Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Configure and optimize you computer for Audio.
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lnikj
KVRAF
1966 posts since 23 May, 2005 from the North Cornwall coast

Post Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:17 pm

I’ve been with Apple since 2003, after switching from Windows XP in 2000 to Redhat, and then Mac when they went *nix. I’ve had 5 PowerBooks or MacBook Pros in that time. My last is a late 2011 17" MBP which I love but is falling to bits and having thermal shutdowns. I remain delighted with my 2015 iMac, the only Mac desktop I’ve ever bought.

The problem is that health issues now make it very uncomfortable for me to sit at a desk for very long and I really need a laptop.

Without any great confidence I bought a maxed out 2018 MacBookPro - i9, Vega 20. It has proved to be an utter lemon. Beyond the fact that I find it hard to go back to a 15" screen and crappy cramped keyboard, it uses its entire chassis as a heat sink, has a pile of issues with its T2 chip that controls the unnecessary touch bar and security features, its audio crackles and pops and the graphics chip causes screen flicker away from the preferred resolution on the dedicated GPU. It is going back tomorrow (day 14 of 14 day ‘remorse’ period).

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am and how lost I feel. I now have to face up to the fact that Apple have finally and completely lost the plot and it’s time to move on(/back).

I’ve been putting money away for the next computer for years and I can afford to buy something high end but back in the world of non-Apple computers (where there is no choice) the choice is overwhelming.

I want a very fast 17" laptop for laptop use - it won’t be used on a desk with an external monitor - it will be on my knees and will need reasonable cooling. I don’t mind if it is quite heavy and it won’t be travelling.

It will be used for music, editing photos (needs a good screen), making YouTube videos, website editing and general office use. I won’t be playing games on it.

Just like a Mac I will hope to get 5-6 years of heavy use out of it before replacement (if I haven’t pegged it by then!).

I really haven’t a clue. First world problem I know. I used to buy Dell before I switched to Mac.

Any advice gratefully appreciated.

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donkey tugger
Boss Lovin' DR
5409 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:31 pm

I would think you'd probably be looking at something along these lines;

https://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-zbook ... orkstation

I chose HP as I know their stuff- sure other manufacturers will do similar. Very fast core i7, full HD screen, SSD etc. Workstation business laptops rather than any 'consumer' models.

The other alternative suppose would be to have a more custom built machine from one of the audio manufacturers like scancomputers. Not sure of their prices, but worth a look.

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
23699 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:32 pm

I went to SCAN computers who built me exactly the laptop I wanted. Had it 3 - 4 years now. Its been pretty much rock solid for me. I went for an i7 quad core with 3 1TB SSDs, 24GB RAM & a BlueRay / DVD writer. I would have liked more USB ports (it has 2 x USB3, 1 x USB2 & a combo port), but powered hubs seem to work well enough. I have a lot of midi controllers connected & an audio/midi interface.

SCAN were very communicative & helpful during ordering and building. They were also the only company still building 17" laptops at that time. It was quite pricey (£1800 inc VAT) but well worth it IMHO.

Its nice n quiet too :)

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lnikj
KVRAF
1966 posts since 23 May, 2005 from the North Cornwall coast

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:06 pm

@donkey tugger - thanks for that. That is one of the questions I have in my mind for a prebuilt - do I want a workstation or a gaming laptop. My main current use is VCV Rack which uses OpenGL and pushes the graphics hard.

Thanks @thecontrolcentre (and donkey tugger too) for the Scan recommendation. Although I have bought bits and bobs off them over the years I had no idea they made custom audio workstations. Will definitely investigate further.

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nix808
KVRAF
3704 posts since 22 Jul, 2006 from Tasmania, Australia

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:21 pm

I like Dell personally.
atm I have a 17" hp lappy-
but it has always run a little funny. It's an Envy dv7
It has a problem with 'Windows Module Install Worker' process,
that uses vast amounts of CPU sometimes.
I can still say it's basically OK- it does the task when it's not tripping

- but, what about Dell/Alienware 17?
Gamers demand a bit, I find that gaming systems are good.
As far as desktops mine since 2007 have been a Dell XPS 720 and Alienware i9

I get the picture that Scan are very good, and they would be a safe bet judging by what I hear here at KVR.

Hope u have a lot of fun on the new system

ozonepaul
KVRist
74 posts since 18 Mar, 2007 from London

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:01 am

Scan computers 3XS pro audio department is I think the best service that one can wish for. I bought 2 years ago one of their desktop configuration and it is rock solid. During the order process they were very helpful, especially Pete Kaine helped me a lot, he is one of the most knowledgeable person in audio related computer issues. If I were to look for a new specialist music production/recording/mixing laptop I would start by talking to them first and most probably I would buy one of their Pro Audio laptops. https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/daw-d ... actors#anc
Scan also has got a Pro Video department (https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/hd-4k ... actors#anc), so I'm sure they're happy to suggest you some changes needed to make the best compromise so that your audio laptop will also function well as a video editing machine.

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lnikj
KVRAF
1966 posts since 23 May, 2005 from the North Cornwall coast

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:12 am

Thanks guys. All advice roads lead -> to Scan :)

I have spoken to Pete Kaine yesterday and had an email exchange today. Probably going to order their thinner 17" (https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/configurator ... o-firewire) tomorrow or Monday with a couple of large SSDs inside. I'd like the big powerful fat one but it has to go on my knees and 4kg is too much. The thinner one is the same weight as my 2011 MBP so I can live with it.

monopoli
KVRist
457 posts since 30 Jul, 2002 from netherlands

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 7:53 am

Before this topic dies; I'd like to keep it going because I'm also looking for a new non-mac laptop for editing music and video. I don't know if Scan would deliver in the Netherlands and if I would want to go down that road.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?
Is there maybe a similar company to Scan in the Netherlands that anyone has experience with?

liquidsound
KVRAF
2950 posts since 30 May, 2006 from Hollow Earth

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:14 am

https://www.adkproaudio.com/music-production-laptops

I almost got one from them.
Great stuff.

Almost because I then got an iMac (thinking LPX) and a Surface Pro 6 (now for my portable CAD station) which I’m finding using it all the time for Live, Studio One and the late Bitwig.
Powerful enough for most of my music demands.

I abandoned Logic and so the iMac one day will as well.


Gli errori si pagano!
MuLab.Ableton.Diva.Zebra.Repro-1.Dune2.The Legend.ArcSyn.Spire.TAL

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jancivil
KVRAF
17591 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:49 am

Strange. I bought the 2018 i9, turbo boost, 32GB RAM and it runs amazingly cool. It's on my exposed thighs right now.

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lnikj
KVRAF
1966 posts since 23 May, 2005 from the North Cornwall coast

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:17 am

jancivil wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:49 am
Strange. I bought the 2018 i9, turbo boost, 32GB RAM and it runs amazingly cool. It's on my exposed thighs right now.
Interesting. It's gone back so I can't compare but if you're running something where the first core is at a a sustained 4ghz for many minutes and the dGPU is at, say, 50% processor, what sort of CPU temperatures are you seeing?

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jancivil
KVRAF
17591 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:54 pm

I doubt I'll ever max one core out like that. I wouldn't know how to. If I'm running a Cubase 10 project with a sizable VE Pro load, it'll get hot enough to not want it against my legs like this before too long, but that starts distributing to cores automatically for either, I believe. I haven't looked at it much. Just now I was seeing what would tend to indicate 5 and 6 cores being called. The Cubase indicator went over 100% a few times. The real load is VE Pro. I haven't done very intensive video anything.

It runs cooler than my other MBPs. I have the 6-core.

If I'd have paid what I paid and it was unusable I'd have gone to an Apple store and demanded satisfaction. But this computer is by far the best machine I've ever had.

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lnikj
KVRAF
1966 posts since 23 May, 2005 from the North Cornwall coast

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:38 pm

VCVRack has no problems maxing out the first core, and that was what I bought it to run.

I had constant little pops and clicks in Rack, Logic and Live, some of which registered as overloads in Console but others did not but were very audible. There is a 50+ page thread about varieties of them on Macrumors.

One of those clicks is, unfortunately, very easy to replicate, and remains unfixed by Apple after 6 months:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-c ... d-bug.html

In general it idled at 43 degrees, would typically go to around 70 degrees watching a video on YouTube, and went easily to 98 degrees once I started working with it. It seemed perfectly happy to do that, it never throttled as far as I could see, and would happily sustain at around 4 Ghz. I could get temperatures of 5-10 degrees lower (at times) by running it on a cooling pad.

The final straw though was that my eyesight is poor and I needed to run it at the medium resolution and not the preferred resolution. When it resumed from sleep that screen would start flickering every few seconds if the Vega 20 was in use. Again, there is plenty on Macrumors about this.

The Apple tech (on the phone - nearest Apple store is 2 hours away) advised me to return it for a refund. He admitted that their internal forum is full of posts about problems with the T2 chip, which they are still "trying to fix". He had no hesitation in ascribing the audio problems to the T2.

Glad its working for you; unfortunately it didn't for me. Believe me, it pained me greatly to send it back.
I expect I had a bad copy but I just don't have the time to play the lottery for getting a good one when,
at the end of the day, Jony Ive thinks he can break the laws of physics if he thinks such a thin case can adequately cool the latest processors.

CircuitTree
KVRist
59 posts since 27 Nov, 2018

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:33 pm

Maybe try holding off until the 2019 models get released? I'm on a 2015 MacBook and switching to Microsoft is one of my biggest fears right now. I really hope Apple fixes all its issues soon :( Best of luck to you my friend.

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Deep Purple
KVRian
803 posts since 9 Jan, 2015 from NY, NY

Re: Laptop for music - buying advice needed

Post Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:19 pm

jancivil wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:49 am
Strange. I bought the 2018 i9, turbo boost, 32GB RAM and it runs amazingly cool. It's on my exposed thighs right now.
Same year and specs here, and no heat issues at all.
Sweet child in time...

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