After about a decade of faithful service the trusty laptop I use to make very bad music is at the point of giving up on me, meaning I’m having to face the slightly terrifying prospect of trying to work out what to get next.
I currently work with a 2012 MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X, and am very comfortable with both. However, looking at prices for a new MacBook with enough CPU/RAM to run a DAW properly is pretty bleak, so before emptying all my savings I thought I might double check that there wasn’t an option that provided a comparable experience for a better price. As always, any tips from the brilliant brains of DiS (or even just a description of what you currently use) would be very gratefully received.
I’m looking to record live instruments as well as using samplers, which I have read on some sites might mean Ableton is not what I’m looking for?
Very curious as to how this will turn out, deciding what to choose to learn had been a major barrier for me in getting started myself.
FWIW, a couple months ago I took the plunge and started learning LMMS on a Mac desktop. It seemed very intuitive and easy to pick up, at least for the purpose of making my shitty rock demos using the built in sounds and generators. It’s also free, and there’s a great free tutorial series on Youtube.
Generic Windows computer + Cakewalk (formerly SONAR) for me. Reason being I already had the computer and Cakewalk is completely free. I tried using the hobbled versions of Cubase and Ableton that came with various bits of kit but they were really limiting in different ways and I didn’t feel like spending £300 to make shit music in my bedroom.
Cakewalk is fine. I get jealous when seeing how easy it is to do certain things in Ableton, but for recording, processing and mixing live instruments, it’s good. Doing more electronic stuff feels clunky but you can use vst software synths in it, or record hardware synths like any other instrument, and it’s fine.
i’m not on macbook (hang on, that actually works) but i’m a bit incredulous at this. you shouldn’t need tons of resources depending on how intensive you plan on your sessions being. i’ve always had fairly basic desktops and always have 100+ tracks and a billion plugins
Plenty of legic Mac refurb resellers online if you google around. I buy a refurbed Macbook every few years for work and they’re generally rock solid, with warranties, etc. Saves me easily £500+ if I bought new from Apple.
(For music stuff I tinker in Logic, which is obv Mac only).
I use a Windows laptop with Ableton for electronic stuff but export into Reaper (which is free) for mixing and live instruments (using a focusrite 2i2 interface) as I find it has less latency and I like the fx.
I use Ableton on a Windows laptop. I used Reaper before that and made the switch purely to play live. I would have been happy with Reaper if it had an equivalent of session view. Ableton is pretty useful though.
Can you upgrade ram/ssd on a mac (sorry I’m a Windows person)
I do all my recording on an old Windows desktop (Windows xp) I use protools and its never let me down. I followed all the guides to use this as a daw computer only… Involved switching off all processes etc that I didn’t need and never putting it online (I think that’s what’s kept it alive the most)
I reckon if you wiped your mac and set it as a daw only you could then buy a cheap laptop just for Web stuff etc.
Ableton user here. When I first started making music I went on a proper evening course to learn how to use Cubase, and for whatever reason Reason is also a DAW hahaha! my brain just could not adapt to the way Cubase worked. When I tried Ableton however it just clicked a lot more with my way of approaching and thinking about things, so I’ve been using that ever since. I really think most DAWs are pretty great now and have similar functionality, so whatever feels best and makes most sense on a personal level is the one to go for. Though if I was starting fairly fresh I’d definitely be trying out Bitwig as the designers really seem to be considering what it is most people are looking for in a DAW and implementing some smart new features.
At the end of last year I moved to a macbook after working in Windows for my entire life. I was finding that reliability was getting worse and worse on both my windows pc and laptop. Kept having a handful of plugins and/or pieces of gear just refusing to work at any one time, so I was locked in a cycle of having to wipe and reinstall everything every few months or so because something vital to my setup that was working yesterday wouldn’t work today, but something else would.
When I think about how much the mac set me back it’s liable to make me want to cry, but I think I’ve had one clash or error in just under a year, and all my plugins and gear work perfectly without me having to spend hours and hours uninstalling, reinstalling wiping, restarting etc.
So yeah, IMO mac pricing is an absolute pisstake amd technology-wise they’re not remotely close to being worth the money they charge, but the reduction in stress and associated time saving has probably been worth it to me. Days spent screaming and swearing at the machine have reduced from “loads” to basically zero, so on balance