If you’re asking yourself, “What is the best computer for making music?”, try asking yourself instead, “What is the best computer for making my music?”
Today the computer is the hub of most production setups. If you already own a computer you’re in great shape and can skip this post and move ahead to the next post “The Daw”. However, if you need a new computer or you’d rather keep your personal computer separate from your music setup (highly recommended), you have tons of options to choose from. Let’s take a look at some areas that will help make your decision a little easier.
Mac vs PC
When deciding on a computer, you need to first decide whether you’re more comfortable using a Mac or PC. I recommend sticking with what you are most comfortable using.
Today, most music professionals choose the computer they know and have mastered. The Mac and PC debate has been exhausted as much as the hardware vs. software debate for producer and beat makers, so I’ll spare you from another one.
Making professional sounding music is not a problem on a pc. Many will claim that using a Mac is necessary as most professionals use one, which is untrue.
Like I said, the computer you use is only preference. Using a Mac over a PC does not technically make your music sound better
Currently I use a Mac to make music. I made the switch from PC because it had some features that I preferred using. I prefer using a Mac for its professional feel, reliability and durable design. To me, Macs feel as though they were built for creativity, but of course this can be said by PC users also.
Desktop, Laptop or Both?
After you’ve decided between a Mac or a PC, you’ll need to decide if a desktop, laptop, or a combination of both will be your weapon of choice.
If you prefer to make your music in a set area all the time or don’t travel enough to need a mobile setup, a desktop will be perfect. I like a desktop setup because unlike a laptop, it will be moved less frequently, which in turn means a longer life span for data and computer components. Desktop computers can be very powerful out the box or can be upgraded into a monster computer! With their large capacity for RAM and ability to house multiple large hard drives, you’re able to use more CPU, RAM intensive DAWs, and plug-ins — as well as have a huge sound library at your finger tips.
One of my favorite things about using a desktop is the ability to have multiple visual monitors operating simultaneously. Having your machine in a static place, always ready to go, and the ability to use multiple screens, can speed up your music creation workflow immensely.
If you’re a person who is always on the move and wants the option to capture ideas at any given moment, a laptop could be the best choice for you. Of course you could simply use a mobile phone or any mobile recording device, but this will add an unnecessary step to your workflow if not integrated properly.
Laptops can have less power, less speed and a smaller capacity for RAM upgrades compared to desktops. However, they make up for it with their portability and ergonomic design. For music creators, being restricted and unprepared to capture an idea sucks. For some reason the best ideas like to drop on you at the strangest times, which is another benefit of having a laptop setup.
Besides being ready for just about any unexpected idea, creating music in a local Starbucks, on break from work or school, or at lunch, is just plain dope! One of my favorite things about a mobile setup, is you’re in sketch mode, which means you can focus on just creating crazy unfiltered ideas to fine tune later. Being able to change environments can instantly boost creativity and moments of inspiration.
Portability can be a gift, but it can also be a curse. The option of taking your computer everywhere with you, means putting your irreplaceable data and music at risk of being damaged, lost, or stolen. However, if you feel a laptop setup will work best for your style, there are methods and workflows to minimize the loss of data, but I will cover those in another post.
How about a desktop and a laptop?
Docking Station: a device to which a portable computer is connected so that it can be used like a desktop computer, with an external power supply, monitor, data transfer capability, etc.
A docking station is one of the coolest solutions for people who want to keep their setup unrestricted, while getting some of the added benefits of a static desktop. A docking station may not give you all the extra power, storage, and memory as an actual desktop, but it does add some very useful benefits. With this type of setup you gain the options of using an external mouse for added control and gestures, having multiple screens to speed up your workflow, and ports for adding on more data storage or audio-video cards and interfaces.
After reading this post, what is your gut instinct? Do you prefer Mac or PC?
And Which type of computer works best for you — laptop, desktop, or a docking station?
Once you have chosen your computer setup, your next task is to decide on a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
The next post in this series will go over some things to think about when choosing the best DAW for your music setup.