Is 64GB Of RAM Overkill For Music Production?

If you are considering purchasing a computer or building your own computer for music production you may be wondering, “Is 64GB Of RAM Overkill For Music Production?” It’s true you will want a computer built for performance and capable of handling multiple tasks at one time. Let’s take a look at what makes a great computer for music production.

Is 64GB Of RAM Overkill For Music Production?

Is 64GB of RAM overkill for music production? It will depend on the type of production you plan on doing. If you just want to record your guitar, a keyboard, vocal, bass and drums or a similar setup you can probably get by with 8GB-16GB of RAM. But do you really just want to get by? I think better planning for the future is definitely in order here. As your production skills progress you will naturally start wanting to add strings, percussion, choirs, elaborate background vocals, and don’t forget about all the effects, virtual instruments, and the possibility of video. The cost of RAM has become affordable and is really nice to have available when you need it. If you do not opt for 64GB of RAM today, you may need it in the future. I think having a motherboard with the capability of adding to your RAM in the future is in order. Your skills will grow and you’re going to want a computer that can keep up.

Video Credit: Audio University / Slick Audio

Computer Components And What They Do

If you are serious about building or purchasing a computer for music production, the computer is the heart of your operation, and this is not where you want to go cheap or too small.

You will greatly regret it later because this will limit the size and quality of your production capabilities. Been there done that more than once and it’s no fun.

Your recordings will only be as good as the tools and skill set you use to create them.

Let’s take a look at the basic computer components and learn more about what they do, how they affect performance, and the Best Bang For The Buck Factor.

CPU

Central Processing Unit

The Central Processing Unit is the brain of the computer system and makes all the calculations.

The CPU drives all the other components of the computer system and decides how fast calculations are done.

The first thing you should look at when buying or building a computer is the CPU.

You will want a strong Central Processing Unit. (CPU)

The proper size CPU will help you avoid Latency.

Currently there are i5, i7, and i9 processers available on the market.

I recommend an i7 or i9 processor for best results.

RAM

RAM Sticks

Random Access Memory (RAM) stores the variables calculated by the CPU.

Remember, the CPU decides how fast calculations are done. So, more RAM will not necessarily make your computer faster.

Most motherboards have 2 or 4 slots available to add extra ram sticks. This makes it possible to add more RAM later on if you need more RAM.

I have a laptop with two RAM slots and a desktop with four RAM slots.

When you make your purchase it’s best to have more RAM slots available if you want the ability to expand your RAM.

The proper amount of RAM will help you avoid Latency.

Motherboard

Ryzen Computer Mother Board

The Motherboard is what connects all of the components of the computer together.

The Motherboard and the CPU are closely connected. Only certain motherboards will work with certain CPU chips.

So, if you are building your own computer, make sure the CPU you choose will work with the motherboard you choose.

If you are buying a computer already built this will be predetermined.

There is no need to spend a lot of money on a motherboard. Just figure out how many USB ports, Thunderbolt connection, audio, and video connections etc. you want and get a motherboard that will accommodate your setup design or needs.

Hard Drive

The Hard Drive is where your software operating system, DAW and other production software are stored.

SSD Hard Drive

There are several types of hard drives, and the type of hard drive you choose will affect the loading times of different software packages you may be using.

The old 5400 RPM hard disk is the slowest and will greatly affect how quickly software programs like virtual instruments can load.

The SSD (Solid-State Drive) runs around 10 times faster and is a much better choice for a computer that you will be using for music production.

Even faster is the PCI SSD that can run up to 25 times faster than a 5400 RPM hard drive.

I believe there is an even faster SSD called the M2 drive. I’m not sure how much faster it is but is supposed to be the current fastest hard drive.

Spend the money on a good hard drive. This will make a BIG difference in how fast your computer can load.

You can have the fastest processor and tons of RAM but if your hard drive can’t keep up then you have nothing.

The proper hard drive will help you avoid Latency especially if you are working with high quality virtual instruments.

Cooling Fan

Computer Cooling Fan

Music production puts a lot of strain on your new computer and it’s important to keep things cooled off.

The cooling fan keeps the CPU and all of the computer’s components cool.

Your computer generates heat and it’s very important to vent the heat away from the computer.

If you are doing production work with live microphones in the same room as your computer, when the cooling fan kicks on your microphones will pick up the sound of the cooling fan.

Get the quietest cooling fan you can find.

Let’s Put It All Together

All of the components we have mentioned will be working together inside your new computer.

They are all important and will be key to building or purchasing a computer built for music production.

A computer for music production must be able to perform or else you will find it very difficult and frustrating to work on your projects.

  1. Spend the money for an i7 processor or better.
  2. I recommend 32GB of RAM or more. 64GB If you are composing and orchestrating primarily with VSTI’s. (Virtual Instruments) Yes, you can get away with less but for how long?
  3. Get an SSD Hard Drive or A PCI SSD Hard Drive.
  4. Spend extra money for a quiet fan

Will these things cost you extra money? Yes.

These recommendations will give you a better computer built to perform, and you will be much happier with your computer.

Home Recording Studio Setup

There is nothing worse than buying a computer for your studio and you find out it can’t keep up with your projects. It is really frustrating and disappointing.

Like I said at the beginning of this article, The computer is the heart of your home recording studio, and this is not where you want to cut corners and go cheap.

Get what you need and get to work.

How Much Ram Do I Actually Need?

How much Ram you need for your music production computer will depend on the extent of recording, mixing, virtual instruments, and plugins you will be using.

As your skills develop you naturally start using more and more tools, tracks, CPU, and RAM.

If you are serious about buying or building a computer for music production, I have two basic recommendations for the amount of RAM you should consider.

32GB Of RAM

32GB of RAM should be plenty If you are planning on recording your guitar, keyboard, bass, drums, and vocals and want to use plugins and the occasional virtual instrument.

Yes, you can get along with less RAM in this instance. 16GB of RAM will probably work well until you max out.

I like to give myself plenty of head room to work with. So, I recommend 32GB of RAM.

If you find that your CPU and RAM are maxing out there are several things, you can do to help.

1. Bounce Down The Audio To One Track.

If your CPU and RAM are maxing out, you can bounce down several audio tracks to one track to save resources.

Let’s say you have three or four background vocal tracks, or 10 or more drum tracks, etc.

You can save resources by combining all the audio tracks for your drums, vocals, guitars, etc. into one track.

Make sure you have the tracks mixed the way you like, and then bounce the audio to one track.

2. Freeze Tracks You’re Not Using.

Once you bounce audio tracks freeze the unused tracks so they are not using computer resources and you can come back later and unfreeze them if you need to make changes.

Any track you are not using you can delete or freeze.

This will free up CPU and RAM for your projects.

I personally do not like to delete a track until I know for sure I won’t need it.

64GB Of RAM

I personally think 64GB of RAM is what you want for a music production computer.

If you are composing with Virtual Instruments, you will find your CPU, Hard drive, and RAM resources need to be ready for some game.

Virtual instruments come in many flavors. The high-quality virtual instruments are real instruments recorded in real studios and halls.

The instruments are multi sampled layers of the instrument, microphone placement, reverb, and natural ambience.

The sound of the instruments and the room are captured and multi sampled.

Long story short. The high-quality virtual instruments sound real and require a computer built to handle the processing demands.

You need a good CPU, plenty of RAM, and a quick hard drive.

Which Is Better For Music Production, A Laptop Or Desktop?

For a home recording studio setup, I personally think a desktop computer will give you the most bang for the buck.

A desktop computer will have more options to add RAM, hard drives, a quiet fan, and come with more connection options.

Dollar for dollar the desktop computer will give you more performance than a laptop.

If you need to be portable, then the laptop will be your better choice.

The biggest drawback to a laptop computer in a recording situation is the cooling fan can make a lot of noise and there is only so much space inside a laptop computer to add things like RAM and hard drives.

Computer tech keeps getting smaller so as technology increases so will our options for the laptop computer.

What Do The DAW Software Manufactures Say?

DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation and is the software you will be using to create your production projects inside of your computer.

Most DAW software manufactures have minimum computer requirements to properly run the software on your computer.

The specs are the minimum requirements so you need to think about what other software you will be running like virtual instruments and how this will affect your computers performance.

I thought it may be helpful to list different DAW software requirements as stated by the manufactures. Let’s take a look.

PreSonus Studio One Professional

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: AU, VST2, VST3, ReWire
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core i3 or higher, 8GB RAM or more recommended, 40GB drive space
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Core i3 / AMD Quad-core or higher, 8GB RAM or more recommended, 40GB drive space
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.13 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 10 or later

Ableton Live Suite

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: VST2, VST3, AU, Standalone
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core i5 or higher, 8GB RAM minimum
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Core i5 / AMD multi-core or higher, 8GB RAM minimum
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.13 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 10 version 1909 or later

Pro Tools Ultimate

  • Bit Depth:64-bit
  • Format:AAX
  • Authorization Type: iLok 2/3 or iLok Cloud (continuous internet connection)
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core i7 processor or higher, 16GB RAM (32GB recommended), 15GB disk space
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Xeon / Core i9 processor or higher, 16GB RAM (32GB recommended), 15GB disk space
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.13.6 to 10.15.5 (Catalina 10.15.4 not supported)
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 10 or later

FL Studio All Plugins Edition

  • Format:VST (Flex plugin only), AU
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core 2 Duo / Apple M1 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon 64 X2 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.13 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 8.1 or later

Reason

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: AAX, VST, AU, Standalone
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Multi-core CPU, 4GB RAM minimum
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel / AMD Multi-core CPU, 4GB RAM minimum
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.13 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 10 or later

MOTU Digital Performer

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: VST2, VST3, AU, MAS
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core i3 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Core i3 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.13 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 10 or later

Logic Pro

  • MacOS 11 or later
  • 6GB of available storage space for minimum installation or 72GB of storage space for full Sound Library installation

Logic Remote Minimum System Requirements

iPad: iPadOS 14.0 or later

iPhone: iOS 14.0 or later

iPod touch: iOS 14.0 or later

As you can see most manufactures require an i3 chip or higher. Some manufactures require an i7 chip or higher.

RAM starts at minimum 4GB, and some manufactures require 16GB as a minimum amount of RAM.

Keep in mind these are Minimum Requirements to run the DAW software effectively.

My thoughts are you want to be well above the minimum.

If you have 32GB of RAM and a good processor like an i7 you should be in pretty good shape. If you want to work with virtual instruments, I recommend you get 64GB of RAM.

What Do The Virtual Instrument Manufactures Say?

Virtual instruments can take up a lot of processing power and it’s important to have a computer built for performance if you want to successfully work with virtual instruments.

Let’s take a look at some of the Virtual Instrument manufactures minimum requirements.

EastWest Hollywood Orchestra Opus Edition

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: AAX Native, VST, AU, Standalone
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: 2.7GHz Quad-core Processor or higher, 16GB RAM minimum
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: 2.7GHz Quad-core Processor or higher, 16GB RAM minimum
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.13 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 10 or later

IK Multimedia Total Studio

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: Standalone, VST2, VST3, AU, AAX
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core i3 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum, 490GB Drive Space
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Core i5 or AMD equivalent or higher, 8GB RAM minimum, 490GB Drive Space
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.10 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 7 SP1 or later

Native Instruments Komplete

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: AAX Native, VST, AU
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core i5 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Core i5 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • OS Requirements – Mac: MacOS 10.14 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 10 or later

UJAM Full Bundle

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: AAX, VST, AU2
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Core 2 Duo or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon 64 X2 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
  • OS Requirements – Mac: OS X 10.11 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 7 SP1 or later

Omnisphere

  • Bit Depth: 64-bit
  • Format: AAX, VST 2.4, AU, Standalone
  • Hardware Requirements – Mac: 2.4 GHz Dual Core Processor or higher, 8GB RAM minimum, 64GB free drive space
  • Hardware Requirements – PC: 2.4 GHz Dual Core Processor or higher, 8GB RAM minimum, 64GB free drive space
  • OS Requirements – Mac: OS X 10.13 or later
  • OS Requirements – PC: Windows 7 SP1 or later

There are a whole lot of virtual instruments available on today’s market. I just listed a couple different manufactures to get an idea of what kind of RAM and CPU is needed to operate properly.

You can see that the spread is anywhere from 4GB to 16GB of RAM needed.

Add on the resources your DAW and other systems are using and you can see where 32GB would be a reasonable amount of RAM but 64GB will give you plenty of headroom to work with.

If you want to use virtual instruments, I recommend using a PCI SSD hard drive, i7 processor, and 64GB of RAM.

Yes, you may be able to get away with less but 64GB of RAM will give you room to grow.

Relevant Article: Learn More About Virtual Instruments. EastWest Sounds Opus

Buy Your Computer From Music Production Professionals

If you are looking to buy a computer for music production, you should consider purchasing your computer from reliable music production professionals.

Companies like Slick Audio build computers for music production.

Slick Audio builds and sells computers special for audio and video production and know what computer components and performance levels are needed to achieve great production results.

Slick Audio Computers

This article gives you some of the basic computer components and what they do so you should be able to shop for your computer and make good choices.

What Others Are Saying

Direct QuoteSource
“Your DAW and a couple of software synths will probably not even use more than 3GB or 4GB of RAM.
But if you are building a new computer now, I would recommend getting 2x 16GB. This will give you plenty of headroom and also gives you the option to buy 2 more slots, later on, to increase your total memory to 64GB.”
https://www.optoproductions.com/how-much-ram-for-music-production/#:~:text=Your%20DAW%20and%20a%20couple,your%20total%20memory%20to%2064GB.
“Depending on the workload you’re putting on your computer it could range from eight gigs to sixty four. I run 64 on my Ryzen nine 5950 X computer and this is significantly more than I need but allows me to conquer extra tasks like live streaming my sessions while simultaneously recording in and playing audio back while capturing my voice on top of the whole project. With this amount of ram and in general good hard drive for your OS would be a 1TB m.2 which helps with speed over time as well.”https://www.quora.com/Is-64GB-RAM-overkill-for-music-production#:~:text=If%20you%20just%20want%20to,64%20Gb%20is%20simply%20overkill.&text=The%20quick%20answer%20is%20yes%20there%20is%20an%20advantage.
“The different DAWs handle memory differently when it comes to projects (with projects, I mean the songs).
The plugins will always take up the same amount of space in different DAWs, because a plugin is a standalone program that is called by a DAW.
Most DAWs allow switching between projects, the way they do it is different.”
https://www.learnhowtoproducemusic.com/blog-how-to-start-music-production/how-much-ram-memory-do-you-need-for-music-production
“if you’re setting up a composer’s rig and using lot’s of V.I.’s then yes 64Gigs of RAM is a good. Also keep in mind that in this case you will need very fast drives (preferably SSD’s) and adequate processing power. Another thing that also defines your limits beyond CPU, RAM and drive speed is your voice count… which is dependent on the efficiency of V.I.’s and libraries you’re using.”https://gearspace.com/board/music-computers/1079298-64gb-ram-worth.html
“I would recommend the memory upgrade; you can get external SSD later on for storage expansion.
I just upgraded to an iMac with 64GB RAM from an older MacBook model and the amount of leeway I have (even when loading larger orchestral templates) is such a breath of fresh air.”
https://www.reddit.com/r/musicproduction/comments/qc84n5/32gb_of_ram_or_64gb/
“RAM is very important for music production because it allows for the computer to transition quickly between tasks; it speeds up response time, file conversions, mix-downs, and allows for more recording and MIDI tracks. Without sufficient RAM, you may experience crashes, freezing, and errors.”https://producersociety.com/what-ram-does-music-production/
“I have 32 GB and would have gotten 64 GB if my motherboard would let me. I have the same kind of plugins and run out of memory easily when I start to enable multiple mic positions…”https://vi-control.net/community/threads/is-64gb-ram-overkill-for-music-score-template.40561/
“The amount of RAM that you have in your computer will affect how well your music production software runs. If you don’t have enough RAM, the program will run slowly and your computer might freeze or crash.”https://audiovisualpursuits.com/how-much-ram-do-i-need-for-music-production/
“Most likely your use of RAM will increase a bit over time once you start using new tools. If you are buying a laptop, figure out if you can add more RAM in the future – some laptops will have extra RAM slots and some won’t. A conventional computer motherboard will come with 4 or 6 RAM slots. Keep at least a pair of slots free for future upgrades.”https://rebootrecording.com/how-much-ram/
“You can only get the M1 Max chip with 64GB of RAM! 32GB and less is M1 Pro chip!”https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/m1-max-32gb-vs-64gb-ram-use-cases-for-each.2317555/page-2

Final Thoughts

Is 64GB Of RAM Overkill For Music Production? I think 64GB of RAM will be in order if you are going to be using Virtual Instruments.

If you want a good starting point for your computer, I would go with an i7 processor and 32GB of RAM.

This will give you a computer built to perform and the ability to upgrade your RAM later if you need more.

You most certainly can start working with a computer that has less RAM and a multi core processor.

Try using what you have and build from there. Just know if you are having issues with your computer freezing up, making popping sounds, latency issues, and slow load times, it may be time to get that new computer.

Feel free to leave your questions and helpful comments below.

Have a look around my website. There are lots of great articles to help you get started with your home recording studio setup.

6 thoughts on “Is 64GB Of RAM Overkill For Music Production?”

  1. I must say this review was extensive and very detailed. the amount of information on this review can seem overwhelming but I do believe it’s a must for those truly interested in purchasing or building a great performing rig for music production. I love music and would like to build my own down the line but just don’t have the time. This review gives a lot of information on where to start from the ground up and that’s what makes this review so valuable. Great work and much appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
  2. If I were going to purchase a computer for sound, music and playbacks it would be best to go with an i7 processor and 32 gb of RAM to start. This will allow you enough room to get started but allow you the ability to add more RAM and memory at a later date as your budget allows. That is when you take your recordings to the next level.

    Jerry

    Reply
    • I agree Jerry.  32GB of RAM is a great place to start with an i7 processor.  You can always add more RAM later if you need it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  3. In my case, I do not need more than 32GB of RAM for music production tasks. I prefer to invest that extra budget in a newer generation CPU, an audio interface with good converters and preamps, a GPU-accelerated graphics card because I also play games, produce videos and do streaming. 

    Reply
    • I think that is a good way to invest in your computer.  Especially, if you will not be using a lot of virtual instruments.

      32GB of RAM is a great place to start and invest in a nice CPU.  You can always add to your RAM later on.  

      An audio interface is a very important piece of gear as well.  All the equipment works together to create the best mix possible.

      Reply

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