Whether you’re just starting out as a music producer or you’re a seasoned professional, you need to make sure that the system you’re working on has enough RAM to handle anything you throw at it.
Before making sure that your laptop or computer has enough RAM, make sure that you check out our article that gives you a list of the best laptops for music production!
Let’s get back to the matter at hand. You might ask yourself how much RAM you need for music production, and if you’ve googled the same question, the chances are that someone will tell you to buy a system with as much RAM as you can afford. However, we’re here to help you and tell you that this might not necessarily be the case.
When buying a music production computer, you want to make sure that you have the right amount of RAM to support your projects, any virtual instruments you may use, or any recording instruments or digital audio workstations.
In this article, we’ll take you through how much RAM you need for producing music, the minimum amount of RAM that most DAWs need, whether 8GB is enough for production and whether you should upgrade to 16GB.
Keep reading to find out all about the RAM necessary for music production!
Table of Contents
- How Much RAM Do Music Producers Really Need?
- What’s the Minimum RAM Most DAWs need?
- Will 8GB be Enough for Projects?
- Should I upgrade to 16GB?
- The Bottom Line
How Much RAM Do Music Producers Really Need?
Before we answer this question, let’s take a trip down memory lane and quickly look at the essential parts of a computer and how RAM serves a particular purpose.
Notes on RAM and the CPU
The CPU or central processing unit is the brain of a computer and the most crucial part of any operating system—additionally, RAM, or random access memory, stores information that the CPU calculates. Since the CPU drives the rest of the system, you need first to make sure that the processor you choose is fast enough for music production.
We’d recommend choosing an i7 or i9 processor, though your best bet would be to select an i7 processor.
We would also recommend focusing on the motherboard as well when considering a CPU and RAM. Please note that you don’t have to spend a ton of money when choosing a motherboard, but you need to ensure that you have enough ports for your USB drives.
Since the CPU and motherboard are a package deal, you need to purchase a CPU and a good-quality motherboard together. Every motherboard is sold with four RAM slots. You can install one relatively quickly, and if you’re struggling to install the RAM cards, you can use only one pair at a time.
Please take care to make sure that you purchase the correct kind of RAM for the motherboard that comes with your new computer. If you’ve bought a Windows PC, please buy a 64-bit version because if you don’t, you’ll find yourself stuck with less RAM than you would like.
It’s important to note that even though you think the more memory you have, the more powerful your system will be: this statement is not valid. Your CPU needs to be efficient and powerful in order for the RAM to perform well.
Now, back to the matter at hand, where the question is how much RAM do music producers need.
The truth is, the amount of RAM depends on what your producing needs are. For example, if you use many virtual instruments, sample-based instruments, and multiple digital audio workstations, you might need 16GB.
However, if you’re just starting out after buying your own computer, we’d recommend investing in operating systems that have 8GB of RAM. This amount is ideal for music producers working from home on a budget or if your music production skills are at an intermediate level.
On the other hand, if you’re an absolute beginner, we’d recommend choosing a system that has 4GB of RAM. The reason we’re recommending a smaller amount of RAM, to begin with, is so that you can save money and use it to invest in a system with optimal performance and greater processing power.
For example, 4 or 8GB of RAM is incredible if you’re an electronic music producer. This means that you’re primarily using software synthesizers coupled with drum samples and not much else. 8GB is also an ideal amount of memory if you’re working with large sample libraries.
On the other hand, if you’re a film composer working with orchestral music and orchestral compositions, you might want to consider purchasing more RAM, specifically 16GB of RAM for music production.
What’s the Minimum RAM Most DAWs need?
DAW software such as Logic Pro, Ableton, Reaper, or Garage Band uses different amounts of RAM. The DAW’s main job is to record and process tracks, and they are perfect for larger projects. Every DAW comes with multiple plug-ins that can simulate amplifiers and studio effects such as compressor and reverb.
The answer to the question of what the minimum amount of RAM that most DAWs need depends entirely on the digital audio workstation itself, the sample library you want to use, and which computer for music production you’ve chosen.
For example, if you’re one of many PC users, and your DAW of choice is Reaper, then you might just need only 16 GB of RAM. On the other hand, if you’re a MAC user working with Garageband or Logic Pro, then an essential factor to consider is that you might need 32GB of RAM instead.
If you’re using the DAW to compose music or simply produce music, then 8GB or 16GB of RAM would suffice, or if you have just one library of audio tracks. On the other hand, if you’re working within the genre of EDM music, then you also want to purchase a computer with a quad-core processor.
Additionally, when there is multiple large session use taking place with a DAW, you will need to keep several plugins running simultaneously, which is why a higher amount of RAM is an essential factor to consider. For better performance that allows you to use multiple instruments or multiple microphone setups, we’d recommend choosing 16GB of RAM if your budget permits.
In other words, more RAM allows you to work more efficiently when using DAW software. 8GB is enough for users on a budget, but if you’re using multiple instruments or audio tracks, then we’d recommend using 16GB, which is more RAM.
Will 8GB be Enough for Projects?
The answer to this question is both yes and no.
8GB is enough for projects because it prevents latency from taking place. Lagging is one of the most significant issues that music producers regularly face because their operating systems often lack the correct amount of power, processing speed, and, of course, RAM. If your system has one 4GB of RAM, the chances are that you’ll struggle to access files in your sample library or piano library because your system will keep lagging. Additionally, you might have to keep saving files on an external drive just to make sure that your system does not lag. This is why we’d recommend upgrading your RAM to 8GB.
However, suppose you’re unable to upgrade your RAM. In that case, we’d also recommend purchasing a new computer so that you don’t lose memory suddenly, and you can instead access files in memory anytime you want. This way, you won’t have to save work on an external hard drive, and you won’t have to worry about your system crashing or losing any files.
Unfortunately, modern technology is constantly changing and moving ahead, which means that you must always be on the lookout for upgrades in technology to see where to invest your money and what technology of your own you need to update.
Should I upgrade to 16GB?
Yes, you should.
16GB of RAM is ideal for experienced music producers and sound engineers. If you work with multiple orchestral compositions, sampled instruments, mixing, mastering, and enabled audio tracks, then you should upgrade to 16GB.
It’s also worth noting that more cores have a significant amount of influence on the way your processor performs. In that case, since you’re an experienced music producer, a quad-core processor coupled with 16GB of RAM means that you’ll be able to throw a heavy workload at your system without it crashing down.
If you’re unsure about what the best computers are, we’d recommend the Mac computers. They have 16GB of RAM, i5 or i7 quad-core processors, and one TB of storage. What more could you ask for?
Please note that it would greatly benefit you to also invest in an external hard disk.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, when it comes to choosing the amount of RAM that you need for music production, you first want to assess your needs as a producer. For example, are you working with multiple sample libraries, native instruments, or orchestral libraries? Which Digital Audio Workstation software (DAW) do you use regularly?
Once you have answered these questions, you won’t find yourself at odds about how much RAM you need for music production.
An essential factor to consider is the processing power of your CPU. Make sure that you have the best computer for modern music production because technology is constantly changing and moving forward. Hence, it is best to stay ahead of the curve so that you don’t waste your money and time during the music production process.
4GB of RAM isn’t enough for music production. 8GB of RAM will work fine, but if you have too much going on in your computer in terms of DAW software or sample libraries, you might find that your system lags too much.
Ultimately, if your budget permits, we’d recommend going with 16GB of RAM for music production.
In this article, we took a look at how much RAM one needs to produce music. We examined the minimum amount of RAM required for DAWs and whether 8GB or 16GB would be enough for your projects.
RAM is crucial for you to produce the best music of your career, but if you don’t have the right desktop, your journey as a producer is halted. Don’t forget to read our guide giving you all the information needed about the best sound card for music production!