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Making pop in 2019 - which Mac? (Pro Tools)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Making pop in 2019 - which Mac? (Pro Tools)

Hi!

I have never used Pro Tools before, but I plan to get it shortly and start learning how to produce pop. I have spent roughly a year just learning songwriting, and I have written some songs that I would like to believe are top notch. Of course, being a songwriter and producer seem to go hand and hand in 2019, and now learning how to produce is top priority on the long list of things I have to do to ultimately get my music out there.

I would like to make "big pop." So in terms of the general "type" of music I'm looking to make, think maybe... this?

I know a lot about computer hardware, but very little about how powerful of a computer I would need to make music like this. I'm kind of thrown off because on one hand, I see people saying that you need a workstation-level machine, and on the other hand, tons of people seem to be using laptops.

In terms of my budget, I am committed enough to spend a decent chunk of my savings on this machine if I have to, but obviously the less it costs me, the better. I am expecting to have to spend about $2,000-$6,000, but I could do more. I have always used Mac OS; I really don't like Windows. Here are the options I'm considering:

2019 8-core i9 MacBook Pro, 32 GB RAM

2019 8-core i9 iMac, self-upgrade to probably 64 GB RAM

iMac Pro, 8-core or 10-core maybe? 64 GB RAM

Wait for Mac Pro - only upgrade the CPU, maybe to the 12-core? Self-upgrade RAM and SSD


I am thinking that the i9 iMac is probably my best option. Powerful i9-9900K that beats even the base-level iMac Pro and user-accessible RAM that I could self-upgrade all the way up to 128 GB (which hopefully I would never need to do but Avid's system requirements saying "32 GB or more recommended" is kind of freaking me out). The computer and 64 RAM would cost a bit over $3,000, which seems pretty reasonable. I would order it with a 512 GB SSD rather than the "Fusion Drive." I can't imagine using HDD storage in 2019.

If it would be sufficient, the MacBook Pro also seems like a nice option. The new 8-core model is actually slightly more powerful (in theory) than the 12-core trash can Mac Pro. The portability would be great, but could I do what I want to do with a permanent limit of 32 GB RAM?

If I really need to, I could also get either the iMac Pro or wait for the 2019 Mac Pro. Do pop producers actually use the Pro Tools HDX thing? If I could benefit from it, then perhaps I should get the Mac Pro for the PCIe slots.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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If you're waiting on your trust-fund check then hold off until the new Mac Pro drops and grab a 3 card HDX system while your at it.

If budget is a concern, then consider adding a Mini to your list. It's plenty powerful to create music on. Spend what's left on a good set of monitors/headphones, interface, software, mics, instruments... the list never ends.

A laptop is a perfectly viable option. I'm scoring a film with my 2018 i9 MBP and easily run 50 tracks of Kontakt.

A DAW is a personal choice and is not genre-specific.

It's a closely held secret, but some Pop dudes produce with Pro Tools. Don't say you heard it from me though.

Good luck on your journey.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d.dot View Post
If you're waiting on your trust-fund check then hold off until the new Mac Pro drops and grab a 3 card HDX system while your at it.

If budget is a concern, then consider adding a Mini to your list. It's plenty powerful to create music on. Spend what's left on a good set of monitors/headphones, interface, software, mics, instruments... the list never ends.

A laptop is a perfectly viable option. I'm scoring a film with my 2018 i9 MBP and easily run 50 tracks of Kontakt.

A DAW is a personal choice and is not genre-specific.

It's a closely held secret, but some Pop dudes produce with Pro Tools. Don't say you heard it from me though.

Good luck on your journey.
Thank you for the help! You think I would be okay with 32 GB RAM? That's the only thing worrying me about a laptop.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by collin View Post
Thank you for the help! You think I would be okay with 32 GB RAM? That's the only thing worrying me about a laptop.
It hasn’t been a limitation for me. But it could be if you’re planning on running Junky XL and Hans Zimmer sized sessions.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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32 gigs is plllllllenty of RAM for music. Just bounced out a stems on a 148 channel session and the folder is 10gigs. You can run sessions over 300 tracks before you start even thinking about RAM limits with 32 gigs
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d.dot View Post
If you're waiting on your trust-fund check then hold off until the new Mac Pro drops and grab a 3 card HDX system while your at it.

If budget is a concern, then consider adding a Mini to your list. It's plenty powerful to create music on. Spend what's left on a good set of monitors/headphones, interface, software, mics, instruments... the list never ends.

A laptop is a perfectly viable option. I'm scoring a film with my 2018 i9 MBP and easily run 50 tracks of Kontakt.

A DAW is a personal choice and is not genre-specific.

It's a closely held secret, but some Pop dudes produce with Pro Tools. Don't say you heard it from me though.

Good luck on your journey.
Are you doing all your scoring work in Pro Tools? If yes, what buffer do you use and does the sample rounding bug which also shifts/trims midi clips and notes when duplicating regions at certain tempos get in your way?
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattymkb View Post
Are you doing all your scoring work in Pro Tools? If yes, what buffer do you use and does the sample rounding bug which also shifts/trims midi clips and notes when duplicating regions at certain tempos get in your way?
That's oddly specific
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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I'm a long term Logic Pro X user and also a Pro Tools user and I don't find Pro Tools a reliable DAW for my needs. I have always felt like I was metaphorically walking on eggshells while working in it. LPX is by no means perfect and depending on one's workflow it might or might not get in one's way. PT's GUI, color scheme and the edit window are in my opinion the best out of any DAW but when working with a lot of virtual instruments I keep struggling, any machine that I every owned with any audio interface always throws some errors, likes to crack and pop with lower buffer settings, sample rounding issue that's been there for years among others things just make me a lot less efficient than LPX. People used to complain a lot about Logic's way of handling audio but it's gotten much, much better over the years. ARA2 is excellent, flex pitch useful, flex audio modes are plentiful and grouping works well. I've been wanting to switch to PT permanently for some time now but I keep bouncing off it back to LPX because I constantly feel like LPX is just a better DAW overall- performance, reliability and general technical advancements wise. It would save me a lot of wear and tear to switch to Pro Tools and stick to it because of the job but despite knowing it pretty well and flying with key commands I still feel that LPX has more to offer for my workflow and is just less pain in general to use. I like how responsive Avid Customer Service is if you're on an active plan, exchanged many, many e-mails with them and can't say a bad word about them. I also find 16GB of ram to be a recommended minimum and 32GB the optimum, whether for LPX or PT but my sessions aren't really big. Every computer that you listed will do a fantastic job. If you like working mostly on a laptop/often on the go- get a macbook pro. Otherwise iMac might be a good choice and if you don't mind waiting and paying top money for probably better than the basic (256gb ssd is a joke) Mac Pro, then it definitely will be the best stationary computer you could get to run Mac OS. But with 1TB ssd drive it will definitely be a big expense as Apple likes to overcharge for storage upgrades.

Sometimes I wonder if there isn't something seriously wrong with me when it comes to using DAWs. The best in this industry somehow manage to get all the highest paid work done in PT but the ocean bottom pleb like me complains...
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattymkb View Post
Are you doing all your scoring work in Pro Tools? If yes, what buffer do you use and does the sample rounding bug which also shifts/trims midi clips and notes when duplicating regions at certain tempos get in your way?
I just googled sample rounding bug because I wrongly assumed it was an internet myth. Apologies. Apparently it’s a real thing.

I use Pro Tool to track and to mix client work. I score/create in Logic. Buffer is set to 128. I don’t notice any latency. I’ve had it lower, but 128 seems to be the sweet spot for the heavier sessions. Pro Tools buffer lives on 1024. Edit: Except when tracking, but I’m not dong much of that lately.

I’d completely ditch Pro Tools, but I get a lot of files in that format and have to stay compatible. Avid knows this. That’s why they boss up on us. One day I’ll have the ballzz to cut the cord. lol.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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I have to say that I was really surprised when I found out that Sample Rounding bug is so known and deep that EVEN Avid acknowledged it with an article http://avid.force.com/pkb/articles/e...ow_To/en430955 , just a quote from it "Sample rounding is a known issue with Pro Tools and It can affect all Pro Tools systems, regardless." and it made me even more confused when I noticed the date of that article- 2012. I exchanged quite a few e-mails with Avid regarding it and was told that it shouldn't be happening if audio is set to ticks and it surely shouldn't be happening with MIDI but it does and it's confirmed. It's been like that for years. I heard people moving back to PT 11 as MIDI allegedly worked fine in there. Before I bought Pro Tools I had never experienced so many workflow breaking bugs as with PT. That's a shame. And that's why I keep going back to Logic. The lowest PT buffer that doesn't produce some pops on my rigs is 256 samples and occasionally 128. Can't really go lower than that. Logic rocks at 32 with lighter sessions but I also find 128 to be the most optimal. I would ditch PT too if it wasn't a standard for a lot of work out there and a compatibility DAW. I don't like moving back and forth. I feel that my workflow and general fluency suffers because of it. Sometimes I regret that I ever tried Logic because I feel it spoiled me and raised my expectations regarding DAWs. How do you feel in general about moving back and forth between Logic and Pro Tools? Do you feel that you could be more efficient if you used just one of them exclusively? Have you ever considered making PT your main DAW for all work? I am just curious...
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattymkb View Post
Do you feel that you could be more efficient if you used just one of them exclusively? Have you ever considered making PT your main DAW for all work? I am just curious...
I'm not really sure about efficiency. Possibly. I'm always using PT commands in Logic and vice versa. A small thing, but the wasted time adds up I'm sure.

It's strange how we develop these emotional feelings about the software we spend so much time with. In terms of creating, It would seem like complete drudgery for me to be forced to use only PT. Clinical, rigid are words that come to mind. However I actually really enjoy mixing with it. I'm completely fine with mixing in Logic but wasn't always probably because I started on PT. My skills and confidence have grown over the years, so I feel the software in this area doesn't much matter. If you sit me in a foreign room, I feel I can make it happen with whatever tools are available. There's something about using Logic that works well with the part of my brain that generates ideas. Not sure why.

I have no real issue about jumping back and forth between the two. My only real issue with Pro Tools are AVID's business practices. Well the 9076 errors also but it's been super smooth since the 2019 and Mojave updates.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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I also tend to mix commands while switching between the two. Your sentence about generating ideas in Logic also resonates with me. Logic instantly clicked with me and the way my mind expected a DAW to operate. All the DAWs are so similar and so powerful nowadays, yet we find that some promote and encourage certain workflows and ways of thinking while others seem to be more task oriented. You're saying that you started on PT correct? What prompted you to seek other DAW? The way it handles virtual instruments? General efficiency?
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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No workflow or technical reason. I was working at Aftermath for Dr. Dre. Everyone was using Logic at that time. (Pro Tools thru the SSL for tracking). I figured it'd be advantageous if I learned it. I've messed with Ableton for a spell. I have a Maschine Mk3. All the serious work gets done in Logic though.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Ok, thanks. We hijacked the thread. Hope the OP doesn't mind. Any computer from the list that he gets will be good enough and perhaps Pro Tools might not be the best DAW for his songwriting endeavors and production. Or it might be. Only he can find that out. Unless I am wrong there's no lyrics feature in the score editor in PT while we have it in Logic. Also Logic has a nice notepad but one can easily get a free one for Pro Tools from Melda Production Free Bundle which is great.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Ha! We sure did. Hopefully we all learned something along the way.

My heavily-biased personal recommendation would be Logic. It's such a great value for a someone just starting out. But definitely try the different DAWs and see which one speaks to you.

I've heard great things about S1 and Reaper as well.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Thank you guys for all the help. I really appreciate it.

I recently acquired the "stem" files of some of my favorite songs. Most are comprised of only about 8 to 30 stems. This is a relief and a lot less than I was expecting. Of course each stem file could consist of multiple "tracks", or have several plugins going on or something, but it's looking to me like a MacBook Pro is indeed powerful enough for commercial-grade music.

I think I'm going to go with the 8 core 2.3ghz MacBook Pro. My current model is a 2.3ghz quad core late 2013 and has never given me one problem in almost 6 years of use. The 2016-2018 models were plagued with issues but I think (hope...) that the 2019 model is finally a reliable machine.

Is there any reason to upgrade the GPU from the 560X to the Vega? I wouldn't think so, but it seems that almost every program has some sort of GPU-accelerated task these days.
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