How To Set Up A Laptop For Producing Music

Want to produce music using your laptop but don’t know how to go about it? Read this article for detailed instructions on how to go about becoming a music production stalwart. 

How To Get Your Laptop Set Up To Produce Music Like A Pro!

It takes more than a little nuance to set up the perfect music production laptop rig. There are so many details to take note of, so many bases to cover, and things may get confusing really fast, especially if you’re a beginner. However, this article covers all the basics pretty well and can set you on the path to audio production mastery. 

Many music producers that are just setting up for the first time have to decide between a desktop computer or a laptop for music production at some point. 

Both systems have their merits, and a lot of people actually prefer desktops. However, laptops offer greater versatility, flexibility, and portability. You can record pretty much anywhere with a laptop, at a concert or in church, if they’ll let you. 

The trick is to know what to look out for in a laptop, and that’s what this article addresses, in easily digestible paragraphs and headings. 

What Type Of Laptop Is Preferred?

Basically, you’re looking for a laptop powerful enough to run your DAW software comfortably. While it’s true that price is generally a good indicator of the quality of a laptop, it’s not the most important factor to look out for. 

What we’re saying is, the most expensive laptop on the shelf may not necessarily be optimal for music. A savvy music producer would look out more for the laptop’s specifications before settling on one. Speaking of which, these are the most important specs to keep an eye on:

  • Processor
  • RAM
  • Hard Drive

Having said that, we’ve found that Macs are generally better equipped to cope with the intense demands of a DAW. Nevertheless, a Windows laptop that ticks all the boxes in terms of specs will work just fine too. In both cases, have a preference for newer models. 

What Do I Need To Look For?

In the preceding section, we identified the basic specs to look out for in a laptop for producing music. Now, we’ll provide more details about each of them and why they’re so important if you’re not particularly tech-savvy. 

Just like humans, a computer has a brain, which is its processor. It’s what makes the computer able to accurately execute multiple tasks at once and run heavy programs. How well a processor is able to execute tasks depends on the number of cores it has. A single-core processor will struggle to perform more than a few tasks at once, so it’s best to go for at least a dual-core processor, or if your budget permits, a quad-core one. The next thing to look out for in a processor is the frequency, measured in GHz. The frequency represents the speed of the processor and the higher the better. Ideally, you’d need a frequency no lower than 2.2Ghz for producing music. 

DAW softwares needs a lot of Memory to function properly, so the minimum amount of RAM you should get is 4GB. RAM is the temporary memory your laptop uses when it functions and here again, the more the merrier. 

Music production consumes a huge amount of space, so you’ll probably need at least 256GB of internal storage to run the DAW software comfortably. If your budget can accommodate it, a higher number will not be amiss too. 

In summary, the ideal laptop should offer the following specs:

  • CPU: 2.2GHz i7 quad-core processor with a 64-bit operating system.
  • RAM: 4GB Minimum
  • Storage: 256GB HDD or SSD minimum, with external storage for audio files.
  • Screen Size: 15″

How Much Should You Spend?

Like with everything else you get what you pay for, when it comes to an audio production laptop. If you want some of the more high-end laptops, you’d need to stump up a decent amount of cash for it. 

The decision on how much to spend should solely depend on your budget and what type of music you’re planning to record. For the heavier stuff, you’ll probably be needing a laptop with great features that will help it comfortably handle the tasks you want it to. If you have the budget for it, then you can purchase it without any worries. However, laptops with the features we’ve already identified here will cope very well with complex production tasks. 

What Type Of Mac Laptop Should I Get?

Most Mac laptops are generally great for this type of rendering, as we’ve noted earlier. There’s quite a list of them to choose from, but one thing to keep at the back of your mind is that regular MacBooks (non-Pro models) are not at all ideal for this particular task. 

Apart from the non Pro MacBooks, most others can handle music generation pretty effectively, and depending on your budget, you can get better features. If you can afford to really go hard, then you should go for the 16″ MacBook Pro with Touchbar. 

How Much RAM Is Needed?

After the processor, the RAM is the most important feature to look out for in a laptop for making music. 

The minimum amount of RAM needed to support a DAW software is 4GB, but purchase 8GB, 16GB, and even more if you can manage to. You practically cannot have too much RAM for music creation. 

How Important Is SSD and How Much Storage Do I Need?

When it comes down to it, an SSD is not absolutely necessary for making music and its absence will not negatively impact the quality of your experience. The absence of an SSD is not a deal-breaker and a HDD will work just as well. An SSD is generally quieter and is clearly the better technology though, so if you can afford it, go for it. 

Tracks eat up a lot of storage space, so to avoid running out when you’re least prepared, it’s better to aim high. Nothing too extravagant though; about 256GB will do just fine. You can also purchase an external hard drive to go with it. 

How To Add Processing Power

To increase the processing power of your music creation activities, you’ll need to add more cores. An extra core is basically another processor linked together with other processors in a single shell. In this case, more cores will help the processor perform faster. If you want to see significantly increased processor speed, 4 cores is the minimum for creating music. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What Graphics Card Should I Use?

A: Graphics cards play very little roles when it comes to audio creation. DAWs have little use for any of the extra computer features and a stock graphics card is all that’s required. 

Q: What Are Some Good Computer Optimization Tips For Music Creation We’ve Missed Out?

A: We’ve got the full measure of setting up a laptop for making music in this article, but if you’re looking for extra tips on how to get the most out of your computer, you can find them here and here.

Q: Can you use any laptop to create music?

A: The answer to this is pretty straightforward. As we’ve established in the article, pretty much any laptop that offers the minimum requirements for music creation in terms of processor, RAM, and storage is good enough. 

Q: Is 64GB RAM overkill?

A: The short answer is no. For music rendering, the more RAM your computer has, the better.