Spec advice for music production

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Ashmore, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. Ashmore macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2012
    Hello, I was hoping I could get a bit of help. I plan on buying a macbook pro 13" with the following specs:

    2.8GHz Dual-core Intel Core i7
    4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM — 2x2GB
    750GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm

    I'll be using it for work at University as well as writing and recording songs for myself.

    The majority of my songs won't contain more that 10+ tracks. They'll simply have 2x guitar, 1-2x bass, 1 x drums and 1-2 xvocals. The drums will be recorded using superior drummer VST using programmed midi files. The guitars will be recorded using an apogee one with amp sims, same for the bass. And it will probably all be mixed with EZ mix2. What would people suggest I upgrade to get by?

    I've decided I'll upgrade the RAM to 8Gb as I doubt I'll use 16Gb. The hardrive in the macbook pro is only 5400 rpm and I've been told 7200 rpm would be much better for the internal drive. Other sites have said I need 3 other external drives, one for the drum samples, one to record onto and one for backup. Are all these exteral drives really necessary for me?

    Thank you for any helpful comments :)
  2. Denny23 macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2012

    I'd suggest not upgrading anything at all.
    A macbook running a quad-core i7 with 4GB ram is more then capable of doing just that!

    Of course I had the same doubt myself, when I first bought mbp. I'm still recording fine though, running a 2,4 Gzh core 2 duo and 4 Gb Ram - 1066 Mhz! Multiple (20+) midi/ewql tracks are common, I also like to record drums with 7 tracks just for that. Of course in combination with guitar, bass, vocal, fx tracks, and more. Just using the 256 GB internal HDD, as well as an external audio interface.

    Still I'd love to get a new one soon - just for loading things faster, bouncing tracks faster, restart quicker, just feeling a bit more responsiveness. Sort of a luxury; it just isn't really necessary. I'll defenitely go for SSD, probably 8 GB of memory. For running (more) background things whilst recording. SSD would be a big plus in music production I think. In quick loading several samples, or just a huge amount tracks of audio data recording/playback or even (huge project) dubbing.

    But as I said, things are running just fine, even running at 64 samples in buffer size (latency). The current processors are at least twice as fast, RAM is running more Mhz nowadays. 8 GB could be a plus of course, but you don't need it. 16 Gb is overkill. 5400 RPM isn't quite fast, but in my case sure fast enough. And about the external disks, 3 (!) external drives wouldn't be only expensive, it sounds like a pain in the ass to me. Looks like you need a USB HUB as wel.. Don't you agree? Backup is always a good idea, but I use a big SD card or USB stick most of the times.

    Spare your money, maybe for a nice Fender!
    If you could let me know what you've decided and if it works out later on.
    And ust out of interest, you could share a demo of your productions?
    I could share things too of course. Appreciate it!

    Good luck. To anyone, please reply if you feel like I'm wrong or if you have similar experiences!
    Ciaoo. Denny
  3. Ashmore thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2012
    Hey Denny,

    Thanks for your in depth advice! Sorry I've only been able to reply now :)

    I'll definitely be getting 8GB ram to install my self, SSD is another matter, because SSD are only writable a certain number of times would you suggest having the SSD as the internal hardrive and only use it for running applications etc. and save all my university work which I edit and record music to an external HDD? Also would you suggest I keep superior drummer samples on the external or internal? I'm guessing internal as they're only going to be read not editted?

    Thanks once again!
  4. Denny23 macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2012

    Hey there,

    No problem. It's also a nice exercise for my English communication skills!
    If you're planning to add RAM, you could probably install SSD yourself as well. It'll save you a good $300. Not sure about voiding your warranty though, you should make sure of that first. As I mentioned earlier, I use a 256 GB HDD and I find that it's enough for a nice amount of music production(MP), as long as you transfer your larger project folders to an external device that is. If you however use this laptop for several other things, you mind find it rather small (250 SSD is on sale for a fair price nowadays). So you should think about it.

    It's also common in MP to replace your optical drive (or superdrive) for a nice SSD. You would want to run your system and programs from the SSD, and keep the HDD for storage. I would fit any instrument banks on the SSD as well, ánd run the current project entirely from the SSD.

    About that wearing out of SSD, as far as I've read, your system is very likely to give up before any SSD would. It sound's a little scary I know, but think about how your HDD is raveling out. (Is that even plain English? had to use Google Translate for that).

    I would always suggest keeping your latest files/projects, all your samples, instrument library's, audio files etc on the internal drive. It makes sure you're always good to go, and don't have to carry all clumsy USB devices: Damn! forgot to bring the HUB again. (And where's that damn guitar riff I recorded last week?!)
    In combination with SSD it would be the fastest option too. (Probably not if it's for Thunderbolt though).

    If you ever want to work on a project say on an iMac on school, you can easily copy the project folder using USB or Airdrop if you will. Load the project with all the samples and you're good to go. But there we do have a downside of the lack of external disk.. instrument library's, as they won't play over Wifi I suppose! Of course if you have one, you just plug it over to the iMac and there you go. But: do they even have iMac's? Is the right software installed, etcetera. It all depends.

    Also: be advised about the screen size, 13'' is very minimal for editing stuff / working your song. Just recording works pretty well I think, and it's a huge plus in mobility, but you probably want to have a Thunderbolt Display at home or you'll soon get tired of it, just like me unfortunately. You will have much less overview compared to even a 15''!

    Good luck making your choises, of course I'd still like to know what is become your (next) candy from our always healty Apple friends!


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