Old 05-17-2020, 12:53 AM   #1
Riano
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Hello All,

Totally new here and new to Reaper.

I've been making music as a hobby for about 12 months using an iMac and Logic. I love the setup. The problem is it's my wife's iMac which she uses for her work and she's pretty busy most of the time. So I don't get a lot of chance to record music.

So I think the solution is to get myself a laptop which I can use anywhere in the house whilst my wife is busy on the iMac. It's got to be a windows machine as a Mac book will be way over budget for me (I'm looking in the region of £1000). Having watched some youtube vids and read up a bit on alternative DAWs - I'm feeling quite excited to try getting into Reaper.

Aside from making music, the laptop will have to run CAD software (Autodesk Fusion 360) To handle this and be in my budget I'm looking at a few low-mid spec gaming laptops. something like

HP Omen 15
i7-9150H processor
16 GB Ram
512GB SSD
Nvidia Geforce graphics card

I have a UA Arrow interface which runs on a thunderbolt connection so ideally I'd like to keep using that with whatever laptop I get.

Where I'm a bit worried though, despite the general spec looking perfectly adequate, as I research laptops for music production, I keep coming across comments about laptops suffering from DPC latency making them unusable for recording. People seem particularly critical of Dell for this but it also seems to come up for most other brands too.

What would be peoples advice? what should I look out for? am I likely to regret getting a laptop when I start recording?

Dell do have some quite good deals on their G3 and G5 gaming laptops from their outlet. models which are either refurbs or scratched or dented case. But would I be best to steer clear of Dell?

Any tips and advice before I decide on whether to spend out or not would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-17-2020, 04:56 PM   #2
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Hi Riano,

I am not hardware expert and on this forum are many of them who knows more than me, but I can wrote my opinion.

For CAD work, graphic card is crucial of course, and if you do not have need to spin million polygons in your CAD software, I think some GPU with 2gb RAM can do job.

As far as I know, for audio recording, it is much more how to set BIOS and Windows than is it Dell or HP. And decent Audio interface with good ASIO driver.

To me, HP configuration which you wrote, is OK, and with some BIOS and Windows tweaks, I think you should not have problems.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:12 PM   #3
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Also, we all, who still learn and who want to learn, should be careful about some youtube videos and advices, I will give one example.
One guy on Youtube, who have channel about audio gear and recording, have video about Sample rates, bit depth and so on. That video have something around 100.000 views. What he was saying in that video, in some points was totally wrong, and one guy, who really know about all that, left the comment in which he corrected him. Guy who run that Youtube channel respond to him quite polite, something like: thank you, I didn't know that, now is clear to me. That video is still on Youtube, that comment is who knows where between all other comments of kind: thank you, very useful... you are the man...
And so on.

Last edited by TheM; 05-17-2020 at 05:13 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 05-17-2020, 11:37 PM   #4
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One of the problems you run into with computers from Dell, HP, and other manufacturers is all the extra software they install on their computers. You can delete a lot of that, but you never really get rid of all of it, the net result being you have stuff running, taking up hardware resources, that have nothing to do with audio recording or CAD. I've always found it best to wipe those systems and do a clean install of Windows.

The other thing to keep in mind is how big your projects are, number of tracks, effects, if you're recording more than a couple of inputs at the same time, stuff like that. If your projects aren't huge you should be ok on a laptop, lot's of people here using them.

Also, double check the laptop specs to make sure it supports Thunderbolt.
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Old 05-18-2020, 12:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheM View Post
Hi Riano,

I am not hardware expert and on this forum are many of them who knows more than me, but I can wrote my opinion.

For CAD work, graphic card is crucial of course, and if you do not have need to spin million polygons in your CAD software, I think some GPU with 2gb RAM can do job.

As far as I know, for audio recording, it is much more how to set BIOS and Windows than is it Dell or HP. And decent Audio interface with good ASIO driver.

To me, HP configuration which you wrote, is OK, and with some BIOS and Windows tweaks, I think you should not have problems.

Thanks TheM

It's good to get someones thoughts. When it comes to it and I do have a machine, I'll spend some time looking at how to tweak BIOS and Windows as you suggest.

Good point too about being wary of everything you might learn from youtube.
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Old 05-18-2020, 12:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by toleolu View Post
One of the problems you run into with computers from Dell, HP, and other manufacturers is all the extra software they install on their computers. You can delete a lot of that, but you never really get rid of all of it, the net result being you have stuff running, taking up hardware resources, that have nothing to do with audio recording or CAD. I've always found it best to wipe those systems and do a clean install of Windows.

The other thing to keep in mind is how big your projects are, number of tracks, effects, if you're recording more than a couple of inputs at the same time, stuff like that. If your projects aren't huge you should be ok on a laptop, lot's of people here using them.

Also, double check the laptop specs to make sure it supports Thunderbolt.
Ah OK, Thank you toleolu.

That seems good advice to start off with a clean windows install. Is this extra software what people refer to as bloatware?

My projects so far have tended to be relatively small in terms of track count and effects etc. Still, if my projects started getting bigger, it would be nice to know that I have a bit of capacity for that.

It's encouraging to hear that there are plenty of people using laptops.

How do people cope with noisy cooling fans whilst recording vocals, acoustic guitar etc? I guess running a mic into a different room is a solution but a bit of a faff.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:39 AM   #7
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How do people cope with noisy cooling fans whilst recording vocals, acoustic guitar etc? I guess running a mic into a different room is a solution but a bit of a faff.
You don't have much of a choice there. Either fix the noise or move it out of the room. There's not much else one can do.
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Old 05-18-2020, 09:37 AM   #8
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How do people cope with noisy cooling fans whilst recording vocals, acoustic guitar etc? I guess running a mic into a different room is a solution but a bit of a faff.
I've got 5 fans in my tower case and I don't have any problem with noise. A lot of laptops these days don't have fans, but if you have a fan in your laptop, I would think placing your mic a decent distance away (not in another room) and pointing away from the laptop, you should be OK.

If the acoustics where you record are anything like the acoustics in my man cave, fan noise is going to be the least of your problems.

Good Luck.
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Old 05-18-2020, 09:52 AM   #9
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Putting the computer in another room is really the only reasonable solution. A 15' cable run to the audio interface and a display monitor isn't a big deal. Tower or laptop. The fanless netbook style machines or tablets will have as much CPU power as your phone. You won't be doing much with those. Get a decent machine. Put it in the next room and let the fans do their thing.

FYI, the last of the Jobs-era Macs are still out there. You can find a 2011 or 2012 quad core i7 Macbook Pro for anywhere from $400 - $1200 on Ebay. Some refurb required on the low end of that. Put your own new SSD in it. The post-Jobs Macs aren't very Apple-like anymore and that price tag is absurd for what is now a fully disposable build. It's a good time to be a scavenger right now.
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Old 05-18-2020, 03:10 PM   #10
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Putting the computer in another room is really the only reasonable solution. A 15' cable run to the audio interface and a display monitor isn't a big deal. Tower or laptop. The fanless netbook style machines or tablets will have as much CPU power as your phone. You won't be doing much with those. Get a decent machine. Put it in the next room and let the fans do their thing.
And remote control is easy with REAPER web interface... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkMAj8CpvIU
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:45 PM   #11
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If it doesn't "have to" be a Mac and it doesn't "have to" be a laptop, I would highly recommend building or purchasing a PC. A comparable one can be had at a fraction of the price of a laptop, and is usually much more configurable.

That being said by a technological idiot who built himself a monster PC that can handle pretty much anything thrown at it.

-BrentP-
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by serr View Post
Putting the computer in another room is really the only reasonable solution. A 15' cable run to the audio interface and a display monitor isn't a big deal. Tower or laptop. The fanless netbook style machines or tablets will have as much CPU power as your phone. You won't be doing much with those. Get a decent machine. Put it in the next room and let the fans do their thing.

FYI, the last of the Jobs-era Macs are still out there. You can find a 2011 or 2012 quad core i7 Macbook Pro for anywhere from $400 - $1200 on Ebay. Some refurb required on the low end of that. Put your own new SSD in it. The post-Jobs Macs aren't very Apple-like anymore and that price tag is absurd for what is now a fully disposable build. It's a good time to be a scavenger right now.
Thats quite an interesting thought for an older 2011 - 2012 MacBook and a bit of upgrading. I'd always just assumed that you can't upgrade a Mac but I see you can. Is it possible to add graphics card too?

Only downside would be that my audio interface requires thunderbolt 3 port so I would have to replace that for something else which I would feel would be a shame.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrentP View Post
If it doesn't "have to" be a Mac and it doesn't "have to" be a laptop, I would highly recommend building or purchasing a PC. A comparable one can be had at a fraction of the price of a laptop, and is usually much more configurable.

That being said by a technological idiot who built himself a monster PC that can handle pretty much anything thrown at it.

-BrentP-
Thanks BrentP

It certainly doesn't have to be Mac and most likely won't be due to budget.

If I had the space at home for another desktop machine that's definitely the way I would go but as things are, I need something that will allow me to work at the kitchen table or in the lounge which I can then clear out of the way when I'm done. So the flexibility of a laptop is a must really.
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Old 05-19-2020, 03:23 AM   #14
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The AMD Ryzens generally seem to give better dpc in a laptop atm ... but you won't get TB on any Ryzen laptop.

Even the Clevo intel laptops from the pro DAW builders (over budget anyway) have known issues with UA TB interfaces.

The s/h Mac may be your best bet...or go with Ryzen and a USB interface.
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Old 05-19-2020, 05:08 AM   #15
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I'd always just assumed that you can't upgrade a Mac...
That's the post-Jobs machines they build now. Trashy stuff like soldering the SSD to the logic board just so it can never be swapped out.
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Is it possible to add graphics card too?
You mean for the 2011 MBP where the 2nd AMD graphics card fails? It's a chip on the logic board, not an actual separate card. Not recommended to try replacing it. But you can turn it off and run the machine with just the single main graphics card. The Linux based firmware hack leaves the machine fully functional - boot between multiple OSX systems and everything if you wish with no restrictions. (Some of the lesser fixes have caveats.) Get yourself a very expensive quad core i7 machine for under $200 with a good snipe if one of these interests you.
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Old 05-19-2020, 07:30 AM   #16
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I do my vocals in an extra room but don't need to worry about being able to press the record button etc.

The room is about 18 inches square with one open end, lined with egg boxes, has an old cot quilt draped over it and sits with the mike on an adapted camera tripod.

Cost? nothing.

I don't do professional work, just a very enjoyable hobby...
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Old 05-20-2020, 12:34 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Stella645 View Post
The AMD Ryzens generally seem to give better dpc in a laptop atm ... but you won't get TB on any Ryzen laptop.

Even the Clevo intel laptops from the pro DAW builders (over budget anyway) have known issues with UA TB interfaces.

The s/h Mac may be your best bet...or go with Ryzen and a USB interface.
Are you saying that I'm likely to have problems using my interface on a windows machine? If that's likely then yeah, I may as well not restrict myself by only looking for thunderbolt 3 equipped laptops and replace my interface with a USB one. It will be a shame to loose the use of the arrow though as I do make use of the plugins that came with it plus I purchased a couple extra of the cheaper ones when they've been on sale.

Anyone else here have any experience using a UA arrow on a windows machine?
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Old 05-20-2020, 02:53 AM   #18
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Are you saying that I'm likely to have problems using my interface on a windows machine?
Well that wasn't quite what I said. I said Clevo laptops have issues, not Windows laptops.

And I also said that intel based laptops are more likely to have high dpc than current AMD Ryzen laptops.....but don't have TB.

So certainly it may be more tricky to find a Windows laptop that is compatible with the Arrow and has acceptable dpc as it will have to be an intel machine.

If you make a lot of use of the plugs then it's worth at least trying to research a model that will work. Read as many reviews and forum posts as you can find and see if any particular models crop up.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:16 PM   #19
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Thats quite an interesting thought for an older 2011 - 2012 MacBook and a bit of upgrading. I'd always just assumed that you can't upgrade a Mac but I see you can. Is it possible to add graphics card too?

Only downside would be that my audio interface requires thunderbolt 3 port so I would have to replace that for something else which I would feel would be a shame.
I bought a 2011 third quarter Mac Mini Server a few years back very cheaply (£550 including a full version of logic pro9 and microsoft office) so I could help a friend (who was dying of cancer) finish his album using Logic Pro9. I would emphasize the SERVER bit, as that particular model has several huge advantages over the non-server ones.
1. Solid aluminium body/case
2. Two hard drive internal connectors, allowing you to mix & match HDD and SSD
3. Memory can be upgraded to 16gb in simple ram sockets as in a PC
4. The build quality is way better & more reliable than the current offerings.

I have been thinking about selling mine ever since we finished the album, but keep putting it off, as the Mac is a very elegant little box. I use it with a Focusrite LiquidMix32, an RME Babyface and a 1920x1200 monitor. Fitted with 2 HDDs and 8gb of ram, so it is very much NO slouch.
Did I mention it has a quad i7 @ 2ghz? This seems to run every bit as well as my 3.5ghz one in my studio PC, so I put that down to the Apple operating system.

So don`t lock yourself into a laptop unless you really dont have the space!
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:13 AM   #20
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Anyone have any experience with builders such as PC specialist or Scan in the UK.

Looks like their built to order laptops are pretty good value.

for example PC specialist do a 15.6" cosmos IX
i7 10750H
16GB RAM
512GB SSD
for £980

just wondering if something like this or just a main brand off the peg gamer laptop is the way to go?

Really does have to be a laptop too.
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