Topic: help with laptop suggestions.  (Read 7000 times)

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Offline KevinD

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #60 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

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Offline Chonson

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #61 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.

Offline Chonson

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #62 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.

Offline David Crigger

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #63 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

Offline Nathan Cartier

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #64 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.  




Offline Nathan Cartier

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #65 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.




Offline David Crigger

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #66 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

Offline Ryan

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #67 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.

Offline Erk

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #68 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.

Offline Chris Whitten

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #69 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).

Offline David Crigger

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #70 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

DoubleC

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #71 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

Offline Erk

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #72 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.

diddle

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #73 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 !   ;)

Offline Chris Whitten

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #74 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.


Offline Erk

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #76 on: October 09, 2008, 07:47 PM »
Hmm that's interesting.

Offline Chris Whitten

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #77 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.

Offline David Crigger

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #78 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

Offline KevinD

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Re: help with laptop suggestions.
« Reply #79 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.)
"If it weren't for Thomas Edison we'd all be watching TV in the dark." - Attributed to various people over the years.

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