[LAU] Laptop for live performance and recording

Thomas Vecchione seablaede at gmail.com
Wed Jan 2 15:11:26 EST 2008

On Jan 2, 2008 3:31 AM, Ken Restivo <ken at restivo.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Jan 02, 2008 at 12:59:26AM +0100, julien lociuro wrote:
> > Hi all,
> >
> > As you probably know from my previous post (MacBook Pro or not..) I plan
> to
> > buy a laptop for audio work.
> >
> > Here some questions that arise after some investigation.
> >
> > 1) It is recommended to have 2 separate hard drives. One for os/programs
> and
> > one for audio files.
> >     Is it though necessary to have the first one, say the internal one
> at
> > 7200rpm, if the second one (external, USB-2) used for audio files is
> 7200?
> >     Problem is that most of laptops have 5400rpm for their internal
> drive.
> I've got only one drive and no problem. It's a 7200RPM drive-- not
> supported by my laptop BIOS. If you're going to be streaming recording or
> playing 48 tracks simultaneously, you might need separate drives. I'm mostly
> doing softsynths so CPU was more important than disk.
> Also, MAKE SURE that your BIOS supports 7200RPM drives. Mine does not.
> Linux does, but it's annoying for the BIOS to complain about no disk being
> present, every time I boot.

Hmm haven't heard of BIOSes not supporting a 7200 RPM drive myself.  Common
upgrade even on laptops in my experience.

At any rate, it gets much more complex when running the OS/Software and the
Audio off the same disk.  For low track counts it will likely be fine.
However you will likely run into problems well before 48 tracks.  It depends
on what you are doing.  It is recommended to have an external disk however
for that reason, it is a little extra safety form having a dropout in a

> > http://www.musicxpc.com/prodtemplate.asp
> >
> > 5) Not all laptops have a firewire port. Most have an extension card
> slot
> > (express, etc..) which can be used to have firewire. But from what I've
> > heard, linux doesn't have (good) drivers to support those cards. Most of
> > laptops which have firewire have a 4-pin (not ok if you want the 2
> > additional to have power supply for the card, which is nice for live
> > performance). MacBook(Pro) has a 6-pin firewire port.
> It's unlikely to be a powered 6-pin, though, so you'll probably still need
> the power cube to run the FA-66.

Macbook Pro IS a powered 6 Pin firewire port.  That is a large part of why I
buy the Apple machines is they provide this.  It is not to spec however in
that it only supplies 7 Watts of power instead of the 15, however I have not
had a problem running most things off of my Powerbook or MacBook Pro.

> >
> > 9) The mac book has a Intel GMA X3100 graphic card (with 144 MB SDRAM
> DDR2)
> > shared (not dedicated) with main memory. Is this a problem for audio
> > processing only? Also, is this card supported under linux? mac book pro
> on
> > the other hand has an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT, which would be more
> supported
> > I think.
> If you won't be gaming, don't worry about it. I picked my laptop
> specifically because it has the INTEL video chipset-- probably the
> worst-performing crap out there, but at the time it was the only one open
> and free and supported in Linux with Free Software drivers, and that is very
> important to me.  My computer isn't just my instrument and studio and
> communications device, and life, really, but it is also a political
> statement for me. I haven't yet seen an audio app that requires proprietary
> 3D video acceleration, for example, so I wasn't missing much.

There are a few, though I tend to try to stay away from them.  At any rate
if you aren't doing anything that needs 3D Ken is correct, the intel chipset
would be fine.

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