Having a home recording environment is a comfortable setup for a music producer. It’s great to come up with a melody in the kitchen, and then to walk into your bedroom to record the ideas that you just came up with.
A great home studio starts with a great laptop. Chances are that you will be recording songs with a lot of audio and MIDI tracks on them. So, it’s important that you have a reliable, fast, and industry-standard laptop at your disposal. In this article, we list out eight qualities to look for in a laptop if you plan on producing music:
1. High Processing Power and Core
You might have heard the terms ‘CPU’ and ‘core’ before. ‘CPU’ stands for ‘core processing unit’. You can think of the CPU as how fast the computer can process information. As you might guess, the faster the CPU is, the better it is to run a digital audio workstation (DAW).
When talking about a computer CPU, you will also hear numbers like 2.2 GHz or 2.7 GHz. A higher number means the computer processes the information more frequently, which is better. A minimum of 2.2 GHz is recommended for a good music production experience.
The second term that appears a lot is ‘core’. You probably heard of ‘dual-core’ or ‘quad-core’ before. Traditionally, computers used to have a single-core, which is why if you had multiple software open at the same time, the computer would crash immediately. Nowadays, with multiple cores, computers are able to multitask. You can have a digital audio workstation running while you are video editing on another software, or rendering your album artwork on another.
The more core you have, the better multitasking your computer will be able to do. This is important for music production and we tend to be using multiple DAWs at the same time. For a good music production experience, a minimum of i5 core is recommended.
2. High RAM
‘RAM’ stands for ‘random access memory’. RAM is used for the computer to access data as fast as possible without using the hard drive storage every time. As you might guess, the higher the RAM, the faster the computer can access this information.
If you are using a lot of plug-ins, you need more RAM. Having multiple plug-ins running at the same time in your session is going to use a lot of RAM.
For music production, a minimum of 4GB RAM is recommended. 8GB is good and 16GB RAM will get you a long way.
3. Sufficient Hard Drive (or Storage)
Producing music takes a lot of space on your computer. Especially if you record a lot of audio tracks (such as vocals), your computer will run out of space pretty quickly.
While you can manage with a 256 GB hard drive, to make things a bit more manageable, I would recommend going for a 512 GB hard drive as the minimum.
In any case, you will need an external drive for backing up your work, but having 512 GB will make things easier for you without having to empty your computer drive every month.
4. Screen size
You can work with a 13-inch screen, but it will be tough unless you also use an external monitor. A 15 or 16-inch screen will allow you to have a monitor for production and another one for mixing.
5. Operating System
Different users have different preferences and arguments about which operating system works better, but I will say that you should work with the operating system that works best for you in terms of interface and the quality of work.
6. Battery Life
Another important aspect of a good laptop is battery life. Usually, computers use less battery when you are typing a document or if you are on the internet. However, when you’re producing music computers use a lot of battery power. Having short battery life might cut your mobility as you might have to use the wall plug when you’re using your computer. So, having a computer with good battery life will make your experience so much better.
7. Fan Noise
A small but significant feature is also the fan noise. I’ve had many recording sessions ruined because my old laptop would make a fan noise like a helicopter. To avoid situations as such, I highly recommend a dual-fan system for a quiet experience.
The last feature I want to point out is the weight. This might not be important if you’re only going to use your laptop at home, but if you’re mobile and will be moving around with your laptop a lot, you should definitely consider getting a lightweight laptop.
Hope these tips help and good luck finding your next laptop for making music!