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Laptop based recording rig: do you feel comfortable?
Old 15th December 2007
Lives for gear
Gerax's Avatar

Thread Starter
Talking Laptop based recording rig: do you feel comfortable?


I've started another thread in the Music and Computer forum that could possibily get along with this.
I'm reconsidering my compact remote rig to be even more compact...
I've recently been given an M-Audio Profire Lightbridge firewire audio interface, which as simple as it may seem it's a little wicked device, as it allows to get up to 32 tracks of digital audio into a computer courtesy of 4 ADAT ports.
Now, I have ADAT converters onboard my preamps.
I have a Mackie SDR2496 HD recorder, which would get its signal from the parallel ADAT port on the pres...
I'm currently looking for a rock solid DAW to be used with a laptop for the recording, PTMP (with the cs2 "trick) as my main option as I'm a PT user, but I'm accepting suggestions on this.
So far this rig (SDR2496 backed up by Tascam DA78HR) has been flawless and has allowed me to record up to 24 tracks.
The lightbridge/laptop combo would raise that up to 32 tracks and make me loose the hardware mixer (monitoring ITB via the DAW), the 2496 would be my backup.
Do you feel comfortable recording with a laptop/softawre as you primary device?
My choice would be a Dell XPS 13.5" Core 2 DUO with 2Gb Ram and a fast USB2.0 drive.


Old 15th December 2007
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videoteque's Avatar

I would choose Mac and Firewire...
Old 15th December 2007
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Gerax's Avatar

Thread Starter
Originally Posted by videoteque View Post
I would choose Mac and Firewire...
Sounds pretty vague...care to explain a bit more?
Old 15th December 2007
Lives for gear
Matti's Avatar

And a fast firewire hardrive. Mac or PC, no difference -really!

Old 15th December 2007
Registered User

In short: NO! I will never trust a computer for tracking (again). If you have a reliable backup then it might be an option, but your backup device must be capable of the same number of tracks as your laptop.
Old 15th December 2007
Gear Maniac
I have 2 laptops I use for remote recording. One is a Dell 640 1.8 gig, 7200 rpm drive on Win2K. The other is a Toshiba (don't recall the model), it's a 2.4 gig (?) core 2, 4200 rpm drive on Win2K. The software is SawStudio. So far I've recorded 24 tracks live for 1+ hrs. with no problems on each machine. I record direct to the internal drive - no problems. I use both units so I'll have a backup. So far, SawStudio Welcome to RML Labs - The Makers of SAWStudio has been rock solid.

I have a friend, another engineer, that was running a similar rig with an outboard firewire drive and had intermittent problems with it. When he started recording to the internal drive, his problems went away. That's why I've never tried it.

I do not trust any recording machine, HD or tape, without a backup. Sooner or later everything fails. I can not afford to not have a backup. These days, a backup is another laptop, DA-78, or standalone HD recorder. It's not like having to take another 2" tape machine. So, I don't see the rationale of not having one.

Scott heh
Old 15th December 2007
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d_fu's Avatar

Originally Posted by Gerax View Post
Do you feel comfortable recording with a laptop/softawre as you primary device?
Yes. Been doing so for years... Current machine is a second hand Toshiba Tecra 9000, 933 MHz... Used a 650-Mhz Satellite before that.

I record with Samplitude, and there are hardly ever any problems.

Of course a good as-redundant-as-possible backup is very important, whatever your primary device maybe.

Old 15th December 2007
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Gerax's Avatar

Thread Starter
These last two comments are a bit reassuring.
What's the maximum track you've recorded at once with your setups?

Old 15th December 2007
Gear maniac
noamraz's Avatar

24 Tracks (HD+DAW)

I am using HD24XR and the ADAT outputs goes to MAudio profire lightbridge and everything goes flawlessly, I've been dealing crashes with my HD machine latley but the DAW is working flawlesly.

Here i'm using Lenovo C100 as DAW (Celeron M 1.7Ghz /w 512mb memory) running Reaper and recording on external usb 2.0 HDD (Usually Lacie) - 24Tracks of 48Khz maximum - It do the job.

Regarding the monitoring, It seems that i cannot work on high-track count projects with low buffer which brings the latency high, Keep in mind that monitoring the DAW from FOH demands low latency.

I am so satisfied with results and thinking about integrating this system as my Studio's main system (Running Protool M-Powered), Due the lack of 003's SMUX and the HD24XR's far superier converters than any Protools LE systems.

Best regards, Noam.
Old 16th December 2007
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videoteque's Avatar

Sounds pretty vague...care to explain a bit more?
Oops! Sorry it was really vague!!!

I would use a Mac OS X based system instead of a Windows based system. And I would try to use internal hard drive (maybe order a 7200rpm) and a Firewire interface.

I agree more or less with everyone, any system can fail. It depends in every work if you can live with it or not (aka if you are paid enough to bring a backup system).
Old 16th December 2007
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Gerax's Avatar

Thread Starter
Well, I believe OSX o XP/Vista it's just a matter of personal preference, as far as reliability I really see no difference once a Windows machine is of quality make (like a Dell or HP) and is configured the right way (ie, stripped down of every unnecessary service). I admit I considered a MacBook, but made several tests and found that I could get more performance out of a Core2 DUO Sony Vaio or a Dell XPS Core2 DUO, which I'm more familiar with, so I'm oriented toward one of those.
Track-wise I don't know if I can get away with the internal drive with track counts up to 32 but I made a test with a friend of mine (who owns and runs one of the leading post production studios in Rome) on his Sony Vaio, recording 29 tracks t 24/48KHz with 5 DVerbs on each track, all on the internal drive. Flawless (you can see it here: Volevate Pro Tools su Vista? Eccovi accontentati... - Pagina 3 - ProToolers.com I'm sorry, it's an Italian forum.
As for the backup story, if you call yourself a pro and ask money for your recordings (like I do...) you cannot afford to not have a backup in any case, even if it's as simple as a 2 tracks recording. I always have one, even if it's a DAT ran freewheel in the background or a CDRW. Anyway, I always run a second HD recorder which gets the same exact signal as the primary recorder (it originally was my primary recorder, backed up by DA78s), so I'm quite safe .

Any other experiences with recording remote gigs (possibly with high track counts) on a laptop?

Old 16th December 2007
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videoteque's Avatar

If you need to rec 32 tracks, compactness and portability are just a dream. Plus you need backup, I can't see how you can configure a "compact" setup!!!

Why would you buy a laptop?? Internal hard drives are not big and are not fast. I would try to get a small desktop, if you want to stay PC get a Shuttle barebone, if you want to jump to Mac, get an iMac.

Good luck!
Old 16th December 2007
Lives for gear
Gerax's Avatar

Thread Starter
Well, if I can fit a 32 track recording system in a 12RU (including preamps, AD converters, backup recorder, power unit and audio interface for the primary recorder) I think I can use that...which I do. The lightbridge is a 32 tracks interface, half RU, it'd allow me to forget about a hardware mixer (32 channels...), so that the system would become portable even for larger recording situations.

Old 16th December 2007
Lives for gear

I've been wondering this for some time now . . .

Given that the Profire Lightbridge works on FW400, and the MacBook Pro has a bus capable of handing FW800, is it possible to - or has anyone tried - using two (!) lightbridges into a laptop?

Don't panic, my audio streams to an eSATA drive on a different bus!

I'm thinking about running 32 tracks of 24/96 in, and HATE the interface software I'm using . . . just thinking of ways to get around it!


Old 17th December 2007
Gear interested


I have been using a computer running ProTools, Apogee AD8000, with Tascam DA38's as back-up for many years and has never hick-uped once. These have all been location CD productions and live archive performances as well. I am now looking into an Apple/Apogee Symphony System for the same purpose. Just trying to ascertain whether or not I would get the same reliability. I do find, however, that many people in this forum do not like to use computer based recording on location. I started out that way for portability reasons but found the real-time dumping of audio from a Tascam tape system into a DAW was far too time consuming. Now when I'm finished tracking a 16 hour session I can bring the gear back into the studio and start editing right away.


Robert DiVito
Toronto, Canada
Old 17th December 2007
Lives for gear
pkautzsch's Avatar

Toshiba Satellite P20 here, 2.4 GHz, running Nuendo 2 and recording to the internal HD through a MOTU Firewire interface. Once the computer was configured nicely (disabled all network stuff, as this seemed to really slow down performance) I didn't have any problems.
Recorded up to 30 tracks simultaneously @44.1/24.
For smaller budgets and remote "studio" sessions, I have started to just bring laptop and interface (has 8 mic pres included) as I trust the stuff enough and there *is* a second chance if the system drops half a second of audio. For one-shot live recordings I still use a Fostex D2424 as backup device, and never had any issues except for occasional clicking when I forget to set up the proper clock signal chain (but that's my fault, not the computer's).

So, yes, if you have a reliable backup recorder, I think you can safely use a computer as main recording device.
Old 18th December 2007
Gear nut
cioto's Avatar

I've been recording live for almost 3 years.
Powerbook g4 1.33 Ghz, external firewire HD (2.5" self powered 5400 rpm).
I use Digital Performer 4.6 on OSX 10.4.11, a motu 828mkII firewire and an 8 channel adat a/d (presonus digimax fs).
I record up to 18 tracks, and I've had little or no problem at all (50/60 recordings up to now, mainly rock/metal).
I can't afford a backup (I don't get payd enough for that...) :(
But I would NEVER record on my internal HD, that sounds crazy to me!
Old 29th March 2013
i plan to build a simple rackmount pc-computer with a 22" touchscreen. Compact and powerful. I plan to have a rack large enough to keep my audio interface in the same rack.

something like this for a chassis: Rack case
Old 29th March 2013
Gear Nut

Ui, that's an old thread...

Anyway: I felt very comfortable when I recently made a recording and suddenly a huge fail of the general power net of that area occured. Everything was dark... except my laptop's screen.
Using Lenovo Thinkpad T530 and RME MADIface.
Old 30th March 2013
Lives for gear
tourtelot's Avatar
Very old thread but even with the improvements of the ensuing years. . .


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