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What laptop?

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Apologies if this is a frequently asked question, but as the bsnd are unable to record, we want to try some home recording. Guitarist sends his idea to the drummer who adds via electric kit, he forwards on to me to add bass and then i forward to singer! Can anyone recommend a laptop (not Mac) and software??

Thanks in adv

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Posted (edited)

I am using an old MacBook (sorry - no use if you want a PC based laptop) along with Tracktion 7 and a Behringer UMC1820 interface and a decent pair of headphones. Tracktion 7 is also available for PC, and I've found it straightforward to learn how to use so far. Part way through recording one cover and one original before Covid-19 grounded us. 

One thing I would suggest in order to get all the parts timed together is for everyone to work to a click track and agree the Beats Per Minute - this will really help when lining up parts recorded at separate locations by different band members.

The other thing I found really helpful was reading old Sound on Sound articles online re mic positioning , how to record bass, etc.

 

Update 30th March 2020 - Tracktion 7 appears to have been replaced with Tracktion Waveform, which comes in two flavours: A free cut down edition that will do for many users, and a full-fat paid for version. There is also an OEM version.

https://www.tracktion.com/products/waveform-free

https://www.tracktion.com/products/waveform-pro

https://www.tracktion.com/products/waveform-daw-oem

Edited by Marillionred
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I heartily recommend Reaper DAW software.

Free for as long as you like, cheap when you buy it, less than 20MB download, massively customisable - Mac or Windows, 32-bit or 64-bit. You can even carry a working copy round on a memory stick.

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Laptop-wise, spec will come down to how many tracks you want to play & record, and how many plugins (effects etc) you want on them. It sounds like you won't need lots of either, so no need to go crazy on the spec. If you want something that will definitely do the job, my guess at a safe bet spec would be:

  • Quad core i5 (doesn't need to be latest gen especially) should do it easily, don't worry too much about clock speed. Avoid i3, no need to spend money on i7. Avoid things like Celeron. I'm not up on the current crop of AMD chips so can't comment.
  • 4G RAM, but 8 is better and shouldn't cost a lot more nowadays
  • Plenty of disk, but if you can get SSD that will be much better than a traditional hard drive - it's not vital but SSDs are getting cheaper now anyway. probably not worth getting less than 250G given prices, more is better.
  • Obvious I know but make sure you've got the right ports for the audio interface you want.
  • Get one with a decent motherboard and chipset. Cheap motherboards can screw your I/O.

You can do definitely do it for less, but the closer you get to a minimum spec the more you risk latency issues etc, so it's up to you how far you push it.

Lots of the DAWs will have a published minimum spec as well.

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My band are experimenting with BandLab, an online DAW that runs in a browser (there's also an iPad app), so you can access it using whatever device you have. I'm not sure it's capable of producing pro-level output but it seems pretty capable for us to work on arrangements so far. 

I did find that audio recording was sometimes a bit glitchy on my 2012 MacBook, but I have a newer one from work which worked really well.

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Hi...

The spec adamg67 listed would be par... any laptop meeting that would do you.

You'll basically become a fan of whatever DAW you first start using and if you pick up an, even cheap and cheerful, interface... it'll more than likely come packaged with a licence for one of the 'LE' versions of either Cubase or Ableton... they're more than enough for simple recording and editing of most tracks.

Now... I'll be honest, I use Cubase on an iMac and occasionally use a MacBook Pro if I travel somewhere and my spec are way in excess of what I need... I run a ridiculous number of tracks though and even that can become 'plugin heavy' so a couple of tips you might bear in mind that will reduce the burden on any machine:

1. For monitoring back as you play etc... use the interface control panel to adjust the buffer size depending on if you are editing or recording (higher for editing than for recording).

2. Work from an external drive... that is... record and store onto a different drive than the drive your software is running from

3. If you get into using a lot of tracks, and I suspect you might once you have the home recording bug, learn a bit about using group and effects Busses.

4. Consider some (budget dependent) augmentations to your recording setup. I am more and more using the Zoom H6 to record things like a double bass, which it can easily handle simultaneous DI and Mic. It also fucntions as an audio interface quite nicely and comes bundled with, if I recall, Cubase LE and Wavelab LE licenses.

Enjoy

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