I was packing this morning for a trip to the UK for a few dates meeting up with producers and was preparing to leave and going through the ritual of making sure I had everything I needed for any demos I would be doing on my computer.
I'm fortunate enough to own a top spec MacBook Pro Retina so when it comes to power that's not my issue, but whilst thinking about moving a session to use I hit a few hurdles, so I thought I'd give my reflections of the pros and cons of both using Pro Tools on a laptop when travelling.
Pros For Travelling With A Laptop
- It's portable - Laptops are lighter than ever so it's easy to simply throw it into a backpack.
- Can be as fast as many desktops if you are willing to spend the money
My MacBook Pro Retina give my Mac Pro late 2013 a run for its money, but you do have to spend money to get a laptop to give you serious performance to match your studio machine.
- Almost instant on when you open the lid - I like the way I can be up and running in seconds simply by opening the lid.
Cons Pros For Travelling With A Laptop
- All my plugins I use on the studio need to be on my laptop if I need them. This can be a pain as I don't tend to create a clone of my Pro Tools studio machine on my Mac laptop, instead using it in an ad-hoc fashion which means making sure all the plugins I need are on the laptop before I travel. I suppose I could install them just in case, but it runs into a lot of plugins and VIs.
- I need to have all my sample libraries and loops on an external drive and take that too.
I use some pretty hungry VIs, all the Spectrasonics stuff, Native Instruments, in fact many of them have large libraries connected to them... sitting on an external drive. If I want to use them then I need to take THAT drive too.
- I need to have all my Pro Tools session data either on the laptop drive or on an external drive.
All my studio sessions sit on another external drive, so if I want to use them I need to copy them to either the internal drive (not great) or take A SECOND drive too.
- I need to make sure all my licences work on my laptop which means...
Taking my iLok with me, what if I lose it or it is stolen, ZDT will help me later but not at that moment. If I use Waves licences then I need to create a dongle version instead of a machine version of my licences.
- Audio Interface - If I want to do any recording and not just mixing then I need to take an audio interface with me and cables.
Don't get me wrong, I love the idea that what would once have needed a small car to get the job done fits into a backpack (really). I can take my Macbook Pro, UA Apollo, cables and mics and headphones all in a backpack. However the reality is that if I jumping between my studio and ad hoc times on the road then it takes some preparation to have everything I need, just in case.
I think the reality is that using Pro Tools on a laptop is a serious way to run a small studio these days, you can have it set up with all you connected devices using a Thunderbolt or USB hub and you would hardly need to touch it. But the concept of just grabbing your laptop to use with Pro Tools when you need to travel is less simple than we think it is.
So what about you? Have you created strategies for jumping between your main studio and a laptop, if so then please share.