nMP vs iMac for Music production?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by omnisphere, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. omnisphere macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2011
    Anybody using the new Mac Pro (trash can) late 2013-2014 for music production?

    I was going to buy a iMac 27" i7 late 2013 but waited to see what the retina iMac could be, but i am now scared of the reports of spinning fan noise and maybe heat problems in the near future?

    So now I have iMac 27" i7 late 2013 or new Mac Pro Quad or Hexa-Core to choose from.

    Not sure which is the best choice, but I am more in to the Mac pro because of the silent fan and the ability to upgrade SSD, CPU quite easy.

    So now is the big question iMac vs nMP?

    There is a big price difference but i think that the nMP Hexa-core 4650$ will last a lot longer than the iMac 3800$.

    Now I have a old iMac late 2006 and it is still going, but it is to old to use for music production now so i need to buy an new Mac soon.

    If I buy the iMac i can save some money, but I think it will only hold for about five or six years, almost impossible to upgrade.

    If i buy the nMP Quad it will last three years and then I can upgrade the CPU and extend the lifespan several years.

    The Hexa-Core is my safest bet, but i am not sure if I take the right decision because all my money will go to just the Computer.

    Which would you choose and why?

    I really hope that you guys can give me some good advices here.

  2. koyoot macrumors 603


    Jun 5, 2012
    Mac Pro.

    Don't buy the quad core MP model, cause in close time, you will get trouble in upgrading the CPU. The sockets are three different versions, and are not compatible with each other. So, if you will want to upgrade it, you will need the Ivy Bridge Xeon-EP CPU.

    In few years, they can be not produced by Intel.

    BTW. Have you considered buying refurbished Mac Pro?


    Its quite small in SSD, tho.
  3. Derpage Suspended

    Mar 7, 2012
  4. paronga macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    Look, here is the truth about music production.

    People were using PowerPC Power Mac G5's in the early naughties to make some of the best music ever. Some people still use those, cause they still work and are still blistering fast for it.

    Some people realised that they can get away with a core i5/i7 series laptop and decided to go with that.

    The truth is, music production is not that difficult for a computer. A dual core system with a spinning HDD and a decent amount of ram (8GB) will do it more than fine.

    Editing photos and video are way more resource intense than audio.

    You can get any Mac Pro 3,1 and up or any core i5/i7 Intel Mac and be fine.

    You don't need some brand new computer. You need a creative drive, not gear lust.

    What really irks me is these days, the most resource intensive application people run is the web browser. It's pathetic really. Get any Intel Mac, do a fresh install of the OS and the Apps you need and you'll never have an issue.

    Some things to consider are the a SSD will make your life much faster and you might want a 27 inch screen for the extra space.

    Things that will make music production better are far more expensive and not computer related: You need a good pair of headphones, speakers and audio interfaces. These things will easily cost way more than the computer.

    Don't forget, you can't buy good music taste ;)
  5. MMcCraryNJ macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2012
    Repeating the other dude's response to the guy who gave bad information in post 2..

    lol wut?
  6. koyoot macrumors 603


    Jun 5, 2012
    Haswell-EP CPU's will not be compatible with the board in current gen Ivy Bridge-EP CPU's.

    And Ivy Bridge-EP CPU's, knowing Intel, and his love in obsoleting stuff will be very soon not produced.

    Of course, if were talking a "few" year time span.
  7. MMcCraryNJ macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2012
    Here's some hopefully better advice from an actual audio engineer...

    It completely depends on your level of work, what kind of applications, plug-ins, and gear you want to run, how big your sessions are, and what you realistically want to be able to accomplish

    If you just make beats and have other light session work, a hardcore insane super computer is probably overkill. Think 10-15 tracks with basic VIs, some audio tracks here and there. If you're doing this kind of work, you can get away with a freaking 2012 Mac Mini.

    If you're in a mix scenario with your work, lots of professional grade sessions with lots of tracks and plug-ins, or you want to do professional level mastering or post work, you'll want something more beefy.

    A lot of the decision is going to be based on your needs and where you are in the music production field. At the bare minimum, I would suggest a quad-core i5, 8GB of RAM (preferably more), and fast storage (SSD for OS and applications, external drive for sessions ALWAYS).

    The two most important factors for a DAW that relies on native processing are CPU and storage. Mostly every DAW can take advantage of multi-threaded and multi-core processors, so higher core counts means more plug-ins running in real time off of the CPU without having to print and commit (although a lot of times, having to print to audio moves along the decision making and keeps the creative process flowing). It is always recommended to be running your sessions off of a secondary hard drive, regardless if it's an SSD or not (although with the advent of PCIe SSDs, like in the nMP, this is seemingly less important as long as you have sky high I/O speeds). Being able to install your OS and DAW software on an SSD helps performance dramatically, although you can still opt for a spinning drive if you want (why anyone would want to run an OS on a traditional hard drive anymore is beyond me, though).

    Some other advice...go to your DAW and plug-in manufacturers websites and check compatibility charts as well as recommended system requirements. For example, a lot of stuff, like Pro Tools 11, hasn't been qualified for use with Yosemite yet (and Pro Tools 10 doesn't function in it at all).

    The tl;dr - the Retina iMac would be fine for a lot of work, but I would definitely invest in the i7 over the i5 for hyperthreading purposes. A 6-core nMP would be even better (this is what I'm likely gunning for in the near future, when Apple refreshes them with the new Haswell chips). The 4-core nMP is great too, but the i7 in the Retina iMac seems to be a better performing chip, so the 4-core nMP is slightly outgunned at this point.

    As far as heat and noise go, if that's very important to you, the nMP is more suited for that. The iMac will definitely give you some heat and fan noise during session work.

    No matter what, though, please don't listen to anyone who tells you that audio work isn't demanding and that you can get away with a Core 2 Duo and spinning hard drives. It's a load. I would love to see them try to load up a couple of instances of Kontakt, or maybe a mastering session with Ozone, using that machine, and then try and tell me a C2D is cool in late 2014.
  8. paronga macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    Definitely some great advice here, especially the bold bit. I didn't say it was cool or anything. I was saying that in the past, it's been done and that the OP should focus a little bit more on their creative needs and external peripherals (like interfaces, mics, mixes, preamps etc) than raw computer chops.

    Audio is an intensive use case of computers and almost 100% CPU dependant, so yes, get the best CPU you can get. Like you mentioned, compatibility is also a must.

    When selecting any computer system for a production workflow, there is often much more to consider than CPU/RAM/Disk/GPU combination. That was all I was saying.
  9. Rog210 macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2004
    Sorry, this is absolute crap.

    I just bought a nMP 6 core refurb to replace my 1,1 cMP.

    If you work with lots of sampled instruments, get as much memory as you can, also as much SSD storage if you don't want to wait around listening to magnetic drives crunching away while an Ivory II piano or BFD kit loads.

    If you like to track guitars in Guitar Rig over an already CPU-intensive project with low latency without having to freeze every track, the 6 core nMP is fantastic. CPU power is very important.

    If you want to drive multiple 4K monitors (one for the project window, one for the mixer, etc) get a nMP. The difference between doing that and working on a single monitor or a couple of 1920X1080 ones is massive.

    If you want multiple storage options without sacrificing speed, the nMP has 3 Thunderbolt busses.

    I looked at getting an iMac over the nMP, in the end the limitations ruled it out.
  10. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    Hear Hear! Hopefully if the OP has the lute to buy an nMP 8 core the other gear is already in the studio. Old school NS-10M's, Neve, Manley, Avalon or SSL micpres. Wave and or UAD plugs. Depending on the type of music a vast sound library! If Kontakt is used with NI, way more than 8GB of ram will be needed. My 2008 3,1 can pretty much handle any musical task south of mixing a full symphony orchestra if based on individual tracks, which it is not. If the three B's in college were "Bach-Beethoven-Brahms", then the three M's now are "Midi-Mixing-Mastering!"
  11. omnisphere thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2011
    I use very heavy Plug-ins like Spectrasonics Omnisphere, U-he Diva, Native Instruments Reaktor 5, Kontakt 5, and only software so I need a fast computer.

    Going to buy Logic Pro X at the same time as the computer, have used Logic since Logic Platinum 6 and love it.

    I don´t dare to buy the Retina iMac because of some reports of loud fans and high temperatures on both CPU and GPU=not long-lasting?

    So my question is really which is the best choice, most cost effective?

    I think it is between the iMac and the nMP 6 Core, and the nMP should last a few years longer than the iMac?

  12. Gav Mack, Nov 20, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014

    Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    High temperatures due mainly to the option GPU which is a 125watt part in the 5k, I believe that chassis is at its limit handling that GPU which unlike the previous iris pro/nvidia types that chip is always on.

    The Mac Pro 6,1 is almost silent, has twice the i/o speed of the 5k as the SSD is PCIe 4x instead of 2x. And the CPU can be upgraded, I have upgraded 2 to the 8 core 3.3 and they are really fast, though that will likely remain the sweetest chip to upgrade to as i expect the Mac Pro 7,1 to have with the Haswell and broadwell for the next year or two Xeons being pin compatible. You will lose a little single core ooomph over the 5k due to the haswell in the retina and ivy bridge e cpu in the nMP.

    For hard work before the AppleCare runs out I am quite sure which one isn't going to need more Genius Bar appointments than the other. I vote for the trash can.
  13. MMcCraryNJ macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2012
    ^ What he said.
  14. maplingstorie macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2009
    nMP over iMac for sure. Why? It's really quiet. Also, if you are working for long hours, you won't come across throttling issues (CPU speed drop due to extreme temperatures) like the iMac. If the 6 core can't catch up in the future, you can always upgrade to 8 or 12 cores (e5-2697v2) and RAM (up to 128GB). the iMac's CPU can be upgraded as well but it's complicated. I have nothing against the iMac btw, I love every bit of it especially that display but its design isn't made for long usage. The only issue i'm having with my nMP right now is the finding the right retina display. :eek:
  15. cinealta, Nov 24, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  16. Rog210, Nov 24, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014

    Rog210 macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2004
    Lol, I hardly know where to start with this "advice". Suffice to say your premise that a 6 core Xeon can't handle sampled instruments is flat out wrong. Working with sampled instruments means plenty of memory and a fast way of getting the sample files loaded (i.e SSD).

    Your solution - two networked machines which are no longer in production, have slow and limited i/o, and are not designed to work at 100% for hours at a time .... yeah.
  17. cinealta, Nov 24, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  18. Rog210 macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2004
    "One sampled grand piano will slay a hex-core Xeon Mac Pro with Samsung 840 SSD boot & sample drives."

    Like Ivory II? Works great on my nMP. Hell, it worked fine on my old cMP 1,1 with spinning drives ... just slower load times.

    "If you knew anything about networked sample playing slaves you'd know that the samples are loaded into RAM and do not stream from the SSD."

    They do both. For long samples, the first part is in RAM, the rest pulls from disk.

    "Why do you even comment on things you have no clue about?"

    You tell me.
  19. cinealta, Nov 24, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  20. Rog210 macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2004
    "If you knew anything about networked sample playing slaves you'd know that the samples are loaded into RAM"

    "Get back to us when you run 20 instances of Omnisphere, Diva or Production Voices 500 Gb grand piano"

    You do that in RAM? Lol.

    As for the rest, you're full of it and I'm not going to waste my time arguing with you.

    I'd urge anyone seeking serious advice not to buy a bunch of discontinued Mac Minis. Dumbest idea I've ever heard.
  21. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
  22. s-hatland, Nov 24, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014

    s-hatland macrumors regular


    Feb 4, 2014
    every once in a while, when the moon is full and planets are aligned, these forums produce drama better than the movers... :p

    essentially, the OP wants a new computer. let him have one!!

    EDIT: sorry, forgot to contribute. it's been my experience, since my 6100/60, that the workstations generally last longer and are more upgradeable. plus, i hear this one's really quiet.
  23. MMcCraryNJ macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2012
    The biggest reason anyone should ever pick up an older used or refurbed machine over a new one is a constrained budget. While there are exceptions to the rule every now and again, going with a newer machine is overall a better decision.

    In this particular scenario, frankensteining together two 3-year old machines with a network cable makes little to no sense. Why would OP do that? To run the one program that allows for it? I feel that's very poor advice. Now instead of one machine to maintain, you have two. Double the work. Double the amount of things that can fail or break, software and hardware issues.

    But then again, I also feel investing almost as much money of a nMP into a 2010 cMP and PCIe cards and PCIe storage that will give you almost the same level of IO and USB3 and TB2 as a nMP makes just as little sense, personally. Why people would want to buy into ancient power hungry processor architectures, slower RAM, and PCIe 2.0 (while sucking more power and creating more heat and noise in the process) just to be able to have internal drives and replaceable GPUS (which are gimped, if they even work right at all) is beyond me.

    If you have the money, buy into something newer that will be supported longer, that's going to last you awhile and will work well for you in its stock configuration rather than having to rig up and frankenstein and hack together a solution using older technology.

    (As an aside...production houses and large studios use old equipment and old software for a reason. Using their machines for a longer period of time means a bigger ROI, and if their machines and software still work well for the clients they are serving and the work they are doing, there is no reason to upgrade. They didn't buy those 2009 Mac Pros in 2014 because they "work better". They aren't using Pro Tools 6 on a PPC Mac because it's better than Pro Tools 11. I feel that people sometimes think this way when defending these older systems as these magical creatures that everyone should buy over the newer machines because "That billion dollar movie was made on these machines! Why buy a nMP?!" You are all missing the point, dudes).
  24. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    I also recommend the 6 Core Mac Pro. I'm using a 12 Core 2010-gen and my larger sessions with lots of plugins and UAD are rock steady. Go for it! Minimum 16GB RAM, and whatever GPUs.
  25. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    If you have the money right now it looks like the 8 core is the beast to get but it also looks to me like upgrading the 6 core later is not difficult at all. A piece of cake compared to the mine field in an iMac.

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