Digital Audio Workstation for Under $750

Digital Audio: Build a DAW for Under $750

I was asked by a musician friend the other day what kind laptop and software he should buy to record his digital audio. He figured that it would be expensive by the time he bought a Mac laptop and software such as ProTools. Indeed, it can be.  Yet deals can be had if your willing to use used or refurbished equipment.

I was happy to inform him than last few years it has actually become much easier to record on a budget. Here are the options I came up with for him:

Used MacBook setup under $750:

If you’re looking to get a brand-new system you may as well go for a really beefy Mac Pro expect to pay around $2000 give or take a few hundred. But you can still save by using ProTools First, Reaper or orCubase LE, which comes with the lexicon Alpha USB interface as well.

You will probably want a good pair of monitors speakers or headphones. Depending what your recording of course you’ll need a decent mic and your instrument of choice. If you really want to go low-budget, a Windows-based laptop could be had for under $500 that would handle the above software.

Some of the best deals I find are on New Egg, Amazon, and eBay. Be careful on eBay when buying a computer. I always look at how many sales the seller has and make sure they have a Rating of 99% on lots of auctions.

Pro Tools | First System Requirements

System Requirements and Compatibility with Pro Tools|First Software

For optimal performance and reliability, be sure that your computer or laptop meets the following minimum system requirements.

Mac:

  • Intel® Mac with Mac OS X 10.9-10.9.5 or 10.10-10.10.4 (note that OS X 10.8.5 or earlier will not work)
  • Intel® Core 2 Duo processor
  • 2GB RAM (4GB or more recommended)
  • Minimum 1280 Horizontal Monitor Resolution
  • Internet connection for installation
  • 15GB disk space for installation
  • USB-port, FireWire-port or Thunderbolt-port for CoreAudio-supported audio device
  • Supports Marketplace in-app purchased AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools First
  • PACE hard disk authorization (no iLok required)

Windows:

  • Intel® PC with Windows 7 64-bit (Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate Editions) or Windows 8/8.1 (Standard and Pro Editions)
  • Intel® Core 2 Duo processor
  • 2GB RAM (4GB or more recommended)
  • Minimum 1280 Horizontal Monitor Resolution
  • Internet connection for installation
  • 15GB disk space for installation
  • USB-port or FireWire-port for ASIO-supported audio device
  • Supports Marketplace in-app purchased AAX plug-ins in Pro Tools First

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