Buying new computer (advice on what I should get)

So, I’m buying a new computer for the main purpose of creating music. I’m really attracted to the most high end MacBooks they got out now (since I can work anywhere I want). However, any advice would be greatly appreciated! I plan on creating orchestra/piano music (similar to Ludovico Primavera type stuff, just so you get an idea of the demand that will be placed on the machine.

Also, I want to make epic movie trailers. Along with experimenting with electronic music. Pretty much, I don’t want to be up a creek with a laptop that I can’t use to work on in the next 2-3 years. I’ve heard great things about Macs, but I also know that you can change out pc parts to upgrade…so I’m not sure where to go with this…

I know this is a lot up for personal preference, but it’s nice to hear from people who are actually running these programs with these computers, and perhaps things they wish they would have done different.

You guys have been a great help. Thank you so much for all your wise words :wink:

Thanks!

Hi you,

does it have to be a Laptop or would a Desktop also be an Option?

I do not have much experience with Macs, and I tend to regard the “mac or pc” discussion as a matter of taste and “relegion” (at least this is what I experience in my Company - a Software development Company).

I personally use a Desktop for Cubase, a Windows machine, i.e. ASUS Motherboard, Intel i7 Processor, etc. I am going along this line since 15 years at least and I always managed to have a stable machine. A silent and performing one.

You touch the Topic of “upgrading”. Imho this is more a theoretical Option to a degree. Of course you can Change soundcards, include SSDs, Change graphics Cards. In other cases (CPU, RAM, etc. - sometimes also graphics, etc.) the reality Shows that technical benefits (Performance) are bound to changing to a “next Generation”, which in effect means you have to Change most of the components at once.

So: The “modularity” of a typical Windows machine is not so much a Chance for Upgrades but more a Chance for choice among a variety of components.

HTH, Ernst

Hi BeautifulNoise,

I agree with Ernst. I have Cuabse running on a desktop and on a laptop (both state of the art workstations and on W7-64).
The problems I see with laptops is that when you start working with a DAW and it loads and works with large VST libraries and effencts, it will put a heavy burdon on the CPU - and the fan will run like crazy to keep the CPU cool. That’s why I work only with audio file tracks on the laptop (in the rehearsal room with my band). You must turn off all power saving options anyway when you work with a DAW - no matter if desktop or laptop. Better look for a performant desktop with GC without fan and where the CPU is cooled by a large fan running at very low speed. Therse are options you won’t find with a laptop. I have an SSD as my primary HDD wher I have the OS and all programs intalled.
VST libraies are on a 2TB silent regular HDD and the Cubase projects are stored on another 1TB silent regular HDD.
Get a decent EXTERNAL USB or Firewire interface. If 2 channel I/O is enough for you, a Steinberg UR22 will do (around $100.00). It comes with a low latency ASIO driver and good integration with Cubase (both Steinberg).

I have not worked with Apple computers but looking at the forum I see that the perception that you will not see crashes and probles qith Apple is a fairy tail. Besides that an Apple computer will cost you a lot more than a PC with similar performace. Prefessional studios and users surely have their good reasons to work mostly on Apple computers but for us ambitious amateurs, a Win-PC should be perfect.

Yet, a Apple computer might still make sense for you if you already are experienced with MacOS and you use your computer for other work too (desktop publishing etc).

I keep fingers crossed that you make the best decision for your needs.

Have fun

Zibin

Hi, I really want to Support Zibin’s view (hi you ;o) ).

My Desktop has a fanless power supply and no mechanical hdd, but 3 SSDs (one for Windows/programs) one for Sound libraries (I own Komplete Ultimate 10 among others) and one for userfiles and cubase Projects.

All my graphic Cards are fanless as well (Matrox, Multimonitor - if you do not Need 3d in gaming Quality this is a good choice). The CPU cooler is a big one with a big, slowly rotating silent fan attached to it.

I really love this silent System.

Currently I am building it from scratch - i.e. I have an ASUS X99-S Motherboard with a new Intel I7-Haswell-E processor and 32 GB of DDR4 Ram. I had to add a firewire Card (since newer boards do not have FW any longer as it seems), because I also have a Motif XF 8 connected to the Computer.

My soundcard is a RME Raydat PCIe Card.

Generally speaking I would advise you to not safe to much Money on your Hardware platform. It is the number one factor, the foundation for everything. My machines always worked well for around 5 years. Then the technological pressure “forced” me to buy a new machine.

HTH, Ernst

To be honest you could build a PC with the specs of a Mac for a lot less cash.If you spent the same amount, you would have far greater specs on the PC.With Macs you are paying for a lot of things like build quality and the retina screen etc so that ads to the cost.At least with a PC you can choose where to pump the most cash (cpu,ram etc) and cut corners on say the graphics card.You would need to invest some time into learning about computers before deciding on the parts(well worth the time).As far as OS goes i guess whatever you prefer,which would make the decision a lot easier.If you are going to have heavy workloads go with a desktop as a laptop can only handle so much and cant be cooled like a desktop can.

Hi there

I’m on PC, always have been since before Logic PC days, from my perspective I always used Intel motherboards with Intel CPU’s and correct spec RAM. An SSD as the system drive has been important for stability and speed, on both my studio machines and the laptop I use for live, all run Cubase btw. I also found that a proper cooling system is very important (had some serious fails that were cooling related). I feel it’s important not to “skimp” on things like cooling etc. that don’t seem as important as CPU speed and the like just for the sake of saving a few bucks, it WILL bite you eventually, I would guess this applies to Mac as well, hope this helps

Best Regards

Dave

I’ve gotten my last 4-5 DAWs from manufactures who specialize in them. The latest being from ADK Pro Audio, which I’m very pleased with. These will cost more than just going to a big box store and buying a brand name computer, but you get advantages from it. First a branded PC generally comes with a bunch of crap loaded onto it that you don’t need or want that just uses resources (some of it really hard to get rid of). Second a dedicated DAW is configured to optimize audio work with things like separate disks for the system, audio, samples, etc.; SSD disks if desired; sufficient memory; disabling unneeded stuff like system sounds and sleep modes. Third not all components (motherboard, graphics card, etc.) in a computer play nice with each other and audio - so a good DAW builder will test and choose components from different manufacturers to verify they work well together.

If you are inclined to build your own, you could look at a DAW builders website to see what components they use to save some research effort. While I’ve got the skills to build my own, I don’t have the patience or time to do it.

Like the other posts I’d recommend a desktop over a notebook unless you have a pressing need for mobility. Ernst’s comments about upgrading sounding nice in concept but not realistic are spot on, with one exception. Upgrading by swapping in newer components for older ones generally doesn’t work. But you may find you want to upgrade by adding in more memory, an additional disk, or a UAD card. It’s nice to have a system that will let you do that.

Laptop = convenience and portability
Desktop = power and stability (especially when using VSTi)

Mac = more $$$ for a system that requires less tech knowledge and setup. Possibly more stable as a result.
PC = approximately double the power for the same $$$. Done right, awesome. Done wrong, nightmare.

If you get a desktop, a PC from ADK Pro, or similar solid builder would be the call, in my opinion. Many more options, not being confined to Thunderbolt only. If you’ve never built a PC, there’s a lot to learn. Make sure you’re up for the challenge. If you buy, get one from an audio specialist, NEVER off the shelf from Dell/HP/etc. Still cheaper than a Mac Pro trashcan.

If you get a laptop, Apple all the way. PC laptops are notorious for being finicky with pro audio apps and hardware. It’s a minefield. Don’t do it. I’m typing this on a top of the line 17" HP laptop. Would not use it for serious audio work. I have had lots of Apple and Windows machines. Off the shelf PC laptop is the worst for audio.

You will not be able to do “Epic soundtracks” on a laptop. Unless you were to also use a desktop with the laptop for VSTi via VEP, which would give you all your options at once. Attach laptop to the mothership for serious efforts, freeze and detach for portability.

I just built an 8 core overclocked PC with 32 GB ram and all SSDs. About 15% more powerful than a maxed out $9000.00 12 core Mac Pro. (OK Apple guys, it’s 4 less cores but clocked at 4.3GHz vs 2.7GHz…just physics). And it has 7 PCIe slots for all kind of options vs zero on the Mac. Cost me about $3000.00. Runs 100 separate instances of Omnisphere each constantly playing eight 1/16 notes at 120 BPM at 64 sample buffer. Not too shabby.

Best of luck to you.

It all depends on budget and how you want to work. Laptops can seem like a good ‘all round’ solution, and can be useful if you are using your DAW to work with live acts in different locations, or you are on the road a lot. If the majority of your serious time will spent in one location I’d go desktop all day long. I recently upgraded my PC from my old one (circa 2006) and this coincided with Cubase 8 coming out (upgrade from LE4 which I’d been limping along with for years) and it’s all working a treat. I covered off the ‘mobile’ side by getting into iOS music production with an iPad, so I can work on ideas, design sounds or create loops while I’m away and bring it all back into the studio later. Might be an option you could consider.

That really is the key. If you could give us an idea of your budget (both desired price and top price you’d pay), and also the top 5 or so priorities on how you want to use it (large sample libraries, live recording, track counts, need for lots of signal processing, fast load times, location recording, DJ-ing, scoring, whatever…) folks here can offer more specific advice about options and trade-offs. Basically describe how you anticipate using it on a day-to-day basis.

How is the Haswell performing, is this the 6 core 5820k water cooled?

I am shopping and taking a hard look at the x99 Intel chipset haswell with overclocked 6 core 5820k processor , water cooling, quad DDR 4 32 gigs, 4 gig video card ( just for Cubase, my film runs on a second pc )

Will run 4 ea 500 gig SSD to handle projects and vsts. 2 are internal 2 are external. One 2tb internal for archiving.

Based on my research this should be good for around 3 years. Possibly longer for me since my reliance on vst is shrinking each year.

For those not familiar this is Intels higher end line up , faster than the retail i7s you see everywhere. I Think launched end of 2014. You need to build it or have it built.

Around 2500 to 3,000 as described.

Wow, seems like a Mac is NOT the way to go lol. Well a friend of mine is purchasing the computer for me so that I can make music, because as of now he knows mine is very limiting for me, and he has stressed to me that money is not an issue, and that I need the best one I can get. I will definitely look at ADK pro, those look like some serious machines they have. I’ve built pc’s in the past, but I do know they are time consuming to build, and things happen (aw I forgot this cable and that thing and so on), and he doesn’t want me to waste time going through all that. So I think I’ll take a gander at these ADK machines, because they look like pretty serious platforms to work on.

Just wish we had someone that has the newest and best MacBook to solidify my decision. Because the guys at the store said that that is one powerful computer. One of the things I would be concerned with (that I didn’t think about) was the cooling issue.

With regards to water cooling, my son is really into power gaming computers so he built mine with water cooling and an outboard remote cooling radiator. It looks very science lab with the cooling tank reservoir and 3 fan radiator. It is never over 30 centigrade and the radiator is mounted on the other side of the wall… The quietest and coolest computer I’ve run in 30 years. Although my VIC 20 never really got hot :wink:

You are in a good place then!

Are you in the UK? If so I recommend having a look at Inta-Audio - they sorted mine out, but the nice thing is the PC builder on their website - you can start with one of their stock set-ups and then switch stuff around to tailor it to your needs/budget.

Once you decide if PC is the way forward for you, if budget really is no problem the simplest solution is to go ‘maximum everything’ - and while there is no such thing as ‘future-proofing’ this way you can at least hold the future at bay for as long as possible.

ADK pro do make laptops, they are not cheap but a serious alternative to anything Apple has in their portfolio
http://www.adkproaudio.com/laptop3.asp

Xentaq, unfortunately I’m located in the U.S. I would really like a laptop, because I’m also a student, so I have tons of dead hours and thinking that I could be doing ANYTHING to make my music better, however, I can’t because my computer is at home is downright a dreadful thought to me. That’s really the main reason. Because I spend more time at school (playing the piano and coming up with ideas and whatnot) then I do at my apartment. So I don’t want to be confined in that way. Because I always hear things that I can change/make better. I will seriously look at ADK’s laptops peakae. I’m really looking for something that will at least be able to take me to a level to where I can eventually make money from this and then computer decisions won’t be so much of an issue.

I’ve also been thinking about getting the best MacBook that is available, and then if need be, I get an external audio interface that will take over the processing power if I reach my computers limits.

The problem is, I don’t have any idea where these laptops are “maxed out”, like if someone who had the newest laptop was like “dude you can run 40-55 tracks with plugins on them and maxed out on those tracks and have no problems.” I would be fine with that for the next 3 - 5 years, because at this stage I doubt I doubt I’ll require the necessity to run more tracks then that.

I am in a good place, and it’s very fortunate/rare for an artist to find someone who sees so much potential in his/her music. I’m extremely grateful. If this doesn’t scream “you’re built and designed to make music” then I’m deaf. lol :wink: Sometimes it takes other people to actually make us realize what we are DESIGNED to do.

I’m currently pursuing a Business degree, and I hate it, and when I play piano at my school, time doesn’t exist, and I can play for 5 hours without realizing it, people come up to me and are like “why the hell are you here? You should be making music.” I’ve finally begun to listen to them, and pursue this, and take on my responsibility as a musician to expose people to my music.

It’s not just a “thing you do” it’s you’re responsibility, as this gift has been given to you, to expose your talent to the rest of the world. When the first person told me that this should be my profession I told him “it’s just a hobby” and he looked at me like I had a third eye, like I was a complete idiot, and he said “this is what you need to be doing.”

Anyways, I digress, maybe this small rant will fuel some other musicians to do the same. Follow your heart, and everything else will fall into place, just as it is for me. Because it wasn’t until I switched my mindset that these things started to develop…

Hi,

Raino - of course you are completely right concernting upgrade in Terms of more Memory, adding Extension Cards, etc. Maybe I use different words - I would call These things “extensions” and was only thinking about “upgrade” in direction of new/later Technologies. So… yes i agree with you :slight_smile:

Concerning the Haswell-E Question: I have a 6-Core CPU with 28 lines (so the “cheapest” of the currently available Haswell-Es). I do not know about water-cooling and I usually do not overclock my Systems. Why? Well, because I simply did not have the Feeling that I had to. Maybe I will try). You know, my personal experience was always not to follow the many “optimization tricks”, since many of them finally turned out to be problematic. There is so much pseudo-knowledge around concerning OSs and Platforms and it is hard to distingquish good hints from bad ones.).

Cheers, Ernst

I agree with you, I’m not some “computer tech” that has the knowledge or capability to overlock my processor (nothing against those that have the skill to do so). I prefer things pretty much how they come. Because I had also found (in the past) that this can create a lot of complications and also, more maintenance. I just want a very high performing machine that I don’t have to mess with. I just want to focus on making music, not on the maintenance my machine demands and requires. Because once I get my computer I just want to make music, and I want that to be my main and only focus.

Cheers back at ya!

Nick K

So now, peakae, I’m wondering, what is the benefit that the pc laptop from ADK offers that the best Macintosh laptop (most power as to date) doesn’t offer? I have talked to some guys about the best Mac laptop, and man they are like “this is the most powerful laptop on the market.” Flash HD, 16GB of ram (which from what they said is twice as fast as PC Ram because the mac utilizes it differently). That’s all I can currently remember.

I saw the best laptop ADK had had to offer and it looked pretty freaking awesome. However, it seems to have a lot of bells and whistles (keyboard backlighting and whatnot) but what else does it REALLY give me? I’m all about functionality. Don’t care much for some fancy back lighting (not saying it’s not a badass machine to make music on).