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rm5

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I know this is probably not the best place to post this, but I figured it would make sense to post it here since it discusses both Apple and non-Apple products...

I've been using Macs basically all my life, and don't get me wrong, I absolutely love them, but I've been having a few issues just with the platform in general. For the past few months, due to having a FireWire/PCI-e audio interface, I've been using my 5,1 Mac Pro as my main computer, so some of these issues relate to that machine specifically, just keep in mind. And IMO, it is not practical (or even possible) for me to use my MacBook with this audio interface.
  • Lack of expandability, upgradability, and repairability
  • Lack of software support for certain products, especially in the networking realm
  • The X58 chipset in the Mac Pro is really starting to show its age, because why wouldn't it... it's 13 years old
  • PCI-e 2.0 is a bottleneck with my GPU... it is never utilized to its fullest I've noticed
  • 1066 MHz bus—it's just slow. My RAM is 1600 MHz but runs at 1066 due to this limitation
  • My audio interface works TERRIBLY under macOS... perfectly with Windows
I'm sure there are more issues that I'm just not thinking of at the moment. So you might think switching to a PC is the solution, which it probably is, but these are my problems with switching to a PC:
  • No integration between my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook
  • No iMessage (I know there's some beta coming out of iMessage for Windows, but I think it's still a beta, isn't it?)
  • I know I can access iCloud Mail on the web client, but that just seems inconvenient, especially because it signs you out automatically (in my experience) after shutting down the system or closing the browser
Maybe the advantages of using Windows outweigh the disadvantages, I have no idea. But what do you guys think is the solution to my problem, which I've had really ever since I've owned a computer?
 

salamanderjuice

macrumors 6502
Feb 28, 2020
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How much do you seriously use features like Airdrop or iMessage on your desktop? Do you think you'll get frustrated missing those? Personally to me those kinds of things are nice to haves but not must haves. Think about your must haves. And you can get pretty similar integration between Android and Windows.

For iCloud Mail you should be able to set it up with another mail client, it may require manual configuration but Apple has the settings posted:
 
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SteveJUAE

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Aug 14, 2015
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iCloud email will work on any good email software and setup is largely automated eg Outlook

Apple have their own Windows software for access to iCloud for photos, contacts bookmarks etc

You can even run MacOS on windows VM

 
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rm5

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How much do you seriously use features like Airdrop or iMessage on your desktop? Do you think you'll get frustrated missing those? Personally to me those kinds of things are nice to haves but not must haves. Think about your must haves. And you can get pretty similar integration between Android and Windows.

For iCloud Mail you should be able to set it up with another mail client, it may require manual configuration but Apple has the settings posted:
I use iMessage all the time on my computer... when I want to send people recordings, links, etc., they're always sent through my Mac. That's where I'd get frustrated.

But like I said, I think switching to a PC as my main computer is the long-term solution, as frustrating as it might be.
 

BeatCrazy

macrumors 601
Jul 20, 2011
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I use iMessage all the time on my computer... when I want to send people recordings, links, etc., they're always sent through my Mac. That's where I'd get frustrated.

But like I said, I think switching to a PC as my main computer is the long-term solution, as frustrating as it might be.
You've obviously put a lot of thought into how switching to a PC would impact things.

But have you put the same amount of thought into an alternate audio capture device alternative?
 
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rm5

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You've obviously put a lot of thought into how switching to a PC would impact things.

But have you put the same amount of thought into an alternate audio capture device alternative?
I know lots of different DAWs (recording software) that work on Windows—Cubase, Reaper, Pro Tools... so of course I could go with one of those options!
 

BeatCrazy

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Jul 20, 2011
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I know lots of different DAWs (recording software) that work on Windows—Cubase, Reaper, Pro Tools... so of course I could go with one of those options!
That's the software, but isn't your problem with the DAW hardware? You say it's not possible to use a current (?) MacBook with an older(?) DAW.

I guess I'm confused on what problem you're trying to solve for. Many people (including myself) use very modern Macs with all kinds of hardware and software DAWs.
 
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rm5

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That's the software, but isn't your problem with the DAW hardware? You say it's not possible to use a current (?) MacBook with an older(?) DAW.

I guess I'm confused on what problem you're trying to solve for. Many people (including myself) use very modern Macs with all kinds of hardware and software DAWs.
You're right, I have problems with my audio interface under macOS. I can't use it with my MacBook because the interface is FireWire, and I have a FW 400 PCI-e card in my age-old Mac Pro. I have an M1 MBA with the latest version of Logic, and my 5,1 (which is very old and slow) also has the latest version of Logic.

And also, using this 5,1 Mac Pro long-term is not practical either, because it's so old. That's the main reason why I want to switch to a PC as my main computer. That's the problem I'm trying to solve.

Hope I'm answering your question.
 

BeatCrazy

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Jul 20, 2011
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You're right, I have problems with my audio interface under macOS. I can't use it with my MacBook because the interface is FireWire, and I have a FW 400 PCI-e card in my age-old Mac Pro. I have an M1 MBA with the latest version of Logic, and my 5,1 (which is very old and slow) also has the latest version of Logic.

And also, using this 5,1 Mac Pro long-term is not practical either, because it's so old. That's the main reason why I want to switch to a PC as my main computer. That's the problem I'm trying to solve.

Hope I'm answering your question.
OK, this is how I originally interpreted your issue. :)

So, you just need a different capture device, i.e. not using Firewire. I'm not an expert on all the DAW hardware, but certainly there is something more modern that will suite your requirements. What would you do if your current DAW hardware failed? What is a modern equivalent?
 
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rm5

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OK, this is how I originally interpreted your issue. :)

So, you just need a different capture device, i.e. not using Firewire. I'm not an expert on all the DAW hardware, but certainly there is something more modern that will suite your requirements. What would you do if your current DAW hardware failed? What is a modern equivalent?
Good point. This interface I got for free from someone who upgraded, and it's a pretty high-end model, a Saffire Pro 40. It was replaced by the Scarlet 18i20, which I'll probably get at some point, when I actually can afford it (they're EXPENSIVE!) I need a lot of inputs because I regularly track bands with multiple mics per instrument sometimes.

So the question is—do I get a whole new machine? Because I have no idea how long it will be before I upgrade—it could be more than a year, I have no idea. The interface just works terribly under macOS in general... has nothing to do with FireWire from my understanding, because it works just fine in Windows. And I'm imagining that that will be the case when I upgrade to an 18i20.
 

BeatCrazy

macrumors 601
Jul 20, 2011
4,829
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Good point. This interface I got for free from someone who upgraded, and it's a pretty high-end model, a Saffire Pro 40. It was replaced by the Scarlet 18i20, which I'll probably get at some point, when I actually can afford it (they're EXPENSIVE!) I need a lot of inputs because I regularly track bands with multiple mics per instrument sometimes.

So the question is—do I get a whole new machine? Because I have no idea how long it will be before I upgrade—it could be more than a year, I have no idea. The interface just works terribly under macOS in general... has nothing to do with FireWire from my understanding, because it works just fine in Windows. And I'm imagining that that will be the case when I upgrade to an 18i20.
Sounds like you need to explore replacement options for your Saffire Pro 40, that actually works well with macOS :)

Alternately, there are Firewire to PCIe cards that you could stick inside a eGPU, and connect that to a modern Mac via Thunderbolt. This is if you want to continue using your current capture device.

Your concern is that the Scarlet 18i20 is expensive, I see them for $600. A Windows PC with decent-enough specs to take advantage of such a device will certainly run you $1000+
 
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The_Interloper

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2016
681
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Don't know if this helps, but the solution may be a 16Gb Mac Mini M2 with a new Scarlet 18i20 rather than a $1k+ PC. This video shows the astounding amount of music production the new Mini can handle. I have a feeling even the most capable PCs in this field would have fans screaming and PSU drawing power like crazy.

 

keeper

macrumors 6502a
Apr 23, 2008
513
302
It won't fix everything like iMessage , but you could create your own cloud using a Synology NAS and use their apps of configure access on all your devices.
 

pmiles

macrumors 6502a
Dec 12, 2013
809
676
Fun thing about legacy products... eventually you have to accept their pitfalls or join the modern era.

The question is whether you can afford to at this time. Someone once asked me, if you could retire tomorrow, what would that retirement look like? Apply the same question to your situation... if I could buy whatever I wanted, what would that setup look like?

I approach it this way because a lot of times, we are still looking to just band-aid the current situation rather than come up with a long term solution. If you don't know what it is that you want/need, you can begin to formulate a plan to make it happen.

The lack of expandability, upgradeability, and repairability is a done deal with ARM Macs. Which is a quandary because on the one hand, that closed ecosystem serves you well with your other devices, but hampers you at the same time. But lest we forget, eventually your trusty Mac Pro won't be able to communicate with future Apple devices that you might acquire.

Are you using bootcamp in your current setup? You mention the lack of software support which suggests PC only products in the pipeline? You also mention that the audio interface works better under Windows, which would require a Windows based system to prove.

Define "not practical" in regards to your MacBook. Let's say for arguments sake it is possible to do... why isn't it a practical solution? This might further define your actual needs.

I know, I haven't given you any solutions, just trying to focus your search. The best solution will likely mean going full-on modern here... meaning whichever platform you choose, you do so without the legacy stuff that you currently own. Is that a step that you are even willing to contemplate?
 

rm5

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But lest we forget, eventually your trusty Mac Pro won't be able to communicate with future Apple devices that you might acquire.
That's already a problem—I mean AirDrop, Handoff, Universal Control, (and bluetooth for that matter) don't work.
Are you using bootcamp in your current setup? You mention the lack of software support which suggests PC only products in the pipeline? You also mention that the audio interface works better under Windows, which would require a Windows based system to prove.
Yes, I threw in a Windows drive with Bootcamp, so that I could test stuff out. That's how I was able to figure out that the audio interface works on Windows, and not on macOS.
Define "not practical" in regards to your MacBook. Let's say for arguments sake it is possible to do... why isn't it a practical solution? This might further define your actual needs.
What I mean by "not practical"
  • The audio interface uses FireWire 400; I have a FW 400 PCI-e card in the Mac Pro in order to use the interface
  • I'd need a Thunderbolt 3-FireWire 400 adapter (if that even exists) to use the interface, but that wouldn't work because
  • I only have 2 thunderbolt ports on my MBA, and don't have a hub/dock with charging passthrough (I have one that doesn't have USB-C passthrough...)
  • If I needed to use an SD card at the same time (this is already an issue), I'd have to disconnect the audio interface, which means also turning off the computer, per Focusrite's warning (that you should turn off your machine whenever you disconnect/connect your interface)
    • I should note that the "turn off your computer" warning does NOT apply when just turning on/off the interface—that's why I just leave it plugged into the PCI-e card, but just turn the power switch off)
  • Also, it's a BIG piece of gear (almost as if it could be rackmounted), so using it with a MacBook... dunno where I'd actually put it.
The best solution will likely mean going full-on modern here... meaning whichever platform you choose, you do so without the legacy stuff that you currently own. Is that a step that you are even willing to contemplate?
Well that's the problem. I wonder if in the long run, I'll be better off with a PC, just because even if the Mac Pro is expandable (has PCI-e slots, upgradable CPU/GPU/RAM/storage), there is no way I'm going to ever afford a $6000 machine in the near future. I think if I stick with a Mac, there's a good chance I'll just get a Mac Studio.

And at this point, that's not something I'm willing to contemplate because:
  • I'm going off to college this fall, and there's no way I'm bringing the huge audio interface with me
    • And the thing I'm worried about is taking music production classes, because if I have assignments, etc. that I have to do on my personal machine... uh... 16 GB of RAM isn't enough (32 GB MINIMUM I think); that's another reason also why using my MacBook isn't practical.
  • At this point, though I technically could afford to get a new audio interface, I couldn'tafford a 20-channel like the one I have now (but newer).
    • And even then, 2 thunderbolt ports just isn't enough, so I question whether I could even use that with my MacBook.
 

pmiles

macrumors 6502a
Dec 12, 2013
809
676
Okay, you've provided quite a bit of useful information here.

Being that you are planning to head off to college soon, I think you should tailor your setup for that use. To be quite honest, if your intention is to go to school to pursue this as a profession, you will find that what you use in school will likely NOT BE the same stuff you end up using once gainfully employed. Unless you plan on being an independent contractor, your employer will provide you with all this. Depending on the employer, you could be working in a state of the art facility or working with some very legacy stuff. You can't predict what you will be working with in the future.

I HIGHLY recommend that you get in touch with the school that you are planning on attending regarding what sort of software/hardware is provided on site for use. Most campuses provide computer labs and offer recommendations for computer setups to interface with the school's equipment. Also, as a student, you may have access to free software usage and potentially substantial hardware discounts. Most of these savings are not available to you until unrolled in a qualified program.

I'm from the US, so schooling may be different in other countries. If you are in the US, I highly recommend that you do not use money borrowed to pay for your education to pay for equipment/software for post schooling use. You don't know what you will need in the future and the price you will pay in interest on the loans will ultimately make that the most expensive equipment on the planet. Not to be a doomsayer here, but a good number of people who go to college, ultimately end up on a different career path than what they initially went to college for. Who's to say you won't take an elective in some area that you didn't know even existed and fall in love with it. I went to college to study architecture, I ended up doing 3D animation and computer graphics for a living... all because of single elective class. This was back in the day before it was as widespread as it is now... Pixar literally started out when I was in school, so yeah, it really was not mainstream back then.

My career had me working with both legacy hardware/software and state of the art. Every job used something different. You ended up tailoring your setup at home to whomever you were working for at the time. So it changed as employers changed. All things to keep in the back of your mind.

I will note this, while the Apple ecosystem has a strong presence in multimedia... none of my employers ever had a mac-centric setup. It was all PC or UNIX based. My choice to use a Mac at home came down to using bootcamp and the fact that the Mac Pro tower existed. Those two things no longer exist in the Mac ecosystem under ARM. So while you may like working with Macs, your future employment opportunities may prove to be Windows centric, so you will have to make a choice THEN as to which platform you wish to use at home.

Again, tailor your system for school based off of what the school recommends. Trust me, you will find that a lot of different software serves the same purpose, but in the end, the final product needs to be compatible with just one. If you do all your classwork on software that isn't used at school, it means you can only edit it in that software. Opposite is also true. Hence, for convenience sake, you should stick with the software/hardware that they use.

Long winded as usual. I wish you well in your educational endeavors. Keep an open mind. You might find something you enjoy even more. Not always the case. My brother went to college to be an engineer and he is an engineer to this day. Although he would have liked to have worked in robotics, he ended up working with waterjet technologies. He never was even exposed to waterjets in college... just goes to show you that even school doesn't necessarily prepare you for everything.
 
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SteveJUAE

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Aug 14, 2015
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Land of Smiles
Well that's the problem. I wonder if in the long run, I'll be better off with a PC, just because even if the Mac Pro is expandable (has PCI-e slots, upgradable CPU/GPU/RAM/storage), there is no way I'm going to ever afford a $6000 machine in the near future. I think if I stick with a Mac, there's a good chance I'll just get a Mac Studio.

And at this point, that's not something I'm willing to contemplate because:
  • I'm going off to college this fall, and there's no way I'm bringing the huge audio interface with me
    • And the thing I'm worried about is taking music production classes, because if I have assignments, etc. that I have to do on my personal machine... uh... 16 GB of RAM isn't enough (32 GB MINIMUM I think); that's another reason also why using my MacBook isn't practical.
  • At this point, though I technically could afford to get a new audio interface, I couldn'tafford a 20-channel like the one I have now (but newer).
    • And even then, 2 thunderbolt ports just isn't enough, so I question whether I could even use that with my MacBook.
My son is a senior lecturer and in UK no course or modules set where any student can gain an advantage by having the latest and greatest hardware

I would check with your Uni for advice but I suspect the requirements are very low and in theory all software is provided and access to hardware is available on campus

All course notes and video recordings of lecture's are available to all students online from the Uni server

At his Uni Apple hardware mac's/iPad are like hens teeth amongst students:)

He is probably the only one member of the faculty using a MBA on one of his research projects the others he uses windows desktop/Laptop .
All of his research students taking their masters are using windows PC's especially on industry sponsored grants as it is the most common platform in the working world :)
 
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rm5

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@SteveJUAE Very true indeed! I mean I actually don't know how many production classes I'll be taking to be honest, so this might not even be an issue. And even if it is an "issue," most likely the instructors have some sort of "fallback" if you know what I mean... so I'm actually not worried about that whatsoever.
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 68000
Jan 13, 2006
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Good point. This interface I got for free from someone who upgraded, and it's a pretty high-end model, a Saffire Pro 40. It was replaced by the Scarlet 18i20, which I'll probably get at some point, when I actually can afford it (they're EXPENSIVE!) I need a lot of inputs because I regularly track bands with multiple mics per instrument sometimes.

So the question is—do I get a whole new machine? Because I have no idea how long it will be before I upgrade—it could be more than a year, I have no idea. The interface just works terribly under macOS in general... has nothing to do with FireWire from my understanding, because it works just fine in Windows. And I'm imagining that that will be the case when I upgrade to an 18i20.

Firewire is even more flakey on Windows but I'm glad you got it to work on that platform.

Saffire Pro 40 has decent mic preamps, but it's nothing too special (mid-range). You're best to find a way to replace it.

FYI, you can run firewire audio interfaces on Macs without firewire. You just need a thunderbolt to firewire adapter, and possibly a thunderbolt 3 to thunderbolt 2 adapter. I've tried it, and it works. I've tested it on Intel Macs, but not AS Macs. The issue you will have is with drivers for the MacOS you're on. Sometimes though, MacOS will just "see" the interface and you can use it. Sometimes not.
 
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richmlow

macrumors 6502
Jul 17, 2002
377
271
I know this is probably not the best place to post this, but I figured it would make sense to post it here since it discusses both Apple and non-Apple products...

I've been using Macs basically all my life, and don't get me wrong, I absolutely love them, but I've been having a few issues just with the platform in general. For the past few months, due to having a FireWire/PCI-e audio interface, I've been using my 5,1 Mac Pro as my main computer, so some of these issues relate to that machine specifically, just keep in mind. And IMO, it is not practical (or even possible) for me to use my MacBook with this audio interface.
  • Lack of expandability, upgradability, and repairability
  • Lack of software support for certain products, especially in the networking realm
  • The X58 chipset in the Mac Pro is really starting to show its age, because why wouldn't it... it's 13 years old
  • PCI-e 2.0 is a bottleneck with my GPU... it is never utilized to its fullest I've noticed
  • 1066 MHz bus—it's just slow. My RAM is 1600 MHz but runs at 1066 due to this limitation
  • My audio interface works TERRIBLY under macOS... perfectly with Windows
I'm sure there are more issues that I'm just not thinking of at the moment. So you might think switching to a PC is the solution, which it probably is, but these are my problems with switching to a PC:
  • No integration between my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook
  • No iMessage (I know there's some beta coming out of iMessage for Windows, but I think it's still a beta, isn't it?)
  • I know I can access iCloud Mail on the web client, but that just seems inconvenient, especially because it signs you out automatically (in my experience) after shutting down the system or closing the browser
Maybe the advantages of using Windows outweigh the disadvantages, I have no idea. But what do you guys think is the solution to my problem, which I've had really ever since I've owned a computer?

Hello rm5,


Would it be possible to enjoy the best of both worlds?! This is to say, own a Windows PC and a Macintosh and use the appropriate platform for whatever task you are working on.

Take a look at my MacRumors signature.


All the best,
richmlow
 

rm5

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Mar 4, 2022
2,142
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United States
Hello rm5,


Would it be possible to enjoy the best of both worlds?! This is to say, own a Windows PC and a Macintosh and use the appropriate platform for whatever task you are working on.

Take a look at my MacRumors signature.


All the best,
richmlow
That could work, but I certainly wouldn't prefer it. I could do it in a pinch, but I don't want to.
 

kitenski

macrumors 6502
Jan 30, 2008
444
173
Leeds, UK
ref integration between iphone and a windows device there are a number of options available now. Numbers 2 and 3 should allow new (not existing) imessages to be sent and received from a PC.

1. The Edge browser supports Drop which I've read good things about - Drop (microsoft.com)
2. Intel released Unison Intel® Unison™ - Seamlessly Link Phones and Devices to Your PC
3. Microsoft released an early preview of Phone Link for iOS on Windows 11 with Windows Insiders. Previewing Phone Link for iPhone users on Windows 11 with Windows Insiders | Windows Insider Blog
 
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