Mac Pro for audio

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ogs, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. ogs macrumors member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Hi there, assuming we get a refresh, I was thinking of getting an entry level dual processor, and then doing the following:

    Intel 520 Cherryville 240GB SSD (boot)
    3x WD Caviar Black 2TB
    Add 16GB RAM modules as I need

    Basically, I'd like to boot from the ssd, and have everything else on the 3drive under RAID 5.... I could hold all my samples/audio files I need, and my sessions. And then I could move stuff onto externals when necessary.

    I have a time capsule I could use for back up.

    What do you all think?

    The other option would be

    Top of the line iMac 27"
    Intel 520 Cherryville 240GBSSD
    32 GB RAM
    Promise Pegasus R4
    SSD for boot, internal HDD for audio samples/files, sessions on Raid 5 Promise Pegasus R4, and back up on time capsule.
  2. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Sounds good. You're going to be primarily processor bound, so depending on your budget, you may want to think about getting a few more cores. Audio software also makes very good use of more cores.
  3. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    What audio software will you be using? I would recommend the Mac Pro over the iMac because of storage options, RAID, and the overall increase in power (RAM + Dual CPU). Honestly a single hex core (current gen) or 8 core (next gen) will be sufficient for Audio editing, but again it depends on what program you use and what else you'll be doing with the computer to make it worth it to get the dual CPU configs.
  4. getz76 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2009
    Hell, AL
    All of this.

    Using Pro Tools for tracking audio has different requirements versus using Nuendo for scoring movies.
  5. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Also the plugs you rely on vary wildly on how they treat resources. If you want it to last through the years get the pro if they are ever refreshed. Either way you'll have your answer. All are waiting. Except me and other 2010 users.
  6. ogs thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 26, 2012
    I'd be using pro tools / logic, NI instruments, amongst other plugins and stuff.

    I think a two processor unit is th ebest choice in terms of upgrade path too.

    and internal 3 drive RAID 5 would be just fine.

    i think the mac pro is the best buy at the moment.
  7. getz76 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2009
    Hell, AL
    Pro Tools is still a 32-bit application, just FYI.

    Since Pro Tools is still 32-bit, you will likely hit the memory limit way before you max out your processors. Current Pro Tools runs fine on Core 2 Duo machines, honestly.

    I do not have a ton of experience with Native Instruments, but from what I have seen they aren't terribly processor hungry. Again, if you are going to use the RTAS versions in Pro Tools, you are going to hit a memory ceiling before you hit the processor wall.

    It depends on what you are doing. If you are tracking audio and doing simple mixing (not tons of modeling plug-ins), you can get by with a very modest system.

    A six core or eight core system should do fine.

    I would suggest against that, especially if you are planning on using software RAID (the built-in RAID on the Mac Pro).

    If you want a snappy system, get a good SSD as a boot drive (I'm partial to Crucial's M4), then buy a drive dedicated for tracking audio (fast and quiet is a nice combination, plenty to choose from, preferences vary), another one of those drives for samples, and then a large drive for backing up your sessions.

    A single, fast 7,200rpm hard drive is enough to track 30 simultaneous tracks of 24-bit, 192kHz audio.

    Back up your sessions. All. The. Time. Buy a NAS with RAID, and use it as a secondary backup (check out ReadyNAS boxes). If it is really important, consider swapping drives and taking them offsite somewhere.

    Unless you need something right away (i.e., meaning you will recoup the investment with a gig), I would hold off. If Apple EoL's the Mac Pro, I would go sort out a proper Windows box.

    Just my opinions. Good luck and have fun!
  8. Doc69 macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2005
    SSDs are the way to go

    I agree with getz76 about keeping your HDs separate. However, if you have huge sample libraries, like East-West etc, putting those on an SSD as well will dramatically decrease loading times. This is very good if you frequently audition many patches in your sample libraries.

    Having your sample libraries on an SSD will also increase your voice count for demanding plugins like Ivory pianos etc. I'd even do two SSD in RAID 0 for that (never do RAID 5 if you want performance).

    If time is precious for you, SSDs are totally worth it. And while you're at it, put your current sessions on an SSD as well, and use the HDs for archiving and for samples you don't use that often.

    For me, once you go SSD, you can never go back! I'm still amazed how fast my patches and projects load these days. To me, SSDs are the best thing that has happened to computers in a long, long time.
  9. getz76 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2009
    Hell, AL
    Doc69 is correct. SSD read speeds cannot be beat, which is perfect for sample libraries. If you have the need, that's the way to go.
  10. ogs thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Hmm, so you advise a 4 drive boot/scratch/sample/back up setup over internal raid, why?

    And yes if I go the 4 drive set up route I'll go for multiple SSDs for better performance.
  11. getz76, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    getz76 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2009
    Hell, AL
    A couple of reasons; software RAID will cause CPU overhead and when using parity-based schemes can severely degrade performance over a single disk approach. RAID 1 will slow down performance and is honestly not necessary if you backup your sessions regularly. It can be a low-cost (but risky) solution for RAID 0, but that is not recommend for a production environment.

    Even if you use hardware based RAID controllers, RAID 0 is completely unnecessary in modern DAWs that can allocate tracks to separate drives. RAID 1 gives no performance boost and is generally unnecessary if you backup your sessions. Most guys who are worried about single-point failure run redundant systems. This guy was tracking a live concert and had two Pro Tools rigs die on him during the show. Luckily, he had a hard-drive based third backup running as well (a SADiE H128).

    Oh, and not all DAWs play nice with RAID in general. Pro Tools did not support it until (the latest) version 10.

    I would stick with a platter drive for audio recording for now. Platter drives do fine at sequential writes, and unless you are doing very high track counts at very high sample rates, you shouldn't need anything more.

    Hope this helps.

    Or you could buy IBM's Watson to create phat beeeeetz!

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