The spine of your music creation setup are going to be your computers, no matter how important everything else is. You can’t edit, engineer, loop, fix, twist or do ANYTHING do your music files if you don’t have anything to work with it on. So, today, we’re going to take a look at some of the things you’ll want to look out for when purchasing a new computer (or using an old one) for your studio.
You have all of your production gear, collecting dust, ready to go; but what about the computer? You have the keyboards, instruments, microphones, and everything else picked out. But what about the actual device that’ll be acting as the spine of your studio setup? Well, don’t worry at all. It doesn’t matter too much what you’re buying. However, to be safe, let’s go over what kind of things you should be on the lookout for when researching an audio engineering machine.
The first thing to consider is your budget. You don’t need to be dropping multiple thousands of dollars on a crazy workhorse machine, the bigger fish you go for will ultimately mean the speed and effectiveness of your workflow, which is something worth considering, as you’ll be spending long hours editing, cutting, looping and remixing every day anyway.
On the more specification-oriented side, RAM is something worth thinking about when purchasing a new machine, whether it be Mac or PC. Unless you’re planning on using something like GarageBand, you’ll need more than 8 GB for your computer. Rendering Hi-Fi MP.4+ Audio files can take up a lot of system memory, especially if you’re using a professional DAW.
Hold on, what about the whole Laptop vs. Desktop debate? Truth be told, that doesn’t matter at all unless you’re talking about money. The same computer parts (mostly) that you can fit into a desktop PC have found their ways into laptops, which is a boon for content creators and audio mixers like yourselves. The only issue is that to get a laptop that has the same high-end specifications as a desktop comes at a pretty steep premium. If you’re wondering why, the answer is quite simple; for a brand or manufacturer to slim down, redesign, and fit the same parts in a laptop depending on the size and build of the laptop is completely up to the manufacturer; they have to design pieces specifically for that chassis, making the parts come at a substantial premium.
Depending on whether or not you’re going to roll with a Mac or a PC, brands don’t matter. A laptop by Microsoft, Razer, Asus, Gigabyte, Apple, or any other big brand will be using slightly different configurations of the same parts, so brands don’t matter. When a laptop or desktop has mid-high end parts, they obviously come with a steep price tag. That price tag, however, doesn’t extend only to the parts themselves. You’re getting what you pay for regarding expansion options and build quality with a high-end laptop.
Here are some mid-range specifications to keep in mind when buying a new laptop. If you ignore this part, you could jeopardize your entire idea and loot your wallet. You certainly don’t want to be stuck with a good setup, with an even better DAW, and have a laptop or desktop that won’t be able to handle the workload.
Either a dual-core or quad-core processor for this type of content creation will be all right if it’s processor speed is above 2.5 Ghz.
As previously stated, you will want at least 8 GB of ram (At least DDR3, but DDR4 for 2017) but 12 or 16 would be better.
You will want at least 500gb of space to store your music and software on, but 1-2tb would be better suited to your needs if you plan on (or already do) create a lot of music. Cloud services and external hard drives, etc., are also viable options.
You’ll want a big screen to work on, so 13″ should be the barest minimum. 17″ Is solid, and 15″ is a pretty good sweet spot.
Video cards don’t matter very much if this machine is mainly for productivity and for creating music, as DAW software doesn’t demand very much regarding the graphics department.
So there it is! Some pretty basic tips on choosing your next computer for content creation. Remember to do your research, and to compare the ‘pros and cons’ of each device with the others that you have picked so that you can purchase the best equipment for your needs. Also, it’s always good to check Consumer Reports before making a big purchase!