It’s in the bag – SONAR X1 on a Laptop

Just like many of the members of the Cakewalk staff, part of my job requires me to travel all over the world giving trainings and demonstrations on SONAR X1 Production Suite and the other members of the SONAR family. Although shows like NAMM have dedicated machines for demos like the HP Z800, the majority of trips require that I am self contained and bring my studio with me. This means a mobile SONAR rig is paramount.

I am getting ready for a trip to the UK and thought I would share what I pack as my typical mobile SONAR rig.

Here's my typical road rig. The laptop on the left is for work and the HP is for SONAR.

The Laptop:

HP EliteBook 8560w Mobile Workstation – Last year my Dell M4400 was replaced with an HP Elitebook 8560w Workstation. Although the Dell had performed incredibly well the Quadcore chipset and Windows Vista OS was starting to show their age. The EliteBook is incredibly powerful featuring 8 cores running at 2.3GHz, 8GB of RAM and Windows 7 64-bit. The difference between the HP EliteBook and the Dell is night and day! I can run more soft synths, more tracks and have enough resources left to run a full HD video in my projects too.

The video display and output are full HD (1080p) which is extremely important when using and showing SONAR’s Skylight Interface. I prefer to use a mouse so that and a V-Studio mouse pad always make the trip too.

Audio Interface:

When demonstrating or training Roland always has a wide array of audio interfaces for me to use including the Octa-Capture and Quad-Capture, however when I am on the plane or in my hotel room I want something smaller (think smaller = easier to travel with) that is USB bus powered. I bring along my trusty UA-1G audio interface, yes it is a few years old now but it is incredibly versatile, sounds great and takes up little room in my bag. If you are interested in an audio interface like this the new Roland Duo-Capture would be the right choice.

External drive:

Just like touring and playing live with a band, anything that can go wrong will so you need to be prepared. We do have all of our important files and installs available to us on Cloud Drives but I like to avoid huge downloads an spotty hotel wifi, so I carry a portable 1TB USB 3.0 hard drive with me.  I had a smaller version for a few years and even with the constant bumping and jostling of the road, the drives have always worked perfectly.

The drive has all my installs, expansion packs for Dimension Pro, Rapture, Session Drummer3 and all my project files. I also edit video on this machine so the drive is extremely useful for taking large HD video project with me. In case you are wondering, I have run my SONAR projects directly from the USB 3 drive without any trouble.

Using this setup I can continue to work on songs, rehearse and always have a studio ready to go no matter where I am. Depending on what I am working on I might also bring a microphone, guitar or compact keyboard. The entire rig (including both laptops) fit in my backpack and is always with me on the plane, on a train or in a hotel room.

Working on the intro video for SONAR Premium Day 2011 in my hotel room in Tokyo.
Brandon Ryan & Robin Kelly on stage at SONAR Premium Day 2011 using my HP EliteBook to demo to around 1,000 people!

See you on the road!

Robin