laptop issues

newbee here

Hello all from snowed in Montreal! :)

I am very tempted by N-tracks. I have donwloaded the demo and curently finding my way around and so far I am quite impressed… :p
What I like mostly is the simplicity of it! This program will get you a lot of millage from what I have tried so far, hats off realy! :)

Here is a few questions I have.
I intend to use my laptop ( Toshiba tecra III 512 Mram, 1,8Ghertz centrino, firewire and USB2 stuff etc…) to do pre prod work and location recording of mostly classical music concerts, and then transfer on the main system in my studio which uses Nuendo and a big mother PC with all the trimmings!!

- Is there any laptop issues I should be aware off?
- I want to record whole concert with maybe up to 8 microphones and up to 90 minutes of recording time
- any audio interface recommandations… I am looking presently at some cardbus systems (RME and EMU 1616M) but I am open to any suggestions, budget is not realy an issue within (half) reason! I do need the best!

- How stable N-track realy is compared to say Nuendo, Cubase, Sonar4 ( all programs that I own)
- Can I export tracks easealy in Nuendo. I think yes, but I need comments on that
Thanks, Luc

Hi Luc,
The new version 4.1.5 seems stable enough on my laptop. I have had a lot of problems in the past which were probably laptop issues. One of the main issues I guess is the step control used by centrino cpu’s. I have installed Centrino Hardware Control from www.pbus-167.com with which I can easily deactivate the stepping function, otherwise it is a killer. Also, make sure that everything in Windows is switched off when you install, (very important) and that as little as possible is active when you run ntrack. As far as the performance you mentioned, you will need a 7200 rpm HD. I’m using a usb2 interface which I think might have caused many of my problems. I would recommend a firewire solution as you are moving quite a lot of data and usb2 is not a data stream, but blocks (usb2 isn’t faster, just wider).
Unfortunately every setup is a prototype, laptops are handy things to use, which is part of the problem, you tend to use them for everything. Audio sytems are not keen on sharing things. As you are going to be using 8 mics you are going to need power supplies and quite a bit of hardware anyway, why not use a small barebones sytem? it is probably a lot more stable. I don’t know anything about nuendo etc. so I can’t help you there. If you are doing this professionally, my personal feeling would be to steer clear of laptops as you are very restricted as far as redundency is concerned. Good luck anyway.

Zero problems here with a 2.8Ghz Gateway laptop.

You will want to get a 7200rpm Firewire external harddrive to record to (I use a rackmounted Glyph GT050 and do not regret every penny for it… it’s fast and dead silent)

I also agree with sinbad’s Firewire interface recomendation. I use a Motu828mkII and have ZERO problems with it. And I would go Cardbus before USB.

You don’t need a 7200 RPM drive to record 8 tracks!

8 24-bit tracks at 96kHz is a total transfer rate of 2.3MB/sec of raw audio data, plus there’s overhead updating the filesystem. But a 4200RPM laptop drive is actually capable of that, if it’s well implemented and you tune the disk buffer sizes properly.

Nonethelesss, a 7200 RPM drive is a good thing. It’s also a good thing to record to an external drive. For one thing, it makes it easy to transfer the data to another system if you want. There are also advantages to keeping audio data on a different disk from program and virtual memory cache. But these things are not at all necessary on good laptops.

I hear it’s best to avoid using the same interface (USB/Firewire) for both audio and disk at the same time. I don’t know if that’s really an issue, though.

Sustained data throughput on Firewire is faster than USB2, despite what the specs seem to imply. But I don’t know whether it’s better to put the drive or the audio card on USB. I think the audio card, because it’s less tolerant of latency due to a momentary inability to transfer. Firewire tends to be more steady & reliable. PCI (Cardbus) is better than either of the above.

You do not need a blazingly fast CPU: recording uses almost no CPU power. You do need a rock solid MOBO chipset. ASUS Intel chipsets are highly regarded but I don’t know if they come in laptops.

Many folks have had excellent luck with Athlon processors. This is not an “Intel-Only” application. However, most soundcard manufacturers test their products first and most with Intel chipsets. (Intel MOBO chipsets do not rule out Athlon processors.)

Anyway, since you already have the laptop, give it a trial run. If you go for something like the MOTU, you can always use it with a desktop or even an Apple (heavens forfend!) I have a MOTU 828 myself and do have problems with it, but the computer I use isn’t typical, the OS having been modified by my employer.

Try recording using the built-in hard drive. To see how your drive stacks up, download DskBench, put it at the root of your drive and run it from a “cmd” window. (Start->Run->cmd, brings up a DOS window, and issue these commands:

cd c:<br>dskbench

assuming you’re testing drive C:).

Post the results. Note that these “tracks” are 16/44, and you won’t get as many as the program thinks you can.