Is the nMac Pro Worth It For VI Music Creation.

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by fastlanephil, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    Apple is touting the nMac Pro for audio work but for those of us who create music mostly with VIs is it really worth it?

    There is talk about the power of OpenCL utilizing the nMac Pro's dual GPUs but OpenCL has been around since 2008 and hasn't gained much traction yet and how many years will it take for it to be adopted by developers if it ever is.

    Maybe it is better to stay with other Macs or PC (as the slave) using MIDI over LAN such as VE Pro 5.

    When and if the nMac Pro dual GPU/OpenCL standard becomes adopted by third party VI and effects developers then one will be able to actually enjoy the advantages of it.

    The nMac Pro may be the future but I feel more comfortable in the here and now for now.

    This could all change when Apple releases the nMac Pro in December.

    Surprise me! :D
  2. koban4max macrumors 68000

    Aug 23, 2011
    it's overkill.
  3. Diastro, Nov 24, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013

    Diastro macrumors member


    Jul 12, 2010
    Veldhoven, the Netherlands
    Pretty much this. Respected VI companies will make sure their stuff runs on 3 year old MacBooks as well.

    Still, I think it's a good example on how this stuff will work in the future. Couple billion trillion processors don't sound too bad. Pun intended.
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I once tried to see how many VIs I could run at the same time on an iMac with 12GB or RAM. I got bored after about 20 and stopped the experiment.

    What you need is screen space. People like to use mac books but I like my 27" screen. I good compromise I might make is a notebook and a 27" TB monitor. But this will be in about three years as my current Macs are still new.
  5. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    If audio editing is your bread and butter, you've got to do that usual cost analysis to judge how long it will take for you to make that money back. Figure that out, and you'll have your answer.
  6. bortraws macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2014
    The pros of the nMP are that you can get more cores than with any Mac i5 or i7 machine today. If you use lots of Virtual Instruments, samplers and effect plug-ins the nMP will give you more multicore power than an iMac or a Mac mini.

    I think if you upgrade the basic quad-core configuration to a 6-core processor with an extra $100 for 4GB extra RAM for a total of 16 GB RAM and the lowest D300 GPU's, you get the best config you can buy at this moment. That is price/performance wise. Getting the 8-core is nice but it ups the price with another $1500 dollars. which isn't worth it unless you are making top dollars with your music.

    The other very important thing IMO is that it is QUIET. Uh, quiet. I mean that has got to be one of the most important features. Especially if you use it in a project or home studio and also want to record the occasional vocals. If your into EDM you want to be able to record a vocal every now and then I guess.

    Don't put your hopes up for plug-in developers utilising the dual GPU's I think they won't do that any time soon. But who knows?
  7. MiesVanDerRobot macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2012
    I considered getting the nMP on this upgrade round and went with the rMBP.

    These days every music program has some kind of "freeze track to audio/unfreeze to edit" option, so the "how many VIs can I run at once?" question isn't even that important any more.

    The big advantage of the Mac Pro is massive amounts of available expansion. That will make it essential for some in pro audio. For example, pro film composers often have multiple terabytes of high-quality orchestral samples (with eleventy-seven different articulations) living on multiple external drives. And they render their projects to massive space-consuming multi-channel surround formats. They'll probably need Mac Pros.

    If you just want to make deep house or synth pop or IDM, or track a 4-person indie rock band, you can get by just fine with an rMBP and a Thunderbolt display for when you're at your desk.
  8. flyingmanatee macrumors member


    Jan 7, 2014
    I can't name the last time I've had to freeze a track and I'm still using a 2008 Mac Pro. On my G5, it was common in the G4 days, an absolute necessity. The new Mac Pros I wouldn't call "overkill" but not entirely necessary, when you can get an iMac with an i7 and 32 GB of Ram.

    Audio is at a bit of tipping point where hardware needs currently have outpaced the demand on technology. A single track of 96 Khz/24 bit audio is 562.50KB per second, and USB 3.0's bandwidth (4 Gbit/s, 500 megs a second), means a theoretical 889 96 KHz, 24 Bit tracks could be handled in a perfect environment. Factor in that the i7s memory bandwidth is around 21 GBs (Depending on generation), even a Mac Mini i7 is capable and probably would fit most users needs.

    Grab two 828 and you can have a whoop 56 inputs, 60 outputs at 192 KHz, 24 bit.

    The last three studios I've been to seem to have realized this, where once you'd see a decked out Mac Pro, now sits an iMac.

    A new Mac Pro would be excellent for digital Audio but not necessary.
  9. bortraws macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2014
    Recording and input needs have indeed been met a while ago, but it is plug-in processing with plug-ins that emulate hardware, that can make a 40 to 50 track session hog your system. These kind of plug-ins are what we will see more and more with the powerful computers of today.

    Moore's Law hasn't become obsolete yet and it will induce more demanding software with more options. Even in the audio business.
  10. UBS28 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2012
    I can imagine for someone who composes orchestra that the nMP is essential.

    For other types of music, it's overkill. I don't even need much CPU power since most of my sounds is generated from my Access Virus. :D
  11. fastlanephil thread starter macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    I passed on the 2013 Mac Pro for now and bought the 2.6 i7 Mac Mini with the fusion drive and added 16GB of memory. The Mini is basically my master computer and my 2011 27” i5 iMac is the slave where my sample libraries reside using Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 over ethernet. I can also just work with the iMac as I have been doing.

    If the promise of OpenCL implementation for audio fails to materialize I hope that Apple makes those dual GPUs optional in the the 2nd or third generation of the nMac Pro.

    BTW, I am starting to use the high end CPU hungry orchestral libraries. Ear candy!

    Maybe I should have just stayed with Miroslav Philharmonic, Garritan Personal Orchestra and SampleTank 2. :D
  12. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'd just wait until the Haswell Minis come out. While the MP would obviously work, it's a bit overkill, IMO. I'm using an i7 MBA with Logic X, and it's pretty solid. No CPU issues yet.
  13. wesk702 macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2007
    The hood
    This is exactly what I did. 6-core/16gb/d300 + 1TB
    Just waiting for it to come in still. However, it does feel a bit overkill, but I never complain of having too much power.
  14. MiesVanDerRobot macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2012
    Yes, many cores do you realistically need?

    Google "Logic Pro Benchmark" and read the thread on that popular music gear forum ending in Z.

    People with quad-core rMBPs and 2013 iMacs running Logic Pro X are getting ~95-100 tracks simultaneously with that benchmark, running smoothly and continuously.

    People with 6-core nMPs are reporting ~125 tracks with the same benchmark. Is the 25% gain worth the price? Is it worth sacrificing the portability of an rMBP?

    Who really needs more than 100 tracks? And those are tracks specifically designed to stress the system...with a more normal workload you will surely get more. And as I noted before, freeze tracks is always an option when you run out of tracks. But as flyingmanatee said, when was the last time that actually happened to you?

    Don't chase performance you don't need. Identify your needs first, then choose the machine that best meets them.

    The majority of Apple's line is super-quiet these days. The move to SSDs has reduced the heat pressure on their systems significantly. You don't need an nMP to get quiet.

    Moreover, if we're sticking to OP's premise - VI music creation - how much does quiet even matter? It sucks to have the fan on your Macbook spin up when you are tracking a vocalist in the middle of her best take of the day (and you don't have a booth to isolate her from the machine), but if you're just running a bunch of plug-ins, so what?
  15. Diastro macrumors member


    Jul 12, 2010
    Veldhoven, the Netherlands
    100 channels. Including busses and auxes.

    75+ audio track progressive rock song, sometimes as many as 25 reverb/delay/parallel processing auxes, up to 10 subgroups. Some tracks without any processing, lots with as many as 10 plugins.

    Trust me, I need more than 100 tracks. SSDs help.

    Using a 2011 27" iMac w/ Mavericks personally. All cores at 50% at top load.

    So do I need a nMac Pro? No. Not yet.
  16. vladobizik macrumors 6502

    Aug 21, 2012
    I agree that you may better harness MP's power with digital video or the like. I am a semi-professional musician (more than a prosumer, but I don't do it for a living), bought a maxed out MBA last year and although I contemplated getting a nMP once they're out, I have since found that the MBA has easily enough oomph for all I do - often tons of real and even more virtual tracks, effects, etc. Doesn't even break a sweat. Unless you want to do something like recording a symphony orchestra while live processing every instrument separately, to say that a MP is overkill is to put it extremely mildly.

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