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Laptops..notebooks...for heavyduty Audio production!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by sidd_heart, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. sidd_heart

    sidd_heart Guest

    Hey ppl,
    This topic may have been posted many times on the forums but Im still confused about choosing a good laptop for myself for Audio production since i get mixed opinions... I would like to get more opinions now...
    The main production softwares I use are CubaseSX, Reason 2.5 and Abelton Live 4.0. I usualy Rewire them for most of my productions.
    My question is which Notebooks.. give optimum performance considering these softwares being CPU heavy. I would be using the notebook for mixing as well, which means using tons of plugins and VST indtruments. One of the main doubts I have had is the Processor to use...P4..Centrino or AMD! and of these which models give optimized performance for audio production.
    The other doubt that was on my mind was the notebook make itself...some plp say Sony or Toshiba are good...but some other say that the DELL is more suitable for audio.
    Anyways I would truly appreciate anybody's guidance with this regard and looking forward to the advise of the more experienced producers out there. Cheers and thanx!

  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Distinguished Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    I have a Dell 5100, P4 2.8 with 512 megs of ram. I use a firewire audio/midi interface and a USB 2.0 harddrive for audio storage. I mostly use it for mobile recording and for that it does a great job. The Dell was my choice because it

    A. Had the features I wanted and
    B. Was priced right.

    As for Sony and Toshiba, they both make great machines. Look for the company that will give you the best combination of features for the right price. You may also want to check with previous owners to see if there are any "problem" models.

    Here is what I would recommend to someone looking for a laptop in order of priority.

    1. Get a Pentium M chip. They have been proven to be much better than the P4 for audio applications plus they run way cooler. You can find tests out there that compare the Pentium M to the P4. Read them. I think I read that a benchmark clocked a Pentium M 1.6 at the same speed as a P4 3.0.

    2. Get as much memory as you can afford. Memory is important for programs, audio and for VSTi samplers. The more memory you have, the more samples you can have loaded.

    3. Interfaces like firewire, usb 2, pcmcia, s-video, ethernet, etc. These are all important. Some don't come with firewire or some don't have that additional video out. That can be a real drag if you want to upgrade your equipment at a later time.

    4. Large screen size. I got a 15" and its pretty good. I wouldn't want to work with anything smaller.

    5. Drives. You want a good sized harddrive to store your programs on, but you will want an external harddrive for your audio. Having a burner in the laptop is a great thing too.

    For what you are doing, you definitely want to get a rather powerful machine. Tons of plugins and VSTi's can eat up a processor faster than an BSoD.
  3. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    doing alot of VSTi and sampling is going to be hard.

    the Centrino (mobile intel) is the worst for this.
    the AMD and real P4 are better suited for VSTi/sampling.
    the bigest issue is cardbus and firewire chipset.

    for "heavy duty" there is no good laptop anymore.

    here is a copy paste from another thread

    it really boils down to what you want to do.
    if your just recording some tracks and then dumping to your main daw
    then all is good.

    if you actually want to mix on it then theings change.
    especially if you do sampling.

    it kinda goes like this

    Centrino: fine for recording tracks a few effects forget live non-bounced sampling at low latency more than 1 at a time.
    a true Centrino will work with any interface.

    AMD 64: same as above but a little lower latency a few more effects and maybe a couple live monitored samples. depending on the Firewire and cardbus its hit and miss with audio inerfaces.
    most are VIa with Via firewire and O2 cardbus or maybe ENE 1410.

    real P4: better than above (slightly) however you really have to watch these as the Intel 865 for laptop was discontinued. which is really sad as with dual channel ram and a real P4 it was the best laptop i have ever seen for audio. (Clevo D870)
    now they replaced it with the D900 which has a PCI-E video thus making it crap for audio.
    really have to watch the chipset with the left over P4s.

    ideally you want 2 internal drives, very very few laptops offer this
    and agin its more about if you are a sample user or not

  4. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    Some pretty good advice here, however DO NOT get a Pentium M processor as an earlier post suggested.

    Pentium M's (or mobile processors) do run cooler and battery life is longer but at the expense of performance. M's do not benchmark anywhere near desktop based P4's. M's are the basis of the centrino chips and include wireless network functions and other such additions that are unecessary for audio. These low power CPU's with there additional funtions carry a big penalty in tracks and plugins
  5. kingfrog

    kingfrog Active Member

    Mar 5, 2005
    Wow .bet your really confused now!

    I use a Dell 8600 with a 1.4 Pentium M and 512 RAM recording to a 5400 RPM internal drive. I have a 7200 external attached via USB as well. I do tracks with a Korg Triton on the road and it works fine using the echo indigo card for basic tracking and I CAN use the VST samplers with min latency as Long as I adjust the buffers when recording.

    The notebook is loaded with a lot of "other" software and games as well as wireless internet.

    That said I get about 12-20 tracks of trouble free music depending on plug ins and SW synths. . When I get back home I port it all to the desktop and proceed from there.

    I dont think I'd use the Dell as anything more than a notepad for tracking on the road and as a back up in the studio. Its really not suited for heavy duty use.

    I too would love a notebook to replace the desktop but I don't think its a viable option. Your better off with one of those cube type boxes.
  6. sidd_heart

    sidd_heart Guest

    Thanx for all those insights ppl...really appreciate them!
  7. sneaky

    sneaky Active Member

    Dec 31, 2004
    I just got a clevo d43ef and presonus firebox and the thing is lightning with brilliant clear sounds. I cant recommend it enough
  8. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    a little update to the "centrino" Laptop thing.


  9. Well what are your opinions on using a Mac Powerbook with logic pro and other software on it?
  10. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    That would be the way to go.
  11. maintiger

    maintiger Distinguished Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Home Page:
    I have a mac ibook, 1.2 GHZ and while its good for remote recording and live shows i would not have it for my main rig. My dual G5 2.0 is far more powerful and i really could not get half my work done if i had to rely solely on the notebook. For remote recording is great though- I can record a whole band and bring it back. We are also doing a musical show and I've been usinsg it for that. I bounced the plugins and i run the show from the ibook with an 828 mkii. So far it has been impressive with no glitches whatsoever. (one show and many rehearsals) our second show its coming up saturday. The great thing about it is that I have so many direct outs i can use in the 828mkii and if we have a bass player i just mute the bass. if not, i send the bass track out to the bass amp and it sounds great! Same for percussion, piano, keys, etc. actually, the percussioninst recorded many percussion tracks for the show and i just mute the congas for him to play that- everything else is in the lap top- good stuff for musical theatre!
  12. pookyneenee

    pookyneenee Guest

    Music XPC...?

    What about this one: http://www.musicxpc.com/products/m2/m2.htm
  13. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Houston, TX
    RE: Pookyneenee

    WOW! A Music XP laptop. That is really nice, but almost $4000, too! :eek:

    It looks like they are using the "desktop" 865PE chipset w/ D.C. DDR400 RAM, and the P4 3.2E - socket 478. If this is not considered a "Desktop Replacement" - I don't know what would be!

    FWIW - If Sidz could "get by" with a small form factor PC (Like the "Shuttle" based PC's) instead of a true laptop, and you know a thing or 2 about building a PC (really easy IMO), you could have that SAME performance in a ~ 7" x 7" x 12" box for less than 1/2 of the price of that Music XP laptop. AND have PCI support for audio cards, etc (opposed to Firewire, or Cardbus).

    I built a Shuttle PC from Newegg for DAW useage, and it was around $1000 all said and done - and it WILL hang with that $4000 laptop (and the $2500 Music XP PC - which is essentially what I ended up building myself!). Granted - mine is rack-mount, and you need a video monitor, but my recording rig consists of a few racks of gear anyway. So having a laptop would not be of any benefit to me (I'd still be carrying my racks of gear even with a Laptop - just a few lbs less for an extra $3000? :wink: ). The Shuttle does not need to be racked, and you can carry the Shuttle in one hand with your LCD in the other hand.

    Will you ever truly "need" to run off battery power, and what other gear would need to accompany the Laptop? Is a laptop really worth the extra $ for YOUR application? I did my research, and I ended up with a more powerful & cheaper alternative that fit my needs like a glove. Then I spent the $3000 I saved on some nice pre's and my RME interfaces.

    Food for thought.

  14. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    that Music XP laptop is a CLevo D870
    full loaded that laptop shouldnt be anymore than about $3000.

    it is one of the best latops we ever had for audio.

    the only other than is actually faster (but a smaller screen and lighter) is the new Centrino 533 we overclock. even less money.

    Music XPC (your paying for the dealer to be able to resell it.)

    but yes a very nice laptop!

  15. pookyneenee

    pookyneenee Guest

    I agree with all of you on the XPC laptop! Very pricey indeed! But it is awfully sweet though... I wonder what they'll do with the new chipsets that are coming out...?

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