Powerbook, or Desktop?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Surreal, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. Surreal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2004
    some background info:

    i am a college student in new york and spend MUCH time on the subway. i teach an electronic music composition class 3 days a week 6 hours a day. i use reason and own logic express and am probably giong to buy ableton live. i plan on buying an 896HD not long after i buy a new computer. i have 2 usb midi keyboards.

    i want a portable, but i don't know how well it will run the programs i depend on. i plan on recording 8 tracks in for a band or 2 i work with (no effects or anything else at the same time but at the highest resolution feasible.) and i also plan on performing with reason(slave mode) and live/logic.

    i know that the price is low and such, but is it worth buying a powerbook to run these programs right now or would it make more sense to buy a nnicec imac or powermac and simply wait. i know that the powerbooks "get the job done" but it doesnt seem to me like they will for much longer. i already knwo that abletons performance is subpar in comparison to pc laptops in the price range. (i don't want a pc... but i will admit the power advantage.)
  2. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    If you intend on recording bands with lots of analog tracks, guitars, vocals, live drums etc, I'd recommend a PowerMac.
  3. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    I see a lot of musicians use a PowerBook while audio technicians.mastering.mixing prefer the PowerMac tower (enclosed inside an acousti-lock or other noise suppression box).
  4. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    A dual core 2.0 is priced the same as a PB right now, and IMHO is extremely good value.
  5. Surreal thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2004
    Well, looks like the Powerbook was soundly trounced then.

    But Lacero seems to have shed light on my real problem. i am a Little bit of both. and while i admit that i am not very deep into Audio Engineering, it is for lack of resources, which the comp is in part meant to remedy.

    so, well.. maybe a Powermac and a used powerbook/ibook then. now i have to go spec out a Powermac. dag.
  6. LaoTzu macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2005
    A student in NY spending much time on the subway ( sounds like portable would give you HOURS to work on stuff! You want a laptop!

    (Cough!) You want to know if a laptop is "Powerful enough" to record 8 audio tracks without ANY FX on??? !!!!
    Um, ANY Apple portable in the last 5 years can do 100 audio tracks without FX - heck 200 or more!! Now they even have desktop speed options 100GB 7200rpm drive so since we had 48 tracks on G3/266 with ATA @ 16.6 MB/sec max - no problem!!!

    Laptops often use slower HD's than desktop... and if you run on battery - you don't for example WISH you had a graphics card to suck battery life under 2 seconds!! Still, that HD will do a hundred + tracks, asleep, every day....not CPU intensive, even disc space calculate as Bit Depth
    x sample rate

    Like 16 bits ( 8 bits in byte so = 2 Bytes ) x 44.1Khz x # of tracks 64 = ( open calculator app) 5644.8 ( divide by 1024 to get MB's ) 5.5125 MB/sec is required for 64 simultaneous tracks ( which is within the 36 MB/sec on any Mac desk or laptop - non-issue! )
    OK , High resolution? Tip: If you MUST do "High resolution" ( absurd when a CD is 16/44.1 - and MP3 is the standard! Still... Why not? Use 2 x sample rate if you must - so CD use 24/88.2 ( not 24/96 -it's difficult dividing, rounding, resampling, and loses quality - at even multiples - guesses are limited )
    Anyway, 24 bit ( 8 bits in Byte so = 3 ) x 96 Khz sample rate x 32 tracks <or 16 stereo> = 9216KB/sec ( div by 1024 4 MB's ) = exactly 9 MB/sec.
    So even recording 8 at a time while playing back 32 tracks - an iPod can handle!

    Using Live, Reason, Logic, the only real kicker is in using a lot of FX & instruments. Like, reverb, delay, phase, pitch shift, plus a physical model of 3 violins, in a sewer, on a weekday, in stereo - well you hit a key and 1 note uses 77 FX!!! So, some wall may be hit at some point, in virtual instruments & FX.

    I can't say if Live is more optimized on a Pentium, but I notice the UI is ehemm like a browser window - so it's not seeming like native to me. Logic, GB, all have freeze track option - so if you max out CPU you can render 44 tracks to disc with FX in audio - then playback needs zero FX so u can add 100 to the rest of the tracks....

    Yeah prices are LOW on laptops! If you're in college, commuting, you'd probably get a LOT out of portable ( right?) Yet, I'd be worried on a NY subway with a really nice one....and you're a student...

    I know at least one fabulous musician, producer, engineer, in NY, who used an iBook G3 for ALL that work ( Like G3/800?? ) and no problems... BUT now she makes MOVIES TOO so needed DVD, bigger screen to see film, and edit live surround sound + Video anywhere ( so recently got 17" PB - but understandable )

    If you don't need a 17" PB, and price etc is a factor - buy a cheap iBook. Unless you need external support for dual 30" cinema displays - your 896 will handle I/O < so the 24/96 Analog & S/PDIF optical Audio I/O isn't what you need > Heck get a refurb under $800 and it will work well!!!

    Ehem, yes Apple will be updating laptops at a torrid pace! Not just in the next few months, but every few months at a mind numbing pace going foreword! There is NO WAY to buy Technology without it ALL becoming obsolete as soon as you buy it. That is it's nature.

    Now maybe Apple will replace every laptop with Pentium systems, but Live and Logic, all the applications would be running in EMULATION at less than native speed. ( The G5 is on the super computer 500 list - and no machine without 5 x as many CPU's can keep up - not a Pentium, Itanium, or AMD - and that wont change soon. I just saw some benchmarks on G4 vs. G5 - and it was about even say a 1.6 Ghz iMac vs PB G4 (?)
    Maybe Apple will start on the "Low end" like they said, so we can run native applications today & next year - before applications are ported. If performance is a concern, it shouldn't be.... PB G4 is the #1 instrument on stage - and it's solid, and fast - no Pentium can compare....

    Anyway, just wanted to note Video is often surround sound + 30 video frames per sec which is WAY WAY more system intensive. From Audio + FX + MPEG encode/decode - iMovie needs about 10 x's the CPU for a 60 minute movie - than a whole CD of just Audio + disc space < sez the guy with 22 ripped DVD's on his laptop!>

    Yes iBook, or PB G4, will run that stuff well.... Yes Apple will switch to Yonah in some G4 models soon - but with 2 pentiums replacing a G4!! I do NOT think ANY applications will be ready natively = not an issue for email.... iTunes, but deal killer if you need to record and it wont in emulation.... Maybe GB will be ported - but on CPU intensive - x86 is aweful.... just integer & optimized code that makes it "seem snappy" - FP is what supercomputers, 3-D, etc brings systems to their knees....there, PPC is king, see IBM on all the top supercomputer lists...

    If you wanna wait, OK. Universal binaries.... a G4 is very power efficient... and you can use say in Logic, any computer you like, then add others to render FX, soft synths, Pentium, Windows, PPC, Mac Mini, or someone's Dell - but a desktop will NEVER be easy to carry, record, mix, master, and play live like that.....

    Faced with emulation, FX cannot be emulated ( and I KNOW this ) it could be 2 years + Audio people will need PPC. Heck, a Tiger Pro Tools finally launched days ago??? But, no hardware in a Quad is supported...sigh

    Anyhoo - Apple "may" release a dual CPU Intel PB - and it might have a 19" screen, wait 20" - but it may cost $4699 - and it may not have any app's yet - is waiting over a year a good use of time? Buy a refurb, OK, but a year is something you can't replace, ever...
  7. LaoTzu macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2005
    It's not fair to say Engineers usually seem to have desktops. True, but also 3 TONS of speakers & mixers - not stuff you carry around! But Mastering headphones like Digital Reference 240DF from AKG made it possible now, to master on the road... still not advisable, but possible.

    The dirty secret is, now technology makes this so easy....you have to become an engineer to freakin' use it right!!! Kills me!

    Repeat, if you own your own recording studio with soundproofing, and 7 built in speaker systems - you may as well get a desktop - you cannot carry a studio anyway - but everyone still has a PB for "other stuff", on the road, which may plug into desktop often.... If you are trapped commuting, and musicians also do a lot - ANY work you can do is a HUGE advantage...

    Just noting, my near field monitors ( for mix mastering ) weigh 120 Lbs each - and you need to be exactly between them at the hypotnuse (sp?) of an equilateral triangle optimally, not a portable solution!!

    If George Lucas just switched to PB for Star Wars - amazed he could see what he shot the same day (!_!!) You can certainly do well on a portable...

    but it may break, fall, be stolen, and will be upgraded a LOT going foreword.... If cutting edge tech is too hard to catch, buy a year old one, at 1/2 price.... Apple will still make BMW quality & price....

    I'd say refurb iBook, and it'll work no matter what intel might make, or be late on....

  8. Surreal thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2004

    i should get over it, but this is what is actuallly getting to me. and i KNOW that the G5 is a beast of a chip so i don't expect imac G5 performance in a laptiop, but a great deal of what i do is with virtual instruments. i've become paranoid because i use a 400mhz G4 powermac and i hit that wall in reason REALLY early now. the combinator is calling me..but if i make 1...that is it.

    and i have been lusting after the Reason Drumkits Refill..which is a CPU intensive due to all the multisampling involved.

    but i may buy the powerbook and record other people for money...and then buy a desktop.

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