Student Computer Recommendation

Students who have a personal computer have significantly more freedom and opportunity in their learning and we recommend that all students come to school with a laptop. In our program computers are provided as part of the program infrastructure so students are not required to have their own computer but it still makes a large difference in their education if they have their own.

  • Essential Peripherals:
    • Students have access to recorders, audio interfaces and microphones however there are a few things students should get.
    • Portable Drive:
    • Back-up plan:
      • Google drive provides students with lots of storage space for back-ups but does require more hands on planning to use reliably and can lead to students not backing-up critical information. However, it is provided by the University at no extra cost.
      • More reliable, and highly recommended, at a modest cost is Back Blaze which will automatically back-up the students computer AND external drives when they are active on the network. We cannot stress enough how important back-ups are.
    • Audio Monitors:
      • Students should have at least a good set of headphones for working on sound on their laptops. This is a highly personal decision of what headphones work best for each student. We recommended wired headphones to avoid the audio degradation of bluetooth.
      • Some Recommended In-ear Style:
      • Some Recommended Over Ear (circumaural) Headphones:
        • Audio Technica ATH-M series. The M50x is very good but most of our students are using the the M40x for a better monetary value.
        • The Direct Sound EX29 Plus has a good sound, is very rugged and reliable and provides significant sound isolation. The EX25 Plus is also very good and cheaper. It is a much brighter sounding headphone.
        • Sony MDR-7506 headphones are a professional standard. They have a forward midrange sound and sit on the ears which works for some and doesn’t work for others.
        • Shure SRH440 headphones have a good sound and a detachable cable which can make repairs easier.
        • If at all possible it is highly recommended that you find a way to listen to headphones before purchasing. We have many models at school so this might be a great Christmas purchase rather than going to school purchase.
  • Recommended Computer:
    • We recommend a Macintosh Laptop, especially for those students interested in the artistic side of the business. We use some cross platform software, a lot of Mac OS only software, and some Windows only software. Students on the technical side may be comfortable on a windows computer.
    • Specifications:
      • Students should get a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is more powerful and expandable.
      • Processor:
        • This the least important specification. While faster processors will provide more power they differences are pretty small compared to the benefits of more storage space or more RAM or a new laptop design in a few years.
        • The new M1 computers are incredibly powerful and absolutely silent, which is a great benefit. As they are cheaper and generally much more powerful than the intel based computers this is what we recommend. And as a bonus the battery life is amazing.
      • Storage:
        • This is probably the most important aspect of a computer for our work. An SSD boot drive makes an enormous difference in performance. The internal drive needs to be at least 512GB in size and getting a 2TB drive is justified.
        • In addition to internal storage students are encouraged to purchase an external drive as detailed above.
      • Memory (RAM):
        • This must be at least 8GB. It is recommended to get 16 to 32GB of RAM since this isn’t upgradable and can make a big difference to the lifespan of a computer.
        • The new M1 processors are much more memory efficient and thus the 16GB RAM limitation of the current entry level M1 models isn’t an issue.
      • Graphics
        • This doesn’t make much difference to sound work. If students are interested in video editing or video game work they should get a computer with a dedicated video card rather than the Intel on board graphics.
      • Adaptors:
        • The Wirecutter has some good recommendations. We recommend an affordable USB-c hub with USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, and SD card ports.

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