iMac Pro vs 2019 iMac for Audio Production

Groovykeys

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 23, 2017
7
1
New Mexico
Hello all, I’m trying to decide between an iMac Pro (entry level) and the 2019 iMac with i9 8 core...built to same basic specs as Mac Pro for audio production. I’m mainly looking for a rig that will have the lowest latency for using sample libraries and that can have multiple instances of sample instruments in a single project with Logic X. I know the iMac Pro is great for rendering large video projects but I don’t need that much power or do I? Thanks in advance!
 

fastlanephil

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2007
1,121
184
Hello all, I’m trying to decide between an iMac Pro (entry level) and the 2019 iMac with i9 8 core...built to same basic specs as Mac Pro for audio production. I’m mainly looking for a rig that will have the lowest latency for using sample libraries and that can have multiple instances of sample instruments in a single project with Logic X. I know the iMac Pro is great for rendering large video projects but I don’t need that much power or do I? Thanks in advance!
Wait for some real world testing of the i9 iMac such as from Barefeats.com and a tear down from iFixit.
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,604
393
The Sillie Con Valley
Sample libraries on an external USB SSD are fast enough for most DAWs unless using VEP.

Audio should be about as fast either way but video will favor the iMac Pro. One of Apple’ benchmarks is how much faster the 18 Core iMP is over anything else for Logic Pro (and FinalCut, of course). Logic, Digital Performer, Pro Tools and many other audio apps assign each instance of a VI to its own core. There’s an impressive video on YouTube where someone is running over 300 instances of Kontakt on a 10 core iMP without choking.

If you get to needing insane amounts of horsepower (VEP, animation, large AV etc.), you can link multiple Macs with T2 chips over 10G Ethernet. I’ve seen some very impressive demonstrations of this.

Seriously, though, if not getting into those extremes, a 2019 i9 iMac with a 2TB SSD should take no prisoners.

I was leaning in that direction till I accepted a project with a lot of video to edit along with the audio. I pulled the trigger on a used 14 Core iMac Pro at a very good price. I was looking for 10 but uh... this one found me.
 

songs_about_happiness

macrumors newbie
Apr 28, 2018
3
0
Brisbane, Australia
I'm still using a maxed out late 2015 27" iMac for professional audio work. I've been using it almost every day for over 3 years now, and the only time I've run into any problems is when I'm editing video as well. iZotope RX noise reduction stuff gets the fans going full speed, but I can run heaps of plugins and soft synths in my projects (using Pro Tools and Logic) with no trouble. I have audio and sample libraries on external SSDs and run the DAW off the internal. Been a fantastic workhorse for me and still going strong
 

CWallace

macrumors 604
Aug 17, 2007
6,622
2,518
Seattle, WA
Jason Snell compared his iMac Pro to a top-end 2019 iMac and noted that the iMac Pro was a fair bit quicker in Logic Pro X in multi-core operations. He presumes that Apple optimized Logic Pro X for the iMac Pro.

https://www.macworld.com/article/3386401/how-high-end-2019-imac-measures-up-imac-pro.html

He also commented on the Upgrade podcast that his iMac Pro generally outperformed the iMac when running heavily multi-core / multi-threaded Logic Pro X plugins he uses for editing his podcasts.
 

fokmik

macrumors 601
Oct 28, 2016
4,000
3,227
USA
The iMac 27” with 8-core Core i9 CPU, 32GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and Pro Vega 48 GPU is priced at $4249 USD.
The iMac Pro with 8-core Xeon W-2140B CPU, 32GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and Pro Vega 56 GPU is priced at $4999 USD.
Is the iMac Pro worth $750 more? Maybe.
Keep in mind that with the iMac Pro you are getting a Xeon processor, ECC memory, four TB3 ports — each pair on separate controllers (versus two), 10Gb Ethernet (versus 1Gb Ethernet). Other superior specs include support for 4 external 4K displays (versus 2), 1080p FaceTime (versus 720p), four microphones (versus one) and better speakers

Unless Apple has done a major redesign of the iMac's "guts," the iMac Pro less apt to experience thermal down-throttling when stressed.
 
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xgman

macrumors 601
Aug 6, 2007
4,785
609
For me the biggest difference relevant to me was the imac pro's dual TB3 lanes as opposed to the 19 imac single lane. I have toms of audio libs on lots of external TB3 drives, plus an TB3 audio interface, so it may be of some benefit. The rest is pretty close in real world performance. The T2 has been more of a problem than a help.
 

propower

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2010
719
112
For the lowest latency performance speed is more important than cores (IME). In that respect the sustained multicore speed of the i9 and imac pro seem quite similar. For total plugins it can run they are both pretty equal. But at less than all cores loaded the i9 looks quite a bit faster. Strangely the i5 2019 looks to never go below 4.1GHz (which makes a heck of a nice 6 core machine). The point above about TB3 ports is my only gripe with the current iMac. One X5 and a TB audio interface (+ whatever else you hang there - ext monitor etc) and you are out of TB3 ports. I have 5 TB devices (mostly TB2) and use every bit of the iMacs BW. That said - for audio - this has been totally fine.

Echoing another post above - when is 1TB SSD internal just not enough? I have 1 TB of samples already (Some on the internal but most on external). I have been wanting to go 2TB with the i9 which would fit it all today - but any new libraries are huge (drum especially) and worry that even 2 won't do. I already have a TB3 4 SATA III cage (Akitio). Should I just order 1TB internal on the 2019 iMac?