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pro audio laptop

Discussion in 'Recording' started by 4monty, Jul 10, 2003.

  1. 4monty

    4monty Guest

    analog guy forcing myself into the digital domain, travel alot, looking for tips on laptop hardware for pro audio recording... please advise if u can... want a list of absolute must haves in terms of I/O ports, soundcard stuff, drive types etc, and any other information that a digital rookie like me should know... does a laptop recording bible exist? what sould i buy? help! thanks...
  2. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    I had similiar questions a few weeks back... Opus and a bunch of others highly recommended M-Audio's Quattro (USB-based) as the audio interface. Heck, there's a new firewire card coming out, too, and the specs look pretty sweet.

    It's a good time to be hopping onto the digital bandwagon, methinks. :D
  3. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Guest


    you are in any case in need of an external converter box that connects to your laptop if you want to achieve some quality results.

    There's basically 3 ways to connect your card:
    1. A PCMCIA card
    2. Through IEEE1394/FireWire
    3. Using the USB 1.1/2.0 ports

    If you already have your laptop chances are that it has a USB port (could be 1.1, if you're lucky it is already 2.0), if it is a Sony or you are really lucky it might also have 1394/FireWire.

    If you need more than 4 in's and out's USB 1.1 is not going to cut the mustard otherwise you could consider the Quattro. For mor channels you will need USB 2.0 but I don't think there are too many boxes out there yet :roll: ... ?

    RME makes generally very good soundcards and their PCMCIA solution should not be a disappointment. I am not sure if that card restricts you to RME converter boxes but also there you should not be too disappointed. They make great stuff.

    In the 1394/FireWire Domain you will also have to use a PCMCIA Interface card if your laptop doesn't have a 1394 port already. The number of converter boxes is a bit larger, but still it is only a handful of viable ones. I am sure you will find them if you search on Google.

    Now, if you haven't bought the laptop yet you could also consider an Apple PowerBook. Not cheap but it somes with FireWire and some other useful interfaces...

    Hope this helps a little bit,

  4. 4monty

    4monty Guest

    thanks misterblue, lots of useful info there! sounds like firewire is the way to go based on all the other advice i've had too... and by the way, no, i haven't committed to a specific notebook model yet, plan to buy in next few days: hence the research! any suggestions other than the ibooks? (a little pricey for me at the moment... will surely go PC.) i've heard good things about the sony viaos and toshiba sattelites. both fast and stable? please advise, and don't be scared to throw out any other models u like! cheerz
  5. 4monty

    4monty Guest

    falcon2, yup i'm gonna have a look at the quattro, and it's definately the right time to be jumpin' (ok in my case...wading) into the digital pool!
  6. pgstudio

    pgstudio Guest

    m8.. if u are going to PC Lap TOP

    i worked with it in a HP Pavillion P4 1.4ghz and Quattro USB

    It was around 6months ago..
    MANNN... it´s driver SUXXX a lot... it´s simply UNWORKABLE in applications that uses ASIO driver ( Low Latency audio Driver that most Good Audio Applications Use ) I don´t know how is the driver now. Before u buy it i really advice u to test it on a laptop on a dealer or something like. or ask here about it.

  7. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    Let me preface this by saying, I have a PC and Mac, and think they're both good for what they do.

    I have a 667 MHz G4 Titanium Powerbook...and it's the $*^t. It's got a built in Firewire port, 2 USB ports, DVI port, SVIDEO out, as well as a fast CDRW drive, and Gigabit Ethernet. Used, you can pick a similer powerbook up for around $1200 - $1300...and it's well worth the money. These things are rock solid, and most of the applications that run on Mac are also EXTREMELY stable. Don't compare the clock speed on PC's and MAC's, they just don't translate into numbers that mean anything at all. It's like compairing apples to monkeys. Let's put it this way, my 667 MHz G4 handles most things as quickly or better than my 1.4 GHz Pentium 4. That's just the truth of it. They do not compair well, they are totally different processors. It's kind of like compairing a Pentium 2 and Pentium 4 of the same clock speed...it's a number that is based on a set of instructions...so the set of instructions have almost a bigger impact on the real speed of the computer.

    I have a MOTU 828, which runs on firewire...and sounds great. In my opinion it's one of the best boxes you can buy under a grand...and used comes in around $550. It also contains two Mackie style preamps...which are good for location work, when you don't want to bring along a huge rig. I'm running Digital Performer, which is a nice audio program. If you're looking for ease of use, and most compatiblity, you should check out the Digidesign Digi002 rack version. It's got 24 bit 96KHz converters, and comes with ProTools LE. This program is the easiest, most stable audio program there is. Especially if you do just audio, and no MIDI. It can handle MIDI, but if you want to do both, Digital Performer works better in my opinion.

    I'm sure there are some good things going on over in the PC world, I've just not had good experiences with AUDIO over there. Then again, it's been a couple years since I used my PC for anything but business software and games...which it's definately better at than the Mac. The mac definately can handle the business stuff just fine, but there's more out there for the PC. The PC is also way better if you're going for gaming stuff...the Mac selection and performance just sucks there. If you're going for audio, I'd say that the Mac handily beats PC's, expecially in the Laptop arena. The built in firewire is a huge plus, and goes a long way.

    Hope that helps.

  8. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Hmm... I've heard nothing but good things about that box over here. (And in better English too. ;) )

    Anyway - were you trying to use all 8 I/Os simultaneously over a USB1.1, or any other really bandwitdh-taxing activity? Because I'm at least 80% sure I'm going to get this box in the near future.
  9. pgstudio

    pgstudio Guest

    Yo m8...

    i just tried to play a VSTI with it... then i tried to play with reason..
    Just 1midi in and 1 audio out...
    I did all that tests with the buffer size at higher option.

    Can´t get it to work.

    Actually i didn´t try to record on it. i had too much problem just playing.
  10. 4monty

    4monty Guest

    hey folks, so i bought a laptop yesterday, a brand from a little known company here in canada: Cicero. They're basically the Future Shop in-house brand. anyone know anything about these machines? looks like i ended up getting alot more machine for the price of a lower end "name brand" notebook, but can't find out much about the manufacturer... their website doesn't even list their notebooks! not overly worried though... 2.4 GHz P4, 512Kb cache, 533MHz FSB, 1 gig DDR RAM, integrated 1394 firewire, 3 USB 2.0 ports, every other port u can imagine, 40Gb HDD...

    which leads me to my next question: the only problem seems to be the HDD that came with it: it's really slow! 4200 RPM... BOOO! need to get something twice that fast... any suggestions other than a firewire based solution? would love to have something on-board but don't want to mortgage my pancreas to buy it!
  11. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Guest


    your best bet for an internal disk at this point is to get a 5400 rpm one. Ain't nothing faster out there yet ... :roll: . Unfortunately a little extra investment.

    Then again, the idea of having an external Firewire or USB 2.0 disk is really not such a bad one, specifically given that you would not have to exchange/dump your internal one. That one would certainly still be good for backups and stuff ...

  12. 4monty

    4monty Guest


    yup, 5400rpm seems about the best i can do at the moment for an internal HDD, but i have heard talk of IBM coming out with a 7200rpm laptop drive soon... so maybe i'll wait till then b4 i drop the dough! also, i'm not totally opposed to a firewire solution, it's just that i wouldn't know what to buy... like i said i'm a bit of a rookie in the digital audio realm... for example: are using the digidesign and glyph FW drives dependent on using pro tools? can u use other software in conjunction with them? (i'd like to get into logic too...) the way that those 2 specific websites read, its seems that the hardware is only compatible with PT. is that the case? all that $*^t's proprietary no?

    the other digi-rookie question i have pertains to firewire itself: if i'm running an external firewire HDD on the only firewire port i have (just 1 on machine), would i be able to use a FW based A/D converter on that same port as well? (MOTU 828 for example) have never personally used FW before! please advise... :confused:
  13. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Just my $.02, but if I were considering a laptop recording solution, I'd be open to considering an Apple ... at least comparing it with PC. There's a thread somewhere around here that has a link to an article about John McLaughlin using an Apple laptop running Logic, and loving it.
    I guess, for me, the biggest benefit with an Apple would be the OS. Once you know the MacOS, it's very disheartening to use a Windows computer. It's just so much more configurable. Also, I hate having to disect the Windows registry to get rid of Outlook Express, Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player, and MSN Explorer. Forget about dumping Internet Explorer, you're stuck with it.
    With the MacOS, you can easily get rid of damn near everything, leaving you with just the very basic OS, so that you can use the components of your choosing. For a DAW laptop, this ability would be much more desireable.
    That's it ... just my $.02.

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