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Topic: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

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  1. #1
    Senior Member musicmad's Avatar
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    Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Hi

    With regard to music production what rig would be best recommended to produce music on, a Console or Laptop? example, at first I was considering having a custom built PC assembled with all the preferred individual parts I needed to be installed to run my music on, but have now found that most modern Laptops now come with exactly the same powerful built in parts.

    So rather then go out of my way in purchasing all these external separate parts and internal individual components for the custom built PC I'm now thinking it would be more efficient to just go for a powerful Laptop with everything all in one and save the space? I'm a Windows user and would also appreciate your advice on whether to work with XP or Vista with regard to making music.
    Music.. the many characters of how God speaks to us all

  2. #2

    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    I would go with the full blown console if mobility is not a priority for you because you have more options for expansion when needed. This includes # of monitors, number of USB and Firewire ports and amount of memory that can be installed.

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  3. #3

    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Musicmad, here's the experience I've had, limited as it is:

    I bought the slickest laptop I could afford last year, with 4 gigs of Ram, huge memory, fast processors etc. Besides the appeal of being mobile, I was hoping it would serve me well in my home studio too. I Am doing my projects on it now, but I'm having to still involve my desktop during my projects--why?--because no matter what I try, I cannot get a decent sound out of the laptop.

    I bypassed the built in sound card of course, and have tried two different Audio/MIDI interfaces. I've tried the most expensive USB cords but there was no change in sound from when I used the cheapest kind---Digital WHIiiiiiiine. With my amplifier up to a normal level, I can hear this buzzing, digital whine that is the worst. I turn the amp down to where the whine is at sort of a tolerable level, then turn the main level to the max on the Alesis iO|2 I'm currently using. But it's barely satisfactory--nowhere near the clean, uncluttered signal I get out of my desktop.

    Maybe somebody will see my plaint on this thread and suggest a fix. But I'm very disappointed that this HP Pavilion just doesn't seem able to send out a clean audio signal.

    Randy

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Gday Randy,

    You said:

    “Maybe somebody will see my plaint on this thread and suggest a fix.”

    Don’t despair, Herbert is there.

    Your problem is very common.

    I am using a desktop computer with two audio cards. The internal one is used just for general windows programs and has a fair bit of the type of noise you are describing. An external firewire audio interface is used for music production and is perfect, absolutely no noise.

    The noise is not part of the digital system of the computer. The USB cable can not be blamed either; as it is part of the digital system. The problem is of digital signals breaking into the analog audio system. The digital signal can radiate, be capacitively coupled or enter the audio via the earth connection. It may not be easy to find the cause. If you let me know what your audio interface is and audio components are, I can look up the specs and get a better idea.

    If your USB audio interface has a separate power supply you could try to run it from the computer power or from the separate power supply and see if there is a difference. You could disconnect all mains earth connections except the one for your power amp. There are adapters available to break the earth on the mains power cable. If it does not help, you can run the connection from your audio interface via XLR and DI boxes. Perhaps you can borrow DI boxes from a friend if you do not have any. You can lift the earth connection on DI boxes.

    Happy experimenting and best wishes,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

  5. #5

    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Good morning, Herbert - This is so good of you to answer my post about the "digital whine" problem I have.

    I am rather sure you have pinpointed the problem. On my desktop, I've permanently bypassed the built in card with the tried-and-true M-Audio 2496. When I want to record live audio on that machine, I use a TascamUS-122. Only when I have the amplifier's volume way up, beyond my normal listening level, I can hear very faint "digital whine."

    On the laptop, I'm using the Alesis iO|2 USB interface, and with its audio outs plugged into the same amplifier, the interference is heard when the amp's volume is at a much lower level.

    So, in all cases I'm hearing some whine, but it's most pronounced in the laptop/Alesiscombination.

    Now - the weak link. My amplifier. I use a consumer stereo receiver which is approximately 20 years old - ! - TechnicsSA-120.

    After having tried various combinations of cords, swapping the Tascam for the Alesis- and still having the same problem, I've been left looking at my ancient analog receiver/amplifier and thinking it probably just isn't up to the task of amplifying digital signals.

    As you said:

    "...
    The problem is of digital signals breaking into the analog audio system..."

    Yes, I'm sure that's it. Now to try what I can (again) to at least reduce the problem. Buying a real amplifier just isn't possible right now. Hmmmmm. --You said to try running the connection from my interface via XLR - I don't think that's possible when it doesn't have XLR outs.

    Anyway, your post jarred me into reality - to admit that my old receiver is just doing the best it can - and now it's far from good enough!

    Thanks again.

    Randy


  6. #6

    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Hey musicmad, I would agree with LFO on this one. A full console is much more practical for most of your computing needs in the long run, especially if you don't need to move frequently.

    If you plan on listening with headphones or other external speakers, certain laptops can produce great sound quality that can rival the best desktops. However, most built-in laptop audio speakers are notoriously poor in quality.

    The major issue here, in my opinion, is the ability to upgrade. Most (with only a few exceptions) laptops only allow you to adjust the amount of RAM and hard disk memory you can have. A desktop, depending on where you get it, usually allows you to upgrade just about anything as you wish, making it easier to change with the times.

    Another issue with some laptops, is they tend to overheat when under moderate to heavy workloads. Obviously, some models will more than others (one of the most infamous would probably be the MacBook Pro).

    Though I may seem to be giving laptops a bad rap, if mobility is an issue, those few issues are most likely worth dealing with.

    Good luck in making a choice!
    Michael Obermeyer, Jr.
    youtube channel
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  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Gday Randy,

    I will spend some time on the weekend to get specs of your equipment and see if I can come up with a solution. It is very unlikely that your problem is your audio amp.
    Will talk to you about it in a few days.

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

  8. #8

    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    If you can discover a possible solution, that would sure be great, Herbert. Thanks much for trying.

    I was so sure after your earlier post that the problem was in my receiver/amp. sigh.

    So the situation is that my old XP desktop has a clean signal with the M-Audio 2496 and even when I switch to the Tascam US-122 for recording mike or line. The amp has to be turned WAy up before I hear any interference, and then it's still just slight.

    The laptop is an HP Pavilion dv9700 with an Alesis io|2 audio interface. The whine is heard with the amp down to a medium or low level.

    I contacted Alesis shortly after I got the unit, and they said I shouldn't be having this kind of problem, but mentioned the problem with laptops and how their audio can get interference from being in close contact with the other components in the small space. They suggested I try a really well shielded USB cord instead of the generic one sent with their unit. I tried that, no change.

    Thanks, Herbert. Maybe there's some sort of grounding I should be doing.

    Randy

  9. #9
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
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    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    The laptop is an HP Pavilion dv9700 with an Alesis io|2 audio interface. The whine is heard with the amp down to a medium or low level.
    Have you tested the audio whine while running the laptop on battery only, i.e. with the laptop power supply disconnected?

  10. #10

    Re: Best Music Rig Console Or Laptop

    Hi, Steve - Thanks for the post.

    Yeah, I didn't mention it earlier, but when I was struggling to fix this problem, running to lap on battery was something I also tried, as per a suggestion from Alesis. Same problem--and I'm glad that didn't fix it actually, because it wouldn't be very practical to try running a studio on a battery that lasts 3 hours!

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Randy

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