Best Mac for Audio (Pro Tools LE):: Need Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by djcream, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. djcream macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #1
    Hi, I'm new here & was looking for some advice specific to my situation. I'm currently running Pro Tools LE on a G4 powerbook. My powerbook is just not cutting it in sessions with a mere 6 or 8 tracks and 1 or 2 virtual instruments + 1 or 2 plugins, sometimes much less. I've done all the tweaking advised by digidesign & I feel like I hit the wall. I want to upgrade my computer & have been looking at the new 8 core Mac Pro. I'm not sure what specs I should decide on or even if the 8 core is the best choice for me, or if it's overkill. Plus the 8 core is not yet tested with Pro Tools, neither is Leopard. I'm anxious to get to work so I don't want to get a brand new machine that isn't going to work with PT.

    Other than that I'm not at all clear about how much RAM I need, or which processor speed is right - 2.8, 3.0, or 3.2? I would like to be able to run Pro Tools with many instances of VI's & plugins - to my hearts content without worrying about CPU overload/ error messages & interruptions during playback & recording & trying to outsmart PT all the time. I just want to make some music.

    What Mac should I be looking at for this to happen? 8 core or quad? Something else? How much RAM do I really need? I have 2 gigs in my PB which is well over the recommended for PT LE but obviously it's not enough I guess. I also want to buy something that will last me - dare I say 10 years? Something I can use out the box but also grow into over the years without it holding me back at all. If that's realistic. Don't have bags of money laying around but I'm willing to pay the price for something that's really gonna get the job done. Thanks so much for reading all this! I'd appreciate any input - what do you all think?

    Here's my current setup:
    Powerbook G4/1.5 GHz/2 GB RAM/OS X 10.4.9/PT LE 7.3.1cs5/Mbox 2 Pro/MIDISport 4x4/Roland XP-50/Yamaha P-140/2 Glyph 050Q 500 GB External HD's (running on FW 400)
     
  2. CRAZYBUBBA macrumors 65816

    CRAZYBUBBA

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto/Houston
    #2
    It def looks like you've outgrown the powerbook.

    The macpro is the only computer that offers the easy upgradability and futureproof-ness that you require. I'd go with the base model. I don't think that you will need to upgrade anything...

    if you feel like you need more power afterwards than you can buy after market ram for cheaper. Also, the audio card on the Mac Pro is better than the Powerbook.
     
  3. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Russia
    #3
    Do Macs have a dedicated audio card at all? :confused:
     
  4. CRAZYBUBBA macrumors 65816

    CRAZYBUBBA

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto/Houston
    #4
    I had meant audio cards for the Mac Pro

    Link
     
  5. Nate Hoffman macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    #5
    I use PTLE a lot and just bought a single quad core 2.8GHz Mac Pro. It runs 7.4cs2 perfectly. I don't use virtual instruments and I can't actually recommend that you run Pro Tools on Leopard and a new Mac Pro as there's no guarantee that it will work for you, but I'm having no problems.

    When I was waiting for my MP to ship, I did post-production sound for a 70-minute documentary with many tracks, a boatload of plugins and an MPEG 4 video in the session on my MacBook Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz. It had no problems, but the fans were running high the whole time. The Mac Pro is obviously way more powerful than any MacBook, and I plan on using it for 5+ years. If you're going to shoot for 10 years of usability, I would recommend an 8 core (but who knows where we will be in 10 years - you may want to upgrade before then).

    My Macbook and Mac Pro both have 2 gigs of RAM which is plenty to run Pro Tools, but I love the fact that for a little under $400 I could have 10 gigs of RAM in my Mac Pro. I don't even know if Pro Tools could use that much.
     
  6. djcream thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #6
    Thanks for the replies. So I should get the base model & add third party ram if I need it. And the 2.8 GHz is more than enough? If I want to keep all my tracks as midi & not bounce to audio until the final mix, I will probably need more ram to run all the VI's and effects, eq, misc plugins etc. Does that sound right? Or is it the processor speed that's more important?

    The other thing is that neither the harpertown model or leopard are tested by digidesign, so do people just forge ahead anyway & see what happens? Is there any chance that I could buy this and end up not being able to use it, or is it just a matter of time? I have read that some people install Tiger on a separate drive and boot from that - if I need to do this will it effect Pro Tools performance?

    Sorry to be remedial, but I don't really know what an audio card is/does. Thanks for the link as well, I don't use Apogee & it's hard for me to apply information like that to my situation, in my head I mean. I'm looking at the "harpertown" model - is that a good audio card in the base model or do I need to add one? I didn't see anything about it in the apple specs.

    thanks again!
     
  7. Nate Hoffman macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    #7
    Processor power is definitely important when it comes to plug-ins, and virtual instruments eat up RAM. You also want to keep your projects on a separate hard drive from the system hard drive (I got a 500 gig WD from Newegg for much cheaper than Apple offers them for and it was a snap to put in-literally).

    It's only a matter of time before Leopard and the new Mac Pro are qualified by Digidesign via a free update of PTLE 7.4. I actually have a firewire drive with Tiger installed on it, but I haven't needed to use it. It will run fine that way if you need to (provided there aren't any conflicts between the Mac Pro and your VI software).

    I guess all I can really say is that PTLE 7.4cs2 on a quad-core Harpertown Mac Pro running Leopard with the Mbox 2 Pro works for me.
     
  8. cmcbridejr macrumors 6502a

    cmcbridejr

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Alpharetta, GA
    #8
    I am a long time ProTools user.

    However, the product pisses me off sometimes with it's hardware requirements and slow adoption of new technologies.

    Therefore, maybe it is time to reconsider.

    Have you ever tried Ableron Live, Reason, and Logic?
     
  9. djcream thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #9
    Nate - thank you - just reading that lets me relax a bit about the compatibility issues. I do use a separate (external) drive for sessions which I plan to keep in place - a Glyph 7200 rmp on FW 400 - hmm maybe an internal drive would be faster? I'm also looking into one of those super fast/small SCSI drives to use as a work drive.

    So are you saying that you have that particular hardware (Mbox 2 Pro) or is "works for me" rhetorical? Because if you do then you're set up is exactly the same as mine would be except that I'm leaning toward the 8 core to cover VI's & plugins. If your set up is working than I'm very encouraged to go ahead with this purchase!!
     
  10. gescom macrumors regular

    gescom

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Location:
    Westerville, OH.
    #10
    :eek: I love Ableton Live, Reason and Logic!!!!
     
  11. djcream thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #11
    I haven't tried them yet, but I have Reason Adapted, and Ableton Live which both came bundled w/ PT software. Logic interests me as well. The thing is - do I want to take the time to learn a new program when I'm just finally getting comfortable w/ Pro Tools. I'm a songwriter & musician first and for me the program learning is the most challenging part of it all. I definitely hear you on the Digi frustrations though. For now I still want to make it work w/ PT if I can. Thanks for your suggestion!
     
  12. Nate Hoffman macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    #12
    Internal drives are faster but not necessary. Even the big Pro Tools HD-based studios that I've been in regularly use Firewire 400 drives for projects. Digidesign doesn't mention SCSI drives in their current compatibility information. As I recall, the last Pro Tools system that I worked with that had SCSI work drives was version 5.1.

    I do have the Mbox 2 Pro, so yeah, you'd probably be up and running without problems. The only thing that might give you trouble is your virtual instruments software. Sometimes the wrong combination of hardware and software on an unqualified system can cause problems.
     
  13. djcream thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #13
    Yep, I think there will probably be more than a few hurdles getting all my VI's going. I'm not even sure how many of them are UB. I hope with updates I can get them all going on the new Mac.

    Thanks for pointing that out about the SCSI drives. I'll stick w/ FW then.

    I'm beginning to accept the idea that there's an experimental factor to setting up this new system & I really appreciate your comments & tips. Psychologically it's very comforting to know that there's someone leading the way & I'm on the right track. Thanks again! :)
     

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