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Laptop for Live Electronic Music

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Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby tsoli » Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:35 pm

hello humans of soundonsound,

it is finally time to forum for me, the blog has be a long time favorite of mine

I am looking to buy a laptop for production and especially live electronic Music.

And I am looking for your advice.

There is a few questions i have:

first of:
I will be using windows and ableton. what are your experiences playing live on windows? stability?
so far i've been on mac and logic for home production.

for a start ill be using an akai launchpad, midi keyboard and a usb interface.
earlier productions of mine relied heavily on the use of software instruments but i am expecting to use more samples, field recordings (audio rather than digital synth) but not exclusively.

My budget for the pc is around 2300 euro.

https://www.lenovo.com/de/de/laptops/th ... /customize (https://www.lenovo.com/de/de/laptops/th ... /customize)
is the one im looking at. at 2kg not to heavy and with a good casing.


with 32gb RAM and the Intel Core i7-9750H Prozessor
and an
1 TB SSD, M.2 2280, PCIe, NVMe

is the RAM enough? what about the processor?
what are your thoughts, objections, alternatives?


Best tsoli

ps: is amd a valid cpu alternative? any builds you have experience with?
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby ef37a » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:07 am

I might have been unlucky with my present experience with Windows 10 but if the poposed laptop is never going on the internet stay with W7?

I have read several times, here and elsewhere that W10 is the best Ms OS to date for handling audio but at the moment my laptop updates and does other girations (including a 'sort of' BSOD) too often to be considered safe for any live performance.

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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:42 pm

Win 10 is absolutely fine for most of us. No need to go installing an obsolete OS, I would say.

The laptop you're looking at should be fine, but actually may be overkill. I would get Scan involved to be sure, and see what they can offer. I play live with budget laptops in the sub-500 quid region and haven't had any problems to speak of - a few wrinkles with software, but nothing attributabe to the laptop or OS.

So I'd suggest maybe go for something a little more modest and use the money for a reliable audio interface, good cables and a quality, solid stand for stage!
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby tsoli » Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:21 pm

thank you for the reply. i am just now looking into scan.co.uk website. checking their benchmark test ect.

best tsoli
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby ef37a » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:58 pm

Thing is Elf, people keep all sorts of obsolete gear going for all sorts of reasons. Tape machines, synths and even sound cards that will only run on XP 32 bits! Heck I think Ataris are still doing service?

Why should an operating system be any different?

My thinking was that IF OP has a working system at the moment AND it runs on W7 it just might be better to stay with it?

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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:11 pm

ef37a wrote:Thing is Elf, people keep all sorts of obsolete gear going for all sorts of reasons.
Sure, me included, but I see little value in buying a new laptop to saddle it with an old OS. It will come with W10 installed, so my advice is for the OP to embrace it and move on...
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby tsoli » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:08 pm

The Elf wrote: It will come with W10 installed, so my advice is for the OP to embrace it and move on...

looking at the 3xs from scan, which, after finding out about the heat management issues the thinkpad p-series has, seem like the most legit option, i'll probably get a pc without a preinstalled os.
buying a win10 pro key online is <20 euro as compared to the 110gpd scan wants. though i guess they wont be able to run their stress test then.

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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby Pete Kaine » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:43 am

tsoli wrote:looking at the 3xs from scan, which, after finding out about the heat management issues the thinkpad p-series has, seem like the most legit option, i'll probably get a pc without a preinstalled os.
buying a win10 pro key online is <20 euro as compared to the 110gpd scan wants. though i guess they wont be able to run their stress test then.

Yeah, we charge market rate, so if you find it cheaper it'll be a resold key from a decomissioned machine. Techincally MS is well within their rights to terminate OEM keys that have been reused, so cheap keys are always at your own risk.

The other problem is that whilst we test the hardware before shipping, we're required to wipe any OS install if the key isn't ours, so this means you lose the OS optimizations that are done to your system in the process.

It annoys me too as this wasn't the case before W10 where we could previously use clients legit keys for doing setups, but we have restrictions placed on us through the partner program these days that frustrate me too at times.
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby Rich Hanson » Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:25 pm

Just to reiterate Peter's point about those cheap codes, as I fell foul of that a couple of years ago. Bought a cheap Windows 7 license from eBay, which worked for a while but a few months done the line the machine started asking for activation again and the key no longer worked.

Oh, and I very recently bought a 3XS laptop for recording, and am very happy with it :thumbup:
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby Mike McLoone » Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:44 pm

I am a big fan of the IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads, and had bought a second hand one with a full two year warranty and Windows 10 included. Right, I thought this was the machine I could use for Ableton, and not care too much about it getting trashed as they are incredibly sturdy.

The issue however today is Windows, and the fact that it has become something quite unreliable for professional use. That is to say, if you have the computer connected to the internet at all, ever, it will start to download and update itself. When? I can tell you when, not less than three times whilst recording from a MIDI keyboard into Ableton, Windows presented me with the full blue screen, did I want to restart right now, or later?

The next day, after these unwanted updates had successfully installed themselves, Omnisphere VST had gone and unregistered itself. This presumably due to the newly configured Windows OS. The nightmare scenario of turn up for a gig, boot the machine, and your software's gone and unregistered itself, is now a very definite possibility. Try to fix that one while you're on stage!

"Does anyone know the Wi-Fi password??" <screaming masses of people> "Anyone?"

A few days later I ended up at Currys and got a Mac Book. A hefty purchase I'd been avoiding, but it was Windows in the end, which left me no choice.
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby The Elf » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:12 pm

Mike McLoone wrote:The nightmare scenario of turn up for a gig, boot the machine, and your software's gone and unregistered itself, is now a very definite possibility. Try to fix that one while you're on stage!
But, of course, you have a back up, don't you?

As I keep telling folks, I have a pair of 'less than 500 quid' (and considerably cheaper - my backup was 270) Windows 10 (one I upgraded from 8 to 10 myself) laptops, have never experienced any of the problems being purported to be reasons to to avoid them, and have never failed to play the gig.

The worst scenario I ever came up with was a bug in a piece of software that failed to record a live gig, but that isn't the worst that can happen.
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby ef37a » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:20 pm

Totally agree Elf. If one is doing anything even remotely 'professional' (even if you don't get paid but others are relying on you) it is vital and sign of that professionalism that you are prepared for as many disasters as possible.

Even the grottiest transistor amp can keep you going after your £3000 cork sniffers valve jobby has melted.

The very worst sound you can make on stage is none at all!

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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby Rich Hanson » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:42 pm

John Cage would like a word...
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby ef37a » Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:15 pm

Rich Hanson wrote:John Cage would like a word...

Well, I always thought he was taking the proverbial anyway!

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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby Mike McLoone » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:43 pm

The Elf wrote:As I keep telling folks, I have a pair of 'less than 500 quid' (and considerably cheaper - my backup was 270) Windows 10 (one I upgraded from 8 to 10 myself) laptops, have never experienced any of the problems being purported to be reasons to to avoid them, and have never failed to play the gig.

I don't doubt that. But I am guessing neither of these systems are ever connected to the internet?

Let's say I buy and install NI Komplete. The computer I install it on, has to have an internet connection. There is no other way to authorize this software, no copy/paste of keys or codes from a different computer which is on the internet or other method. Either your DAW system gets on the net to install such programs, or you can't use it.

This can be seen in the NI support thread here:
https://support.native-instruments.com/ ... onnection-

Now we reach Patch Tuesday & Exploit Wednesday. These are industry terms for the updates forced onto Windows systems (Tuesdays, once a month), and the hacker free-for-all on Wednesdays to exploit the new vulnerabilities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patch_Tuesday

"Microsoft has designed the update system for the Home and Pro editions of Windows 10 so that in most cases if technically possible the latest Windows version is downloaded and installed automatically – this has however drawn criticism due to other problems such forced upgrades can introduce. "

There is no way to stop these updates if your system is connected to the internet. Or indeed, any other local networked computer which has an internet connection, as other computers on the LAN which have been updated will share their newly downloaded updates to anything and everything on the LAN. You can delay the installation of the updates for up to 60 days, after which time, they will again be forced and installed in the background. You can disable the windows update service from running, but it will "repair" itself and keep going. There is one option, if your computer is connected to a domain which you administer, you can use group policies to tell the systems not to install these updates. But that rather a difficult workaround, and requires a server, which one doesn't need nor want. There was some other method of telling Windows you are using a metered internet connection, in which case the updates were limited, but I think this was also not a sure fire way of stopping the patches and updates arriving.

It might sound like I'm trashing Windows, and yes, I am giving out about this one feature, the forced updates. But I have here an equal number of Windows and Mac systems, I've been on Windows since version 3.0 on a 286. But this combination of software which requires an internet connection (say subscription plugins which need a network connection to run, or even register once-off) and an OS which forces new versions on you as soon as that internet connection is there, may work one day and may not work the next. That is hardly suitable for professional use, and it is a giant pot-hole fast approaching in the road ahead.
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:52 pm

If you have Windows 10 Professional, you can defer updates for up to a month (I think this is a relatively new thing), so the sensible thing to do now would be to defer the updates beyond any upcoming gigs, and manually start any updates during your own downtime.

If you're gigging with Windows Home, though ... why?? :D

Having said that, I'm still doubtful about software-as-a-service.
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby ef37a » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:40 pm

Well out of my depth here but from what I have been told, going on the net to a specific site that you know is safe for a download is pretty bombproof?
Then you turn it off, button side of this Lenovo. On top of the HP g6.

I have two W7 machines that are still wide open to the net and nothing bad has befallen them so far.

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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 31, 2020 4:46 pm

Mike McLoone wrote:
The Elf wrote:As I keep telling folks, I have a pair of 'less than 500 quid' (and considerably cheaper - my backup was 270) Windows 10 (one I upgraded from 8 to 10 myself) laptops, have never experienced any of the problems being purported to be reasons to to avoid them, and have never failed to play the gig.
I don't doubt that. But I am guessing neither of these systems are ever connected to the internet?
They are *always* connected to the Internet. Always!

I'm typing this on my main audio laptop.
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 31, 2020 4:49 pm

Mike McLoone wrote:an OS which forces new versions on you as soon as that internet connection is there, may work one day and may not work the next.
I hear these stories, but I don't experience them myself!

But, of course, we all have image backups we can recover to in a real emergency, don't we?...
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Re: Laptop for Live Electronic Music

Postby Mike McLoone » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:08 pm

I do apologize Elf and Dave if my previous post was a bit of a rant. I'm really just venting my frustration at Microsoft, not at anyone here!

To get back to the actual thread, then I would also recommend a used business laptop, such as a Lenovo T or X series with Windows 10, provided that once installed and running, the wi-fi and network connections are all disabled (e.g. at best in the BIOS or just in Windows).

The other option is to install two copies of Windows 10, and have one which has internet access, and the other which is strictly for audio which has all the network access disabled.

Windows 7 is unsupported at this stage and should really be avoided for a new install. It is also not possible to install Windows 7 on newer hardware, due to some Intel compatibility issue. So just be aware, buying a new laptop which has Windows 10, you are stuck with Windows 10 and upwards.
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