Recording Studio Overhaul- switch to Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by 2manyg, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. 2manyg macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2007
    Northants, UK
    Hi guys!

    I run a commercial digital recording studio that mainly specialises in rock bands and brass bands:

    I have a Powermac G5 1.8 tower, hooked up to an Apple 30" display and a MOTU 24 i/o PCI audio interface. I use external firewire drives. I run Cubase 4 and sometimes Logic 8 with a number of plug ins.

    I am thinking it's time to upgrade and I intend to sell all of this and replace with a 15" MacBook Pro, the new Apple 24" display and a MOTU 8pre firewire interface or two. (I'll need 2 to start with an expand as I need them)

    Will I miss the raw power of a mac tower? Or will the new Macbook Pro put my G5 to shame either way. I really fancy the idea of a studio on the go, but I'm worried that the Macbook Pro just won't cut it when it comes to 40-50 92k audio tracks with plug ins. I also like the idea that if and when the mac goes wrong, I can just plug in an imac, mac mini etc as I won't be relying on PCI audio cards.

    Any thoughts, opinion or advice is welcome.

    It seems crazy that I could run my entire studio from a laptop...
  2. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007

    It sounds like it would be crazy to run your whole studio from a MBP, and you'd be right.

    I don't deal with audio, though I do use firewire for video/networking/file transfer.

    But I hear the FW chipset in the new macbook pro isn't as robust as the older ones. It utilizes the Agere chipset vs. the older (and better) TI based ones.

    Since you sound like you have money to burn , why not get the 17 inch macbook pro? Then you will be able to use some of the expresscard options like the Symphony Mobile, or this which will allow you drop in more FW ports (this card looks like it should work for audio)
  3. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I would suggest getting a (refurbished) Mac Pro. If you do go mobile, I'd go with the 17", for the reasons that the above poster suggested. I'm not sure why you want the 24"?
  4. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Jun 16, 2009
    The 17" MBP would serve you well though you will probably need a few upgrades on it (third-party) to help it really put your G5 to shame. Specifically (and I'm becoming almost a spokesperson for this), a solid-state drive and possibly some more RAM. By default you get 4 GB DDR3 1066MHz however you may want to look into buying a 6 GB set or 8 GB set.
  5. l.a.rossmann macrumors 65816


    May 15, 2009
    I'd spend the money you are putting into a macbook pro into better converters such as the lynx aurora and a bunch of THAT1512 based preamps(cheap and amazing) for input, and a modded MCM 50-7774 DAC for output. The Motu stuff is unimpressive by comparison. The SSL 24 i/o thing also puts the motu to shame, and is reasonably priced!

    It will be a much more audible difference than a new computer. :)

    I worked on crappy 6 year old G5s for years. There was a reason for it. When a studio has 3K available, they can either buy a new computer, or buy a blue mouse, or a gefell mic, or just about anything that will make a difference in the final outcome of the record the computer doesn't.

    When I was a tech at avatar studios not that long ago they did recording in every room except E to a G4, and the **** worked!
  6. Techhie macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2008
    The hub of stupidity
    +1, Moving to a 15" or even 17" display from a 30" would feel ridiculous and likely reduce your productivity as a professional. I would suggest selling off the G5 for whatever you can still get for it, and buying a 2008 MP on the cheap where you can find one. You might be one of the few in here who can actually use that much power, and all of the extra FW ports aren't bad either.
  7. Techhie macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2008
    The hub of stupidity
    About the 24" ACD, I wouldn't waste your money buying a display for editing simply because it has a shiny Apple logo on it; the LCD panel in it is the same as many from OEMs sold for hundreds less.
  8. Sneakz macrumors 65816


    Jul 17, 2008
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    There is no reason to get the 24" ACD. It's a downgrade from what you have already.
  9. AppleNewton macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2007
    1 Finite Place
    Depends on your needs, I recently did the same thing myself a few months back...switched from using a macpro though to a 17" uMBP and i couldnt be happier.
    I dont do world class audio/video editing; however im sure the 17" could handle it fine.
    If youre equipment that you rely on and need can connect to it, id say go for it.
    i use mine with an external display and love the fact i can use one large display for mixing/editing and the 17" for all the rest/lower res stuff.

    ive used mine with many firewire interfaces and Digidesing usb devices...not a single hiccup or issue.

    Some recommendations I would consider is if going for the 17" id definitely get a SSD if the system will be taking a hit with constant files being recorded to it, that should imrpove overall system life and less lag/downtime between incoming and outgoing signal/data.

    Invest in a good external back up solution; the luxury with the macpros were the ability to have multiple internal drives, i currently set up a small external enclosure with a few TB drives inside for consistant back up when in a studio.

    If you can get the higher end CPU, the 2.8 will just fine but if you will be doing more CPU Intensive things such as additional plug ins and filters it may benefit.
    Memory, 4gb should be fine...but if you can find a good deal on maxing out the memory go for it.

    As for external monitors; id scrap the Apple Display, while its a nice display, you have one built in that is just as nice with a high resolution (if you go the 17" route).
    I'd pick up this display:

    its been getting great reviews and ive owned a couple..just pick up a mini-display port to vga (im not sure if HDMI -> miniDisplayPort are available or work decently....)
    It also has a matching resolution to the 17" display, so if you decide to switch back and forth it wont be a problem with display settings esp editing window sizes, etc.

    overall itd depend on your recording situation, i like to go out and record sounds and video at various locations and since basically i only have one computer when working switching to the 17" was the best decision for me and havent looked provides some flexibility where need be.

    goodluck and hope that helped!
  10. 2manyg thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2007
    Northants, UK
    Hi guys- amazing feedback- much appreciated!

    Unfortunately I do not have money to burn. The third party graphics card in my G5 melted during a session last weekend and the standard one wont run the display properly, they no longer make the Radeon card that melted and I'm not keen to buy one 2nd hand.

    The macbook pro would of course be maxed out with RAM. I would not bother with the solid state drive as all my sessions go straight to external firewire drives.

    I like the idea of a 17" Macbook Pro with the express card converters, but this is expensive, plus I'd lose the ability to plug in an iMac etc if the Macbook pro had any issues. (I have access to an imac, a mac mini and a Macbook for emergencies) I know the MOTU gear is not the best, but I'm a big believer in mics and preamps before converters. I use focusrite pre amps and BLUE mics for those who are interested.

    The 24" screen idea is simply because I'm paranoid that the 30" display may fail being a few years old now. I will just keep the 30" as this will work nicely with whatever option I choose, plus all the cabling is in place (the macs are kept in a different room to the display)

    Applenewton- how many tracks have you recorded at once? I need to simultaneously record 16-20 tracks at 92k- will the Macbook pro and a two firewire interfaces handle this?

    Eddyisgreat- any other info on the macbook pro's poor firewire interface? Sounds a bit worrying!

    Rossman- any more info on the SSL 24 i/o? Is it PCI or firewire?

    It sounds like the best thing to do is get a 2008 Macpro as suggested an upgrade my PCI card for my existing MOTU outgear.
    Performance wise, I often hit the limit of the G5 when using a few plug ins, but I manage it using tracks freezing etc. The only thing that I find frustrating is the mixdown times. When you have a band in making minor tweaks to the mixes of a whole album it can a few hours on to the session time. I am hoping an intel mac of any kind would reduce this time spent exporting the mixdowns.

    Thanks for all your help once again!
  11. l.a.rossmann macrumors 65816


    May 15, 2009
    the SSL 24 i/o is AES/EBU & optical. It'll work with any AES or adat interface.

    Rossmann with one n means I don't celebrate christmas. :(

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