The subject more or less says it all, but here’s some backstory: I record a weekly podcast using Audacity on a computer with more than capable specs but that’s nearing the end of its life cycle. I’m not looking to spend a whole lot on a new machine to replace my old one, but I also still want to be able to reliably record over an hour of audio without taking a hit to the 16-bit quality I’ve been used to for my previous recordings. I only record one mono channel at a time, though, and latency isn’t an issue as I don’t monitor the audio as I’m recording (I just use the visual peaks). Does anyone have experience with this? I know the system requirements for installing and running the program itself are very low, but when dealing with larger recordings, I would imagine that’d tax the processor/ram more and more as the recording continues.
For what it’s worth, I’ll likely be running a relatively uncluttered Linux on this new machine, which should hopefully reduce OS overhead.
Thanks in advance!
I run Audacity on an old, budget Pentium dual-core with Debian stable. I have no problems with long recordings in 32-bit float stereo, other than running out of disk space (due to a small hard drive and 3 operating systems on the machine)… I have no experience of Celeron processors. Atom processors may be a bit under-powered. I’d expect any modern Intel-core processor to handle the job fine.
The mic input on modern laptops are usually rubbish, so you’ll probably need a USB sound card, (or for a full-size machine you could upgrade the internal sound card).
USB mics may “whistle”, which we think may be due to noisy power supplies and/or poor regulation of the USB power. This seems to be more common on laptops than full-size machines. We don’t have a full solution for this problem.
Most modern computers have over 400 GB of hard disk space which should be plenty. It’s definitely a good idea to have a separate backup device such as an external hard drive or NAS drive.
To reduce the overhead on the processor I’d recommend MATE or XFCE Desktops. MATE is very similar to the old Gome2 Desktop and I like it a lot, but I’m currently using XFCE which is also good.
Thanks for the input, Steve! Thankfully hard drive size isn’t a huge concern of mine as I’m pretty good with backing up what few recordings I make fairly regularly (I’m actually thinking on an ssd for a bump in speed, so the storage space is going to be small no matter what). And I’ve already got an audio interface and decent mic, so assuming there’s a Linux driver for my AI, I should be good there. As for the original question, so if I were to go with a dual core haswell i3, maybe one with a slower base clock speed, and, say, 4gb ram, I should be set as far as audacity’s performance is concerned?
Any decent laptop will record reliably if you have a good audio interface. The clock that makes your audio tick, is in the interface, not in the computer.
Take a look at what RME did:
A sub 200 € Windows tablet, a cheap SSD and some RME gear got 64 channels (24 bit 44.1 KHz) into the tablet and runs for many hours without any problem…
I still use a 10 year old G4 Powerbook (1 GHz/1 GB ram) to record 8 channels. The damned thing just doesn’t want to die and it’s useless for anything else, except maybe text processing.
And thank you Cyrano for the input as well! If an Atom processor can handle 64 channels in a somewhat more intensive program like Reaper, I’m guessing even a Celeron would be overkill with decent ram and an SSD. I think I have all the info I need!
Side note though: how in the world do you manage to keep that G4 around? 10 years is insane. Kudos!