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#2295971 - 06/27/14 10:36 PM Best laptop for college composition/theory student
darb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 123
Hello, my daughter is a composer. She's entering an excellent comp/theory BA program this Fall and I want to get her a laptop for college. She uses Finale and currently has a set up of a MIDI keyboard, an iMac, Finale, and Logic Pro X. In addition to the comp/theory degree, she'll be doing regular college basics such as English, math and science, a business minor and a certificate in digital media, and if she can fit it in, a certificate in film. I am sort of assuming I should get her a Mac Pro or a Mac Air, but it's been a long time since I've bought a computer, so I'm not up on things.

She'll be in a dorm, so the iMac is just too big. She probably won't be able to bring the full keyboard either so might get stuck with Finale simple entry, or might be able to bring a small MIDI keyboard to help with notation.

We've saved for it already, she already has Finale and Logic licenses, and a good blue tooth speaker, so the costs would be the laptop and I guess the Windows suite.

Composers, could you please weigh in? What would you want to buy if you were entering a comp/theory program this Fall?

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#2295997 - 06/27/14 11:40 PM Re: Best laptop for college composition/theory student [Re: darb]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5630
Loc: Europe
If she's not doing full productions from Logic (which, btw, is only Mac based, so you can't use that on a Windows laptop), then she doesn't really need anything powerful. Almost "any" laptop will do (ok... not a $300 one).

Also, Finale has what is called "Speed entry" which is by far a faster way than "simple entry". Your daughter should practice a little, cause this is one of the most casual ways that composers use to enter their works in Finale.

Your options would be:

1. Get any kind of iMac. These will fit greatly, work great, Logic will work on them, and I'm just assuming that any OS has a suite for writing, calculating, etc. But it's quite expensive of course.

2. With a smaller budget you can get a very decent dell computer (PC), which would also serve fine for anything you want to do, except for Logic.

But keep in mind that, first of all, as I said, you don't really need power for this computer. I've been running Finale on an old 6 year old crappy laptop these days that I was away from my studio, and it was fine. Finale, or making english, math, etc notes, classes and docs do not take much power, CPU, or RAM.

And, if she already has a Mac, then she should probably stick to Mac. It's what she's used to and what she already knows. It will be a struggle, no matter how small to get used to a Windows environment.

And all of this is coming from a very dedicated PC user! grin hehe

Good luck.

#2296005 - 06/28/14 12:09 AM Re: Best laptop for college composition/theory student [Re: darb]
Ritzycat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 164
Agreed, I don't think she would need a fancy new laptop for something like this. As Nikolas said older or not very powerful computers can do fine with music notating. Just make sure it can be hooked up to the keyboard I suppose and she's good to go. Mac or Windows will do the job equally well, whichever she prefers.

#2296008 - 06/28/14 12:34 AM Re: Best laptop for college composition/theory student [Re: darb]
darb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 123
Oops, I wrote "Windows suite," but I meant "Microsoft Suite." I know for Logic she needs the Mac.

Thanks for your advice. She has an iMac desktop now, but it's so big and she'll be in a tiny dorm. I want her to have a laptop for college for bringing to forums, presenting, etc.

She knows how to use Finale on a PC and on the Mac, but she prefers the Mac.

She can do speedy entry, but she does it using the MIDI keyboard to select the notes and the computer keyboard to select the duration. She doesn't like hyper script entry. She's getting better at using Logic to make film score assignments and other things.

She actually does most of her composing at the piano and using staff paper. But of course has to get it into the computer, and then through all the development it changes from there.

So what about the iPads with the attachable keyboard? Do they lack the power or storage needed for regular college work? Do they run Finale and Logic? If not then I guess the choices are Mac Pro or Mac Air? I'm not a Mac user, so I don't know what the differences are.

#2296010 - 06/28/14 12:42 AM Re: Best laptop for college composition/theory student [Re: darb]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5630
Loc: Europe
iPad won't really do, I'm afraid. It's simply too small of a screen I think (at least I personally think). I think that power wise it would be ok, but I'm not sure that Finale runs on an ipad, and I'm pretty sure that Logic doesn't.

For anything else about Macs you'll have to wait for someone else, as I know almost nothing...

#2296014 - 06/28/14 12:50 AM Re: Best laptop for college composition/theory student [Re: darb]
Ritzycat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 164
I don't think an iPad would do the job. It would be too tedious when composing, and all the functions are easier to access on a computer. I'm also a Windows-exclusive kind of guy, and I have exclusively only used speedy entry.


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