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View Full Version : G4 PowerBook Musicians: Any reason to buy a 15" Ti over a 17" Al?


illumin8
Jul 28, 2003, 11:43 PM
Here is a question for those of you that make music on your PowerBooks: Is there any reason an aspiring DJ and musician such as myself should buy the current rev of the TiBook, rather than a 17" AlBook, or waiting for the updates to the 15"? I'm thinking specifically of OS9 booting capability. In other words, are there any software packages that only work on OS9 that are essential to music production? Your input would be extremely helpful as there are some deals to be had on the 15" TiBooks right now.

Just a little background on myself. I'm a Windows user currently looking to switch. Ordered a dual 2.0 G5 for my home (not here yet, of course), but I need something portable that I can take to gigs as well. I currently use Cubase SX (PC), Reason, and a whole multitude of soft-synths.

As a side note, it seems that Altivec fairly rocks on any music crunching tasks, and explains why Macs do so much better with multitrack effects and such than PCs do.

Xero
Jul 29, 2003, 12:20 AM
hi illumin8. i moved from a PC running Reason to only 1ghz powerbook G4 [reason and cubase sx mainly] for all my music making. the only reason id go for the 17" over the 15" is aesthetic reason. for example, the aluminum shell, lighted keyboard, etc.. in other words, id go for the 15" if i were you. its a bit more portable, and is almost just as fast as the current 17" in real world use. plus usually a live set is lighted on the stage in the first place.

on the OS9/OSX issue, id say dont even bother with OS9 if you havent already been using it; go straight to OSX. the main reason people are still using OS9 is because thats where they have been doing all their projects, and they may have a lot of VSTs that dont have AU versions for Logic6/OSX yet. i went straight for OSX and ive got everything i need. plus new stuff is coming out and being updated for OSX every day it seems. the only thing you might need that doesnt run in OSX yet is Recycle, but ive learned to deal with that for now by finding other means of doing my looping: like sometimes ill use my PC for that, or ill just do it in Cubase.

As for your soft-synths, you may want to make sure you have VST versions for cubase in OSX before you migrate all your projects to OSX, as im not sure on that. different developers have different way of releasing/selling mac/PC versions.

its up to you though weather you wait for the updated 15"PB's, though they probably wont be that much faster or different, besides the Al and other 12" & 17" stuff

good luck with the music stuff, and have fun! out of curiousity, if you dont mind me asking: where are you located, and what type of music are you making?

WinterMute
Jul 29, 2003, 05:51 PM
There are a number of advantages to the 17", not least of which is the screen, I often run Reason and Logic together, and the 17" lets me see almost the entire Reason rack and the Logic arrange page side by side, very nice. If I'm using a lot of plug-ins, there's loads of room for them as well.

In addition, the 15 doesn't currently support 800Mbit FireWire, which isn't too crucial now, but will be very important when streaming a video clip into Logic or ProTools for post pro etc.

There isn't a whole lot of difference otherwise, both are excellent machines for portable musicians:D

illumin8
Jul 29, 2003, 06:46 PM
Originally posted by Xero
good luck with the music stuff, and have fun! out of curiousity, if you dont mind me asking: where are you located, and what type of music are you making?

I'm located in Little Rock, Arkansas currently (just moved here from Salt Lake City, Utah for a job). Let's see, my music is pretty eclectic. I play jazz saxophone (mostly tenor), and also make acid jazz, house, and occasionally trance as well (how's that for variety?). Most of my music consists of composing beats to accompany myself improvising on the saxophone. I'm not really good enough to play live yet, but I'm working on it. I've been a DJ for quite a while though and done residences at a couple of clubs back in SLC.

Thanks for the advice! I think someone in this forum had mentioned that Max/MSP was the best live music program for Mac and that it didn't have an OS/X version yet, so my question is mainly about the OS 9 capability.

I'm a Unix sysadmin by trade so I would much rather go OS X all the way, but of course OS 9 boot capability might be necessary if I ever start using Max/MSP. Anyone care to comment?

johnnowak
Jul 29, 2003, 07:13 PM
Max/MSP runs fine on OS X. It's been officially released for awhile now. I use it all the time on my DP867. Runs great. Many of the externals still work too. Whoever told you that obviously doesn't even use it themselves and are just bull****ting, else they'd know its been out for X for a long time already.

Also, Cubase SX runs great on X as well. As for Reason, well, it runs fine on anything. Don't use it myself anymore though, but it should be fine.

Enjoy the macs!

Oh yeah.. go for the 17".

mymemory
Jul 29, 2003, 08:11 PM
I have been doing electronic music for 10 years and my firt computer after my Atary ST was a macintos powerbook. I have been using only Powerbooks for music and right now I'm editing videos in 2 Powebooks G3 500 and let me tell you...

For what you want to do you can use even the first generation Ti G4 400Mhz Powerbook. Actually for doing what you want my Powerbooks G3 are more than enough. The botton line is: what size of screen do you want?

Audio and midi doesn't require too much procesing, If I can run Final Cut Pro and After Effects with no problem audio are just peanutes for my system. I use Digital Performer and Protools LE.

The key element is ram, if you want to do everything use at list 256MB but I would recomend you to reach the maximun capacity of you computer. Processor speed? do not bother, any processor can handle any kind of audio plug-in depending on your ram.

Now, if you need 200 plug-ins at same time I would recomend you to learn how to orquestrate better, is with 4 traks your music doesn't sound with 64 it won't sound neither.

Now, I would recomend you (if you want a new computer) to get the 12" Powerbook (full loaded), an external monitor (for studio) and the Pro Tools Tool Box with the M-Box unit. That set up will rock so good, of course you can use any other external converter but that is what I would use.

Remember that you do not need a big screen on stage because you will only be playing not composing.

Right now I have in my music set up one Powerbook G3 500 with Digital Performer, I'm using the internal i/o because I'm saving for the M-Box, I have a Mackie 1202VLZ mixer, a Roland JV-90 76 key keyboard, a Roland JP-8080, a pile of Akai CD's and a Midi Time Piece XP.

Good luck.

johnnowak
Jul 29, 2003, 08:20 PM
I disagree with mymemory. You need a G4 to even get something like Reaktor running in a workable manner pretty much.

Also a lot of what mymemory said is just plain wrong.

Xero
Jul 29, 2003, 08:37 PM
Originally posted by illumin8
Thanks for the advice! I think someone in this forum had mentioned that Max/MSP was the best live music program for Mac and that it didn't have an OS/X version yet, so my question is mainly about the OS 9 capability.

I'm a Unix sysadmin by trade so I would much rather go OS X all the way, but of course OS 9 boot capability might be necessary if I ever start using Max/MSP. Anyone care to comment? [/B]

Yes Max/MSP are out for OSX now, but i wouldn't use this as your sole live software. id look into Ableton Live for this, with reason rewired to it. actually ive done some live stuff with just reason alone, so that works too. but i wouldnt try using cubase sx in a live setting. its a great program, but it has a lot of little nuances and nit-picky things about it that just dont make it fit for live performance.

Also, though a G3 powerbook may be able to handle live performances, a g4 will be able to do it a lot better, and with less possible hiccups, especially in OSX. personally i wouldnt go any smaller than the 15" screen size for reasons already stated, especially since cubase can get pretty messy if you dont have enough desktop real-estate [hopefully panther/expose will change this!].

johnnowak
Jul 29, 2003, 11:09 PM
It's all matter of opinion. I hate live myself, and this SX lends it self very well to live performance.

illumin8
Jul 29, 2003, 11:16 PM
Originally posted by mymemory
Now, if you need 200 plug-ins at same time I would recomend you to learn how to orquestrate better, is with 4 traks your music doesn't sound with 64 it won't sound neither.
Good luck.
Thanks for the advice mymemory. I think I do need a G4 just because a lot of the VST instruments nowadays are optimized for Alitivec. I also heard that you definitely want the 15" or 17" for the L3 cache, but I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes. Those are really the only two options I'm considering. The 12" is nice, but just too small for me.

illumin8
Jul 29, 2003, 11:21 PM
Originally posted by johnnowak
I disagree with mymemory. You need a G4 to even get something like Reaktor running in a workable manner pretty much.

Also a lot of what mymemory said is just plain wrong.
I guess it really depends on what plugins you use. His setup could work great for what he's doing, so let's not be overly critical. With the new "Freeze Track" function in Logic Audio I think new life will be breathed into a lot of "out of date" audio workstations... :)

I will be so happy to finally be off of the Windows XP platform. When you're a creative person like a musician, working in Windows all day just leaves you totally uninspired. I need to work in an OS that doesn't always pop up in my face and get in the way, just stays in the background and does what it's supposed to do.

Also, I'm planning on getting Stanton Final Scratch for my PowerBook when I buy it. Anyone use it on their PB? I've heard great things.

johnnowak
Jul 29, 2003, 11:26 PM
Well I'm sure it works fine for him, but he said ANY plugin.. and that's just not true. Besides, lots of plugins are based on spectral processing and stuff which is very CPU intensive and doesnt' require much ram at all.

PHARAOHk
Jul 30, 2003, 12:00 AM
I have a PB17 with classic OS9 support. If you MUST still use OS9 you will want dual boot. If you don't have a large collection of plugins or OS9 software go OSX all the way. Everyone is switching over to OSX so for you and me it's no problem. OSX is so much better.

The machine itself: The aluminum is so much more rugged then titanium. Backlit keys may be useful in a dark club with your screen off but not really useful otherwise. The screen bigger is better. Firewire 800 will become much more useful for external hard drives and interfaces. The aluminum PB have the inputs on the side which is easier to use. The ONLY reasons for getting the 15 would be OS9 and size.


(((k)))

crenz
Jul 30, 2003, 08:00 AM
Since there seem to be a number of knowledgeable people assembled here, I'd like to hijack the thread to ask a question: :D

I'm a bassist and would like to get into the electronic music/live gig thingie. Unfortunately, I don't have the money to buy dozens of software packages :) and I just switched to the Mac (obsoleting most of my Windows software) so I wonder what I should focus on first when starting out small:

For live audio processing, effects, looping, audio-to-midi (bass, vocals, other instruments), would people recommend Max/MSP or Reactor? Would I be able to use them as an instrument in Ableton Live?

For arranging, I'll probably go with Logic (already have Allegro for scores, might upgrade to Finale).

Also, since I don't have a GM/GS module yet, I wonder whether people prefer to go with hardware or software (are there any good GM/GS software sequencers around? Can they be used with Logic, Reactor etc.?).

Thanks for the help!

johnnowak
Jul 30, 2003, 08:56 AM
Originally posted by crenz

For live audio processing, effects, looping, audio-to-midi (bass, vocals, other instruments), would people recommend Max/MSP or Reactor? Would I be able to use them as an instrument in Ableton Live?

Neither. For someone starting off, Reaktor and especially Max/MSP are going to be way too complex for you. -MAYBE- Reaktor sessions if you have a fair knowledge of various synthesis concepts. Max is much more a programmling language than anything else.

crenz
Jul 30, 2003, 09:08 AM
Thanks for the fast reply, John! Actually, I do intend to do programming -- I'm actually doing a Computer Science course with Music Theory as minor subject, so I am quite familiar with programming :) (that is what feeds me right now...) and somewhat familiar with synthesis techniques (granular synthesis etc.).

johnnowak
Jul 30, 2003, 10:13 AM
Rock on then. Definitely get Reaktor, as well as some DSP books, and The Computer Music Tutorial buy Curtis Roads. All Supercollider lets you write instruments in smalltalk more or less if you'd be interested in that.

As for Max/MSP... Download it. It will work for 30 days without authorization. Check it out.

Where are you going for computer science?

f-matic
Jul 30, 2003, 11:21 AM
i dunno 'bout that.. i just played a show this weekend with nothing but max/msp and a powerbook 2400 with 80mb ram.. and it worked just fine....

not to wax too philosophical here, but i think there's something to be said for trying to extract the maximum efficiency (be it in your programming or in the artistic results you're achieving for). take a read of buckminster fuller's theory of dymaxion if you get the chance - it's an interesting proposal (maximum output for minimum input) that has pretty much consistently fallen on deaf ears...

plus, didn't brian eno once say something about being crippled in the modern recording studio -- because he found he could do anything he wanted, and he wasn't faced with any of the limitations that he found necessary to start working constructively?

alright, end philosophizing.. point of the story, maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing to shoot for an older computer, save some money, and start working out how to write your song so the CPU doesn't hit 90% every time.. :)

best,
np


<I disagree with mymemory. You need a G4 to even get something like Reaktor running in a workable manner pretty much.

Also a lot of what mymemory said is just plain wrong.

crenz
Jul 30, 2003, 01:32 PM
Thanks for the hints, John. I'll check out the book as well as Supercollider (never heard of it before). That is -- I'll check it out when I have my new mac. Still can't decide between a PowerMac G4 1.25 and a 12" PB... :rolleyes:

As for where I am stuying, see my location :) .

ima_pseudonym
Jul 30, 2003, 01:45 PM
One other thing to consider (though I certainly hate to bring it up here again) is that some people find the fan noise on the tibook to be loud. Certainly not an issue in a club, but potentially an issue in a basement studio.

cliffm
Jul 30, 2003, 02:01 PM
Hey Illumin8,

I actually grew up in Little Rock and was playing out there as a DJ before I left 10 years ago. Now I'm a Sysadmin in Los Angeles. I'm purchasing a 17" PB for music production. The big screen is good for me b/c I can see all my intruments, mixers etc (I use Cubase). I also plan on getting Final Scratch as well as a MOTU 828 interface

tjwett
Jul 30, 2003, 02:17 PM
Originally posted by crenz
Since there seem to be a number of knowledgeable people assembled here, I'd like to hijack the thread to ask a question: :D

I'm a bassist and would like to get into the electronic music/live gig thingie. Unfortunately, I don't have the money to buy dozens of software packages :) and I just switched to the Mac (obsoleting most of my Windows software) so I wonder what I should focus on first when starting out small:

For live audio processing, effects, looping, audio-to-midi (bass, vocals, other instruments), would people recommend Max/MSP or Reactor? Would I be able to use them as an instrument in Ableton Live?

For arranging, I'll probably go with Logic (already have Allegro for scores, might upgrade to Finale).

Also, since I don't have a GM/GS module yet, I wonder whether people prefer to go with hardware or software (are there any good GM/GS software sequencers around? Can they be used with Logic, Reactor etc.?).

Thanks for the help!

try out Ableton Live. it's amazing. i've been using it for Live gigs for a few years and now it's made it's way into the studio as one of my main compostion and recording tools. it's the best thing out there for true live performance. nothing comes close. and it's so easy to use. Max/MSP and Reaktor are cool and all but they are not exactly the most intuitive and user-friendly things in the world. and they are not exactly built for live gigging specifically. they are more like programming environments to build your own instruments. eventually you could come up with something cool but all the time you spend trying to learn it could be better spent just jamming and going off with Ableton Live. you need to check it out asap. http://www.ableton.com

Xero
Jul 30, 2003, 02:18 PM
Originally posted by ima_pseudonym
One other thing to consider (though I certainly hate to bring it up here again) is that some people find the fan noise on the tibook to be loud. Certainly not an issue in a club, but potentially an issue in a basement studio.

note that the fans in the latest revision of 15" TiPB's are a lot quieter than previous TiBooks, i know this for sure cause my room mate has an 800mhz and ive got a 1ghz, so this isnt really a problem for the newer tibooks.