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Thread Want to get laptop setup, please help

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1 Want to get laptop setup, please help
I have decided on getting a laptop to record, but that's about all I've decided on. I would like to record at least 2 tracks at a time, but 4 would be preferred. I would like to record a bass, guitar, keyboard, and vocals in all sorts of styles, including electronic/instrumental (one track at a time), classic rock (keyboard and guitar/bass and two vocal mics at same time), "pop", and jazz. For most of it (especially the electronic) I would like to do all the drums on the program. I would mostly be recording for myself for fun, but I would also like the option of a demo, or recording other peoples stuff for a small fee (as there are no studios in my town and people want demos). I want an interface that is self powered, so I can record in remote locations and on the run. I was looking at the tascam us 122 and it seems nice. I was also looking at cakewalk homestudio XL. I don't know about monitors or headphones, but any suggestions on any of these tools would be great.

So here are my questions:

1. Mac or PC? I've never actually used a Mac, but I hear they're far more reliable and garageband is quite good. I was wondering if a Mac would be worth the extra money.

2. Say you have a tascam us 122... I know it becomes your soundcard, but I was wondering if the output/headphones on the interface are just what's going through the interface, or also whats playing through your computer. For instance, I'm in a field with a laptop, a us 122, cakewalk, and an acoustic/electric guitar. I make a cool drum beat using fruity loops and I want to lay a guitar over it. I plug my guitar into the us 122 and have headphones through the us 122. Will I hear through the headphones just the guitar, or the output of the program? And if not, how do I hear the programs output at the same time?

3. With PC, is there a "best" type of processor/hard drive/ram? AMD? Intel?

OK I realize that's quite a bit to lay on someone but any input would be greatly appreciated.


p.s. I don't have $10 000
If you're going to use Cakewalk, definitely a pc laptop. You can't go wrong with a mac and garageband, though. I hear apple supplies a couple of gigs worth of apple loops if you buy a new mac now - unconfirmed, though.

Intel has a reputation of being more stable for laptop audio work, the Pentium M's especially have very good performance. Newer AMD laptops are now coming out with Athlon 939 processors. That plus substantial memroy (1gig or more) will give you a mean sampling machine. Best to get a laptop with firewire ports as firewire seems to be the interface of choice for audio nowadays.

That said, the Tascam is a usb 1.1 device. Though some people use it without problems, usb 1 is a slow bus for audio work. Better to get the Presonus Firebox or Edirol FA-101 which are both firewire interfaces.
Thanks a lot for the input. Although I am still wondering one thing....
Is the output of an interface (monitors/headphones) just what's plugged into the interface, or is it the computers main output?

Quote: Is the output of an interface (monitors/headphones) just what's plugged into the interface, or is it the computers main output?

It can be if you disable onboard sound in bios.
As a firewire interface, how is the M-audio 410?
good with a laptop?
good with cakewalk?
1. Quite well received, I don't own one but can only quote from other users who are satisfied with it.
2. Yes. There have been discussions that laptops with TI firewire chips are more compatible or less problematic, but otherwise, works quite well for most people.
3. Yes.

Well that helped a lot. Thanks a lot. lol I'm surprised how easy it is to get questions answered on this site. It's sweet
Hehe, I could be a lot more specific if you wanted to. :)

I'm a member of the Sonar and Cubase forums and I can see how happy they are with their 410 so I can only quote from them. Plus, M-Audio has been certified as ProTools compatible so that could certainly give you an indication of their seriousness with pro audio - can't say much about the ProTools version that comes with the card, though.