Recording Arts Department

Computer Recommendations

All Recording Arts students are required to have a laptop computer and Pro Tools 12 in the second semester of their Freshman year, when they enroll in A102. The computer and software will be used in classroom and lab instruction and for individual projects for the duration of the student's studies.


Any current Macintosh laptop running OS 10.9 or OS 10.10, a minimum of 8 GB RAM, 250 GB or greater boot drive. We recommend an i7 processor if your budget allows. Note that the current Macbook has only a single USB-C port, you will need an adaptor to connect USB drives and a hub to suport charging and USB periphals at the same time. Macbook Pro and Macbook Air still have standard USB ports Check the Avid support website for the latest information.


Any current laptop computer should work, Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating system, a minimum of 8 GB RAM, and a 250 GB boot drive. We recommend a quad-core i5 or i7 processor if you budget allows.  Check the Avid support website for compatibility details and laptop recommendations 


Pro Tools 12 is required. Avid has moved to a subscription-based pricing structure which requires a yearly subscription fee. Avid offers educational discounts to students (linked below). 

If you do not currently own Pro Tools:

Perpetual License ($299 Includes iLok and one year of upgrades and support): After the first year, the upgrade and support plan costs $99/year. If you choose not to renew the upgrade and support plan, Pro Tools will continue to run at the current version. This is our recommended option

Annual Subscription ($99/year. Includes iLok and upgrade and support): You must renew the subscrition every year you want to use Pro Tools. If you do not renew the subscription, Pro Tools will no longer work.

Monthly Subscription ($10/month, no iLok included) You must renew the subscription each month. If you do not renew the subscription, Pro Tools will no longer work.

If you already own Pro Tools Software

Upgrade and Support Plan ($99/year, does not include iLok) You must own Pro Tools 9, 10, or 11, includes a perpetual license. You must renew the upgrade and support plan every year. If you choose not to renew, Pro Tools will continue to run at the current version.


No interface is necessary to run Pro Tools 12, you may use your computer's internal sound card. Most third party USB and Firewire interfaces will work with Pro Tools, however make sure to do a thorough Internet search before you buy to make sure there are no reported issues.

System configuration and troubleshooting

Mac and WIndows system optimizations (from Avid)
MAC and Windows system optimization
 (from Sweetwater)
Pro Tools troubleshooting (From Sweetwater) 

Hard Drive

Minimum of 500 GB, 7200rpm, with 8 MB cache. Other than that we have no specific recommendations. It is best to use drives from a reputable manufacturer such as Seagate or Western Digital. We recommend purchasing drives with a USB 3 interface. We no longer recommend using Firewire since this interface is being depreciated. Note that Avid does not recommend using Firewire with Windows systems.  Recording Arts computers do not currently support eSATA or Thunderbolt interfaces.

We have had good experience with the following vendors:
  CDW (offer an educational discount)
  Sweetwater (offer an educational discount)

Data Backup

Each student is responsible for backing up their data. Data loss will not be accepted as an excuse for a late or unsubmitted assignment. For this reason we recommend that students have two data hard drives, one for production and a second for backup. Students should also regurlarly backup the boot drive of their laptop. SuperDuper (Mac only) and FreeFileSync (Mac and PC) have proven to be reliable.


All departmental Pro Tools Systems are Macintosh based. If you use a PC for your personal system we recommend installing MacDrive which will allow you to use HFS+ formatted drives on your PC. Otherwise you should create NTFS and HFS+ partitions on your drive to allow you to work on both platforms. Macintosh computers can read the NTFS file system but not record to it. We do not recommend using FAT32 because of file size restrictions, or EXFAT which has been unreliable in our experience.