OT: My Next Music PC

Multi-Track on a Laptop

Hey guys,

After almost 4 years of reliable service, I am starting to think about pensioning my Dell off to the kids and getting some new hardware. After mulling over my three basic options: go back to Dell for a new desktop machine; build my own; get a laptop, I am coming around to the idea that a laptop is the way to go.

However … I had already decided that if I were to upgrade the PC again what I really needed was a multi-input soundcard, probably no more than 4 but certainly more than the two I have at present.

Easy enough for a desktop PC, but I guess with a lappie that would mean a USB or Firewire device to handle the recording. Not a problem as I have been using one with the Dell for a while now.

However, what choices (if any) do I have for such a device offering 4 separate inputs?


* disclaimer: opinions below * :)

hi dave… i would suggest against using a laptop for recording… for about 2 years, i used a laptop, then decided that i had had enough of the headaches… generally, laptop hard drives are VERY slow… when processing audio/video, the faster the hard drive, the better… the sound card options, although this point is changing quickly, are limited… the components are limited as well… once you get a burner or other device in that thing, you’re generally stuck with it… your options are to keep getting usb devices (which will be forced to share the bandwidth with any usb sound devices), or to buy upgrades from the manufacturer (which will have likely discontinued your model and ask for asinine amounts of money for the replacement/upgrade)… unless you’re getting a “desktop replacement” model, then the display will most likely be rather small…

the good things about using a laptop is topped by portability… if you have few components, then you can drag a couple of mics, a mixer, and you’re able to record at a friend’s place… and you generally get a “free” second video output, which comes in incredibly handy… you can separate your tracks view from the mixers/monitors… laptops are generally quieter than desktops as well…

so i decided to build my own machine… it’s a great machine… i went with some pricey components, though… i set up two SCSI cheetah 15,000 RPM drives in a RAID0 configuration… it has 1GB RAM, and a 2.8GHz P4… the difference in performance is enough to make a grown man cry… soon, i will be adding a couple of SATA 250GB drives in a RAID1 configuration for storage… the SCSI drives are only 36GB each, and if one drive dies, then i lose everything… but, so far so good!..

let us know what you decide!..


I just spent $2.5k and upgraded to a laptop (a wide-screen Gateway 7320; 2.8Ghz P4, DVD/CD burner) with a Motu828mkII interface and Glyph 80Gb firewire drive in my rack.

No complaints at all so far, it can run everything I can throw at it and I’ve had no glitches so far. Sound quality is incredibly good to my ears.

I was lucky; I had some extra cash come in and the wife encouraged the upgrades. Definitely don’t skimp on the interface (or get something so new the drivers haven’t shaken out yet) and an outboard drive (the Glyph is SILENT and very fast)… I think that’s where most folks get into trouble by not going the extra little bit to get GOOD equipment.

'Course I’m keeping my other 2.8Ghz DAW tower as a backup and might experiment with running my VST plugs on it using fxteleport some time if I feel I’m running out of horsepower.