Summer travel season it upon us! Here’s what I’m taking to Spain and France next month to keep up with my composing deadlines while on the road for concerts and fun.
I actually built this system last summer, and was hesitating to share it as it’s not as straightforward as my previous trash can build (which is still my main “studio”) rig- but here are the pics of my newest, leanest portable rig based on the Gigabyte Auros x5 v7 system, configured with 64gb RAM and 6TB internal SSD storage – yes, it’s a Hackintosh – So going in, unless you are running windows software, beware you will have to go down a pretty intense rabbit hole of mac osx86 hacking and possibly even a little coding of a few things to get a workable mac/like solution. But I really love it – It wanted the thinnest notebook I could find that would support up to 64gb RAM (the current max available in “gaming” laptops. This this is a beast. Auros x5 v7 – I’ll put a link in the comments to where I purchased it. I have successfully installed Mac OS Sierra on it. And it runs Logic, and my Vienna Ensemble sounds just fine. I can pretty much open a project from my main rig (via dropbox, which syncs all of my logic and audio files) and be good to go. I was also able to get native graphics working, USB 3, both the type B and C connectors, as well as HDMI out which drives the second monitor. This is pretty amazing in terms of what you get vs. the size tradeoff from Apple’s “high-end” notebooks -which of course only support up to 16gb ram. For only two pounds more, I can actually pull this open on a plane for example and do a little light work, editing etc. of a full logic session with all of my sounds present. Pretty neat. Also, it’s made other type of workflows possible – for example, last year I had a project where I was working in Brooklyn on a dance piece at BAM and needed to check in at rehearsals and do a few minor updates. I was also back in my air BnB working on “The Long Road Home” – so I left the main portable setup at the apartment – extra screen, full USB hub, zoom interface, MacBook retina (which runs videos) etc – and then I have this “go” USB key which has everything I need to to use is on the run, or on a plane and just brought the Auros, usb keys and midi keyboard to the dance studio in a go bag.
Also, another question that came up in my original blog was the question of monitoring on the road, and I have to thank my assistaint Marco Valerio Antonini for turning me onto Sonarworks reference software. This is primarily known for doing room correction in a speaker environment, but their ready made out of the box “flat” EQ curves for MANY off the shelf headphones has really improved the quality of tracks I produce on the road. Much less time wasted when shifting from the headphones to the speakers – now whenever I work on headphones I make sure it’s active for what I’m using. Currently my go-to headphones for at home work are the Audio Technica MTX-m50a, and on the road – Bose over the ear quiet comfort 25. Sonarworks has ref. curves for all of these types with noise cancelling on or off as well (!) how great is that. And since in LA and northern CA I work in 3 different places, it’s wonderful to just pull up en EQ curve for whichever room I’m writing in at the time.
One thing about the Auros X5 is that user upgrades of RAM are not recommended – I’ll put a link of where I bought mine in the comments. having these guys pre-configure your RAM with the 64 would be best.
I ordered mine with 64gb ram and one M2 1TB SSD drive. I then added another 1tb M2 SSD and a 4TB 2.5 SSD to get up to my total of 6TB ssd, witch is plenty for my needs. But if you wanted to max it out – m2 drives come in up to 2 tb each so the limit would be a whopping 8 tb of SSD storage in a laptop!
Some other nice perks are 1) easier packing 2) less bag inspections – I have TSA pre, and about 50% of the time my travel roller with the two laptops and all of the rest goes through without being stopped for further inspection, and nothing removed.
Depending on personality, this could be your worst nightmare to build or “fun” – for me it was mostly fun, as I felt like went to computer camp for a week, but lots of googling around to get various aspects working. Have fun – and I’ll try to respond to any specific questions in the comments – I’m this now, since Apple has officially delayed their long overdue update to the trashcan “pro” modular system until 2019