Laptop for audio

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by juhani, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. juhani macrumors member

    juhani

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    All over the place (UK at this moment)
    #1
    Hello,

    I'm planning to buy a laptop for music production and audio engineering - so to speak. And my simple question is as follows: is the Macintosh iBook 14":1.33GHz G4 (probably with 512MB RAM and later on even more) fast enough for that purpose???

    ... or should I save up and consider to buy PowerBook?

    If that's still not necessary, then what music program/sequencer (Logic Pro 7/6, Cubase SX3/2/SL3, Reason, etc.) would be the best to run on it. It's just I'm afraid that Logic 7 definitely needs some more resources, although it seems to be the best one out there..

    And don't you think that buying the most expensive iBook (as mentioned above) would be better idea than buying the cheapest PowerBook 12":1.33GHz G4 (with 256MB RAM)?? I believe the price would be more or less the same.

    Thanks in advance,
    Juhani from Scotland
     
  2. Windowlicker macrumors 6502a

    Windowlicker

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2003
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    Juhani,

    The iBook will most likely have enough power to crunch audio fast enough, depending on how big projects you have. One thing where the PowerBook is the better option is dual display support. But if you're willing to try a hack you will be able to have two displays on the iBook too (without this hack it will just mirror the same image on two displays).

    Just remember to get as much RAM as you can afford — no matter if you end up buying an iBook or a PB.

    About the apps. Reason 2.5 runs fine on a PMG4/733 w/ 640mb ram. That means it will run very well on a 1.33GHz iBook. Then come the troubles. If you're using Logic Pro 7 and have lots of tracks and effects etc on it, I'm pretty sure the iBook will have problems running it eventually. But this also depends on how much the setup has memory. The problems is the PBs have a faster FSB than the iBooks..

    I'm not too sure what to say. If you'll be getting the computer for professional purposes and hard, resource intensive tasks, get the PowerBook. If you'll use the computer for lighter audio editing, the iBook will surely be enough.

    Remember that if you're getting the PB, you might want to wait a couple of months. Apple will most likely introduce a new line of PowerBooks relatively soon.

    Also, I have never used an iBook for audio editing, so I'm totally not a professional on the matter. Anyone with more experience, feel free to contribute :)
     
  3. betsbillabong macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2004
    #3
    I think a lot of it depends on what kind of audio work you want to do on your computer. Effects and software instruments are what eat up CPU. If you're mostly going to be recording and editing audio, you should be okay. If you're going to be playing with lots of effects and instruments, you may want to go for the powerbook (that's what I did). I would wait, though, unless you really need it now. Even if you don't want rev A of whatever they bring out, prices on the current models are likely to drop after MacWorld when they will likely announce new models.

    From what I've read, Logic is actually the most CPU-efficient of the apps out there, though it's supposed to have a steep learning curve. You might start with Logic Express, though, to see if you like the interface as Logic Pro is something like $999.

    I can't comment specifically on the iBook as I have not tried it. I will say, however, that I recently upgraded from a G3 iBook and while it was virtually unusable for video, I found editing audio on it relatively painless which bodes well for you. Then again I wasn't using any realtime effects or instruments.
     
  4. juhani thread starter macrumors member

    juhani

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    All over the place (UK at this moment)
    #4
    Thanks for your replies. You put me in a difficult position, you know that?! I'd like to buy something right now and get myself started again but at the same time I feel that perhaps I should still wait a little bit more. Have you got any idea when these new models are likely to come out?

    Also I didn't quite understand one point here. Perhaps as my mother-tongue is not English. So what exactly did you mean by that "hack" stuff?


    Regards
    Juhani
     
  5. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Location:
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    #5
    you can install a software "hack" that will modify some file on an iBook to allow you to do monitor spanning.


    also- anther thing people did not mention here: the iBooks hard drive will be real slow. this will lessen its performance in many of the situations you will be using it. if you go with an iBook, you might want to think about getting the fastest hard drive you can afford and installing it in the iBook. you can use the original one as a backup/scratch disk in a self powered external case.
     
  6. neut macrumors 68000

    neut

    Joined:
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    Location:
    here (for now)
    #6
    my 17" 1Ghz PB poops out on some of my more complex Reason compositions. and that't not even through a host like Live. not sure how the new ones handle.

    ... still a great live machine if you know what you're doing. the backlit display is dope for a dark stage. :)

    Logic or Cubase with lots of plugs/tracks would kill an iBook. if you plan on much recording i'd at least get a PB. have been to osxaudio?


    peace.
     
  7. betsbillabong macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2004
    #7
    Juhani,

    Neut is right, definitely go to osxaudio.com to have this discussion.

    To play devil's advocate with my earlier post: if you think you really need the powerbook now, go ahead and buy it. Many people here will advise to wait until Macworld. However, you need to balance that against your needs for the next month or so. The current machines are quite fast and reliable and future proof, particularly the 15" and 17". I bought a 15" a couple of weeks ago because I had a project I needed it for. I didn't want to wait two months.

    I'm not sure, but it's also likely that soon, even now, there may be lots of people trying to sell their powerbooks in anticipation of the new models. Would you be willing to buy used? (If so, you may want to get something with AppleCare)

    Do you need portability? Desktop machines are faster and cheaper. For me the portability is worth it, and the 'book still seems really fast.

    You know, you could also consider buying an iBook now, continuing to save, and then selling it and upgrading it to a powerbook next year if you feel the ibook's not fast enough.

    I've probably created more questions than answers in your mind! Sorry about that. Best of luck!
     
  8. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    #8
    Logic and Cubase are sequencers, while Reason is a software studio. There are some important differences which will influence what you go with. Reason cannot record audio or deal with live audio (although you can record audio using something else and use it as a sample), nor can you do tempo changes mid track. Reason is about due for an update so these may or may not be addressed. Logic/Cubase can deal with mixed audio and midi tracks at the same time and tempo changes. Reason has more flexibility in how you build and hook up the software instruments. Most serious users go with both using Rewire to connect Reason with their favorite sequencer. Logic and Cubase can both do pretty much anything you want, but they have a different feel, so you should go with the one that feels right for your way of working.
     
  9. neut macrumors 68000

    neut

    Joined:
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    #9
    FYI- reason can change tempo by using the said rewire connection.

    juhani- if you're new to audio creation Reason and Live may be right for you and will be less taxing on your new processor. Live if you want to record... again check osxaudio for more info.


    peace.
     
  10. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #10
    my 2c

    iBooks don't have an audio-in port, so I had to get an iMic to do that. PowerBooks have that port.
     
  11. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

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    #11
    Chances are, you will want to get an external audio import device. The included sound in port needs power if you are hooking it directly up to an instrument... so don't let the sound in port make the PB look better. For you, it is basically worthless.
     
  12. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

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    #12
    oh- from what i hear, these glitches when using reason... are due to the hard drive being too slow. one more reason to get a 7200rpm 2.5" drive.
     
  13. neut macrumors 68000

    neut

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    #13
    too a point yes, but when your fx rack (mainly advanced reverbs) is too rich for reality... it can become purely a processor overload.

    Live is really taxing (especially when rewiring with Reason).. though i have yet to test the limits of Live 4 on the PB. im sure my G5 will be just fine for everything it can't handle.

    i'm still waiting for some extra cash to drop a 7200 in my PB... and for a 100GB+ 7200rpm drive. :)


    peace.
     
  14. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

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    #14
    too true


    i have a near full 4200rpm 80gb dring in my 17". i so want a 7200rpm drive, but i can't lose space, and i want to gain space also. 100+gb will be my sweet spot also.
     
  15. Poeben macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    #15
    I have an iBook G3 900mhz, 640MB ram, that I occasionally use for onsite sound design and mobile recording. It handles 16 track recording no problem, and does basic editing with some plugins fine. My mobile setup is the following:

    MOTU 828 firewire audio interface
    PreSonus DigiMax LT ADAT optical mic pre
    120 GB external firewire HD

    I'm sure the new iBook G4s will handle most of what the average audio user can throw at them, but if it were me I would wait and get the fabled "next powerbook." I do audio work professionally but didn't buy the iBook for audio; that's why I have a G5. It really comes down to what you will be doing with it and what you can afford. Plan on getting a lot of ram (at least 1GB) and an external hard drive.
     
  16. juhani thread starter macrumors member

    juhani

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    All over the place (UK at this moment)
    #16
    As a matter of fact I need portability above all, because I'm not in my home country at the moment and it's really getting boring here in Scotland without a computer. Otherwise I'd definitely buy a desktop Mac or sth. And I also think that although my approach and attitude to computer music is professional, I'm probably not gonna do some pro stuff right away. That's why I think I'll go for an iBook now and later on sell it (or then maybe not) and buy a decent desktop machine.

    Cheers and thanks again
    Juhani

    PS. ... by the way iBook looks better... er.. IMHO
     
  17. vixapphire macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #17
    Don't forget that Logic has the Freeze Track feature, which allows you to construct a virtual synth or audio track laden with effects, etc. and convert it into an audio playback file for processor efficiency. The volume, pan, etc. are still automatable, but if you want to make further changes to the track, you just unfreeze it, perform the edits, and freeze it again. I did this with a blue and white g3 450MHz desktop for over a year and it bought me a lot of time before upgrading, saving me loads of cash on hardware. i currently use it with a g5 desktop and an 867 tibook with no serious ill effects. in fact, garageband is more of a hog than logic 6 has been (haven't installed 7 on the laptop yet).

    Buy whatever computer you can afford, factoring in the purchase of a replacement -fast- drive and get Logic for the best future-proofing for hardware that appears to be available in the music/audio software market.
     
  18. 2A Batterie macrumors 6502a

    2A Batterie

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    #18
    Keep in mind that you can purchase something like a tc electronics powercore which processes all effects with its own DSP, leaving more processing power for your computer.
     

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