Surface Pro 4 for Live?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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antic604
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:14 am
Location: Warsaw, Poland

Surface Pro 4 for Live?

Post by antic604 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:52 am

Gents, some time ago I had a thread about deciding between SP4 and Macbook Pro, which quickly turned into the discussion about the latter.

I am however leaning towards the SP4, because:
- it can be used as a tablet and I need to replace my Xperia Z4 Tablet,
- it's a full-on Win10 machine, with all the benefits of it and I don't want to migrate to new OS,
- SP5 (which is expected to bring only slight performance improvements) might be just around the corner, which should impact the prices of SP4,

Music is a hobby for me, so I don't have dedicated studio (I use family laptop), don't play gigs, don't release, etc. It's just a fun project for myself and what I need is a gear that I can quickly pull out of the closet or a backpack while travelling, plug-in my ear buds and just play with it. Occasionally while at home I'd hook it up with my Arturia MiniLab and DT990Pro. The music I make - psychedelic trance - relies primarily on Live's internal and M4L devices and maybe few samples, so next to no VST/AU and probably up to 30-40 tracks, but with lots of modulations and routing. Nothing particularly complex or heavy.

While Macbook Pros have a proven record of working well with Ableton Live, I'd like to know what's the experience from SP4 users:
- what's the performance like for the i7 model,
- how is the TypeCover working out (I'm NOT interested in using touch for music, maybe until Live 10 makes it usable),
- is the screen adequate, i.e. not too small, sharp enough,
- how is the internal audio - sound quality, latency with Asio4All,
- how's the battery life.

Let's hear it from actual SP4 users, please.

markwphoto
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:27 pm

Re: Surface Pro 4 for Live?

Post by markwphoto » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:22 pm

I'm much like you in that I don't play gigs and just do my own self projects. That being said I have had the SP4 i5 8GB 256GB since it was released and it has worked just fine for everything I do. I'm using the SP4 with Ableton Live 9, Push 2, and a Novation Launch Control but I also use Reason as well. I have an M-audio Axiom Pro 61 controller but it doesn't get as much use since I've had Push 2. I did get the Surface Hub for more USB ports but I have run my Focusrite 2i4 gen 2 and Push off the Single USB 3 port with a cheap USB hub. I would recommend if you use a USB hub make sure it's a powered one if you have more devices to plug in!

I've never tried Live on my SP4 with the internal audio so I can't really comment on that. I've always used ASIO soundcards for the faster latency. I'm using the most up to date stock audio drivers. I've used ASIO4All in the past but don't have a need to use it now.

The type cover is actually pleasant to type on and gets the job done. I can't see using the SP4 without it. I don't use touch at all for my DAW so I can't even begin to comment there. The screen is nice and sharp and the size doesn't bother me at all. If I need more screen I have two desktop monitors for that.

I think the physical size and weight are excellent. When I travel it doesn't take up much space at all and I usually throw it in a small cross body backup. Most people don't even know I'm carrying around a computer with all my accessories in it.

As for the battery expect about 4-6 hours on average. I haven't done a lot of audio work with just the battery but the few times I did I worked for over 2 hours and still had over 50% battery left. I have used the pen to sketch stuff while sitting at Starbucks for over 3 hours and still have plenty of juice left.

Over all the SP4 is a great buy for the portable and non portable musician. Is it the best? No. Is it the worst? No. All computers have their little quirks that you just learn to work with but I am 100% satisfied with my setup and what it allows me to do. I think the only thing I wish I had done was get a bigger SSD (512GB).

antic604
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:14 am
Location: Warsaw, Poland

Re: Surface Pro 4 for Live?

Post by antic604 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:41 pm

Mark, thanks a lot for your feedback :)

antic604
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:14 am
Location: Warsaw, Poland

Re: Surface Pro 4 for Live?

Post by antic604 » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:05 am

Looks like a good alternative for SP4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a2rvV4H1tE
Too bad it's like 6 months until release :(

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