Computer specs for a beginner?

Just wondering what would be viewed as minimum requirements for a computer to produce music?

My computer is a 2011 MacBook Pro i7 8gb ram. Is that about right for a beginner?

More than enough!!!


My first fiddling days where on a pc that could barely run frutyloops :stuck_out_tongue: lol So I think your fine :stuck_out_tongue:

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Perfectly fine. You should have ample resources for more than just beginner levels of recording. Good luck! :computer: :desktop:

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You should be fine.

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Thanks for the feedback.

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+1 for using what you have. It should be just fine for getting you started. Have you figured out which DAW you’ll go with yet?

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Ok thanks.

I’m using Logic Pro X

Do you know what most on here are using?

There’s a wide variety of DAWs in use by folks here. A lot of people use Reaper; also Cubase, Nuendo, Logic, Sonar, Studio One, Pro Tools, Mixcraft, Samplitude (not to be confused with Samplitube, a set of guitar amp sims), and others yet. Try a few out and see what seems most sensible to you. They all do pretty much the same things, in similar ways, and what ends up happening to almost everyone is that one settles on something that makes sense for whatever reasons, and they sticks with it. Rare for people to change once they become familiar with a particular DAW and have invested significant time into learning its ins and outs. So the time to test-drive is up front before you get to that point.

If I had to guess, I’d say the majority here probably are Reaper users. It is a full-featured product for a very low price. I’m in the minority as a user of Mixcraft; it’s probably second in terms of bang per buck owing to its similarly low cost (but it’s a bit more than Reaper). At the other end are products like Pro Tools which have versions that are quite expensive.

You pays yer money and you takes yer choice! :grin:

I used Cubase for a number of years, and I’m learning Reaper. Reaper is a very cool way of going, since it is cost effective, has most of the plugs you need, and you get free upgrades as you keep going. DAWs don’t vary a whole lot in what they accomplish, and a lot of your choice becomes based on how you like the GUI. Reaper to me is easier to learn than Cubase, and although the initial look of the GUI is not very fancy, you quickly find out you can do whatever you’re thinking with a little research. I don’t think you’ll find noticeable differences in sound from one to the next, but you may find that a particular one has a feature or a plug that makes it attractive.

I think you’ll be fine. I have a late-2008 MBP that I still use a lot for fairly complex stuff. I even ran Pro Tools on it (and still can) but there are some limitations of CPU and RAM (4GB). Reaper is much lighter on CPU which has helped as it gets older. The only big problem I had was after I got Slate Digital SSD4 drums, it seemed to max out the RAM for the system and crash sometimes. But that was with Pro Tools, which may have been half the problem. The cooling fans will run high and make some noise while mixing, but if you turn the studio monitors up loud enough it won’t bother you. :beerbang: :wink:

Since you’re a Mac guy, I’m curious what OSX you’re running and what your experience is with different versions if you have been through that. I started with Leopard and only upgraded to Snow Leopard out of necessity for some compatibility things. They are way past that now, and I’m seeing that I’ll have to upgrade again probably. When I do that, I’ll lose the Pro Tools (old) install functionality which is fine. Maybe some other things too, but hell I guess that’s progress. :rolling_eyes: I think I can only go up to El Capitan with my specs, but Yosemite is looking like perhaps the optimal for me.

I’m running that same laptop actually, on a 15" i7. I had it loaded to the full with stuff I didn’t need. I’m now running Logic on it, and I get a system overload error once every few months when I’ve taken my plugins a little too far.

Hi Stan

I have El Capitan and have no problem. I’m using Logic Pro X so I would assume they should work together.

One thing I do notice is that it doesn’t take much for the fan to start going pretty fast.

And I get that overload error from Logic pretty often usually when I try to change a plugin while it’s playing.

Not sure if these issues are normal or not so that’s why I posted the question.

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Yeah, the Logic system requirements should tell you which OSX is their minimum spec.

Yeah, fan is quite normal. A laptop is an electrical sandwich. Heat builds up pretty quick. I track the fan RPM’s just to keep an eye on it. And the heat sensors. I find the iStat Pro (free) widget quite helpful for that.

Some DAW’s or computers seem challenged with that ‘live’ plugin swap. I had some issues with it using Pro Tools, but Reaper doesn’t seem to mind. I think it’s a CPU challenge mainly.

Ok. Thanks very much for that info. Good to know.

Reaper is mentioned a lot in these threads… would you guys recommend this for someone starting out on home recording ventures for a complete beginner like myself?

I suggest trying out demo’s of any DAW’s that you can, then decide which one to go with. Yes I would recommend Reaper as a good start, but that’s something you’ll need to see for yourself. Some great things about Reaper:

  • You can demo it for free with full functionality. It may prompt you for buying a license at startup after awhile, but when I first tried it there was no real time limit except the bug screen. Their licensing is somewhat on the “honor” system I think, if you use it and like it go ahead and buy a license for $60. It is extremely reasonable, and they update it every few weeks based on user feedback.
  • Reaper is very powerful, and can do virtually anything other DAW’s do - including Pro Tools. Plus it is extremely customizable with Themes (skins) and shortcuts and macros etc.
  • Unlimited number of tracks.
  • CPU usage is quite reasonable - the application footprint is not huge or a resource hog, and plugin usage CPU drain isn’t outrageous either.
  • With Reaper you can create a portable install on a flash drive!

Some potential challenges with Reaper:

  • Complexity and learning curve. Reaper does so much, that learning it may be overwhelming. I was well versed in Pro Tools, but switching to Reaper was quite a challenge for me just to learn a whole new system. However, they put out a free 400+ page .pdf manual that can help you learn just about anything you need, plus lots of YouTube videos and forum support.
  • Slim on Virtual Instruments. Reaper has tons of stock plugins for just about any production need, except Virtual Instruments. There are a few, but nothing spectacular. So you may need to own or buy some 3rd party VI’s to be fully equipped.

All that said, if you start with the DAW you’ll end up staying with, each one has a learning curve. And with Reaper you don’t need to learn any more than you want to (besides basics), until you’re ready to tackle something new.

Hey Ailwyn…Die-hard Reaper convert here, and I agree with all the points Stan made.

I have actually have trialled and/or own a LOT of DAWs including Pro-Tools, Cubase, Sonar, Ableton Live, Reason and Harrison Mixbus, so I feel I can be fairly unbiased…

However, if you try Reaper and find it too intimidating, I have another suggestion that I would wholeheartedly recommend - Mixcraft.

Mixcraft was the very first DAW I used and it is super easy and intuitive to get your head around. I started off on Mixcraft 3, but they are up to Mixcraft 8 now, and it has matured into a very capable and advanced product, with most of the features available in other top DAWs. What’s more, it’s very inexpensive, and comes with lots of virtual instruments and plugins. Hands down, the easiest DAW to use IMO.

Another one to consider is Studio One (I think it’s up to version 3 now). I have their free variant of version 2 installed on my computer, and it was very easy to get around, with lots of great features. If I wasn’t already so far invested in Reaper, that would probably be my current DAW of choice.

Oh wait - One thing I just thought of - It depends which OS you have on your computer…If you are on Mac like the OP @MisterLevy , then scrap the Mixcraft suggestion… Reaper and Studio One have Mac versions, though.

If you are on Mac, you can record and mix perfectly well (albeit somewhat limited) in GarageBand, which should come installed already on the computer as one of the standard programs… At least it was on my wife’s 2009 MacBook. I’ve tried it too, and it’s much like a basic version of Mixcraft - very easy…So I’d suggest getting to know that first. The ‘big brother’ of GarageBand is Logic Pro, of which I have had no experience with, but by all accounts is a very comprehensive DAW for relatively few $.

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Plus one jillion for Mixcraft. Thanks Andrew for giving it a solid recommendation. I find it SO easy to use. It’s never not been able to do anything I can think of, and you can be up and running really fast. Only a bit more expensive than Reaper and from what I’ve read and seen, a whole lot easier to get going with.

I will also give a big thumbs up to their support. I’ve always gotten very quick, very thorough replies to all my queries. There is an active user base and support forum on which the devs themselves are very active. And there is no question at all that it makes top-quality recordings. @AJ113’s work is all done with it, and I’d defy anyone to say his stuff is subpar in any way.

Good luck!

When I first started recording digitally many moons ago I did my reserach and plumped for Mixcraft. I’m still with it and I’m not likely to jump ship any time soon.