Frustrated Audio Guy

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Sketches, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Sketches macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #1
    Hey,

    First post :)

    I am a long time Apple user (and windows too still to be fair) but I am becoming increasing frustrated with Apple's seemingly large gap for Audio focussed power users.

    I am a long term Logic user and I work extensively on Orchestration, Sound Design and Good 'Ole live recording. I am looking to replace my current main studio computer (pimped out MacBook Pro which to be honest hasn't been cutting it for a while but I needed location work possibilities when I got that) but the recent iMac upgrades leave me cold and the Mac Pro range is now pretty long in the tooth but to be honest wasn't that appealing in the first place.

    As an audio user the things that are important to me are processor, RAM and storage.

    My issue with models of iMac are Apple's infuriating instance of memory specs which are years out of date on a high performance machine.The fact that the top non-customised iMac has 8gb of RAM is criminal. Sure it is user upgradable but I'd need to chuck the stick of 8 and waste it to go full 32gb or pay £480 to upgrade it from the store!!! They have the same issue in their entry level phones and tablets to be honest (storage there though not RAM of course)

    Additionally no model comes with an i7 as standard. Add that on and you are in Mac Pro territory price wise.

    Then there is the Mac Pro which comes with two beastly graphics cards minimum, which add a huge amount to the price. I'd swap one of those for more RAM and storage as standard in a heartbeat but alas, you can't do that. So I would be paying a heck of a lot of money for something to render a DAW interface and HTML.

    It too has pretty meagre RAM out of the box IMO for such a high end machine. Another frustration is no Refurbs available in the Czech Republic as there is no official store. Oh and they just jacked the prices across the board (ok not their fault really)

    I mean, don't get me wrong, there are some great offerings in the line up overall and I completely get the fact the Mac Pro main customer base is Rendering/Video/Photo hence the graphics cards (used to be a VR programmer myself and would have killed for such a machine). There seems, however, to be a big gap for Audio users and that frustrates me as Logic is an industry standard in Audio. Many very high end DACs and other pieces of hardware are Mac only and the Mac Pro has been a staple of the studio world for a long time.

    My very expensive DACs are mac only as is the key software I chose out of the fantastic line up of available options and i don't want to change either. It feels however I will be over-paying to get the hardware to run it and although 32gb and the top line processor aren't necessities I run some serious Sample Libraries, VIs and Plug-Ins sometimes on huge projects and want this investment to last me for a good few years.

    Give me a box with a beefy processor, a stack of RAM, connectivity and a GFX card which will merely run my 4K displays and I would be happy as larry.

    Any suggestions on options for me?

    </annoyinglyLongFirstPost>
     
  2. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    Sep 1, 2007
    #2
    hackintosh. should be an update to the pro soon as well. but macs have always been pricier for similar speced pcs, but you can't usually get the quality and integration on the pc side.
     
  3. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #3
    Oh yeah, I mean I totally get that. I am reluctant to go the hackintosh route as I cannot risk potential instability or future support issues.

    I have no problem whatsoever paying the premium for Apple products, I have a ton of them and I completely see value for money across the range. It just seems odd to me that Apple are the developers of Logic, a previously cross platform product, which is one of the industry standards in Audio used by professionals across the world. yet they don't seem to have a comfortable solution for running it without people paying for stuff they don't need on top of the premium.
     
  4. MadDane macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 5, 2015
    #4
    I would suggest a used Mac Pro, the 2012 model or earlier. I think you can get some of them with up to 12 CPU cores which should give you a lot more power for your money.
     
  5. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #5
    Perhaps you are right and used is the way to go. i suppose if a year old Mac Pro model eats some of the Graphics Card Cost and has been kept in good condition I may be able to mitigate the worst of the over payment. Dang do these things hold their value though! :)
     
  6. MadDane macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 5, 2015
    #6
    If you get one of the pre-trashcan models (probably a 2010-2012 model) they should be pretty affordable compared to a high specced 5k iMac. Furthermore you can run your 4k display of you wish to. Then all you would need is the Mac itself.
     
  7. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #7
    Do those have TB 2.0 do you know?
     
  8. Erdbeertorte, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016

    Erdbeertorte macrumors demi-goddess

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    #8
    Those 2012 are actually 2010 ones, with a slightly faster CPU and maybe better graphics card. No Thunderbolt and no USB 3.0. Last one could be upgraded. They don't even have SATA-III out of the box.

    Many things can be upgraded with PCIe cards. But do you want that? In some cases you could get the same problems as with building a Hackintosh.

    And used "new" MacPros are hard to find for a price that's much cheaper than the refurbished ones in the Apple online store.
     
  9. MadDane macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 5, 2015
    #9
    No, unfortunately not. For that you need the Late 2013 Mac Pro.
    Link:https://support.apple.com/en-ap/HT204154
     
  10. Erdbeertorte, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016

    Erdbeertorte macrumors demi-goddess

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    #10
    I fear the best option for you would be the Late-2015 5K iMac with the i7, M390 GPU, 256/512GB SSD + external drives, 8GB RAM, upgrading yourself to faster 32GB 2133MHz RAM will be cheaper as the upgrade to 16GB by Apple. It is even upgradable to 64GB RAM. But the 16GB SO-DIMMS are still very expensive.

    Would the display size fit your needs? The iMac is not really expensive at all when you look at prices for real 4K (not UHD) or even 5K monitors.
     
  11. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #11
    Yeah it's a no go in that case I am afraid. going to need to look for a used recent one which will be extremely difficult to find. That or just wait and see if they stop being so stingy with the RAM out of the box or offer a low end (lol) GFX option on the Mac Pro, could be a long wait for the refresh though.

    I could just bite the bullet and buy the upgraded iMac or the current Mac Pro with the upgrades I need but I feel like I'd be kicking myself a wee bit. Take just one of the base GFX cards out and 64gb of RAM would be paid for...
     
  12. Erdbeertorte macrumors demi-goddess

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    May 20, 2015
    #12
    Have you seen my post before yours? We wrote nearly at the same time. 64GB in the Late-2015 iMac would be no problem. You can get 4x16GB 1866MHz on Amazon for a little less than 900€, when you really need it.
     
  13. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #13
    Ahh sorry I didn't. Yeah that might be the route I go down. Here adding the i7 and a 512 SSD and assuming the RAM is the same price (sadly it will be more expensive but I don't need all 64gb right away so that's accurate) my total would be $4150 but then again that is a bit of a beast and I can use my 30" 4K for dual monitors.

    Sorry for noob question but is the storage still user upgradeable in the late 2015 models?
     
  14. Erdbeertorte, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016

    Erdbeertorte macrumors demi-goddess

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    #14
    Just the RAM in the 27" models. It is possible to open the iMac, if you like brain surgery. Then you could replace the SATA-HDD, but there is no third-party PCIe-SSD that would fit in there.

    Look at iFixit. I'll give you a link...

    https://www.ifixit.com/Device/iMac_Intel_27"_Retina_5k_Display

    That's the Late-2014. I think nobody has opened the new one yet. It might look the same in it, but who knows...
     
  15. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #15
    Hmm, annoying. Thanks for all the info Erdbeertorte. I am totally out of the loop on the past few years desktop models. The help is much appreciated.
     
  16. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    #16
    I think you'd be really, really happy with the 5K iMac. It's working out great for video production. The real problem is that you don't need the 'monitor' The simple solution is to sell one of yours. As for RAM, it takes 2 seconds to install (okay, maybe 30) and although I am unfamiliar with the RAM needs of your programs, I rarely need more than 16GB -- so my 24GB is plenty roomy enough. Apple no longer caters to the Pro market because it is such a tiny percentage of their business -- which you can either accept or complain on these forums :) . Also, make sure your plug ins are compatible with El Capitain before you go the 5K route as that is the only operating system that will work with the 5K iMac. Also, the system Erdbeertorte recommends is great -- but go for the highest internal flash drive you can afford.
     
  17. slayerizer macrumors 6502a

    slayerizer

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    Canada
    #17
    you could still run 24gb.. get the iMac with 8gb, add 16gb.. no waste.
     
  18. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #18
    Yeah I am leaning toward just taking the plunge on the upgraded 5k iMac. To be honest i can hang on until March anyway as I am relocating my studio then and it would just be another thing to move anyway.

    In terms of RAM needs, 24 or 32 will probably suffice for the medium term (if not forever) just used to having more of an upgrade path with other components in a desktop. I run some enormous sample libraries which is why non-changeable onboard storage frustrates me. I think I have about 2.5 TB in my frequently used libraries.

    My NI stuff isn't yet compatible, you are right but I think that is getting sorted soonish and I don't need it at the moment.

    Thanks again for th info.
     
  19. turbineseaplane macrumors 68020

    turbineseaplane

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    Mar 19, 2008
    #19
    The OP and posts like this really make me wish they'd keep the cMP around as a BTO, online only, hard to even find on the website, sort of thing specifically to cater to these scenarios.

    I know many many people who've had to go the Hack route to meet their needs... (their specific issues and desires...please don't ask me why they did this and that, etc)

    They all would prefer to have a "legit Mac", but when the offerings aren't there....well, what can you do, right?
     
  20. MadDane macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 5, 2015
    #20
    OWC did a teardown of the late 2015 iMac in October. Here is the link: http://blog.macsales.com/33572-owc-unboxes-tears-down-the-late-2015-27-inch-imac-retina-5k

    Not much has changed. It is basically the same on the inside as the late 2014 iMac you linked to.
     
  21. R3k macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 7, 2011
    Location:
    Sep 7, 2011
    #21
    I work in film composition. Seriously, just shell out and get a Mac Pro, Go to Other World Computing and ppgrade to 32gb Ram and a Thunderbolt chassis.

    Eat the extra cost and spend more time worrying about your work and less time worrying about your equipment.

    Experience: I have worked recently with both new and old Mac Pro's, 3rd party upgraded iMac's, Macbook Pro's, etc.
     
  22. apfelmann macrumors 6502

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    Jul 23, 2007
    #22
    The 2012 i7 MacMini maybe was the perfect Audio Machine. You could easily swap in two SSDs and upgrade to 16 GB RAM. Only downside maybe: only TB1 and max 16GB RAM
    --- Post Merged, Jan 5, 2016 ---
    in summer 2014 they sold them for 600 euros in Germany (Base i7 model). I wish I would have bought one
     
  23. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    Sep 1, 2007
    #23
    These days, there is no real difference between an external drive and an internal one -- especially for a desktop. You plug it in and the drive appears in Finder like any other. Most importantly, there is no speed degradation since your options (USB 3 or Thunderbolt) can handle the fastest drive you can throw at it. (Take a look at the Seagate Backup Fast) If and when you actually need 64GB RAM, it will be affordable.

    Hopefully there will be a new Mac Pro come Spring and you can throw that into the equation. I just wouldn't go for the old one at this point. The 5K iMac is a great value.

     
  24. Sketches thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 5, 2016
    #24
    Thanks for input from a professional. You are right of course and I may well go down that route as after some research the thermal compensation and throttling by design due to the iMac case could become extremely problematic for me. Oh and you absolutely hit the nail on the head about more time on work less worry. That is exactly why I went Apple in the first place (well not the only reason) and exactly why this is so frustrating.

    Like I said above i don't need it until renovation is completed in March and I did a little digging on the hackinstosh state of play. I have actually played with this years ago to try out the platform before i dived into my first MBP. After a couple of hours reading yesterday I came to a pretty startling discovery which I am going to have a play with as a hobby project in the mean time if only because I am a geek and think i have the basic knowledge to try pretty easily (I was a VR programmer in a past life and head of an ironically Microsoft development house now). I can also use the resultant build as an entertainment system/hobby 3D projects if it all falls to pieces without too much of a loss.

    This could get a wee bit long but bear with me as you may find this interesting. It seems there is a platform which runs completely stable on El Capitan if you pick the tried and tested components, namely the z97. So you can build your own 4970k "Mac" without too much difficulty. That seems a bit useless for me though. Although you could build a monster Gaming rig from that there is zero upgrade path now and although it would easily compete and often defeat my second discovery at gaming, door number two smashes it at mix downs, etc, there is a much better option for Audio users...

    The X99 platform has mixed reviews as a hackintosh. Stability reports are variable. However, it will run Yosemite fine (which is what i am currently on) and El Capitan in some cases fine and some cases with niggles. It occurred to me however the common problems across the board for Hackintoshes are actually of no real consequence to people seeking an Audio Workstation! Sorry visual media guys (I understand that could include film/games scorers but they would need to be wearing other hats too for it to be a real problem)

    The things which create by far the most problems are GFX card drivers, there are a load which can and will run out of the box no problem. So for audio guys this doesn't matter, get the most decent 100% stable card to meet your minamalistic needs and you are set. You even have many dual card options. Granted I do work with GPUs through Max/MSP but that should be easily handled.

    Next thing people struggle with is on board sound. Don't think I need to elaborate on why that falls into the who cares camp for Audio users.

    Bluetooth can also be problematic but that is live-withable with the obvious exception of the Magic Mouse/Trackpad but this is actually resolvable and I wouldn't anticipate many issues.

    Onboard wifi and networking can be problematic but that can be avoided with good component planning.

    There are of course other issues which can be encountered but the main headache seems to come when you are using onboard sound and need the latest and greatest GFX set up.

    So I did some component investigation (an eye opener after delegating it to apple for a decade) and realised for under 1200 euros I could get a i7 hex core (5820k), 32gb DDR4 RAM, liquid cooling system with a 250gb SSD boot device with Thunderbolt (for My Apollos and UAD cards) running stable on Yosemite and when my plug-ins are compatible El Capitan. I am pretty confident I could put it through another major version too with no problems that I currently have waiting on fixes with my legit Mac for El Capitan.

    This would give me an upgrade path right up to 128gb DDR4, 8 core i7 5960x in the current gen and possibly even the new Broadwell-e chips in future. Not to mention I can throw a ton of storage into this in RAID, SSHD or SSD at my whim and even look at overclocking too.

    Now of course, I might find this doesn't work out but like I said I am a software guy too and could easily get tons of use out a beastly Linux/Windows box regardless. Plus I am a geek and I quite enjoyed hunting round specs and the prospect of hacking around with this.

    This is of course just and experiment, hence why I am trying with the lowest base model possible for the base model on this potential upgrade path. I will more than likely end up with an official Mac Pro at some point very soon especially if they upgrade and sort some of my gripes (one can dream). I will of course follow my current upgrade plans on my MBPs, apple are still knocking it out of the park for my mobile needs.

    I would also really not recommend anyone tries this unless like me the have other usage for the system and an official back up plan/route and will enjoy the experience in a geeky way. I aslo have the 4K monitors, keyboard and Magic mouse already so don't need to buy those. Like the old saying 'don't bet what you aren't prepared to lose'.


    For me though, this seems like a fun little experiment.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 6, 2016 ---
    Thanks for your response. Yeah I am aware of the fact that external/internal storage is like for like these days. 98% of my stuff is external already. I really do love the convenience of a big fast internal drive and the ability to swap it out myself though. It's one of those things you don't miss until it is gone.
     
  25. Erdbeertorte, Jan 6, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016

    Erdbeertorte macrumors demi-goddess

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