Windows - Apple Mac - Laptop/Desktop
Processing Power - Connectivity
Win or Mac
DAW requirements for each
Is portability a consideration?
Additional Processing power
PCI cards and external etc
Data Storage/Organisation & Mobility
PortabilityNowadays, a fully loaded Computer is the centre of the studio and of course desktop PCs or Macs can pack in a load more power than any laptop, however, a high-end laptop may be powerful enough for what you need and gives you the option of working on the go. Check out our Computing/Data Storage section to get some ideas about the right laptop solution.The other option is to have both desktop and laptop setups ready to go, this way you get the bigger processing power for larger tasks such as recording multiple audio files and the portable solution for smaller tasks such as editing on the go. But should you choose between desktop or laptop it brings into focus the importance of setting up the right way, i.e. making sure all of your virtual instruments and key software are on an external, portable hard drive or two. This is good discipline because if your main desktop goes down you can access a back up and won't have to spend days downloading all your software and instruments again. Equally, if you want to work on the go you can take your sound library with you.
Portable StudioWhen setting up a portable studio it is broadly along the lines of the types of studio set out above, however, data storage becomes key. To have the ability to use a lot of virtual instruments, processing and to master ,multiple takes of a track you will need to make sure your samples/virtual instruments are all on external and portable hard drives as to are your session files. Using the cloud is not good enough generally as if you are not in a place with great wifi you can find that you cant access your session files quickly but certainly will struggle to use virtual instruments if all the samples are in the cloud.In general, a 'portable' version of your studio should be considered from the beginning and in our view, all studios should be configured with portability in mind. At the end of the day, it is not really a big hardware question but more a configuration question, although hard drives that are portable are very different (yet just as reliable and similarly priced) as their static counterparts.
Spending on a good data storage solution is key. you need rapid access to data with low transfer times, instant accessibility for Plug-ins.
Its also important to consider expandability/daisy-chaining ability and archiving capacity since at some point you will want to purge old session files to maintain disk performance.
Screen - there are tons of options out there but to be honest, unless you are working on a HD film and need that running, you just want to get a good definition HD computer monitor. Now there are very large wide screens available which are great for working on a track and having a big section of your edit window open. Check out our Computing/Data Storage section to see our screen recommendations but remember this: many people freak about screen compatibility and connections but generally all Windows/Mac PCs and Laptops have HDMI connectivity and that is fine for a screen.
Furthermore, Mac uses the Thunderbolt connection which yo can expand with a thunderbolt doc and run multiple screens from it. Its so easy to connect a good screen now and a last piece of advice in that regard is to put your screen on a moveable shining display arm that clamps to your desk so you can move it around between computer and midi keyboard positioning and also change the height depending on you siting or standing.