Midi mapping Nocturn to Traktor tutorial
Laptops for music
Choosing a laptop for music is a very hard task indeed, made even harder when your on a budget. Searching for the right model with all the features you need and within your price range is nothing less than a nightmare. This article is aimed at giving you a check list of what you need to look out for when buying a new laptop for music and also some tips.
The processor or CPU as it's more commonly referred to, is the heart of any computer. It's very important to choose the right CPU. If you pick the wrong one your stuck with it for good, as they are difficult to replace and upgrade on laptops.
There only really one rule for selecting a processor for music and that's buy the most powerful one you can afford. You won't regret it in the long run as future software and hardware becomes more demanding.
At the moment there's only really one manufacturer who is producing good CPU's and that's Intel. Their recent core 2 duo range has been a hit with musicians, packing alot of power in an affordable package. My advice is not to go any lower than a 2.0 GHz core 2 duo. You might get away with 1.8 GHz but your pushing your luck.
The good news is core 2 duo laptops are becoming cheaper and are available in both PC's and MAC's.
RAM, like CPU, is a big factor in the performance of a laptop for music. Music software uses a lot of RAM when editing, previewing, bouncing, using virtual instruments and samplers.
When looking for a laptop for music try to find one that will take at least 2 Gigabytes of RAM. It doesn't matter if the full capacity comes installed, which it rarely does, RAM is easily upgraded and replaced. It's also worth checking out which type of RAM the laptop takes and how much it costs using the crucial RAM tool.
For more information on RAM, how it works, good and bad brands see my article, RAM and memory.
The hard drive is an integral part of any computer but especially important for laptops for music. After all you will be storing all that important data of your precious music.
There are three main factors when considering the hard drive of a laptop, size, speed and reliability. The size of the hard drive refers to how much data can be stored on it. Music takes up a lot of data, the applications, recording and performing of audio and music takes up much more space than usual usages like the internet or word processing. I recommend about 200 GB + hard drive space, although more is always better.
The speed of the hard drive refers to the RPM, revolutions per minute, a hard drive disk can spin at. The faster the drive can spin the faster data can be accessed. Most laptop drives are 5400 RPM which is too slow for music really although they can be used but it isn't recommended. I recommend a 7200 RPM hard drive in a laptop for music, you can get faster one's but they cost a lot more.
I cannot stress the importance of the reliability of a hard drive. So many people lose important data, songs and master tapes due to cheap hard drives failing or crashing. Try to find out the brand of the hard drive inside a laptop your researching. A good brand is Seagate. A bad brand is hiatichi.
Laptop hard drives are very easy to replace so do not fear if your dream laptop for music has a crummy hard drive inside, you can replace it for quite cheap. For more information on hard drives see my article, hard drives for music.
If you want to use lots of midi controllers and firewire audio interfaces your going to need USB and fire ports. finding a laptop with the right amount of USB and firewire ports can be a pain. Usually most laptops come with at least 2 USB ports, which is ok if you don't need to use lots of midi controllers but 3 is better. Don't forget you can always use a USB hub to increase the number of USB ports available but keep in mind that most midi controllers draw power from USB, so you need a USB powered hub or more powered USB ports on the laptop.
Currently I'm using 2 external hard drives, 3 midi controllers, a midi interface, mouse, a USB audio interface and other USB perils off 3 USB ports on my laptop. I use 2 usb hubs and had to juggle the different devices around so they are can draw power from the laptop USB ports.
Another thing to be aware of is that you can't always use USB audio interfaces via a USB hub and usually have to be connected straight to the computer. This to do with ICQ conflicts. So when buying a laptop try to plan ahead and think about how many USB devices your going to use.
Firewire is a little bit more complicated as there are two types of firewire ports, one powered and one not. Four pin firewire ports are not powered and 6 pin firewire ports are. There are also different speeds, firewire 400, 600 and 800 but this doesn't matter too much at the moment as it doesn't make too much difference with audio interfaces.
For more information about ports see my article, how to connect, which explains the different ways to connect an audio interface and firewire 400, 600 and 800 in more detail.
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