Investing in a new Mac (long)

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Paul Ashton, May 26, 2009.

  1. Paul Ashton macrumors newbie

    Paul Ashton

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester
    #1
    I am currently using an iMac 2.4gHz 24" with 2gb Ram.
    I have issues with it as recently the power to the USB bus went (rogue device blew it) and I have to use powered USB port expanders to be able to continue using all my peripherals. Not ideal and in fact cannot boot up with them all connected. No-one has been able to confirm or deny whether the USB Bus is on the motherboard and therefore stupid to replace (i.e. same price as new iMac)
    ....anyway I am thinking of a new machine and the 2 shops I have spoken to seem to think I am talking a foreign language and have had no help there.

    I run the following devices
    USB (all requiring USB power)
    1. Midisport 8x8 (USB power required even though it is a mains powered box. I do use every port, in and out)
    2. M-Audio Keyboard
    3. External hard drive
    4. WIDI interface.

    Firewire devices
    1. Focusrite Saffire 40
    2. Alesis Firewire 16
    (These last 2 devices are run as an agregated device - I like to use the Alesis on "live" studio recordings - single take stuff and recording full rehearsals. Effectively 8 tracks at 3 hours each.


    I really want to replace the USB hard drive with firewire rackmounted raid array hot swap drives (prob 4 x 1Tb drives). The existing set up is really running close to the wire and I think adding more devices in this way will become too much for the present iMac especially if hard drives and Audio interfaces are using the same port in a firewire chain.

    So I want to scope my Mac options, max up my CPU power, RAM and hard drive options and have plenty of firewire and USB ports. Trouble is I do not know the Mac hardware range at all. Do all Macs run Leopard?
    Has anyone any experience of non Apple machines running the Mac O/S. I read an article on it once but not heard of anyone doing it for real.
    I am prepared to spend a few thousand if that's what it costs (and that's not counting the firewire drives - they can cost more than my current iMac).

    Can I have your opinion on which way to go for a new heart to my studio.
     
  2. macuser154 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    Well, if you want the ability to expand then I would recommend the Mac Pro. It will handle all your recordings with ease, and you can expand it pretty much to your hearts content.

    All current Macs run Leopard. But I think the minimum processor you need is a 867MHz G4.

    You can run Mac OS on non-Apple hardware. I unfortunately have had no experience with that. I have heard that your hardware options are limited though.

    One thing to note though. If you are thinking of buying the current Mac Pro for use with ProTools. ProTools doesn't work well with the Hyperthreading technology in it's processors.
     
  3. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #3
    Is the iMac still under warranty where Apple would fix the USB ports? It would seem to be that even a rogue USB device shouldn't draw enough power to kill the USB power, unless the USB bus was bad to begin with.
     
  4. macuser154 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Apple replaced the 2.4GHz 24 inch in Early '08. So I'm guessing unless he bought it as a refurb, it is out of warranty.
     
  5. Paul Ashton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Paul Ashton

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester
    #5
    No the iMac is not in warranty. :( It is about 18 months old.

    I am running Logic Pro 8
    I will probably will also use Ableton occasionally which I hear is disk space hungry. I am playing with the LE version at the moment.

    Well I have now looked at the spec on the Mac Pro and it looks like the obvious answer. I don't why the shops couldn't have pointed me in that direction.
    I can see the 2.66GHz quad core and the 8 core 2x2.26GHz versions. Can Logic Pro use the twin processors, (basically is it worth spending the extra £600). I guess I am leaning towards the single processor, extra RAM and the 24" LED Cinema display

    Looking at the 51.1 cm height, I guess this makes it 1" too big for these to be rackmounted on their side. Am I now asking for too much?
     
  6. macuser154 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    The Mac Pro can't be rackmounted, as far as I know. Apple do make a server that can be rackmounted, the XServe, but the Mac Pro works much better as a workstation. The XServe is also very loud.

    Edit: Here you go, the Mac Pro can in fact be rackmounted. (This was the first result on Google).

    http://www.hhb.co.uk/hhb/uk/products/detail.asp?ID=2822
     
  7. Paul Ashton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Paul Ashton

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester
    #7
    Rack mounting: fits in a half rack width - so I will have to buy 2 :p

    Thanks for all the help guys. Nice to have someone help me spend my money!
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    Could be something as simple as replacing a fuse. Worth looking.

    Yes a "rogue USB" could draw any amount of power. For example what if there were a dead short in the USB device?

    I think I could build a "rogue USB device" using only a paper clip or short length of copper wire
     
  9. Paul Ashton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Paul Ashton

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester
    #9
    I thought about a possible fuse, so is there actually a fuse inside the iMac?
    I already googled for references to one but could find no mention of an internal fuse (also tried circuit breaker)

    I have never opened up the iMac yet. If it was a PC I would have been in there in a flash.
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    It would not be "the" fuse but one built into the USB port, likely not replaceable without solder. It might look like a very small black rectangle.

    Apple I'm sure would rather sell you a new $1,000 main board then replace a $0.02 part because the guy who can swap boards works for cheap hourly rate while the guy who can replace a part on that boards makes 4 times the hourly rate. If it is a fuse then a skilled tech can replace it for you but don't expect to find that tech working in an Apple store.
     
  11. TwoBytes macrumors 68020

    TwoBytes

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    #11
    if you're not buying a mac pro because of core usage, i hear rumours of a new logic which rides on the juices of all cores!

    it's all about money and what you can afford. I like everything in one screen and got an imac. Always buy applecare and get rid of all your

    If you're in the UK you can try http://www.macupgrades.co.uk or even shoot them a mail to see how much it would cost to repair.

    somethingto think about is merging some of your devices.. ie
    1. Focusrite Saffire 40
    2. Alesis Firewire 16


    As for your rackmount hardrive problem: gods gift to man. drobo
     
  12. Paul Ashton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Paul Ashton

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester
    #12
    hmm yes, I think next time will definitelty take AppleCare.

    When you say merge devices, I take it you mean 1 piece of kit to do the job of both? I already have them as an agregated device logically.
    I like the physical sliders on the Alesis for doing the "live" studio recordings but I like the quality and the flexibility of the outs provided by the Saffire Pro. At the end of the day, I only have to have one of them. I actually got the 2nd device primarily for redundancy in case of any failure (the Alesis PSU failed once - replaced with non Alesis bomb proof PSU)

    The problem I anticipated was running sound input and real time recording hard drive access down the same length of firewire cable.

    Wow that Drobo stuff looks cool, I will price it up, I had been looking at building my own Firewire drives from components.
     

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