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JCMusic
May 15, 2011, 01:01 AM
HELP! I have up to around $4,500 to spend on a new Mac Pro for Audio Production. Upgrading from a G5 dual 1.8. Yeah for me! I have to make this purchase before Sept. 2011, so not sure if holding out for new Mac Pro models is possible. I run Digital Performer 7, All Spectrasonics software (Omnisphere, Trillian, Stylus) other large virtual synths, and of course audio recording.

I'm confused looking at current Apple models, as well as others that are still available through retailers. Have been scouring every thread I can find and getting mixed input.

Basically, what's my best options from these models below for now and a long lived future? I need to include additional RAM and Hard drive additions to these prices below of course. MANY THANKS!

One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor - $2,499
Two 2.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Westmere” processors - $3,499.00
- OR -
Six-Core 3.33GHz Intel Xeon W3680 "Westmere" CPU - $3,698.95
- OR -
Refurbished Mac Pro 3.33GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Nehalem - $3,139.00
Refurbished Mac Pro 2.66GHz 8-Core Intel Xeon Nehalem - $3,299.00
Refurbished Mac Pro 2.93GHz 8-Core Intel Xeon Nehalem - $3,649.00



motulist
May 15, 2011, 01:08 AM
Just check the benchmarks.

http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/

Also bear in mind that if you're doing audio work it might be worthwhile to buy a cheaper or lower-speced Mac in order to have extra money to spend on other components that might benefit you more.

JCMusic
May 15, 2011, 01:24 AM
Thanks Motulist. From what I've read, however, benchmarks don't tell the whole story (?) while of course being a good way to compare of course. I already have some good gear (good nearfield monitors, microphones, plug ins, etc.) and I also have about $1,500 additional beyond the computer cost to spend on some other supplemental gear. (looking at some other software, some preamps, modifications to my audio interface, etc.) So I'm in good shape. Biggest thing I'm confused on is the computer itself right now. Can't seem to crack this nut! The more I dig into this, the more I get confused! Thanks! :)

octatonic
May 15, 2011, 04:25 AM
I have the one 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor Mac Pro and work professionally as a producer and session muso.

This is a great machine from a price/performance ratio- just throw 8+GB of RAM in it and a bunch of hard drives (dedicated audio drive, dedicated drive for audio instrument samples) and off you go.

I work on quite large sessions (40-100 tracks) with quite a few plugins and haven't managed to get the usage meters above 60%.

I'm using an Apogee Symphony btw.

PRPS
May 15, 2011, 06:10 AM
i wouldn't buy a mac pro right now to be honest. Apple has been talking of an upgrade in the near future


according to the buyers guide on macrumors

http://i55.tinypic.com/2vdkykw.png:apple:

JCMusic
May 15, 2011, 11:58 PM
i wouldn't buy a mac pro right now to be honest. Apple has been talking of an upgrade in the near future

Well, "Apple" certainly isn't talking of any updates - they never do! :) But of course there are rumors and predictions from the community at large. However most of what I've heard has been late 2011/early 2012 in terms of any new processors/totally new models. But I have to spend this money before Sept. I'm curious if they'll change any specs on current models or change any prices over the summer of course. But I'm not interested in going with a brand new first generation model. Too many ifs, and always seems like there's a long lag time with music software catching up to new processors, etc. This is also an interesting article with thoughts to consider. (also a GREAT site to check out.) http://macperformanceguide.com/blog/2011/20110420_2_MacPro--gear.html

zimv20
May 16, 2011, 12:01 AM
Upgrading from a G5 dual 1.8.

what are your reasons for upgrading? what are the specs of your current machine and what is it not doing well?

JCMusic
May 16, 2011, 12:08 AM
what are your reasons for upgrading? what are the specs of your current machine and what is it not doing well?

Well, the G5 is a 7 year old computer and is no longer upgradable to the current Mac OS. Won't run most of the larger Spectrasonics software now. (Omnisphere and Trillian boot and "run" but are so sluggish it's not worth messing with. Need something faster, more powerful for current software technology. So it's due time.

seisend
May 16, 2011, 04:23 AM
There won't be new processors shipped until early 2012. No new XEON's, no new Mac Pro's. If you need it now, buy it. By the way, if you don't need PCI-E and this stuff:

The new iMac's and MacBook Pro's are MORE THAN ENOUGH for music production. You can use thunderbolt for external storage.

I use Omnisphere and Trilian on my new MacBook Pro, too. Large sessions with up to 90 Tracks. NO PROBLEM !!

PRPS
May 16, 2011, 05:58 AM
Well, "Apple" certainly isn't talking of any updates - they never do! :) But of course there are rumors and predictions from the community at large. However most of what I've heard has been late 2011/early 2012 in terms of any new processors/totally new models. But I have to spend this money before Sept. I'm curious if they'll change any specs on current models or change any prices over the summer of course. But I'm not interested in going with a brand new first generation model. Too many ifs, and always seems like there's a long lag time with music software catching up to new processors, etc. This is also an interesting article with thoughts to consider. (also a GREAT site to check out.) http://macperformanceguide.com/blog/2011/20110420_2_MacPro--gear.html

ahhhh i gotcha. i was just throwing out my idea b/c the worst thing to have happen is purchasing an expensive electronic and the company coming out with a new edition of the same thing you purchased like 2 months later

I'm not sure if you want to go the refurbished route, but the apple store has some really good deals on their site with them.

Also those new iMacs are pretty sweet :)

zimv20
May 16, 2011, 07:42 AM
Well, the G5 is a 7 year old computer and is no longer upgradable to the current Mac OS. Won't run most of the larger Spectrasonics software now. (Omnisphere and Trillian boot and "run" but are so sluggish it's not worth messing with. Need something faster, more powerful for current software technology. So it's due time.

is it fair to say that you need a machine powerful enough to Omnisphere and Trillian well? if so, that may help narrow down your target specs and allow you to buy a machine that's powerful enough but not the most powerful (and most $$$).

octatonic
May 16, 2011, 08:36 AM
There won't be new processors shipped until early 2012. No new XEON's, no new Mac Pro's. If you need it now, buy it. By the way, if you don't need PCI-E and this stuff:

The new iMac's and MacBook Pro's are MORE THAN ENOUGH for music production. You can use thunderbolt for external storage.

I use Omnisphere and Trilian on my new MacBook Pro, too. Large sessions with up to 90 Tracks. NO PROBLEM !!

That might be true for a personal studio, but I tried running a commercial studio off a 17" MBP and ultimately went back to the Mac Pro.

It isn't just about DSP and track counts for me.
Managing 4TB of data was too time consuming and being able to have 5 hard drives internal to the computer and use a PCI-Express audio solution (Apogee Symphony) is just fantastic.

Also, there are several DSP platforms that are superior when run via PCI Express rather than Firewire (PT HD, UAD etc).
I imagine that will change with Thunderbolt but given there aren't any Thunderbolt audio solutions yet it is a moot point.
Are there any commercially available and affordable Thunderbolt HD's yet?
I didn't think so.

JCMusic
May 16, 2011, 01:53 PM
There won't be new processors shipped until early 2012. No new XEON's, no new Mac Pro's. If you need it now, buy it. By the way, if you don't need PCI-E and this stuff:

The new iMac's and MacBook Pro's are MORE THAN ENOUGH for music production. You can use thunderbolt for external storage.

Thanks - Ya, I considered that, but also agree that for longevity sake, as well as storage management and expandability, it makes sense to go with the Mac Pro. I also already own a laptop (just a base Mac Book) that I use for all my personal business. I figure right now, I've got the rare chance to get something really good. Don't want to cut any corners.

one1byke
May 16, 2011, 01:55 PM
Need something faster, more powerful for current software technology. So it's due time.

Greetings,

Congrats on the Massive Upgrade that you have planned. I just wanted to add that you should give the MBPs a go. I use the Full Propellerhead Suite, and also do small-time rendering in Screen-flow (patiently waiting on FCP X). I mention the video aspect because these days the process of audio production seems to accompany the need for processing the GUI as well as whatever video production you might be into - not to mention gaming. To wit, the video upgrade to the 2011 2.3 MBP is solid.

I have the 2008 15" MBP (2.8 GHz Core Duo Processor - monster at the time). The last thing I did on the machine was to try to create a Screen-flow doc - which, on the timeline, had two audio sources running at once. The program locked up - and the hard drive crashed. Thankfully, after using DR3 I was able to copy all files onto an external drive before importing it all into my new 2.3 MBO - with the video/cache upgrades. Interestingly, the only file that was completely blank when recovered, was the Screen-flow doc I was working on. I think that the 5400 HDD was spent after spinning and spinning to make up for the 'cache' for a few years.

I love this new machine. I have not had even the slightest video/audio glitch. The project was completed three days after firing up the new computer - with neither video nor audio issues. On the 2008 MBP, the video workflow was noticeably slower. If the 2011 2.3 MBP could show such audio and video rendering improvements over the 2008 2.8 MBP, I can be comfortable knowing that it's ready to tackle FCP X - maybe, while running a DAW - especially with a SSD.

Good Luck with whatever you decide,
One1bByke
Screenflow Video on Youtube: 2011 Thor Kitty Witty Riddim. Enjoy.

seisend
May 17, 2011, 03:01 AM
That might be true for a personal studio, but I tried running a commercial studio off a 17" MBP and ultimately went back to the Mac Pro.

It isn't just about DSP and track counts for me.
Managing 4TB of data was too time consuming and being able to have 5 hard drives internal to the computer and use a PCI-Express audio solution (Apogee Symphony) is just fantastic.

Also, there are several DSP platforms that are superior when run via PCI Express rather than Firewire (PT HD, UAD etc).
I imagine that will change with Thunderbolt but given there aren't any Thunderbolt audio solutions yet it is a moot point.
Are there any commercially available and affordable Thunderbolt HD's yet?
I didn't think so.

I know that my self since I use a Mac Pro mainly for production with internal Storage and PCI-E cards. I'm talking about performance and the iMac and MacBook Pro gives you more than enough. Lacie has announced a Thunderbolt external drive for summer. More to come in the following months... Many people, including "professional" ones do not need a Mac Pro anymore, since not anyone needs PCI-E and external Drives (eSATA,FW800) are fast enough for storage. FYI, Apogee is working on integrating Thunderbolt into Symphony. Who needs PCI-E then? True that thunderbolt is not really here yet.. So it depends if he is using external gear.