More Laptop Tips for Gigging

Once you have decided on the ideal laptop for your gig, you’ll need to set it up the way you like it. If you are running on batteries (as mentioned before, sometimes having your laptop plugged into the mains can generate an unpleasant humming noise, or ground loop) the you had better make sure that any ‘power saving’ features of your machine are disabled, such as PowerNow or Speedstep. Although these do prolong battery life, you need your machine running at full power during a gig – a momentary glitch in your audio can ruin a track and really throw your confidence. Basically, such power saving techniques rely on reducing the processor speed when the tasks you are running don’t require much work – which is fine if you’re just writing an article or browsing the Internet. However, if you’re running a sequencer where only one or two tracks are playing, and suddenly the song takes off with a whole bunch of new samples and plugins kicking in all at once, then there’s going to be a huge spike in processing which the power management might not be able to keep up with – leaving you a nasty blip to contend with.

Also, it is wise to disable any screensavers or unnecessary background/scheduling tasks that might sap your computer’s punch. However, as an addendum to the previous article on choosing a laptop for live performance, I would say that for most purposes, even the lowest-end computer nowadays is more than capable of doing a decent job. In fact, it will be more powerful than anything available five years ago, and although it’s always nice to have the best there is, in reality most musicians won’t come anywhere near pushing the limits of what their hardware can do. The most important thing is to make sure it’s set up correctly. If you’re using Windows XP, have a look at the optimisation guide to see what you can do to make the most of your OS.

For a few more observations on live laptops and ASIO, have a look at rekliner.


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