Laptop to replace desktop?

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Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby RickTarrant » Fri Jun 08, 2018 17:36

Just looking for some recommendations. I may need to re-purpose my desktop Pyramix PC.

Would it be advisable to replace it with a current laptop model? As I ponder it I see that I would have to come up with an outboard hard drive solution . I have 4 HDs and 2 SSDs in my current rig. Plus I run 2 x 40" monitors.

The reason for considering it is there have been times when having a laptop for remote recording would be handy.

Do you use a laptop for your day to day work?

Thanks

Rick
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Re: Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby fl » Sat Jun 09, 2018 13:53

Last I looked, Merging was recommending a MacBook Pro (was it the 2015 model?) as a suitable laptop. As someone who has been using Pyramix on Macs for some years, I can tell you that the issue with my laptop is to make sure it stays cool enough to run Pyramix reliably for long sessions. When tracking, I've found that I rarely require the kind of processing I'd use for mixing and mastering, and as long as I restrict myself to using VS3 plug-ins, my 2007 MBP continues to be just fine for location work (even though it can only run Win7 in 32 bit mode, which in turn restricts me to using Pyramix v. 9, which in turn requires me to change the license on my SafeNet key, back and forth according to which machine I'll be using).

In the past there was some injunction over using any computer equipped with NVDIA graphics, but I've found that hasn't really affected me adversely (the MBP has NVDIA hardware). The main issue for me is temperature - just running Windows places a heavier load on the machine than when it's running the MacOS, and of course any kind of VST plugin processing places an added load on the processor, all of which raise the operating temperature. However, by keeping my plug-in processing to a minimum, and the use of a laptop cooler, I can usually sail through a session quite handily.

I find Pyramix's Backup Recorder feature is essential, and has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. You should consider that you need to run two hard drives, one for your "main" recording, and the other for the Backup. Some laptops can accommodate more than one hard drive internally, so there's an option.

Ultimately, all the gear needed to do a recording session in a location like a church or concert hall makes it a moot point as to whether using a laptop makes any meaningful reduction in the amount of gear you're lugging in and out. Yes, it's nice to have an integrated screen, all in one package, but by the time you add on your audio interface, hard drives, mic pre-amplifiers, cabling, mics, stands and talk-back system, the benefits of a compact, portable computer don't amount to much. Something like a Mac Mini could afford you greater processing power, without the temperature concerns, at the cost of having to carry a monitor, keyboard and mouse which, in the greater scheme of things, may not be such a bad trade-off.
Frank Lockwood, Toronto, ON, Canada
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Re: Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby tonzauber » Sat Jun 09, 2018 14:08

I just built myself a nice mici-pc based on the intel nuke platform in a completely passivly cooled housing.
It has two SSD drives built in, plus 4 USB 3 ports, i7 4 core and 16 gig ram and is about the size of a pice of piece of a5 paper in a sturdy aluminum housing.
On one of the USB 3 port we run a 2x 1tb raid array.
It is intended for our second studio where we don't have the luxury of a dedicated machine room,so a noiseless computer is a great thing to have.
So far I have run some stress tests (64 tracks of 96khz audio mixed with several VS3 and VST plugins in every channel), and even after 12 hours, the housing was warm but not hot and the system seemed to be happy.

For location recording I have an HP laptop with one ssd for the system and one hd for the audio data built in, it's stable and reliable as well.

However, I am surprised that Pyramix has really a problem of handling larger (24+ tracks 24/96) projects with single wav/bwf files, no matter how powerful the PC is, compared to my old software. Especially the trim editor becomes very sluggish in response. No performance issues with pmf though.
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Re: Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby ljudatervinning » Sun Jun 10, 2018 06:01

I use a laptop for on location recording and desktop for editing and mixing.
Even an older laptop is usually fine for trackning, but I find Pyramix far too taxing when using VST or VS3 plugins during mixing.
Laptops usually have a noisy fan and the processor drop in speed when they get really hot.
A desktop is usually far easier to keep cool and quiet. However quiet cooling is usually heavy, and not built for carying around.

You could probably build a powerful desktop and buy a cheaper laptop for the same money a powerful laptop would cost.

As to slow editing in Pyramix; I have found the HDD being the bottleneck. Minimizing disc access have speeded up work considerably for me.
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Re: Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby mpdonahue » Wed Jun 13, 2018 01:54

ljudatervinning wrote:As to slow editing in Pyramix; I have found the HDD being the bottleneck. Minimizing disc access have speeded up work considerably for me.
THe great advantage of PMX is the native use of interleaved file formats. THis reduces the bottle neck greatly.
I find that the single leading source of slow editing is having the auto scaling waveform enabled. Fixed scaling works much faster. I regularly edit 80+track 192k operas with no slow down from normal 7200 rpm drives. The graphics are typically the source of the slowdown.
All the best,
-mark
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Re: Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby ljudatervinning » Wed Jun 13, 2018 13:19

Hi Mark!

Are you mainly using a few long recorded files when editing?

When I edit albums with many takes etc in one project (many clips), the HDD reading will peak quickly when navigating/zooming.
Besides using fixed wave-forms, hiding tracks/clips and moving the media to an SSD greatly increased speed for me.
I use a relatively fast graphics card from Nvidia (GTX670)

On second thought, the particular project where I switched to SSD was recorded as Wave-files in another DAW.
It makes sens that PMX-files could have removed the sluggish response.
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Re: Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby RickTarrant » Fri Jun 15, 2018 15:14

Thanks for the input, gentlemen.

@ljudatervinning, It sounds like the course of wisdom would be to continue on with a PC for heavy lifting and get a lightweight laptop for remote tracking.

@tonzauber, I am intrigued by your intel nuc. I thought that they were strictly for hobbiest applications. I'll have to dig deeper. noiseless would be amazing, especially in a voice-over studio.

I may have to reconsider using PMF as well. I've always kept everything WAV from start to finish just for simplicity sake.
After putting WAV files into the project's Media folder, should I then convert them to PMF in the Media Manager? and then Mix to Wav?

I'll look into the MacBook, Frank. I keep thinging that one day Apple will make a touch screen macbook. It's not like they don't have the technology.
--
Rick Tarrant
--
Windows 10 Pro 64
Pyramix 11.0.6 [native]
Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD3
CPU i7 6700K
RAM 32GB DDR4
GPU AMD Radeon R5 220
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Re: Laptop to replace desktop?

Postby fl » Fri Jun 15, 2018 16:08

I think that you'll find that making recordings to PMF format (interleaved files) will tax your system and hard drives far less than using WAV. When I go on a remote, I want the least amount of burden placed on my machines as possible, mostly because of the heat issues I discussed earlier. There are a lot of compromises involved with shoehorning all that technology into a small, flat, portable computer, and most of them are designed for light use by people surfing or doing basic word processing. Which is not to say that there are not more capable laptops out there, but they take some finding, and the prices will be higher. Meanwhile, my little Mac Mini from 2012 just chugs along nicely, even when I throw a whole bunch of tracks and plug-ins at it (thanks OWC).

I'm guessing that you have a HAPI or a HORUS, and are therefore connecting via Ethernet. This is good, as most PC Laptops you'll find these days have a restricted selection of connections available (no Firewire, and what's going on with USB these days is anyone's guess). Ethernet is still the standard - at least until they come out with the new, improved, lemon-scented Ethernet++ES (for Extra Special) that will undoubtedly appear just as you're about to make your purchase.
Frank Lockwood, Toronto, ON, Canada
http://LockwoodARS.com
Native 11.0.6/Native Music 9.1.10
Win7 Pro SP1 64/32
Bootcamp 5.1.5621/4.0.4033
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