'Processor affects on audio" questions and older mac save money or newer mac be ready

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by JimmieB, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. JimmieB macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2008
    Hi, I am not necessarily new to computer based recording (as in read enough to know some basic terminology) but am new to Macs and currently run on a 1.8 GHz PC. I do have some questions and need your advice. I have spent a week going through these forums and trying to decide which Mac to buy. I am leaning toward the iMac 24” but also could be persuaded that I need a Mac Pro.

    The questions that I have are as follows:

    1. Everybody says that they want a bigger and faster processor for audio recording and I am trying to understand the advantages. I understand that a DAW and its plug-ins take a lot of processing power. What I am not sure about is with processors getting so fast how that will help. For example will a 2.0 GHz allow to create 25 tracks and listen to them with all their plug-ins while a 3 plus processor will enable 100 tracks with all its plug-ins (just random uneducated numbers.) And also I know that in early 2000 and up they were creating some great and complex songs with the top of the line computers that were around then. So in what way does the speed increases on processors help home recording studios and when does it get to a speed (in audio) that we don’t need anymore unless we invent 3D sound jk. I am trying to figure out what I need and what Mac would be the best choice.

    2. Also that leads me to my next question. I was looking at the new 24” iMacs with the 3 plus processor and didn’t know if I needed all that power so I was looking at some of the 24” iMacs with a duo core processor released in 2005 or later and wondering if those would do just about anything most home recording engineers would want to do including being able to mix 30 tracks, at least, with plug-ins. Wanting to save more money to buy more gear, and I keep telling my wife this is the last thing I will ever need to buy for audio. What kind of hang ups will I run into on an older machine like man I wish I bought the 2008 model because….. Or even if it’s just that the current ones will be more suited for future audio.

    Anyway I know it’s a lot but I wanted to be as clear as possible. I not only want to know which Mac to buy but why and the whole processor thing. I spent a week searching these forums and they are great but I didn’t see these answers. If you have any wisdom on this, even if it’s just pointing me to a different thread and or link that I missed, it would be greatly appreciated. I can’t wait to get into the Mac world; I have had Cakewalk Sonar for 3 years now and am looking forward to using a music software instead of figuring it out.

    Thanks again.
  2. WinterMute Moderator emeritus


    Jan 19, 2003
    London, England
    Take a look at how the pro systems work, Digidesign's Protools HD places all the audio processing onto PCI based DSP cards, the computer processor handles the graphics and houskeeping, all the TDM plug-ins are run from these cards, and the AD/DA is handled by the expensive interface.

    The HD3 systems we use in the Uni's studios will handle a full 35+ track mix, but not by much, I prefer HD6 (the number refers to the number of cards incidentally). Only RTAS plug-ins are processed "native".

    I run Protools LE on a MPB and an iMac (2.4Ghz) and I can get nowhere near a full mix scenario in either, they are fine for tracking and editing duties, and can run 40 odd tracks of audio with no further processing, but plug-ins eat processor cycles, particularly the clever stuff like the Altiverb convoluting reverb system.

    If you have to run native (and I assume you're not in the market for an HD system) then bigger is definitely better and the false economy of an iMac, cute as they are, will hurt your productions.

    Get a Mac Pro with the biggest, nastiest processors you can afford, then get some big extra HD's and a stack of RAM.

    It's not cheap, but you will be able to do much more with faster processors in native processing applications like Protools LE and Logic Pro.

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