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Need Help + Advice on upgrading a laptop used for recording.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Joshh, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Joshh

    Joshh Active Member

    Hey there, i have a 3 month old Toshiba laptop that i use for live recording, I use an 18 channel USB interface and my computer struggles when using it and i've set aside about £70-140 to upgrade it a little, im basicilly looking for the most apropriate processor for the money, and a RAM upgrade if needed.. just wondered what anybody would reccomend for me to do.

    the current stats of the laptop..
    350GB HD
    2GB RAM
    1.7GHZ Intel Dual Core

    any comments would be appreciated.. thanks, Josh
  2. BluepryntEnt

    BluepryntEnt Guest

    a good amount of ram (2gigs), and a good sound card, thats it to start.
    but as things get a lil more advanced you will know what needs to be done, because you learn as you go, so just get those things and start making music
  3. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    18 Channel USB??? I'm choking just thinking about it.

    IMHO, That's your biggest problem - firewire all the way baby! Don't look back and an extra Gig or 2 of RAM would help.
  4. Joshh

    Joshh Active Member

    yeah i never use all the channels at once.. my computer dies. i just need a quick simple solution to speed it up a little and help it handle cubase sx3 and the hardware when recording like 12 channels at once. I'm thinking of getting the Allen & Heath zed 24, hoping that it may make things a wee bit simpler..
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Your current laptop likely will work fine with some rethinking of the interfaces.

    First, go with firewire. You should be able to run 18 channels with no problems. Get an Express Card firewire interface (either 1394a or 1394b but with TI chip) and forget any onboard 4-pin jacks. I regularly record 16 channels + LR main through standard 6 pin firewire. Make sure your external recording drive is plugged into a USB port from the opposite side of the Express Card slot (gives the best chance of being on a different bus). If you aren't recording to an external drive then this is also part of the problem. Record through firewire and save data to USB.

    Turn off the wireless radio with the physical switch and disable through the Network Connections folder. Also, disable any other network interfaces at that time.

    Deactivate any screensavers and Antivirus/Firewall programs during recording. If you can afford to have a dedicated computer then uninstall them all together. Also deactivate any of the extra Toshiba programs from starting with Windows. Of course beginning from a clean install of the OS is the best.

    For a better list of hard core tweaks visit:

    Make sure have enough ram. 2x2gig DDR2 matched sticks of ram are better than 2+1gig DDR2 no matter whether the OS recognizes it IMHO. Lower latency DDR costs more but is faster.

    Make sure your HD is 7200RPM and if possible SATA 3.0. If you are recording to your internal drive then this is also a problem. The OS will always trump an application for resources.


    If you are buying a brand new laptop here are some suggestions:
    -independent video card with dedicated memory. Shared memory onboard chips can still be used but a separate GPU is better.
    -4 gigs of ram. I know that 32bit Windows supposedly only recognizes 3 gig but it is better to have matched sticks of ram with low latency timings
    -stay away from current AMD processors. Intel Core 2 Duo or better.
    -make sure it has an Express Card slot and not Card Bus (PCMCIA). The newer technology has much faster transfer speeds as it is based on PCIe technology.
    -for now stay with 32 bit OS. 64 bit apps are coming but not here yet.
    -Vista Ultimate SP1 works as well or better than XPSP3 but will take more ram.
    -7200 RPM SATA 3.0 hard drive (internal) and 7200 RPM USB external HD.

    Caveat lector. Your mileage may vary.
  6. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "from the opposite side of the Express Card slot (gives the best chance of being on a different bus)."


    "2+1gig DDR2 no matter whether the OS recognizes it IMHO. Lower latency DDR costs more but is faster."
    The BIOS recognises it, not the OS, I believed. Either way it will provide a boost though.
    However, it's whether the cost is justifiable for a small increase and most situations do not permit extra budgeting on RAM.

    2GB of RAM is enough for XP, Vista maybe pushes things a little though once you get to mixing.

    I agree, stay 32bit. You don't want the hassles and BSODs of 64bit drivers/apps.

    I would suggest you don't get tied up finding a SATA3.0 drive, any SATA will do however newer versions will provide a boost.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Jack! Good to see you around here again!

    I agree more or less - go firewire, strip the laptop, record to an external/separate drive.

    I run off of a far less powerful laptop and do about 100+ remote gigs annually on it. Many of these gigs surpass 20 tracks.

    On my laptop, I've disabled ALL unnecessary hardware (including wifi, CD ROM, on-board Firewire - I use the express card slot for mine, and all of the little add-ons that Dell provided), I don't have anti-virus installed and I don't put it on the Internet either. When I do, it's purely to get driver updates. I will run a virus scan on the drive, but what I'll do is put it on an Iso-LAN, share the C: drive across the network and then use my personal laptop with E-Eye Blink to scan the machine's drive for viruses.

    I also use a Firewire device (Fireface 800) and a USB 2.0 HD.

    You can do an awful lot with a well-configured machine.

  8. Joshh

    Joshh Active Member

    well i have a 400gb external harddrive, could i make use of it?
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    It depends...

    Some externals...well...they suck.

    I just picked up a WD "MyBook" and it's the biggest POS I've ever used. It's slow and clunky.

    I would advise a HD that's designed for audio. Glyph is a good choice. I've also recently heard of Adeum. I'm going to give one of theirs a try in the near future.

  10. Joshh

    Joshh Active Member

    well mines a seagate - it was pretty pricey and it runs pretty fast, how could i use it?
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Price doesn't necessarily mean anything.

    However, if you're currently recording onto your internal system drive then this will definitely be a big upgrade.

    Plug 'er in and tell your audio software where to record to and call it a day.

  12. Joshh

    Joshh Active Member

    nice one cheers :)
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Cheers to you! (Sharing a virtual pint... (y) )
  14. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    I heard from many audio professionals in the area that LaCie has worked for them. I am saving my $$ for a Glyph fast n' quiet.
  15. Joshh

    Joshh Active Member

    virtual pint - haha! :)
  16. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Virtual pint: the worst kind.
    Sadly the easiest to get.

    Bit like virtual women...
  17. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Its the most non-technical way I could 'splain. Most laptops combine the usb ports closest to the card bus/express card slot with the expansion slot and just to add to the fun the wireless radio is often routed through that same harness. Now as to whether any of these items are actually on the same bus or not is up for grabs...and the vagaries of the manufacturer. Of course one can just map out the buses and go from there but most folks aren't that savvy. At any rate-especiallly with Dell laptops-planning of this type of thing helps a lot.

    Just my experiences ripping these things apart. YMMV.
  18. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Another reason for me to dislike laptops.
  19. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    +1 for the glyph. Quiet and efficient, rackmountable and works without hassle. I know there's a reason people bash DIGI, but if it qualifies for with PT its usually pretty universal and rock solid.

    They do test a lot of beta testing - more than others

  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I use to feel that way but I'll probably never build another desktop. Laptops are just too convenient. Especially now that I've ripped a few apart.

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