook free) - drag your background file to a track - set the Macbook itself near the drums - and recorded the built-in iSight camera mic onto another track, while listening on headphones plugged into the side of the laptop.

It should certainly work for evaluation purposes. Remember, the location of the laptop WILL effect the sound.

Beyond that - to make it sound better - is a step by step process of adding more hardware (mics, preamps, audio interface, the room!) and spending more and more $$$

The Macbook and Garageband will keep sounding fine - actually better and better as better input is provided.

dc

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chonson on September 04, 2008, 11:18 PM
Take a Macbook (or Macbook Pro but it will be completely overkill) - Open Garageband (comes with the Macbook free) - drag your background file to a track - set the Macbook itself near the drums - and recorded the built-in iSight camera mic onto another track, while listening on headphones plugged into the side of the laptop.

One note, you'll need the mic to be a couple feet away from the drums. A few months ago I was using Cubase and it kept activating the internal mic on my Mac (unbeknownst to me at the time), which distorted pretty seriously when it was near the set.

One relatively inexpensive option to look at might be a Blue Snowball, which is a USB condensor mic and it runs just under $100. That would stomp the internal mic and not have much cash outlay.

That being said, for home use, Logic Express and even GarageBand will do the trick. Mac + Logic is just a really great, simple combo. And it happens to be a great computer for general use.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 07, 2008, 04:20 PM
hey guys, I think I'm going to go with this laptop


http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8892898&st=sony+laptop&lp=6&type=product&cp=1&id=1211587728389

i was researching the specs and compared it to that of the macbook pro, and they both have a lot of the same specs. Same size screen, and both running pretty much the same processor. And to replace garageband ill just use Audacity(free). The pro is just to much money for me, no matter how much i work. Tell me what you guys think of this decision.

Thanks guys, (ps. after this i think im done with the millions of questions haha).

-eml.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 07, 2008, 04:25 PM
Only that you don't need the 'Pro' to record your drums with Garageband.
I've been looking at an iMac myself, but would have suggested you look at the MacBook.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chonson on September 07, 2008, 06:12 PM
Not being a PC guy, I can't really comment fairly on the specs; my concern would be that Vista may require more than the system has. (I truly don't know -- my limited set of vista experiences were pretty underwhelming)

Chris is right in that you can get by with a MacBook. You ought to make sure that Audacity will give you room to grow. GarageBand files can be opened by Logic Express & Pro retaining track data; the loops and etc are actually the same format. I would consider that strongly in your research.

(If you do go Mac, and this advice is for anyone considering a purchase -- DO NOT BUY RAM FROM APPLE. Buy it from crucial.com or someone else, install it yourself and save 50-70%. Though this doesn't work as well for the Mac Mini)

I should note, I have a heavy Mac bias and try not to touch PCs at all so it will color my input. But definitely make sure you've got some forward compatibility with Audacity.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 07, 2008, 07:35 PM
Yeah I know chris, but the macbook screen is just way to small, and is way more than this Sony laptop. I actually talked to a professor at UMASS Lowell about this, and he agreed that the Sony is a great deal.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Ryan Culberson on September 07, 2008, 08:03 PM
For the amount of money the VAIO costs, I think you'd be better served by buying one or two nice overhead mics (maybe Shure SM-81's), perhaps a good bass drum mic, and a entry level 4 or 8 track recorder.  You'll keep the mics forever, and by the time the recorder outlives its usefulness, you'll have moved on to bigger and better things. 

I record all my practices and band rehearsals with a  http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Fostex-MR8HD-8Track-Digital-Recorder-with-40GB-Hard-Drive?sku=240341]Fostex MR8-HD , one  http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Shure-SM81-Condenser-Mic?sku=270171]SM-81  (overhead on the drums) and an  http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Shure-SM57-InstrumentVocal-Mic?sku=270102]SM-57  in front of the guitar amp.

The vocals and acoustic guitar run direct into the recorder, the SM-81 picks up the bass guitar and drums, and the SM-57 picks up the electric guitar.  We're able to capture a pretty darn good sound with this minimal setup, plus I get the experience of moving the mics around and some rudimentary mixing techniques.  I dump the recordings into Audacity, manipulate them a bit, then make a copy for all the band members. 

Total cost = $800 through Musician's Friend so I'm sure there are better deals out there.   
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 08, 2008, 03:45 AM
hey guys, I think I'm going to go with this laptop


http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8892898&st=sony+laptop&lp=6&type=product&cp=1&id=1211587728389

i was researching the specs and compared it to that of the macbook pro, and they both have a lot of the same specs. Same size screen, and both running pretty much the same processor. And to replace garageband ill just use Audacity(free). The pro is just to much money for me, no matter how much i work. Tell me what you guys think of this decision.

Thanks guys, (ps. after this i think im done with the millions of questions haha).

-eml.

OK - you asked... :-)

I think it will be fine for the very specific, limited musical use you have described. But it seems pretty obvious that you have other criteria for this purchase than being able to overdub a couple of drum mics on top of a music-minus-one recording. Or for instance, the need for 1600x900 of display real estate wouldn't be an issue (the Macbook (not Pro) is 1280x800 by comparison). Neither will make much difference for running Audacity.

But anyway, I'm sure you are planning on using this laptop for many things - and honestly evaluating your decision would require looking at the whole picture.

Not that I'm volunteering to do that.

Suffice to say, the thread has traveled a bit of distance from it's beginning - and talk of ProTools and  professional recording studios... which is fine, since we've now settled into the true topic at hand.

Couple of last thoughts - for your stated limited goals for the musical use of this laptop, yes, Audacity should probably will suffice. But that's as far as that will go.

Audacity is first and foremost an audio editing program, not a music production program. So if you have any thoughts of taking this beyond a practice tool and getting more deeply into music creation and production. Then Audacity will be an immediate brickwall.

To go to the next step would require - a true multitrack sequencer, synth/keyboard sound capabilities and libraries, and possibly a way to handle and manipulate loops (as well as loop libraries). All of this is what comes with Garageband (and for a more professional interface and capabilities with Logic Express for $200 more).

So I guess what I'm pointing out is - after you've recorded yourself over a few Groove Essential tracks, what's next? If that's it, cool. But if not, and you think you're going to want to go more - then you should really look at what it is going to cost to add the program, plug-ins and libraries who'll need to build a Garageband equivalent from scratch on a Vista machine.

Guess that's about it - best of luck with whatever way you go.

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 08, 2008, 01:08 PM
Yeah I see what your saying David. Ok what I were to not get Audacity and just get Logic Express? The whole thing is I really dont know much about recording, so I really dont think buying a 2000 dollar laptop is really smart at this point, although it would be nice if i had the money.
But anyways, thank's guys for all your help.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 08, 2008, 01:12 PM
For the amount of money the VAIO costs, I think you'd be better served by buying one or two nice overhead mics (maybe Shure SM-81's), perhaps a good bass drum mic, and a entry level 4 or 8 track recorder.?  You'll keep the mics forever, and by the time the recorder outlives its usefulness, you'll have moved on to bigger and better things.? 

I record all my practices and band rehearsals with a  http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Fostex-MR8HD-8Track-Digital-Recorder-with-40GB-Hard-Drive?sku=240341]Fostex MR8-HD , one  http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Shure-SM81-Condenser-Mic?sku=270171]SM-81  (overhead on the drums) and an  http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Shure-SM57-InstrumentVocal-Mic?sku=270102]SM-57  in front of the guitar amp.

The vocals and acoustic guitar run direct into the recorder, the SM-81 picks up the bass guitar and drums, and the SM-57 picks up the electric guitar.?  We're able to capture a pretty darn good sound with this minimal setup, plus I get the experience of moving the mics around and some rudimentary mixing techniques.?  I dump the recordings into Audacity, manipulate them a bit, then make a copy for all the band members.? 

Total cost = $800 through Musician's Friend so I'm sure there are better deals out there.?  ? 

Thats a good idea man, but i need a laptop for not only recording but for school. Also for my own entertainment, like talking on  AIM, Email, using Finale, and other things like that.

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 08, 2008, 04:47 PM
My only advice is back to a very generalistic comment....
If you see the arts, music, stuff like that in your future, get into the Mac way of doing things now.
The Mac is the industry standard in this area. Who knows why? Both Mac and PC can do accounting, email, word processing, music software, video editing and graphics.
Not being a real tech head, I've found it incredibly helpful to use the same computer platform as most other musicians, especially when trying to find out how to install and use a music program.
As I said, people use Mac and PC for music software, so it's not a black and white decision, I'm just telling you why I went Mac and I've never regretted it.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 08, 2008, 05:08 PM
Yeah I see what your saying David. Ok what I were to not get Audacity and just get Logic Express? The whole thing is I really dont know much about recording, so I really dont think buying a 2000 dollar laptop is really smart at this point, although it would be nice if i had the money.
But anyways, thank's guys for all your help.

You realize that you can't run Logic Express on the Vaio, right?

And you're right I don't believe you should $2k on a laptop for recording either.

But you do need to decide between the two platforms - before you invest in software. (That's not completely true - with the Macbook you can actually run it as just a Mac or just a PC or both)

Sorry to keep pushing the Macbook (not Macbook Pro) at you - but it is best selling incoming college student laptop for the past two years. And for a number of good reasons -
good (if not excellent) bang for the bucks; an almost all inclusive software set included - your normal college student only needs to bump up the memory and purchase the Student version of Microsoft office and you're ready to go -
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 08, 2008, 05:14 PM
I would be happy to own a Macbook myself.

Are people still having problems with Vista?
I know a while ago people were going back to the previous incarnation of Windows and some other people were trying to find new PC's that didn't have Vista installed.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 08, 2008, 05:49 PM
oops - dropped something on my keyboard and a "sent" that last post prematurely...

My point about was - we've actually got 4 college students in school right now (not me personally, but in the family) and the first iBook and three subsequent Macbooks have worked out fine - and as these are all students in general meaning non-arts field - the software requirements have been just as I described... the stock software plus Office.

The youngest student - going more into science - may or may not need access to some PC only stuff down the road, but even then the Macbook will cover it.

Which is all to say for these students (and most general students) there are no field specific advantages to choosing Macs either - other than the normal lower housekeeping, ease of use, and elegance of operation aspects - the arguments at the source of every platform war argument. But that argument aside there was no specific advantages for these "normal" students.

But as Chris points - for arts based students, this platform thing is another matter. Because be it music, audio, graphic arts, or film/video - OSX is the standard platform in each of these fields. Probably more so than Windows is in most business fields, because as you move to the upper levels of business, you'll find more direct UNIX expertise.

Just something to think about before one starts investing in Finale, Adobe Creative Suite, video editing programs, etc... actually a two fold invest - first $$$ for the software, and then second time in building expertise.

And for those PC users reading, I'm not at all saying that can't start anywhere and end up wherever you want to or are capable of being. Just saying if you think you know the path you're heading down, why not head there as directly as possible.

Finally EML - my ex uses a Macbook for hear musician business/small studio needs - loves it small size for shelpping around to gigs and to lessons - and at home expands it's screen size by adding a 20" Samsung monitor to it - giving her both the laptop screen plus the 20"!. Dual, not mirror screen capability built in.  She far prefers that to what I carry around - the 17" Macbook Pro (though I hook mine up to a 22" Samsung when at home as well).  :-)

dc
Title: Size Matters
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 08, 2008, 05:59 PM
Not wanting to hammer any points home too much, but I have a 17" G4 laptop and it's surprisingly a drag to lug around.
I wanted to buy the smallest version, but at the time Apple didn't offer the speedy processor and RAM capability I needed for my work in the small screen version.
Having lugged this through several airports and across North America on tour, I would love to have a 13" version instead.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: diddle on September 08, 2008, 06:02 PM
Sorry to keep pushing the Macbook (not Macbook Pro) at you - but it is best selling incoming college student laptop for the past two years. And for a number of good reasons - ... an almost all inclusive software set included - your normal college student only needs to bump up the memory and purchase the Student version of Microsoft office and you're ready to go -

I use "Audacity" recording software on my Windows Laptop... which is free... my new 17" HP box costed me ~ $1,200 and I'm able to get very good recordings... without the need for a PhD in *recording*  :o
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 08, 2008, 06:49 PM
I use "Audacity" recording software on my Windows Laptop... which is free... my new 17" HP box costed me ~ $1,200 and I'm able to get very good recordings... without the need for a PhD in *recording*  :o

Not really sure what the quoted part of my post has to do with this, but great! I'm sure you can make very good recordings with Audacity... I think I posted something to this effect a couple of posts back.

But once again, Audacity is all great and fine (and cross platform - mac & pc), but it is an AUDIO ONLY program. And really intended as a simple editing program at that. Audacity is miles away from being even a basic DAW or digital audio workstation.

For example - overdubs are not in sync with the source tracks, so each overdub must be hand synced. (Check the Audacity FAQ - http://audacity.sourceforge.net/manual-1.2/faq.html#a3 )

Which to most would make it unworkable as an audio only "we don't need no MIDI" multi-track recorder.

But most musicians want and can make good use of more of the functions of a DAW besides strictly capturing audio - midi, soft-synths, loops, complex editing - these are along with capturing audio are the bread and butter of the modern musician/recordist. And 90-95% ships with Garageband - also free - actually pre-installed. Though serious dabblers should move up to Logic Express as its interface and operation is much more standard than Garageband (meaning Logic Express operated in much the same way as Logic Pro, ProTools, Digital Performer, etc.)

All the way around - no PHD's required - just depends on what you want to create.

dc



Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: scarmike67 on September 08, 2008, 06:54 PM
I have experience with both Macs and PCs and didn't want to fork over the money for a Mac if a PC can do just as good.  For what it's worth, I bought a Dell Vostro 1500 business level laptop with Core 2 Duo, 1.4GHz, 2GB RAM.  I chose Win XP SP2 over Vista.  I bought an Alesis Firewire 12 channel mixer which comes with a version of Cubase.  Works great for recording.  My whole setup (laptop and mixer) came out to about $750.

I did some research online and found some tips for optimizing a PC for recording.  It included things like turning off unnecessary services, etc... like this site - http://www.jakeludington.com/ask_jake/20050225_optimize_your_pc_for_audio_and_video.html

Cubase doesn't like my wireless connection running at the same time, so I have to disable my wireless while recording.

Some of the inexpensive versions of software have limits, such as recording only four mics at one time.

Hope that helps, Steve...
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 08, 2008, 07:10 PM
That kind of illustrates the difference between PC and Mac perfectly.
I'm not technical, so I wanted a platform I could unpack from it's box and use for music, email, web surfing and video editing.
Choosing Mac I haven't had to consult any sites on what features to turn off.
Performance-wise and financially the PC can be a no brainer.
All I'm pointing out (I think David too in a way) is that you have to think beyond performance and price and look to your future.
If you are sitting in an arts based class at college, and the people around you are all talking about the Mac platform, it's useful to understand what's going on (although not essential of course).
If you think you might want to eventually get into higher levels of arts style software - Logic, Pro Tools, Final Cut etc, the Mac is the platform to choose.
It's not the only choice, it's just easier.

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: diddle on September 08, 2008, 08:15 PM
Not really sure what the quoted part of my post has to do with this,


b/c you were *pushing* Mac  ;D

the original poster wanted an inexpensive laptop... and MAC ain't that  ;)
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 08, 2008, 08:45 PM
Fair comment.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 09, 2008, 10:30 AM
@$%# guys this is such a hard decision. You guys all bring up great points. I'd love to get a macbook, but I would just like if the screen was a little bigger like a 15 or 17. However those are pro's and they cost twice as much, well not twice but you know what i mean. And like you guys were saying before, i could plug a macbook into a monitor like 20 inches or so, but I can't bring that 20 inch monitor to class everyday. The whole thing is I'm still skeptical about the size of the screen, because if the screen is small, you cant see all the programs your running, which is what i heard. And David, why can't you run Logic Express with VAIO(please spare me the research haha).
Thanks again guys, you guys prove why this is the best site on the net!

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: KevinD on September 09, 2008, 11:34 AM
Great thread, extremely informative!

In keeping with my goal to build a home studio and record some projects that have been laying around for some time, I had been experimenting off an on during the last year or so with my laptop (a 2003 Toshiba Satellite running XP, 2.4GHz,(1 core) 1GB RAM etc) and various audio recording and production programs. (Ableton, Acid, the Line 6 stuff, Audacity and a few other plug ins etc…)

It is my only PC so it also serves(ed) other standard PC duties such as email, internet access, home accounting, stuff etc..

Software compatibility and getting those things up and running an always seems to be a small issue, but by far the greatest nuisance I found was dealing with interrupt requests from various services running on the PC. This is mentioned in a post above, things like the wireless, or an Ethernet port, a virus checker, or a multitude of other services an cause spurious spiking in the CPU cycles resulting in pops and clicks in the audio. It can be a bit of a pain to go into device manager and disable these services each time (or create some other profile for booting up, which I'm not clear on how to do).

From doing some research on various PC music tech help forums I know there are ways around this but it can take a lot of trial and error, there are also some nifty software packages that can auto disable stuff, but I also know that some PCs (or more likely the version of chip sets used therein) simply can't readily be made to be a great audio production (referring to multitracking -not simple recording) computer.

Now for all of my research, I have not gotten to MACs so I am terribly ignorant of them, as such I apologize if this is a dumb question. (This thread has been very helpful to me though)

My question is, are MACs susceptible to the same types of interrupt requests and general latency issues as PCs? (I know the Macbook Pro is using Intel chip sets these days but I don't know if that has any impact on it).

Thanks,

Kevin

Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chonson on September 09, 2008, 11:40 AM
@$%# guys this is such a hard decision. You guys all bring up great points. I'd love to get a macbook, but I would just like if the screen was a little bigger like a 15 or 17. However those are pro's and they cost twice as much, well not twice but you know what i mean. And like you guys were saying before, i could plug a macbook into a monitor like 20 inches or so, but I can't bring that 20 inch monitor to class everyday. The whole thing is I'm still skeptical about the size of the screen, because if the screen is small, you cant see all the programs your running, which is what i heard. And David, why can't you run Logic Express with VAIO(please spare me the research haha).
Thanks again guys, you guys prove why this is the best site on the net!

-EML.

1) No matter what you think, you REALLY DON'T want a 17" screen. I had one for a year, did frequent travel with it. It was the worst decision I'd ever made. Almost no one makes a bag sized to fit a 17" laptop, and that goes double for air travel. Carry-on luggage manufacturers have just started to hear about this laptop craze to begin with...
If this was going to stay planted on a desk and was purely an aesthetic, "I don't like towers" decision, then 17" make sense. But as a laptop, it's a horrible compromise -- and the 15" macs have a very similar resolution.

2) I do all my work on a 15" screen and a 20" monitor (when I'm at my desk). You absolutely can get work accomplished on a 15" with ease. No, it's not as good as using a 20" or 23".. and both of those pale compared to the 30". But the notion that a 15" laptop requires a monitor to pass the minimum bar of "usable" is wrong. I did production artwork (high end photoshop work) on a 15" for six months with little difficulty; I've done coding, and yes, even Logic Express. You don't need to see everything at once.

3) Logic and Logic Express are only available for Mac OS -- thus, not available in Windows (aka the Vaio you were looking at.)

IMO the Mac is a superior environment for almost all work, hands down. Less time spent messing around with control panels and settings, more time just *doing* what you need to.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chonson on September 09, 2008, 11:44 AM
My question is, are MACs susceptible to the same types of interrupt requests and general latency issues as PCs? (I know the Macbook Pro is using Intel chip sets these days but I don't know if that has any impact on it).

I haven't thought about IRQs for about 8 years, which is when I joined the Mac fold.

The dealing with configurations, tweaking this, tweaking that.. you just don't have to deal with that crap on a Mac. I guess you could if you were inclined, but I haven't. Everything just works.

Caveat on the latency, yeah, it's probably unrealistic to be encoding video, ripping a CD and performing a transform on a Photoshop file while you're getting ready to use Logic, but I can't say I've attempted that.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 09, 2008, 11:58 AM
And David, why can't you run Logic Express with VAIO(please spare me the research haha).


No research needed there. Some programs are cross-platform and some are not.

Logic Express will only run on the Apple OSX operating system.

The Vaio will not run OSX

Ta-Da


I look at using different operating systems (OSX vs. Windows vs Linux) as being like living in different countries. In most cases, you can pretty much do or accomplish what ever you choose, but the tools you use, the exact procedures used and the look and feel while doing it will likely be at least slightly different. Sort of like living in the US vs the UK - very similar, but always at least slightly different.

Except in both the US and the UK, you can use Logic Express.

Not so between OSX and Windows.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

As for the monitor size thing, it is what it is. But besides "what you've heard", make sure you sit down and really play with both a wide screen 13" and a wide screen 15", so you can get a feel _for you_ as to how crowded 1280x800 feels compared to 1440x900. Because for me, "see all your programs" as in have them all spread out side by side isn't the I end up working even on my dual monitor rig. Windows from various programs  tend to pile up in an unslightly overlapping pile - that I either key command though or click on some exposed corner of a window to bring it to the top of the pile.

So yeah, if at all possible, whatever you are considering, get to a store with one and play with it for a while (preferable a long aisle). For a Macbook, if you can get to an Apple Store (I don't know where you are located) and play with one and then have store guy give you the whole demonstration of the thing, then play with it some more.

Maybe you've already done these things, but it sounds like maybe you haven't.

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Nathan Cartier on September 09, 2008, 12:08 PM
You won't run into IRQ issues with Windows XP and today's gear.  The latency issues I have are related to processor speed and RAM.  You don't even need to do any tweaking, as long as you've got a fast processor, at least 2 gigs of ram, and a fast reliable hard drive.  Yes, I could spend 3 grand on a G5 and virtually eliminate latency, but I could spend the same amound on a PC and get the same result.

At this point, the PC and Mac debate is strictly about which OS you are comfortable with, and which software you want to be using.  Performance wise, they're equal machines.

Vista is another story.  It's slowly stabilizing, but it's not really optimized for Audio yet.  XP is still where it's at for PC Audio work.  



Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Nathan Cartier on September 09, 2008, 12:10 PM
If you spring for a PC instead of a Mac, might I suggest Sonar Home Studio?  I've been enjoying it, and the price is right.  It's a great way to get started learning about Digital Audio Workstation software.



Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 09, 2008, 12:17 PM
1) No matter what you think, you REALLY DON'T want a 17" screen. I had one for a year, did frequent travel with it. It was the worst decision I'd ever made. Almost no one makes a bag sized to fit a 17" laptop, and that goes double for air travel. Carry-on luggage manufacturers have just started to hear about this laptop craze to begin with...
If this was going to stay planted on a desk and was purely an aesthetic, "I don't like towers" decision, then 17" make sense. But as a laptop, it's a horrible compromise -- and the 15" macs have a very similar resolution.

2) I do all my work on a 15" screen and a 20" monitor (when I'm at my desk). You absolutely can get work accomplished on a 15" with ease. No, it's not as good as using a 20" or 23".. and both of those pale compared to the 30". But the notion that a 15" laptop requires a monitor to pass the minimum bar of "usable" is wrong. I did production artwork (high end photoshop work) on a 15" for six months with little difficulty; I've done coding, and yes, even Logic Express. You don't need to see everything at once.

3) Logic and Logic Express are only available for Mac OS -- thus, not available in Windows (aka the Vaio you were looking at.)

IMO the Mac is a superior environment for almost all work, hands down. Less time spent messing around with control panels and settings, more time just *doing* what you need to.

Regarding the 17" size - things have gotten better bag and case wise for 17"'s in the past year or so as they have become more common. But they are bigger and more inconvenient - for instance, I never pull my 17" Macbook Pro out to work or watch a movie on a plane - unless I pretty much have the row to myself. I'm 6'2" - there's no way in coach that it will fit open on the tray table between me and the seat in front of me - not and still be able to view the screen.

To be clear, my main reason for buying the Macbook Pro was for interconnectivity (I wanted to run eSATA drives externally) so needed the card buss slot and general reliability. I had some "gun to the head" "deadlines you can't miss" work to do, that I was going to need to do while traveling abroad touring - and part of how every company gets the specs of their $1200 laptop so close to the specs to their $2500 laptop is by pushing the design specs of the cheaper machine to it's limits - making them less reliable.

So I bit the bullet financially, because I wasn't going to be able to pop over to the Apple Store and get it fixed if I had a problem. I was moving from city to city, anyway... Great decision, haven't regretted it at all - and the main reason I went with the Pro, not the screen.

If it had only been about the screen, I probably would have just packed an extra 17" flat screen at packed it in a case and used with the MacBook.

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Ryan on September 09, 2008, 12:22 PM

As for the monitor size thing, it is what it is. But besides "what you've heard", make sure you sit down and really play with both a wide screen 13" and a wide screen 15", so you can get a feel _for you_ as to how crowded 1280x800 feels compared to 1440x900. Because for me, "see all your programs" as in have them all spread out side by side isn't the I end up working even on my dual monitor rig. Windows from various programs  tend to pile up in an unslightly overlapping pile - that I either key command though or click on some exposed corner of a window to bring it to the top of the pile.


I would just suggest using Spaces on the Mac.  You don't have everything on one screen, sure, but you can get to all with a click of an arrow key.  I can't see everything at one time on my 20" widescreen iMac - so you still won't be able to on a 17" laptop screen.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 09, 2008, 12:28 PM
Yeah David I havent. I wouldnt even concider buying anything without looking at it, seeing if its comfortable for me. I'm sure those people at the stores can give me some advice too, but like i said i really appreciate you guys helping me out. It's such a relief to come on this site and be able to talk to professionals who know what they are doing. Oh, any reason why the black macbook is more expensive then the white one, i really really hope it isnt the color, because that would be a huge scam.

-EML.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 09, 2008, 04:59 PM
EML,
You really could do more of your own research. It only takes a few seconds - it took me about 30 seconds to get to this page and check out the difference:
http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/family/macbook?mco=MTE2Nzk

Regarding the 13" screen.....
I never have more than one or two programs running at once. If I'm running two programs I hide one of them (single click of a mouse).
When working with more advanced software like Pro Tools, Logic etc, you are probably going to want a few more windows open, but that's not what a laptop is about.
A laptop is about portability.
If you are taking it to college you'll no doubt be using a word processor in class, and surfing the net at Starbucks.
Finally, one other aspect that's getting missed, I think David and I are touting the Mac from our professional musician perspective. If you have any plans to go into full time music, writing, playing, or teaching, it might just be an advantage to get with the industry standard platform (Apple Mac) from the get go.
If you are undecided, or plan a career in business, computing, sport, whatever, then yes the PC is a perfectly fine platform and often cheaper than Mac.
From EML's previous posts about music school, Berklee and session drumming, I assume he is pretty serious about music and therefore I recommend the industry standard platform (Mac).
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on September 09, 2008, 05:56 PM
Yeah David I havent. I wouldnt even concider buying anything without looking at it, seeing if its comfortable for me. I'm sure those people at the stores can give me some advice too, but like i said i really appreciate you guys helping me out. It's such a relief to come on this site and be able to talk to professionals who know what they are doing. Oh, any reason why the black macbook is more expensive then the white one, i really really hope it isnt the color, because that would be a huge scam.

-EML.

Well I don't know about "huge" or "scam" for that matter...

Of course, part of the price difference is the larger hard drive, but the rest is indeed the charge for the different finish.  And I say different finish because even though they are both made of polycarbonate, there are more differences to the finishes than just there color.

In a nutshell, the black is a matte finish - both in appearance and in feel; while the white is a polished gloss finish, basically identical to the previous iBook line. Downsides - the matte black tends to show finger prints and hand grease smudges, while the gloss white is prone to scratching... when really mistreated, dirt gets in the scratches.

In both cases, making the opposite color available in either finish would've been very bad - a matte white would show dirt like mad, and scratches would be REALLY noticeable on a gloss black.

Thus two different finishes...

Is one more expensive to produce than the other... who knows? But a black finish cost premium on some tech gear goes way back as a tradition - cameras, stereo equipment... all have histories of the black finish demanding a higher price. So really nothing new here and in any case certainly not a scam... just don't buy the black finish if you don't want to. (Currently on the Apple Store online, configuring a white Macbook the same as the black will save you exactly $100).

There may be something legitimate to the black being more expensive to produce, as every time I've tried to paint, stain or finish something in black (right now, it's a fence) - it has always been a big pain - coverage is a challenge, every blemish in the finish sticks out... so I don't know maybe there is something to it.

When I bought my Macbook, I didn't really care. I bought the black. I thought it looked cooler...  8)

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: DoubleC on September 12, 2008, 01:44 AM
After reading this thread, I went with the Macbook Pro with the 15" screen.  I actually wanted to go with the Macbook but my wife didn't like the size of the 13" screen so I said, "sure, honey, anything you say."  :)

This is my first Mac and I have to say...........WOOHOO, I'll never go back to a PC again.  The setup (if there was even a setup) was so easy.  I was up and running in 5 minutes.  I didn't have the same experience with my Dell system. 

Anyways, I've been wanting to do a demo for myself and Garageband will be the most affordable way to go for me.  I just need to get a digital interface (M-Audio or Presonus?) and I'll be set.

cc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on September 12, 2008, 12:32 PM
Nice man, glad to hear one of is can decide what they want. Oh and why do you need the interface for? Garageband doesnt already have it?

By the way guys, I talked to my Honors Javs teacher i had last year, and he agrees that mac is the way to go for anything that is involved in entertainment.

-eml.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: diddle on September 12, 2008, 12:45 PM
... all have histories of the black finish demanding a higher price... just don't buy the black finish if you don't want to. ... There may be something legitimate to the black

ALL drummers love black!... I think that is rule !   ;)
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on September 12, 2008, 05:12 PM
Oh and why do you need the interface for? Garageband doesnt already have it?

It's an effective way to get midi and audio in and out of the computer.
EML, you should take a little time and drop into a good quality music store (perhaps not GC for this). Pick their brains about computing, DAW's and interfaces.
You seem to be making a decision without any of the basic knowledge. Fair enough, but you owe yourself some more research.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on October 09, 2008, 05:43 PM
http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/technology/5069689/apple-unveil-new-laptop-computers/
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on October 09, 2008, 07:47 PM
Hmm that's interesting.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on October 09, 2008, 11:08 PM
And if it's true, some of the current Mac laptops will get blown out quite cheaply just before the new ones appear.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: David Crigger on October 09, 2008, 11:38 PM
Chris - don't bet on it. At least in the US, in recent years Apple has kept an amazing tight control of its supply channel. So it's not at all like 10 years ago, where regularly the best deal going was last year's model. You might find some (and this may be different in Aus.), but here, there are usually very few available and usually not discounted enough to be any kind of true value.

dc
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: KevinD on October 10, 2008, 09:05 AM
This is something I have been following closely, after doing a lot of research, speaking to users, reading all the credible online forums, test driving them at the MAC store etc..I had my mind made up to get a MBP (2.5GHz, 2G RAM and the 7200 RPM drive.)

In addition to my musical projects I also have hours and hours of video, many of which are interviews of WWII vets that I was never able to properly render with my PC set up. A friend who makes corporate videos showed me some of his material done on an MBP. For me, all signs pointed to the MBP in that configuration.

Now with all the rumors floating on the net (one says they may be heading away from Intel chip sets, another says they'll have Blue Ray players) I'm holding off at least until I see what has been released.

(In case anyone is interested, I fully understand that I can pretty much get all I need on a PC for a bit less $$.  But from what I have learned through discussions with users who have both, is that in general, you'll do a lot less tweaking in trying to get your MAC apps up and optimized than you will with a PC platform. I've spent far too many hours tweaking things on PCs to get them to work, yes one can always get them to perform with various driver  updates, plugs ins and programs, but I would rather create than tweak. That is the biggest driver for me personally.)
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Chris Whitten on October 10, 2008, 04:23 PM
Chris - don't bet on it. At least in the US, in recent years Apple has kept an amazing tight control of its supply channel.

You are probably right.
In the last year I've noticed some retailers selling a previous model for $100-$200 less than RRP in Australia. This was a fairly identical 'previous' model (iMac or Laptop), but with a slightly slower processor for example.
Title: Re: help with laptop suggestions.
Post by: Erk on October 16, 2008, 05:21 PM
Has anyone seen the new macs? Look on apple.com. Also the 17 inch pro is being canceled i guess.