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What is your most reliable laptop config for recording Live classical music DAW Software
Old 2 weeks ago
  #61
I've been recording in two different situations with an eleven-year-old ThinkPad running XP and using Cubase Studio 4.5. It has never failed so far. I'm using a Steinberg MRX816 through firewire.

First situation: jazz/rock band, 8 or more inputs, mic or line (4 mics drums, 1 mic lead guitar, one line-in bass, one line-in keyboards, usually two mics-percussion). The Steinberg gives 8 mic/line inputs, and can be connected to another pre-amp device through light pipe, which I've done from time to time. In this situation, it's possible to do additional takes if something happens to the system. Although it has never failed, amazingly.

Second situation: recording local orchestra(s) and chamber concerts. Here, I am still using the ThinkPad with the MRX816. However, you don't get any do-overs in live recording, so I have bought a Zoom F4 and am using that now as the main recorder, and I have been splitting the mic feed to the F4 and the MRX816 with an ART S8 splitter. Nothing has failed yet.

But I'm concerned about that old laptop, as much as I am happy that it has been so perfectly reliable. For one thing, the battery is dead, so I need A/C power, and so does the MRX816, and that means I have to run power lines with tape on the floor. The audience just can't even see the wires running across the open space and the first row of seats, and I have to guard that route in intermission. For another thing, who is relying on XP? Yet another thing, it's great that I have two hard drives in my Thinkpad, but how long are they supposed to last? And one more worry, how rock-stable is Cubase 4.5 Studio?

So now that I've had a few successes with the Zoom F4, which is an amazing recording device, I bought a Zoom H4nPro to be the backup redundant system for the orchestral recordings. I will be able to run both on battery power, and I'll have a main pair of mics for the F4 plus the x-y mics on the H4nPro as a backup. The F4 will run about 4 hours on batteries; I have yet to test the H4Npro, but the advertisement is about the same. Hopefully I'll never have to use the backup, but I should have confidence that whatever happens I'll get the concert recorded. And no power cords.

The Thinkpad will still have a life as the band recorder, until it eventually dies.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #62
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
My system is very pedestrian. I record up to 16 channels via a Tascam US-1641 to a 5 year-old HP Pavillion running Reaper on Win 8.1. I have never had a failure (touch wood) but I take a split through an Art S8 to my back up recorder, which was - until it failed - an old Korg D888. The Korg will no longer latch "Record" and I have been unsuccessful at trouble-shooting or repairing it. So much for dedicated recorders with simple OS... I recently purchased an inexpensive Tascam RD-70D to use as a backup for the main mics - I seldom use more than four tracks when recording orchestral anyway. But I will continue to look for a good deal on an 8-track field recorder for back up. I must say Reaper has been absolutely bullet-proof for location recording and its nice to have all the tracks already labeled, panned and roughly mixed when I move the project into my studio computer for mixing and mastering.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #63
Windows 10 and Reaper on a Lenovo Thinkpad here. And similarly (knock on wood) no crashes.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #64
Lives for gear
I'd be interested to poll users of the laptop/Reaper (or whatever DAW of choice) ilk as to their experience of the associated interfaces now used in 2017/18.

When USB 1.1 was reigning, the only real game in town was Firewire, but since USB 2.0 arrived (a looong time now...) and matched FW's transfer speed, there seems to be an increasing reliance on USB interfaces nowadays. Some of the 'heavy hitters' (eg RME) offer both FW and USB in the same device.

Long question short...has USB 2.0 (let's leave aside USB 3.0 for now, no wide scale movement over to it that I can see, ditto for Thunderbolt) now fully matured as a reliable (ie dropout free) data delivery pipeline ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #65
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Long question short...has USB 2.0 (let's leave aside USB 3.0 for now, no wide scale movement over to it that I can see, ditto for Thunderbolt) now fully matured as a reliable (ie dropout free) data delivery pipeline ?
I think USB 2.0 and 3.0 are quite reliable; ask any owner of the Sound Devices USB Pre-2, for example, or owners of any of the countless other USB interfaces and mixers on the market. I've never had any problems myself.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #66
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
I think USB 2.0 and 3.0 are quite reliable; ask any owner of the Sound Devices USB Pre-2, for example, or owners of any of the countless other USB interfaces and mixers on the market. I've never had any problems myself.
That's the impression I'm getting too. I'm surprised because, unlike tower-type PC's with discrete boards which allow you to allocate USB device sharing to avoid conflicts, laptops tend to have this ability 'baked-in' to a large extent (although external hubs can help here)

So I'm pleasantly surprised there isn't a lot more shared polling of USB resources, at the expense of an interface's need for continuous streaming (or at least uninterrupted effective buffering) ?

Maybe my thinking is mired back in the USB 1.1 days still....!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #67
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
That's the impression I'm getting too. I'm surprised because, unlike tower-type PC's with discrete boards which allow you to allocate USB device sharing to avoid conflicts, laptops tend to have this ability 'baked-in' to a large extent (although external hubs can help here)
I have noticed generally more reliable performance (in Windows, anyway) connecting directly to a USB port on the laptop than I get when using a hub or dock. I still find USB of any flavor to be more flaky on Windows than on the Mac or Linux, but it's far more solid than it used to be. My Windows machine is a Surface tablet connected to a dock, and for some equipment (such as cameras) I can only get a connection if I plug directly into the Surface's single USB port; none of the four USB ports on the dock will recognize it. And then two days later I can connect via the dock just fine. This seems typical with Windows, and not just with USB: my Surface tablet only sporadically recognizes the SD card that I installed for extra storage, for example.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #68
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
I think USB 2.0 and 3.0 are quite reliable; ask any owner of the Sound Devices USB Pre-2, for example, or owners of any of the countless other USB interfaces and mixers on the market. I've never had any problems myself.
I agree, and have had zero problems for several years in this exact case, using a Sound Devices USBPre2.

That said, now that I am using Dante for remote work, I would never want to return to a USB-based interface.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #69
Gear Head
 

Dell M4800, i7, 16 GB, SSD 256Gb + 1TB audio HD, running W7 64. Horus, Pyramix / Samp Pro X3. Backup is on a HP Pro 640, also with Win 7 64.
Works like a charm, 24-track, even live mixing while recording for broadcast. (Reverb and master limiter on the main bus). Switch is a Dell 2816
Backup was on a Lenovo, but W10 made working with audio a nightmare, and there was no comeback as promised. It works now as my office machine.

Edit: in my case, Alesis HD24 used to be my goto machine, at the time of the dangerous FW interfaces

Last edited by emonteirobr; 2 weeks ago at 04:10 AM.. Reason: nostalgia feelings
Old 2 weeks ago
  #70
Gear Head
Lenovo Y500 3rd-gen i7, Win10, 16GB RAM, 1TB Samsung SSD (plus Sandisk 480GB SSD in CD drive bay for recording), Prism Sound Lyra 2, Studio One Pro v3.5, Audient ASP 880... No crashes so far. Only issues being one of the preamp dial knobs fell off cleanly from ASP 880, and occasionally having fuzzy input noise via ASP 880 (I guess I need to remember to use BNC cable to connect to Lyra 2)... Love to upgrade to Titan or Atlas one day...

Just got Samplitude Pro X3 suite - hope to test this for project recording with my university chamber choir later...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #71
Gear Nut
HP workstation with linux installed never failed me. But it is very, very expensive compared to what others here are mentioning. Probably a bit of overkill as well.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #72
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinL View Post
HP workstation with linux installed never failed me. But it is very, very expensive compared to what others here are mentioning. Probably a bit of overkill as well.
What interface and daw are you using?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #73
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
What interface and daw are you using?
Oops reacted to the wrong comment. Using a (or multiple) Behringer UMC1820 with Ardour. But I have been thinking of getting Mixbus32c as it has nice EQ and compression build in in case I want more color.

In terms of keeping a live recording of a section I am not really a pro. I am just friends with the players.

Last edited by RobinL; 2 weeks ago at 12:50 AM.. Reason: OOps, reacted to the wrong comment.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #74
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinL View Post
Oops reacted to the wrong comment. Using a (or multiple) Behringer UMC1820 with Ardour. But I have been thinking of getting Mixbus32c as it has nice EQ and compression build in in case I want more color.
.
Ardour is really great, I think it's my favorite DAW for minimalist recordings. You could get away with just the regular version of Mixbus rather than the 32c unless you need a ton of tracks. If you get Mixbus you'll be surprised to see that it looks just like Ardour until you get to the mixing window; that's because Mixbus is built on Ardour - the setup and editor are exactly the same as far as I can tell, it's really only when you get to the mixer that things look different. The latest version of Ardour includes Harrison plugins, but you have to purchase a license to apply the plugins you want to use (the license comes as a text file that you put in your home directory).
Old 1 week ago
  #75
If I want reliable I don't use a laptop.
Old 1 week ago
  #76
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
If I want reliable I don't use a laptop.
There is nothing special about the data and functions of a DAW compared with those for a business laptop or server. The computer world is superbly reliable, runs critical business functions 24x7.
Old 1 week ago
  #77
And they crash at the worst time too. You have only one chance to get a live show right.
Old 1 week ago
  #78
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
And they crash at the worst time too. You have only one chance to get a live show right.
Well of course that's what backups are for.

Its pretty rare that computer failures are beyond the responsibility of the user, so in essence, when they occur, they are human failures to some extent.

One can blame the OS updates, or the bad driver, or out of date firmware, or lack of testing, or the crappy external hard drive (on sale!) or USB cable or bad setup and configuration, or too much intrusive other software installed, or power supply or browsing the internet while recording or just plain ignorance .... but these are all preventable and completely in control of the user.

But backups are certainly required for critical once in a lifetime. never to be repeated. can't be missed live recording/broadcast on a computer or a SD788 or a Nagra.
Old 1 week ago
  #79
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
One can blame the OS updates, or the bad driver, or out of date firmware, or lack of testing, or the crappy external hard drive (on sale!) or USB cable or bad setup and configuration, or too much intrusive other software installed, or power supply or browsing the internet while recording or just plain ignorance .... but these are all preventable and completely in control of the user.
I seldom record to computer, but when I do, it's this list of human-preventable items that make me breath with relief on the occasions when I grab my dedicated recorder for a gig. Thank God I then don't have to worry about being ignorant. Just kidding, just kidding.
Old 1 week ago
  #80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
And they crash at the worst time too. You have only one chance to get a live show right.
I'm sorry, but this comment is a crock. We've been recording to computers exclusively since 2004 and have never lost a single note of a performance. To be honest, we've lost way more material to bad tape and dropouts. We record about 2000 hours a year worth of large multi-track material.
All the best,
Mark
Old 1 week ago
  #81
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
never lost a single note of a performance.
Uh oh!

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #82
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Yannick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
We've been recording to computers exclusively since 2004 and have never lost a single note of a performance. To be honest, we've lost way more material to bad tape and dropouts. We record about 2000 hours a year worth of large multi-track material.
Not 2000h/year, but been recording straight to harddisk on a PC based system since 1995.
Lost 1 (bad) session take due to a then current and since long resolved bug. (must have been fall 2001)

When I read on this forum about those ultra-reliable stand alone battery powered recorders, with SD card or HD problems, corrupt takes, etc, I secretly smile.

More so, when my bug-free ZoomF8 is frowned upon as not good enough for a -backup- recorder !

On the other hand, I don't really like laptops. No way to keep parts current. I prefer a well-configured compact&ultra silent PC.
Old 1 week ago
  #83
Gear Maniac
 

My PCs run about 8750 hours per year and many PCs I directly know run over 8500 hours per year in the industry (they're mostly only shut down for hardware maintenance and to reboot the OS as Windows can become messy if not rebooted after some time) so I could probably write a book about that but to summarize I'd say that overall the hardware is very reliable, at least way more reliable than Windows. That outmost cr***y uselessly overbloated awfully oddly tinkered OS (from an industrial reliability POV) is not designed for demanding real-time applications.

It's not even necessarily about crashes, I noticed that sometimes randomly some processes are slowed down or even temporarily halted but if you're not in front of the PC and performing some input or checking the displays you won't notice it.
There are some means to optimize the OS but with more recent versions it has become much more difficult because you've less access to registry entries, many parameters you could formerly edit can no longer be modified.

PC hardware as such is used for relatively mission-critical applications but not running usual operating systems. There are specialized real-time OS, kernels and add-ons but they're not always easy to manage (have been around since DOS). A good Unix is way more reliable than any Windows but there are other limitations (the last time I tested it I had to give up because the text display was not clean, no ClearType or so).

Of course I was referring to non-mobile PCs, consumer and prosumer mobile computers are much less reliable than well built non-mobile PCs.
Mac I can't comment, I never ever used any even if I always preferred Motorola to Intel processors.

For a reasonably high reliability and availability under Windows full redundancy is required, the probability that the OS of several PCs shows the same error exactly at the same time is not very high and in some cases dates and times are faked in order to try to avoid some common-cause errors.

I'm somewhat surprised that 2000 hours can be recorded without a single non-recoverable error as it's a real-time application but if some say so.
According to my experience non-recoverable random errors happen even if they're fortunately not very common.

(The PCs I'm referrring to are all powered by industrial dual conversion online UPS, power quality plays an important role.)
Old 6 days ago
  #84
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schoeller View Post
Of course I was referring to non-mobile PCs, consumer and prosumer mobile computers are much less reliable than well built non-mobile PCs.
Mac I can't comment, I never ever used any even if I always preferred Motorola to Intel processors.
Apple switched from Motorola to Intel processors 12 years ago.

I agree that PC hardware is more reliable than the operating systems, although an installation of a pretty stable OS like Windows 7 on a non-internet-connected machine should be quite reliable. We still use Windows 7 at work and it has been rock-solid for me, just as dependable as Mac OSX, on which I experienced my last system crash in 2004 or 2005.

Linux has also been very reliable for me, and if your post-processing needs are minimal the Ardour DAW is excellent for recording. Linux Mint or Ubuntu Studio running on a refurbished Thinkpad, using Ardour (or Harrison Mixbus if you need more sophisticated post-processing and mixing tools; Mixbus is built on Ardour), may be adequate for your needs.

As several people pointed out above, even the dedicated standalone recorders from Nagra and Sound Devices are computers with operating systems, although their operating systems are focused on only one task (recording audio); they don't have to also do things like check email, browse the web, download viruses, etc.
Old 5 days ago
  #85
Gear Addict
 
bcwiz's Avatar
 

Lenovo Thinkpad W700, Win7 Pro64, Pro Tools HD10, RME UFX (firewire or USB).
Laptop and OS have been tweaked/optimized.
The W700 has room for two HDD so I have a dedicated audio drive for PT.
Backup recorder via RME DURec which will keep recording if the laptop crashes but have never needed it.
Nothing close to the hours others here are putting in but the rig has been solid recording 2.5 hour concerts including just letting it roll during rehearsals. Laptop is convenient but if I did a lot of remotes I'd build a rack mounted/compact desktop.

Last edited by bcwiz; 4 days ago at 07:17 AM..
Old 5 days ago
  #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
As several people pointed out above, even the dedicated standalone recorders from Nagra and Sound Devices are computers with operating systems, although their operating systems are focused on only one task (recording audio); they don't have to also do things like check email, browse the web, download viruses, etc.
Generally the more complex the device the more risk is involved.
Old 4 days ago
  #87
Quote:
Originally Posted by aracu View Post
Generally the more complex the device the more risk is involved.
True, but I don't think it's linear. As complexity increases, risk rises rapidly, then becomes 1:1 linear, then the slope decreases.

By the time we're talking about what we're talking about here, we're pretty much at the changeover point. A hardware recorder like a JoeCo or Sound Devices is pretty complex, and a laptop/desktop set up for music is not THAT much more complex.
Old 4 days ago
  #88
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
True, but I don't think it's linear. As complexity increases, risk rises rapidly, then becomes 1:1 linear, then the slope decreases.

By the time we're talking about what we're talking about here, we're pretty much at the changeover point. A hardware recorder like a JoeCo or Sound Devices is pretty complex, and a laptop/desktop set up for music is not THAT much more complex.
In another thread I asked a question designed to unpick this a little more....would a Sound Devices recorder employ something of similar complexity to bank ATM's for example (reputedly they still run on Windows XP Lite), or something stripped back like Linux or a Windows media centre, which employs only minimal key elements of the original OS ?

For example are these dedicated chips and OS's...purpose designed for the task, or existing computer chips and motherboards, shoehorned in to the available space, with all the unnecessary stuff simply disabled ?
Old 4 days ago
  #89
Gear Maniac
 

I don't know anything about Apple/McIntosh computers.

During a long time I preferred character-based user inferfaces and didn't like graphical user interfaces much. The first one I liked was X Window under Unix which looked way more professional than MS Windows and was more flexibly customizable. Indeed I still sometimes use the "DOS" (even if no longer DOS of course) command line for some tasks, like for example to write directory listings to text files or to concatenate binary files.

Real-time processing can be very demanding for the PC, here real-time means that the computer must catch up without excessively delaying some time-critical tasks. Typically recording must obviously be in real-time (or some data will be missing if buffering fails) but post-processing doesn't necessarily require strict real-time performance (but it can be annoying if there are playblack issues or so) as long as alla data is processed without errors (including losses).

Beside DOS, NT was very reliable (IIRC 2000 was quite stable too). 7 is not too bad either if tweaked correctly. Obviously ideally there should only be installed the strictly required application software. That makes a huge difference. Don't run bloated applications like MS Office, Acrobat Reader, etc. which are not vitally required on a dedicated workstation (more generally don't install anything not absolutely required if reliability is important).

Any even half-"critical" computer I use has no Internet connection, nor WiFi, nor Bluetooth (physically not present) and no connection to any device or computer which can access Internet.
The ones with Internet connection aren't used for anything very important nor to store or process any critical data.

In addition a good dual conversion online UPS and a serious back-up strategy help reduce the risk of data losses and other problems. There's still a residual risk but it's much lower if things are handled reasonably (a compromise between not caring at all and paranoia ).


Modern specialized devices like portable recorders are probably typically based on a combination of specialized ICs (Analog Devices, AKM, TI,...) as well as possible some more general purpose processor. Typicaly there are tools to develop embedded applications including also sort of drivers to handle USB, Ethernet, displays, memory cards and other tasks which would be annoying to develop from the scratch.
As I haven't written any line of code for embedded systems since a long time I don't know exactly what's the current state of the art. Mostly some advanced languages like C++ are now used to develop the firmware of such devices.

Typically you don't use Windows (or maybe Window CE but I'd avoid ANY Microsoft product for embedded systems, not referring to cross-development tools running under MS Windows which are common and not a problem per se).
BTW NT and 2000 are still used in industrial legacy systems, mostly machines. Especially some carefully tweaked NT were very stable, way more stable than any modern Windows version.

For demanding hard real-time applications Windows is NOT reliable enough, for embedded systems there are dedicated kernels and for PC hardware there are specialized real-time non-MS OS (some already existed when the PC XT was released).

I still wonder why pics of Sound Devices and Nagra boards are so rare, unless the chips markings have been made unreadable it's easy to check which chips are used and I bet that those are common ones. True custom ICs are extremely expensive and series formanufacturers like Sound Devices and Audio Technology Switzerland SA (Nagra audio brand) are relatively small. I'm not even sure if the recent portable TEAC TASCAM recorders feature proprietary ICs.


Example of a Taiwanese company which has been around since a long time (I've used some of their products already in the early 90's and they were reliable):
Advantech - industrial computer , embedded computer, industrial automation, industrial motherboard, network security appliance, digital video surveillance, panel PC, industrial IO.
Embedded Computing - Advantech
Old 3 days ago
  #90
Lives for gear
So, does a Sound Devices or Nagra have more in common with a Zoom H5 (ie a bunch of mic preamps, ADC's and transport, metering etc) or a stripped back computer of any ilk...or are the two species pretty analogous (in a digital kinda way ) ?
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