MUSIC PRODUCTION COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS

music production computer requirements

Here is a short summary of the minimum music production computer requirements:

  • CPU: 2.2Ghz i5 or i7 quad-core processor.
  • Memory: 8GB of RAM (16GB is preferred).
  • Storage: 500GB – 1TB SSD or HDD (SSD preferred).
  • OS: 64 bit operating system.
  • Screen: 15″ or bigger.
  • Soundcard: Scarlett 2i2 External Audio Interface

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MUSIC PRODUCTION COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS: Intro

When setting off on your music making journey, ensuring that your music production computer meets the requirements for your chosen DAW is crucial.

Why?

Your computer is the centre piece of everything.

And…

If you didn’t know already, music production uses a vast amount of its resources. That means you need some pretty decent specs to make sure that you can avoid that spinning wheel of death & multiple crashes.

Scrimping on your computer is like buying a petrol car because it’s cheaper, then putting diesel in it because that’s also cheaper.

It’s simply not going to work and, if by some miracle it does, it’s going to overwork & damage the car.

This is the same for your computer and we can’t stress the importance of having a good one enough. It will not only have a longer life span, make life generally more stress free, but also prevent you from many frustrating sessions.

So, enough of the chat.

How do we make sure we choose a computer that’s right for the job?

In this article we’re going to explain everything you need to know, to ensure that you get the right music production computer & meet the necessary requirements that will give you a light & breezy music making experience.

MUSIC PRODUCTION COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS: Mac vs PC

Man has been pondering this question for centuries and still hasn’t come to a final conclusion.

It’s a debate that dates back to prehistoric times.

The simple fact is that you can use either to make music, but there are some differences that are worth noting.

So let’s start with Mac:

Mac

music production requirements: mac vs pc

If we take a look back in time when music production first began, Macs were generally a much smoother & easier machine to start electronic production on.

Windows used to have many bugs that would get in the way and cause issues like BSOD (blue screen of death) or crashes of software.

Technology has since come on a long way since that and Windows computers can be just as good.

However…

There’s a reason that when you walk into a professional recording studio, you see a shiny top of the range Mac, rather than a beast of a tower PC.

Macs generally encounter less bugs that Windows PCs when it comes to every aspect of use & also tend to have a longer span of life.

I used to have a Windows computer (for gaming) and, in my experience, when it came to running a DAW there were tonnes of crashes. So, once I had some money saved up, I decided to take the plunge and invest in a good Apple Macbook Pro.

Once you go Mac you never go back.

Now that was a couple years ago, so I’m not sure how far the technology has come, but in my experience, using Apple Macs is a far superior experience in all aspects apart from gaming or coding.

If you’re not looking to really tinker with your machine and want something that’s easy to use out of the box, then Apple is for you.

One downside of choosing an Apple Mac over a Windows PC is the fact that you’re going to be investing a lot more in a Mac than you are a good PC.

Damn Apple and their incredibly useful but expensive eco-system.

PC

dual monitor pc

That brings me onto my next point, which is:

Windows PCs are incredibly good value for money and if you choose to build one yourself, you can get an absolute beast of a PC for a fraction of the price you’d pay for a Mac.

With Apple, you’re somewhat paying for the brand, the fancy design and the beautiful retina screen.

When you’re purchasing a PC that can run Windows, you eliminate the need to pay for all that and you can spend all your money on great parts.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to tinker with their computer and are into gaming or coding, then I’d suggest you go with a PC as it will do all that you want it to, extremely well, for a lower price.

Mac vs PC: Conclusion

In my experience, having used both a, Windows PC and an Apple Mac, I personally prefer Mac. For me it works a lot better, runs smoother and is just so damn easy to use.

Everything works and it’s simple.

I would never recommend something that I don’t personally use and I have the late 2016 iMac 27″. It still works incredibly well and does everything I need it to.

I give it a quick scan with MacKeeper everyday and it runs just like it did when I got it out of the box.

MUSIC PRODUCTION COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS: Laptop vs Desktop

macbook laptop

When you’re looking to purchase a computer for music production, deciding between a laptop or a desktop is going to be a difficult one, and that’s because they both have great benefits.

I currently use an iMac 27″ desktop which I absolutely adore and it runs like a dream, but it comes with one major drawback:

I CAN’T CARRY IT AROUND WITH ME.

This reason has made me consistently toy with the idea of selling my current iMac and opting for a second hand Macbook Pro.

One major downside when it comes to deciding between a Laptop or Desktop is the price range of each. Laptops are far more expensive and you can get an absolute powerhouse of a Desktop for a much smaller price than its Laptop counterpart.

This question really comes down to whether you need it to be portable or not. When I first bought my computer, I didn’t need it to be portable, but more and more I’m finding I do need it to be.

If you travel around a lot get a Laptop. If you don’t, get a Desktop.

Personally I think it’s best to have both, but if you can’t afford it (like me), then this is a crucial decision that you need to spend a lot of time thinking about.

One thing you’ll need to consider when purchasing a laptop, is getting a monitor, so you can see more & investing in a mouse (the trackpads suck).

What Are The Necessary Music Production Computer Requirements?

The two main things you’ll need to splash out on for your computer to run as smooth as conditioned hair are:

  • Processor (4 cores)
  • Storage (SSD)

Of course RAM is also important, but it’s far more important to have high processing speeds and a good deal of SSD space.

Processor

computer processor music production requirement

As we said above, the processor is one of the most important requirements in a good music production computer.

So what processor should you go for?

We’d recommend opting for an intel processor and choosing either a quad core i5 or i7, with a minimum clock speed of 2.2GHz.

The better the processor in your computer, the quicker it can crunch numbers and therefore the quicker it can load things and perform tasks. Music production is especially CPU heavy, so it’s important to get one that can handle the process.

So why are cores and frequency important and what do they do?

Let us explain

Cores

It’s easy to get lost when people explain computers using fancy words like “cores” and “clock speed”, so what do they actually mean?

Think of a core as an engine in a car. Your car needs the engine to run and it needs to be powerful to move all that weight. Now imagine a car with 4 engines all working at the same time to move the wheels.

That’s basically what a core is…

An engine that powers your computer. If you have more engines within your processor, what are you going to get?

More power.

That means that, more cores are generally better for running CPU intensive programs like DAWs, as there are multiple instances of a core working to run it.

Although cores are important, it’s also important to discuss frequency, because it can have a huge impact on how fast your computer actually is.

Frequency

blue & white smoke

Frequency is the clock speed of the CPU and is measured in gigahertz or GHz for short. The higher this number is, the faster your computer is going to be at processing information and… you guessed it, the faster it will be at handling music production tasks.

Generally when looking at the frequency speed of the processor, we don’t want to go any lower than 2.2GHz.

Previously, when processors didn’t have multiple cores (or as I like to call them, engines), the frequency of your processor was much more important and you needed more.

But with the invention of more cores (or engines), we can now worry about it less. Always make sure the clock speed is 2.2GHz or above. If not, some dual core processors could be faster than that quad core.

Storage

samsung portable ssd

For storage we recommend you get 500GB – 1TB of space and get it on an SSD.

When starting music production, you’re going to find that you need a truck load of space to store all of your samples, synths, digital audio workstation and more. Applications like these take up a great deal of space and you need to be prepared for it.

For example: some plugins that we personally use take up over 100GB of space, so keep it in mind when purchasing a new computer.

It’s also vital to know the difference between an SSD and a HDD when buying a music production computer with the right requirements.

SSD vs HDD

If you don’t want to read: SSD’s are just far superior and load things a lot quicker, but are more expensive.

The main difference between an SSD & HDD is the speed that it will operate at. SSD’s are much faster and less prone to crashing as they don’t have any moving parts (unlike the HDD). That means you’ll load everything up a lot faster if you choose to opt for an SSD.

We’d recommend using an SSD as your boot drive (the one you install your operating system and plugins on) and then getting an external HDD to keep all your samples on.

Or alternatively, you could use cloud sample services like splice or loopcloud! You can try splice for free or loopcloud for free.

This way you’re computer will have insane boot speeds and be extremely quick at opening programs & loading files as well as having a large external space to store all of your beloved samples & projects.

We personally use a SSD/HDD hybrid that has 1TB of space and it works perfectly. It allows for fast load times and loads of space to store stuff on.

RAM

ram

The recommended RAM for music production is 8GB, but it’s ideal to go for 16GB or more!

RAM is the third most important requirement in your music production computer and can alter the speeds a fair bit.

It’s basically the short-term memory of your computer and it’s used to load the more instant things you need on your computer. That means that your RAM is responsible for helping to access applications and tools within that application, which makes it perfect for handling, multiple high speed tasks.

The more RAM you have in your computer, the better your computer will be at multitasking. Therefore, the higher the ram, the more applications you can have open at the same time.

Screen

For your screen, we recommend using a minimum of a 15″ screen.

Having a bigger screen allows you to see more of your application, which means you’ll be able to see more of your audio workstation. Therefore, having a bigger screen, can increase your workflow in music production and get you pumping out tracks more quickly.

There are loads of great monitors on the market that you can use and we’d recommend that you actually opt for 2 monitors, so you can have 2 different screens for mixing and arrangement purposes.

Using 2 screens will give you loads of extra space and will reduce the time it takes to switch between mix windows and timeline windows.

We personally use a 27″ screen.

Soundcard

music production requirements

The soundcard is what you’ll use to process all of the audio that comes from your digital audio workstation and out of your speakers or headphones.

It’s important to have a good external sound card when making music. Without it, your computer can distort the audio signal more and cause latency issues in sound (which aren’t fun)!

We recommend using an external audio interface. This allows you to plug instruments in, microphones, headphones and cables for your speakers.

The one that we have used for over 5 years is called: Scarlett 2i2 and is perfect for beginners and those who are advanced.

Graphics Card

The graphics card isn’t actually a necessary requirement for your music production computer. Obviously you need one to display anything on your computer’s screen, but splashing out on this isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference.

Graphics cards are generally used to process video and are really good if you’re going to be doing something like video editing or gaming on your machine. If you’re not, it’s pointless to splurge on a good graphics card.

Onboard graphics will do the job you want them to fine.

Mouse

Having a mouse is extremely important to workflow in music production. If you’ve already got a laptop trackpad, you don’t necessarily need it, but it saves so much frustration and headache for a small price, so we’d recommend you get one.

When producing music you’ll want your mouse to be fast and ergonomic, because you’ll spend hours sitting down (trust me, it can get uncomfortable if you don’t).

That’s why we’d recommend getting a gaming mouse. Gaming mouses are great because they allow you to customise your sensitivity settings and are designed with comfort in mind. They also light up which is cool.

We personally use a Logitech gaming mouse that isn’t too expensive.

MUSIC PRODUCTION REQUIREMENTS

To finish this up, we’d recommend getting a computer with these specifications:

  • CPU: 2.2Ghz i5 or i7 quad-core processor.
  • Memory: 8GB of RAM (16GB is preferred).
  • Storage: 500GB – 1TB SSD or HDD (SSD preferred).
  • OS: 64 bit operating system.
  • Screen: 15″ or bigger.
  • Soundcard: Scarlett 2i2 External Audio Interface

We’ve left some recommendations below, so you can browse through them and decide which one suits you best.

Happy producing!

Free Music Plugins from Pluginboutique.com

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