Do you want to use a Laptop, Macbook, a desktop PC or Mac pro for your home studio?
Then you should consider a few things first…
Which programs do I want to use (think about the operating system)?
Which computer will have enough power for my needs?
These are just a few things you should think about when you are facing this problem, so let’s get to it.
Introducing: 12 Things to consider when buying a Computer for Recording
There are four basic things you will require from your computer for the presence and the future.
- Can I afford it: If you can’t buy it, you can’t start using it.
- Power: Will the computer’s processing speed be enough to run your audio software?
- Monitor screens: When you are using a Digital audio workstation you will have a lot of tabs opened. Examples are: the mixer, the plugins, the editor screen and probably a bunch more.
- Upgradable: Is there a possibility to upgrade and customize according to your needs?
- Portable: Some guys would like to travel with their gear, so a desktop solution will not suffice for these kind of people.
Computer Casing: You would want a Casing that cools passively.
Which means that it cools with minimal noise from the fans and is stable without any extra noise from any parts.
The Casing should also have enough room for upgrading such as:
- Multiple spaces for HDD or SDD Drives
- Space for extra fans
- Good Isolation
- Room to improve airflow
Power Supply: Most essential would be the power supply, which is often overlooked!
The power supply should have enough output watts to facilitate all of your internal devices.
What to look at when choosing a power supply:
- It should have silent Fans
- Enough cables to connect your devices
- Good power output and efficiency
Motherboard: This is the heart of the computer, without it you don’t have one.
It’s the print-board on which you connect all of the devices.
When choosing a motherboard for audio it’s always good to check out the newest ones.
These will have all of the latest technology and can facilitate the newest processors and RAM memory with it’s slots.
Here is what to look at:
- Latest chipsets
- Room for the newest Processor
- Slots for Ram memory (DDR)
- Enough PCIe slots for internal audio & video cards
- USB 3.0, SATA & eSATA and Firewire connect-ability
- An active Heatsink (used for passive cooling)
- Internal Video card (for multiple HD Screens)
- Internal HD Audio Card
CPU cooler and Case Fans: These two cooling components are very essential and can make a difference in audible and silent cooling.
Before choosing your fans, make sure they work with your motherboard.
Here’s what to look at:
- Should fit in your casing
- Silent cooling
- Passive Heatsink & Heatpipes
- Controllable Speed
RAM Memory: Read Access Memory can be considered as human’s short memory.
It’s fundamental for performance and stability within the computer system.
There are different RAM memory bars such as DDR3 and DDR5 the later being the newest with more speed and power.
Programs use RAM to function, a DAW uses about 2GB of ram depending on which one you are using…
…but this can be more when enabling plugins and inserting more audio tracks.
This is what you need:
- At least 8GB of RAM
- Should fit your Motherboard
- Use the same RAM bars when running multiple RAM bars
Processor: The processor besides RAM is most important.
The more cores a processor has the more it can process (Dual Core, Quad Core, 8 Cores…).
It processes all the information the applications and programs send to it.
There are two major manufacturers of processors: Intel and AMD.
Here’s what to look at:
- The latest Technology (Intel i7)
- Compatibility with the motherboard (Intel or AMD)
- Enough speed to process your programs
- Get a third party processor cooler which is silent
Graphic Card: These cards can be built in the motherboard, we call those onboard Graphic cards.
You can also buy third party graphic cards that can handle even more quality (like HD or 4K) and monitor screens.
This is a very nice feature when working with audio programs and DAWS. If your into Video work then you should check out a…
…Graphic card with GPU cores.
- Must work with your Motherboard
- Handle Multiple Monitor Screens
- HD resolution or up to 4K
- HDMI, VGA, DVI-I I/O
- Latest DDR technology
HDD & SSD: These hard drives or solid stat discs function as the memory that saves your data.
You have heard of gigabytes and terabytes. I would say try to aim at least for 1 TB.
SSD has a lot of advantages over traditional HDD.
For one: There are quite because they don’t have internal moving parts.
They do not heat as much and you don’t need much fans to cool them.
They are even much faster!
Here’s what to look at when buying hard drives:
- Storage space (I recommend at least 1 TB)
- Writing and Reading Speeds
- Connectable with the Motherboard
Operating software: When buying a PC you will probably be using windows…
…because it’s the most well known system there is.
However there are differences within the windows products.
One is the version of windows such as: windows 8 or windows 10.
Then you have the home edition or pro editions. But the most important of all is 32bit or 64bit.
Of course you want to run the 64 bit version, because you can utilize your processor with multiple cores.
One thing we can say for certain when it comes down to this question is…
Mac computers have been the industry standard when it comes down to creative work.
That doesn’t mean a Windows PC can’t compete.
On the contrary…
…I always say it doesn’t matter what you use as long as what comes out of it is what you wanted!
But there is some truth and reason-ability in why a Mac has become the standard.
It’s operating system and technical design are of super high quality.
It crashes less and everything down to the audio functionality is seamlessly integrated and streamlined.
Nice to know: I’m an apple fan but, when it come down to free software and plugins there isn’t much to find…
…but for windows PC’s there is a huge collection of vst plugins and instruments that you can find all over the web.
It comes down to what programs you prefer!
- Compare Prices: Amazon
Do you want to start using a Mac then you can get this Mini Apple.
But it doesn’t come with a monitor display which is sad to say.
You will have to buy one yourself.
I’m not a big fan of windows based laptops.
The main reason is that your gonna pay a huge price for something what is usable in my eyes.
But you never know maybe you will just find the right deal for you.
The Macbook pro maybe is one of the most well known machines for musicians.
Almost all famous DJ’s you can name will be using such a apple computer.
For the Home studio this is also a great buy.
- Light and great Portability
- High Definition Retina Display screen
- Fast enough to run your audio applications
Windows Audio PC or Mac Pro?
While a Windows PC can be very powerful without a hefty price tag, some people swear by the Mac pro.
It does certainly look nice and works fantastic! Believe me…
But when affordability comes into play the PC will win this battle.
In my opinion if you are building a professional studio with a huge budget you should go for a Mac pro or if you have more money then the average Joe.
When your serious when it comes down to recording and producing music on your computer…
…you would want to have a custom build one.
When you go for this choice you can assemble your system according to your own special needs.
For the PC based audio people out there this is a must.
- Choice of fast processors
- Huge RAM memory capacity
- Multiple Hard drives
- Third party graphic cards of choice with multiple video outputs
- Up-gradable and customizable
- Compare Prices: Amazon
The cream de la cream of apple computing systems.
This beast of a machine has so much power even the Flash isn’t faster and the juggernaut isn’t more powerful.
This system can handle every creative application out there without any fuss.
- Faster then the Flash
- Up to 3 4K displays
- 6 Thunderbolt ports
- Up to 12 core processors
- Max of 64 GB of RAM
- Powerful Graphics processor
- Large Storage Capacity SSD’s
- Free Garageband
Accessories that can elevate your workflow
So your ready to buy your Computer right? Not really, what did you think about choosing a mouse, what about the keyboard and what about the Monitor?
It functions as your hands but in the digital realm.
If you are ready you can look into a nice new mouse.
Some more luxury mouses have more buttons on them.
These buttons can be assigned to macro commands.
Such commands can be a combination of keyboard buttons an example for this is: Copy, cut and paste.
- Multiple Buttons
- Cord or wireless
- Accuracy & Functionality
It’s very important to have a good functioning keyboard with the buttons that you need.
Here’s what to look at:
- Cord or wireless
- Number pad
- Extra programmable keys for Macro commands.
An extra thing to look at and which is very interesting are keyboard cover designed to give show shortcuts of your favorite Digital Audio Workstation.
These covers show the macro commands on your keys, when you place these sticker covers on your keyboard.
Who wants to look at a screen that will weary down your eyes.
Also don’t you want to look at a screen with great quality and that can display at least High definition?
Newer models can even display quality rates up to 4K.
Using multiple screens when editing within your daw is just a must!
Here’s what you can look at:
- High definition Quality (HD or 4K)
- Refresh rates of the display
- Smooth Picture
Computers are fun bits of technology, but like any tech you can buy there is always a newer and better.
When buying a computer make sure you get what you need.
It’s best to go out and buy one at a store that knows what it’s talking about.
Preferably at a store that sell music related technology or music computers.
Read Next: The Best DAW for Recording
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