Choosing the right combination of system and software can be tricky, although fully understanding the task in hand will help you make the right choice. The sequencer used to write your music will often be well featured and fully capable of scaling to handle many more complicated tasks than you may first envision so getting the best fit for your work flow will help immensely when first starting out.
For smaller projects involving a limited number of tracks, say perhaps recording a 4 or 5 piece band where you track and edit around 20 channels of audio with effects, one of the base Core i5 or lower end Core i7 workstations will offer up plenty of performance for you. You can pick up packages such as Ableton Live Intro, Reason Essentials or Sonar Artist which while they offer a reduction in supported audio track & VST count compared with the full editions, they otherwise give you the vast majority of those features and functionally you need at a far keener price point.
When recording larger groups or handling more channels of effects and processing, you may find yourself needing to step up to the full package versions of your sequencer. These full versions not only offer the higher track counts, but often come with expanded sound libraries and additional plug ins. For these more complex projects where you may wish to carry out more processing inside of the system, we tend to recommend higher performance solutions the higher end Core i7 CPUs with 4 or 6 cores.
Electronic music producers will have often have larger requirements than artists recording and otherwise working purely with audio, especially as some VSTi's are extremely capable of making use of all of the available processing power when run in higher quality modes. For anyone starting out and making basic backing tracks based around loops and audio, a Core i5 is capable but we advise going for Core i7 as these offer the kind of overhead required to keep the processor hungry synths and effects running smoothly as your projects progresses. While the previously discussed DAW software are perfectly usable for these styles, more focused software such as Ableton, Bitwig, Reason and FL Studio are all optimised work flow wise for in the box electronic music production.
Outside of the regular recording solutions, users may find themselves scoring to film and video and using extremely large sound packages such as Vienna Symphony Library (VSL), which can prove so intensive that some users may find that they need to network up multiple workstations to spread the load. For this task we have a number of systems with high CPU core counts and the ability to accept large amounts of RAM, allowing you to handle those large projects smoothly. Sequencer wise many of the regular studio packages are still popular as the modern builds of Cubase, Sonar and ProTools all offer up very capable video engines along with Steinberg’s more specialist Nuendo software.
Our last selection covers solutions suitable for mastering engineers, who require powerful, flexible all-rounders to handle all the software options that their clients may present to them. With a focus on high performance and expandability, you can be sure that you can tailor your package to handle all your studio requirements.
10 - 20 tracks of recorded audio, plus a small selections of VSTi's & effects
Advanced - Completely In The Box track production and sound design
Handling large track counts of recorded audio and VSTi audio playback