Need some advice for music production

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by marKz1, Jun 23, 2005.

  1. marKz1 macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2005
    Let me begin with a little info. I recently built what I thought was going to be my dream computer for music production. At the time of building it there was very little info out there about pci-express for audio production. All I knew is that there was a lot of talk that it would replace pci someday. I went with a hunch and configured my system with a pci-express mobo and graphic card. Apparently it was a bad choice because I have never been able to work in a “glitch free” environment with it. When playing large mp3 files in windows media player, and working in my sequencer programs there are sometimes “glitches” or interruptions in the audio. I found this even after a fresh XP install as well.

    So I now have a couple of options. I am mainly use computers to make music but like to burn dvd's and bounce around on the internet as well. I make decent money and could conjure up the space on a 0% card for a new dual g5 plus 20inch Cinema display if I thought it would be the best way to go for my music production. Right now I have my new AMD 3500+ system and an old emachine for internet surfing.

    I want a pro-like setup so that when I have the time to sit down and make music that is what I am doing. Not updating drivers, virus software, etc. Here are my options.

    Option 1. Change my mobo and graphic card for an agp system and stay with pc.

    I know option 1 is the cheapest way to go for me. It also means I would not find out how productive I could be on mac OS until it becomes available for pc.

    Option 2. Do the above and buy a mac mini to ease into the new platform.

    This way I get a feel for mac OSX while keeping my current apps running on my pc. Although I am unsure if a mac mini can be used well for audio production?

    Option 3. Sell my pc to a gamer and buy a dual 2.0 GHz g5.
    Probably the most appealing and obviously the most expensive way to go. It also means I must say bye bye to my pc. This is an option only if I can be guaranteed to see a major performance increase with minimal learning curve.

    Option 4. Keep my pc and buy an older g4. Hopefully there are g4's out there with Tiger than can run my audio apps. This way I could get the best of both worlds. Although I would still only be working at 32bits.

    I am willing to shell the money out and buy new software only if I was sure of what I was getting. There are "rumors" out there that say now is the worst time to pick up a g5 because of the new Intel plans. I would hate to buy an expensive g5 dual and find out in a year that there will be no more support.

    I would really like to hear why macs are better for music production and what makes them different from pc's. If anyone has a mutli-computer setup (mac and pc) for music I am very interested in hearing the specs. I would be trying the mac platform for the first time so a complete switch is very risky for me.

    Any guidance on this is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks mark
  2. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    A few things that will come into play here are. How much experience do you have with Sound recording software? Cause there is Apple's Logic program which is comparable to ProTools, and these are considered professional recording programs. Apple Logic also has a diluted (and cheaper) version , Logic Express or something like that.
    If you are familiar with those sorts of programs, then the switch won't be hard at all, cause these programs work the same across any computer system.
    Even GarageBand 2.0 (which comes with all Macs in iLife) is very easy to use. It can be used to just do a quick demo recording, or you can get involved and multi-track with any mixer you might want to plug into the computer MIDI input is also supported.

    Buying a G5 now, and then the switch to Intel comes and you will not be supported?? This is a totally bogus idea, I have a G3 from 1999 and Apple is still supporting it. Just cause they change their future chips, doesn't mean that the PowerPC's will be neglected and forgotten.

    I'd say sell the PC and get a G5.

    The idea of plug and play was a gimmick for Microsoft, and a reality with Macintosh from the get go. From the components a Mac is still just a computer, but the extra money spent on a Macintosh is generally for the quality that it performs with. Not to say Mac's don't have their lemons here and there, but they are few and far in between.
  3. bellang macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2005
    Sound on Sound Magazine

    Not sure if its available to you, but sound on sound magazine in the current issue has a great article about why Tiger is 'the' OS for music production. Very informative and very low level.

    They're on the web,

    but the article is subscription only.

    ps. I'm in exactly the same predicament as you.... But after reading some of the sound on sound i got swayed. Also seems that they way apple are building they're OS, going forward it'll keep getting better for music production.
  4. Maxiseller macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2005
    Little grey, chilly island.
    Hi there;

    I use an eMac (I know!) for writing lenghty scores in Logic and it handles fine! I little bouncing is needed, but its more than enough to help you get to know the system, and there will be no glitches in the audio quality.

    If I were you though, id take the plunge. When I switched, I "eased" myself off the Windows platform, but you learn so much more taking the deep dive, throwing it out and getting a DP g5 tower.

    Once you sit down and use Tiger, you'll wonder why you didn't do it earlier. Trust us!
  5. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    I never get tired of reading that from people.
  6. faintember macrumors 65816


    Jun 6, 2005
    the ruins of the Cherokee nation
    If you want to get a Mac, the mini would be fine if......

    You bump the ram (pref. to 1 gig)

    You use a decent external hardware interface.

    Thats it....

    But you have to realize that a PM Dual G5 is going to handle more tracks simultaneously, faster than a mini. So it depends on how complex you like to work when producing. My PB G4 may take a little longer to do things, but it still rocks out hard when it comes to working with audio. Nuff said.... :cool:

  7. Harthansen macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2002
    You need a firewire Drive with the mac mini

    First off get rid of you PC. You will not believe how much better Audio and video productions is on the mac. No crashing no ****ing with the Registry. I build audio and video production systems on both the mac and pc, and I always try to get the customer to buy the mac, because I hardly ever have to give any tech support to mthe mac buyers. If I do then it is almost always about something small like the differences between a mac and a pc. Not major hardware issues. Hell Garageband kicks ass and that is free out of the box. A Mac mini will work, but you will also need an external firewire or USB 2.0 Drive, to store all you recordings on. The drive that comes with the mac mini is a 40 GB 4200 or 5200 rpm drive and insufficent for Audio production, for anything above 16 bit 48Khz or multitrack recording with real tiem effects.
    You are much better off buy the new iMac 17" for $1199. (It just came out and has alot of sweet thing that come with it. Like a built in iSight (hi-res video camera), remote control, and nothing conflicts with anything else. The iMac is much faster then the mini (G4 1.42 vs 65 2.1) and can support low latency 24bit 96khz 16+ multitrack audio with real time effects. I have the last revision of the iMac the 20" and that works with audio very well. I also had a powerbook 17" G4 1.5 GHZ, which is about equal to the Mac Mini in hard drive & CPU speed and thoughput. It suffered when using Logic Pro 7 or Garageband for more then a few tracks with reverb. I was constantly having to mix down audio. The eMac would of been fine, also if you don't want to spend much you can get an eMac for $750 new (the old discontinued models at and Both the eMac and iMac have sata drives, which is very important. Notebook drives suck for audio and video production. You also might want to look into getting an old G5 Dual 2.0 on ebay (around $1500) PowerMacs (only) as a rule usually do not break down, so you really don't have to worry about the warranty. You cna even extend the warranty with apple care for $150 for either 2 or 3 years of complete coverage, I forget. Also Macs hold their value better then any other computer on the planet (priced under $4000).
    As for the new macs Apple went and put all PCIe slots in the new macs (PCI Express slots) which is a stupid move on their part! This means all your PCI and PCI-X cards will not work in a new mac. I am really pissed about this, they should of kept at least one PCI or PCI-X slot.
    The point to this is, there will not be a PCIe Audio Card at least until Mac World (Jan 2006) or later. Right now nothing exists. So unless you have a firewire audio device (like midiman 400 Motu 828 and the new 848 [I think that is the name] or some USB 2.0 audio device. (all of which have a higher latency then a PCI card) You can't use a new mac for audio. As a matter of fact all the new macs have very fews cards that can be put into them. Less then 10 exist, that I have found. Again this was so stupid on Apple's part. Now companies that want to buy the very cool Quad processor macs or ever just the dual core mac with DDr2 memory have to wait ot upgrade if they work in audio around 6 months for new audio cards to trickle in. Then put out alot of cash to buy new cards, which alot of companies won't do. Especially video companies whose HD & SD uncompressed video capture & Accellerator cards cost twice as much as the quad mac. Not to mention there are only 3-4 cards PCIe Video capture cards out there.
    So Apple screwed the pooch when the took out all PCI-X Slots, (which apple was one of the first companies to push PCI-X on their customers and only has used the format for 2 years. Now PCI-X is gone and other then being very usfull to have a PCIe 16x graphics card. The other 3 slots will remain empty for the time being. Making companies very slow to upgrade to these machines especially when they know the Intel mac are just around the corner and they will probally have to update all their new PCIe cards again if they want to switch to intel. So for all intents and purposes new macs come with no PCI slots. Just new technology that has not made it's way past video cards. They should of followed suit with high end PC motherboard manufacturers and put 2 PCIe 16x slots and two of the fast PCI-X slots. This would of made sence. This would of made Apple 4-5 times as many sales of the new macs. I would have a quad mac on order to my house as I write this, but alas the new macs are Pretty Nooses for all but large hi-end production companies where the speed bump out weighs the upgrade cost of around $10,000 per machine for HD video editors, not including the cost of the mac. Steve pay some more attention to your hardware and a little less on the iTunes music store. I won't even start on the worthless Powerbook updates. Steve you could even bother to bump the G4 processor up to 1.7. Still it is the OS the is the gem of Apple. The hardware works great due to the brillance of OS-X. The really pitiful state of apple's hardware is something that needs to be fixed ASAP. Even if Dual Core Intel Pentium-M Powerbooks come out in Janurary they will still be worthless for a year, until all the software companies recompile there code. All Power PC based software runs at 40-60% of full speed on a intel machine. Photoshop will not be recomplied until 2007, adobe had already stated, probally because they were pissed at Apertures release. Which really is not the same thing as Photoshop. The only thing Intel based macs will be good for the first year is Apple made software like final cut studio and iLife, for everything else it is going to be like OS-X 10.0 useless. (OS-X was useless until 10.1 come out, and they had the balls to charge you $130 to upgrade usless 10.0 to 10.1)

    My point is apple's hardware is in a sorry state, they lost all speed advantages over PC's especially all the G4 machines which can barely keep up to a new celeron processor. (CPU vs. CPU) The powerbook does have a nice moblie video card, but they upgrade the graphics and they don't even make it HD compatible 1920 x 1080. It's a good thing OS-X is pulling all the weight around here and of course the money coming in from iTunes.

    -Hart H
  8. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    The Mini just doesn't have the juice for the kind of work mark is presumably doing, if his P4-class machine can't keep up (yes, yes I know that the Win XP machine is probably misconfigured or has driver problems with the audio card or spyware somesuch other problem. But the Mini will be a disappointment I predict. It's just not a serious pro audio machine)

    Will you get major performance increase with a minimal learning curve? Impossible for us to say. We don't know what machine, what interface and what software you are currently using, and we don't know your skills and preferences.

    I wouldn't get my skivvies in a knot about PCIe. I would just go ahead and get a G5 (either the new one or a closeout deal on the old one), a MOTU Traveller, Focusrite, Mackie Onyx, Yamaha, Tascam or other top-quality Firewire interface, and once you get rolling, get a Seritek Dual SATA hot swappable external enclosure for SATA audio data drives (note, you'll have to wait a bit for their PCIe card to come out if you get the dualcore G5). This will give you top-of-industry performance, ever-expandable storage, and the choice of Cubase, Digital Performer or Logic for your software platform. If you are invested in ProTools (which I don't think you are) it is another entire story.

  9. Harthansen macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2002
    I need higher latency then Firewire


    I agree about the mini, but I have tried all the top end Firewire Audio devices and there latency just sucks compared to PCI. I don't like Pro Tools, I use Logic Pro 7, Reason 3, and Cubase. The PCI-X Card I use which I only bought less then a year ago cost me $1200. I do Hi-End Audio Production, and price and build systems, the slow bandwidth of firewire 400 just won't cut it.

    Not to mention do they even have a PCIe 4 channel Sata 150 or S-ATA II card? I haven't found one and that is another big problem. I have 5 250 GB S-ATA 250 GB Hard Drives in my current Powermac and I can only find one PCIe S-ATA Card and that only has 2 channels, and it is just barely shipping, so it's hasn't been really field tested. It is also twice as much as the 4 channel PCI card. Of course new PCIe Cards will come eventually until such time I find the new macs to be useless unless you have no use for any internal slot. That is just on my Audio end. The video End is just an upgrade nightmare, and I work with several High-End Video Production Houses, who want to upgrade and hired me to find a solution for them, and so far it is only expensive solutions. It is also sleezy of Apple to offer the old dual 2.7 G5 without DDR2 ram or new video cards or any enhancements, then selling it for the same price it was before the new macs came out just because they know 90% of there Powermac customers have at least one expensive non-replaceable PCI or PCI-X. If the guy is not doing serious Audio then Firewire is fine. I would try the new Firewire 800 from Motu. I was looking to try that setup, but I doubt it will be much better. Apple still hasn't fix the same bottleneck problem with Firewire 800 on even the new powermacs. It bottlenecks to the speed of just over Firewire 400 (See my friends at for the article) Firewire 800 only really works right on Powerbooks. Even if you buy a firewire 800 PCIe card (If one exists)
    -Hart H
    -Hart Hansen

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