I prefer a standalone recorder, for a few reasons:
- No fan, so no worries that the fan will kick in while you are recording. This is mainly important if you are recording in the same room as the musician(s).
- A self-contained unit, no need for a separate interface, no need to worry about latency, etc.
- Stable over time. If you never connect your laptop to the internet and never update it, a laptop can be just as stable. But most of us do connect our laptops to the internet, and sometimes updates to software or the operating system can lead to instabilities.
The main advantages to a laptop for classical recording include:
- Much bigger screen and more ergonomic interface for settings, which in most standalone recorder require diving through tiny on-screen menus.
- All your recorded files are ready to edit, no need to import from a recorder.
- Much easier to type in names for markers, add notes, etc.
- No need to learn anything new. Some standalone recorders are simple, but the Sound Devices MixPre recorders are actually quite complex and have many settings.
I use the MixPre 6 and really like it, but to extend its capabilities I use an external control surface (a mixing board) plus I use the Wingman app to enter some metadata. With those things added, a laptop starts looking like a simpler alternative. But because my laptop has a fan, there’s always this lingering worry in the back of my mind that the fan might come on. It hasn’t yet, since recording audio is not a very arduous task for a computer, but I’d rather not test my luck. So I will likely stick with the MixPre.