The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
I think it's time for a Mac--what do I need to know? Audio Interfaces
Old 30th December 2010
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Robonaut's Avatar
 

I think it's time for a Mac--what do I need to know?

I've been fighting latency issues with my E8500 PC, and I'm getting a little annoyed.

I think part of the problem is that it is currently my sole PC, so it gets used for everything--music, email, gaming, etc.

So, it seems like its time to set up a dedicated music PC. And if I'm going to go that route, I might as well get a Mac.

This wouldn't be my first Mac (I had a beige G3 some years ago), but I'm not really up on the latest developments in Apple-land.

Here are the main system components that I would like to move over from my existing PC:

DAW Software: Cubase 5

Plugins: Battery 2, Waves Gold, BBE Sonic Maximizer

Audio Interface: MOTU Ultralite

MIDI Interface: MOTU MIDI Timepiece AV USB

From the research I've done so far, I *think* all of that will work on a Mac, but please let me know if any of you think differently.


What I could really use some help with is which model to get. The Mac Pro is obviously cool, but, dear Lord, are they expensive ($2,500 for the base model?!). So, I'm wondering if I can get by with one of the less expensive ones (Mac Mini or iMac).

My main concerns with the cheaper macs are with the lack of expandability. Neither the Mac Mini nor the iMac has PCIe slots, correct?

If so, then I'm worried about overloading the USB bus with all of my dongles, etc (I currently have an extra USB PCIe card in my E8500 PC). I'd also be worried that I might want to upgrade my audio interface in the next couple of years to something with requires a PCIe card (like a SSL Alpha Link) and not be able to do it.

Also, if I were to get a Mac, how much memory should I have? I have 4GB in my Windows PC--is that enough to run audio applications optimally on a Mac, or do I need more than that?

Anything else I should know about setting up a Mac for music making?
Old 30th December 2010
  #2
Gear Maniac
I'm in the same position as you. Looking to upgrade the studio computer. I use Cubase, Wavelab, Reason 5, Waves Gold, Focusrite LM and other plugs. I was seriously considering a Mac of some sort.

I would definitely take a look at DAW Bench : DAW Performance Benchmarking as it relates to the situation you are referring to about latency. I was rather surprised at the performance differences between MAC and PC.

Cheers,
Frank
Old 30th December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I use a 27" iMac (i5 quad) with Cubase 5 and have a USB hub with 2 dongles, ilok and syncrosoft. It's true the IMac's connections are pretty limited but a 4-port hub with a few dongles won't be a problem.
Old 30th December 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 

You can run a lot of devices on a USB port. A couple of dongles wont nearly choke it to death. Get a decent USB hub with it's own power connector if you want to run more than 4 USB ports. I've got 9 devices connected to my Imac and they all run perfectly fine. An Ilok, Portable HD, MAC keyboard, NI Kore, NI Machine, Novation SL MK2 keyboard, Contour ShuttleXpress controller, printer and an old USB audio interface that I use for extra i/o thru aggregate devices. And on the FW port a FW800 HD, MH-ULN2 audio inteface and a FW400 backup HD.

An Imac isn't blessed with plenty of i/o capabilities, but you can squeeze a lot out of what it does have. Not having PCi-e is a shame, but FW gives a lot of High-end i/o options as well for future upgrades. Apogee ensemble, MH ULN-8, Prism Orpheus to name just a few.
Old 30th December 2010
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Anything else I should know about setting up a Mac for music making?
Cubase will run a little more doggy on mac than PC? (not as stable on low latency settings)

That's why I recently switched to Logic, anyway. (Missing Cubase, but gotta move on...)
Old 30th December 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Robonaut's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bondsong View Post
I would definitely take a look at DAW Bench : DAW Performance Benchmarking as it relates to the situation you are referring to about latency. I was rather surprised at the performance differences between MAC and PC.
Wow, things don't look good for running Cubase 5 on the Mac, do they?

Of course, what I'm really concerned about right now is stability/ease of use--I don't care if I can run "only" 64 multi-band compressors at 128 samples instead of 140 multi-band compressors. I need to run at over 1,000 samples latency on my current setup to get it to work without any pops and crackles, so running stably at 128 samples would be great!

What do you think about the amount of RAM needed? It sounds like Cubase on the Mac is still only 32-bit so it can only access 4 GB, at most. But it seems a bit more than that (like, say, 6 GB?) might be better to give you some room to run other applications simultaneously with Cubase?
Old 30th December 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
How about walking to a shop that sells music stuff and computers, take your MOTU with you, see if they can make it work and then buy things? Then it's THEIR responsibility to make it happen heh, maybe it costs a few bucks more but it's worth it IMHO.
In case there IS a shop like that in your area....
Old 30th December 2010
  #8
Gear Head
 
Jetspeed's Avatar
 

I have purchased 5 Macs in the past 4 years including a Mac Pro tower I use solely for music production. Here is how I learned to save a ton of money in purchasing my last 2 Mac's including the aforementioned Mac Pro which I absolutely love.

DON"T BUY NEW BUY REFURBISHED FROM APPLE

This was kind of a tough pill for me to swallow at first but man did I save a ton of money and get 2 awesome computers in the process.

The first thing to be aware of is a refurbished computer from Apple is not a B-Stock type item with blemishes and does come with FULL Apple warranty. As it was explained to me by an Apple rep. (info they are not supposed to share with the general consumer) is that all refurbished computers are either brand new orders that never shipped or are items that shipped and returned by the consumer within the allotted 2 week time frame for returns. In either case the computers are broken all the way down and thoroughly inspected. If there are any problems to include blemishes, the computer is further broken down and used for parts.

Armed with this knowledge I somewhat reluctantly bought my first refurbished Mac in 2009. A 2009 Mac Book Pro. A 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2 GB of Ram and a 160 GB 5200 RPM hard drive. I immediately researched the net and found that I could replace the hard drive and add ram very easily by doing it myself (and believe me when I say I'm no computer expert and this was very simple to do myself). I bought a 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive for $70 US and 8GB of ram for $236 US. It took a total of about 10 minutes to install using a tutorial from YouTube. The hardest part in the process was undoing the screws to access the hard drive and ram port.

Total price for this awesome computer was $800 for computer, $70 for the hard drive and $236 for the ram. $1106 total. My research at the time showed this same similarly configured computer selling used on eBay for $1700.

I did my Mac Pro Tower the same way. Added a Terabyte 7200 rpm hard drive and 10 GB of ram, yes 10. All ram is done in pairs so I have a total of 12 GB of ram expandable up to 24. The 12 GB's absolutely flies. This computer is awesome and I don't foresee any need to replace or upgrade for a very long time. Total cost of this 3.2 GHz Intel 8 Core super computer was under $2500 US. This computer listed for $4900 brand new with similar configuration!!!

If interested go to the Apple website and research their refurbished computers. If you don't see what you are looking for keep checking back daily as they get returns and cancelled orders frequently.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Ken
Old 30th December 2010
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetspeed View Post
I have purchased 5 Macs in the past 4 years including a Mac Pro tower I use solely for music production. Here is how I learned to save a ton of money in purchasing my last 2 Mac's including the aforementioned Mac Pro which I absolutely love.

DON"T BUY NEW BUY REFURBISHED FROM APPLE

This was kind of a tough pill for me to swallow at first but man did I save a ton of money and get 2 awesome computers in the process.

The first thing to be aware of is a refurbished computer from Apple is not a B-Stock type item with blemishes and does come with FULL Apple warranty. As it was explained to me by an Apple rep. (info they are not supposed to share with the general consumer) is that all refurbished computers are either brand new orders that never shipped or are items that shipped and returned by the consumer within the allotted 2 week time frame for returns. In either case the computers are broken all the way down and thoroughly inspected. If there are any problems to include blemishes, the computer is further broken down and used for parts.

Armed with this knowledge I somewhat reluctantly bought my first refurbished Mac in 2009. A 2009 Mac Book Pro. A 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2 GB of Ram and a 160 GB 5200 RPM hard drive. I immediately researched the net and found that I could replace the hard drive and add ram very easily by doing it myself (and believe me when I say I'm no computer expert and this was very simple to do myself). I bought a 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive for $70 US and 8GB of ram for $236 US. It took a total of about 10 minutes to install using a tutorial from YouTube. The hardest part in the process was undoing the screws to access the hard drive and ram port.

Total price for this awesome computer was $800 for computer, $70 for the hard drive and $236 for the ram. $1106 total. My research at the time showed this same similarly configured computer selling used on eBay for $1700.

I did my Mac Pro Tower the same way. Added a Terabyte 7200 rpm hard drive and 10 GB of ram, yes 10. All ram is done in pairs so I have a total of 12 GB of ram expandable up to 24. The 12 GB's absolutely flies. This computer is awesome and I don't foresee any need to replace or upgrade for a very long time. Total cost of this 3.2 GHz Intel 8 Core super computer was under $2500 US. This computer listed for $4900 brand new with similar configuration!!!

If interested go to the Apple website and research their refurbished computers. If you don't see what you are looking for keep checking back daily as they get returns and cancelled orders frequently.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Ken

hmm, I found that buying from Amazon new saved me about the same amount as buying refurb from Apple would have.

This is because Amazon ships with no tax or shipping costs

I'm talking about a 27" iMac

STRATEGY
Old 30th December 2010
  #10
Gear Addict
 

before diving in to the mac world you should realize that they are incredible awesome and you will not want your pc anymore.

if you get an iMac and still have the money I think you should get a 15" MBP for browsing, music, and a mobile DAW. just a thought. if i had the money thats exactly what id do.

also, you can still browse, have music, and do anything on your iMac once you get it. as long as your not a total idiot its pretty hard to bog up and get virus' on a mac like a pc. for some reason pc's always tend to bog up. thats a main reason why i left pc. i didnt even have any virus' and every pc i had got slower and slower. never happens with any macs iv owned.
Old 30th December 2010
  #11
Registered User
 

If money for the Mac Pro is a concern, go for the 27" iMac i7. Max out the RAM. If you end up wanting something that requires a PCI card in two years, sell the iMac and buy the Mac Pro. Better to get what you need now and get to work than worry about what you might want in two years, imo.
Old 30th December 2010
  #12
Gear Head
 
Jetspeed's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by STRATEGY View Post
hmm, I found that buying from Amazon new saved me about the same amount as buying refurb from Apple would have.

This is because Amazon ships with no tax or shipping costs

I'm talking about a 27" iMac

STRATEGY
NO WAY Man! Not even close. You show me a $4900 Mac Pro on Amazon for under $2500. ALL Apple products are cost controlled. Apple also ships for free on big ticket items. So you may save on taxes which I doubt because Apple products are sold in every state. You are only exonerated from paying taxes if a particular product is not sold retail in your specific state.

Bogus info. Please do more research before posting.
Old 30th December 2010
  #13
Lives for gear
 
valis's Avatar
No you save on tax if you're not in Washington state (or 2 other areas that are listed on checkout that I forget.) There is still no cross-state internet product taxation on a national scale in the US. On the other hand the only 'free shipping' I know of for Amazon.com aside from specific promotions comes with a Prime account. I have that and I pay $79 a year or something for it, *and* I get taxed as I live in WA state

But do find the free shipping on the prime account still generally makes up for it on heavier items like speakers (where the shipping is more than the tax savings would be from an out-of state store) or for very cheap impulse purchases that save me from heading to a local Mega-lo-mart (or Fred Meyer) just for a silly led flashlight bulb or something else that they will have less stock choices on as well.

Also Amazon.com has done a lot to imitate the ebay marketplace, so many of the 'cheaper' prices are likely to be refurb sku's or used or etc, none of which will qualify for Prime accounts (and thus no free shipping.) Tax rules are still the same...
Old 31st December 2010
  #14
Gear Head
 
Jetspeed's Avatar
 

How did this become a plug for Amazon thread?

Good for you. Glad you found something that works for you.

Cheers
Old 31st December 2010
  #15
nms
Lives for gear
 
nms's Avatar
I think it's time for a Mac--what do I need to know?

So you want a Mac why exactly? You don't sound crazy about paying the high premium associated with Macs, you would prefer to have pcie slots, and you use a host that likely works considerably better on PC. Why not get a PC? Personally I couldn't be happier in PC land. No latency issues whatsoever and zero dropout problems since building my i7 a yr ago. Grab an i7 or i5, throw it on a Gigabyte mobo, 60gb OCZ Vertex 2 SSD drive for OS drive (or Revodrive if you want to blow more $), windows 7, and you'll be miles under Mac price with a rocking machine.
Old 31st December 2010
  #16
Lives for gear
 
djanthonyw's Avatar
 

Mac
Old 31st December 2010
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
Grab an i7 or i5, throw it on a Gigabyte mobo, 60gb OCZ Vertex 2 SSD drive for OS drive (or Revodrive if you want to blow more $), windows 7, and you'll be miles under Mac price with a rocking machine.
It's OP's choice to go Mac...and actually he wouldn't be miles under mac price when you count in the iMac's 27", LED, Super HD monitor.
Old 31st December 2010
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Lenzo's Avatar
Having had several mac's and pc's over the years..I currently have a 8-core Intel and Quad Core PPC machine...my advice would be to go pc if you can. Mac's are highly overrated...highly overpriced...and they don't work any better than a good pc...period. It is much easier and cheaper to get parts for a pc. If I didn't need to use Final Cut Slow here, I'd get rid of them.
L.
Old 31st December 2010
  #19
nms
Lives for gear
 
nms's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by StereoPari View Post
It's OP's choice to go Mac...and actually he wouldn't be miles under mac price when you count in the iMac's 27", LED, Super HD monitor.
Flat out you can build a more powerful PC for the money than Mac. I'm not at all anti-mac. I might grab an MBP later this year because they're killer laptops, but being a power PC user I can't imagine switching for my main machine. The OP, being a PC user already also uses a program that seems to perform a lot better on a PC, plus not really having the money to blow on one, plus having PCIe concerns that aren't met in an Imac.. those are a lot of things weighing against going to Mac for him. Seems like common sense really. Buying a Mac doesn't mean rainbows suddenly shine out your ass. I will say they are a better choice for those who are inexperienced with computers (harder to f*ck up), but to power users Macs & PCs each have their weaknesses and strengths and can perform awesomely. Just PCs can do it cheaper and allow more personal customization
Old 31st December 2010
  #20
Lives for gear
 
phas3d's Avatar
 

do not turn this into a windows Vs Mac thread. As you know it goes agaisnt the forum rules. Just answer what the op asked. If you can't, just don't post.
@op, Mac Pro is the way to go if you think you might want to use PCIe later on. You can get a refurbished or 2nd hand cheaper. A 2009 and even a 2008 8 core will last you years working quite comfortably.
Old 31st December 2010
  #21
nms
Lives for gear
 
nms's Avatar
Sorry, but I responded in a way that more clearly recognized the OP's situation and concerns rather than recommend a 2 yr old computer that tests significantly lower performance on his host of choice. If someone knows clearly the differences between the 2 and just wants a Mac that's one thing. But that's not what I would recommend after acknowledging his stated concerns and needs.
Old 31st December 2010
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Robonaut's Avatar
 

I appreciate all of the advice, everyone.

It just seems like things are always breaking in Windows when I change something in my setup (i.e. graphics card, audio interface, plugin, etc.). Back when I had my Mac (which, admitedly, was some time ago) I just don't remember having these kinds of issues.

I just want stuff to work, you know?

I am pretty concerned about the reported bad performance of Cubase on the Mac, however.


I'm using Cubase SX3 in Windows Vista 64-bit at the moment, so I'm going to try upgrading to Windows 7 and Cubase 5 and see if that improves the situation (from what I've been reading, Windows 7 seems to be significantly better than Vista).

If things don't work out, then I'll be back to looking at Macs...
Old 31st December 2010
  #23
nms
Lives for gear
 
nms's Avatar
I went from Xp to W7x64. I'm not surprised you had trouble with Vista.. I wanted nothing to do with it and never even bothered installing it once. Absolutely love W7 and my new i7 comp though. I never get anywhere close to maxing out the cpu while working and my ASIO buffer is set to 64 samples. Also an SSD for your OS drive is a must IMO. Been using a Steinberg MR816 as audio interface and the whole setup has been a dream! Keep in mind Cubase 6 is also coming out in January.
Old 31st December 2010
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Lenzo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by phas3d View Post
do not turn this into a windows Vs Mac thread. As you know it goes agaisnt the forum rules. Just answer what the op asked. If you can't, just don't post.
@op, Mac Pro is the way to go if you think you might want to use PCIe later on. You can get a refurbished or 2nd hand cheaper. A 2009 and even a 2008 8 core will last you years working quite comfortably.
Oh brother...what a mom you are.
L.
Old 1st January 2011
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Phaidon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
Oh brother...what a mom you are.
L.
Lol!
Old 1st January 2011
  #26
A vote for a Refurbished Mac here.
Old 1st January 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
 
code 10's Avatar
 

Like Jetspeed has already said and I'll second it - if you're looking for a new Mac, go for a refurbished machine, I'll save you quite a few shillings.

I bought a refurbished MacBook Pro a few years back and saved loads of coin. Out of the box it was brand spanking new. If I was looking for a new machine, or any Mac related product, I'd always go for a refurb instead of new - plus you get a one year warranty as you would do when buying brand new. Win win all the way

.
Old 1st January 2011
  #28
Lives for gear
 
djanthonyw's Avatar
 

If you think about it, most of the time you are actually better off getting a refurbished machine since they receive 'special' attention. For the most part, the only downside to getting a refurb is that you do have to wait a little while if you want the newest machine.
Old 1st January 2011
  #29
Lives for gear
 
phas3d's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
Oh brother...what a mom you are.
L.
Yes, sonny. I just know this will go on for ever if we go that way. But if you want to discuss which computer/OS is better, go ahead.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
SortaLucid34's Avatar
 

I completely stand behind the 27 inch i7 imac...

First of all...compared to the Mac pros and Mac Book pros... you get a lot more for your money.

Second of all, its the best machine i've ever owned. I havent had one single problem with it... its been super stable with a variety of different devices and interfaces, completely rock solid on all my software and plugs, its fast as hell, looks nice and the screen is great. I could go on all day about it. Best single thing i've done to my studio/life. And I think they're even better now because you can add a second hard drive - thats a great option.... run the OS on a solid state drive and keep your data on your internal drive and you don't need an external.

Having one firewire port is a drag, but I use a USB hub and that works fine for me for all my other devices....

So you won't be able to get into any of the UAD stuff or PT HD or any of that because of the lack of expandability, but I wasn't going down that road anyways so I'm fine with it.


Love this computer.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
kdp / Music Computers
1
JohnnyPraze / Low End Theory
1
PRODIJ / Music Computers
3
max cooper / Music Computers
9

Forum Jump
Forum Jump