A Mac for Music and Recording.......

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by drumgeek, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. drumgeek macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    #1
    Hello-

    Can you suggest the right Apple products for me?

    I want to change over from PC to Mac, but I'm clueless. What is the most cost effective way to reach my goals listed below? I'd prefer not to drop $3500 on a tricked-out Dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 (sounds good though, huh?).

    -I want a machine that will last me 5 years (or more)
    -I don't care about saving desk space (no preference for iMac, Mini or a large tower)
    -I'd like to use my monitor, keyboard & mouse if possible (save $).
    -I want to store 10,000 mp3s and add another 800 CDs of music (and have room to grow)
    -I want to store 5000+ photos and have room to grow.
    -I want to do professional recording of musical instruments (I guess I'll need to get an Audio Interface for 1/4" and XLR cables?).
    -I have a lot of USB accessories (printer, photo printer, camera, scanner). I guess I'll need a Hub?
    -iLife '05 sounds like it would take care of the above a/v needs.
    -I want to wirelessly send my audio to my home stereo (I'll probably need an iPod as well).
    -I'm not a gamer, so video isn't that big a deal.

    Memory: something that's gonna get me though all of the above (especially recording). Progbably 1gig, right?

    Hard Drive: 250gig sounds like the smallest amount I should have. (however, would an External drive holding all of my stuff allow the computer to run faster?)

    Graphics Support: Standard is probably fine.

    Display: My monitor if possible

    Wireless: Mac to home stereo or other speaker source. No wireless keyboard/mouse.

    Drive: I want to burn copy and rip CDs and DVDs. I guess a SuperDrive is right for me.


    Can I just get a MacMini and a large external drive and be ready to rock out of the box or is this a cheesy route to take?

    Confused, but Mac anxious...
    -drumgeek
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #2
    for recording audio, which mac you get depends on what audio program you'll run, how many tracks you expect to record, and how many plug-ins you expect to use.

    you might want to take this question over to http://www.osxaudio.com/

    some of the guys there are looking at the mini as a machine for live use and field recording. but for real audio production, a dual g5 is preferred.
     
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #3
    Given your open-ended need for expansion, existing monitor, and audio-centric work, a G5 tower would be best, even the entry level unit. Obviously buy as far up the scale as your budget will tolerate if you want 5 years service life.

    at least 1 Gb RAM - G5 gives you capacity for 4

    USB hub - sure, inexpensive and a good idea for any machine, if only to save wear and tear on the machine's ports.
    Audio Interface - yes, there are choices from $40 to $ 2000 - depends on your musical requirements.
    Your monitor & USB keyboard - yes
    Wireless audio to stereo - Airport card for Mac (or alternatively a wireless multiport router such as the Airport base station) , Airport Express wireless router for stereo
    Large disk storage - External drive on Firewire will work. Alternatively add a second internal SATA drive to the G5 for better speed and lower cost. Put OS and apps on the stock drive, audio and video data on the other.

    The Mini will nominally meet these specs. But you stressed upgradeability for 5 years and professional audio - which might mean upgrading to Logic or Protools or ?. These mitigate against the Mini.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  4. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #4
    Well, you will definately need HD space. Someone more knowledgable about this kind of stuff will have to chime in here, but a PM is goign to be your best bet, as they support SATA RAID arrays out of the box. I'm thinking you will want to go with either 2 250's or 2 160's and then either stripe them for faster access or mirror them for redundancy (would be aweful to lose all of that data).

    For audio recording I don't know anything about it, but I would guess that you'll want to look at the DP 2.0ghz PM, as it has 8 memory slots, and recordng and editing multiple tracks is going to be a memory hog.

    I don't know if you can order a PM w/o a keyboard and mouse, but if you leave them in the packaging you should be able to sell the for a few bucks ($40-50).

    Good Luck,
    Rob
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #5
    errrr, a couple of us have.

    recording lots o' tracks takes bandwidth, and editing is a low cost operation. CPU and RAM is needed when doing lots of calculations, like the kinds plug-ins require.

    drumgeek -- regardless of which machine you choose, you'll want a second drive that's dedicated to recording audio. i have a dual 2.0 g5 w/ the 250 gig SATA drives. the second is for audio only. you'll also need a third drive (or some other mechanism) for backups.

    and fwiw, i don't expect my g5 to be much of a contender 5 years from now.
     
  6. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    #6
    You might want to consider the dual 2.0GHz PowerMac. Memory can go up to 8GB, more than you'd ever need, though I'd say you should put in AT LEAST 1GB, up to 2GB if possible. Having more slots makes this a little cheaper, as you can buy in small increments (say, 8x256)

    The PowerMacs have optical I/O, as well as analog I/O built in, so if you're doing single track recording at a time, you may not need an interface. To do multitrack, however, you will.

    By going to the 2.0 rather than the 1.8, you gain PCI-X, which will help a lot in the audio department, as there are plenty of PCI audio interfaces available and they'd be MUCH faster than a USB/Firewire interface. No delays or lag.

    As for HD space, you're going to need the PM for this. You can get up to 500GB internal, and as much external as you want. I'd say keep the stock 80GB HD from apple and throw in a second 160-250GB drive. Put the OS/apps on the stock drive and everything else on the second.

    I wouldn't consider the mini. Not powerful enough for professional audio. Not to mention it's expensive to beef up, so you wouldn't gain much in the finance dept by going that route.

    The iMac is feasable, but having dual processors will make a large difference with the audio work. Not to mention I don't think the iMacs support dual monitors (without hacking it at least), so you'd be wasting your current monitor.
     
  7. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
  8. 2A Batterie macrumors 6502a

    2A Batterie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Out of a Suitcase, USA
    #8
    I think you are expecting too much from too little $$. If you honestly want "professional" quality recordings, you could blow your whole budget on one mic. An audio interface is going to cost some major if you want to record more than two tracks at a time, which I assume you want to do based on your screen name. iLife '05 is a great consumer (or prosumer) tool but it is not meant to make professional audio recordings. I would check out MOTU's traveller interface which gives you 8 in's and out for $895. Digital Performer is a good audio program too. Of course you could go with the Digi002R for $1195, but you would need to spend another $500 for at least minimal plug-ins. Do you have mics and cables? That is another crapload of 4, especially for recording drums. I would budget at least $500 for hard drive space based on what you say in your post. Make sure they are 7200rpm, which you need for audio recording. I would start out with at least a 250gb external fw drive on top of 250gb you put into your computer. I would avoid the Mac mini as it has a slow hard drive and is simply not going to be powerful enough 5 years down the line, but then again no machine will be. The mini will be outdated sooner than a G5. If you plan on using GarageBand, keep in mind that it is a CPU and RAM hog. I would say 1gb of ram at the least for GBand. You should check out some refurb G5's.. you probably could score one for <1500. Logic Express may be a good option too .
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #9
    please point me to some pci-x audio interface cards.

    lag has to do with where the monitoring is placed (e.g. in hardware or software), not the type of connection. you might make the case that pci cards, in general, have less lag, but it's not correct to say that just because an interface is PCI-based, there will be no lag.
     
  10. drumgeek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    #10
    I've decided to go with.........

    THANKS EVERYONE FOR THE SUGGESTIONS! Here is what I have decided to purchase. Let me know if its a good start........

    COMPUTER:
    Power Mac G5 Dual 2GHz with:
    HARD DRIVE- 2x250GB Serial ATA - 7200rpm
    OPTICAL DRIVE- 8x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
    MEMORY- 1GB DDR400 SDRAM (PC3200) - 2x512
    MAC OS LANGUAGE -Mac OS X - U.S. English
    GRAPHICS SUPPORT- NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra w/64MB DDR SDRAM
    KEYBOARD & MOUSE- Standard Apple Keyboard & Apple Mouse - U.S. English
    INCLUDED- Accessory kit

    ACCESSORIES:
    AirPort Express Base Station with AirTunes

    AUDIO RECORDING INTERFACE
    *The audio interface for recording will have to wait. I still need to research these options. I want to be able to record as many instruments as possible, not just record one track of myself.
     
  11. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #11
    How do you plan to use the Airport Express?

    If you are going to use it as a cable/DSL router, you won't have any way to connect your G5 unless you put an Airport card in the G5. But you don't want airport running while you are running audio.

    Consider investing in a good battery backup/power conditioner to plug the machine into.

    Don't set your drives up as a RAID unless you have a lot more money to do it right. Striping is too risky. Mirroring will significantly slow down the drive access. Put your OS and applications on one drive, put all your audio data on the other drive.

    "As many instruments as possible" means $900 - $2500 for an 8-input audio interface, you realize? Under $600 you will get only 2 analog inputs simultaneously.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  12. drumgeek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    #12
    Reply to CanadaRam......

    In Response To CanadaRam's Advice....

    *The Airport Express with AirTunes is for my music collection to be heard on my home stereo. I don't need the card for that, do I ?

    *A good battery backup/power conditioner needs to be added to my list.

    *I planned on putting my OS and applications on one drive, and all my audio data on the other drive. Originally, I was going to get a small internal drive and put all my audio on an external. Which way creates better performance?

    *Sadly, I don't know what RAID, Striping or Mirroring is. But, it sounds like I shouldn't do them anyways? I'll look up the terms and their meaning before I make my purchase in order to be a "knowledgeable user".

    *I definitely know the audio interface input to $$$ ratio. At this point, I've realized if you want to do it right and make it last, you can't be cheezy on your selections.



    UPDATED LIST OF PURCHASES:

    COMPUTER:
    -Power Mac G5 Dual 2GHz with:
    2x250GB Serial ATA - 7200rpm
    8x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
    1GB DDR400 SDRAM (PC3200) - 2x512
    NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra w/64MB DDR SDRAM

    ACCESSORIES:
    -AirPort Express Base Station with AirTunes
    (Do I need the Card too?)

    -Battery backup/power conditioner

    -Audio Recording Interface
    (Low-dough for 2 input, mucho cash for 8.)

    -Recording Software
    (A whole other can of worms to open)

    *I have instruments, mics and cables.
    ____________________

    The list could be endless. But not a bad start, right?
     
  13. doumbek macrumors member

    #13
    Yes. You will need the airport extreme card, so your computer can send a signal to the airport express.

    Edit: Sorry I missed the previous post about the card by Canadaram.
     
  14. 2A Batterie macrumors 6502a

    2A Batterie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Out of a Suitcase, USA
    #14
    As for an audio interface, you may want to check out the firepod. It is a great deal.. 8 mic pre's and it comes with Cubase LE, all for under $600. I've never used Cubase, but Presonus (maker of the Firepod) does make great products. I've always suggested Pro Tools for anyone serious about audio, but you would need to spend $1200 for the 002R.
     
  15. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    #15
    If you plan on having one disc for the OS/apps and one for your audio recordings, I doubt you'll need 2x250GB hard drives. Keep the stock 160GB drive (which would be more than enough for the os/apps) and then by a 3rd party SATA drive for the rest. You can even go for the 10K RPM Raptor drives, but unfortunately you're limited to either 36GB or 72GB drives (and they're pricey). You could also maybe get a single 250GB drive from the apple store, and then buy a cheap 40GB or 80GB SATA drive for the os/apps, and just transfer it from the 250GB drive once you get the machine.
    Might save you some money, as it's only $100 more to get the 250GB drive, and I'm sure you can find a small HD for really cheap. Just gives you the hassle of having to transfer the os/apps.

    As far as internal vs. external, unless you get a FW800 external drive, you'd be better off with internal. USB2 and FW400 will probably create a bottleneck in the drive. FW800 external drives are pricey, even just a FW800 enclosure without the drive is over $100 I believe. So you're cheapest route is probably going to be internal SATA drives.

    Also, since you'll have 8 DIMM slots, I'd say keep the stock 512MB RAM and buy 4x512MB 3rd party RAM to bring you up to 2.5GB. This will probably help a lot, and would be much cheaper than going through apple for RAM (ALWAYS get 3rd party RAM). You'd still have 2 slots left if you need more.
     

Share This Page