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Laptop Review for Music Production
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smccarthy945
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25th May 2008
Old 25th May 2008
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Laptop Review for Music Production

I have had the opportunity of using pretty much every brand of laptop out there this year given what I do for work. I have loaded Ableton and M-Audio controllers on every one of the laptops below. I am posting comments in case anyone is considering purchasing a laptop, you may find this information useful:

Lenovo T61 (current) ** My recommendation for music production:
Incredible machine. Fast and runs the drivers for the m-audio well. The boot is a little slow due to the Lenovo management software. The biggest advantage of the Lenovo's is they ground their boards out like Apple does so you don't get the "power buzz" out of it when its on AC power.

HP NW8xxx series, NC6000:
Do NOT buy HP anything if you are going to produce. HP DOES NOT ground their boards properly and you get a terrible AC Buzz through your USB or Firewire interfaces. Laptops have great performance, however, the buzz is unbearable. I had to run this one on battery all the time when recording vocals. Stay away from Compaq/HP for music production.

Apple Macbook, Macbook Pro:
Excellent machines for music production. Downside is these are expensive so if you have the money, go for it. Their warranties and extended are expensive, however, these are the best grounded machines. I got the least amount of buzz out of these from AC. For this reason, they make excellent machines for music production on the MAC or Windows side.

Sony:
These machines are terrible - avoid them. Warranty is terrible and performance is terrible. I had horrible performance and stability with these machines, especially in Ableton.

Toshiba:
Never tested.

Dell:
Dell isn't bad. I tested an XPS laptop. I personally am not a big fan of Dell given their support and construction. They are pieced together from Samsung contracts in Malaysia. I did hear a higher level buzz from the Dell than the Lenovo, but it wasn't much worse. Performance and stability is good with the Dell.

Recommendation:
Over the last year and a half, I have switched laptops for testing for my job and inevitably loaded Ableton and VSTS/drivers for testing the machines for the hell of it for my own knowledge.

Out of them all, I was surprisingly impressed with the Lenovo T61 quality and quietness when running in the studio. I think the Lenovo is the closest to the Apple MacBook in terms of a machine built to do music.

I think you can't go wrong with either the Lenovo T series (stay away from the Ideapad series) or the Apple Macbook series. Apple was without a doubt the quietest machine in the studio followed by the Lenovo. I would recommend if you are only going to run Windows, go Lenovo. If you want the MAC OS, go Apple Macbook Pro.

By all means, stay away from any HP/Compaq models as they obviously don't know how to ground their boards and you get ridiculous amounts of noise out of them when on AC power.

I would quite honestly stay away from everything else with the exception of Dell if for some reason you can't buy an Apple or Lenovo.
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25th May 2008
Old 25th May 2008
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25th May 2008
Old 25th May 2008
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Boutique Laptops

I don't know man, I always tell people to stay away from the boutique laptop companies. They always seem to avoid warranty repairs whenever they can.
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25th May 2008
Old 25th May 2008
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check out ADK. They have some great warranty and support setups. U will get properly audio calibrated PC or Mac from them out of the box.

Mac works out of the box as is but PC's need work to get right for audio.
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25th May 2008
Old 25th May 2008
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Ill take your word..

I will take your word on them, however, I don't know what advantage is there of going with ADK vs just a Lenovo or Macbook knowing there is a large company supporting the warranty.

I will check out the ADK stuff if I get a chance and keep an open mind about it. I agree with you to a certain degree that the PC's take more time to get working with audio than mac's. If I was a very non-technical person, the mac's are definitely easier to get running.

I would encourage people not to turn away from PC's because they are more difficult. I think going through the pain of loading the drivers and VST's makes you understand how the stuff works and increases your technical knowledge which I believe you need these days to make dope tracks.

The days of banging out tracks on an MPC and simple recording DAW are gone. The quality of tracks these days demands WAVES vsts, etc to get to that level of quality so you might as well take the hit and learn the computer's audio capabilities - they aren't going anywhere.
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25th May 2008
Old 25th May 2008
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PCs take alot of work and have to have right chipset, motherboard, hard drive, bios, etc. plus numerous tweaks (ala www.musicxp.net). and if its a laptop u gotta be more certain to get max out of ur laptop.

I have a samplitude rig (pc) and and PT HD3 accell rig (Mac pro Quad). Both stable even though mac osx updates can be killer but i wait for digi to certify n update b4 I move.

Quote:
The days of banging out tracks on an MPC and simple recording DAW are gone
As a workin pro in this game I dont agree. I have & see mpc's, motifs, fantoms, virus', etc. all day long by producers in this game. musicians prefer than hands on approach. waiting for load times just to audition sounds is a vibe killer for many.

Quote:
The quality of tracks these days demands WAVES vsts, etc to get to that level of quality
Huh??? Better quality than analog console, analog 2" tape, outboard processing, along w/ mpcs and hardware synths hittin that tape thru pre's, etc? Listen to the quality of mixes before 2002 when they used these tools. Especially the 92-2000 era.

alot of folks who have never used anything other than a computer think thats all u need then come on here and say- "why dont my mixes sound like dre or timbo?" "why dont my drums bang?"
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25th May 2008
Old 25th May 2008
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Your..

An idiot. Computa - I am tired of arguing with you on every post. I used 2 inch tape and analog boards for years. Do you have the budget to record analog? If so, you must be doing something right.

You don't understand my point and its just not worth arguing with someone who can't understand things in context.
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26th May 2008
Old 26th May 2008
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Macbook Pro. If you need to run windows, just set it up to dual boot. Best of both worlds.
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26th May 2008
Old 26th May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
An idiot. Computa - I am tired of arguing with you on every post. I used 2 inch tape and analog boards for years. Do you have the budget to record analog? If so, you must be doing something right.

You don't understand my point and its just not worth arguing with someone who can't understand things in context.
please explain ur point instead of using personal attacks. what r u a republican?

from all ur other posts u come off like a beginner and in this onee u dropped some false knowledge. I'm just tryin to shed some light lil homie. My apologies
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26th March 2009
Old 26th March 2009
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Wicked

Many thanks for this useful information you don't sound noob to me smccarthy! No info anywhere on which domestic laptops are good for pro recording I nearly thought about Dell but thanks to you will stick with a nice Lenovo instead! Didn't know about the grounding issue! Cheers bud!
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26th March 2009
Old 26th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d.dot View Post
Macbook Pro. If you need to run windows, just set it up to dual boot. Best of both worlds.
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19th March 2010
Old 19th March 2010
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I think you can't go wrong with either the Lenovo T series (stay away from the Ideapad series)

What's wrong with the Ideapad series?
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19th March 2010
Old 19th March 2010
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intresting post, good stuff man.
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19th March 2010
Old 19th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
Sony:
These machines are terrible - avoid them. Warranty is terrible and performance is terrible. I had horrible performance and stability with these machines, especially in Ableton.


Toshiba:
Never tested.
SONY.
My touch pad stopped working a few weeks after buying the damn thing...Luckily I was able to get a new one. (This seems to be a common Fault) Performance wise I can only talk about my experiences but so far Its a work horse and i can do quite alot.....but I,ll never buy another Sony again.

Toshiba. Never ever had any problems, I used 2 in the past for Audio recording....and they are tough and reliable.

I,d certainly buy another Toshiba again.
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19th March 2010
Old 19th March 2010
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19th March 2010
Old 19th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
An idiot. Computa - I am tired of arguing with you on every post. I used 2 inch tape and analog boards for years. Do you have the budget to record analog? If so, you must be doing something right.

You don't understand my point and its just not worth arguing with someone who can't understand things in context.
Smccarthy thanks for your info Bro, although I may not totally agree with all of your points....and I'm not trying to argue with you just for G-P....Lol
My Sony VGC-RA710g Kick butt, and it's an older machine, $2,200
http://www.sonystyle.ca/commerce/servlet/ProductDetailDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&productId=174244
with the Liquid Cooling in this PC you hear absolutely no fan...ever. Sonar, Samplitude, Cubase, Reasons, Live, Acid, no problem, ProTools never supported Media Edition
ProTools would run with Buffer under, then over, then under then start over again problems so I ditched the ProTools on this one....I don't miss it.

HP lap is on point also.
Laptop HP DV9830us http://www.dealtime.com/xPF-Hewlett-Packard-HP-Pavilion-dv9830us-17-Widescreen-Entertainment-Laptop
$1,400 and it ''kicks butt'' also using Sonar, Samplitude, Cubase, FL, Reasons, Live, Acid, it's just have some problems with ProTools. 64bit.

As far as OS is concerned I'd rather buy a Powerhouse PC and the spotted cat, and do the Dual thingy, ''you guys know what I'm talking about'', I can't promote Hak**** what you mo call it" here.
I also might rebuild the Sony into a powerhouse PC, and control the world...Lol.
& blessings.
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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I actually wouldnt rule out buying a HP for the job.
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reggmail View Post

As far as OS is concerned I'd rather buy a Powerhouse PC and the spotted cat, and do the Dual thingy, ''you guys know what I'm talking about'', I can't promote Hak**** what you mo call it" here.
I also might rebuild the Sony into a powerhouse PC, and control the world...Lol.
& blessings.
I used to run a Hakky but consumed too much time getting a good config after burning discs and discs, and making sure that config runned well and good. Required a lot of reading up, particularly as latest things that come out (namely WIFI cards, video cards etc) aren't supported well due to driver issues. Random kernel panics I'm sure have caused much frustration to everyone...

I felt pretty uncomfortable using a Hakky to as it feels like quite a fragile environment to work in, and not everything the OS is supposed to have or support won't be there depending on your installation or compatible hardware. If anything went wrong and I didn't have backup, it would be pretty awkward to restore and carry on working with. I'm sure there's a lot better configurations that work exactly like a Mac out there, but its not guaranteed for everyone... (but I know there are guides of what to buy if you want to make the best one out there).

As I have nearly 10 years of building performance PC's I just bought a faulty Macbook and faulty iMac for dirt cheap and repaired them I also upgraded them while I was at it too, since I was getting my hands dirty
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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thumbsupthumbsup
oldboy I agree with you, I just read of people who did the Hakky thing on PC looking at the cat (Leperd) and Macs with intel watching Bill Gats 7
and still didn't get total satisfaction ether way, better results when a ext hard drives is exclusive,,,if you know what I mean.
Why cause a headache if you don't have to.

I think a Power PC with Windows 7 ( Bill Gates) would suffice, cheaper for more power and more accessorys as well.
Thanks for offering your expertise, your comment was definitely appreciated, and it was also conformation for me to go the native route.

Lenovo biggist Laptop doesn't have Intel power chips yet like a i3, i5, and i7 and I haven't seen a 17'' screen.
http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/na/LenovoPortal/en_US/catalog.workflow:category.details?current-catalog-id=12F0696583E04D86B9B79B0FEC01C087&current-category-id=E5BCB035604D4177B206A55DD593B265

Check this out for the road, the Panasonic Rugged Toughbook

http://www.panasonic.com/business/Toughbook/laptop-computers.asp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIiErEDVYqw Dell Latitude
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL_qmc-BFb0&feature=related
Get a Laptop that can take all of your stuff....Lol
& blessings.
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman View Post

I agree with you Bobby, Rain does make some good computers.
I liked their Laptop and how they are configured, and Rain Stands by them.
I first saw them in a Sam Ash adds with a desktop and thought that they where a little over priced at the time.
http://www.samash.com/p/LiveBook%20154%20Laptop%20Computer_592013
However, Gaming laptops are usually :The Most Powerful Laptop Hands Down, you could always plug in another hard drive USB or Firewire on a PC, I believe that Apple is loosing the firewire.

Apple Quietly Kills FireWire 400 | Gadget Lab | Wired.com



http://www.tweaktown.com/pressrelease/2861/avadirect_starts_selling_world_s_most_powerful_i7_sli_gaming_notebook/index.html 18'' screen

Lots of other powerful Laptops at comparable price points.
http://www.harmony-central.com/articles/reviews/rokbox/ PC Audio Labs Rok Box Mobile Laptop ($1,699)
http://www.guitarcenter.com/PC-Audio-Labs-Rok-Box-Mobile-MKII-Laptop-883406-i1464377.gc Guitar Center PC Audio Labs Rok Box Mobile MKII Laptop
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy7IjMG22-w&feature=related Alienware's M17 17'' screen
http://blog.laptopmag.com/lenovos-ideapad-y550p-the-most-powerful-core-i7-notebook $999 on NewEgg
http://reviews.cnet.com/laptops/lenovo-ideapad-y550p-3241/4505-3121_7-33827120.html Lenovo IdeaPad Y550P 3241 - Core i7 720QM 1.6
http://www.dell.com/us/en/business/notebooks/precision-m6500/pd.aspx?refid=precision-m6500&cs=04&s=bsd Dell
http://rainrecording.com/products/livebook-studio/ Rain Laptop with an i7 Quad Core Memory : Up to 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 Dual Channel SDRAM $2,499 basic
http://www.avadirect.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=1173 AVA $2493.85
http://www.dell.com/us/en/home/notebooks/laptop-alienware-m17x/pd.aspx?refid=laptop-alienware-m17x&s=dhs&cs=19 1,799 17'' screen

http://rainrecording.com/products/nimbus/ 2.93GHz Intel "Lynnfield" Core i7 Quad Core Memory: Up to 16GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM

http://reviews.cnet.com/4566-6459_7-0.html?filter=1000036_9382388_1105089_15547830_ Rain Stands

& blessings.
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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Macbook Pro ftw.

I simply use a firewire 800 to 400 lead with my Macbook Pro.



P.S.

Open labs D-Beat aint too shabby for a portable device either.
#23
20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrofreak View Post
Macbook Pro ftw.

I simply use a firewire 800 to 400 lead with my Macbook Pro.



P.S.

Open labs D-Beat aint too shabby for a portable device either.




I agree with you Brotha Retrofreak, Open Laps is a very very
expensive computer....Lol

But it is rumored that Apple is fazing
out firewire.
Remember, I'm just the messenger....Lol

http://www.appletell.com/apple/comment/no-firewire-in-new-macbooks/ No firewire in the new Mac Books.

http://technologizer.com/2008/10/17/firewire-isnt-alone-a-brief-history-of-features-apple-has-killed/ Firewire isn't alone, a brief history of features Apple has killed.

http://www.appletell.com/apple/tag/apple%20phases%20out%20firewire%20apple%20phasing%20out%20firewire/Apple is Killing Firewire on ipods

http://www.tuaw.com/2008/10/15/farewell-firewire/Farewell Firewire.

I believe that the Newer Apples will still have USB2-3.
wreckingstuff
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reggmail View Post
I agree with you Brotha Retrofreak, Open Laps is a very very
expensive computer....Lol

But it is rumored that Apple is fazing
out firewire.
Remember, I'm just the messenger....Lol

http://www.appletell.com/apple/comment/no-firewire-in-new-macbooks/ No firewire in the new Mac Books.

http://technologizer.com/2008/10/17/firewire-isnt-alone-a-brief-history-of-features-apple-has-killed/ Firewire isn't alone, a brief history of features Apple has killed.

http://www.appletell.com/apple/tag/apple%20phases%20out%20firewire%20apple%20phasing%20out%20firewire/Apple is Killing Firewire on ipods

http://www.tuaw.com/2008/10/15/farewell-firewire/Farewell Firewire.

I believe that the Newer Apples will still have USB2-3.
Hey Regg, This came out at the end of 2008... I think the no firewire only applied to the macbook, which apple were not marketing towards professional users, or those likely to have a FW audio interface or FW drives. The macbookpro line continues to sport FW. I can't see them dropping it until something better is established. I saw this as just another aggressive marketing move from apple... If you want a mac laptop, and you want to use Firewire devices, we will squeeze yet more cash out of you... Mr Jobs laughs wickedly all the way to the bank....
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20th March 2010
Old 20th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wreckingstuff View Post
Hey Regg, This came out at the end of 2008... I think the no firewire only applied to the macbook, which apple were not marketing towards professional users, or those likely to have a FW audio interface or FW drives. The macbookpro line continues to sport FW. I can't see them dropping it until something better is established. I saw this as just another aggressive marketing move from apple... If you want a mac laptop, and you want to use Firewire devices, we will squeeze yet more cash out of you... Mr Jobs laughs wickedly all the way to the bank....
Thank you for the info Brotha Wreckingstuff.
If that's the case, Jobs should be ashamed of himself.
He's all ready squeezing blood out of a rock, and then he will turn people to other alternatives, and that may cause him to lose in the long run.

I also found this article from the ''Apple insider''as to why Apple decided to remove the firewire from the Mac Book entry level PC.
AppleInsider | Jobs responds to outrage over MacBook's missing FireWire [u]
They felt as though firewire was less superior to USB 2.0 and it would save room and make the laptop $300 cheaper.

They also at one time omitting the FireWire 800 port on MacBook Pros (leaving only the 400 port) and then returning it in the next update
http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/Re_The_FireWire_Firestorm/

They are still unclear as to the future of firewire on the Mac Pro. So at this point.....the story is to be continued.
#26
21st March 2010
Old 21st March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by computa View Post
PCs take alot of work and have to have right chipset, motherboard, hard drive, bios, etc. plus numerous tweaks (ala www.musicxp.net). and if its a laptop u gotta be more certain to get max out of ur laptop.

I have a samplitude rig (pc) and and PT HD3 accell rig (Mac pro Quad). Both stable even though mac osx updates can be killer but i wait for digi to certify n update b4 I move.



As a workin pro in this game I dont agree. I have & see mpc's, motifs, fantoms, virus', etc. all day long by producers in this game. musicians prefer than hands on approach. waiting for load times just to audition sounds is a vibe killer for many."
I see asr, mpc 4000, motif, triton, fantom, emu modules every day as well... unfortunately, they're all in one of my racks unplugged
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#27
21st March 2010
Old 21st March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
...Sony:
These machines are terrible - avoid them. Warranty is terrible and performance is terrible...
trouble free (like two crashes or so last year) vaio over here.
very stable, excellent performance.
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#28
23rd March 2010
Old 23rd March 2010
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Revision to my recommendations..

Things change fast in tech. Below are my new recommendations:

1. HP. They have changed their whole game up. I am sure you noticed the Dr. Dre ads. The boards are now grounded and the audio interfaces are night and day better than before. I still have my Lenovo but use my HP Elitebook more and more to produce. Fast, stable and clean.

2. Lenovo - I can tell the quality is starting to slip on the newer units. Plastic getting cheaper and the audio isn't the same. I would not consider a newer model for production.

3. Apple - Great hardware and clean if you have deep pockets and are going to run OS X. Don't run Windows in bootcamp on it. The driver support just isn't there. Apple has no interest in perfecting drivers for the machines.

If you want a dope machine, take a look at the HP ENVY's or HP Elitebooks. They are top quality equipment with a focus on audio now. Lenovo is starting to slip. Would make sure what you are getting into if you consider them now.

Toshiba, Sony, etc are mid market laptops and I would stay away from them. HP is the big dog in the audio game now on the PC side.
#29
26th March 2010
Old 26th March 2010
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Envy seems like a good option except no firewire!!!
#30
31st March 2010
Old 31st March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
Don't run Windows in bootcamp on it. The driver support just isn't there. Apple has no interest in perfecting drivers for the machines.
Please explain?

I'm about to buy a laptop, on which I want to run Reason and Wavelab. Wavelab 6 is PC-only, but I want to get a MacBook Pro. So... I've been thinking about running Reason on the Mac OS and Wavelab on Windows in Bootcamp.

I know there are music producers out there who are doing this, so what are the problems (potential or actual)? I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "driver support" & Apple's lack of it. If it works, it works, right? or am I being naive.

***news flash*** I just got a call from the guy I'm buying the software from, and he tells me Wavelab 7 (for Mac) is due to be released in June-July. So I can upgrade then, and run it on the Mac OS - problem solved, no need for Bootcamp. But I'd still be interested to know what the probs are, in your opinion.

thanks!
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