producing music -- pbook/imac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by chilliwilli6, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. chilliwilli6 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    #1
    Hello all, I just registered to this fancy and informative forum. It seems that whenever I have a question about Macs, macrumors usually does a better job helping me than store clerks or the self proclaimed geeks at my university.

    My question:

    I'm looking into purchasing a mac before I head to school this september. The problem is that I am VERY torn between the Powerbook 15" and the iMac 17" . I will be using this new computer for school/goofing around, but my primary concern is if I will be able to produce the music I want. (Reason, Logic express/pro, protools le). My music includes both usage of midi and live tracks.

    Does anybody here produce music with their Powerbook, and if so, how is the experience? Likewise for the iMac?

    sincerely,
    the macrumors newb
     
  2. hhlee macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 19, 2005
    #2
    portability play an issue? i like working in a variety of places, not just @ my desk. plus, what if you ever wanted to do a live show of some sort? it'd be slicker to have your pb
     
  3. tjwett macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #3
    if you are going to be using Logic and Reason a PowerBook should give you a fair amount of power for most tasks as those are both well optimized for Macs in general, as well as the G4. However if you are going to be using Ableton Live or Pro Tools or other DAWs then I would recommend a 2ghz G5 as the minimum to get any real work done. if you need a laptop for school etc then it should be an obvious choice but if you can afford to be tied to a desk then the iMac will give your a LOT more headroom and bang for the buck, especially with audio work.

    music/sound design is part of my business and i've owned a Titanium PB as well as a 12" PB and i've basically never been able to do much heavy VST/AU usage at all on those. lots of workarounds, freezing and bouncing tracks etc to free up resources. even ReWire can choke early on the G4. straight audio track count is decent, assuming you've got a 7200RPM Firewire drive in use. but for any virtual instrument work you may find that you'll hit the ceiling rather quickly on the current PowerBooks. again, Logic and Reason are nicely optimized and even dual G4 desktops that are a few years old can still do a decent job but my current dual 1.8 G5 is the only Mac i've owned in the past 5 years that felt "roomy" enough while working with audio.

    the plugins out there today are just so damn CPU hungry and are so often designed on and for Windows machines and then ported to the Mac. so many rely on pure mhz horsepower. if you stick with native AudioUnits and well optimized Mac software you should be fine. Logic Express is such a killer deal that i would suggest buying that first if you haven't already, you may find that it is all that you need.

    my only other advice that i will take to the grave is to STAY FAR AWAY FROM PRO TOOLS. not to get off on a rant but the app itself and Digidesign as a company have gone so far off the deep end with stability issues, hardware/OS incompatibility problems and outright crappy corporate BS that it is just not worth it to play their game anymore. the time of people thinking they "need" Pro Tools because it has the word "Pro" in it are long over. it's a dated, clunky ancient relic with a feature set from 5 years ago. industry standard or not, it's crap. sorry, can't resist.
     
  4. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    #4
    iMac G5 no question...

    but

    A last-gen iBook G4 will work great for portable playing and light work.

    BOBW...Best Of Both Worlds.

    Like the Duo but slightly different... ~sigh~
     
  5. hadag nachash macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    #5
    A powerbook

    I use an iBook G4 800 to produce music with LOGIC PRO 6, Reason and Pro Tools and an mBox. I like the poratblity, and you can always invest in a good monitor for use at home.

    If you can afford a G5 (even in imac config) as well get it. you'll be glad you did.
     
  6. Henri Gaudier macrumors 6502a

    Henri Gaudier

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Location:
    France
    #6
    Whatever you do, wait until Paris ....

    .... there should be a slightly better spec for you whatever you choose.
     
  7. cheapnis macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    If your dealing with audio make sure whatever you buy has firewire 800 and gigabit ethernet - the firewire to make use of fast external drives and AD/DA converters and the ethernet because of use with Logic nodes. . . shifts to Intel and all that aside these are fundamental to a reasonable degree of future proofing.

    Otherwise in these days of Firewire and USB2 based peripherals the PCI based expandability of a tower type desktop is less important - but sheer number crunching processor power and RAM is as important as always. . . for use with virtual instruments and effects processing especially. In this regard I'd have to say - assuming you're intending to use this computer for a couple or three years before thinking about upgrading again - go for a dual G5 tower at minimum.

    It's all relative tho - I make all the music I want to on my ancient G4 and Logic Pro - but I don't make a lot of use of virtual instruments and I'm not an impatient type!

    Between your choices I'd go with the iMac but another major advantage for audio work is having more than one monitor - especially in Logic. I'm not sure if the iMac can do dual spanning? Powerbooks can, iBooks in theory can't - though there is a hack. Even with expose having that extra monitor can make life with Logic a hell of a lot easier!
     
  8. scarlco macrumors member

    scarlco

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Location:
    Ossining, NY
    #8
    iMac's need the hack too, but work quite well with it. By default, they only do mirroring, but the 128MB of video ram lends itself to great hacking, need be. (when you apply the "Screen Spanning Doctor" hack, it cuts your video ram in half - one half for each display).
     
  9. wrxguy macrumors 6502a

    wrxguy

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    Deepest Regions of Hell
  10. AJ Muni macrumors 65816

    AJ Muni

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2005
    Location:
    Miami
    #10
    get an ibook and an imac....THATS what im about to do....(already have an ibook)...might be goin to apple store a lil later....to BUY
     
  11. JasonGough macrumors regular

    JasonGough

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #11
    this is a good thread, as i've been burying my head in mac stuff for the last few months with intent of buying a Dual G5 PowerMac for use with my music production stuff. I'm currently using PC with Logic 5.5, and i'm hopeing to get a dual G5 with ProTools before christmas to see me though the next 5 years..

    My friend at Uni has a dual 2Ghz G5 running ProTools. Me and him both do almost entirely audio based production, using alot of heavy going plugins, and even his Dual 2Ghz G5 gets up to around 3/4 processor usage when doing a typical 32 track mix, so i can't see any chance a powerbook would stand a chance at that, and even an iMac would struggle me thinks.

    Another reason to look at the PowerMac is the PCI card slots to install a pro sound card if you aren't going to get one that uses FireWire or USB.

    Hope this helps, also if anyone has any differnt views please let me know cos i'm still trying to work out if a PowerMac is the best thing for me :)

    thanx alot!
     
  12. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    Jul 4, 2005
    #12
    (Starsky and Hutch) Do it. Do it....(/Starsky and Hutch)
     
  13. chilliwilli6 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    #13
    I appreciate everyones input so much, it's really helped out. . .

    but I'm still SO TORN! !

    Portability is an issue. Lugging a desktop tween school and home is a pain. I imagine the ability to wander around with a PBook and do live shows is truly awesome, yet, I am compelled to the extra power and harddrive space of the iMac . Not too mention, the iMac is considerably less expensive than the powerbook which mean more money to invest in an audio interface (mbox), logic, some new microphones.

    Will I really get bogged up making music on a powerbook tho? I mean, my projects probably won't exceed 32 tracks like JasonGough was saying. I am still relatively amatuer at producing, but I am studying Music-Production at my school and am looking forward to doing more professoinal recordings.

    Say, would I be able to produce a band's album on a powerbook alone?

    sometimes I don' think I'll ever be able to decide and I should just go ahead and pick one or the other up. ANYTHING'S BETTER THAN MY DELL!
     
  14. SRSound macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2005
    #14
    If it helps, I am currently working on a CD for an A Cappella group in North Carolina using Pro Tools LE (002R) and my Powerbook G4 1.5GHz 1.25GB RAM, all sessions are 48kHz/24 bit. The average song has a track count of 55, a standard set of plug ins averaging at 10. I use an external FW drive from OWC (some of the fastest around). While PT LE can only handle 32 of the tracks at a time, it does it with no problem what so ever. I switched from a dell dimension 4600 with 3.0GHz hyper threading and 2 80GB 7200RPM HDs + 1.5GB RAM and the powerbook has been a much smoother, more effecient process. It seems to me that the powerPC processor just flat out works much better with digital audio processing. I, too, went through an incredible struggle deciding what Apple to get (Powerbook vs. PowerPC) and since my business is primarily mobile, clearly that was the winning factor. However, as far as iMac vs. powerbook goes... you can't go wrong with either... it comes down to if you need portability.

    EDIT: I will be using an HD system for mixdown and mastering, so that's something you can't do with 32+ tracks on LE & a powerbook/imac

    TJWETT:
    It sounds like you've never actually used pro tools, or at least never taken the time to learn it. I've used every major audio production DAW interface and none has offered me the processing power that pro tools has (except sonic studio for the realtime duck-fade curve processing).
     
  15. tjwett macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #15
    i'm not about to get into a heated thing over this because as we all know this topic is highly prone to opinion and personal taste. my dislike for Pro Tools comes from being forced to use to it off and on over a number of years, going back from and forth from one DAW to the next. every time we went back to Pro Tools after any extended period of time there were always issues with their latest offering. another thing that annoys me is their proprietary hardware requirements for using the software. back when computers were slow this was useful because PT hardware allowed you to get a whole lot done with very little machine. but those days are way gone. one would also think that this system would make things rock solid, ala Apple, but from the laundry list of Pro Tools 6 problems out there right now this is obviously not the case. Tiger support came super late, and with a ton of problems. they've dropped future support for the Digi 001, not as if the Digi 002 is light years ahead, this just strikes me as sleazy.

    PT used to be relied on for its stability and rock solid timing. currently it isn't capable of anything that any other major DAW can't handle, and without the headaches of waiting around for the latest OS support because they can't make it get along with QuickTime 7. QT is a core element of OS X, has been for a very long time. one would think that developers of advanced DSP software would be able to make this happen. it's virtual instrument support is extremely limited and its MIDI features are nothing to write home about. most troubling of all for me is its GUI/interface. modern UI design has come a very long way and this convoluted system of huge drop down menus and a separate floating window for every single function are just counterproductive.

    one could certainly argue that every DAW out there suffers from similar problems, true. but in my opinion Digidesign just seem concerned with the wrong things when taking their products forward. they remind me of Microsoft and PT feels like the MS Word of audio software. of course this all 100% my opinion and i would be a fool to ignore that thousands and thousands of songs (and dollars) are made every day on PT systems. my experiences with it and what i see and hear from peers who use it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Logic certainly ain't perfect either, but it's improving. in reality it will probably undergo a drastic redesign in the near future. Reason is dated and old fashioned as well, but it's still great. Ableton Live, which is my primary DAW of choice due to its speed, simplicity and outside-the-box approach, has even taken on some bloat and extra bugs as of late. nothing is perfect and it all comes down to what makes you comfortable. i just can't get psyched on PT, that's just me.

    so often i see new folks just have this idea in their head that they "need" Pro Tools because they see these senior citizens using it in the magazines and think it makes them "Pro". at the end of the day Pro Tools is nothing more than a big ole' tape recorder, just like every other DAW. some people need all of its features but 90% of the people out there that drop $1000 on an LE setup take it home and spend 3 months resolving software conflicts, 6 months learning to record a track and another year adding third party upgrades that will add to their "pro-ness". and at the end of the day the music they produce could have been made on GarageBand, and it actually would have been fun. IMHO, of course.
     
  16. .:*Robot Boy*:. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #16
    Yeah, I'm still pissed at Apple for dropping future support for my old ADB mouse. I mean... it's irrelevant that new machines simply aren't compatible with the ADB connection. I bought my mouse 10 years ago and I want to be able to use for the next ten years dammit! :rolleyes:

    I'm not even gunna bother getting in to the benefits of Pro Tools beyond the UI because the fact is that most people just don't care about that kind of stuff, and of the people who do obsess over the mathematics of Pro Tools, there are only a handful of people who can actually hear it.

    I'm not sure where your resentment is coming from, but I've never had any major problems with Pro Tools. I use it day in day out on four different computers and on both the LE and TDM platform. If I had to use any other DAW for recording music, I would be an accountant by now. I love the simplicity of only having two windows, I love the ease of editing, I love the precision of editing.

    While I agree that Digidesign, as a company, are stodgy and monopolistic, I think their software is brilliant.

    It's just a shame that their hardware sucks :p
     
  17. berkleeboy210 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, Massachusetts
    #17
    I have both a PowerMac Dual G5, and also a PowerBook, for Music Production.

    Since I go to Berklee in Boston, They require us to have Powerbooks (not that i'm complaining), for in-class assignments and what not.

    On the PowerBook, I use Garageband, Reason 3.0, and Finale quite often.

    Then at home, I save the big jobs for the PowerMac, Final Projects and such that require more Power. Then when I'm done I either burn the Project to a CD, or e-mail it to the Professor, so he/she can listen too it.

    Both are Great computers, and offer lots of power, but whatever you get definetely load it up w/ RAM. The Standard Stock Config. Won't cut it in the music business. Need at least 1gb in all machines.
     
  18. JasonGough macrumors regular

    JasonGough

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #18
    this is interesting..

    do you realy think there is a big difference in proccesing between PPC and x86?

    Would this mean that it will be better for audio users to get a PPC mac rather than wait for the MacTels? Do you think there would be a genuine difference in performance between the 2 proccesor architectures?

    I can just about run 24-28 audio tracks with 4-5 heavy going plug ins per channel on my P4 2.4 running Logic 5.5, will be considering buying a new Mac in the next few months, advice would be great :) thanx!
     
  19. JasonGough macrumors regular

    JasonGough

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    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #19
    sorry to drag this up again but i'd realy like to know if there is a difference in the way PowerPC handle audio compared to x86... does the different architechture realy make it more efficiant?
     
  20. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    Location:
    Tampere, Finland
    #20
    powerbook is much better for audio work, but the better screen of imac makes it far more powerful for photo/video work and if you go for 20" version that's a great point for audio work too.

    it all depends on how much you want to process your audio. G4 powerbook allows for a lot more plugins than a G5 imac, at least in protools. logic pro however can process audio with multiple G5 workstations, but i'm not sure if they must be powermacs or not. if imacs do the trick, that's a big selling point, as you could add processing power for your sessions just by installing another processing nodes. that's something apple put together to try to compete with digidesign TDM systems, but i have not tried it myself.

    (by the way, i produce cd's for commercial release with a powerbook and protools. i recommend you get started with protools if you mainly focus on audio tracks, but if most of your work is with midi, get logic pro. forget logic express.)
     
  21. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    Tampere, Finland
    #21
    i can stress my PPC system (G4 powerbook) to about 90% sustained cpu usage without hiccups, but whenever i try to tweak my friends' x86 workstations i hit a brick wall at about 70%. it is said that a G4 compares to a x86 system that has 1.5X clock speed, so these efficiecy differences (90% to 70%) included, 1.67GHz powerbook should roughly compare to 3GHz x86 system.

    i myself like things that work, and in my book 90% efficiency is something that works well.
     
  22. JasonGough macrumors regular

    JasonGough

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #22

    realy?

    how come?

    is it not just down to processing power, i would have thought the more powerful G5s can process more stuff before it couldn't keep everything in sync anymore.

    Would you say the G4 Powerbook is better for audio than a dual G5 PowerMac, if both were running a Digi 002R?
     
  23. JasonGough macrumors regular

    JasonGough

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #23
    sounds pretty cool. i know logic on my PC becomes unpredictable when doing big mixes, sometimes it will get to the end ok, sometimes it will stop half way with one of them great audio overload errors even without changing anything. also my entire system gets so clogged up that a restart is needed every 30 minutes or so. If i close a project and open another, and then go back to the original one a few times, the page file becomes full of audio and reduces my PC to a crawl. seems realy stupid but it does it all the time. does OS X sort itself out better than XP in that respect?

    Also, my most important thing i'm trying to find out is if everyone thinks the PowerPC powermacs will be better at audio processing than the Intel Macs?
     
  24. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    Tampere, Finland
    #24
    interesting. i can run the same amounts of processing on my G4 1.25GHz running protools 6.4 - only difference being that logic uses 24/48bit int processing (depends on the plug), and protools has 32/64bit floats.

    the reason why i have a laptop is that i often do on-location recordings. if i wasn't doing that, i surely would have a dual G5 powermac.
     
  25. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Location:
    Tampere, Finland
    #25
    yes, really. powerbook has better overall data throughput than imac, and it is the real-world performance that counts when doing audio work. trust me on this one, skip ibook if you only do audio. (unless you want maximum track count with minimum processing, in which case the larger screen of an imac is a HUGE plus).

    i would definetely recommend powerbook+002R combination. that rocks. but if you have the money to go for a dual G5 powermac, that's a winner. no question about it.
     

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