Need advice buying refurb Imac for music production(Please)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by zephercan, May 10, 2019.

  1. zephercan macrumors newbie


    May 10, 2019
    Hello.. I will try to make this short. First a little history. I use to have a little home studio back in the day. I used a Kurzweil K1000 midi with the EPS rack by Ensoniq. I used the EPS sequencer to arrange the music. I had a Mic and a few effects units by yamaha I believe. I recorded everything on a Tascam 688 8 track cassette recorder.
    It has been over 20 years since I played any music and I have come to a point in my life where I need to start being creative again. My intentions are not to get famous and write the next big hit for America. I am doing this to feed my soul. Writing songs can be very therapeutic and I can use all the therapy I can get. ;) Oops, starting to babble. Let me get to the point. Basically I want to be able to create compose and record songs as I did before. I should mention that some of my compositions can have allot of homemade samples. A quick example... I might sample a moving train and loop it for 4 to 8 bars and then put a drum guitar and synth track over it. Vocals with harmonies. Allot of my drum sounds are sampled human voices or a light bulb crashing, etc., etc. That kind of stuff. Anyway, I need new equipment and I'm hoping this community can help steer me in the right direction. Originally I was going to get a keyboard workstation because I thought that would be the best option for being able to lay down a song idea quickly and easily. (Possibly a Korg Kross 2) Going in the DAW direction kind of intimidated me due to the learning curve involved but after researching I have changed my mind and I think I will avoid the keyboard workstation and instead spend the money on an Imac along side a keyboard controller. I'm guessing most of you are going to agree with that decision?Now I have to figure out the best and cheapest Imac that will fit my needs. There is a website called I found an Imac on that site that I'm thinking of purchasing. I pasted the specs below.
    I guess I have two questions...
    1. Any advice on the specs below. Are they adequate? Do I need more or less? Should I worry about the 18 month demonstration issue which accounts for the large discount?
    2. Any feed back about buying an Imac from that website? It comes with a 6 month warranty + thorough inspection.
    I am on a VERY limited budget so I really need to make a smart decision. I don't want to overpay for a spec that I don't really need but I'm not really sure what I do need so I'm hoping you all can help me with that.
    My budget is about $3500 for the whole studio such as mic, interface, keyboard controller, Monitor, DAW software, etc. (I'm guessing Logic Pro X is my best option)?
    Again... any feedback on getting my home studio up and running would be gratefully appreciated.
    C. (Thank you for taking the time to read this)


    These are 18 month old ex-demonstration units from KRCS high street stores. They are in excellent condition - boxed and complete with all accessories and have a six month KRCS warranty for peace of mind. Stock is very limited and will not be replenished.

    The new Apple iMac with Retina display’s performance is at an all-time high. With faster Intel Core processors - the new powerful Radeon Pro 500 series graphics - Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) connectivity and a stunning Retina 5K display that is 43 per cent brighter and supports one billion colours. The new iMac really does shine.

    This configuration features a powerful 3.4Ghz Quad i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and a huge - fast 1TB Fusion hard drive. The 27-inch (diagonal) 5120x2880 Retina 5K display is connected to the AMD Radeon 570 graphics card with 4GB memory. This wide-screen beauty ships with a Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Keyboard as well as having two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports for versatile connectivity.
  2. nathan_reilly macrumors member


    Apr 2, 2016
    I'm not a professional audio engineer but:
    -I have used logic suite since 2008. Back then my 2008 MacBook Pro could definitely choke down if I had more than, say, 20 audio tracks in logic, and latency in MainStage would keep my effect plugin options somewhat limited. Tech has come a long way since then,
    -When mobile, I now use a 2013 retina MacBook Pro (2.7GHz, 16GB ram, OWC Aura Pro SSD) and have yet to experience a single issue in Ableton, logic, mainstage etc..

    -When at home, I rock a 2011 27 inch iMac. I cannot say enough good about this machine. Beautiful display, very crisp (my MacBook Pro feels only slightly sharper). Fast 3.7GHz (*edit, 3.4) CPU, and the graphics are more than adequate for fluid user interface and mild video editing when I need in adobe after effects and premiere.
    -Big plus: save money. This machine can be bought for fairly cheap, and if you're willing to open/upgrade it, your savings redouble.
    -Biggest plus of this machine: upgradability. If you fast forward to 2012, you lose two wonderful things: a superdrive that can be swapped for an SSD, and magnetic display glass attachment. You can pull the glass off with suction cups and then use screwdrivers to replace any single component in this machine, whereas newer iMacs use glue that needs a heat gun, with the display and glass laminated together.... Apple said this improves the display quality, viewing angle etc but....yeah. Hasn't bothered me.
    -I've taken advantage of this ease-of-access to replace the slow spinning HDD with an SSD and on a separate occasion, install a secondary SSD behind the optical drive (there's even an extra SATA connection on the logic board). So I have the stock superdrive, two SSDs, and I open up the machine once a year to blow dust out of the innards with compressed air. I could remove the superdrive and add another SSD as I have an external superdrive, but at the moment I don't have another SSD to put in!
    -Ram: apple states it supports up to 16GB split 4x4x4x4, but this is a lie! You can rock 32GB :)

    -Another plus: ports. I have some legacy audio interfaces and I love that I have Firewire 800, Thunderbolt, and USB3 all in one. It is like this machine is sitting across some generational divide, playing both sides. Daisy chain firewire devices, drive external displays, connect fast storage...this machine can do lots.

    -Some folks might mention GPU failure with this model but I have not had issues, and if it goes, I'll just pop a new one in. Maybe my yearly cleanings have helped it keep cool but I play games in bootcamp and render in KeyShot and it gets pretty toasty, with no noticeable ill-effect after 8 years.
    -Biggest issue I can see is lack of Metal support on the GPU. This prevents upgrades to Mojave, and for some silly reason Netflix only plays in 720p now (used to be 1080p but by my understanding some tech was deemed obsolete without reason). I should also mention that you can upgrade your GPU to one that supports Metal and forge ahead.

    -All in all, I am not yet tempted to upgrade to any newer iMac. I use creative apps and this machine keeps up with my needs, easily.

    - I think you should really invest in a baller interface, good mic pre amps (and mics too) and solid cables. Good, neutral reference monitor speakers or headphones. Maybe take a look at a power conditioning unit too, to quiet hum. My opinion is no amount of processing power will be able to make up for compromises "upstream" of Logic Pro.

    Hope this helps!
  3. Nbd1790 macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2017
    New York
    I'm an active Audio Engineer and Music Producer. I work at various studios here in NY and also have a mini home studio at home for sketching out beats and such. I wouldn't be concerned with getting EVERYTHING you need all at once. Honestly, you have a good budget, just spend it wisely otherwise you'll find yourself having to make some sacrifices. There's 3 items you don't want to cheap out on. Computer, Monitors and Interface.

    In general, I HIGHLY recommend a quad core i7 (or better) 16gb or 32gb of RAM and a Solid State drive (preferably 512 or 1tb) but if you find it too expensive, go for a smaller SSD and keep your sound banks and projects on external drives.

    I actively use Pro Tools, Logic and Ableton. Depends on what you want to do, but I think Ableton is far superior to the others in about 90% of the usual tasks. If you plan on recording multiple instruments (live instruments) Logic and Pro Tools have an advantage with tracking for sure. But if you're recording primarily "in the box" and plan to record the occasional live instrument here and there, Ableton would be the wiser choice.

    Hope this helps you.
  4. nathan_reilly macrumors member


    Apr 2, 2016
  5. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Thought I should point out that USB 3 did not arrive until the 2012 iMacs. Only USB 2.0 on your 2011 - although still a decent enough system.
  6. nathan_reilly macrumors member


    Apr 2, 2016
    Totally right! My bad. I just went and checked to confirm - I do use a thunderbolt hub with usb 3 on it, and it has been a long time since I set it up/thought about it but totally right, no fast USB on this machine without a hub!
    --- Post Merged, May 12, 2019 ---
    OP maybe consider an older Mac Pro? Or a new (or refurb new) Mac mini? These are pretty economical if you’ve got a spare monitor lying around, even an HDTV. Although I do love having lots of screen space for bigger projects and 1080p can be limiting. I’d try to put most of my money towards audio gear though. It’d be annoying to have a fast computer but be constantly wishing your mic’s ran cleaner or there wasn’t that annoying ground loop hum in your left speaker, etc... If you are looking for headphones, i’d really recommend looking at and in particular the forum. Sweetwater is a good place too, very helpful folks. I’m jealous of your project, it’s exciting!

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5 May 10, 2019