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2.8 vs. 3.06 GHz on MBP for Recording

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by davidelohi, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    To be specific, I am purchasing a MBP for digital recording. Going for the 17" to get the express card slot, and will be running MBox 2 Pro system with it.

    Wondering if anyone knows of any tests done on the difference between processors (2.8 or 3.06 Ghz), and whether or not shelling out the extra $300 for the upgrade is worth it.

    Much thanks.
  2. macrumors 6502a


    A big factor is what kind of work you plan to do. Since the Mbox only has a couple of inputs, you obviously won't be recording too many tracks simultaneously, but do you plan to work on projects that end up with tons of tracks? Do you see yourself using a bunch of RTAS plugins and/or virtual instruments?

    If all you'll be working with is a handful of tracks and a couple of plugins, then your money is probably worth saving (or spending on RAM instead). I have a 2.5 Ghz Penryn with 4 GB of RAM and an Mbox 2 Pro. Most of my sessions are working with a single stereo track, but the most processor-intensive session I've ever done was a project with eight tracks, each with two or three RTAS plugins (mostly reverb, EQ, and compression). My system handled it just fine. It didn't even choke when I plugged it into a 003 and recorded to four (mono) tracks at the same time while returning the already-recorded audio to a set of headphones down in the booth.

    On the other hand, if you plan to work with significantly more complex projects than this, or want to be totally future-proof, it might be worth investing in the faster processor, especially since it would be much easier to upgrade the RAM down the road than the processor.
  3. macrumors 601

    "Wondering if anyone knows of any tests done on the difference between processors (2.8 or 3.06 Ghz), and whether or not shelling out the extra $300 for the upgrade is worth it."

    I doubt that slight increase in speed would make ANY difference at all.

    My suggestion is to get the 2.8ghz model, and spend the saved $$ on AppleCare.
  4. macrumors 68000


    depends on what kind cpus they are. today it's about the type of architecture, and not about how many mhz/ghz a cpu has. just because one cpu is 3ghz, doesn't mean that it will automatically be faster than one with 1.8ghz.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Well, in this case, since the OP is asking whether to pay to upgrade the processor on his MBP, we're talking about identical hardware and architectures. They essentially just plug a different chip into the same logic board. So the faster processor really will be just under 10% (260 MHz) faster than the default one.

    Of course, that doesn't translate into "almost 10% faster" real-world performance. There are still plenty of other potential bottlenecks, such as the system bus, the hard drive, the amount of RAM, the Mbox itself, etc. On the other hand, some Pro Tools plugins can be very processor-intensive, so there's a slight chance the OP might find that minor bump in speed useful.

    I still maintain that the money is better spent on something other than that processor boost, except in VERY specific circumstances :)

    And of course there's the constant rumor of impending MBP refreshes. It's hard to imagine they'll wait much longer than another month or two, so the OP might be better off holding out and seeing what the refresh does to the price/hardware grid. At the very least, the prices for current models should drop significantly.
  6. macrumors newbie

    I'm convinced that I don't fall into the special class of circumstances warranting the $300 upgrade, and the 2.8 will be just fine.

    I'll only be using two inputs for the guitar and vocals, on typical day to day stuff. For any of the RTAS Plug-ins and/or virtual instruments, at most, I will have about 8 different tracks, all with some different combination of reverb, EQ, and compression, but it shouldn't be anything major.

    Somewhat of a general question, in the case here, am I safe in assuming that any hang-up will stem from running the Plug-ins in real time monitoring, and not applying them before I do the mixing? Or is there no other way to do this besides applying the Plug-ins beforehand, and I'm just going to be waiting longer (circa de 10%) for everything to get in its final form on the slower processor?

    Lastly, in regards to the "eminent" (sic - cause the new systems are going to rock) updates, I am worried sick that a new OS is gonna come in and Pro-tools won't be supported for a couple weeks. In terms of the hardware, I'm worried the express card slot won't be there on a model in my price range (assuming of course that this is the way to do this right and run the input off a separate bus).

    And I'm getting a little antsy, of course :)

    Much thanks again.
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Oh yeah; with 8 tracks you should be totally fine. I used to work for a university that ran PT 7.4 on a 1 GHz G4 tower, and even that system could easily handle 8 tracks with a couple of plugins as inserts. It didn't start to choke until it got up to 16 tracks, each with two or three inserts, and of course a modern MBP is exponentially more powerful than that thing. You would probably reach the Pro Tools LE track limit (32) before you reached the limits of your hardware.

    You nailed it with this. The advantage of doing things as real-time inserts is that you have more flexibility when tweaking parameters, but as you point out, this takes more processing "oomph" during playback (and bouncing). But again, with projects of the scale you're discussing, you should be fine to do most (or all) of this stuff with real-time inserts. And if you do ever end up with a project that your system can't handle in real time...

    ...you also have the choice of processing the effects ahead of time, in which case you're correct that a faster processor would just shave a slight amount of time off of the procedure. Pro Tools plugins have the same interface whether you're using them as inserts or using them process audio ahead of time, so it's easy to adapt. But unless you're processing looooooong tracks, the difference in speed (between the 2.8 and 3.06 GHz chips) would be negligible.

    You don't have to worry about a major new version, since Apple hasn't even announced 10.7 yet. There's a chance that 10.6.3 would be out by the time we get new MBPs, but most of the time these minor version changes don't break Pro Tools, even if Digi doesn't officially certify the new OS right away. The main potential hangup would be if the new architecture (i5 or i7 or whatever) isn't supported; I think the unibody MBPs were officially unsupported for a while after they came out, although I don't know how this worked out in practice. Even if you want the current-gen hardware, though, you'll probably be able to get a nice discount on it after the new systems come out.

    And the express card slot (which is only available on the 17" for now, and doesn't seem to be on its way back to the 15" models) is actually totally irrelevant; the Mbox 2 Pro connects via FireWire, which is more than adequate for anything you can do with the device. Even the larger 003 console—which can handle eight simultaneous inputs—does just fine with a FireWire connection (which is good, since that's the only way to hook it up). You will probably need a FireWire 800 to 400 cable, though, since I think the Mbox only comes with a 400 to 400 cable, and I don't anticipate Apple putting a FireWire 400 port back onto the new models ;)

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