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The need for speed?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by spark, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. spark

    spark Guest


    I'm trying to choose a laptop for audio recording at the moment and, like many in my position, this involves a lot of research into what kind of features are needed to do the kind of audio work you want to do (for example, for myself, I will be recording acoustic music, under 8 tracks).

    There is a relentless pressure (and sheer bollocks) applied by the computer producers and sellers to convince us of the need for more and more speed. But if your audio work doesn't need that super-duper speed then you can pick up some fantastic bargains by way of less powerful machines (and thus, less is more).

    With this in mind, it would be very helpful if someone here could give a summary of what kind of processor and RAM specs are required for different audio applications. For example, for the kind of work I will be doing, I've been advised that even something as modest (by today's standards) as a Pentium M 1.4 Ghz and half a Gig of RAM would be OK. But for work involving a zillion tracks, and a zillion plugins, it's a different story.

    Anyone care to have a go? -- I believe it would be very helpful to a lot of people -- saving time and money.

    So where is the *need* for speed? What can you comfortably get away with for a given task?

  2. Fast2gg

    Fast2gg Guest

    Well, there are different elements to the system, that are going to impact different areas of performance.

    processor speed/bus speed - is going to affect the overall latency of the system. So, if you have real warthog programs running your gonna feel like your moving in slow motion. I run a 2ghz system, and i can say, i wouldnt want anything slower, for myself. 1.5 seems like its a little on the slow end, and i wouldnt go much lower than 2ghz if you expect to keep your system for a long time. Right now the difference between 1.5 and 2ghz isnt that much i dont think in terms of price. They are both on the slower/cheaper, side of the spectrum. and its probably gonna be a better bang for the buck to stay above 2ghz.

    Ram - just cause your going for under 8 track, i wouldn't necessarily assume your safe with 512mb. Honestly the apps these days are demanding more and more. i would suggest a minimum ram amount of at least 1g..

    ALSO, with ram... ITS MUCH CHEAPER to upgrade the ram when the computer and thus all the parts are current/new. Memory styles over time get replaced with new standards. This means when you decide you want more power out of your 2-3 year old system that is running fine except the low supply of ram. Your gonna spend much more buying the same amount of ram later than you would had you bought it when you got the system.

    For this reason whenever i get a new system, i max out the ram capacity. It extends the life of the system without a large hit to your wallet a couple years down the line. so do yourself a favor and buy a system that is to your needs, and pump that ram up asap, while is still cheap..
    (and im not exagerating, its in some casing 2x or 3x more expensive for the older models of memory)

    BUY AFTERMARKET, buying the "ram booster" package from companys like dell/HP, is stupid they charge more for something that is EXTREMELY easy to find waaay cheaper here http://www.newegg.com or http://, and its the most easy computer component to install, just make sure your getting the right kind that will match your system. referring to the Manufacturers website or manual will usually get you that information.

    Finally, DUDE YOUR GETTING A DELL????!
    NO!, when looking at systems i HIGHILY (happy 420), recommend shopping online, and dont buy DELL, most or the systems like DELL/HP put in really cheap components, along with a whole bunhc of "bundle" software. that really just bogs your system down with crap running that doesnt need to be, thus compromising performance, and over time encouraging you to buy a new one from them (its an evil trap.)
  3. spark

    spark Guest

    Hi Fast2gg

    Thanks for your reply.

    No, I didn't say I was getting a Dell. The machine I'm looking at is the Acer Aspire 9813 laptop (20" screen) with a 1.66 Core 2 Duo, and 1 Gig Ram. They do make a model (9815) with a 2Ghz processor, but that''s a bit more expensive, and I'm not sure I'll need it -- but I will think about what you say on the processor speed question.

  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I was able to record 24 simultaneous tracks with a MOTU 2408, utilizing its digital inputs from my TASCAM DA88 x3, with an 800MHz Pentium I I I some years ago.

    The real advantage of the extra memory and speed comes when you are trying to add all of the plug-ins and processing. Then you can never really have too much. I mean, who wants to wait for a compressor anyhow??

    Drive-through audio
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. MC3DPCS

    MC3DPCS Active Member

    Has anyone here used an Intel Core 2 Quad-based PC for digital audio recording? The benchmarks look great but I also saw a Tom's Hardware forum post saying there are problems with the quads running DAWs. That doesn't really make sense but maybe it's a driver issue. I also read that Cubase can run on up to 8 cores so you'd think it would do fine on a quad.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think most of the problems have come from trying to integrate with Vista? I waited until just a couple of years ago to upgrade to XP Pro, since there were issues there, in the beginning. Same with Windows 2000 Pro when it came out. New anything has to get the bugs worked out first so don't write your new dream machine off yet. I'm sure you're bumpy ride will be nicely paved soon. But remember, even if you have a multi-processor machine, not all software takes advantage of that yet.

    Chugging along with my Pentium 4's
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  7. MC3DPCS

    MC3DPCS Active Member

    You're probably right on the Vista angle. My intention is to avoid that bloated OS as long as possible unless DRM dries up and changes are made. I'm mostly using Cubase and have read that it is set up to run on up to 8 cores but have not tried to corroborate that. I am also piddling with Live, Sound Forge, Acid and Vegas but don't know how multi-core optimized they are. Adobe products do scale up pretty well in my experience. The thing is, I like to keep computers a long time so when I do upgrade, I worry too much about the bang per buck aspect and try to future proof to some degree. I still have an old PowerTower Pro Mac (225MHz) and a P3 that I use for disc duplication. I do most of my work on a P4! Long live the P4! It warms my toes.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    One other piece of advice that might be important here is that Windows XP Media Center Edition is not supported by numerous software companies like Adobe and Digidesign. So you'll either want Home or Pro if you're going to run XP. I started to look into Vista only to discover that it is more like Media Center Edition than it is like XP Pro, regardless of which version. This should get more interesting.

    Now I only run Intel processors on all of my machines but I understand that the faster Front Side Bus of the AMD processors can make for faster audio performance? The Intel's are better for video, which is why use Intel's processors since I do a lot of video. If I was to look into a dedicated audio machine, I'd look at the AMD product. And they're more affordable.

    It's true about the Hewlett-Packards. They are loaded with too many games and other dumb software. I purchased my HP laptop last August but I bought mine for a very specific reason. It has 2, 100GB internal hard drives and a beautiful 17 inch widescreen display and the included CD/DVD burner with Light Scribe labeling. Unfortunately, it came preloaded with Windows XP MCE. So it won't be long before I upgrade it to XP Pro, so I can run Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 and later and Pro tools that will be supported by the software manufacturer. For the time being, I'll just deal with that terrible MCE.

    I'd like my HP better if it wasn't for the MCE.
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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