Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Pulling out your hair? Don't know what to do or where to go? Ask in here.
Forum rules
READ: VSE Board-Wide Rules and Guidelines

If your Help request has been solved, please edit your first post in order to select the Image Topic Icon to let others know your topic has been solved.
User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by Solderman » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:25 pm

I have a Lenovo T61 laptop that I was using as a portable DAW, which has a Core2 Duo generation processor, but 10 years old hardware just isn't going to cut it anymore, so I'm ready for something with at least I5 Sandy Bridge performance to replace it. The T61 was primarily useful because it had a PCMCIA slot that I could use an Echo Indigo I/O audio interface with, so the first issue I see is finding an ASIO compatible audio interface that is similarly compact.

I do possess a spare MotU 828 mkII, but I don't even know if there are even any firewire interfaces in laptops that will work with it now. Last one I ever saw working was a Sager laptop from 2004 with a TI firewire 400 port.

So any advice for bringing a portable DAW with Windows 7 or newer up to modern spec? I haven't even considered notepads, but am not sure what kind of audio interface one would use with it.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

User avatar
meatballfulton
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5817
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:29 pm
Gear: Logic Pro X

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:49 pm

A couple of interface vendors have moved to Thunderbolt, but all the real action today is in USB 2.0 and being class compliant with iOS. I'm partial to Focusrite myself, their Scarlett range is essentially the Saffire range tweaked from USB instead of FW.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by Solderman » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:36 pm

I'd prefer to look into USB-C first. No idea if Apple would have better support, but I'd prefer to stick with PC if I can hold on to what I know.
Actually I don't even know at this point if the use of VST2 plugins on Windows 8 or RT tablets would be acceptable or even viable. RT is long discontinued, and apparently only ran Microsoft-signed 32-bit code. Windows 8 is already being replaced by 10, which might be more suitable for tablets.

Low performance threshold I'm expecting would be at least two 8 voice instances of Diva using dual-VCO and Uhbie filter. For comparison, my 10 year old Core2-Quad based desktop DAW (XP SP3 running Reaper 4.7) can handle only one instance of this in Diva's Multi-Core mode.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

User avatar
ninja6485
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2766
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:13 pm
Gear: Virus Ti, Jx-8p, Juno 60, Radias, Maschine, 101,303,606,707,727,808,909, odyssey, mirage, akai s5K/s2K/s1k, drumtraks, E6400ult, M1R, rx5, fizmo,d50
Band: Lyra, The Sun Worshipers
Location: Exton/ westchester

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by ninja6485 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:50 pm

I was going to suggest Rain Recordings, since my Rain laptop is still kicking bottom after 10 years (and has helpful restore partitions that make returning it to the way it was when it left factory w/o destroying your "samples" partition unbelievably easy, but unfortunately they've gone bust. :cry: They were a little expensive, but clearly it held up well! Have you consideredbuilding your own based on a site like new egg?
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by Solderman » Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:01 pm

Thank you, I'll see if I can find one on the used market. I am admittedly very uneducated on tablet PC's at present, and at this point would be ok with running a few softsynths on one triggered from midi over a basic audio interface, while still using my old DAW hardware for recording and mixing. Going mobile is still a learning experience for now. But Apple could be the better choice, I really just don't know yet.

btw, I don't mean using a tablet as a remote controller, like for using TouchDAW. More like an additional sound module I can load VST's into. If Reaper would work in the tablet, I may even consider using Reamote between it and the desktop. If it seems better for workflow than a keyboard and mouse, then I may consider it to be a desktop replacement.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

User avatar
ninja6485
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2766
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:13 pm
Gear: Virus Ti, Jx-8p, Juno 60, Radias, Maschine, 101,303,606,707,727,808,909, odyssey, mirage, akai s5K/s2K/s1k, drumtraks, E6400ult, M1R, rx5, fizmo,d50
Band: Lyra, The Sun Worshipers
Location: Exton/ westchester

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by ninja6485 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:04 pm

Ok, but be careful with Rain now, if only that their tech support is no longer available, and if someone gigged with theirs there's no telling what you could be getting into!

Technology has advanced a great deal since your last computer: if you check the specs of what your getting, you should be able to find several reasonably priced options with more than enough processing power without changing teams and entering the walled garden. If you go the costom route, you can add whatever components you like.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by Solderman » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:13 pm

As a continuing update on my search, it was recommended not to go with a PC tablet, such as the Surface Pro, for two main reasons regarding performance:
  1. * Since tablets have no means of thermal control, such as fans or airflow(as in most desktops), they must reduce CPU usage until the temperature threshold is met. Combine that with the recommendation to turn off all the power-saving features for consistent performance, and this becomes problematic either way
    * Tablets typically only have one USB port, so you are more or less required to get a powered hub. This is going to increase latency, so spending $700 to pair up a RME Babyface Pro with a tablet would be a waste, in trying to achieve low latency
Not to mention trying to edit on a 10 inch touchpad with your finger on a DAW with no zoom support is like trying to work in a CAD program with a fat crayon.

So it's back to laptops.
  • Top tier for this would be SCAN and ADK Pro, but I'm not willing to spend that much.
  • I hear the Asus zenbooks are good quality, but some don't like the screen, and may come with too much junkware and support is next to nil. Their ROG line might actually be better since a gaming laptop has high processing speed requirements, but then you are dealing with a noisy fan. No good for a studio.
  • The Lenovo products I'm told are not the quality that they used to be, but might be worth looking into anyway.
  • Might as well forget about HP, Acer, Dell or any of their subsidiary budget brands without some sort of compromise. You are rolling the dice with quality and reliability, since things are constantly being changed during any one model's production life cycle. Pretty much the same with the so-called customized laptops, such as Clevo/Sager as to what parts you have to choose from.
Actually wondering now if it might just be better to forsake the portability aspect and build another desktop to slave it to my old one with Reaper's Reamote, but I don't know about latency issues with numerous plugins and tracks active or compatibility between one desktop running Windows XP and the other running Windows 8. I've heard even under ideal conditions, it's not completely stable. Plus I'd have to share keyboard/mouse/display somehow, since my version of XP(Home) does not support Terminal Services.(maybe there's a 3rd party option there, dunno)

What would be nice is some clustering option like terminal services plus Reaper Reamote for a PC fitted into a 1 or 2 space rackmount. Maybe several depending on cost.

No one said this would be easy, even if you throw alot of money at the issue. I apparently got lucky with my current DAW desktop setup, for it to last 10 years.
As usual, your recommendations and observations on PC options are gratefully welcomed.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by Solderman » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:12 pm

Thunderbolt and USB-C options appear to be out of my price range in PC laptops for now.

I've ordered a Lenovo T460 with a i5-6300U processor on Windows 10 Pro, and intend to first attempt using it only as a Reamote slave.
I will report back in about 2-3 weeks with findings.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

jxalex
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:05 am
Gear: enough
Location: Sweden

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by jxalex » Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:13 am

Welcome. Thats the blues with "getting a new computer".
You have done quite a research about the computers right now I wonder how come that You come too for this conclusion:
Solderman wrote: Actually wondering now if it might just be better to forsake the portability aspect and build another desktop to slave it to my old one
Surprising, that not so many reach to this kind of conclusion.

For me it is the option becouse thats the only way to still keep in use the expensive software packages.

Otherwise I see no point of migrating/upgrading which causes hundreds of $$$$ expenses, since the same corporations have the planned obsolence in their products. It means that I cant use the software what for I paid for!
They sell it and still find a way to take it away!


ideal conditions, it's not completely stable.[/b] Plus I'd have to share keyboard/mouse/display somehow, since my version of XP(Home) does not support Terminal Services.(maybe there's a 3rd party option there, dunno)
Why not to share keyboard/mouse/screen with multiport pc controller? Then it does not matter what you have for another computer in your farm.

User avatar
ninja6485
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2766
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:13 pm
Gear: Virus Ti, Jx-8p, Juno 60, Radias, Maschine, 101,303,606,707,727,808,909, odyssey, mirage, akai s5K/s2K/s1k, drumtraks, E6400ult, M1R, rx5, fizmo,d50
Band: Lyra, The Sun Worshipers
Location: Exton/ westchester

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by ninja6485 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:20 am

jxalex wrote:Otherwise I see no point of migrating/upgrading which causes hundreds of $$$$ expenses, since the same corporations have the planned obsolence in their products. It means that I cant use the software what for I paid for!
They sell it and still find a way to take it away!
It goes both ways! You have to have a mix if old and new technology. I'm starting to see the limitations of my old tech now: I can't run any new software on my computer, missed the chance to upgrade to the latest maschine software at a decent price, and can't utilize the USB features of some of my gear. On the other side of the coin, that laptop runs editors for a bunch of my hardware synths, including the excedingly picky sound diver fizmo, and without that I lose access to a decent amount of controls on the Fizmo! Since that somehow works, there's no way I'm messing with that system! So upgrading to the latest software pretty much means getting a new computer, which at this point is pretty much unnecessary.

Solderman, as a surface user, I think I can see some of your points. I don't use it for music, but the screen an be a little small. You would have to use the keyboard, equip it with the docking station (which might still fall prey to zapping some resources, and possibly use the wireless display adapter with a larger screen. The possibility of tweaking samples with a touch screen is cool though. I think you made the right choice!
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

jxalex
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:05 am
Gear: enough
Location: Sweden

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by jxalex » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:47 pm

ninja6485 wrote:I can't run any new software on my computer, missed the chance to upgrade to the latest maschine software at a decent price, and can't utilize the USB features of some of my gear. On the other side of the coin, that laptop runs editors for a bunch of my hardware synths, including the excedingly picky sound diver fizmo, and without that I lose access to a decent amount of controls on the Fizmo! Since that somehow works, there's no way I'm messing with that system! So upgrading to the latest software pretty much means getting a new computer, which at this point is pretty much unnecessary.
My view is rather that why not to keep all good from both of the worlds...
why it has to be all in one computer? Why it even has to be laptop?

for new software it is limitations, yes, but its simpler to use in parallel both systems, new and old (there are also who use ATARI ST still... ;) )? And making backup (with norton ghost) of the entire system partition harddisk as insurance against system or harddisk crash or mess-up.

Also why it has to be laptop?

Also, hardware can be bought and sold, software not. ;-)

User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by Solderman » Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:56 pm

jxalex wrote:why it has to be all in one computer? Why it even has to be laptop?
I would argue there is a certain convenience to the workflow by keeping everything in one place, and also in the digital domain, once recorded. Having the option to render and automate everything at once: Composing while mixing.
I understand that some would prefer to use the best tool for that particular job: Record on one device, sequence on another, mix on something(or somewhere) else. Just my own preference, and also as I've mentioned in another thread, I'm rather pressed for space for now. I have one workspace, one pair of studio monitors, one master controller(Akai MPK49) and a small studio space adjacent to it.
The laptop idea, along with the subject of this thread, was to consider a portable solution for at least part of the production process.
I also couldn't be arsed anymore these days to build my own desktop, and as I mentioned above, didn't want to share a single mouse/keyboard/display between two machines. A portable solution also allows one to sketch out ideas outside of the studio.

I must admit, I kinda had this fantasy of just using one machine to run multiple instances of Diva on and nothing else. If I get an RME Babyface Pro, I could indulge that for a while and not take up much space.

Regarding old and new, I'm admittedly very far behind on knowledge of current DAW options, (all my DAW machines are 10 years old) and this gives me a chance to discover first hand what works and what doesn't on the new machines. For starters, I'd like to know how reliable and efficient 32-bit Reaper running 32-bit plugins will be on Windows 10. I don't currently have a need for 64-bit Reaper, but this could change.
jxalex wrote:hardware can be bought and sold, software not.
Software is usually cheaper and isn't generally seen as an investment. If the software does what I want, and I don't have to deal with external midi timing, latency offset, recording setup or device initialization, not to mention eventually maintenance hassles or even going through the trouble of having to sell it when I don't use it anymore, then that's fine by me. Certain products, like Kontakt, I have been using for over 15 years now, and NI have retained compatibility and features of legacy versions over the duration, so software isn't always a temporary solution, so long as it continues to be supported. True you can't sell the old version, but you get new features with the new one. The more infuriating thing is most software isn't very satisfying and hardware does not usually crash. :o

I'll get back to this thread once the laptop arrives and I've tested some things, such as Reamote. Was thinking of trying Midi over LAN as well.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

jxalex
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:05 am
Gear: enough
Location: Sweden

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by jxalex » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:41 pm

MIDI2LAN is something what I use myself too. also VST2MIDI and such. :)
My DAWs and sequencers are 10 years old too and I keep it that way as it works and I can do some music. My time goes anyway for everything other so I have no time for endless software testing after I have established my workflow already.
Furthermore , most the new machines do not have enough PCI expansion boards for my good soundcards. :)

User avatar
Solderman
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1799
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:43 pm

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by Solderman » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:42 pm

This is almost a wasted post, but my laptop order got cancelled(not by me), so I won't be updating this thread now, and most likely will at some point build a desktop DAW replacement instead, so jxalex called it correctly. Further research has shown that if your DAW software supports process multi-threading, then you really do need at least 4 actual CPU cores with the higher L3 cache and at least 16GB of memory is highly recommended for using many large sample libraries, even if they are partially streaming from SSD. Future-proofing by using dual-channel DDR4 memory, non-integrated graphics and other similar options like those mentioned, are alot more expensive for laptops.

If you live in the States, never special order anything from Fry's!
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

jxalex
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:05 am
Gear: enough
Location: Sweden

Re: Portable DAW upgrade from 10 yr old laptop

Post by jxalex » Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:53 am

Well, I have searched here some VSTs and discovered another trouble -- the manufacturers do not sell older versions and are not interested about their sales. What if I do not want the latest?! They do not bother.

I see that trouble with the latest versions is their demand for latest contemporary system too, whatever excuse they may find.

Particularly I become interested if there is some .NKI (Kontakt ?) player available which still runs on older OS as well,

I found Fairlight sample library which was in a Kontakt format, but DirectWave does not recognize that at all, even if it claims to be able to play .NKI extension instruments. Requirement what I need is support for win98SE and less than 1GB RAM.

Post Reply