Music Masters Student - What do I buy

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by CampDavid, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. CampDavid macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2010
    Hi. Sorry if this information could have been found elsewhere, however I've searched but had no joy in finding it

    My girlfriend is studying a part time masters in music composition and we've decided that we really need to bite the bullet and go for a decent set up at home. Currently she's using Sibelius through an ageing PC laptop and it's not really ideal.

    Mac wise, we are looking to run Logic 9, which I understand is the way forward and some kind of musical notation program, we've looked at Sibelius, however if there is something out there that'll do the same job for less or better then that would be ideal.

    We need a home machine really, so we were looking at a desktop. It'll need to allow music composition with a couple of inputs (piano and voice) and perform quickly in Logic. We'd also like it to last a few years, I'd rather not need to replace it in the next 3 years at least. Other than that it'll need to operate as a Windows PC (sorry!) running virtual PC as I'll be using it for my work as an IT admin from home.

    Basically, I'm just after your opinion as to what we should be buying. We'll need to buy the mac and an something to connect a piano and a mic as well as the software for notating and Logic.

    Budget wise, I'd really love to buy the most basic Mini Mac, however that isn't going to cut it. We'd like a decent size screen and something that'll run the software for three years or a touch more. If that has to be a dual processor Xeon effort then we'll find the £3500 somehow, but I'd really rather not!

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Jul 23, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    A low-end stock 21.5" iMac should do the trick.

    Sibelius is one composing program. Finale is another. Depending on where your girlfriend goes to school, she should check the campus computer store for discounted composition software.

    You'll need some kind of audio interface. Get one that connects via firewire (not USB) and has a built in mic pre and a midi port for her keyboard. Check out the Echo Audiofire 4.
  3. CampDavid thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2010
    Thanks Captain. Things are a little different in the UK, she'll need to buy software online. The Echofire looks very good though, better spec'd than the M-Audio stuff the chap in our Apple store pointed us towards
  4. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Mar 20, 2004
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    My son is a comp major. He used to use Sibelius but now he uses as prefers Finale--- not sure of the details.
  5. CampDavid thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2010
    It's $350 but it's got to be worth trying out against Sib and seeing which one get's Helen's appproval.

    I'm looking through the Imac now and the base model would do us. I do however like the look of that 27" screen which is glorious, however if I'm spending that much then I should really get one with a more modern processor, like the i7.

    Cheapest model to most expensive in two easy steps. :rolleyes:
  6. kmaute macrumors 6502


    Oct 5, 2008
    I'd recommend the Apogee Duet interface. The sound is amazing and works very well with GarageBand and Logic.

    For the money, you might want to forgo the i7 and ramp the RAM to make your VM a bit better. The i5 should be plenty fast, I/O is going to be your biggest issue in the setup and outside of putting in a SSD - ensuring your machine doesn't page out to the disk is your best performance bet.
  7. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Jul 23, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    The apogee duet works well, I'll give you that. But it seems like for their needs, it is overkill. I see four reasons for this:

    1) The duet is highly praised for its A/D converters. She is using the rig to compose -- not to mix -- so "really good" A/D conversion could probably be substituted for "good" A/D conversion in something like the audiofire.

    I'm not sure what kind of mic she is using to record vocals. And I'm not sure if the vocals she is recording are for composition purposes or for something that's going to be mastered and released.

    2) If she's recording the vocals for composition purposes, one could argue that "really good" preamps aren't needed, and that "good" preamps (like the ones on the audiofire) would substitute. And even if these vocals are meant on the final product, as long as the mics she's using don't require a lot of clean gain (like ribbon mics or a dynamic like the SM7), the audiofire's pres should be just fine.

    3) The duet has a breakout box. Annoying cable mess.

    4) The duet is nearly twice as expensive, and they are on a budget.
  8. Nuck81 macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2009
    Western Kentucky
    Not really what they're after. They need music notation software. I'm a High School band director and 90% of everything I see is either Sibelius or Finale, and 98% on Mac.

    Any Mac that is releatively new will run the programs flawlessly. You may need a little more depending on how you plan to output and your sound patches...
  9. CampDavid thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2010
    Thanks for all the comments, it seems that I'm kind of well into Imac territory then, with no real need to go up to the Power Mac etc?

    In terms of use, the machine will be primarily for composing. Any recording would really be done in a studio I guess, however it would be handy to record stuff at home.

    Budget wise, we're not fixed, we're both late 20s with good careers and no kids so we have a bit of disposable income, however I'd rather dispose of it in other ways if we're not going to get any benefit from spending it on tech! :)

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