laptop for audio production - Laptop

What should you know about choosing the right laptop for audio production? Here are a few recommendations and key points to note.

3 Reasons Laptops are Better Than Desktops for Audio Production

  1. They’re portable, meaning you can work from wherever you want. If you’re travelling from country to country, all you need is that backpack-sized computer. You could even be working from a desktop at home and decide that you want to work in the garden. It’s easy with a laptop!
  2. Flash storage is the standard in many of the newer laptops. This means faster access to the audio files you need (with less waiting time), and a whisper-silent HDD that won’t make loud noises all the time.
  3. Retina displays allow for finer grain detail on many laptops.

3 Action Points for Audio Producers Using a Laptop

  1. Sync everything you do to the cloud. That could be using Dropbox, Google Drive or another cloud storage service. Make sure you do this, as you can then access your audio and sessions elsewhere and carry on. It’s also a good idea to back up your DAW preferences and presets into the cloud.
  2. Does your audio editing software of choice allow multiple installs under the same license? Can you, for example, install a copy on your desktop and your laptop machine without issues? Adobe Audition CC will allow you to install it on up to 2 machines at the same time. 
  3. Consider external goodies such as an audio interface  of tiny speakers M-Audio Studiophile Av40 M-Audio Studiophile Av40 to add that extra kick. Hardly any laptops come with decent built-in speakers and sound cards, so look outside the box. You may also wish to consider a really high-quality set of headphones Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO Headset – 80 OHM too.

A Couple of Things Desktops Do Better Than Laptops for Audio Producers

  1. The mouse control on a laptop can often be much less intuitive for audio production than a mouse that comes with a desktop. This issue can be easily overcome by purchasing an external controller for your laptop.
  2. Desktops usually allow for far bigger local storage of files. This is not really an issue with Dropbox/Drive for cloud syncing. If you’re worried about filling up your laptop, you can always use ‘selective sync’ on Dropbox.

The Best Laptop for Audio Production

Apple builds products for media creators. That’s why I highly recommend their latest Apple MacBook Pro for audio producers. I would not consider the MacBook Air as, despite its beautifully light size and shape, I simply do not believe it will be powerful enough to produce intensive audio sessions. Always go for a bigger screen size if you’ll be using the laptop for audio production, as tiny screens will not allow you to navigate around your multitrack session very easily.

If you’re looking for a PC alternative to Apple, then I’d recommend the HP zBook X2 for its power and amazing hard drive should give you plenty of room to play with!

What Laptop Do You Use for Audio Production?

It’s over to you! Let me know what laptop you’re currently producing on in the comments below.

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19 Responses

  1. I’d dispute the comment about people not using the cloud are living in the dark she’s, conversely those that are reliant on it risk being thrown into the dark ages. You are suddenly completely dependent on your internet connection being up constantly, your cloud based DAW prover having no system issues, your cloud storage provider having no issues and when any one of those has issues, your are dependent on them fixing things and there is nothing you can do to speed up that access. That is before you worry about the huge delay in uploading and downloading large audio files before you can do any production.

    1. Good points on storing audio locally Sarah. There are excellent reasons not to rely totally on cloud too 🙂

    2. Totally Agreed Sarah! There was many times my ISP failed, and if it wasn’t because of my locally stored files, I would have been in huge trouble. I still was in big travel, because there was no way for me to upload the finished product to my client, but I found some WiFi spot and delivered from there.

        1. With Windows 8.X, and onedrive, I can store all my samples, presets, etc in the cloud, and then I can choose certain folders to sync to my computers so that all the files are available offline. Its really nice, say I download a new sample pack on my desktop, I just save it my onedrive by default, and since I have my “Ableton” folder saved for offline use on all my computers, the next time I open my laptop, all I need is an internet connection to download those new files, and then I could go without it

  2. While I agree with much of what you say, you should be more consistent with the suggestion of hardware. The MacBook Pro that you suggest is an i5, whereas the Lenovo model you offer has an “amazing i3?”

    And or a bit of counterpoint…I prefer a desktop because I can more readily expand its resource base. I can have massive, multi-TB, RAIDed, internal storage for less $. I can have multiple monitors; at present I prefer 3 x 23″ displays vs a single very high-resolution “retina-esque” display.

    1. @mjgraves, most of the laptops nowadays come with a VGA and HDMI connectors. I have one of my laptops hooked up to 2 27″ Samsung HD monitors, but I always have the ability to unplug them and take the laptop with me on the road. Hard drives for most laptops are 1TB and external Hard drives with the size of your cellphone and 1TB of storage cost $50 bucks. I think the point of a laptop being better than a desktop is that in case you need it you can unplugged from your other devices and take it with you in case you need to. You cant do that with a deskptop.

      1. Fair enough. But there is a limit to what can be done with a laptop. For just podcast audio it may be enough, but for other media matters it may not. I usually have 3-4 x 23″ monitors connected to my desktop. This allows me to have both audio editing and video editing software visible. Desktops also allow you to use a more diverse range of I/O hardware. In the Windows realm, desktops maintain a price/performance advantage as well as being more expandable.

        1. I dont really want to blow this out of proportion….but the title clearly says: “Audio Production” I also work with video production and yes you need huge storage space and crazy processor power, and RAM, and the more monitors you have the better, but here we are discussing about Audio Production, and lets be honest….I’ve been on the business for quite some time now, and I work full time doing this…..a laptop is more than enough (I use a core i7 with 8gb RAM 1TB HDD and Extenal HDD as backup. USB Audio interface, Studio Monitors, Headphones, and USB Keyboard and Mouse and 2 HDMI 27″ Monitors. I use this on my secondary laptop. I work on my desktop for video editing.) Really more than enough. Unless we want to do Studio Recording, or some other things…then yeah…but for audio production…more than enough.

  3. Great episode guys! I’m currently using a PC laptop to edit/produce audio (Alienware M15x) that’s been with me over 5 years now and is still going strong. I also use it for video editing and Photoshop/Lightroom work. I purchased this “gaming” machine purposely with higher specs knowing I’d be using it for audio/video work (games? I wish I had time for that haha)
    However, to this point I’ve always preferred RECORDING my VO on a desktop because I can utilize a higher-end sound card for better audio quality. I sync most projects in Dropbox as well. Unfortunately my trusty desktop finally died last month, and I gave it a private funeral. Ha! Your show is giving me lots to think about, especially the possibility of making the switch to an Apple machine, as well as checking out the Scarlett 2i2 for the laptop.
    Thanks for the tips, and keep up the great work!

  4. Are you insane?? Do you know ANYTHING about computers?! I cannot believe you just said that MacBook Air laptops are are less powerful than a Lenovo G500 with a Intel Core i3 processor. The MacBook Air has 2 configurations for the processor, an i5 processor or an i7 processor. The Lenovo G500 you mentioned has a “powerful i3 processor” if you knew ANYTHING about intel’s line of processors the i3 is the WEAKEST of the processors they have. I cannot believe you wrote that. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Do not just give into the stigma that Apple computers are weak!

  5. i am a radio producer (mostly spoken word news and actuality with music mixed in) and really need a stable production (but mobile) laptop. i also still like to make cd’s of my programs so would like my laptop to still have cd capabilities. my preferred editing platform is adobe audition – and i prefer to store by own work on an external drive. i work on an old 24 inch screen iMac desktop and currently have an older hp notebook pro with windows 7Pro operating system (which i much prefer to the new windows versions) .. problem is the laptop screen has turned a psychedelic pink so i must replace it. please advise which laptop would be most comfortable and efficient for me to buy? thank you, sally

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