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iMac for production & recording. External SSD ?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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iMac for production & recording. External SSD ?

I’m currently on 1st generation i7-920 built PC. 24GB ram.
Internal drives:
system SSD: 1TB.
soft synths / samples SSD: 3TB
recording HD: 2TB

Thinking of getting an iMac, but they come with built fusion drives,
It’s not really possible to install a 6TB internal SSD on iMac ?
Having few external thunderbolt or USB SSDs will it be “good” (fast) enough for music production and recording ?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Any help appreciated
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TS-12 View Post
...
Thinking of getting an iMac, but they come with built fusion drives,
It’s not really possible to install a 6TB internal SSD on iMac ?
Having few external thunderbolt or USB SSDs will it be “good” (fast) enough for music production and recording ?
There was a time when users had to buy the fastest available technology in order to do audio recording/mixing. That time is past. Now the only media that you can't use for multi-track production with a DAW are SD cards, and low-end USB flash drives.

If you like, you can buy a 4TB SSD {ka-ching} for about $900 and put it inside your iMac if it's not so recent that Apple has glued it shut, and/or put proprietary SSD flash into it. Any SSD connected via Thunderbolt will be more than adequate for your samples. The normal tracking stuff can readily live on HDD's, especially the high density 6TB+ ones that have a media transfer rate of 170+MBytes/sec at the outer cylinders. USB 3.0 is fully fast enough for HDD and SSD usage; you have to manage the power saving/sleep issues to avoid hangups.

Look for the comments made by @charlieclouser here on GS about this topic. You'll find them to be interesting and useful.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TS-12 View Post
I’m currently on 1st generation i7-920 built PC. 24GB ram.
Internal drives:
system SSD: 1TB.
soft synths / samples SSD: 3TB
recording HD: 2TB

Thinking of getting an iMac, but they come with built fusion drives,
It’s not really possible to install a 6TB internal SSD on iMac ?
Having few external thunderbolt or USB SSDs will it be “good” (fast) enough for music production and recording ?
Thunderbolt is more than up to the task of audio recording and sample streaming, even with massive orchestral sample libraries with multiple mic positions, etc.

Thunderbolt is much faster than even the latest multi-SSD RAID array.

But the answer to your questions has a few layers:

- Fusion drives are a dead technology. These were a stop-gap measure in the days when SSD drives were just too expensive for some consumers. I would avoid any Fusion drive or similar technology. Pure SSD is the way forward.

- You say you are planning of getting an iMac, but we don't know which one you choose. If it's one of the current models, whether iMac or iMac Pro, they all have Thunderbolt3 (on a USB-C connector) as well as USB3. If you are thinking of getting an older, used or refurbished iMac, that may only have Thunderbolt 1 or 2 or no Thunderbolt at all - then it's a slightly different story.

- Thunderbolt3 is more than up to the task of driving multiple displays and audio interfaces, at the same time and over the same cable, as well as dealing with multiple SSDs for recording and sample storage. Really, the amount of data that the computer needs to shove down the wire to drive one 4k display is many times what you're likely to need for the audio side, so they have over-engineered Thunderbolt3 in terms of what's needed for audio.

- If you have Thunderbolt3 on a new iMac, you can use all sorts of ridiculously fast external SSDs. Anything that uses SATA 2.5" SSD drives (like the BlackMagic MultiDock, etc.) will be limited to around 500mb/sec - this is the nature of the drives and this is not likely to change, but it is still fast enough for massive orchestral sample libraries and audio recording. I use a bunch of Samsung 850 and 860 Evo and Pro 2.5" SATA SSD drives in the MultiDock for a few years now and it's been great - no issues whatsoever. But even this tech is getting a little old now.

- SATA devices are kind of on the way out and are being replaced by m2 NVME devices, which are basically raw sticks of SSD memory that look like a bare RAM stick, and can get speeds comparable with the super-fast internal drives on recent Macs (more than 2,000mb/sec, four times the speed of most SATA devices). There is no way to put these inside an iMac, they must be mounted in some sort of enclosure, like the OWC Express 4m2:

OWC Express 4M2

This $320 device mounts four m2 "blade style" drives inside and serves them up to Thunderbolt3 connectors at around 2,800mb/sec speed. Currently m2 drives max out at 2tb, so with four of the Samsung 860evo 2tb m2 drives inside the Express 4m2 you've got 8tb of super-fast storage for as little as $1,500 total. The Express 4m2 also has a DisplayPort connector which can "peel off" the data for a display while passing the Thunderbolt3 bus along to the next device in the change, which is handy. The Samsung drives that can go inside this type of unit are around $550 for 2tb - these:

SSD 970 EVO NVMe M.2 2TB Memory & Storage - MZ-V7E2T0BW | Samsung US

- If you do have Thunderbolt3 on a new iMac, you can get a Thunderbolt3 dock if you wish - this will NOT act as a Thunderbolt3 "splitter" or "Y-cable"; no additional Thunderbolt3 ports are provided, only the IN and the OUT for daisy-chaining to additional TB3 devices. What those WILL do is "peel off" other formats (like HDMI, DisplayPort, USB, etc.) while passing the TB3 along to the next device in the chain. These can be useful depending on what gear you have. This is a good one:

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock for Windows and Mac - 14 Ports

- Other, more portable solutions that I own and love are the Samsung T5 external SSDs - these are tiny (half the size of an iPhone) and go up to 2tb, but are basically the same guts as their SATA drives, so their speed tops out around 500mb/sec. Still, they are amazing and awesome and work just fine for audio recording or sample streaming. They have a USB-C connector but it is not Thunderbolt3 - it comes with USB-C > USB-C cable as well as a USB-C > USB-A cable so it can connect to the normal, rectangular USB port on just about any device in the world, or the USB-C connector on your Android phone or whatever. $450 for 2tb:

Portable SSD T5 2TB Memory & Storage - MU-PA2T0B/AM | Samsung US

- But the new hotness from Samsung is their X5 external SSDs - these use the same internal technology as the m2 NVME drives, and connect directly to Thunderbolt3 using a USB-C cable, and can get speeds comparable to that OWC Express 4m2 and the Mac's internal drive. Expensive, but stupidly fast. $1,200 for 2tb:

Portable SSD X5 2TB Memory & Storage - MU-PB2T0B/AM | Samsung US

- If the audio interface you want to use is USB3, just connect it to the USB ports on the iMac and connect your storage and extra displays to the Thunderbolt3 ports. If you have an audio interface with Thunderbolt, put it on one of the iMac's TB3 ports and put your storage on the other port. No problems.

I prefer to stick to Samsung for SSD because they are by far the biggest manufacturer of this stuff, and I have had zero failures with them. Other brands might save you a little money, but....

In short I would not worry about the speed of external SSD drives for use with an iMac - it's all about deciding what size, format, and connection format makes sense for your rig - and how much you want to spend!
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Thank you thank you guys for the help, exactly what I need to know.

I’m looking into the lastest models.
Actually considering either iMac (not pro), MacBook Pro (or maybe even Mac mini)
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TS-12 View Post
Thank you thank you guys for the help, exactly what I need to know.

I’m looking into the lastest models.
Actually considering either iMac (not pro), MacBook Pro (or maybe even Mac mini)
A buddy of mine who does film and tv scoring at a pretty high level just got the latest 6-core Mac Mini to use as a main DAW machine, replacing his 2010 silver Mac Pro 12-core tower - and he says the little guy is a BEAST.

He got the fastest processor, the biggest load of Apple RAM, and the fast Ethernet upgrade (just in case it will help when communicating to his Vienna slave computers).

He did not get the biggest internal drive because he will only put software on the internal, so he got 1tb I think. He uses that OWC Express 4m2 enclosure that I mentioned above for sample library storage, as well as a dock with removable 2.5" SSDs for projects so he can swap them in and out as he goes from project to project.

So it's not very portable because of all the peripherals hanging off it, but he would need all those anyway no matter what machine he chose. He did not choose iMac because he wants to keep the computer in the machine room with all the stuff (not because of fan noise, just because there's a lot of gear in there) and he uses a gigantic 43" 4k display.

So far he says he loves it and it's faster and just overall better than his old silver Mac Pro tower.
Old 5 days ago
  #7
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Thank you guys for help,
I’m leaning towards a MacBook Pro with a non-soldered-in internal ssd. So I can upgrade internal ssd to around 4TB
Old 5 days ago
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieclouser View Post
A buddy of mine who does film and tv scoring at a pretty high level just got the latest 6-core Mac Mini to use as a main DAW machine, replacing his 2010 silver Mac Pro 12-core tower - and he says the little guy is a BEAST.

He got the fastest processor, the biggest load of Apple RAM, and the fast Ethernet upgrade (just in case it will help when communicating to his Vienna slave computers).

He did not get the biggest internal drive because he will only put software on the internal, so he got 1tb I think. He uses that OWC Express 4m2 enclosure that I mentioned above for sample library storage, as well as a dock with removable 2.5" SSDs for projects so he can swap them in and out as he goes from project to project.

So it's not very portable because of all the peripherals hanging off it, but he would need all those anyway no matter what machine he chose. He did not choose iMac because he wants to keep the computer in the machine room with all the stuff (not because of fan noise, just because there's a lot of gear in there) and he uses a gigantic 43" 4k display.

So far he says he loves it and it's faster and just overall better than his old silver Mac Pro tower.
That's interesting, I was a little worried about mac mini performance when lots of gfx stuff is going on (analysers, meters etc). My 2012 MBP despises anything with realtime graphics. If the mini can handle such a big display, that is rather reassuring!
Old 5 days ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermal View Post
That's interesting, I was a little worried about mac mini performance when lots of gfx stuff is going on (analysers, meters etc). My 2012 MBP despises anything with realtime graphics. If the mini can handle such a big display, that is rather reassuring!
I should mention that I forgot to mention that this guy had an external GPU hooked up to his 2018 Mac Mini. It was not that slick-looking BlackMagic box that Apple sells, it was a generic black box that looked like a 3-slot Sonnet Thunderbolt > PCIe expansion chassis, and indeed it may have been just that (I didn't ask). But he DID say that it was an eGPU of some kind; whether it was a generic PCIe chassis with some hot-rod video card, or just a dedicated Thunderbolt3 eGPU box I don't know.

Not sure if the reasoning behind getting this was due to disappointing graphics performance from the 2018 Mac Mini, or if it was solely due to the fact that he runs four displays - a 43" 4k in the center, a smaller 2560x1440 on either side, and a 75" television for displaying the video he's scoring to. I do not know if he's playing video to the 75" television from a separate computer running VideoSlave, or if it's playing from within his Logic sessions.

If he's pushing all four displays from the one Mac Mini, that's reason enough to have a fancy video card (or two) in that external box. Heck, even without the tv, just the 4k and two smaller displays might be reason enough.

So bear that in mind. If you're having issues with realtime graphics like meters and analyzers, check around to see if people are not loving the new Mini for that reason. Next time I'm back at dude's place I'll ask in more detail about what the heck was in that black box. When I was there he just sort of said in an off-hand way, "Oh, and that thing's the external GPU." And I didn't think to ask in more detail.
Old 4 days ago
  #10
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What’s the latest MacBook Pro with non-soldered-in-to-the-mobo SSD ?
Old 4 days ago
  #11
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Originally Posted by TS-12 View Post
What’s the latest MacBook Pro with non-soldered-in-to-the-mobo SSD ?
Start your shopping here: [ Mac Specs, Prices, Answers and Comparison: EveryMac.com, Est. 1996 ]

For each interesting machine, expand the row called 'Storage Dimensions' for details.
Old 4 days ago
  #12
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A Black Magic Multidock filled with SSDs is more than up to the task for recording and streaming samples over Thuderbolt to an iMac.

Plenty of scope for future expansion too, as SSD prices drop.
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