Any Sound Engineers or Music Enthusiasts Out There?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by PC_O_Sht, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. PC_O_Sht macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2005
    Hey whats up everyone, I need some help deciding what computer to buy. Just to let you know, I have my heart set on the 20" iMac, but if its not going to be able to handle the applications I need ill have to go with bulkier, more expensive power mac.
    I use an M-Audio Keystation Pro88 as my MIDI controller, with Reason and an M-Box.
    Next month though, I will be upgrading to a 002 rack with a Mackie control surface, and maybe adding Logic Pro 7. (depends if I can get the Imac or not)

    Later on throughout the years add a couple of rack synthesizers and modules.

    This setup will be for personal home use, not planning to record the next hit album. I read somewhere of some guy that tested the imac when it was first released for its audio capabilities. He was able to record on a 20" Imac fully loaded (2 G memory) around 32 tracks using an M-Box, with compression on each track, and still the beast ran normally.

    I guess im just a bit scared of the Imacs handicapped upgradability. Any chance of a new Imac version coming out in the next couple of months?

    P.s. What are your thoughts on the Imacs Firewire 400, seeing as I will have to record onto an external hard drive?

  2. cyanide macrumors regular


    Jan 6, 2005
    i think you will be fine like this. just make sure you get all the ram you can. if there is an upgrade soon, it will likely only be a couple hundred megahertz, nothing to get excited about. the video card may be better, but that doesnt bear to much on what you want to do. i personally have used a mackie board with garageband 2 and have found it amazing. the multi-channel recording rocks my socks. (like in the movie Ray) As far as expanding your audio through the years, as long as your bridge can handle it your iMac can too. I've not used the iMac's firewire, but i doubt there are any quarrels with it at all. Any other stuff you want to know?
  3. ChrisFromCanada macrumors 65816


    May 3, 2004
    Hamilton, Ontario (CANADA)
    The new iMacs are actually surprizingly upgradeable.

    You can upgrade:
    Optical Drive

    You Can't upgrade:
    Video Card (unnecessary for your purposes)
    PCI Card (unnecessary, almost everything is available external now days)
    Processor (unnecessary for the next few years)
  4. PC_O_Sht thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2005
    Whats up Chris. About the upgradability part I was mostly referring to RAM, even though 2G is a lot; Audio plugins feed off of it and can limit the amount of tracks in a session. (sorry for not mentioning that in previous post)
  5. RandomDeadHead macrumors 6502

    Feb 8, 2003
    Eventualy 2gb sticks will come down in price like 1gb sticks have, and I am willing to bet that the iMac will support them.
  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    The downsides of the iMac are:

    1) Firewire 400 only (Firewire 800 is significantly faster)
    2) Monitor and CPU together (so noise is inescapable - you can't put the CPU, drives and fans into a soundproof box or move them away from your work area)
    3) No room for a second drive (so you have to use firewire drives - see #1 and #4)
    4) One Firewire buss instead of two (means the audio data and drive data have to fit through the same controller chip. The ideal is the Digi002 on the FW400 buss and the external drive(s) on the separate FW800 buss of the PMG5)

    Just like anything else though, a 6 foot ceiling is fine if you are 5 feet tall. You won't be affected by these limitations until your requirements grow to the point that you exceed the capability of the iMac.

    (Digi002R, Evolution MIDI controller, M-Audio Oxygen 8, Yamaha SY-99, G4 Dual 1.25 -- Now if I only had time to use it :confused: )
  7. Poeben macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2004
    One thing to keep in mind is that Digi, in its overwhelmingly conservative specs, does not support daisy chaining a firewire hard drive to a 002. I have had mixed results with this type of setup. In one case everything ran fine on a 1Ghz powerbook with a glyph FW drive. In another case, it was completely unreliable on a 15" 1.5 Ghz PB with an eZ quest FW drive.

    If it were me, I would spring for the power mac -- more expansion and dual cpus.
  8. -Jeff macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2005
    I'm running Logic Pro 7 on a 20" iMac G5 with 1GB RAM and a 250GB Hard drive. The audio/midi interface is a Presonus Firepod connected to a MackieControl Universal. I also have a M-Audio Radium 49 USB MIDI controller, and an old Fatar SL990 MIDI controller hooked up to a cheap 1 in/1 out USB MIDI interface.

    The setup is incredible. In the past, I had used a mixture of Cubase, Rebirth, Acid Pro, and Cool Edit Pro on a PC. Logic 7 Pro completely replaces all of those applications, and it is a much more stable setup. I haven't lost any work due to a crash yet, and the system is 5 months old. The PC would crash quite often, and sometime before I could save my work. I must admit, If I could get Cool Edit (now known as Adobe Audition) for the Mac, I would use it more often then the audio editor in Logic.

    I have not experienced any playback glitches at all, and I use lots of software plugins and instruments. In fact, the only "real" instruments that I have are guitars, a bass, and my voice. The pitch correction plug-in actually makes me sing in tune... at least on the recordings. There were some occasional synch problems between the real instruments and the software instruments, but the 7.0.1 update (free) completely fixed that. I don't "feel" any latency when playing the software instruments live. (with my previous Cubase setup I did, and it was annoying.) The quality of the software instruments is astounding I especially like the EVP73 electric piano (Rhodes, Wurlitzer etc.)

    The Mackie control surface really makes for an intuitive session. It was designed specifically for Logic, and setup is a breeze: Just load drivers for the MIDI device that it's connected to, and have it plugged in and turned on when you install Logic. It is so incredibly cool to open a project and see the motorized faders instantly move to the mix that was saved during the project's last session. My old setup had an analog mixer hooked up to a 8 in/8 out audio interface, and moving from project to project required readjusting the mix every time, unless you mixed with the mouse (very cumbersome)

    I did have a hardware problems with the iMac that were difficult for Apple to resolve, but they were in fact resolved at no charge because of the warranty. As far as performance with audio production, the machine is more than adequate.

    Let me know if I can answer any more specific questions, because it seems that my setup is nearly identical to the one you are considering.

  9. -Jeff macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2005
    Have you considered the Presonus Firepod? It is another 24 bit 96Khz firewire interface, with 1 MIDI in and 1 MIDI out. It has 8 inputs with mic preamps, and the Digi 002 rack only has 4 preamps. If you want to record with more than 4 microphones at a time, you will need to buy a preamp for each additional microphone, and decent ones are not cheap. Presonus makes exceptional quality preamps for the price.

    The digi 002 rack costs about $1200 and the firepod costs around $600. You could put that money towards purchasing Logic Pro 7. If you are a student, you can get Logic Pro 7 for $500. Mackie's control surface comes configured for Logic right out of the box. In fact, it was designed for Logic and Mackie decided to make firmware changes available to control other software as an afterthought.
  10. doumbek macrumors member

    Yes plugins do love the memory.

    The iMacs are nice machines, but it's a little easier to upgrade and prolong the life of your machine with a dual PM.

    Have you considered getting an Apple certified dual Power Mac?You can keep your monitor from your old set up, and upgrade the ram as you go.

    You can save a bit of coin, and unless they do some crazy quad processor that will do everything but make coffee, your dual PM will last for years to come.
    If you're waiting, and they do update the PM line before you buy, you'll get a nice price break on the current line.

    The good thing about the PM over the iMac is the dual internal drives.
    I tried the external firewire drive, and it wasn't very stable. Granted it was before protools and Apple had finally got their updates compatible, but still it was a major pain.

    I've got a digi 002 console, dual 1.8 PM with 1.5 gb ram. (planning to buy some more ram from Crucial very soon)

    Like it was previously said, Mackie mixers are highly recommended and it runs with everything.

    Pretty much I agree with everything that CanadaRam says. And would go with the a Dual Power Mac.
  11. howard macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2002
    My question for you is are you going to be doing professional audio work? Or is this just sort of for fun.

    Also, do you plan on getting into a lot of sampling software and mixing your songs with a lot of plug ins? Since it looks like you have a lot of hardware modules this might not be a problem. But if you really start loading up the samples in your computer, or plugins, it will really start to slow it down.

    If your just kinda playing with the audio world, go for the imac, if you need professional quality stuff and plan on using a lot of software eventually definitely get a powermac.
  12. -Jeff macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2005
    Another thing to consider: the iMac G5's fan speeds vary with processor load by default. In order to get good performance with Logic, I found it necessary to change the processor performance from automatic to highest. Unfortunately, that also makes the fans run at their highest speed all of the time. It's not loud, but it's not "whisper quiet" either. It's more quiet than the average PC, but it's really about the same because the iMac sits right in front of your face. You could put a Powermac on the floor and not hear it as much.
  13. pianojoe macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2001
    N 49.50121 E008.54558
    I'd go for the Power Mac.

    32 tracks playback is not a problem. Compressors in each track IS a problem, depending on the type of compressor you use, this can be demanding. Also, 1 FW bus for both audio and data I/O is a bottleneck. I second that it is a huge disadvantage that, with the iMac, you'll have to keep the computer and its fans right on your desk. Are you planning to use a closet for audio recording?

    It is not correct that the processor will be "OK for the next couple of years". The moment you do something a little bit more complex plug-in wise, you'll wring every bit of performance out of the box. That's what I do, and I have a 2x1,8 G5 Power Mac. With Logic Pro, you'll start freezing tracks to save on performance, but that's time-consuming.

    Try to find an iMac somewhere where you can test it with your setup. Then, go, and get a Power Mac.

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