getting back into music


Just joined the forum. Getting back into music and recording after about a 20 year hiatus. Looking to purchase a new Laptop PC to run Cubase.

Already purchased a UR22MKII and plan on getting a high end preamp / compressor and a TLM103. This is just for my own personal use and pleasure. No live gigs, no band and not a commercial enterprise.

Anyway, is anything regarding these specs I should be concerned about? Did some searches but couldn’t find anything specific enough. Thanks.

Windows 10 Home / Windows 10 Pro
Latest 7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ processor
Latest GeForce® GTX 1060 3GB GDDR5 with desktop level performance
17.3" FHD, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 120Hz 5ms
NVMe M.2 SSD by PCIe Gen3 X4 up to 2200MB/s speed
1 - 512GB SSD
1 - 1TB 7200 HDD
The latest USB 3.1 SuperSpeed+ interface built in
USB Type-C reversible plug
2 USB 3.0 ports
1 USB 2.0 port
Keyboard with single color backlighting
Upgraded Killer Gigabit LAN Controller + Killer Shield + 802.11 ac
Matrix Display supporting 4K output up to 2 external monitors

Excellent pick for a minimalist set-up. I have one in my “B-studio” (living room) and I’m very satisfied with it.

Forget this for now. Use that money on good monitor speakers and/or acoustic treatment instead.

Not a bad choice at all. But ask yourself if you ever want to record a stereo source. In that case pair of cheaper mics would make more sense.

Looks good. Processor is around the “sweet spot” considering price and performance. RAM is more than enough for hobbyist projects (even 8G should be enough). Display adapter (GTX 1060) is definitely overkill for DAW usage. But if you are a gamer and want to use your DAW laptop for gaming, it’s a perfect match.

With disk setup I would ask myself: do I need 1TB HD or should I go full SSD way? This of course depends on your usage profile. If you plan to use large sample libraries etc, then it’s justified. Otherwise one 512G SSD is enough for hobbyist studio.

Totally agree. If you’ve been away from the game for 20 years you might not realise that there is a perfectly good GPU now integrated into your i7.

As for CPU, the i7 will run hotter and use more power and you might not need it; 6th generation i5’s are fantastic CPUs and my personal preference at the moment, as I steer clear of hyperthreading (but maybe that’s just me). As you’ve indicated a preference for a laptop though, it would not be an easy upgrade to go from i5 to i7 at a later stage should you find you require it. If you can tell us what you think might be your typical production we can give you an indication of what CPU would be best. Most singer-songwriters would have more than enough with an i5 (or even a modern i3) whereas EDM with lots of synthesised tracks, huge reverbs and effects will need more.

Regarding disks, SSD for OS, definitely; if the laptop can accomodate a second disk, consider a hybrid “SSHD”, which is a combination of an SSD buffer (usually 8GB) and a spinning platter for capacity. This provide both responsiveness and capacity at a lower price.

I also agree with Jarno regarding the UR22MKII … try it out first before wasting any money on expensive additional analog gear; I’ve been quite impressed with the preamps in the URs, so it’s worth testing with your own mics first before buying something you may not need.

Thank you both for the feedback. I’d like to address a few comments.

About the i7 quad core processor, I did read through steinberg’s daw components page and understand that a higher “virtual core” count via hyperthreading can actually slow things down but I read on another site that this is mainly due to the fact that daw developers are not yet taking advantage of higher core counts and my thinking is that they eventually will (or should). So my thoughts about the processor are that it might make sense to spec it out for future improvements to the next gen daw engine. Have any daw developers hinted at this yet?

Also, the kind of stuff I do I don’t think I’m going to come anywhere near overloading the system so I’m hoping that any drag on the system from higher core count won’t cause problems.

On that note, would more RAM (32GB) offset a “high core count drag”?

About the high end preamp / compressor, I recognize the UR22MKII has very good mic pres but I’m still confused about the virtual processor thing. I mean I understand it from a “treatment” perspective but processing some highly dynamic analog signals after they’ve been digitized seems somewhat backward. Even with the dynamic range and headroom afforded by 24 /192, aren’t some sources still quite dynamic that could use some “front end” processing before going through the A/D conversion?

And I have decided on reference monitors just failed to mention them. Getting both the Mackie HR624MKII’s and the IK iLOUD’s.

Thanks again for the feedback.

The i7 is the weapon of choice for many, it’s just a personal choice I made to go with the equivalent i5 instead, the main difference being that the i5 doesn’t have hyperthreading. They both have 4 “real” cores, and hyperthreading can usually be disabled in the BIOS (with an i7 and hyperthreading enabled, you’ll see 8 cores in Windows, 4 of which are virtual). I’ve also read that some of the 7th gen i5’s actually overclock better than the i7 and therefore represent much better value for money. For me though, currently a non-overclocked i5 is more than adequate for what I do, is significantly cheaper and runs cooler.

Putting an analog limiter ahead of the AD converter was/is a good idea, and indeed some of the better interfaces have them built in. I did this myself when we only had 16-bit converters, to avoid any possibility of digital clipping and to get the most out of the available dynamic range. With the advent of 24-bit converters though, the dynamic range is such that you no longer need to go close to 0dBFS in order to get good recordings. A lot of people aim for -18dBFS and that provides a lot of headroom with very little risk of a digital overloads. There’s a great Sound On Sound article on the subject here: Gain Staging in your DAW Software by Matt Houghton.

This is outdated information AFAIK.

More RAM does not give more performance. You either have enough RAM to run your projects or not. With my previous PC I never ran out of RAM even though I only had 4GB. 32GB is waste of money unless you plan to run really huge projects (something like 100+ tracks of virtual instruments). If you mainly record audio and some virtual instruments here and there, even 8GB is more than enough.

Never experienced such sound sources. And if there ever would be such beasts, it would be the analog equipment, which cannot handle them, not 24-bit digital audio. And you mentioned “24 /192”. Please, don’t fool yourself and buy 192kHz snake oil. Using 192kHz sample rate only uses CPU power needlessly. If you think 44.1 or 48kHz is not enough stick to 88.2kHz is has more than enough safe guard against possible artifacts which might be generated with processing audio in 44.1kHz.

Thank you both again very much.